Archive | January, 2017

Preparing for Potty…

29 Jan

This week, with frightening clarity it really dawned on me how close the Tweed Coast Enduro actually is…. It’s at Pottsville in New South Wales on the 25th February, and as we passed the 25th of January, I realised that meant it was now less than one month until my biggest mission yet…. A 70.3, or long course triathlon – a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km run.  Cripes!

Monday I had an ultrasound of my shoulder, which required a cortisone injection. 12 months ago I tore a tendon in it, and a cortisone injection at that time fixed it as good as new. Unfortunately, over the last few weeks it has started to give me a bit of grief – particularly with overhead and backwards movements… you know, the kind you use when say… swimming…. With Tweed fast approaching I sought out my GP quickly in the hope I could get treatment without hampering my training or race. Thankfully, I was able to quickly get it seen to, and it is just starting to feel better now, so I’m hoping it keeps getting better and better. Other than that though, thankfully I’m injury free and feeling healthy heading into this event (a far cry from last year when I just did the bike leg having had 6 weeks off after my bowel resection… and the torn shoulder tendon I just mentioned….).

I’ve just made it through my last “hard” training week prior to this event (I think). While one swim session was turned into a bike (to rest my shoulder while the cortisone did its thing), I have been able to tick off all sessions.  It’s made for a busy week with my training log telling me I’ve managed to fit 13.5hrs of exercise in my five training days, around my three 12 hour shifts…


Today was my biggest brick session yet…as in ever…  Once again, I had the pleasure of my mate Kim’s company.  She knew I was heading out on a 4hr ride with a 15min run off the bike today and, while she knew I would do it solo, she also said she was keen to keep me company (she’s crazy right??).  So we teed up our ride – with a very respectable 0530hr start time (far better than the 0345hr start time last weekend!). With Kim as tour guide all I had to concentrate on was my riding.  I was able to spend some solid time down on my tri-bars to get better at bike handling on them, but also get my body used to being in a slightly different position. I was also able to practice race nutrition – the idea being the more practice I get now, the better I will be on race day (with it becoming almost routine rather than me forgetting to do it!).  I pushed hard to keep up with the pocket rocket, as we travelled north to Caboolture and then east to Scarborough, Redcliffe and Sandgate.  All up we managed 106km on our great adventure (4hr ride time) and I was stoked to find our average speed was 26.2km/hr.  This is a huge improvement for me, and it is nice to see all the training I’ve been doing pay off.  I’m sure riding with Kim helps me no end as she’s a stronger cyclist than I, and it’s always a challenge to keep up – it keeps me focussed and pedalling.

As we got to the end of our ride, I was briefly not very interested in going for a run. It was hot, and I was tired… when I joked that I had no idea why my coach would suggest I need to run off the bike after being on it for 4 hours, Kim was quick to remind me that I am doing a half marathon after 90kms in just a few short weeks… fair point she made!  So, together we jogged around suburbia just getting the 15 min done (mind you again, I found our pace was pretty good – and was pretty pleased to see a 6:20min/km pace for the couple of kms we did). At the end of today’s session I wanted to collapse in the grass only to realise if I got down I’d never get up again… But having said that, it was combined with a real sense of accomplishment. My training has seen me do distances on the bike I’ve only done a few times, only to get off and go for a run.  I know this is what triathlon is all about, but it’s still nice to actually feel like I’m doing it!

So as I come to the end of a big training week, and the end of the endurance phase of training, I now look at focusing on some speed work over the next few weeks.  Next weekend I race in Caloundra (750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run) as a bit of a practice run for Tweed – sure it’s less than a quarter of the distance, but it is a good opportunity to work on race nutrition, transitions and competing generally.

So… the final month countdown is on… now the big goals are to work on keeping my shoulder okay, otherwise stay injury free and healthy, focus on good nutrition, and continue to work hard during training so that in one month I can scream from the rooftops that I have completed a HALF IRONMAN!! I’ll keep you posted…



6 weeks, 40 days, 16 hours…

15 Jan

In six weeks, or more specifically in 40 days, I’m going to be starting my biggest physical challenge yet.  It seems not that long ago that I signed up to do the Tweed Coast Enduro… and yet somehow time has continued to tick on by and suddenly I find myself drawing nervously closer to this date. Tweed Coast Enduro is a half ironman (that is a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km run)…. I still can’t believe I said yes!

My training has been steadily increasing as I get closer to this date, with distances being pushed out, endurance factored in, as well as strength and speed sessions. I’m thankful to my coach Em (T-Zero Multisport) for tailor making a plan around my shifts that just means I can get in and get it done. I’ve also been speaking to a great sports dietician (Fiona – Apple to Zucchini) who is helping me ensure that I get enough food while I’m out there. I messed up my nutrition in short course triathlon and found I completely ran out of energy, and I can definitely not afford to do this in a long course event. After all, I’ll likely be out, pushing myself for about 7 hours so I need to ensure my body is properly fuelled to continue over that time and distance.

As a result of this, my long rides in particular have started to have a big nutrition focus as I practice taking on gels and energy bars on the go.  So, it was with some excitement that I prepared last night to head out for this morning’s long ride with my mate Kim.  I had everything ready to go in the car, all my nutrition laid out and I ensured I had an early night (yup – the clock still started with a 7 when I went to bed….).  The alarm was set, however I was so keen I woke frequently throughout the night to check I hadn’t overslept…

At 3am I received a text from the Queensland Weather Alerts suggesting there was a storm on the way, with heavy rainfall anticipated for Brisbane.  I pretended I didn’t see it and hoped for the best… When my alarm went off at 3.45am (yup – yikes!), I checked the bureau of meteorology website and the weather radar and was greeted with this:


Some quick messages back and forwards between Kim and I, and we decided when the radar looked as it did that it probably really wasn’t appropriate to be out road riding with that weather floating around.  My ride therefore just became a trainer ride. So, still climbing out of bed at 3.45am I went down to the basement to get all my gear back OUT of the car and put my bike on the trainer instead. Today’s program was not specific – just time in the saddle… and a fair bit of time at that. A 3.5hr ride with a 10 minute run off the bike was scheduled. As I finished setting up my trainer, I elected to ride the flat route on my smart trainer.  After all, if I didn’t have to do hills, today I decided I wouldn’t!

I was very intentional with my bike nutrition today, taking on food/gels at 1hr and half hourly thereafter.  In the end my ride nutrition actually totalled 800 calories which sounds substantial to me (but I guess if you’re burning about 2,000 then that’s probably ok). on-the-bike I drank like a fish, and sweated like a …. well I don’t know what really, but let’s just say I managed to make a couple of puddles again.  Aside from a 4 minute break (to refill my water bottles), I was cycling the entire time.  I found that overall I was pretty happy with my pace.  I can generally maintain a fairly solid pace on the flat, but when you put a hill in the way I do struggle a little.  Anyway, I plugged away ticked off the first hour, then an hour and a half… at that point I got a little bored and sent a couple of messages…. Then two hours came – Dave was still in bed and I decided he shouldn’t be so I started sending him messages too… As I approached the 3 hour mark I also had hit 80km.  I was a little surprised at how I was going, and after some maths in my head thought I might actually be able to make it to 100km today…. I decided to see how I got on as time got closer.  At about 3hrs 15 minutes I hit my 90km (if I can do a time like that at Tweed I’d be ecstatic – however I acknowledge that this ride was pretty much dead flat, with no head wind or adverse weather to worry about so the conditions were pretty ideal….).  At 3:15 though I realised that I wouldn’t have to stay on my bike much longer past my scheduled ride time to hit the 100km… I decided to do it! I’ve only ever actually cycled for 100km about 4 times, and to be able to do it today was a HUGE confidence booster.

As my ride drew to an end though the dreaded run off the bike became a reality.  I towelled myself down a little (yes, I was literally dripping everywhere), before pulling on the runners and heading out the door.  I took it pretty easy on the run, but was surprised at how my legs felt!  I don’t know if it was a combination of good bike nutrition and staying fuelled (something I’ve always done poorly), or if it is my increased fitness but this run felt pretty good (probably a degree of both).  While I’m the first to acknowledge that a 10 minute run off the bike is hardly the 21.1km that I have to do in a few weeks, I have renewed confidence after today’s

Today was my longest double session ever (100km ride, 1.5km run) and other than being a sweating mess, I feel like I pulled up pretty well.  Not only that, but this session came at the end of one of my bigger weeks, having completed 11.5hrs of scheduled exercise (and actually closer to 13 hours of exercise all up including a couple of walks with Dave at the start of the week). All of that was fitted into 5 days (as I don’t train on my 12hr day shifts…) – so I averaged about 2.5hrs exercise each day.

So, as I continue my lead up into Tweed I have more sureness that I will finish what I started.  While I’d previously said I was too stubborn not to finish, I still said it with a degree of fear that perhaps I couldn’t do it. HOWEVER, after today I will with renewed confidence, say that in 40 days’ time, I will start and FINISH a half ironman. So, watch this space because I’ll be shouting from the rooftops when I finish!!

PS after this morning session I was still 5 minutes late to church – note to self to get up even earlier next time!

PPS Like my new cycling jersey? Santa was very kind to me – I love it!

PPPS Although the radar looked threatening there was not a single drop of rain for the entire ride and run (at my place)…. and now this afternoon it’s been bucketing and the radar is practically blank….



8 Jan

The 2016 Oxford Dictionary word of the year was “Post-Truth” – defined by them as relating to, or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief. This word/concept has been around for a time, but spiked in popularity this year, particularly in light of the EU referendum and the US Presidential Campaign.

The shortlist was made up of other words such as Adulting (behaviour characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks), Brexiteer (a person in favour of the UK withdrawing from the EU), Glass Cliff (referencing a situation where a minority group ascends to leadership in challenging circumstances where risk of failure is high), Alt-right (an idealogical group with extreme conservative or reactionary viewpoints, characterised by rejection of mainstream politics and the use of online media to disseminate deliberately controversial content)… or perhaps my personal favourite… Coulrophobia (rare extreme irrational fear of clowns)…

When I look at the popular words for 2016 I sense a bit of a common theme… well except for the clowns that is (although even that may have a link….).

I remember specifically wondering, in view of a few of the events noted above, what kind of changes 2017 would bring.  I’m no political reporter, in fact often I don’t give enough consideration to politics, but I have to admit that there were numerous times when I actually felt a real sense of fear about what might happen in the future. I seriously thought a couple of times there that the world has gone crazy…

Today however I was reminded of a few things…  today in church our visiting Pastor (thank you Rev Warren Crank) focused our attention on Psalm 11. A few things struck me from this Psalm today.

Psalm 11:1 – In the Lord I take refuge.

Refuge…a shelter from the storm, protection, safety, security, sanctuary…

I have a bit of an independent streak (perhaps too much of an independent streak if the truth be known). I like to do things in certain ways, and I like to be able to stand on my own two feet.  HOWEVER, there are many circumstances where this simply isn’t possible. Time and time again I find myself in situations beyond my control, because let’s face it, there isn’t too much in life that is predictable. As a result, there are often times where I find that no matter how independent, smart or accomplished I am, I am simply out of my depth. While there are plenty of things in life I DO know, there are also plenty of things in life I do NOT know.  You know what? In those times, I’m actually really thankful to have a shelter from the storm. I can seriously rest easy knowing that the God who created the UNIVERSE, and yet cares intimately about me, will journey with me through whatever life throws at me.  It’s not to say that trouble will not come – because it does! But it is to say that whenever I’m experiencing the wrath of one of those storms, I can confidently approach my creator. I can simply ask for His help, his peace and his guidance to help me navigate through.

Psalm 11:3 – When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Foundations… footings, base, underpinning structure…

Righteous… morally right, justifiable, good, excellent, upright, decent…

I have always endeavoured to be good, sure it hasn’t always worked out that way… I’m human and I mess up just as often as the next person (thankfully I have a very forgiving God).  I like to try and be a decent human being. I have a set of core beliefs, and morals that I base many of my experiences in life on. They are my foundations. In recent years, many of these have been openly challenged. In some respects I have felt like my foundations have cracked a little under the constant pressure to not let these beliefs be broadcast for fear of being criticised.  For example, I personally believe that marriage should be between male and female. As I type this I’m cringing…why?? Because I know that this sentence, in today’s culture can cause a lot of anger. It is rare that I voice this opinion, because while it seems appropriate for others to voice their opinion on this issue, should I disagree with their view I am berated etc.  Now this is not to say that if you are in a relationship other than what I have said I believe, that I will hate you. Quite the contrary – I still believe that I can be your friend and love you, but on this topic our views will differ.

So, as my foundations are currently being chiselled away at, by others whose belief system is different, what can I do? Today I was encouraged to “lean in”.  When my foundations are rocky, when life’s storms start to rock my boat, I’m going to drop my anchor deeper.  I’m going to actively seek other ways to hook back into that which I believe to be true. I’m going to get back to the Bible – with its truth and its guidance. I’m going to regularly, specifically, actively pray. I’m going to continue to find ways to look to the source of my refuge, comfort, strength and joy. I’m going to lean in to the one who knows me better than I know myself, who created me for such a time as this, who knows my thoughts and fears because in Him I will continue to base my foundations.

Psalm 11:4 – The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord is on his heavenly throne. He observes the earth, his eyes examine them

As I considered this verse this morning I could only thing of the song by Steven Curtis-Chapman, King of the Jungle which includes the lyrics: “What I feel is telling me this world’s gone crazy, but what is real says God’s still on His throne. What I need is to remember one thing: that the Lord of the gentle breeze is Lord of the rough and tumble and He is the King of the jungle. People say this world’s a jungle, and sometimes I must admit I’d be scared to death if I did not know who was king of it, but the truth is God created this whole world with His own hand, so everything is under His Command”.

In the words of a song we sang just this morning – “I’m no longer a slave to fear – I am a child of God”.  So, no matter what the future holds in this post-truth era, as public opinion is shaped by emotion and belief, I have confidence that nothing is out of the will of God. I need not fear as I have a refuge in any storm, I can lean into God when my foundations are shaken, and my God who created the world, and all that is in it, is still watching over us.