Monday, November 23, 2015

the realities of growing old

i prefer to keep this blog about my triathlon adventures but a big part of the process is trying to achieve your goals while managing what goes on in your other life.  and my other life has been extremely difficult and very stressful.  not only has work sucked and continues to give me major stress but my parents are at the point in their lives where they are really struggling with their health. wrapped around all of this is the break down in the everyone's relationship with my brother.  i call him 'the snake' and will just leave it at that but our family is no different from many others.  it is not perfect and it is very sad to think that the people who should look out for you the most can be the ones that cause the greatest harm.

my  mum has been diagnosed with parkinson disease for quite awhile now.  we all handle the challenges that life presents differently from the next person and my mum choose her path.  which to me it looked like she just gave up right from the start.  my mum is now living in full time care.  she has her good and bad days but she is not the one we worry about the most.

my dad has been diabetic for awhile and it is managed by diet and drugs.  he has never done this well. then two years ago he had a pacemaker fitted.  this doesnt seem to cause too many problems.  then earlier this year he was told he had prostate cancer.  dad decided he didnt want to do chemo or radiation.  it is not the aggressive type and is very common in his age group.

in july he came up to perth and we went to the wafl hall of fame dinner.  we had a great time but the next day he fell at the perth train station and ended up in royal perth hospital for five days.  he was having issues with his balance and blood pressure and they needed to make sure he had not broken anything or banged his head too hard.  he did have a few scrapes and bruises.  they then diagnosed him with parkinson disease as well.  seriously.  i could not believe it.  the thing i hated the most was that they just came out and told dad without consulting anyone.  dad has always had a confused idea of what was happening with  mum.  some days he had this idea that she was going to get better and the next he needed money to pay for the funeral.  there are many different types of parkinson but my dad doesnt understand this so mums future became his.

so dad came home with more drugs and things just went a little downhill everyday from there.  in the last six months my dad has been separated from his wife of 55 odd years, was moved from his home of the last ten years, had his car taken away, gave up his dog because it was too difficult in his new home, had all his possessions taken out of his control, diagnosed with cancer and then parkinson disease and then struggling everyday with his memory and health.  some of these things should never have happened and that is on someone else's conscience.  my sister and i were left with picking up the pieces.

dementia comes in different types and is caused by many different things.  parkinson disease can contribute to it.  dad had a few episodes of wandering off and some times he was confused and wasnt making sense.  his short term memory was terrible but his long term memory was unbelievably good. then you could get him on a good day and everything was fine.  but then it just started getting bad and there were less good days and then none.  my aunt called me and dad was being taken up to hospital as he was not making sense and was being aggressive.  i left work and drove down to bunbury.  when i saw dad he did not look the best.  he looked very tired.  but he knew who i was and he was still aware of his surroundings.  at first we thought he was suffering from delirium. i stayed for a few hours and talked to him and made sure he was okay and told him that i was going to look after his cat jingles and he wasnt to worry.  that was the last real conversation i may possibly have had with my dad. later that night he had a major shift and became very aggressive and virtually sunk into severe dementia.

my sister was meant to be here but had broken her ankle and had to delay her trip.  i had to email her and tell her that the dad she knew wasnt around anymore.  i had to go back down to bunbury and meet with all the doctors.  the news wasnt good.  they had tested him for everything and changed his medication.  but there was no explanation for the immediate and sudden loss of dad's ability to look after himself and communicate.  he was talking but it was stuff from his past and it was all over the place.  i went back a week later and he knew who i was for a moment.  that is such a huge thing.  we sat and watched the cricket and i got glimpses of the old dad.  a small positive.

my sister and i are now looking for a place where dad can go.  he requires a high level of care and secure care.   we are hoping that once he gets settled there will be more improvements.   i am looking at places in perth so at least i can visit on a regular basis.  there is much more to all this but i dont think i need to elaborate here.  i miss my dad.  like anyone you find it hard to see them like this because he was always so strong and healthy.  i was lucky that day that i could get away from work and that i could talk to dad before his mind went into a tailspin.  you never think that it will be the last conversation though so i was very lucky.  i have always had a better relationship with my dad than my  mum.  i have some really great memories and for now they will have to do.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

it never happened - mandurah

so it has been awhile and last time i signed off saying i needed to get my shit together and start training consistently for mandurah.  well that never happened.  the only thing i did consistently was swim which is an advantage in that it prevents drowning during the race.

prior to the race i hadnt ridden my bike for close to four weeks.  the last ride was four hours long though.  the longest run i had done was 9.89k.  not even a 10k.  and mostly i had just run once a week between 5 to 7.5k.  not exactly suitable training for a 70.3.

so why you may ask ?  well i just could not get motivated and had way too many interruptions and distractions.  the last 18 months have pretty much sucked and i am not quite sure what i did for this run of shitty things.  anyway this is how my race went when you dont train.

i decided to cancel my accommodation and just drive down the saturday to drop the bike off and then again on the sunday.  it saved me quite a few dollars in accommodation and boarding fees but i did have to get up super early sunday as race start was earlier this year.  bumped into some familiar faces on saturday and it was great to catch up.  felt a bit nervous when i got up but i think that was just fear of the great unknown.  would i make it ?  i was hoping for a really good swim as that had been going well.  i enjoy swimming because it is the only time my brain turns off from everything else and all i am able to think about is hanging on and not getting dropped.  biking and running gives me too much time to think.  i wasnt too worried about the bike as i knew i had enough base fitness to easily get through the 90k in under three hours.  while there had been no bricks during training i figured i would hang in for the first 10k and then just wing it from there.  so i had a plan.

first mistake was leaving the house and forgetting to put sunscreen on my arms, shoulders and hands. the second was wearing a cap that doesnt cover my head and getting my scalp sunburnt as well.  i arrived in time and relaxed getting my transition set up.  i was determined to reduce my transition time at least.  got the wet suit on and headed down to the swim start.  said hello to a few people but didnt have long to wait.  the water was quite fresh and chilly but since we were in it for five minutes before the start it gave me time to adjust.  i had given myself wetsuit rash on my neck swimming in it thursday night and note to self that fixomull does not stay on in the water.  i started fairly well and then had a patch when i struggled and then i was fine.  it seemed to take forever and there was no tide assist at all.  in fact there was a section where i was sure i was swimming against the current.  i kicked some guy in the head but he should have been watching where the fuck he was swimming. climbed out and felt quite good.  swim time 37.25.  last year i had a crappy swim and my time was 33.52.  in 2012 it was 35.29 and not a great swim either so it was a neat tide this year for sure.

i only took 4.26 in T1.  and that included quite a run from the swim exit.  wet suit came off easy. shoes on etc and i was off.  checked the tyres were still pumped out this time too !  felt okay and there wasnt much wind around so started out at a nice 32-33k pace.  normally this course has wind on the way out and a tailwind back in.  not this year though and probably didnt take enough of an advantage on the first lap.  turned down pagoni and was heading back and starting to enjoy myself when i heard something strange and then wham - flat back tyre.  i could not believe it and pretty much screamed fuck fuck fuck.  then i got my shit together and started the process to change the tube.  you can really lose it at this point and i was pissed because i wasnt going to be fast to begin with and this put me even further behind.  but luckily it all went fairly smoothly and got the nasty back wheel back on no problems.  the only issue i now had was that my back started playing up because i had been crouched over fixing the flat.  i also lost track of my fluid intake and didnt drink extra to make up for the time that i was stopped.  the next hour was pretty painful but then things eased off and riding back into the headwind wasnt too bad.  i was looking forward to getting off the bike though.  bike time was 3.20 and from my garmin it took me about 20 minutes to change the tube so i need to speed that process up.  i was pretty stoked though that i was self sufficient and no chance of any accusations of outside assistance this year.  i have only had two flats in races and both have been at this event. i was okay with a 3 hour ride.

i had put my compression calf things on right from the start and had swam and ridden in them so in transition all i had to do was get my toe socks and shoes on and i was outta there.  still took 5.08.  the compression thingies never bothered me all day so that is something i will continue to do.

well i felt like shit.  i walked the first 20 metres before breaking into a jog.  i had to run because the first two 2ks go through the main part of town with all the crowds and not a good look to be walking at this early stage.  on my way back i saw rae and stopped for a chat.  told her what had happened and how i felt.  decided my plan was to keep running until i got to the first aid station and then walk until i felt a bit better.  so this is what i did.  i actually found the further i went the better i felt and i was running more and having little walking stops less.  of course i walked every aid station.  the lack of fluids on the bike was now a problem.  i wanted to pee but nothing to pee.  i was surviving on coke and water.  no gels on the run at all.  i think this combined with the hydration problem made me lightheaded towards the end.  the wind out towards the headland was terrible.  especially since you had to run up hill.  so i walked it and then ran it with the wind on the way back down. 

after the first lap and 10k i came past rae and tim who had now finished.  i wasnt sure if i was going to finish.  i didnt care about the time or who was in front of me.  just that there were enough people behind me.  tim had his towel and medal and they looked pretty nice so i decided that i had to keep going.   so i just ran as much as i could and walked when i had to.  saw a few people i knew and that kept my mind off things.  george was out there and he had trained less than me so i had no excuses.  

finally i came over the bridge and did the last little turn around and i was across the finish line.  gave pete murray a high five and i was done.  run time was just disgraceful but i was happy that my finish time still had a six in front and i beat george.  got my towel and my medal and sat down.  i was fucked.  started feeling quite ill and thought i was going to keel over.  havent felt that bad after a full ironman.  for many reasons i wont be doing that again.  it isnt much fun when you dont train for it.  i kinda enjoyed myself but it was agony at the same time and i seriously considered pulling out during the run on a few occasions but something kept me going.  

got all my gear together.  my feet were pretty banged up and i was burnt to a crisp.  went and bought a nice cold choc milk and salted chips and drove home.  i made sure i took care of all my gear before having a shower and sitting down to pig out on pasta and an icecream.  i think i was in bed by 7.30pm.

now to get my shit sorted so i train for ironman australia.  i might be able to wing a half ironman but there is no way i am doing that for a full.

Monday, September 14, 2015

getting out of a hole

i had fallen into the trap of thinking that everything was fine and until you change things you never realise that things were actually pretty fucking shitty.  when you start to feel better you look back and know that everything was not okay.  i wasnt okay at port macquarie.  i was very tired and over-trained.  i am amazed that i finished that ironman.  since then i have struggled to get any consistent training done.  i seem to go from one problem to another and once i get something sorted out then it is something else. so while i am tired today i am finally starting to see my way out.  the headaches of the last week are finally gone and i dont think they will be back. my sinus infection is just about gone and i am so glad i dont have to take those giant pills anymore and i can breathe.  i have no more excuses.

yesterday i drove up to lancelin for the hell of the north 140k gran fondo.  i very wisely decided to pull back on the 140k race and instead did the 95k circuit.  for the most part it is the same course.  considering i still had my familiar headache for most of the day i was pretty happy to be able to cut it short.  last week when i managed to get slightly lost on my bike ride and it went from being comfortable to very fucking uncomfortable  my knee started to hurt towards the end.  anything to do with knees makes me very worried.  i iced it when i got home and since it never gave me any more trouble i didnt think about it again.  until i got on the bike yesterday and it started playing up within the first 10k.  i always start slow at these bike only events.  i guess i miss the swim as a warm up.  anyway i managed to get on the back of a group of guys who were riding at a nice steady pace and they took me to the turn around.  it was about here that i worked out that it wasnt my knee that was the problem but the inside muscle was tight and giving referral pain to the knee.  i usually only get this when i am running alot.  i gave it some trigger point therapy while riding along and that helped.  i have since rolled it out.  

from the turn around i was on my own.  five guys passed me.  two on their own and a group of three. i ended up catching up to all of them and then left them behind.  the race car then came by and let me know the lead racers were coming through.  i was then expecting this huge group to come flying by and instead it was a group of about 8 guys and while they rode off it wasnt like they went past like i was standing still.  not long after one of the race guys came past.  he had obviously been dropped and looked like he was taking it easy.  he never got more than 30 metres in front of me and towards the end we were swapping the lead and crossed the finish line at the same time (although he had ridden an extra 40k with a 10 minute head start).  then a motorbike came up to me to say the lead peleton of the gran fondo was coming through.  again i expected this really fast big group.  turned out to be a group of six skinny guys moving at about the same speed as the last lot.  it was kinda funny.  the wind was okay for the most part.  i did get a bit of a nasty blow come through with some rain towards the end but it wasnt too bad.  

taking into account my health status i was really happy with this ride.  i averaged close to 29.2k and considering the rolling hills and everything else this was a good effort.  i think mark slightly exaggerated how difficult this course was as my ride to toodyay and back is much harder.  the roads at port macquarie are also worse so i was pleasantly surprised.  140k next year for sure.  maybe they have saved me the worst part in that bottom loop !!  and this felt so much better than my bad day at york.  i did however miss the fresh crusty bread with the lasagna.  sadly they didnt have the usual caterers.

so what happens from here.  well it is now or never as far as training for mandurah goes.  if i dont get some consistent training and specifically run training done then i will be in trouble.  if i am not already.  i am also thinking about what events i decide to take on.  i know i want to do more time trials and a few open water swims this coming season.  they are reasonably cheap and i have also decided i want to spend less money so a trip down to busselton for the jetty swim and half marathon might be off the cards.  the events are cheap enough but the accommodation for myself and the casey girl is not.

i have a few new goals and it will come down to just me whether i achieve them or not.  i am hoping the recent life stresses are well gone and it is reasonably smooth sailing from now on.

Friday, August 14, 2015

saying goodbye to my bike

qantas are bastards.  they killed my bike.  everyone who has travelled with a bike this is your worst nightmare.  as usual when i got off the flight i collected my bags and then headed over to pick up my bike.  as i was standing there waiting i was talking to a girl and we were discussing the chances of our bikes being in one piece.  just as she was telling me about her very
expensive zipp wheels my bike came out and straight away i knew something was wrong.

my bike bag had a gapping opening where the bike seat is and you could see straight away the bag had been torn open and the seat was all twisted and had a huge chunk taken out of it.  some of my gear was hanging out.  i asked the guy who bought it out what had happened and he just shrugged his shoulders.  another guy told me to take it over to baggage claims.  i was in shock and didnt know whether to cry or not.  i took it over and explained what had happened and the girl was very sympathetic.  i think they are trained to fake concern because as i was soon to discover they do not give a fuck.

it was 4.30 so i quickly got the bike back to my car and raced home and to my local bike shop.  i made it just before close and as we unpacked everything i started taking photos.  it was obvious straight away that the bag had been dragged and the seat had received a severe impact.  we took the wheels out and were amazed that both were undamaged and still true.  even more amazed when you saw a large hole torn into the wheel section of the bag. but what we really wanted to know was if the frame had survived.  it had moved out of the scicon frame it was locked into within the bag and the skewers had both been bent.  as soon as mark put it on the bike rack he saw the crack. game over. along with the frame (which was either cracked or a minor crush impact) the rear deraileur was also damaged. again i didnt know whether to cry or not but i did do a bit of swearing.  i think i was in shock.  i had such a shitty time in port macquarie and now this.  it was the last thing i needed.

nothing more to do so i headed straight to the bottleshop and purchased some wine.  i rang qantas as soon as i got home and the girl i spoke to was very sympathetic and explained that she would speak to her manager and they would contact me in the morning.  i proceeded to mourn my bike by drinking more wine.

i had the next day off so i waited for qantas to call.  by noon i hadnt heard anything so i called them. again i was promised that someone would call.  by late afternoon i realised that nothing was going to happen unless i got more aggressive with them and finally i was told that i would receive an email with details of what i needed to provide to make a claim.  i remember drinking more wine again.

i finally received the email and it was standard requests.  copies of original purchase, quote for replacement cost, extent of damage and photos etc.  i sent all of this to them and awaited the reply.  i have to mention here that i have bike specific insurance and while i had contacted them i had not submitted a claim.  i also had not informed qantas that i had insurance.  the reason being is that most bike insurance only covers full replacement under two years old and if your bike is deemed a write off they will keep your old bike for salvage purposes. my bike was 3.5 years old but in excellent condition and i was not even going to come close to replacing it from my insurance.  my best shot was qantas.

then i hear back from qantas and they offer me $1600 to replace the bike and bike bag.  my scicon bag was only on its second trip so it was close to brand new.  as it turns out the airline are limited to $1600 on domestic flights for any damage (negligent or not) and if you read the fine print this is true. i was not happy and told qantas as much.  i could not believe that part of their offer included an apology for the inconvenience.  they run over my bike and destroy it and call it an inconvenience.  that really pissed me off.

so begun my social media campaign.  facebook, twitter and instagram.  facebook certainly got it out there the most but twitter had the most impact as qantas could see every tweet and towards the end it really annoyed them. i contacted scicon bags and they were great.  they gave me a report as to what they think had caused the damage and that the bag was damaged beyond repair.  this would prove very useful down the track.  qantas did come back to me and offer a further $500 to cover the bag but it was still a paltry amount.

i had posted the details at a tri website that i visit on a regular basis and i was getting all types of advice.  facebook was the same.  most people were great and then there were a few who said it was my fault (should have used a better bag, proper insurance etc)  some people even queried as to whether it had really happened and that maybe i was making it all up !?  but what it really came down to is that when something like this happens and even if it is not your fault it is going to cost you. while you really want everything to just go back to how it was and have someone else to pay for it that is not what will happen.  not in this case anyway and you just have to find a way to accept it.

i then contacted today tonight and to my surprise they called me back.  i was excited but nervous.  i was also very confused as to what was going to get me the best result.  i had also contacted an old work boss who had worked for qantas and had been quite high up in management.  he gave me the details to write to alan joyce and advised against doing today tonight.  i wrote to alan but never heard back in the end.  the meeting with today tonight turned out to be a bit of fun.  they interviewed me and we then went over to my local bike shop to look at the bike and managed to  talk mark into being interviewed.  afterwards they had me ride my old giant bike up and down the road while they filmed. all of this took about 2.5 hours.  they said they would contact me prior to the story going to air.

i had spoken to qantas a few times and told them i was on social media and going to television.  they didnt care and stood firm.  it was at this time that someone gave me a suggestion that would lead me to the final solution.  trek have a crash replacement policy on frames and offer a 20% discount.  at the same time they had a sale and one of the bikes was a white and black trek speed concept 7.0 series. while the frame was the new Gen2 the rest of the bike was made up of shimano 105 and alloy tri bars, seat post etc  i needed to find out if i could use the good components off my old bike.  i rang mark and it was all good.  my carbon tri bars would come across, the wheels were fine and while the new bike was 11 speed everything would fit okay.  i then called qantas and gave it one final try.  i explained my plan and that in order for me to do it i needed a better offer and surprisingly i got one. this is when things started to change for me.   i contacted my insurers as well and told them what qantas had offered.  they then valued my bike, deducted the qantas offer and a very cheap salvage amount that allowed me to keep my bike, waived the excess and sent me the balance.  this they did within 24 hours - fucking brilliant.  i cannot recommend velosure highly enough.  they were considerate and went out of their way to give me the best information possible.  they also told me that they had never seen a bike so badly damaged by qantas so it was kinda nice to know that it is a rare occurence.

once this was all finalised i called today tonight and explained that i had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with qantas and that killed the chance of me becoming a tv star.  i was secretly quite relieved that i was no longer going to be on tv telling my sad story and pretending to be some serious triathlete.  it was after this that i remembered i had taken out a $12 policy with my ticket for cancellation and baggage damage so i went and read the fine print and realised i could claim the damage to my bike bag.  i just had to prove that it wasnt carry on luggage.  seriously  WTF !  long story short i managed to get them to pay me the full value and they added in the four shotz gels i bought that day and were on the same receipt.  LMFAO.

so now that i knew how much money i was going to get it was time to build the bike.  i didnt want to keep the shimano 105.  i worked hard to afford something better and i was determined i would at least go back to what i had.  so all the shimano 105 came off and was replaced with sram force.  i kept the cranks (therefore the stages power meter as well), the carbon tri bars and the wheels.  i also replaced the seat post with the carbon version and bought a new seat, the speed tool box and xlab wings and new bottle holders.  i already had the upgraded speed snack box. and duotrap.     i had the new shifters that i had to replace at port macquarie but they were not going to work with an 11 speed so i sold them online.  in the end i also sold my damaged frame and the leftovers online for $250.  SCORE !  but what made all of this quite doable was my bike shop guy mark bought all the new parts i replaced back from me at a reasonable discount price and gave me a great deal on all the new stuff.  i cant thank him enough for all the work and effort he put into getting me back on the road and on a bike that really is better than the original and one that i now LOVE.  check it out !  (day before bike fit so seat post is ridiculously high).


Thursday, June 11, 2015

ironman australia - unfinished business part two

i woke up feeling just okay.  i still had that heavy feeling in my head and i wasnt jumping out of my skin. i remember thinking that i should  ignore the fact that i didnt feel my best and to just get on with it.  there was nothing i could do.  i think the adrenalin hides some aches and pains so i went with that. i had slept reasonably well and only  woken up a few times.  i got myself organised and had the usual pancakes and nutella with a banana.  i headed out onto wet roads and paths for the 10 minute walk to transition.  the weather had cleared and there was no wind and no rain in the area.  it was fresh but not cold.  i think the weather gods had come to the party.

my bike had survived the night and i loaded the drinks and shotz.  endura was being supplied on course and this was a mistake.  i decided i would not use it and instead had my high five and shotz tablets.  good plan for the bike but didnt leave me many options on the run.  from what i heard the mix on the bike was wrong and affected some people but this isnt unusual.  i have had both gatorade and high five on course and they are never mixed the same as the recommendation.  i had a chat to a few of the girls around me and then headed down to the swim.  they had street bag drop off down there so that was super handy and i didnt need to throw away my $2 thongs.  got in line for the portaloo and next to me is pete jacobs.  i was surprised that he wasnt taller and bigger.  managed to get my wetsuit on and someone to help with the reverse zipper.  i dropped my bag off and got into the zone for my swim time and then waited and chatted to the group around me.  i dont recall being too nervous and i wasnt overly worried about the swim.  i have to say right here that i could not imagine doing a mass swim start here and the rolling start worked a treat.

the swim

the pros had gone off and before i knew it i was walking into the water.  OMG.  it was cold !  because of the rain the last three days it had dropped at least three degrees.  i didnt want to put my face in it. it was also very brackish and murky.  it was like the bloody swan river at langley park but without the jelly fish.  i floated, did some breast stroke, put some water into my wetsuit and tried everything to get comfortable.  i looked at the guys on the surf ski and thought about swimming over and calling it quits.  i really didnt want to do it and seriously swore that if i got through it that was it for me.  i kept going and starting doing the 10 strokes then sight thing.  from all my other shitty swims i knew that if i could relax it would all come together.  it was a strange course and i felt like i was swimming all over the place.  i finally got to the buoy to turn and head towards the weir.  the water had turned a really nasty brown and it was fresh water.  then i was swimming through tree branches and twigs and all sorts of crap floating around.  finally got to the steps of the weir and managed to stretched my back as i climbed over. there were a few people who were trying to get rid of cramps.  back in and a quick swim around before climbing up and over with another touch the toes before setting off.  by now i had decided i would finish the swim and was getting pissed off at my poor performance and i think this is when the seed was first planted that i just might have to come back and do this swim justice.  i swam back through the floating tree branches and unfortunately managed to swallow some of the disgusting water.  this probably did not help me later in the day and there were quite a few people who complained of being ill after taking a few gulps of the shitty water.  as i headed toward the final turn around buoy i was starting to get very impressed with my stroke and speed - thinking i had found my rhythm but as i turned to head into shore i realised it was the current.  it was a bit of a struggle to get to the ramp and then i was out and done.  time 1.18.26. not great but not bad.

i just said fuck it and took my time.  i was cold and there was fucking mud.  what is with the fucking mud !  i had something in my bag for every type of condition but decided on arm coolers and a water/wind proof sleeveless vest.  i got organised and headed out and but i wasnt feeling excited to be getting onto the bike. time 12.14 yes i had my fucking nails done while i was there.

the bike

this is the first time i have headed out onto an ironman course without having seen the course or ridden it.  everything was new and so i took the first few kilometres easy as it wound its way through the hilly part of the course.  this is where the suffering began and even now when i think about it i can feel the agony and suffering.  i had one thought in my head the whole time and that was as long as the mind wants it the body will follow.  i was going to have to learn to put up with a lot.  my back started hurting pretty much as soon as i hit the flats and went to ride aero.  the only time i could make up some time happened to be the most painful.  i tried everything.  i stopped and stretched.  i took nurofen.  i pretended it wasnt happening.  i sat up when going up hills.  zilch.  the roads were as terrible as everyone says.  some pretty big holes and even big bolts on the bridges.  i decided i would ride out to the turn around.  it was only 45k and i could do that.  i was not feeling so good and drinking and eating wasnt easy and only got worse during the ride.  i think i managed maybe 70% of what i would normally consume.  i made it to the turn around and decided i would ride back in and stop at special needs and get some more nurofen, stretch, get some chafing cream and drop off my wind vest.  so i aimed for that and when i got to mathew flinders drive with the big scary hill it was a no brainer that i would walk up it.  that is just not me and was demoralising.  it was after this that my back felt better. i was excited a little bit. the pain had eased.  riding back into town was awesome as the crowds are huge.  the wind had picked up a little bit and on the second lap out you could feel a  headwind and i knew that it would be easier coming back in.  i turned around and came back through to special needs like planned.  i thought okay this isnt too bad.  i will just head out for another 45k ride.

but i didnt feel good for long and before i knew it the pain was back and i kept telling myself to just ignore it and ride on.  i never doubted the fact that i would continue.  however i did wonder if at some point something bad would happen and i would be forced to stop.  i pulled up and stretched again and then finally made it to the turn around.  all i had to do now was ride back to transition.  towards the end other things started to hurt.  my hammy problem was getting really sore and i could feel the pain in my back straining my glutes now as well.  i was very uncomfortable on the bike.  i was also trying to come to terms with my worst result on the bike ever.  i was determined that under no circumstances would it have a 7 in front of it.  for awhile i had hoped for around 6.30 but that wasnt going to happen.  i had to walk up mathew flinders drive again but it wouldnt have saved much time riding up it anyway. when i got back into town and saw everyone out on the run i knew i still had a lot to do and i was praying that my back pain would go away as it usually does once i get off the bike.  i am not sure if it was at this point that i accepted that to finish was now the priority and time no longer mattered. time 6.49.30 longest time on a bike EVER. this result is what hurts the most and i really feel that i let myself down badly.

again i decided to take my time and get organised.  i needed it as i was shattered.  i slowly got my socks and compression on and there was more fucking mud.  i waffled on to the ladies in transition but i cannot remember what i was talking about. probably the pain and suffering i had just experienced. time 12.12.  at least i am consistent.  had my hair done.

the run

the course is four laps and has one hill each lap.  some sections had the most awesome crowd support and some sections were the loneliest i had ever run.  i was tired but i have done four of these now and knew what i would have to do and what it would take.  i was all over the place with my nutrition and this continued.  i only drank water and coke.  i took my salt tablets to balance out the electrolytes.  i tried a few different things.  i had pretzels and even a vegemite sandwich with really fresh white bread.  at the time it was really yummy.  i had some tomato soup and that was disgusting.  chicken broth would have been better.  then i just stuck to the lollies on course.  i mostly ran or jogged the first three laps walking the aid stations.  after the first two laps and when it got dark the crowds disappeared in the outer areas and along the rock walk and it became quite lonely out there.  i saw the coffs harbour crew and they cheered me on.  i saw pete quite a few times and had a walk with him.  i talked to all sorts of people.  some i tried to run with and some i left behind.  i did a little dance every time i collected a band.  at the start of the third lap i decided i would get my long sleeve top from special needs.  it had started to rain a little bit and i didnt want to get cold.  special needs is at the top of the hill.  you then run down the back of the hill close to the ocean before heading along the rockwall.  a lone guy was still there in his speedos with a cow bell attached to them.  i think he may have had a few too many beers.  after this you ran along a grassed section and past the finish line. this was a rough part of the course with mud and holes and i nearly twisted my ankle badly.  after this you headed along the path and out to  lonely settlement point before turning around and coming back.

the rockwall
at the start of my last lap it was raining fairly consistently.  a few kms into this i started to feel terrible.   very much like i did in the last part of my first ironman.  my troublesome left hammy and glutes had been hurting for awhile and now i just felt lightheaded and got worried i would end up under a tree with a silver blaket.  so i walked.  then i ran a bit but went back to walking.  i was very happy to get to the last turn around.  it felt like everyone but me had already crossed the finish line.  about 5k from home i thought fuck it.  i couldnt feel anything anymore and i would just run until i dropt.  i wanted it to be OVER.  i was the only person that i saw that was running. people cheered me on.  i was very EXCITED to get that last black band.  this marathon was at least slightly quicker than my first one ever so i cannot complain. time 5.36.14

the finish

running down the finishing chute was pretty awesome.  the lights are so fucking bright and the music so loud i could barely hear mike reilly call out my name.  then i had to wait for someone to come up to me as another guy had finished before me and i think he must have been a local as the volunteers were all busy hugging him.  it was a strange finish but a very happy one.

once i had my medal and towel i headed off to find some food and get a massage.  i had never done that before so i wanted to try it.  especially since just about every muscle in my lower back, glutes and legs hurt.  i found some awesome chicken soup and a few slices of pizza.  once i scoffed this i headed to the massage tent and ended up on a table with two really nice people working on me.  it felt fucking fantastic.  once this was over i could have just curled up and gone to sleep but i was damp and needed to get back to my room which thankfully was only a five minute walk.  i picked up my street bag and finishers shirt before running into jim - a local guy.  traded war stories then i headed off. i think the one big positive i can take away from this is that while it may have been my personal worst time it took a personal best effort to finish.  i still cant believe i got through the bike.

i am not sure when it was that i decided that i would have to come back to port macquarie.  i had been really undecided about what race i wanted to do next and i had been thinking about new zealand or melbourne but i wasnt really overly excited about either of them.  i think it was on the run that the word redemption came up.  i had gone into this race unprepared and overdone - both physically and mentally.  i wasnt going to leave it at that and so i have unfinished business.  i have signed up for next year and the room and flights are booked.  i will be back and i will nail it.  sadly this isnt where the story ends but that is for the next blog.

the clue.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

ironman australia - unfinished business part one

so here goes the race report for ironman number five.

with every ironman i have done i have found myself getting less organised and just not as anal about things.   you get a little slack and because you know you can do the distance you tend to not give it the total respect it deserves.  this is bad.  i knew this so i tried to make every effort to be on top of everything.  i packed for every possibility and any type of weather conditions.  the trekky got its final run and was packed as usual with a tonne of added foam and padding.

i got smart this time and my flight didnt leave until around 8am so i didnt have to get up at stupid o'clock.  the flight was fine and i was very glad to get off the little plane that took me from sydney to port macquarie.  

i really did not know very much about port macquarie itself.  it is located on the hastings river.  it is about the same size as busselton and surrounded by smaller little towns.  it is very pretty when it isnt overcast and raining.  i was staying at the mercure which was a five minute walk from the main shopping centre, the finish line and the trek bike shop.  great location with the only downer being no microwave in the room. 

i was up early on wednesday and decided to put the bike together and get the room and my gear organised.  lucky move because when i went to put the back wheel on the shifter was no longer working and was stuck in the down position or biggest gear.  i called the local trek bike shop and got it booked in for later that day.  i then went exploring and walked over part of the course and down to the Town Green finish line area and up to transition and the swim start.  just after lunch i had an appointment for a 30 minute massage which was excellent and the guy was very good.  i had a few areas that should have been treated but to do so right then would not have been a good idea.  i probably have gotten too comfortable with my massage girl and just got stuck in the same routine and avoided some of the hard massages as they are fucking painful.

after this i took my bike to the trek shop and told the guy what the problem was and he would get back to me.  i was starting to get worried when he called me.  the right shifter was broken. it just cracked from general wear and tear. damn it was lucky it happened prior to the race otherwise i would have been screwed.  he said he would order one and it would arrive friday and it would not take too long to fix.  so no bike to ride.  i had thought the gear changing was a bit off but just put it down to a change of cassette and chain.  you must listen to your bike when it talks to you.

thursday i was up early and at the glasshouse to check in and give wtc some more cash at the merchandise store.  the expo was the best i have been to and they had another section down on the town green.  got my check in gear and for some reason got really annoyed with the wrist numbers. stress was starting to set in and i wasnt feeling that great.  there was a break in the weather so i headed out for a quick and very easy 5k run on the course.  then it was nap time before dinner and an early night.

i woke friday hoping to head down to the swim start to go for a swim however the weather was really horrible.  it was cold and windy and alot of rain.  i dont think i was too worried about the weather at this stage.  so i sat around and kept flip flopping about going.  i posted a pic and a local guy i had met in cairns said they would be swimming at 11 if i wanted to come down.  the weather cleared so i thought why not.  put the wetsuit on and three of us headed out.  it was fantastic as these two guys train in the river and so knew everything.  we headed down the course about 600 metres before turning around and heading back which was harder due to the current.  the water was fresh but not cold and visibility was okay as well.  not clear but it had some colour and a few strands of seaweed here and there.  i felt great afterwards and headed home just as a massive rain storm hit.

shower and a nice big lunch before a nap. around 3 the bike shop called.  they had the shifter and had fixed my bike.  awesome.  these guys were so helpful and did a great job.  $300 bucks (which turned out to be a very expensive fix for one ride - stayed tuned and all will be explained in the next few blogs !) back home with my bike and looking forward to a quick ride in the morning.  quick shower and change and i headed out for the athletes welcome dinner.  managed to catch up with pete and crew from coffs harbour. pete has done 24 or 25 ironman australia.  one legend has done all 30.  it was a great night and the food was okay.  very much like busselton.  mike reilly (the voice of ironman) and pete murray did a great job.  the weather forecast was a very wild saturday but then clearing by sunday morning.

woke early and looked out the window. it was nasty but i had to ride.  i put on the wet weather gear and tried to not use anything that i wouldnt need on the day.  by the time i was ready it was just sprinkling and not very cold at all.  i rode for maybe 20 minutes.  i didnt want to stay out long on roads that were wet and on roads that i did not know.  the bike felt great and everything was working perfect.  that was enough for me.  back to the room and time to get all my gear into the bags and the bike ready to go.  by now i was not feeling good.  i had this terrible stress like headache but just put it down to stress and figured that i would come good in the morning.  this had been happening on and off and i had been taking vitamins and whatever i thought might help.  i napped and tried to relax.

the weather was shit but when i thought there would be a break i headed out with my bike to walk it down to transition.  just before i got there it pissed down but i had my wet weather gear and was okay.  checked the bike in and wrapped some plastic around key bits and then dropped the bags off before heading back.  i didnt want to nap because then i would not be able to sleep.  headed back to the expo and got a couple of bargains - some spinerval dvds and a specialised bike jersey for less than half price.  decided to eat down in the restaurant and had this awesome prawn pasta.  i managed to eat a fair bit but i wasnt feeling that good - again.  damn this was starting to annoy me.  back to the room to get a few more things organised and then to bed.  hoping for the best in the morning.

Friday, May 29, 2015

catch up before ironman australia

i have really been very neglectful of this blog and i am going to catch up over three blogs.   the training for ironman australia was not easy. i had a great programme but a difficult one.  towards the end of it i was struggling with niggling injuries - my elbow and my left leg hammie/calf thing.  i would have three days great training and then fall over for a couple.  at one point i went to swim squad after a tough windtrainer session in the morning and could barely swim 100 metres.  it was the worst feeling.  i dont want to go to that place again.  i think i was fatigued and just plain worn out.  

however what i did like about my training was the new type of sessions.  more interval running, i discovered i liked the hard spinerval windtrainer sessions, i rode more hills and more rolling hills on the tri bike.  i really enjoyed the time trial races with ATTA.  i want to do more but with fresh legs. they are true time trial races where you set off at 30 second intervals and there is no drafting.  i had a couple of good hit outs.  i did the kalamunda 100 on the road bike.  this was a very hilly ride that lasted close to five hours and was poorly organised.  i actually stopped with another rider and begged some locals for water.  i did a few open water swims and there was the busselton weekend where i did the half marathon and jetty swim.

 i decided i would do a sprint distance triathlon at hillaries just to go through the process and get some transition practice.  however on race day the weather was bloody horrible and i decided i could not risk coming off the bike.  i also had a another brick session to do later in the day anyway.  instead i stayed and watched the real hard core triathletes compete.  these girls are just awesome competitors.  while everyone was out on course i snuck over to the specialized tent and met a true legend of the sport.  i was very nervous but he is extremely friendly and loves a chat.  got some tips on how to deal with the course at port macquarie.

when i think about how i was feeling around this time there is only one word that comes to mind and that is TIRED.  leading into an ironman on a tough course this is not where you want to be. stay tuned for the trip and race report.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

saying goodbye to 2014 and hello 2015

i am pretty happy to see the last of 2014. although i had a great year in the amount of races i finished the rest of the year fairly sucked and could possibly be one of my worst.  molly died and it will be a long time before that hurt gets any easier to deal with. i had two weeks leave over christmas which was a very welcome break. it gave me time away and an opportunity to catch up around the house.  and a chance to switch off and relax.  there were alot of nana naps.  what i have decided is that if i want to be a victim then i can keep going down this path and put up with things that are convenient for others but make me very unhappy and very stressed.  and i can remind myself that i can do whatever it is that i want to do and i do not have to consult anyone in any decision i make.  of course when it comes to paying the bills there are limitations and that is all a part of making that choice. how much am i willing to put up with or give up when it comes to the pay cheque ?  so i need to make a decision and i need a plan.  i do not want to waste this life and i choose to not be around people who are just fucking mean.  so this year is going to be the year of change.  i do not want to get 10 years down the road and still be on the same path.  

however for the next few months the only thing i will be thinking about is ironman australia.  this weekend it is a short 9 weeks till the big day. this is going to be a fantastic event.  it is a tough course, the home of ironman in australia and the 30th anniversary.  i have gone back to my old coach and the programme is different and hard. the next 5 weeks will be like the training of truth. some days i am loving it and others i am totally over it.  i have mixed things up a bit and completed a few more open water swims.  i bought a new wetsuit (blueseventy helix) and love it.  i went down to busselton and did the half marathon on the saturday and the jetty swim the next day.  both of these are fantastic events and the first time i have swam around the jetty without having to worry about the bike and run ! next year i will go back and if the conditions are good i will do the swim without my wetsuit.  

i have also cancelled my gym membership.  i was only using it for the treadmill but the majority of my runs are all outdoors now so it was a waste.  instead i have signed up with an outdoors training group.  coach ironman doesnt know this but it kind of replaces the core and strength exercises i am meant to do.  basically i do one session that has a focus on toning uses weights and rubber bands etc and the other is a boxing session.  both have intervals and core work. i really enjoy them and it is great to mix with people - even thought they were a bit clicky at first.  plus it is 10 minute walk from my house so very convenient.  

i am about to leave work and head out the door for a long weekend.  there will be running, biking and swimming and lots of eating and napping.  the following week i am doing a five hour hilly bike event that i am excited about.  i have to get to the bike shop and have my roadie tuned up and i am getting the cassette changed on the tt bike for the hills of port mac.  i have been feeling very good on the bike and 
using the stages power meter has put another level on it.  i have also done a few time trials with the time trial association and have one more race to go but i will get into that another time.