The day my bike bit me and other amazing stories

26 Oct

Its been an up and down week…mostly down. By Friday I was tired, lacking energy, and had too many things on my plate, and I’m not talking my dinner plate. And it’s not like I’m training every day. I had taken Thursday off from training because I was tired.

Anyway come Friday morning and I was off to the pool for another fun-filled Bilbys swim session. What did Jess have in store for us this morning?! There were drills and for once I didn’t totally suck at them, kicking sets – without fins!, speed sessions, and the mass start and swim the total distance of our first event (200m) without touching the ends of the pool. I had started the session with some vim and vigour but by the end I was dragging myself through the water and thoroughly drenching myself in the backstroke laps. And the disheartening thing about training with people who are at least 25 years younger, and possibly more, is that none of them looked even slightly puffed by the end of the session. Grrr!

For the past couple of weeks I had noticed lower back pain that was getting worse. By the time last weekend came around, after cycling I had had full intentions of doing a short run. Except by the time I got home and off my bike it was enough just to hobble to the carport with my bike. In short, there was going to be no running after cycling. Naturally I wondered how I was going to manage in a triathlon where I would have to run after cycling.

So at my next appointment with Brad at Clinic 88 I casually mentioned the lower back pain. This was when I discovered I had a stuck SIJ. Really? Go figure! A stuck SIJ…um, sorry, what exactly is a SIJ and how did it get stuck? Of course I should’ve realised a SIJ was the sacro iliac joint, doh! And it was stuck because the muscles in the area surrounding it had tightened due to an increase in hill running, which I had started doing in the last couple of weeks. And let me just clarify that when I am talking about hill running I am not referring to scaling Mt Ainslie, Black Mountain or Mt Tennant, but rather just your garden variety little hill. Anyway to cut a long story short Brad released my SIJ and now I have to do lots of glute stretches and sitting on a tennis ball. And my lower back is thanking me for this.

Now I have a confession to make – I have wussed out of the planned cycle sessions that are part of the Bilbys program. Why? Because cycling with other novices is too scary – it totally freaked me out. And I’ve never been comfortable with bunch riding. So I’ve skipped these sessions. Yes I know I should probably confront my fears but I’ll just continue cycling on my own or with a couple of people who I know

I was out cycling early Saturday morning (on my own) – gotta love it when it gets lighter earlier in the morning, and is a pleasant temperature. All was going well and I was near the end of my ride when I turned to look behind to check for cars when I crashed (yes, Ewen, a bike CJ!). Actually, to be more accurate, I tumbled ignominiously off my bike though I was still attached to the pedals therefore looking like some hapless turtle stuck on its back, in my case, with a bike on top of me. I managed to finally extricate myself from my bike and tried to get up before anyone drove past but it was not to be. Some kind lady stopped and for a few seconds there I was worried she wasn’t going to take my “I’m fine” as an answer and was going to gather the bike and me, and deliver us home, followed by a cup of tea. Bless! However I convinced her I was fine and made my own way home, on my bike. Admittedly I was feeling a wee bit sore – my left palm, left hip, the right calf and my pesky back. In fact I have these cuts on my right calf that indicate it was my bike that made them, but I’m not quite sure how. It looks like my bike bit me!  Well we do have a love/hate relationship.

My bike bit me_25 Oct 14

On the spur of the moment this morning I decided to do the monthly vets run rather than the Bilbys Sunday run. I hadn’t been to a vets run since about April last year. However it was that or another run around the base of Mt Ainslie – both were the same distance, 10km. And as I discovered, similar terrain – undulating. Which can mean anything from gentle rolling hills to long steep uphills. It depends who is doing the talking! It was also hot and exposed – not a lot of shade out on the course. My goal today was simple – no walking the hills. Goal accomplished. And the coffee afterwards at Wilbur’s – awesome. The company wasn’t bad either!

Return to Dickson Oval

21 Oct

It was with much trepidation that I showed up for an interval session at Dickson Oval tonight. I haven’t been back here since ‘that’ night in May last year. And I am very wary of interval sessions these days.

However, we started with a gentle warm up followed by stretches and run throughs, focusing on technique. It feels odd being treated as a ‘novice’ runner! Sometimes I have to bite my tongue!

Gary had set us a pyramid session and initially confused everyone when he was trying to describe it – given that he had set workouts for extra short, short, medium, long and extra long distances! Fortunately he had written out the workouts as well and so it was a case of check the workout for the distance you decided to do and then just do it.

I decided to do the medium workout:

  • 200m hard/200m easy
  • 2 x 600m hard/200m easy
  • 1 x 1km hard/200m easy
  • 1-2 x 600m hard/200m easy
  • 200m hard/200m easy

Running around a track is never my idea of fun but it wasn’t so bad. Everyone is going at their own pace and doing different distances so there is never any pressure to keep up. There were the speedy ones that flew around the track, others running at a slower but consistent pace, some alternating between walking and jogging and then there was me – initially huffing and puffing but eventually getting into a comfortable pace. There was no sprinting involved!

So the return to the scene of the ‘crime’ was uneventful – hot, sweaty work involving lots of huffing and puffing but I felt a sense of achievement once I’d finished. It wasn’t fast by any stretch of the imagination, except in my own mind! But it’s probably the hardest workout I’ve done in a while and hopefully I will see some speed return…one day.


When did everything get so hard?

19 Oct

What you do today

Today I’m feeling kind of feeling deflated. This triathlon training is harder than I remembered. And right now I’m only training for a novice event – 200m swim, 13km cycle and 2km run.

The swim session was on Friday. Drills, backstroke, speed sets, distance sets, and repeat. Well it felt like that anyway. Then throw in a couple of group starts to get us used to the mass starts of triathlons. Imagine being in a washing machine – legs, arms, lots of bubbles, trying not to breathe in water, either up the nose or in the mouth, or whack someone in the head, or get swum over, or collect a foot in the face.

Breathing to both sides was not a success – I was totally out of synch and never seemed to get my balance right. Backstroke had me zigzagging up the lane, totally drenching my face with water with every stroke.

I didn’t get to the cycle session on Saturday afternoon as I had a massage appointment which I had already changed several times. I wasn’t willing to miss it or change the day or time again. And truth be told I was secretly glad and relieved I didn’t have to show up for more drills on my bike, increasing my chances of coming off at some point. But I did do a 27km cycle in the morning before heading off to the hairdressers. Don’t ever say I don’t do my training!

This morning it was the group long run at Mt Ainslie. I couldn’t make up my mind whether to join the 8km or 10km group and eventually decided to stick with the 8km’ers…until one of the guys from the 10km group came across to recruit some more runners for their group. Seems like they had 2 coaches and only one novice group member! So I went with them, as did another guy from the 8km group. It was a beautiful day for being out and about early, or at least that was what I trying to tell myself as we followed the undulating course. I’m fine on the flat, even fine on teensy hills but I totally suck at long grinding uphills or a series of steep short hills. So there were several times I found myself walking – shock, horror! Eventually I made it to the finish and a well earned coffee back at the café but jeez, when did it all get so !@#$% hard?!

Right now I am most definitely feeling like a newbie.

Plan B

7 Oct

Plan B

The plan today (Plan A) was to go to the run session at Dickson oval after work. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Besides that’s what the training schedule says: Tuesday, 6pm, Dickson oval – run session.

Except someone forgot to tell them that at work! Meetings that get rescheduled to 5.30pm should not be allowed.

And so it was, instead of doing a warm up jog around Dickson oval with the others in the group, I was sitting in a meeting, trying not to feel resentful.

But thank goodness for daylight savings because it meant that when I did get home, I could still fit in a run albeit with no company, hence Plan B. So I did my own intervals session:

1km x 3 (2min RI); 400m x 3 (1min RI); 3 x 200m (1min RI); 4 x 100m (30s RI).

I felt so much better once that was done. Sometimes things don’t always go to plan. That’s life so it always helps to have a Plan B up my sleeve.

I think I can…..

5 Oct

I know I can

Sunday mornings. For the past 12 months or so, Sunday has meant one thing – a sleep in. The one day of the week when I don’t have to roll out of bed at some ungodly hour of the morning, usually when it’s still dark outside to do some of form of exercise. Insanity, I know, but it’s usually the only time of the day I can guarantee getting it done.

So why was I getting up, having breakfast and donning running gear well before 8am this morning? What madness had gripped me?

It was the Bilbys’ long run. Of course, what else could it have been. There have been times this week where I have seriously questioned my sanity in signing up to this triathlon program. Moving out of my comfort zone has not been an entirely pleasant experience…challenging comes to mind.

Anyway there I was at 8.30am along with the rest of the crazy bunch of newbies milling around across the road from the War Memorial car park waiting to be told what we were doing this sunny morning (it really was – an absolutely stunning morning to be out).

There were 10km, 8km, 6km and shorter options on offer. I elected to do the 8km as I haven’t run further than this and I haven’t run trails in a very long time. There were 5 in our group plus 2 Bilbys’ volunteers, so 7 in all. After a warm up session we were off.

When it comes to running I’m a slow starter. It generally takes me a few kms to get into my stride hence why I’m a distance runner. But this morning I was trying to keep up with the others, who took off at a brisk pace. Initially I was chatting with Liz who was running with me. However both of us were starting to breathe rather heavily and my answers were getting shorter and shorter. I was also tending to ask more questions so Liz could do the bulk of the talking! The hills were doing me in as I’m just not used to running them and so I ended up walking for a bit. Damn! Had I been over-confident? Should I have gone for a group doing a shorter distance? I hate it when these negative thoughts start messing with my mind. Can I? Can’t I? I was really starting to doubt myself.

After a breather I started running again and took it slowly up the hills. I think I can, I think I can…slowly I was gaining ground on the others in front of me and eventually caught up with them before the turn around. I was also starting to get into a rhythm with my running, my breathing was settling down and while the hills were still hard, I could at least run them without resorting to walking.

From about the 5km mark I was actually enjoying the run. It was a beautiful morning, I had great company and my running felt good. My Sunday sleep in, which I’d sacrificed for this run, was a distant memory.

Afterwards most of us headed over to the War Memorial café for coffee and a chat.

All in all, it was a great Sunday morning training session.


Skills and drills

4 Oct

life is like a bicycle

Today was my first bike skills session. Technically bike skills started last week but I was sick and couldn’t go to the session. No such luck today.

I’ll just put it out there now –  riding in a bunch terrifies me. I’ve always used the excuse, lame as it may be, that I don’t need to know how to ride with a group because in triathlons you’re not allowed to draft.

But this is another skill I need to learn and so even though for the entire two hours this afternoon I was riding with my heart in my mouth and hoping to god that no-one was going to brake suddenly in front of me, I stuck it out.

We all became very familiar with a certain car park in Barton because it seemed like forever that we just rode around and around in pairs, sometimes in a single line, focusing on signalling correctly, and pointing out any obstacles on the surface such as glass, branches, etc. Then there was the time we had to ride with one hand on the shoulders of the person next to us to get used to spacing. And finally braking without face planting – always a handy skill to have!

But it wasn’t time to go home yet. Ride to another car park where we were put through more drills – riding around little witches hats, placed in a straight line, weaving in and out as we went. Not so easy! Especially as there was a rider in front of me and another behind all the time and we were close. There may have been a few witches hats casualties! And finally the weaving in and out of witches caps placed in a circle. A couple of close calls when the person in front of me slowed almost to a stop which meant I had to do the same and there was a nano second of panic that I wouldn’t be able to unclip in time.

There was a mental high five and a huge sigh of relief when the session came to an end. I’d survived without stacking, without causing someone else to stack and I hadn’t made a complete fool of myself. Did I enjoy it? W…e…l…l, maybe, in parts but it was stressful. There is so much to think about when cycling with a group. It’s so much simpler on my own.

1 2 3 breathe…

3 Oct


I had forgotten what it was like to swim in a squad. Swimming on my own, as I have for years now, I don’t have to worry about keeping up with a group, having to do strokes or drills that I’m not particularly keen on, and incorporating intensity…well,what’s that?! Ten to twelve years ago I was part of a triathlon swim squad at the AIS and there were nights when Cindy our coach made sure we knew what intensity meant! And there were drills – lots of them. But it worked – I progressed from barely surviving a 400m open water swim to completing 3.8km in the 2004 Ironman. But then the squad disbanded and for years after I focused on running and marathon training. Swimming was usually something I did when I was injured!

Well whaddayaknow, this morning’s swim session brought back memories of squad swimming and having someone telling you what to do! There were about 8 of us considered the more competent swimmers in our lane and so Jess made sure we made the most of the one hour allocated to us. There were times when I glanced across to the other lane where the newbie swimmers were and wished I was there!

There were drills, there were times where we had to swim non-freestyle laps (and let me tell you my backstroke sucks big time plus I tend to own the lane…the whole width of the lane as I can’t swim in a straight line), there were the pull buoy laps and yes, those laps where intensity was involved aka the lung busters!

And I got sprung! Up until now a certain tattoo on the back of my left shoulder has been under wraps and I haven’t mentioned doing any triathlons. But its pretty hard to hide in a pair of bathers and yes, I was asked…”Have you done an Ironman?” and “so why are you doing this course?”

A long, sad and sorry tale of injury has led me to this point and that’s the reason I have gone back to basics. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to suck at swimming and cycling but my running saved me. Now…well I suck at all three legs!

Anyway the highlight of my swim session this morning – I managed to breathe bilaterally! Now this may not even rate a mention with most people but I am, and have been for years, a dedicated left sided breather. Many people have tried…and failed…to get me to breathe bilaterally! however I am determined to conquer this skill and you know what, I really think I swam faster on those laps where I did breathe to both sides.

I went for a run at lunch time, around the lake, 8km in total. I can’t say it was a terrific run but I never stopped. My legs felt like lumps of concrete and that is due to the gym session yesterday where I focused on…yep, you guessed it, legs! It was a beautiful day, though a lot warmer than I’ve been used to, and so for several hours afterwards I was still red as a beetroot!

Going round and round…

30 Sep


Tonight was our first run session as part of the triathlon program. And it was being held at the AIS track – awesome. At the later time of 7pm – less awesome. I am a morning or lunchtime runner so lacing up my shoes and switching on my Garmin in the evening does not really do it for me. However, that’s when our run session was scheduled and so I duly showed up, running late again. Everyone was jogging their warm up laps on the track when I arrived. I had seen a group running outside the stadium and wasn’t sure if that was the novice group. I was trying to look for familiar faces, any familiar faces. However I was directed to another group inside the stadium…the ones that were heading out onto the track.

We ran a couple of warm up laps and my dodgy hammy was holding up ok. Hopefully I would get through the session. This was my first group run session since I tore the tendon, waaay back in May last year (16 months ago). So I was feeling just a tad nervous. Plus most of the group are are younger. A lot younger.

After the  warm up run Gary took us through several stretches before some drills. Everyone would take off like a lot of startled chickens and head for the other side of the grassy patch, leaving me in their wake. This was not looking good. However amazingly (I say amazingly because this goes against my very nature!) I refused to get sucked into keeping up with them, figuring there was still a 2km time trial to do.

And then there was the time trial. There we were, lined up on the track for a group start. My only thoughts were to run carefully, ignore everyone else and get through 2km without doing an injury. And we were off – some took off as if they were running a 100m sprint but most seemed to start conservatively given their efforts in the drills. I tucked in behind a couple of people and started off at a steady pace.

I did have a strategy of sorts – run steady for 3 laps and then, depending on how I feel, start picking up the pace slightly over the last 2 laps. I focused on all I had been taught at Clinic 88 regarding my posture, core and stride. I would focus on the person ahead and try to overtake them. And just run smoothly and comfortably and enjoy the balmy evening. It really was a lovely night weather-wise. The wind which had been gusting all day had dropped off, which was a good thing. I had had visions earlier in the day of having to battle strong head winds during the run.

And after 10mins it was over. I had completed my 2km time trial. 10.03min – can’t complain with that.

I missed the first bike session last Saturday as I was sick with some horrible vomiting virus. Getting on a bike just didn’t seem like a good idea at the time.

Next session on the program: an information session presented by a nutritionist/triathlete tomorrow night.

Here I go again…

22 Sep

Ever get a feeling of déjà vu? Of…what goes around, comes around; or here we go again….?

That’s how I felt tonight as I sat through the information session for the Bilbys novice triathlon program.

There was the “#%%* what am I doing here” feeling as well.

So I’ve gone back to basics and have registered for the novice program. I feel like a rank beginner anyway. I can’t run (well it’s not great), suck at swimming and doubly suck at cycling. So in my mind that makes me a rank beginner!

Tonight entailed a brief overview of what we should expect over the next 7 weeks, some thoughts and experiences from graduates of last year’s novice program and an introduction from each of the coaches. They emphasised the friendliness of the club and to not compare yourself to anyone else (something I am guilty of), and to focus on your own goals.

At the end of the session I saw a friendly face, someone I knew. Not that she is doing the program, her husband is one of the swim coaches. And then after collecting my Bilbys drink bottle and t-shirt I headed home, trying to quell the nerves that are starting to bubble up in my stomach.

Pour first training session is on Saturday afternoon: bike skills.

2013 in review

31 Dec

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,100 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.