Saturday, March 27, 2010

What's it like....

To train with such high caliber athletes?

One of Sara's athletes and a friend of mine Kendall posed this question on facebook a little while ago. As this is my last day in Noosa, I thought today would be a perfect time to reflect on my experiences here...

  • First off, a positive attitude is absolutely necessary -- if you are the type of person who is always comparing yourself to other people swimming in your lane or other lanes, or biking/running by you -- and you get down on yourself because of faster people, than this experience would NOT be for you. Because you will be crushed every single time.
  • On the other hand, if you thrive on obstacles and can handle admitting you know NOTHING about swimming/biking/and or running and can toss out everything you thought you knew and be willing to relearn things the right way....well then this experience would suit you to a tee! :) :)
  • It was wonderful to be with people who are ON TIME for their workout sessions. No faffing around, pissing time away. Sessions were sessions and it was such a treat to be surrounded by people on the same page.
  • At the same time, people are people no matter how fit or fast they are. Super duper athletes are prone to the same emotions all of us are.
  • It is rare to hear an athlete make an excuse for a session or a workout. It is not that they are HTFU or anything, they just don't blather on about how sick they are, or what hurts, etc. They either do the session or not. Period. And they get on with controlling what they can control. If it hurts, they go to a physio. No talking about, DOING something about it.
  • Be prepared to spend the bulk of your time alone. Group rides = me on my own. Which I was totally comfortable with. There was one run session where Clint gave me my very own starting line ahead of the other girls -- trail running there and back took me about 6:00; the other girls started behind me, but they would run off the same 6:00 interval. We did 6 of them that day, but because I was on my own (to be fair, Clint did run back once during the session to offer encouragement and instruction), I had to coach myself to buck up when the repeats got harder and harder. It was a great mental exercise and I learned a lot that day!
  • Access to amazing coaching insights -- Athletes receive immediate personal feedback all the time throughout sessions. Whenever an insight occurs to a coach, a coach will tell the athlete. Of course, for these insights to be of any use, it is the athlete's responsibility to listen and implement them.
  • Nutrition -- athletes eat well and eat A LOT. A lot of food all the time. We went through tubs of yogourt, cottage cheese, salads, eggs, nuts, pasta, and all kinds of fruit. Long rides were fueled by real food as opposed to gels and the like. Sweet stuff in moderation -- common sense things.
That's about all I can think of! The training environment has been amazing -- the athletes have all been awesome -- kind, generous, friendly, and everyone has a great sense of humour. I am so thankful for my time here and the MANY lessons I've learned....

The local swim coach, Max was an amazing coach. There would be three lanes (50m) full of athletes and he literally made you feel as though he was just coaching you. Amazing man, and he helped me HEAPS learning how to swim, dolphin dive, and catching waves in the surf. He would pop up on his surf board and shout things like, "Keep dolphin diving, Julie!" or "Get ready to catch this wave....NOW!" How awesome is that?

Even the last day of swimming he made me stay in the next lane up from the slowest lane. I was dying but he wouldn't put me back in the slow lane...I literally lost count of how many times I was lapped. My foot was killing me, I couldn't put on fins, (everyone was wearing fins for the mains set), and when I said maybe I should go to the slow lane...he replied, "no, they're doing the same thing over there!" LOL!

So, instead of mentally pouting, I decided, "He knows a hell of a lot more than swimming than I do, and if he thinks I need to be doing this, then I will." And I did! :) :)

A big humongous thank you to my coach Sara, to Clint and to Paul. You guys were so kind to include me and I am so grateful to have been able to train with you all. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! :) :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Some more tidbits...

The last few days....

  • A wild Australian turkey attacked my plastic shopping bag of clothes on the beach....then came back and did it again when my back was turned...
  • I SAW 4 KANGAROOS TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :)
  • I swam a 1:40 in the long course pool -- Sara said in the 25m pool I will go faster!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I learned why you don't go barreling into the surf with the surf rescue squad without learning where the sand holes are....(Check out Rachel's blog for a picture of the ripped Aussie in speedos who helped me out -- even older dudes are ripped here!!)

Yes, it hurts like a mother $ucker. LMAO!! Ice and a 5 hour ride did me good today. :)

  • My tri buddy (and triathlon rockstar) Rachel did our hair up all fancy for an impromptu "Coaches Appreciation Night" last night. We both ended up in tears after giving our little speeches -- what can I say, Clint and Sara are the most generous and knowledgeable and frigging wonderful coaches out there!!!!

You see, the excitement was to come later on when we took the little knots out so we could have "Going Out" hair.... We never went out -- hey we have full training schedules! LOL!!

  • We had an 80s flash back powwow in my room after dinner. Rachel and I took our pony tails out and Rachel broke out her LEOPARD PRINT knee warmers and headband. HAHAHAHAHAHAH!! AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :)

The 80s RULE!!!!!

  • The most eaten foods here the last three weeks? Bananas, yogourt, almond butter/peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.....

I miss Australia already......March 29 I'll be home.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Race Report

All race photos courtesy of Clint Lien

So the race was a Splash and Dash -- although technically it should be called Splash and Dash AND Splash and Dash. Hee-hee!!

I was entered in the "long course:" 600m swim, 3km run, then back in the water for another 600m swim and then another 3km run. The run consisted of two 1.5 km loops. The men were given a one minute head start and then it was our turn...

The race was held in calm waters -- protected by a and Rachel didn't know what a breakwater was, so we googled it the night before the race. LOL!! In case you are as clueless as I am (errrr, was? LOL!) the breakwater was a big bunch of rocks forming a wall shaped like a boomerang sticking up out of the water about 800m or so away from the beach.

But there were still waves. To this pool swimmer, the waves were enough to ensure I swallowed a good amount of salt water....nice.

As swimming is my weakness, I immediately glommed onto a gal that was swimming just a tad faster than me and happily drafted the entire 600m. I was quite pleased with myself at this! Hahahahahaha!

There was a bunch of discussion amongst ourselves prior to the race as to what we would do with our swim caps (which were optional and BYOSC -- bring your own swim cap) and goggles. Some people just kept their caps on and ran with their goggles pulled up on their heads. I opted for this ensemble...

As I approached transition I ditched the idea of putting my swim cap on (and promptly ditched it) and just went with my goggles. My hair (in case you haven't noticed) is now long enough to get it into a little nubbin of a pony tail. YAY!!

The run was AWESOME!! For the first time in a race, I was passing people on a run portion. What a great feeling! I was pushing myself but was aware of the salt water in my belly. On the second 1.5km loop (the first time around) I suddenly KNEW that if I pushed harder I would puke it up eventually. But, I was counting on the fact that the race was so short that I'd be able to ward off the vomit monster. Heh-heh-heh.

It was so exciting to use the people ahead of me as targets to push guy I passed was super skinny and had those flashy neon green/blue special shoes on. He repassed me once and then slowed right down...I realized, "Oh my God! I am faster than him -- I have to pass him again!" And I did and that was the end of that one.
Then there was this chickie poo ahead of wearing a fluorescent orange bikini top. It was near the end of the second loop where I passed her.

A LOT of the people I passed on the first "dash," re-passed me on the second swim. Hahahahahah!! Sadly, there was nary a person near me who I could find to draft from -- so I "floundered" (Coach Sara's description! LOL!) the second 600m.

As I was *swimming* -- or whatever it was I was doing that approximated swimming for the second 600m, I reflected to myself...."Take it easy, Jules -- just relax and survive this swim. No need to trigger an asthma attack -- just save yourself for the run!"

Soon enough, the second swim was over (and yes, it is very very weird to go swimming again after you've just ran hard) and I was running up the beach to get my running shoes on.

The second run was great too -- I passed more people and didn't take a drink of water for the last loop --- I wanted to give it all I had. LOL!!!!

Sara is turning me into a runner!!!!! Thanks Sara!!!! :) :) :)

Here is a pic of Rachel and Heather (triathlon super studettes!) Rachel placed 2nd in her age group and Heather placed third in her age group.

On the drive back to our condo, I was rustling in my bag and I found my very own koala!!!!!! I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to see a koala before we leave.....and Rachel surprised me with a little koala and a note from "Paula the Koala." LOL!!!! Here is Paula on my pillow:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Some pics....

The mess of bike shoes, running shoes, and flip flops at the front door of our shared condo. With downpours every day, there is nothing quite like the feeling of pulling on already sodden sneakers/cycling shoes first thing in the morning....

There is nothing quite like the smell either....Hahahahahaah!

Mike is always bugging me that I never take enough photos....actually I find it difficult to take ANY photos. I mean, what am I going to take a pic of? Me standing next to a tree with my bike? Some people take great pics like that -- me though, I feel like such a knob. Hahahahahaha!!!

However, I broke out the camera yesterday and am making the effort...

Here is my coach, Sara Gross working away all afternoon on our rest day yesterday. We swam in the morning (I got pulled out of the pool because my fatigue was THAT obvious -- LOL!!!), and then had the rest of the day off.

While Sara worked diligently away, I laid in bed reading and kept getting up to eat. Then eat more, then eat still more. I felt like a bag of ass all day yesterday -- shudder. But it wouldn't be a rest day without that great ole feeling eh? Hee-hee!!

Speaking of my and many of my blogger buddies' favourite expression, here is the inventor of "Bag of Ass": Our very own uber coach resting and dreaming up more workouts for all of us...Clint Lien (And taking in some Antiques Roadshow...LOL!!!)

We made dinner for 9 people last night....Rachel is an incredible athlete, chef, organizer, and woman!! In fact -- her link to her blog has some BEAUTIFUL pics she has taken -- and the one of her riding her bike was taken by me! Hahahahahahaha!!!

Actually her blog has an excellent write up of the goings on at the camp so far!!

Here is Rachel is action -- I did as I was told, chopping veggies, etc as she worked her magic in the kitchen last night. She is such a caring person, she had found out on facebook that our newest roomie would be celebrating a birthday the next day. So, we all pitched in (under Rachel's guidance -- and when she wasn't looking, Sara and I stole sun chips -- LOL!!!!) and enjoyed an AWESOME dinner!!

Andrew Johns and his wife Lisbeth Kristensen are staying immediately below us. When they got wind of our new guest's birthday they promptly decided to arrange for a special cake for her....

Here is a pic of the birthday girl....Miranda!

Monday, March 15, 2010

By the way....

.....there is a sweep to the left.

That is what a local Aussie guy told me as we were preparing to swim out in the surf.

We were at a different beach this time and the waves looked just as terrifying to me as the last beach we were at...

I asked Tim (the local guy who also swims with us, well me, for pool sessions), "What is a sweep?" I don't know whether it is a current or what, but whatever it is, it pushes HARD to the left. Really hard.

Sara told me to only do what I was comfortable with...the pros and elites were going to swim WAY out past the surfers (there was a surfing festival going on this weekend) and then go around this point. I told her I was just going to swim out and if I felt scared (terrified, panic-stricken, etc.) I would just swim back to shore. ;P

We all started to dive under waves and then tried to walk toward the next one as the current was sucking your legs out from underneath you. The pros all started swimming right away.....and then there was me. Hahahahahahaahahah!!!!

I thought I would just swim out and then turn around and come back in -- I was even going to time myself -- 20 minutes out and then turn around. Well, the waves/breakers/whatever they are called were a lot more powerful than the first beach I swam at. I was scared, but forced my mind to go blank and just go with it.

It was shortly after I finally made it out past the breakers that I looked over to shore and saw just how far down the current had pushed me....Holy mackeral -- I was like a frigging rubber duckie bobbing around in a bath tub, completely at the whim of the waves.

I made a concerted effort to swim back up shore -- It was literally like swimming on a treadmill. Which would have been fine if there weren't gigantic, powerful, rip-snorting waves to avoid. I'm still learning here people! LOL!!

I did manage to make a bit of headway up shore, and then I decided to swim back to shore...But HOLY-O-CRAP the fricking waves at my back were too big for me to deal with. I would swim a little in the direction of the beach, whilst simultaneously stealing backward glances to see when the next monster wave would come.

It was precisely at this time I knew this swim was far, far beyond my current ability. LOL!!

I am new at this ocean/surf swimming thing, and to try and catch a wave of such magnitude that far away from shore was, like I said, just beyond my ability. So, when I would see a big mother of a wave coming up behind me, I would spin around facing it and dive underneath it.

As I dropped beneath each wave, the power of the water would rip and pull at my swim cap and my body. I started to put both hands on top of my head to hold my goggles/swim cap on when I *dove* underneath each wave.

Thus, with all my turning around and diving under waves while trying to swim away from them, my progress to shore was pretty slow -- all the while I'm being *swept* to the left.

FINALLY, I could feel sand underneath my feet and I managed to catch a wave the rest of the way to shore. As I emerged from the water (far down from where I had entered), the surf rescue squad was starting to put their rescue pontoon boat in the water. Oh God, I am so glad they didn't need it for me! LOL!!!!!

After the swim, Tim said that the swim had been especially rough and difficult that day -- I felt a mixture of content that even the local guy had a rough go, and happiness that I had actually survived the ordeal! LOL!!!

One weird thing I noticed when I was swimming -- very slight, pinprick points of burning on my arms, etc. It wasn't bad by any means, but noticeable. I found out afterward it is sea lice.....that sounds so disgusting, eh?

I'm hoping that by hanging out with all these stud athletes, some of the studliness will rub off and me and I will get faster!! Hee-hee!!! :) :)

Next stop, Splash and Dash race "long course" this weekend... Get this:

600m ocean swim, 3km run, then hop back into water for another 600m swim and then a 3 km run. YEEHAW!! I think I'm going to be laughing so hard all through this event!! Wish me luck!!! LOL!!!!

Love, baby stud. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Quickie update...

1. No koalas or kangaroos yet. There are signs all over the roads saying "We live here too" but I haven't seen them yet.

2. Wild turkeys roam the streets and beaches of Noosa. I kid you not. If I don't see a fricking koala or a kangaroo and only see a fricking turkey....??? LOL!!

3. Dead frogs and BIG dead snakes on the roadside stink. Really really stink.

4. Cockroach in my bedding = SCREAM!!!! I went running to the only male in our condo. Apparently this is my default behaviour. Hahahaha!

5. Torrential downpours in Australia still makes awesome riding. :)

6. Finally getting the hang of driving on the wrong side of the road and navigating the billion and one "roundabouts." Think traffic circles except with bike lanes, and driving on the wrong side of the road. Oh. My. God. I've only been honked at once. That, and the fact that it always feels like you are heading in the wrong direction...

7. Australian culture is awesome -- people are up and at 'em at 5:30am -- all over the place: swimming, biking, running, walking, kayaking. So active! So awesome! :)

8. You can get a tan even with SPF 50.

9. Real coffee is way better than my monster jug of Folger's at home....

10. Note to self: Make sure to poop and pee before all runs....the ground beneath all bushes, trees, etc. off the side of the roads is either marsh or ocean.

11. 20kg per piece of luggage to fly from Sydney to Sunshine Coast airport = $190 AUD in overweight charges. :( I'll be leaving a LOT behind...

Good night! Don't let the bed bugs bite! ;P

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First lessons from Australia....

#1. Exercise-induced asthma: Was doing a warm up with drills and strides -- the first set of strides I did triggered and asthma attack so bad I was truly frightened. I've never had it that bad. It was 31 degrees Celsius and the humidity was incredible -- let's say working out here in Noosa feels EXACTLY like running/biking/swimming in a hot steamy shower. You know when the bathroom steams right up and when you open the door, the delicious cooler air feels so awesome? Well, subtract the delicious cool air bit. ;)

I couldn't even walk - it felt like someone had poured cement in my lungs and there was only one inch of space left to breathe. The feeling directly linked to an emotional involuntary response too. If you have ever been so grief-stricken that you are swallowing your grief....that is how it felt too. Very weird. I had to fight against the response not to cry. So odd.

Our track session was just about to start --- I was to do 10x400m with whatever rest the coaches told me to take. This was the second time in my life I have run on a track. Hee-hee!!

Mind you, this track was not really a track -- just a huge grass field sproingy with mud and moisture from all the rain. But it did have track lines on it.

The first two times I went around, I started to get that terrible feeling again. The two coaches told me to breathe deep, relax, don't panic, and concentrate on floating around the track....Well, as my Dad would say, "HOLY - O - CRAP!" My times started dropping immediately -- they told me I took 20 seconds off my first two times!

I asked them, ""How is that even possible?" Their response? "You are running now -- real runners are relaxed."

I am not kidding -- the running changes I made felt like I was going too EASY. It felt like I was loping around the field, which was why I was astonished again and again when my times kept dropping. Running felt EASY!!!! It felt too easy!

I mean, I was working hard by breathing harder and my muscles were pumping, but the action of running felt ridiculously easy...Go figure!! I wonder if swimming might be like that too. Hmmmm.

Well, I will post more about the AWESOME swimming coaching/advice I've been receiving later.

And my adventures in the freakish and HUGE crashing and pounding frothing surf. Oh my God, I can't believe I learned how to swim in that!! Hahahahaha!!! That was yesterday: into the ocean, swim to a buoy, out of the ocean.

Run into the ocean swim some more, back out of the ocean. WOW.

Today's menu is a coached swim with swim squad, 4.5 hour bike with hill reps, and a run off. Something tells me I'm going to sleep well tonight!! HAHAHAHAHAH!!

I LOVE NOOSA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Time to let you know where I am for the rest of March......

Heat + Humidity + awesome training = 1 HAPPY JULIE! :) :) :)

Have a great March everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'm a raisin!

There I was at the mall in the *city* earlier this week. I don't think I'd been there in at least 3 years...

I wanted to get some super rich body butter from The Body Shop to help combat my tight and painful swimming skin. I had found a tub of body butter on Mike's side of the medicine cabinet thingie and when I tried it, I was sold.

The sales girl was trained well -- she was up-selling me like crazy, I can't resist the "buy two get one free" deal you know? Hee-hee! So I ask her if she could recommend an uber rich facial moisturizer. She runs through all the product lines, but I still want more moisture. More creaminess. My face is in that chlorinated pool and my freaking eyebrows are turning blonde. I NEED MOISTURE!

She directs me to the line called "Wise Woman." Hahahahaha! Nice way to say Old Fart product line. I ask if there is stuff with SPF in that line, and she says, "No, I guess older people don't go outside that much." HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! My response, "Well, that's not very wise is it?" See, I thought my retort was supremely witty, but when I am the only laughing at my joke, I guess it wasn't....

The gal then starts to describe why this line will work for me. As we age, she tells me, my skin is like a raisin. I swear my spine shot up straight and I almost burst out laughing. She explained how added moisture will make my skin like a grape. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I couldn't hold back any longer. Oh man, I'm a raisin!!!!!! LMAO!!!!

Onto the embarrassing episode at the lung function clinic later t
hat day....

I was sitting in this little cubicle thingie. It's almost like a teeny tiny car with a seat and windows all around, but no wheel or gas pedal. Just a contraption with a hose and a collapsible arm and an end piece you blow into for their measurements. I'd done similar tests last week, so I knew I was supposed to wrap my lips around the end piece to seal off the air and breathe through my mouth whilst my nose was clipped shut.

There was a male med student there that day doing his observation thing.

The woman in charge ran through the instructions and got me set up in the cubicle. When she told me to place my mouth on the end piece, I did the same as what I did last week...

Except this time, the woman, shouted (she was a guffawing and boisterous person, so "shouting" is not an exaggeration) "WHOA! You don't need to swallow it!"

Oh. My. God. My face went beet red and of course I had to look at the male med student. To his credit he decided to adopt the "I-didn't-hear-anything-and-am-happily-oblivious" look.

Seriously. Why do these things happen to me?


Hahahahahahah!!!! Fellow raisins --- UNITE!!! LOL!!!!