25 November 2015

Dreaming of a white Christmas

Shout out to NT News journalist Kylie Stevenson who recently did this feature article in the NT Frontier section: The Big C - Dealing with Cancer, and yours truly got a mention.  

It is certainly motivating me to get out there on my bike and in the pool this week - obviously have to live up to that!

What is not motivating is the current heatwave conditions in Darwin - overnight minimums are hovering around 27-29 degrees C and the thermometer topped 36 degrees C earlier this afternoon.  

Water coming out of the cold water tap is around 30 deg C - ditto the water in our local pool. Neither are very cooling or refreshing.

I have a friend who brings a container with ice in it to the pool so that she can splash herself to cool off in between sets.  And that's at 6am in the morning. True story!

In the meantime we await the arrival of the monsoon, praying for rain before we all go troppo and dreaming of a white Christmas. 







31 October 2015

I.DID.IT. Comeback Queen V3

I've avoided posting anything at all for ages as chemo side effects got a little tough at times, but that's all past now, so here's a Comeback Queen V3 update:

With those same pesky side effects also meaning virtually no running was possible, Supercoach insisted I leave entry for the Bali International Triathlon until the last minute.

I think he knew and wanted to let me down lightly, as it became increasing obvious that as much as I wanted to do it, the 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10 run distance was going to be too much, too soon.

I was swimming ok (just) even managed to rejoin squad for the final two weeks before the race.  Being at the back of the latte lane never felt so good!

Riding was coming along well thanks to getting out mostly on my mountain bike (more stable than Ms Trek on those dizzy days) but the distance in the ride bank wasn't really enough for a 40km ride.

Running - well think walk + moments of Cliff Young shuffle - and you will get an idea of where I was when chemo finished. Admittedly my shuffle time between walks was increasing, but with the increased effort, so was my huffing and puffing.

So from then on, with fingers crossed that I wasn't still biting off more than I could chew, the 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run Sprint option became my focus.

I approached my final week of training (two weeks post chemo) with all the dedication of a true Ironman - gritted my teeth and got on with it.

Swimming and riding boxes got ticked off as good to go, but running was still dodgy. Unlike me, at least Ms Trek was in tip top condition thanks to the Cycle Zone Darwin crew.

We knew the run course in Bali included a few long steep sections, but I found I still really, really, really wanted to do it.

So granted Supercoach approval to enter the  Sprint distance, my race plan became: start swim, assess body at end of swim, start bike, reassess body, start run and see what happened.

It was a given that I would pull the pin if I was distressed in any way.

More pre race good news was that race organisers really concentrated on get the ride course flowing smoothly again this year and to do that enlisted the help of hundreds of police officers.

Here's me letting some the guys know their assistance out on the bike & run courses would be appreciated. 

And then, finally some three weeks & two days after finishing six months of chemo, I found myself in Bali & on the start line at Jimbaran, feeling no pressure, totally excited to there and just wanting to enjoy every minute of this amazing course.

That's me in the SOAS Aquarius kit, 
getting a few pointers prior to my wave start


Didn't swim too badly after all it turns out!


Off the bike and on to the run in under an hour, 
no wonder I smiled!


Done & dusted in 1:39:41 - can't begin to describe
how awesome it felt to complete my first triathlon since Challenge Laguna Phuket 11 months ago!

Meanwhile the main event was still underway and I was stoked to be able to cheer home my good friend & prime motivator Kylie (who raced on a borrowed bike, in my spare tri kit, and in sundry other loaned and/or hastily purchased items after Jetstar left her bike bag containing all her race kit back in Darwin). First woman home she is now Female Champion of the 2015 Bali International Triathlon!!

Congrats Kylie!!


And it was great to be there to cheer home the rest of those racing from Darwin


Daryl finishes 3rd in category!

When results were confirmed, we had all done well and featured in our local NT News:

15 seconds of fame

After being in doubt just a month ago, it was such a good feeling to know that this Comeback Queen had nailed Version 3 and truthfully I've still got an inner glow happening.

Its been a long year and it seemed to take forever to get from my surgery at the end of January & through the six months of chemotherapy to finally reaching my Bali goal last weekend and I couldn't have done it without some very special people.  

Daryl (my calm in the storm) has been there, always supportive, every step of the way and likewise Jess & Peter and their families have been my anchors and I love them all dearly.

Flora & Di keep me sane, grounded and listen to my ramblings however long they take; Kylie keeps on my case and many a time has managed to get me from horizontal to vertical when I needed it most and also much appreciated is Ali's empathy, we are both looking for brighter times in 2016! Daryl's squad offer me so much encouragement, as do fellow Darwin Triathlon Club members - a big thank you to you all.

I can't bring my Comeback Queen V3 to a close without thanking the wonderful SOAS Crew who have been so supportive and generous throughout the year. Thank you! Then there are the Team SOAS members who are a delight and have enabled me to participate vicariously through their posts!  Well done to all you totally amazing women!

No way I can overlook the Cycle Zone factor either. Their VIP service and ensuring both my bikes are in perfect condition whether I was just up for half an hour around the block or heading for Bali is appreciated, always.  Thanks guys!

So there it is - I DID IT - and it feels great!

What's next?  

I'd love to say a half iron distance somewhere, but I'm booked for another scan & bloods sooner than expected, so no plans until those test results are in.  

In the meantime I'll concentrate on getting stronger on the bike and ditching the Cliff Young shuffle asap and have crossed my fingers  there won't be a version 4 required for this Comeback Queen. 



If you haven't yet, I recommend putting Bali International Triathlon 
on your bucket list.

29 August 2015

Happiness is

Having commenced my penultimate round of chemotherapy yesterday and with latest CT scans & bloods indicating I'm "stable", what better time than now to revive my inner "Comeback Queen" for the third time!

The goal is locked in as the Bali International Triathlon which is some 56 days away (race date 25 October 2015).  

Yikes, that's really not that far away for someone starting over again.
 
It's "only" an Olympic Distance.  I say "only" because my brain still thinks I'm up for an Ironman, unfortunately my body tells me otherwise right now.  

If 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run proves to be beyond me come race day, there is a doable (surely) Sprint Distance and if all else fails, there is a fall back 5km run.  I'll be up for one of those in 56 days time (said with fingers crossed behind my back).

This race is a personal favourite - in 2007 we competed when it was the first ever triathlon in Bali and have returned most years since.  Billed the "triathlon of the soul", it has always been a wonderful feel good event and having your bike blessed is not something that happens at other triathlons.

The event wasn't held last year (the date clashed with Indonesian elections) so it is great to see it back on the calendar.

Bali is so close to home (just a 2.5hr flight) & the timing coincides with the finish of my six months of chemo treatment, so I think it is a perfect goal for this wannabe Comeback Queen!

On a high following a treatment "rest week" and with a couple of weeks on a very light (alternative to being permanently horizontal) program set by Supercoach Daz backing me up, here is where I'm currently at:

Longest swim: 700m (we won't mention how long that took)
Longest ride:   26.87km
Longest walk:  5.97km (we won't mention how long that took either)

I'm on the lookout for new speedsuit to wear in the swim as I need all the streamling I can get!!

Happiness is:

loving family, supportive friends, a bike ride, a new Comeback Queen goal and an end in sight to latest cancer treatment.


Life is good!

10 July 2015

Milestones

Just happens that today is a milestone day so thought I'd celebrate with a blog post (it has been awhile). 

The occasion?  It's hump day of my chemotherapy treatment. Woo hoo!

Four chemo cycles are done and dusted and I now get a recovery week.  Chemo brain is real - just saying!

On the positive side, it also seems so much closer now to that final dose so I'll continue to pop those pills very much looking forward to that next milestone.

I've lived with cancer long enough though, to know that nothing is a given.  

This treatment milestone point also signals time for some check up scans and some extra blood tests - all scheduled during my upcoming "rest" week. 

My next oncologist appointment will have some added stress attached until we know those results. Fingers will be firmly crossed (along with legs, ankles, eyes and arms).

In the meantime, I'm a little down that my fitness is once again slipping.  However much I try and keep active, each cycle brings a period of inability to get out there and exercise effectively.  

One of the side effects of my treatment (tailored to meet individual need) is hand and foot syndrome which appears in the later stages of my cycle.  

When that happens it's best to avoid any friction on the feet (ie I need to avoid too much walking, running etc). 

So no surprise then that I was limping after we travelled over to the east coast to watch Ironman Cairns recently (and the associated 70.3) as Daryl coaches a number of athletes who were competing and it seemed a good opportunity to get away for the weekend.

The extra walking, especially up at the Palm Cove transition areas the day before the race, really didn't agree with my feet, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. 

On the race results front it was a super day for coach Daryl, and I loved being on the sidelines supporting and taking the odd photo. 

I was stoked to see my favourite triathlete Luke McKenzie achieve another milestone result when he added a second Cairns Ironman title to his impressive list.  


Congratulating Beth & Luke on their engagement & wishing them good luck!

It was exciting as well to see friends Ange Castle and Hannah Johnston grab 8th and 9th overall in the women's field.  

For Hannah it was a huge milestone, her first iron distance race, first in age category, first age grouper home and a Kona slot at the first attempt!

Ashan's result was also fantastic - a 5th in his age group and 21st Male overall (in such a huge field, I'd call that a milestone in his development as well).

The 70.3 men's field was totally stacked so it was awesome to see Tim Green come through and finish in 10th.  

Now working in Cairns, Tim was the first hometown guy to finish - yet another milestone for him - this time in his own backyard. 

The others all did so well too, with a number achieving their milestone first Ironman or 70.3 finishes.  Always an exciting moment! 

We stayed out on the course until my feet finally sent a message loud and clear in the form of a limp that I could no longer ignore.

For a few days after that I felt like I had done an Ironman rather than just watching!

Once my feet were back to near normal a few days after we returned home, I was totally inspired to get out and walk/run and ride but I don't think it's nearly enough to maintain real fitness.  So I've just resolved to do what I can, when I can and enjoy it!!

I did pretend to be a real triathlete though when I got asked to be in a Territory Day feature for our local newspaper.  I confess to trying to palm them off to someone else, but no go!

It was one of those quick little vox pop interviews and a photo to add to those of a number of Territorians of all walks of life, so you can imagine I did a back flip at this ...


... a milestone day to experience 15 seconds fame!

Even more milestones (in the form of special "0" birthdays of a number of friends & an engagement) have also meant we have had some enjoyable social occasions to attend lately.

With more of the same on the calendar over the next few weeks, I'm really looking forward to sharing the moment with those friends who will be reaching their own special milestones. 







05 June 2015

Lucky, lucky fit folk

Right now it seems everyone I know is training for something!

They are putting in the hard yards in preparation for a variety of events including Ironman 70.3 Japan, Ironman 70.3 Switzerland, Coral Coast 5150, Ironman 70.3 Cairns, Ironman Cairns, NT Long Course Triathlon, Katherine Ultra Challenge, Darwin Half Marathon, and the list goes on and on.

Closer to home, we had our NT Olympic Distance Triathlon here in Darwin last weekend and there was certainly a lot of good form on show from local athletes. There were also some exciting close moments during the race and I was pleased to be able to see everyone doing so well.

Down side was the good form wasn't mine and instead I'm still benched and on the sidelines!

Daryl was competing and mornings aren't so bad fatigue wise so no way I would miss supporting. 

I managed to position myself quietly in a few different spots out on the course, hide under my SOAS trucker cap and take some pretty decent photos (if I do say so myself) of athletes in action.

With such a bird's eye view, it was an enjoyable, if somewhat frustrating day. I'd much rather have been participating!

I'd finished a round of chemo on Friday morning after enduring side effects I'd never experienced before and ended up in ED that night for about five hours getting checked out.  

Bloods, X-rays checked and some heavy duty painkillers under my belt I was later discharged on the proviso I return if symptoms worsened.

Of course, reassured, I readily agreed.  Hospitals are not my favourite places and Darwin's ED on a Friday night is not where you want to hang out any longer than is necessary!

Hat's off to the medical staff, they were doing a fantastic job during a very busy shift.  

Saturday still wasn't the best of days and bed called early that night followed by the early start Sunday to go down and watch the race.  

As much as I try to ignore it, fatigue sets in early afternoon and I admit to starting to wonder if this chemo lark was worth it. 

Monday was iffy and I had to have pre-chemo bloods done, but by Tuesday I started to feel human again and managed to get to the pool for a swim in the evening.

500m later and I was a new person.

Wednesday morning I got out on my mountain bike and enjoyed a ride - all 16 slow kilometres of it!

And I'm sure you know what happened on Thursday morning ....



.... there was me at sun up, plugged in to my Ironman playlist, walking mainly but managing to jog a little, albeit only a minute at a time!

The resulting high and feeling like I haven't completely lost my swim bike run mojo,  put a bit of spring in my step!

I'll hang on to that for as long as possible now that round 3 of chemo has started today.  

And I'll continue to follow the progress of all those lucky, lucky folk who have health and fitness on their side and look forward to tracking their progress at events near and far ....

.... but only until I can make a start line again myself because then I want to join them!

15 May 2015

No avoiding it

So wished I could have been on the start line at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam but had to instead settle for supporting on the sidelines.

Mind you, that was no hardship!  What a great triathlon location as well as an amazing cultural experience.

Athletes and their supporters were warmly welcomed and there was an excited buzz around during the lead in to the event as well as on race day.



Although not the best viewing for spectators, the free wifi and multiple timing points helped bridge the gap for those of us doing it "hard" supporting back at the luxurious Hyatt Danang resort.

The shuttle buses to and from the venue worked well and there were taxis everywhere for those other occasions.  Would have loved to have seen more of the bike but didn't want to risk getting caught in possible traffic jams and not make it back to the finish line in time. 

The results our group achieved were fantastic!  

Stef & Ange placed 4th & 5th pro female respectively, coach Daz won his age category (by a whole hour), Cath's trophy for second place in her age group was almost as big as the grin she sported, Angela in her debut 70.3 event placed 8th and Billy 9th.  Jamie finished with a thumbs up as well as a big grin!

Phil unfortunately got a flat a couple of kilometres out and had to run his bike in.  As he lost time clip clopping back to T2 and still came in 4th, one wonders what his result would have been without the mechanical.

Now back in cooler dry season Darwin there is no avoiding it, and it's back to reality with a thump! Cycle 2 of chemotherapy begins today, groan, but am dreaming of the day my name will be on a start list (any list) again.  

Perhaps for Vietnam in 2016!!




13 April 2015

Great timing

The arrival of my new mountain bike couldn't have been better timed.  

The awesome guys at Cycle Zone called up to tell me my new chariot had arrived and was ready for collection just as I was leaving the Alan Walker Cancer Centre (Cycle 1 of chemo now underway) on Friday.


Other than a little spin around the yard the first opportunity to really "ride" was yesterday and I headed out towards Dripstone Cliffs and Casuarina Beach early.





Nude beach or not, no way I was getting out of my gorgeous SOAS Racing kit at the weekend.  Thanks again to Steph & the SOAS crew for the lovely gift!  

Thanks for all the well wishes, I'm feeling like this next six months is very doable.


06 April 2015

I've missed it

Today was the day I cracked and decided enough was enough!

There was just no way I could get through until Thursday and the recommended 6 weeks post op. Although I had the best of intentions, the urge to ride was just too strong today. So, sorry Doc, made it to 5.5 weeks ... that's pretty close.

It felt awesome!

A tiny weeny 14.5km ride and I'm a new person.

Add that to some recent pool time, mostly wallowing but very enjoyable and reassuring to still be able to swim 100m at a time. 

Then there have been some encouraging signs during my walks (the urge to break into a shuffle) and I'm starting to feel like there is half a chance of making another triathlon comeback in the future.

And that feels really, really good!

I've missed it.  Challenge Phuket feels like it was years ago instead of just a few months.

Another six months of chemotherapy starts this Friday and I hope to maintain swimming, riding and shuffling as much as possible during that time - it helps!

A race start in 2015 may be looking a little doubtful right now, but I'll have fun trying to maintain some fitness, in my fantastic new team SOAS racing kit, so that I'm ready to start Comeback Queen V3 asap.  

But for today I'm just happy to have been able to get out in the sunshine and ride!


15 February 2015

Looking for silver linings

I know, I have been slack in updating my blog and in truth I'm finding it a little difficult to write this now.

The year started well ...


... and following the excitement of being named as one of only a dozen SOAS Racing Ambassadors from Oz, I was bursting at the seams to lock in my goal race/s for 2015 and share the journey along with such an awesome and supportive team of women.  Cairns 70.3 was firming as most likely.  

We then dashed off to be on the sidelines at Challenge Melbourne earlier this month (held in horrendous conditions, and we almost froze on race day after watching in heatwave conditions last year).  It was a buzz to see athletes happy to take on the conditions and also a great opportunity to catch up with many people we know.  

After experiencing two years of extreme weather, the law of averages says Challenge Melbourne should have perfect conditions next year!  

Meanwhile the heart and head were more than willing but as new exciting races got rolled out in our region that I would normally jump at, I found myself holding back when it came to actually entering an event.

We triathletes know our bodies well and unfortunately mine has been sending some odd messages. 

So it's time to put it out there that although I managed Hawaii 70.3 and Challenge Phuket in 2014, I'm not looking like earning my third Comeback Queen crown for awhile yet. 

Since my last blog post I've had another round of CT scans and blood tests (these have been done every three months since my post op chemo finished). When results for those were available we met with my oncologist and he confirmed there was cause for concern and subsequently referred me for a PET Scan interstate as this can't be done here at home.


I had a bag packed and boarding pass in hand and about to leave for the airport when a call came through to say the PET machine was broken and to cancel the flights. That left a big cloud of uncertainty and worry hanging over my head until my appointment could be rescheduled. 




Rescheduled some ten days later, I flew down to Brisbane for the PET Scan. The results confirmed a "glow in the dark" spot. Damn, double damn!

We have now had time to digest the news and I was immediately referred back to my surgeon here, who has since referred me on to the wonderfully skilled specialist surgeon who operated on me so successfully early in 2013.

We will meet with him a week tomorrow, to discuss the plan, options and risks for tackling this latest hurdle.

Looking for a silver lining to the crap cloud we have been dealt, triathlon fitness is on my side once more.  

The benefits of being reasonably fit and not over weight are working in my favour by keeping open the door for further surgery, as is the fact that this is a completely new site and no spread is showing elsewhere. 

The silver lining also includes the motivation to overcome this with 100% effort so that I can be at the wedding of our son and his beautiful partner next month and then to be well enough to travel to see our daughter & her husband and meet our second grandchild, due in May. 

Daz is again winning the "supportive dude" of the year award by making sure I don't linger long on negatives and thanks to him, it's working. 

With much to look forward to coming up,  I'm approaching all the arrangements as though we were travelling for a triathlon.  Flights and accommodation are booked, race entry (referral letter to surgeon) is in hand.  Registration (meeting with surgeon) will take place next week, then it will be off to the expo (anaesthetist, dietician, blood tests etc) before check in (ward admission).  

Meanwhile I've got a pre op keep fit program to do with a little swim, bike, walk/run happening!


25 January 2015

Something is missing

Not having a firm triathlon goal on the horizon, I'm feeling somewhat adrift.

Conversations with me, myself and I since Challenge Phuket have acknowledged that I really do function better if I have an event that I'm training for and enthusiastic about doing.

Instead, right now, I'm casually working on maintaining fitness and taking advantage of the extra time available!  I'm enjoying aqua aerobics, long walks and sight seeing rides again.  This mini break from training has also provided time to concentrate some more on becoming clutter free (there is still a very long way to go) and to carry out some random acts of kindness.  

But something is missing and it is most definitely the answer to that often asked tri question, "What race are you doing next?" and I'll admit for once it has me scratching my head!

Having already decided that I'm happy to be in a supporter role at both Challenge Melbourne (this coming weekend) and Ironman 70.3 Vietnam (May) and perhaps also Cairns (in June), I'm scanning the calendar for inspiration and jumping out at me are the races in Putrajaya and Singapore around April.

Thinking I'll have a chat with Supercoach real soon about those and pending results of an upcoming scan, will sign up for one (or perhaps both) and start work on becoming a version three Comeback Queen!

Although I don't have that next event firmly locked in, I'm not totally tri-less. Today our club kicked off 2015 with an aquathlon (750m swim, 5km run).  I was down at Lake Alexander bright and early to set up check in, took a few happy snaps for Facebook and to encourage competitors. 

It was a great turnout for the first event back and the wet season weather gods were kind to us which is not always the case at this time of year!


The weather gods turned on a perfect morning










17 January 2015

Some days

Some days a bike ride can be magic.

I was out the door late this afternoon for only my second ride this year so far (I know, I know - not off to the start of 2015 that I was hoping for but better than nothing).  The aim - just enjoy it!

Not far from home I encountered a tree full of black cockatoos ....


followed not long after by a frill necked lizard sighting ...


We used to see a lot of these wonderful creatures around but unfortunately it is not so common to see them now. 

I was happy to stand and watch this one for awhile though we eyed each other rather warily and I made sure the bike was between me and the lizard. 

I only wish I had realised how to zoom on my new phone before I went riding. 

After this morning's heavy rain it was energizing to have the sun peep through and I just kept on riding, loving the tail breeze and Darwin's now clean green look, so different to just a couple of months ago when everything was still dry and dusty.

The white cockatoos were also out and about ...


Into the wind on the way back I struggled a little, but with so much to look at I was soon back on the foreshore and then heading for home. 

Some days you just have to take the time to "smell the roses" and enjoy the simple things!


12 January 2015

'Tis the season of smelly shoes

Our Darwin wet season rolled in late with the monsoon not arriving until New Year instead of usual Christmas.

By then we were all in various stages of mango madness and the rain was very, very welcome.

Just love, love, love our wet season storms when the rain hammers down, the lightning flashes and the thunder rolls through!

As appreciated as the cooler conditions are, they also herald the start of the annual battle against mould, smelly shoes and the inability to get things dry!

With two active triathletes in the house we are soon overtaken by soggy running and cycling shoes as we alternate a number of pairs to give them a chance to dry and air out in between training sessions. 

Regardless, we always end up needing to deal with smelly shoes.



I'm yet to find the magic cure but have found a number of hints including: 

1.  Fill clean socks with kitty litter and place inside shoes overnight

2.  Place orange peels inside shoes overnight

3.  Sprinkle fabric sheet with Tea Tree Oil / Peppermint Oil / Cinnamon Oil and insert in shoes overnight

4.  Sprinkle baking soda inside and leave overnight

5.  Lysol disinfectant spray

6.  Massage your feet with virgin Coconut Oil at night

7.  Make up a shoe spray with 1/8th cup of vodka, 1/4 cup of distilled water and an antibacterial essential oil (tree tree, eucalyptus, rosemary etc)

8.  Soak your feet in black tea

9.  Wash in vinegar

10.  Wash in hot water / don't wash in hot water

I'd be interested to know how effective these methods are if you have had this problem and tried any of those solutions.

At present we remove inner soles, then wash and hang the shoes to dry which seems to freshen them up until the next time they get wet and the smell returns.

Think I'll at least give the kitty litter a crack.

In an effort to assist drying shoes, the best $4.50 I've spent in awhile was a recent purchase of three shoe hangers which are now being fought over (at $1.50 each, why oh why didn't I buy more of these handy little gadgets?).



Smelly shoes and wet season aside, the New Year also brought some exciting news and I'm extremely chuffed at being named part of Team SOAS again in 2015.  

On the not so exciting front, a recent period of unwellness requiring a dose of antibiotics has delayed choosing a goal race and taken me right back to square one fitness AGAIN! 

So Comeback Queen Version 3 has been delayed and I'll just be on the sidelines at Challenge Melbourne in a couple of weeks.  The MOTH (man of the house) has entered Ironman 70.3 Vietnam in May, which I'll be attending in a supporting role.

Thinking I need to find that next race real soon as well as a cure for smelly shoes!