Sunday, March 18, 2012

Para-cycling Camp - AIS

I am now home after a week at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra, where a Para-cycling camp was held.  What a fantastic week it was.  I had decided to drive up to Canberra which is around 7 1/2 hours.  A couple of reasons for this 1. I needed to take my old trike the "Red Rocket" with me just in case the new trike wasn't ready and 2. it gave me an excuse to visit my "Aussie Mum" Margo on the way up and back!

The camp was also designed to have us all meet one on one with people who would form a large part of life at the London Paralympics in the way of medical staff.  So we each had a meeting with the Recovery specialist - Jo, Sports Psych - Sarah, Nutritionist - Liz, Physio - Anouska and Doctor - Geoff. (there was a massage specialist but unfortunately he was sick the day I was to see him!)  What a wonderful group of experts!  It was great to be able to sit down with each one of them and gain a bit of insight into what it will be like in London and to know that we have a relationship with each one of them before getting there. 

We also had some training from the Australian Paralympic Committee (APC) on how to deal with the media.  That was a fun time with some of the athletes being involved in a mock press conference.  It is quite interesting that the APC want us to become involved in social media, after all it is all the rage right now and what a better way then to get all the stories out to the public, right from the athletes.  This is a stark contrast from the Olympics where social media has been banned by the AOC.

And of course we can't forget the info session on Anti-doping.  It always amazes me to think that athletes would actually consider any form of illegal drug to enhance their performance.  We were also drug tested this week as well.  It certainly isn't fun to have to pee in front of someone but that is the price we all pay for those few who decide to cheat.  So I for one am happy to be drug tested.

Can't wipe the smile off my face!

I think that the best part of the week for me was when I received my new trike!!  It has been named the "Blue Bullet", and by god it goes like a bullet!  The fact that is about 8 kilos lighter than my old steel frame and I'm almost 12 kilos lighter, I felt like I was flying.  You couldn't wipe the smile off my face all week and it seemed that at the end of every ride I just wanted to go out again or for longer!  This definitely made training much more enjoyable, even if some of the sessions hurt like hell.  But not only the fact that I was on a new trike but the fact that I rode with someone all week.  You see almost all of my training is done on my own, so it was awesome to have another athlete to train with.  Hannah is a below knee amputee and rides in the C4 category.  She is also from Melbourne and I have known Hannah for years, we met as swimmers.  Hannah has switched from swimming to cycling and will be a huge contender for World's and Para's in the next 4 years.  So it was great to be able to head out on the road and have someone there for those 2+ hour rides.

Now all this sounds after reading it that I am heading to London, well to be honest we just don't know yet!  Hopefully I will know by the time of our nationals which are on April 14-15th.  It is an exciting time but also a time to just put "head down, bum up" and train hard!  I keep reminding myself that I have put in the hard work especially since October and have learned how strong I can be.  I have had challenges that I have faced and attained, but the challenges that still face me are not to be taken lightly,  I have what it takes to keep moving forward.  With my new "blue bullet" I have been given that opportunity to look forward and envision the best possible outcome.

Peter Day our Head Coach said this week "Train with a sense of purpose and finish with a sense of achievement, crunch time is everyday".  How true this statement is, each athlete has to realize that having confidence in yourself is only one aspect of the journey, responsibiltiy is the other.  Only when you are willing to be fully responsible for your training can you be truly confident in your efforts.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Hard Slog Continues

Well I apologies for a lack of postings in the last month, life has been extremely busy.

The month of February is always busy for me because of my charity event I run. I have been holding the 24 Hour Mega Swim for the last 12 years at the Fitzroy pool. It was initially only supposed to be a one off event in 2001, but 12 years later is still going and has numerous spin offs around Australia. It has become my life and I love it!

Money raised from the swim and others like it go towards the "Go For Gold Scholarships" run by MS Australia, giving people with MS scholarships for a chance to follow a dream,boy have there been some dreams and goals attained! It is my way of giving back to those who may not have been as fortunate enough as me. I am happy to say that this years swim at the Fitzroy pool had a record number of swimmers (just over 600) and has raised a record amount of money (currently sitting at $290,400.00), with the donation lines open until the end of March. So I am hoping that this amount will rise.

Jarred and myself get ready to race in Echuca
 In between getting ready for the Mega Swim I have also put in some good training and I  had my first Trike race for the year, just a week ago in Echuca.  The course was very flat but boy was it windy!  It was a great race with a new Trike rider Jarred and we worked together to get through the wind with me taking line honours by the width of a tyre!  We did however have a spectacular finish with the crashing of wheels on the line.  No damage to us physically but both trikes suffered some wheel damage.

 It has been a hard slog, but I am starting to see the benefits come through. I've lost 11 kgs (24 pounds to those still using imperial measurements) and my power to weight ratio has improved. I am also looking forward to getting my new trike, which hopefully will be next week. That should put me 18-20 kgs lighter than at World Championships last year, so watch out world!

It certainly hasn't been all smooth sailing with a few niggling aches and pains (I blame that on age!) but I am getting through the other side. The weight loss has been hard but it is all about deciding what you want and what you have to do to get there!  It has been all about making the right decisions in regards to food choice and yes...forgoing that lovely glass of wine or that decadent piece of cake!  All that has mattered to me is changing my behaviour to attain the goals that I have set for myself.  It didn't start off easy but it is now.  They say that if you do something for a week religiously it becomes habit.  I have learnt that I am not missing anything, but I would have if I didn't change things.

I think that I have finally learned...albeit after 50 years...that the time has come to "stop putting it off", if you want to do something you have to do it now!  And you know, once I got that through my thick scull it hasn't been that hard at all!