Bring on 2013

I had envisioned my final post for this year to be a little more reflective, as is my normal style.

But I've just had a good week of training so instead of all that contemplative, touchy-feely stuff, I'm using this post to brag a bit.

"Are you running a marathon?!"

A few ks into my 18k long run this morning, that's the question I got. Not from a fellow runner. From a lady sitting at a coffee shop in some kind of active wear.

(I know I shouldn't make assumptions about her not being a runner. She may well have gotten up at the crack of dawn and punched out 10ks. But I suspect she hadn't.)

I wasn't. I was only running 18ks. But it got me thinking. What if I was running a marathon three days before Christmas?

Like your first day at school, but worse.

That's how I described my first swim squad in years, before I went.

It's like your first day because you don't know anyone.

It's worse because you have less clothes on.

Home made training food

OK, so 'home made training food' isn't the most enticing blog title ever, but this is a fairly factual post... I don't know what else to call it.

I never thought I'd be the type to be so particular about what I put in to my body that I'd bother to make my own training food. After successfully detoxing though I was determined not to go straight back to my old habits so just like when I detoxed, I've made the time to experiment.

We've found a winner that's easy to make and eat, is wheat and dairy free, and delicious.

Some unexpected (but well received) motivation

It's pouring rain here in Brisbane this morning.

I slept in this morning because of it.

It was gloomy. I didn't want to train in the rain (not even swimming - I'm such a bloody sook).

The detox debrief

I know, it's been a while. Some of you might even have felt concern that I might have died as a result of detoxing...

I'm happy to admit that it was a bit of a risk for me, having never done anything quite like this before. But I'm proud to report that I've taken control and conquered the detox, and as today's my last official day of detoxing, I'm looking forward to life after.

What's it like to detox? And does it really work? Read on to have your questions answered.

Aaaggghh!!! Allianz!!!!!

I happen to be a marketer and when I first heard Allianz insurance's "ahhh..." campaign (interestingly they refer to it as the "one word for insurance" campaign) I thought it was a bit risky and that it could easily backfire on them. A lot of the "ahhh..." in the ads come out more with anger than their intended anxiety.

I'd conveniently forgotten at that point in time that our Cyclecover contents and bike cover is underwritten by Allianz. Even if I'd remembered, I would hardly have imagined at that time that I'd be a case in point.

And yet, here I am.

By the way... I'm detoxing

Probably should have mentioned this sooner, but I'm currently ten days into a detox.

I'm eliminating meat, wheat, dairy, alcohol and caffeine from my diet until the first weekend in November. I'm also avoiding processed foods to eliminate added sugar. Naturally occurring sugars from fruit is OK.

In the first week I've conquered morning teas and drinks at work (turning down chocolate cake and champagne) and even resisted the urge to chain smoke as stress relief in the absence of chocolate or wine.

So far, I'm going great guns.

Life after Lance

"My name's Athletic Powerhouse and I'm an ex-Lance fan."

I'm one of those people who name their bikes and my last road bike was called Lance. A group of us traveled to Adelaide for the Tour Down Under in 2009 to witness his comeback and I did his Twitter ride last year. And yes, I own a Livestrong cycling jersey.

I haven't worn it for a while though. And probably not likely to ever again. At the risk of sounding like a lover scorned, in light of the USADA charges, I want Lance to get what he deserves, so that all of us can have a life after Lance.

A life less floppy

I am taking a hiatus from running to build up some core strength so I'm 'less floppy' when I run.

Not my words. My masseuse Sam at Inclusive Therapy described me that way.

And he's never even see me run.

Junk miles

With my road bike out order and with a need mostly to keep up base fitness, I've started doing a weekly or so bike commute to work.

My first ever cycling coach called rides like these "junk miles". They're not specific enough to give you good training results, and can leave you tired, so less receptive to proper training sessions.

I've done a bit of thinking about this and I've come to the conclusion that "junk miles", right now, are not junk.

Three Peaks Challenge Part 2: Coot-tha (again) and Gravatt

I know, running Mt Coot-tha dressed as Wonder Woman is so yesterday... but I made a commitment to do it again today, remember.

I also made a commitment to climb Mt Gravatt with the rest of the Truth or Dare Mountain support crew.

My legs were a bit tired from yesterday's lap, but I got through it all fairly uneventfully... and even keen to go back for more.

Three Peaks Challenge Part 1: Wonder Woman solo on Coot-tha

My friends at Truth or Dare Mountain are completing the Three Peaks Challenge this weekend.

In a sign of solidarity for the sisterhood, I ran Mt Coot-tha this morning dressed as Wonder Woman. (Yes, by myself. In costume.)

I'm going back tomorrow for my second lap and you can join us if you like. But more on that later. Let's cover off the reasons I put myself out there this morning first.

A bedtime alarm

I've just set a bedtime alarm.

My old Ironman watch that sits down on the computer desk in the lounge room will go off at 9.30pm every night.

To remind me to go to bed if I haven't already.

Post Ironman blues and pick me ups

It's been around a month since Challenge Roth, during which time I cycled up a few cols while on holidays, then came home and sat around watching the Olympics.

I had jetlag (maybe) and the post-Ironman blues (probably).

No-one tells you about the post-Ironman blues before you get them. Well, actually, I'm lucky. My good friend Andy did tell me. But that's a whole other story, the short version is, if you ever do an iron-distance race (or a marathon, ultra marathon, or some other race that you dedicate your life to for the better part of a year), make sure you've got something to look forward to afterwards, because it can be quite a come down.

Telegraph-Galibier on "Stand-in Simon"

We returned to the French Alps, specifically to St-Jean-de-Maurienne, with one thing on our to do list. I was going to ride Col du Galibier via Col du Telegraphe.

There is some history to this, but as it turns out, the fact that I'd only ridden Galibier from Lauteret (which isn't the proper side according to KKB) doesn't factor much in this story.

The real story is getting to the alps to ride the Cols without a bike in working order. That's where "Stand-in Simon" the Scott bike comes in.

Pool buoy / lake buoy

I went for a swim in the Lake D'Orta during our stay here. It was very short and I didn't stray too far from the shore, nor too far from where I started.

The water was clear, fresh, cool (but not cold). It was a real treat!

If I lived on a lake like this, I would probably never swim in a pool. My navigation in open water swims would improve out of sight and I wouldn't run into support craft like I did at Roth the other day.

I would probably have to get a buoy for visibility like this swimmer, who went past while we were eating lunch.

A small sacrifice to make I reckon!

A reluctant rockstar in Roth

I arrived at the start of Challenge Roth, feeling many things. Overwhelmingly, I was scared.

I wasn't ready for this. My body wasn't strong enough and the colds and injuries I'd been fighting for the last few months had probably left it a little bit broken.

Not very rockstar.

An iron-distance triathlon is always a bit of an epic. There is time for plenty of ups and downs along the way. All I had in my favour this time was experience. It was time to draw on this experience by getting myself into my routine, and start preparing myself psychologically, even if I didn't feel physically up to the task.

The key (bracelet) to swimming in France

I knew when returning to the Alps that there would be a last minute chance for a swim. While there were pools in all the places we'd stayed - they hadn't opened for Summer yet. So I'd been out of luck.

I discovered last time we were here that there are systems to follow at the pools in France. It's not like at home where you wander in, pay your money, and get into the pool at your leisure. What would I be getting myself in to here?

A look around Luz St-Sauveur

:We've transferred to the Alps but it's worth finishing off Luz St-Sauveur first. I took a walk around where we were staying on the last evening in town and captured some of the ambience.

After six hot days in the Pyrenees, the cloud from the mountains came down into town. It became cool and misty and perfect for a few photos.

Back to the border

My last climb in Luz St-Sauveur, and probably my last until Roth* was up to Gavarnie, near the Spanish border.

You guessed it, it was all uphill, but it was worth it. It was a beautiful little town!

Thoughts and pictures: Col du Tourmalet

The Col du Tourmalet is a climb made famous by victories in the Tour de France.

I tried to make today a "leisurely" climb, not all that possible on a climb of such length and gradient, but to help with this I took some photo stops along the way.

La Petite Maison, Luz St Sauveur

A day off the bike today (the green gunk is back with a vengeance) so I thought I'd show you a little of the 'little house' that's our home for a week on Luz St-Saveur - La Petite Maison.

The maison dates back to 1824, and although I couldn't find any written history on it, there are some telltale signs built in.

Is this a safari or a cycling trip?

Luz Ardiden isn't one of the best known of the tour climbs, but if you ask me it's a hidden gem - certainly it's not an easy climb but it's up there on beauty.

Having said that, I chose it for this morning's ride mainly because KKB rode up there yesterday and said he saw marmottes. I've been a bit obsessed with these little creatures since our last trip and that was enough to make it my first choice of rides for this leg of the trip.

A ride to somewhere

A quick ride in the countryside this afternoon armed with a bit of "local" knowledge and half a plan.

I'd told KKB that I'd ride out to Mauleon-Barousse then up Port de Bales, and turn around after 45 minutes. I didn't like the idea of just riding to nowhere so thought of another plan - to ride up to Saint Bertrand de Comminges, a town which boasts a massive cathedral, high on a hill.

Because we'd been there a few times on our last visit I thought it'd be straight forward, but it didn't turn out that way. I went back to Plan A - Port de Bales... a road to nowhere.

Mt Ventoux: Un, deux or trois?

We returned to Mt Ventoux yesterday. I loved this climb last time we were here and had been looking forward to tackling it from another angle this time, maybe even two or three.

I woke up this morning coughing and sneezing green gunk from my nasal cavity and the skies looked ominously grey. Actually, make that black. Let's be honest - neither conditions ideal for riding. If I was at home, I would definitely not have gotten out of bed - but how often do you wake up at the foot of one of the world's most revered and respected climbs?

Yep. Not very often. Time to HTFU and worry about the consequences later.

Um... We're here..,

So the last time you heard from me on this blog I'd ridden 130ks around the Nundah Criterium Track as a long ride training session for Challenge Roth.

Then, silence.

Well, a month or so has passed and... voila... we're in France.

Crazy is as crazy does

I did something a little crazy on Sunday... something that not too long ago, I would never have imagined doing.

I rode a 130k time trial around the Nundah Criterium track.

For those of you that don't know, the crit track is only 1.2ks long. So that's 108 laps.

Yeah. It sounds kinda nuts when you say it like that.

Countdown to Challenge Roth: Days 76 - 72

For followers of the Athletic Powerhouse on Facebook or Twitter - I'm sorry I've neglected my pledge to post a photo a day this week.

Since I've come out and admitted to suffering from man flu, I thought I'd seek some more sympathy by fabricating my photo a day for this week...

Come on. Humour me. It's not all bad, I promise.

Man Flu bites

I've done my research and Man Flu does exist. Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary both have quite detailed definitions of the ailment. I even found this informative website dedicated to man flu - including a self help guide.

The problem with all of these resources is gender bias - claiming that only men can contract the virus, and that it's a source of merely emotional, not physical pain, for women.

I think I've proved them all wrong.

Countdown to Roth: Days 100-90

Because I know there's a few of you that read my blog and don't do Facebook or Twitter, here's a recap of my now famous* photo a day.

Challenge Roth posted a photo on the day that there were 100 days to go. I shared it and decided to post a photo a day until the race. So far so good.

Posting them here too will not only give me a chance to share my photos with all of you, it'll give me a chance to share some of the detail behind the photos too - some are self explanatory but others have more story than 140 characters allows. Here we go, dear readers!

*famous amongst my 50 Fans and 69 Followers

A lone wolf in a band of Coyotes

I've been a bit quiet on the Chronicles front. To summarise the last couple of months, it's fair to say my training has been building reasonably nicely. I'm up to 110k long rides on the bike, I've been putting in 3k swim sets (admittedly not regularly enough) and my ankle is finally up to double digits running.

On the other hand, I haven't done any specific training so on Friday morning as I was getting ready for what I expected might be a bit of a test, I was doubting my decision to front up to a one hour time trial with KKBs old training group, the Coyotes.

If nothing else, it would be a good look at how my training is really going, after all in the "race against the clock" there's nowhere to hide.

Lapping everybody on the couch

This morning's session was a solid three hours on the wind trainer followed by a 25 minute run/walk that was in some ways a little less convincing.

I'm building my running by combining walking and running and I feel self conscious about it. Although I knew the reality - that I'd been hard at it for over three hours - I was embarrassed by what others might be thinking. I was worried that I looked like just another middle aged lady, shuffling around the block, holding desperately on to a new year's resolution to shed a kilo or two.

Part of this is probably that I find walking for training purposes a bit tiresome and boring. I also have this niggling idea in the back of my mind that I'm wasting my time and I should just run.

Breaking up is hard to do

We all know it. It's true. Breaking up IS hard to do.

Don't be fooled, KKB and I are fine. What I'm referring to is the grieving cycle I'm going through faced with little choice but to dump none other than S.K Warne.

I've forgiven him many an indiscretion, but this time I'm not sure I can.

You make your own luck

I believe you do make your own luck.

My husband is a surprisingly superstitious man. Surprising because he's a man's man; not the type you'd expect to believe in old wives' tales. Generally, though, he's only suspicious when it comes to bad luck. I've told him that getting pooed on by a bird is good luck. He doesn't buy it.

The recent arrival of my Challenge Roth "participant" tshirt may be the deciding factor. Is it bad luck to wear it or not?


So, I've been injured. I'm on the way back though. I'm swimming, water running, and slowly building up my time on the bike.

Coming back from injury, you can't generally expect much more than this. You need to build your strength and fitness up again and that takes time.

I'm very aware though, that time is ticking. I got a reminder just the other day via Facebook. 180 days to go until Challenge Roth. That makes it one-hundred-and-seventy-something days now. It doesn't seem that far away.

First event of 2012. Done.

A big contrast to 2011, which was completely event-less for the athletic powerhouse, a week in to 2012 I've already done my first race. I did the Dicky Beach Ocean Swim with a couple of friends on Monday.

I entered the ocean swim on a dare set down by a friend from Sydney. She had recently done a swim at Coogee and with a trip home planned for Christmas, thought the Dicky Beach event was too good an opportunity to miss.

So did I.

Desperately seeking... The Athletic Powerhouse

Once upon a time, there was an athletic powerhouse. This athletic powerhouse would ride her bike, run, and even swim. She would train hard and push herself to her mental and physical abilities.

Reflecting on 2011, it's hard to believe that the athletic powerhouse I'm describing is me. I haven't raced this year, unless you count the Beer Mile of course! Many of you will not be surprised that according to my calendar, it's still April 2011. I visited a friend the other day and her parents asked me if I was still doing triathlons. I wasn't quite sure what to say.

"Yeah, but no, but yeah, but... "

As I sit here wondering where that athletic powerhouse has gone (and whether I'll get her back) I think about how the Athletic Powerhouse came to be in the first place. Not many people really know the story, so as I go into 2012 desperately seeking her, it might be a good time to reflect on the legend of the Athletic Powerhouse.