Wednesday, 9 July 2014


I suppose the title of this blog sounds a little dramatic but this has been an amazing week for myself. I will get into all of it shortly.

Obviously followers of this blog (if there are still some) will be aware I have been AWOL for a couple of months. I haven't been in a good head space really. Job hunting is an extremely tedious task, especially when the market is crap.  Add to that the fact that Julie has been working stupid hours has meant that we have spent little time together as a family, which you can imagine has been trying.

Well fast forward from the horrible stuff. I was offered an opportunity to be a Personal Trainer at my local gym when I finished my course. This was always something I thought would be out of reach as I still needed to provide an income and support the family so Julie wasn't working full time. Surprisingly after a number of discussions Julie told me to go for it. So in a nutshell I now have my own PT business called Real Bodies Fitness. Check it out on Facebook. Come over and like the page and hopefully you can get some valuable information from it as well.

Now, having a business and a job opportunity is great but I still needed to complete my qualification. Only a few assignments left at that stage so off I went like a crazy man so I would be qualified by the time we can home from holidays.  All submitted and just waiting on assessment.

Then the other big challenge that confronted me.  Just the prospect of running a marathon. Not just any marathon, but my first and the Australian Championships. Not that I was trying to win, but it meant it was a bigger race, more people and a bigger atmosphere. 

Leading into the race my training was far from perfect. I tore my calf muscle in February. When it healed and I was back running it tore again in March. Do I was how effectively 6 weeks behind in training. I was still running when I could but not enough kms to do the run justice.
Julie was urging me to downgrade to the half, but I had this urge to still do the full. I am not sure why, whether it was the challenge or the fact that people didn't think I could do it. So the marathon was what I was going to tackle. Can you believe it? 42.195kms of torture even when you are fit. So why would I do it when I wasn't?  

Race day came about and due a crappy mattress in our apartment I had a sore back. Far from ideal but what were the options? I wasn't pulling out before I had started. Race time came and the sun came up on an amazing Gold Coast morning. Off we set from Southport down toward Burleigh Heads for the turnaround which was 15.5kms. Such a beautiful part of the world in the early morning when the sun is out and you are running.  All was going well until I hit the 12km mark and my sore back started to spasm. From ideal when you have 30kms still to run. What option did I have? I could push on as best I can or pull out. I was not going to pull out before I had even done half.  So on I plodded but at the 17km mark I was forced to adopt a walk run strategy. Now there is nothing wrong with this and I had expected to have to walk a large chunk but his early was a surprise. Especially when my calf was feeling great. 

I kept going but the pain in my back had transferred to my left hamstring and I knew I was going to cramp or tear it if I kept pushing. So back to walking it was. At the 25km mark I was seriously contemplating pulling out. I was even working out how I could justify the fact that I had not completed the run. I toiled with the idea of calling Julie but then decided against it. She would only tell me to stop, to drop out. Obviously I didn't want this, so I didn't call her. I was going to call my mate, who knows how to push my buttons and would have given me a huge kick in the arse, but I didn't. Just the thought of what he would have said to me made me realise I needed to push on. When I got to the 30km mark I was gone. Nothing left in me, but still 1 km to get back to the start, so I plodded on. Then one of the best things for me happened. One of my best mates was on the sidelines. He called out and I headed over. Quick high 5 and a chat and off I went. He told me another mate was just up a bit further with his family. Seeing them also have me a boost.  Then as I kept going Chris, the first mate, came jogging up to tell me Julie and the kids were up a bit further.  Awesome news.

Now normally at the 32km point most people hit the wall. For me I had just been given the biggest burst of enthusiasm t get it done. and I ran to the 33km mark two of my boys came running out t run with me. I looked up and saw my other son and daughter with my wife holding a sign saying "go dad".

How could I even contemplate stopping. The next 9 kms was hard and slow but it was done knowing I had all this support to be there WHEN I finished.  As I approached the 40km point there were another group of friends waiting for me. This awesome group of ladies had done the half in the morning and were still waiting around 5 hours later to cheer me in. They even walked with me until I was 200m from the finish where I took off to run across that line which I thought wasn't possible a few hours before.  What an amazing feeling. I am now a marathoner!!!

I look back on this and know that sheer stubbornness and a will to not give in got me across the line. I need to carry this over to other areas of my life, but just as importantly others need to remember that fear of failure can be crippling. I was not afraid to fail, I just didn't want that to be an option on this occasion.

If we all have up and never chased a dream for fear of failure we would achieve very little. Jump outside your comfort zone (maybe not to this extreme) and have a go.  If you miss the mark this time so what. Saddle up again and see if you can improve.  If I can do it, anyone can!!!!!

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Black Clouds & Testing Times.

I went AWOL for a while it seems.  Not only from my blog, but also from my life it could be said.  The last few months have been testing on a number of fronts and certain things have suffered.  Blogging was just not something I could be bothered with, basically as I didn't have anything worth saying, so sorry to those readers that have asked where I was or why I hadn't been posting.

So what has been happening?  I am still out of work, looking feverishly, but it seems the market is and has been dead.  It might start to pick up around now it seems, which i certainly hope so as I am going stir crazy.  Me being out of work has meant that Julie has been working full time and taking on lots of overtime.  This is not an ideal situation, but she is doing it to help us out until I find some work.  She is amazingly driven when it comes to things like this and I am extremely proud of her.  It is difficult for the family as she has been working 55-60 hour weeks and in March only had 3 full days off.  This means she has little time with the kids, which has also taken its toll on them.  Obviously only seeing dad is not that much fun (which I can understand) as I don't feel like I am that much fun either.

I have also found (and been reminded regularly) that I am not very good at housework.  I have tried to do what I think needs to be done and yes sometimes forget things, but as a guy I generally don't think about what housework needs to be done.  So I am still learning, not only what needs to be done and when, but how it needs to be done to my wife's standards.  Pretty tough ask when I am not that good to start with it seems.  As you can imagine, this has meant there have been a few interesting discussions in the last few months.  I am sure there will be a few more to come as it just isn't my forte.  I have improved at some things (sure that will be disagreed with) but still need to look out for others.

I have been studying to be a PT as people may be aware.  This is coming along slowly which I had hoped to be finished by now, but my head hasn't really been in it to be honest.  I am only a couple of assignments away from completion and then need to do my practical work, so really should get into completing it.  This is not what I see myself doing permanently due to there not being enough cash in it early on to sustain the family and pay the mortgage, but it is something I would like to do part time.

My weight loss has also stagnated over this period of time.  As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I have gained some weight since last July.  This hasn't changed since the start of the year.  My diet has not been flash and the dreaded wine has managed to come back into my life.  I might say that thankfully for my exercise I have not added any further weight.  If I had not been training when I could I might just be back to square one.  Now that is a scary thought.  My training has not been as consistent as I had hoped, especially when training for a half marathon (this weekend) and then a full in 10 weeks time, but sadly that was not all my fault.  Early on in the year I had a calf injury which prevented me from running for a few weeks.  When I finally thought it was okay I went for a run only to have it happen again.  This was now March and I was worried about my marathon being feel and truly off the calendar.  I went to a physio and she told me I had a torn calf, but it should only be 3 weeks and I would be back to running.  I was doing the exercises she set and most of all more stretching as it was related to tight hip flexors and gluteus muscles which were loading up my hamstring tendons (which I had trouble with on my bike rides) and also adding further strain on my calf muscle.

So a few weeks on from that I managed to get out and complete the Run for the Kids which was supposed to be a training run. It still was, but it was not how I had planned to run it as I had to manage myself through the run and walk the couple of steep inclines (coming out of the Domain Tunnel & up the Bolte Bridge) so I did not place extra load on my calf.  All in all it was a beautiful morning and a nice run.

I never thought I would enjoy running so much and the issue of dealing with an injury and not being able to train for my goal on top of the need to find a job and drastically improve my housework skills has left me in a crappy place of late.  Thankfully one of those things is lowly on the improve and I am able to get out running a bit more.  It had better improve quickly or this will be the longest and slowest marathon in history.  The one thing I do know is that it won't matter how slow it is I will be completing the entire thing even if I have to crawl over the bloody line.

SO what has the last few months shown me.  Probably that I haven't been the best person to live with. Being out of work has really knocked me and the family for six as it has turned our world up side down.  The kids are used to having their mum home a lot more. Their mum is used to having the house cleaned her way on her time table and having more time to do what she wants/needs to do.  I am used to going to work and making a contribution, which I am obviously not doing now and the kids were used to me doing that.  I am sure the kids will welcome me going back to work, not being as grumpy (apparently I am more than normal, their mother's words not theirs) and we can get back to some sort of normality for us.

I am also putting my crappy diet and lack of work ethic down to my state of mind, which is a vicious cycle sadly.  I am up and at them and working towards changing all that moving forward even if just for my own piece of mind and that of the family.  Hopefully these small changes will lead to better times ahead.

So sorry for the drivel, nothing ground breaking here or particularly interesting but I just wanted to let those that still look here for updates (if there is anyone) what has been happening.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Running Demons…...

A few days ago some little bright spark decided to post on our Gold Coast Marathon page a reminder that it was only 150 days to go until the race.  WTF!!!  Who does that?  She knows who she is and she will read this, but all is good.  Why am I reacting like this, or overreacting like this should I say?  Purely and simply because I am basically shitting myself about the entire thing.

As everyone already knows, a marathon is a huge personal achievement.  It is a scary proposition having to run 42.195 kilometres in one go.  There is a reason the overwhelming majority of people don't do one.  It isn't because they can't, it is because they are not so bloody stupid.  So yes I decided last year that was going to be my main athletic goal and challenge for 2014 after I decided not to attempt a half ironman triathlon (which coincidently is on tomorrow in Geelong).  It was a good idea at the time, but that was back when I was fit, confident and looking for a new challenge.

So, with less than 5 months until my big day, I am seriously battling inner demons, my body and my fitness.  I am slowly working it all out but it is becoming close to the time where it needs to sort itself out or I will be doing a run and not be 100% prepared mentally or physically.  Now don't get me wrong, I know after having done my 2 half marathons last year just what the human body can achieve when under pressure.  My first run was done on 4 weeks training and only having run 14kms as my longest run.  My sheer stubbornness and will to run the entire distance got me there.  The second was a little different because I suffered cramps in both thighs for the last 7kms.  Now this was painful and slowed me down considerably, but I managed to finish it without stopping.  This is partially due to my stubbornness, but also to the fact that the human body is capable of a lot of things that we don't give ourselves credit for.

I look at the above quote and whilst I believe it to be true, I also believe that the body can achieve more than the mind allows us to believe.  This is the difference between where I am at currently and where I need and want to be.  If I was in the frame of mind that this quote suggests, I would be pushing the boundaries everyday, exceeding my limitations physically and setting new records.  Sadly, when I am out training at the moment I am fighting voices and mental demons, all which want me to stop, go home and sit on the couch.  My body is telling my mind to Shut The F*&k Up and just keep running.  My legs can cover more distance than my mind is telling me they can.  

So this is the first of the battles I have currently.  My second is less about mental barriers at the moment (well some of it is) but more so physically.  I suffered a niggling injury behind my right knee when I was out cycling during 2013 and just put it down to fatigue.  Sadly it has flared up again of late and when I have been doing my PT sessions I have noticed that squats and lunges make it throb and hurt.  It seems to be worse in the mornings and as I warm up it gets better.  Shit that just sounds like old age, but it isn't.  This has caused me to adjust the way I have been moving and last week when doing a run on my treadmill I felt my glute and hamstring tighten.  This rang alarm bells and I stopped after 2kms.  Yep, only 2kms.  I am only 40kms short of where I will need to be.

Now this is not the end of the world, I still have plenty of time to train, so long as I get this right.  I am going to see my wife's physio next week and get an expert opinion.  I have been through my PT coursework and have isolated where I believe it to be, but I am not doing google doctor on him and will take his advice and get it right.

The main thing that scares me is that i have a 10km run in Geelong in 3 weeks.  This will be great as it is on part of the half marathon course which I am doing again this year, but it will be a slow and hard run.  I know I can do it, I did one in November having not run since July, but that isn't the point.

So basically, I have my work cut out for me over the next few months.  Beating mental demons, beating physical issues and more importantly pushing boundaries and limits on both sides.  The marathon is far from easy, I know this, but I don't need to add to the difficulty by doubting myself all along the way.

I will get there and I will achieve something that I never dreamt possible or considered, but I may just end up like Pheidippides the ancient Greek courier whom is responsible for this crazy feat.  On reaching Athens, which will be the equivalent to my finish line, he delivered his message and then dropped dead.  I can see the parallel there but hope I get to live past that.  I have a holiday booked to Malaysia and Phuket 2 days later.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Time to Get Back on the Train - Destination The New Me

Holy cow, two months since my last blog post, which has been highlighted to me in the last few days by a few readers.  I didn't think me being missing would be noticed or missed, but thank you to those readers and followers.  Well it has been an interesting two months to say the least.  Obviously just prior to my last post I was made redundant from my job of 3 1/2 years.  It came as a shock, but not necessarily a bad thing.  I was not bouncing off the walls each day I went to work and now I have a pay out and time to find something for me that I will really enjoy.  More on this later.  

Two days after this I had to fly to Auckland for my 5th Ride to Conquer Cancer ride for 2013 and whilst I won't go into a lot of detail here, this was my favourite ride of the year.  Knowing that I had packed my bike and flown to a different country to take part in a cycling event felt surreal.  A number of us commented on how amazing it was and how it felt like we were serious athletes.  Who else travels internationally to take part in athletic pursuits?  Add to this, 18 months ago, who would have thought I would be riding 1300kms over 12 days period. The scenery was incredible and whilst we were still riding 200kms in a weekend, we were still tourists and made sure we lapped it up and enjoyed the experience.  This was also the most difficult of the rides we did. Anyone that has been to NZ knows how hilly it is, except ME!!  Well I found out the hard way, but loved it.

After this weekend, I would say I went a bit off the rails. Well okay a lot off the rails, the diet was crap, alcohol found its way back into the routine far too much and exercise went out the window.  Excuses became an all to regular thing and of course there was the inevitable weight gain which wasn't surprising, but it was enough to get me out of this rut or bit of depression I was in.  I was not even worried about finding a job at this point as I decided I wanted to have a break. This would be the long service leave I have never had, plus how many jobs are really out there over the festive period.  One positive thing I did do was sign up to do my certificate IV and become a personal trainer.  This may never be what I do full time, but it will be something I do for myself and I can always do it part time if I want to.  Julie and I also decided to get our own personal trainer a couple of mornings per week, which was the best thing we could have done.  Anyone living in the west of Melbourne looking for a great PT look up Trent Shaw Fitness and/or Gut Check Fitness Australia.  He knows his stuff and has been helping us in more ways than just training. 

Add to the fact that I hadn't been training much, I had the realisation that I was running a marathon in July. I had put it out there and was not backing out now. This was a goal and a dream of mine after 
my second half, I needed to get my arse in gear and get fit again. This was going to become a reality, I just needed to work out how this was going to happen, how I was going to train and what events I was going to in order to prepare correctly. So I have set up the below at present, but more may be added in the interim.

  • Geelong River Run 10km - 23rd Feb
  • Run for the Kids 15km - 13th April 
  • Geelong Half Marathon - 27th April
  • Great Ocean Road half 23km - 18th May (not decided upon as yet)
  • Gold Coast Marathon - July 6th

So the New Year came in and it was now or never. Off the booze, back to the clean eating and back to training.  I have been trying to get the kms done running but I had not realised how much running fitness I had lost. Add to that the inevitable mind games about not being able to do it anymore, the daunting task ahead of me and then this shitty heat wave we are currently experiencing.  I have been telling myself constantly that I have plenty of time to get this done.  If I can do a 10km fun run in November after only 1 run in 4 months I can certainly get back to where I was with some good sensible training including my PT sessions.  Most of this is in the head after all and being able to push the mental demons to the back of the mind and allow the body to do what it can is the biggest part, in my opinion in beating the battle.

As I mentioned earlier, I have signed up to do my PT course with the Institute of Personal Trainers.  It has been an interesting experience. I have completed 2 of the 5 modules and can't go any further until I do my first aid course, but with the holidays there are not a lot on at present that I can get into, so this will be finished as quickly as I can in Feb/March.  My new PT has been brilliant, with both my training and teaching me a lot in our sessions about how the anatomy works, why he is doing different movements with both Julie and I and the benefits of it now and long term.  I also attended his first ever Gut Check session a couple of weeks back. To say I was out of my comfort zone was a little bit of an understatement, but having approx 10 of my training buddies (Western Warriors) there was an awesome experience.  It involved approx 100 or more burpees, lunges, push ups, squats, 3kms of running, with most of it carrying a 15kg sand bag.  Add to this there was a jump in the ocean between each round where you had to fully submerge yourself before getting out to start the next round. Trent is a mad man, but has completed worse than this in the US and this was only half of what he had prepared when the program was to start proper.  In saying that, everyone had a ball and it has been a popular boot camp in the following weeks.  I have not had a chance to get to any others, but will be looking at it moving forward.

So with all of the things that have happened or not happened over the last few months, I am certainly looking to step things up and get back to the way i was 6 months ago, at my lowest weight in many years.  I have lost 5.6kgs since the start of January and will be working my arse off for that to continue. I know that the key is taking it one day at a time, keeping the dreaded wine out of my diet (and beer as well) and making sure the training is maintained.  I will be in need of a job sometime soon (so my wife keeps reminding me) and I hope that it is one that will mean minimal adjustment to our schedules for training and family life, but at the end of the day we will just have to do it.

I will be getting back into the blogging, as I have found it very beneficial in the past, which mimics my plight over the last few months.  Whilst I was not blogging I was also not doing very well with the training, food and overall way of life.  Seems to be a link there that I need to take care of.

Thank you to my readers for giving me a kick in the pants and thank you for also getting this humble little blog over 30K page views.  Sorry some of them were for no value with no updated content.

So if anyone is interested in a great session, hopefully I will see you at one of the Gut Check sessions.