Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Wet Dreams: IM 70.3 Cairns and other reflections

Keith Hedgeland photo from Busso

I’ve been putting off writing this blog. I’ll pretend it’s because I had a microbiology practical exam yesterday, and a major physiology test coming up on Friday. But really it’s because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say about Cairns. Nothing really stood out to me about the race – except the unbelievable amount of water that fell from the sky!

Then I read this article on Facebook this morning, which started me thinking, and putting things into perspective. If you are a triathlete and you haven’t read it, put your mouse on this hyperlink and click now http://www.trispecific.com/goals-beware/.

I’ll come back to that at the end. First, to the race, and the Cairns experience.

I flew up Thursday morning and was met at the airport by Kelsey, a sailing friend whom I had not seen for about 8 years but nonetheless generously offered to accommodate Polly Mosley and myself. He also drove us around, lent us a car and trusted us to look after his house and dogs alone for two days – crazy man! As I always say, it is the people you meet that make sport what it is.

Polly arrived later in the afternoon and we walked the whole two blocks from Kelsey’s house to the Tobruk pool. It was lovely to be in an outdoor 50 again; not so lovely to pull on the old wetsuit for the first time since Busselton! I love my Orca Alpha 1.5 but you do always forget the difference it makes to your shoulders when you haven’t had it on in a while. Far too cold for open water swimming in Adelaide this time of year!

Friday we headed into Cairns central to register, grabbed a coffee with the fabulous WA girls Kira and Renee, then drove up to Palm Cove where we met Tara Leonard, another of the Amax team from Lennox. Feeling more than a little apprehensive about the massive surf rolling into the beach, we decided to go for a short swim just to test the conditions. Satisfied that they were indeed horrendous, we exited the water – trying not to get blown off the beach – showered, and then discovered to our horror that the car wouldn’t start! Eventually we found a man with a jumpstarting thing who said the battery was fine. Mystified, we decided to drive the bike course in Tara’s car while we thought about what to do.
Palm Cove: photos don't do the rough conditions justice

The bike course was scenic and undulating, and from our cushy position of singing loudly to 80’s rock on the radio, didn’t seem overly difficult. Opinions would change come Sunday.

We got back to Palm Cove and called the RACQ, but I got sick of waiting for them and eventually discovered I could start the car in neutral. Temperamental bloody car would only start in park every once in a while, but would start in neutral every time! We drove off and passed the RACQ car on the way out of Palm Cove.

We had dinner in Cairns, then I took us on a scenic detour trying to find the way back to our places (just one of many idiotic things I was to do over the weekend, as I’d clearly left both my brain and my running legs at home in Adelaide).

Saturday brought a busy day of organising. Point to point triathlons = logistical nightmare. My usual fears of forgetting something were quadrupled by the addition of three separate gear bags and two separate transitions. I was certain it wouldn’t be until I ran into the tent and grabbed my gear bag that I would scream “where the #&@% is my…. ?” but thank goodness that didn't happen! In fact I needed less than what I’d packed thanks to the weather – my sunglasses spent the entire race in my pocket. The second stupid thing I did happened on this morning; I managed to lock Polly and myself out of the house and make Kelsey drive back from his sailing regatta to let us in!
Before the rain came and washed it all away...

After pro briefing it was time to head home and prepare an early dinner, and early to bed as the alarms were set for 3.20am the following morning.

About midnight Sunday morning it began to rain, and that rain had not stopped even for one minute by the time I left Cairns at 10.30am Monday. Thinking I was off to some tropical paradise (and constrained by the ridiculous cost of checked baggage) I had brought no warm or waterproof clothes, and so put a pair of shorts, thongs and a very light cycling rain cape over my suit on race morning, which quickly became wet and cold. Tara’s mum/number 1 supporter Janette picked us up at 4am as we wanted to head out of town ahead of the 50 busses that would be transporting most of the competitors to the race site. As Polly and I would be in the second wave, we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time and not be stressed.
Forecast for race day: 90% chance of 20-40mm

Transition was a wet, muddy quagmire which made several concerted attempts to steal my Chinese safety boots. There wasn’t too much to do at the bikes given all of our gear was in the bags in the tents, so we pumped up the tires, put our nutrition in place and then headed off to look for toilets and shelter. We found many others hiding around the hotel next door so we did the same, putting our wetsuits on early and leaving our muddy, soaked clothing in our street gear bags for transport back to T2.

When we got to the start area it was still pitch black dark and Lisa Marangon kindly came up and warned us that if a crocodile approached, its eyes would glow in the dark. We spent a long time on the beach trying to figure out the course as the buoys were barely visible. Luckily the rain trumped the wind and the surf had declined significantly from its level of the last few days, leaving only a slightly confused chop. The water was warm, too – above the usual wetsuit limit but due to the fear of jellyfish, the rules are altered for this course.

Before long we were away and, with 19 girls in the field, it was the first time in my professional career that I’ve actually been hit, dunked and swum over during a swim start – it was like being back in the age group! The first section into the waves was pretty horrendous. I swallowed a lot of water and did wonder if I’d make it! But by the time we had turned to swim parallel with the beach, things had settled down and I found myself swimming comfortably with a pack, which never happens. I think the chop helps people like me who are strong but have rubbish swim technique, as the pool swimmers don’t get such a big advantage in these conditions.

After we turned at the buoy to head back into shore I found I could swim with the waves a little faster than those around me and I lead the pack til we caught another pair of girls swimming on their own. We all exited the water together and ran into T1. Still raining and slippery underfoot. I grabbed my bag and ran past a bunch of girls who were changing in the bag tent. Luckily we had red carpet in our section of the transition; the rest of it resembled some kind of mud wrestling arena.

I did a really hubbard bike mount because I was so scared of slipping over. After being so damn careful at Karri Valley in similar conditions and still stacking it, I wanted to be safe. In hindsight I don’t know why, the last race of the season is no place for conservatism. I should have gone balls out and ended up either with a broken collarbone or a faster ride.

The first section or the course involved a dozen speed humps made of small rocks. The race organisers had covered them with rubber but it was still bumpy and dangerous. Every one I went over, my front drink bottle containing my nutrition nearly slipped out. After each one I pushed it back in. A couple of girls went past me while I was busy doing this. Then there were two consecutive speed bumps and you can guess what happened to my nutrition. A few choice words came out of my mouth, sorry Tammy that probably wasn’t very professional conduct. Lucky it was cold and I didn’t need those electrolytes.

For the first part of the bike course I played cat and mouse with one other girl, then I passed her going up Rex lookout and that was the last I saw of her for probably 30 k’s, at which point she passed me in the midst of a pack of male age groupers flying up the road. No more shall be said, except that I will never accept any form of assistance from people who are not in my race.

Out to the turnaround I felt I was doing pretty well. As I watched the girls come back I could see Caroline in the lead, Lisa not far behind and then a big pack with Kiyomi, Renee, BG, maybe one other girl and a few of the tail end pro men. I thought if I continued to ride hard I might catch them. But soon after the turnaround the headwind picked up, my concentration lapsed and possibly my motivation as well. Usually I have strategies in place for the times when you are completely alone and can’t see anyone ahead or behind, but today I was just not on my game. Bar that one girl and her male entourage, I saw no one until Tineke Stewart passed me with about 10km to go. I was still thinking: I’m in striking distance of the podium if I run well. The last 5-10km of the course were really unfamiliar to me and I was kind of soft pedalling wondering if I was going the right way, dealing with more speed humps, and keeping my eyes on the traffic. I had a close call with a bus but luckily nothing as scary as poor Kira who actually hit a car.
over 3000 competitors, one of the biggest transitions I've seen

Because I hadn’t bothered to do my recon on T2, I didn’t know where the dismount line was and it came up before I was expecting it. I did a hubbard dismount and ran my bike into T2, racked it and went into the tent. I could hardly get my shoes and socks on because I was so wet, muddy and shaking.

Almost as soon as I got out onto the course I got a raging stitch, then dropped the only gel I wanted to eat. Things were quickly going from bad to worse. My lower back was completely locked up and ridiculously painful (here is where I admit I knew it was a bad idea to fiddle with my bike position a few days from the race, but I reckon it was also to do with the seated climbing from the bike leg) I had to stop and try to stretch it out and when Dimity-Lee Duke ran past me she asked if I wanted some drugs! I must’ve looked taken aback because she qualified with ‘like, aspirin or something’ which I declined but was nonetheless a nice gesture that made far more sense when I discovered she’s a paramedic.

I managed to hold Polly off for just over a lap which would have been a bit over 10km, an improvement on Busselton which was about 7 or 8km, but I think by this point I had really given up on myself and my race. It was one day where I would let the pain beat me instead of beating it, and although I know this had to happen to me as a learning experience, it still makes me mad as I’ve always been the “never say die” kind of person. Actually it’s probably all that makes me a decent athlete as I don’t have any real natural sporting talent or ability. So I ended up dropping something stupid like 7 places on the run, and at the time I couldn’t care less, I just wanted so bad to get to the finish line and STOP. I just wanted it to be over. At least I made myself finish, I suppose, instead of pulling out, which was definitely on the agenda several times throughout the run! It truly was the longest 21.1km of my life.
Pre race - applying my race number and showing off my lucky "loom band" that matches my race suit - made by Sailor Townsend - I lost it during the race, probably an omen!!
To be honest, I was more excited about the opportunity to watch the Ironman than I was about doing the 70.3. It didn’t take long to become freezing cold after the race, and as all of our street gear was also sopping wet, we were so lucky to have Janette to drive us home for a hot shower.

When Twitter informed us of the epic battle taking place in the men’s race we quickly got back down to T2, where we stood in the rain for hours, cheering for mostly Tim and Robbo but anyone else I spotted like Jules, Craig and Kevin Fergusson.

It was an absolute honour to watch those boys race. They are so tough, but to see that they, like all of us, go through tough spots and can still manage to turn themselves and their races around, is totally inspiring. Tara and I were jumping around and hugging in excitement with tears in our eyes when Robbo somehow managed to pass Matt Burton in the last 5km (thanks to Juggz and Gilesey) and finish 3rd.

During my race I was thinking I will NEVER race a full Ironman; how the heck could you do this twice, once is painful enough! But I must admit I am pretty curious to see how it feels to finish one!

Just a bit of race prep on the trainer at home

So back to Charlotte’s article from this morning.

If you had asked me 10 years ago would I become a professional triathlete, I would have asked you what triathlon was and told you don’t be stupid, I’m going to be a professional sailor. Triathlon was just something I kind of fell into years later when I was looking for something to do to keep fit while working nights and weekends at the paper.

I remember my very first triathlon. I was 19 or 20 and racing against little kids in the novice division in one of the last tri’s ever held at Blackstone Heights. I was cold, nervous and extremely scared that I’d fall off my bike trying to get up that first hill and become the laughing stock of the day. Well not only did I make it up that hill, I finished the race and even took home a medal - third I think. I was officially hooked on triathlon. But without knowing it, I had just made triathlon into a new sailing.

I started sailing when I was six or seven and won medals and trophies at almost every race, season pointscore or regatta I entered. With a coach like my dad, how could I not?! But it instilled into me a thought that I now realize I have been carrying around with me ever since:  this is normal, and you should expect to win or at least place; if you don’t, you are no good. You are nothing. You have done a bad job.

Triathlon, even running with LAC, became like that. People seemed to expect me to win, so I expected myself to win. Sometimes when I won, I’d be happy with that achievement for a while, but soon it would be replaced with ‘next time I have to go faster, or longer, or beat someone I haven’t before’. It’s got to a point now where it doesn’t seem to matter how I do, it’s not as good as I could have or should have done.

I don’t think it’s healthy to get stuck in the past, but perhaps reflecting back on the fact that at one point I didn’t think I could make it up a hill, to now being able to race in the professional division, would remind me that I have come a long way, and even if progress has slowed substantially, I am still moving in the right direction.

Sometimes I ask myself, how much can a person with no background in triathlon, teach themselves about the sport? I love coaching myself, mainly because I enjoy the added challenge; I think it produces a more all-round athlete with more options for the future; and I find it hard to place enough faith in someone else to carry out their instructions without knowing all the WHYs behind it (well, I am doing a science degree - I like to understand the why's!).  Mostly though, I haven’t gone down this path because I don’t have the time and money it demands. But in the interest of keeping things moving in the right direction at the right pace, there are major life changes on the horizon. I guess in a way we’ve been waiting for life to throw some kind of opportunity at us – it’s been pretty short on those lately.

Having lost my main job after Busselton, I’d been attempting to live on my Centrelink payment which, after rent, gave me $15 a week for food, healthcare, phone/internet/water/electricity bills, pool entries, bus fares, clothes and of course the all-important triathlon gear/race entries/travel. To say that is stressful is a bit like saying the GWS vs Richmond game was close. Luckily I picked up a couple of shifts running boot camp classes at a local gym, but for an extra $80 a week it comes at a pretty high physical cost during training. I’m going to say the added stress and fatigue from this situation – plus the fact that I travelled interstate 8 times within about four months, and the associated uni-catch-up-stress – put me into a deeper state of mental and physical fatigue than I realized. I knew I was ready for a break before I even headed up to Cairns and that being where my mind was didn’t help performance on race day.

Next season I will consider my race planning a bit more closely to ensure this doesn’t happen again. But for now I’m going to look back on my first professional season and think about what I HAVE achieved, rather than what I haven’t. I am still the youngest professional in the field, and one of the least experienced. Between mid October and mid January I wasn’t able to run a step thanks to my second stress fracture of the year. There’s still plenty of time for me to get where I want to be, to get my running back to how it used to be, and to learn to swim!

It’s been a really BIG first half of the year, and I’m kinda planning on the second half being not bigger, but BETTER.

But for now it’s all training off while I learn the entire semester’s material in about three weeks.

I plan to start season 2014-15 with my first major race in September.



Kelsey, thankyou for having Polly and I to stay in Cairns! It was fantastic. Maybe we'll be back next year - when you'll be racing as well! ;)

Paul Zuromski and team from The Dive Shack http://www.thediveshack.com.au/ and Snorkel Safari Adelaide. Paul provided me with all my Orca gear for the season including two amazing wetsuits and the coolest transition bag I’ve ever seen. This is a massive, massive help to a struggling neo-pro in a pretty tight financial situation so a big thanks to them for sticking  by me even through all the time out with injury. The Dive Shack has a great range of Orca wetties/gear as well as Head goggles – it’s a real undiscovered paradise for SA triathletes and open water swimmers.

Mum and Dad and my extended family – you’ve  been a great support through some tough times this year. Thankyou for putting up with all my crazy sporting dreams and the convoluted plans to make them work, that have been a feature of my life for the last decade. I am lucky to have grown up in a supportive family that has given me the strength to believe in dreams at the stubbornness to pursue them until they come true.

Jason, well what can I say. “I couldn’t do it without you” is an understatement. Your patience in supporting me through my degree, through my injuries, through a hundred different jobs and recently no jobs; for putting up with my laziness, my tiredness, my ineptness; it’s beyond words. You turned down the pro lifestyle and never had to go through the student lifestyle – now you’re living  both together on my behalf!  You’re bloody crazy, man.

I could never name everybody that supports me, but you know who you are. If you’ve ever cheered for me, helped me out, read my blog, liked a photo or a status, retweeted a tweet or whatever it might be – it means more to me than I can say, and more than you might think. Thankyou x


Season 2013-2014

Samoa Half Iron 4th

Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie 3rd

Bike Society Tri Series Race 1 Moana 1st

Challenge Half Bateman’s Bay DNF

Karri Valley Triathlon WA 3rd

Ironman 70.3 Busselton 6th

Ironman 70.3 Cairns 15th



Tuesday, 6 May 2014

2014 - the year to date!

It’s pretty obvious how overdue this blog post is; I think I’ve been avoiding it in case it jinxes me! It seems every time I wrote that things were going well, I’d come down with another injury. But it’s time to break the voodoo. Here’s what I’ve been up to since the start of 2014:

January – Still out of action with a stressy, I was heartbroken to pull out of two events I’ve desperately wanted to do for a long time: the Albany Half in WA and Sufferfest in Warrnambool, Vic.

Mid-January I finally started to “run” again for the first time since October. My first run consisted of one lap of an oval followed by one lap walking. Then a day off. The next day: two laps. Two days later: three laps. You can imagine how frustratingly slow that went. What a battle! But I was determined to do things properly.

March – I nervously flew/drove myself to Bateman’s Bay in southern NSW for my first ever Challenge Family event and my first race in 5 months. With names like Granger, Wu and Vodickova competing, I was more than a little nervous that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. But I came out of the swim mid-field and put in a solid ride on a testing (but beautiful) bike course to be sixth out of T2. I quickly discovered that 8 weeks of run-walking was not enough to get me through a fast half marathon off a pretty brutal bike, so made the tough decision to take my first ever DNF at the 8km mark.

It wasn’t a disappointing result because I knew I had made the right decision for my body at the time, and now I would have time to go home and prepare well for the Karri Valley Triathlon a fortnight later – or so I thought.

When I got home I came down with some kind of virus that made me lethargic, unenergetic and unmotivated for the entire fortnight. I packed up the bike and headed to WA hoping simply to have a fun weekend.

I got that in spades, thanks to Team Latitude and the Stadium Triathlon Club, who invited us over for this intriguing, 1.5km/60km/12km race in the middle of remote south-western WA. No phone, internet or TV for three days – we actually had to talk to each other! Race day rolled around and it was truly Tasmanian – freezing cold, windy and pelting rain. Bizarrely it was a non-wetsuit swim for the elite competitors due to the mild water temperature of the fresh-water Lake Beedelup. Unfortunately after that a number of people came down with hypothermia, but I was literally in my element. I managed to hold off UCI Time Trial world champion and Olympian Emma Pooley for half of the bike leg which I thought was a pretty cool! Then I decided to do a gumby and stack it on the way into transition. (Yes there was about 30cm of water covering the roads). I couldn’t compete with the little pocket rocket or local girl Katey Gibb who both smoked the “tough mudder” run course. Still, even to finish a 12km run was a small win.

The after party was as good as promised, and thanks to the Team Lat boys I had an absolute blast.

April – Flew home for 2 ½ days, did a load of washing, slept through a couple of lectures and then jetted off home to Tassie to participate in my best friend’s wedding. Having no bike for 5 days was a form of Chinese water torture, but I did run a sneaky 17.5km on wedding day ;) Wedding was perfect; travel was a nightmare. Finally got back to Adelaide for three days – enough time to repack the bag, squeeze in a rare workday and then fly to Sydney for a family event.

Afterwards I took the opportunity to make the most of mid-semester break and Easter public holidays, and head up to Ballina-Byron to hang out with the great people of Aeromax team. It was a solid week of training, sightseeing and fun in a beautiful location. I don’t know why I took all my textbooks because I don’t think they got opened, but I wouldn’t change that experience for the world! It’s pretty awesome to see how the top guys do what they do.

I did promise myself I’d hit the books back in Adelaide in the second week of the “non contact study period”, but the temptation to put in another good week of training for Busselton Ironman 70.3 was too much.

May - After the usual stressful dramas of travelling on your own, I met up with one of the aforementioned Aeromax legends, Polly Mosely, in Perth and we road tripped down to Busselton. From then on life was made extremely easy by the best host family ever (and incidentally owners of the best bike shop ever, Busselton’s Fat Duck Cycles), the Townsends, who housed me, fed me, drove me around and generally looked after/entertained me for four days.

Busselton is a fantastic race venue and I thoroughly agree with the general consensus that it’s one of the best 70.3s on the Asia-Pac circuit (in my limited experience). Race day dawned as perfect as it possibly could be, not a breath of wind, cool and overcast. If I hadn’t been abusing myself for being such a useless swimmer, I would have really enjoyed a swim which could easily have been in an aquarium with crystal clear water!

Unfortunately my lack of swimming skills put me on the back foot immediately and a 3 min deficit was too much to make up on the bike. I rode hard, on my own, all day and finished with the fourth fastest bike split which got me incredibly close to the bunch but not quite on it by the time we hit T2. I could hear the commentator calling Belinda Granger and a couple of the other girls onto the run course while I was putting on my shoes and socks, which lifted my spirits as I knew I wasn’t far behind!

I was surprised to find myself running reasonably, despite having a kind of numbness/pins and needles sensation in my left calf and foot for the entire run except about the last 3km! Didn’t seem to slow me down, it just felt weird. I was pretty resigned to the fact Polly would overtake me, but I was determined to hold off the other girls behind me. Because it’s three laps of a 7km course I got to see the girls each turn and was surprised/pleased to see they weren’t gaining too much.

It was just a little disappointing to cross the line and find I’d finished 7th – one spot off the podium. Unfortunately, later the fourth placed female was disqualified for taking a wrong turn on the bike course – there’s a lesson there for all of us! This meant that I did get to stand on the podium and win a little bit of prize money, in less than ideal circumstances.

In reality, I didn’t have too much to be disappointed about – I was angry to be so far behind in the swim, but it was a PB time – given the conditions though, that was to be expected. My bike was good, but if I’d been with the group instead of on my own, it could have been better. I ran a 1.32 half marathon – about three minutes quicker than I’ve run in a 70.3 before. Again, given the conditions and the fast course that was to be expected – but it was the first time I’ve run 21.1km since October! So yes while there are lots of improvements to be made, it was an encouraging return to racing.

Now it’s time to go home to recover, catch up on my studies and then learn how to swim before Cairns – must improve on 6th!

A quick but sincere thankyou to everybody for their support. The Townsends were just an incredible help and support crew for me; Paul Zuromski from the Dive Shack and Snorkel Safari Adelaide organised me a new Orca Alpha 1.5 wetsuit within a couple of days so I’d have it to race in in Busselton. As usual, Jason is my rock, and my family and friends inspire me to do what I do.  Thanks to Polly and Bec for driving me to and from Busso. I’d also like to thank Robbo, Gilesy and the Aeromax team for being so fun, friendly and giving me an awesome week of training in the lead-up.

Til next time… and I promise it won’t be six months away!!

H xx

Friday, 8 November 2013

Excitement plus...

I promised I had exciting news and here I am, about to deliver in spades. 

First of all I would like to announce my first ever, official sponsor: The Dive Shack and Snorkel Safari Adelaide http://www.thediveshack.com.au/ http://adelaidediving.com.au/home 
Owner-manager Paul Zuromski has offered me a sponsorship with the triathlon gear brand Orca which will include their amazing RS1 Predator wetsuit and RS1 Killa swim skin (my first swim skin ever – no more embarrassment at those warm water swims!) 
Orca does a lot of tri gear outside of just swimwear so I can't wait to get around some of their products. Also super happy to be representing a brand that was started by a passionate triathlete basically out of his garage, now it's one of the biggest tri brands in the market, kind the way I hope my career is going to go! ;) 
This weekend is Murrayman, where I have a completely all-expenses-paid trip, thanks to the Adelaide Tri Club, which was my prize for winning the event last year.  
The other exciting news is I was offered free entry, accommodation and most of my travel costs paid to the Albany Half Triathlon http://www.albanyhalf.com.au/ in January. The first time I’ve been paid to go anywhere as a pro, not as part of Team Latitude, and I look forward to building a continuing relationship with these guys and participating in this race that looks like a super course in a top location. Speaking of Team Lat, we have another race in WA in March, the Karri Valley triathlon, to look forward to, and I hope to meet some more of my teammates there. 
I have added another important member to my support team. Very excited and honoured to say that Phil Stoneman of M5 Management has agreed to mentor me and I know that his extensive knowledge of the triathlon industry, its athletes, races and sponsors will benefit my long term career. 
Two weekends ago I had a fantastic race at the first Bike Society Tri Series race at Moana Beach. Out of the water in front of Jules and Hannah (there's a first time for everything!), first out of T1, extended my lead on the bike and also posted the quickest run despite having done no running for a fortnight due to a nagging pain in my right leg. I was even happier with this than my race at Port. Had forgotten how fun it was to race sprint distance! Came away with the $300 which offset having the day off work. Also beautiful course and well run event. Was looking forward to the next one on 15 Dec then two more in new year with a series winner bonus of $500. 
Proud to represent Bike Society at Moana. My boss Craig gave me a body geometry fit the Friday prior to the race at 6.30am - talk about dedication! Absolutely amazing how much better the bike felt though, world of difference to Port - no wonder I had a suboptimal ride there. 
However, the nagging pain in my right leg that had been with me since two weeks before Port Mac, suddenly took a turn for the worst a week or so ago, despite the fact that I had not run - except for the two races - since a week before Port. Although my best body looker-afterers persisted in massaging and convincing me it was a soft tissue injury that just needed rest, I got pretty suspicious when it continued to get worse even without running. And then it started to feel very familiar - that annoying pain with each walking step that I put up with for six months between December '12 and mid 2013. 
But unlike that time, where I spent months going from professional to professional, wasting hundreds of dollars on various (WRONG) diagnoses, I booked straight into a sports doctor and despite his resistance demanded he give me a referral to a bone scan. Three days later I had the result I expected - another tibial stress fracture, this time in the right leg. 
I had only been back into running for about three months consistently since I recovered from the one in my left leg, and most of my sessions were 20-30 minute runs. So if anyone is going to tell me overuse is to blame here, we can compare Garmins and see if you still think so!
For the second time in a row, I'm coming in to summer with the tempting promise of good weather and the only time of the year I don't have to go to Uni every day (in other words, time to smash some training out and be in good form for the myriad races planned in the new year) but without being able to so much as frolic on the beach. 
I promise I have been trying to see the positives in this. And yes if this was the first time, I would have been like "sure, my swimming will get better, it will be fine". If I'd made mistakes, smashed myself, not been getting regular massages, allowed human error to be the cause, it would be easier to reconcile the consequences of my stupidity.  If it was winter and a valid excuse to ditch the 6am dark, cold rides, I'd definitely embrace the enforced break! If I wasn't finally gaining some of my run fitness/form back and ready to fire out some races and earn some money..I guess the timing of this is the most depressing thing about it. I've been hanging out for summer for what seems like an eternity. And hanging out to run more - as I said I've been super conservative and thus have not had a chance to explore Adelaide's best running locations. 
And of course like any normal athlete you do worry about being out of the sport for 12 months of 15, and how far ahead of you your competitors are getting in this time. But I know that I am still "young" and will overcome this. And unfortunately there simply isn't anything that can be done about it, except for try to keep the voices out of my head that tell me that if Clydesdales can do enough running to get through an Ironman and my 53kg frame can’t manage a few hundred k's, my body is not cut out for this shit! 
But, I fight this because I don't know anything else. There is nothing else I want to do this bad or love this much. I can't picture my life without triathlon. 
Those of you who are triathletes understand that it is not just a hobby that you do, it is part of you, part of your identity. it's not like being told you can't have chocolate for six months - that'd be awful, but you'd deal with it. It's more like someone telling you they're going to amputate your leg. You just can't live without it, can't imagine how your life will proceed to be as normal without that crucial part of you. 
Well life won't be the same, I know that much already. There is no way I'm going back to full time Uni and part time work without having had the chance to really get into my sport for a few months as I had planned. I don't know what to do or how to do it, because I can't live without the income from both of them, but something has got to give. If I make it through these next six months without completely losing the will to keep giving it everything I've got even though I can't race, I think I will have earned (not to mention NEED) some time where triathlon does NOT get pushed into the background every time an assignment is due or we need some money or the dishes pile up on the sink. 
I've been lucky enough to spend some time with two Sydney-based pros, Lisa Marangon and Bec Hoschke this weekend (as I've still come to Barmera to use my loudest cheering voice to support all the Murrayman competitors and help the fantastic event organisers, ATC, in any way I can) and all I can say is, anyone who meets them is a very lucky person. Talk about two of the most genuine, positive and totally inspiring people you've ever met. I'll be damned if I do not take away some important lessons from them and hope their attitudes rub off on me in some way. Bec has just had the courage to quit her full time job of 16 years to concentrate on doing what makes her happy and this is my entire "r'aison d'etre"… I have always thought though, that I had to work my arse off to get to that place where I could drop everything except my passion. But the truth is if I don’t start to simplify my life now, I may eventually reach that hallowed place but I won't ever be happy in the meantime. I don't want to sacrifice my degree but if I'm not doing it any justice (hard to write notes when you're riding a bike or in a pool) then I might be better off without the stress. Obviously I'd rather study and not work but unfortunately we need a roof over our heads too. Sacrifices are essential to achieve our dreams! 
So next steps... I'm booked in for a bone density scan next week. if it turns out I have worse bone density than other girls my age I might be able to be prescribed some osteoporosis drugs which should help it heal up quicker and fingers crossed prevent another one. Since my blood tests were normal, there's not a whole lot I can change for the better. I'll start smashing calcium and vit D tablets, it probably won't help but it can't hurt! I'll also see a podiatrist to hopefully see if there's any biomechanical issues to blame. I'm not sure what we'll do if the answer is yes because I'll never have $700 to fork out on orthotics, (nor do I believe in them anyway) but at least I'll have part of answer to that burning question.. WHY? 
Mentally I will rely on my friends big time, try to remain positive and hold it together on the down days when everything seems dark. I'll be drawing inspiration from some of the triathletes I know that have overcome serious and lengthy issues, like Mitch Robins when he severed his plantar fascia, Jo Carrell's four stress fractures, and Julie Dibens' last couple of years in which she has only managed to race once. 
I can't run or ride for the time being, which puts paid to my grand plans of credit card tours around the adelaide hills and working on my sock tan for the summer holidays. If only they offered my uni course over summer I'd be totally set! I guess I'll just have to turn myself into the ultimate housewife and look after Jason for a change. I refuse to work full time and spend my days dealing with people who are out on the road riding and enjoying the sun. (really it's because I'm too lazy to spend 9hrs a day standing up on a broken leg. I did it last summer and I'd say it contributed to the six months healing time. Other athletes have told me their stressies healed in six weeks). 

Thanks for your continued support, through bad times and good, and I look forward to one day posting a blog that says I'm fully healthy with no injuries and ready to go out and smash some races. 
H x