Sunday, October 31, 2010

And the Tan Lines are Fading

Okay, so I didn’t get much of a tan. I think we all know that Emma doesn’t ‘brown’ very well! But for me I did turn a darker shade of pale and now my skin is shedding and returning to its normal magnolia self.

I took a lot of pictures on my trip. It has been years, around 15 to be exact of when I last took so many pictures. Not quite sure why I stopped, maybe I just got lazy. And as much as I love to write, sometimes a picture is all you need to say those thousand or so words that routinely flow from my fingertips.
I will never tire of looking at these Maui sunsets
So, back to normal or is it? It actually is not back to normal. Back to normal for me would mean going backwards and getting lost again. So I am taking everything I learnt while away and applying it to my new journey. It started yesterday when I rode with the guys. They said it was just 100k. I said I am just going to the toll – for me that is a nudge over 70k. Wet and punctuated with 3 punctures before we reached the toll I was asked to go a little bit more, just 15mins they said.

Yes, but 15minutes out and 15 back is 30mins. That’s an extra 15km roughly, so why not 30mins out and 30back? When and where do you draw the line? When is enough, enough? Before going away I was easily talked into doing a little bit more and then finding out all about it when the effort would come and hit me up the bum.

No one else knows how you feel except YOU. But sometimes the toughest challenge of getting well is listening to YOU. Another person who I do not see much asked how my ‘so-called illness’ was. Well that made me feel like crap, like I was a faker, because from the outside I am functioning so much better than I have for a long time. But inside the workings are still pretty rusty. But only I know this, I FEEL this. No one else can SEE it or FEEL it.

So if training and doing an IM is about mental strength so is getting better. I could ignore group rides and runs and just do stuff on my own but that isn’t fun so until I am ready to go longer I will join to the best and as far as my body will allow and I will do no more than that.

When I am ready to make my switch and start again you all will know about it. And if you want to come along for the journey you are more than welcome. But until then Emma’s mission is to reduce weight and have a healthy clean engine so she is primed and ready to go faster and better than before :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Running in Lava Fields

I am on my way home. I wrote this aboard JAL going to Narita and this time I was not in Business Class. It doesn’t matter though because as far as I am concerned I have had a first class experience. Thinking about when I last had a holiday of any sort (without a bike) I worked it out to be 3years ago. And while I have still been touching base with work and doing some correspondence during my travels it has been a holiday, I feel it and more importantly my body after eleven months is finally telling me so.
Good Morning!
We are in this sport because it is our lifestyle. It is a healthy lifestyle and if your health is at anytime put into jeopardy because of how you live the lifestyle then you need to step back and re-evaluate. It doesn’t mean you cannot reach your dreams but you must be able to smile every day and love what you do even when you are having a tough day.

After months of feeling depleted, exhausted, fatigued beyond recognition I came to the silly conclusion that what I was feeling every day was normal. It was how one is supposed to feel. I now know and understand how wrong that mindset was. I am embarrassed to say how long I have been ignoring this. As someone who noticeably trains hard so she can race hard and be the best she can be I got lost. I lost myself, I lost my passion, I took on too much and I stressed about everything. I lost my smile.

Sunrise in paradise
I achieved my goal but not without a huge sacrifice that resulted in my not being able to go and enjoy the goal I worked so hard towards. I am not particularly impressed with how things turned out but one thing I will always be, is honest. I always seek out the positives from every desperate situation because no matter how hard things are, whatever life throws you, there is always a positive to be found. It is not always going to stare you in the face. But they are there; you just have to decide whether or not you are able to accept it when you are at your lowest and be ready to move on because it is so much easier to wallow in your own self pity.

You do not have to look far, it is right there within yourself. Just as doubt and fear of failure can cloud your mind, the power of positive thinking is there too. A bit harder to grasp and control, that ebbing feeling of doubt is always going to try and override any good thoughts about yourself, your situation, your current place in life.
Oceans and Islands
I am currently the heaviest I have been for two years, (stick with me, this is leading somewhere!) My jeans are tight, my face is full and I feel heavy. But it is nothing compared to the weight that I have lost from my shoulders and my head. I can start to control my real weight again as soon as I want, I have been on holiday and it is to be expected so I am told:) The weight that has taken so much longer to remove is the one that does not register on the scale but has been there, etched on my face for far too long.

I have many decisions to make about my future and I did not want to make any decisions until I was clear in my head and thinking straight again. I did not want to rush this decision-making. For me there is no rushing any more. I can only do so much. So the goal is to be in control of what I decide to do next, sounds simple enough!

I have spent some time with old friends and made many new friends on this trip. I have laughed so hard I have cried and my jaw sore. I had one meltdown, that’s all. And that was promptly nipped in the bud with the help of a friend - where would we be without our friends?

I have watched, I have learnt, I have questioned all things life and triathlon related. I have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with some of the sports greats as well as some inspirational amateurs. I no longer have this ‘need’ to go and race Kona, bizarre but true. I can honestly say I would be quite happy to play the same role as spectator and supporter in 2011.
Inspiring landscape
But also I know I can qualify again if I want to. Nothing is ever guaranteed but I can put myself in the best position to give it a shot that much I do know. So the new challenge for me will be in trying to qualify a different way. By taking a lighter approach that’s what I am really excited about.

So I got to ride on the Queen K but I never got to run in the Lava fields. The one thing I love about IM is the soul searching, the lonely road. Nothing gets me more emotionally charged than seeing long stretches of nothingness. In a car whenever I see such roads I imagine riding these roads and sometimes running. All alone with just my thoughts and silence, no music required. Why would you need music when you are with the perfection of Mother Nature? To handle such isolation is all about your mental strength. Total isolation such as running through Lava fields is for me like attending church. It is where I learn to be thankful and appreciate my life.

And so while in Maui for Xterra I ran and I swam. I ran for 4 days in a row at one point, just one hour at a time. I ran out to the lava fields and got to experience that isolation I so crave at times. I got to experience it at sunrise, sunset and with a friend. With the Pacific Ocean on one side of the road and mountains on the other and black fields of lava rock in between it is hard not to feel inspired and moved by such landscape.
Isolation road
And so each day I would start my run just for 30minutes and it would turn into 60minutes, just because I wanted to see more. And each day I felt better. I still have my aches and pains, and most of the time I was sweating out the previous nights alcohol intake and it was never fast but it was always enjoyable.

I look forward to running those Lava fields again next year, maybe this time it will be in Kona. Until then my mission remains the same. It is my passion to inspire and to motivate and use my mistakes and experience albeit short but extremely well equipped to hopefully helps others to believe that they can do anything.

That little dot is not a smudge but the moon:)
I have said it many times throughout this trip when explaining to others what I love to do. And that is find out peoples stories and help turn ‘I cant’s into ‘I can’s’.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Halloween Shopping

I guess I could post this on Gotriathlete as it is Xterra related, but thought I would add some spice to Emma's page ;-)
So was I the only one that didn't realize there is a Halloween party after the awards on Sunday night? Apparently it is THE party and we all know how I like these occasions, more so since I have not been racing and am in cruise phase until...(to be determined)!
So I am out at dinner the other night with the crew and they are talking about their costumes. I mention how huge Halloween is here that it blows my mind. All the houses in Napa were decked out with caldrons, cobwebs, pumpkins you name it. So I said, oh shame I will miss it as I am back home on October 31st.
What do you mean they say. The party is on SUNDAY! Didn't you know?? Whoops! 
Okay so after meeting Charlotte and Kristian and discovering they already have costumes, and then Whit tells me he has a costume. Why the hell didn't you tell me about this!!! Last night CP & KM pick me up for dinner and a spot O fancy dress shopping. Now CP is pregnant as I have already mentioned. We were laughing so hard at the costumes that I was putting on that the tears were flowing and our sides were hurting. I was at one stage concerned CP may go into labour rather early right there and then.

As I was making a complete and utter fool of myself (BUT, having FUN) trying on all these 'saucy' numbers. Ya see as a single girl CP & KM inform me a plastic garbage bag with a belt tied around the middle is not going to do the trick! If I wasn't single, it didn't matter.
So with my stylists in tow we had a hilarious night. KM admitted it is THE most fun he has had shopping EVER with girls. And then the icing on the cake was when CP picked out a little number and tried it on. All we could hear was squeals of laughter from her pink boudoir booth. So we pulled back the curtain and....AH! You shall have to wait for Sunday's photo's for the unveiling of CP's frock!
You will also have to wait until Sunday's Party for the unveiling of mine too. But to keep you entertained I have posted all the others that didn't make the cut because of fitting or cost. (sorry, but I was not going to spend RM350 on a halloween frock - unless of course I can use it more than once). Hence the search for a saucy number!!!
Excuse the blurry images, all KM's fault, he was laughing too much!
A la Co Co the clown...check the arm ruffles!
Sexy Back...I wasn't shy!
This one nearly won but was way too expensive!
French Maid anyone?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hawaii, take II

So I am back in Honolulu airport awaiting my connection to Maui to the Xterra World Championships. No, of course I am not competing, I have never even ridden a MTB off-road, but I was given the opportunity/invite to ‘pop over’ and so here I am!

I have no clue what is in store for me. All I know is that I am volunteering my services, be they brute strength as in hauling stuff around, running as in fetching and carrying etc, etc. I think the term Gopher would more accurately describe my position in waiting and I am ok with that. I am here to watch, learn and help and see how a World Championships is staged from the word go.

I hope to bring you some behind the scenes footage, interviews with organisers, age groupers and chat with a couple of pro’s and generally try to paint the picture as real and colourful as I expect it to be so you too can experience it all the way from wherever you are reading this.

Anyway before I slip back into Aloha life let me tell you about my day thus far. Because it very nearly didn’t happen; if I am going to be doing more of this travelling malarkey I really need to sort out my timing otherwise I am going to miss one of these flights!!

OK. So my flight out of SFO this morning was 9:05am. I had to get a taxi to the airport shuttle that left at 6am. So I booked my ‘cab’ (sorry I am in the USA after all) for 5:30am. I went to bed and set my alarm for 4:30am.

Things to do in the morning were:

Get up and move straight to kitchen and make strong black coffee.
While this is brewing have a shower.
The next sequence of events however was NOT planned…
I am in shower just washing soap out of my hair and I hear Rocky the RockSTAR dog barking.
Hmmmn? Weird – I say weird because that big ol’ dog was still snoring his head off when I got up!
He carried on barking and then I felt a rising panic starting to build beneath the suds.
For a split second I stood in the bathtub frozen in panic. I then jumped out wrapped a towel around me and opened the front door.
There was my cab – YIKES!
Is it 5:30am? I ask in REAL surprise.
Yes replies my large and very tall female cabbie, that’s what time you booked.
SHIT SHIT SHIT (Actually I think I was probably a little more colourful than this), I thought it was 4:30. You guys have daylight saving??
ME again: Wait, please can you wait…I will be 5minutes?
Oh, yes of course, she says. (Yeah, the more she waits the more money trickles out of my pocket at a scary rate – For every 15secounds an extra 25sen (American!).

I dash back in. Into the bathroom and get dressed. Soap still in hair, it is staying, pack up wash stuff rush into bedroom, throw everything in the case. Zip everything up. Feed Rocky The RockSTAR dog as he looks on in bemusement.

Sadly look over at the coffee pot of freshly brewed coffee. Switch it off and sigh. Have a look round make sure I have everything. And then I am out that door.
Okay, so I took 7minutes!
Put the case in the cab, my driver could not lift it! She was twice the size of me.

Made it in time to the Shuttle place and was on the bus with 5mins to spare.

But boys and girls the adventure doesn’t end there! When I changed my Hawaiian flight they told me to be there 3hours ahead – I guess it’s all the rigmarole of going through security, thank god for lock laces and my current need of late to NOT need a belt (my stomach and butt is doing a perfectly good job without, thank You very much). Well of course I was not going to be there 3hours ahead since the earliest bus from Napa was 6am and due to get to the airport at 8am – it was gonna be tight!

So we are on the freeway and the bus slows down. I was half asleep but I open my eyes a little and see a lot of flashing lights and highway patrol cars. CRAP. An accident. Luckily not too many rubbernecks and just a slight detour and we are on our way.

I arrive at the airport at 7:35am (It’s Sunday and traffic is light)! RESULT :)

Now what should have happened is a nice proper shower where I could wash and dry my hair and make myself presentable to the public. Wash my face. Have a nice cup of coffee or two, perhaps some fruit. Feed the dog, let him outside and clean up all the dirty dishes.

Very VERY sorry I was unable to do this! Bad, BAD HOUSE GUEST!

But the car is still in one piece, as is the house, as is the dog, although I expect he is still wondering what hurricane came through the Valley this morning and disturbed his beauty sleep!

Ok, now I can say it…

Sunset in Maui

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Running in the Wine Country

I do not think anyone can argue that I am not having a great time. The trouble is when you feel good and relaxed I still get tendencies to think I am superwoman and can do anything. The landscape here is Godly, I just want to run and run and run and ride and ride and ride. BUT my body will not let me:( So I am doing little runs and little rides and trying not to overdo it.

Training is a word in the dictionary. It is no longer in my vocabulary. It will be back but not until I know my body is ready. My mind is in a pretty good shape. I am having ideas, brain waves, I do not forget stuff (much), I am functioning :) But the body is taking longer to heal and mistreat it and it comes up and whacks me in the butt as a gentle reminder that I need time out away from races and structure but not necessarily the sport. That is my life :)

SO. I did a short short run the wrong way last night, nothing to speak of so I will not go further than that. I checked out exactly where I had to go today and my 9am run got pushed to 11am. Out the door and I only need to run for 10minutes at my snails pace to be in the wine country, now how blooming super cool is that??? I ask YOU! HOW COOL IS THAT???!!!

I will TELL YOU! Extremely super duper cool, pretty, inspiring, luscious, scenic, calming, tranquil. If you believe that God made the world in 7days, I reckon he spent a good six and half days in this neck of the woods!

Ok enough, I think you get the picture, for more just pop over to my Facebook page.

Tomorrow I will be tackling Atlas Peak solo, I have the destructions written down and I also worked out how to drive the Prius today and use the GPS because I got ruddy lost! All is good though and I because there is no milk in the fridge to make a hot chocolate (it is friday night) I cracked open a bottle of white. A Napa label of course!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Atlas Peak

I have heard about Atlas Peak in Napa for some time now. So it was only right that I get my butt on Roger the roadie and follow my tour guide up the peak. The temperature here in Napa is spookily hot for this time of year. I believe I have brought the heat, read: mid 90's, with me!

The mornings are still chilly as are the evenings, but when it warms up - boy is it hot! On my ride through the vineyards the other day it was mainly flat with some little 'bumps' and gorgeous scenery. The vines are so heavy and ripe for harvesting that you can literally smell the wine as you ride past :)

So. Atlas Peak. An 8mile climb, thats 12/13km for us so a little bit of an extension to Perez. I am still pretty wiped out and the other day did too much and smashed myself up. Plus it is so dry here that my asthma is giving me some problems. With that in mind I left my ego in bed and tootled up the mountain.

What can I say, AWESOME! It has been 17years since I was last in the states. And then I was in Houston - not the best introduction in the world. I tell you one thing though. It will not be 17years before I return!!
I now have two days of downtime before I leave for Maui. I am also now house sitting Rocky the Rockstar dog as my tour guide is up at Jackson hole in Wyoming for a few days. I will try not to get lost, and try not to burn the house down and try not to crash the car.

I did test drive the car yesterday. Never driven on the wrong side of the road before or driven left hand drive. It went ok. But I think my co driver was pretty edgy about the whole episode. So when we got back in the car he asks: "don't you want to drive back"?
No WAY, I say...YOU are freaking me out so much I would probably have an accident!

Anyway, I will attempt to use the Prius tomorrow, and ride the bike and do a run and not get lost. If there is no post by this time tomorrow then you can pretty much assume I am halfway across the states!

K-Swiss Party

I had been reliably informed the K-Swiss party was the place to be and it seems everyone else was heading in that direction too. We needed some sort of pass, not quite sure what it was but the place was heaving. Madness. I bumped into Charlotte Paul outside. Charlotte and hubby Kristian will also be in Maui for Xterra (Kristian is racing for FUN).

Amy and Brandon Marsh were inside, Amy was taking a load off, her legs were sore. Then I saw Xena at the bar. She looked amazing. I have not seen her since March and gave her a huge hug and mentioned that she had been my pick but when I saw her running she did not look too comfortable. Were you working into it I asked? No she said I felt awful, that was the toughest run ever!

I got chatting with Richard from IM UK; I had forgotten how good Brits are at getting to the bar and claiming drinks. He kept the buds coming. It was just a really great vibe but when I checked my watch and it was almost 12midnight I knew I needed to go home with an early flight and before I drank too much!
Rebekah Keat & Emma
I walked back and the condo was already open. Whit had beaten me to it and was still up so rather than go to bed, (which would have been the sensible thing to do), the party continued again.Once Sean made his way back a battle of the iPods began with each of us selecting our favourite tunes. Yes it was ugly as in ugly dancing, but was also FUN:)
Emma, Brandon & Amy Marsh
So what happens when you have been drinking and silly? You get an attack of the munchies! So for the first time that week I donned my pinny and emptied the fridge of whatever food was left and whipped up a giant Frittata for my roomies in the wee hours of the morning. 

And so another 3:30am bedtime. Off to SFO the following day.

I actually wrote this on board Hawaiian en route to SFO: Goodbye Kona, it was immense fun, just the tonic. I have laughed until it hurt all week, boy it feels good to have those deep belly laughs back again :)

I am so glad I came out to your big island and look forward to returning again for IMWC October 8th 2011. Will you be there?

Down Time

Post race: Sunday Oct 10th

With only three hours of sleep I woke up not so much with a hangover I think but perhaps still high from the previous evening. The reason my head was so dodgy I believe was an over indulgence of Sake!

I had a race report to write for the teamTBB and as much as I wanted to idle around I wanted to get it written up ASAP so I could go relax out on the beach. Finally by 11am I had done my work for the day and we went and chilled on the lawn and watched the surfers play in the surf. 
It's a hard life...but you know what I am not apologizing or feeling guilty. O make you feel slightly better I did burn my white belly - it had to happen. I call it an undercoat so now I can build on that before I go to Maui on the 17th.
After a sunbathing session it was into the convertible and off for a spot of lunch before the awards and party!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Checking in

Just in case you are checking here for any Kona updates let me re-direct you to the go triathlete blog. I have just posted my latest inspired story:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

USA...are YOU ready?

Packing a small bag for a month of travelling was a challenge. Luckily only one of my destinations calls for some long sleeves and proper shoes (whatever those are).
So my trip starts with Carmen and Wong and myself all flying together to Kona. We stop off in Tokyo, then on to Honolulu and last stop Kona.

I am very lucky to be sharing a condo on the beach with a couple of guys. I say lucky, maybe I should clarify that when I arrive as I have yet to meet one of my roomies! We arrive in Honolulu at the same time so perfect we can share a cab. I was joking when I mentioned the placard. I don’t think he was though!!!

I went shopping last week and finally got a couple of bikinis, I know, I know the island will be full of them. But honestly the last thing I want to do is go around bikini shopping! Now a few weeks ago I was told ‘we’ as in me and my roomies are doing the underpants run. A fun run for a kilometre I think, in yes your underpants, knickers, smalls, undies are some other terms you may be familiar with.

Ok cool, I am up for that. But first I must go underpant shopping. Don’t misread me I do own underwear and I do wear it. But this kind of ‘exposure’ calls for a very special pair of knickers!

If I have forgotten anything too late now (I ment to post this earlier but had no time so I am now at the airport). I have a video camera and will be doing my best to shoot some little V-blogs as well as some sensational snaps.

Now even though I am officially on holiday I have a secret assignment. Not only will I be trying to blog here but also I will be bringing you live and exclusive footage to Malaysia’s first REAL go-to website: The website has had a few technical snags in the past months but please do not lose faith, we all know how tricky these things can be when starting up. So check into the blog daily here and you can also access via facebook here.

So if you want to know what’s going on during race week and actually more importantly what trouble I am getting into then make a point to log on every day! And if you are not a fan on FB then become one and you can get instant alerts!

Ok, enough for now. The adventure is about to begin…Selamat Jalan Malaysia, ohayoo gozaimasu Japan and Aloha Hawaii!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Brace Yourself

The adventure is about to begin, but before I embark on reports and tales that will have you frothing at the mouth and green with envy, a little update of whats been going on :)

So as everyone, well almost everyone went to Desaru it would not be wrong to say that my impending adventure is not quite what I had planned, but we all know nothing really ever goes to plan and in my book everything no matter how crap, happens for a reason.

So I am still going to Kona. But I am not racing. I am over that now, although still I found it a hard bitter pill to swallow on seeing my name on the start list this morning. I have eased off of everything since I got ill for the third time.  I have come to realise I need to try and simplify my life, no please stop laughing - seriously this time I WILL. I have had advice to get out and away from the sport, to take a year off. I have also had fantastic support from friends and well-wishers to do otherwise - whatever I do, it will be my decision and for what I believe, to be my own good.

It is very difficult even for me to accept that I am not well when I actually feel ok. If I didn’t have the need to exercise then you could say there is nothing wrong. I went for a complete check up, convinced the doctors would find something wrong. Secretly I harboured the idea that they would find something. I know that is terrible but at least then I would have an answer for why some days I can function and then other days I cannot get myself out of bed - it is like my body has a 10ton weight on top of it.

The doctors found nothing internally wrong. The tests however revealed high cholesterol, which shocked me, as I do not eat fried foods or dairy high in fat. I knew I had put weight on but that was due to indulgence not fat intake. High cholesterol can be genetic it can also be related to stress. Well my dad bless him has very high cholesterol and stress, yeah well I don’t really handle that too well we all know that! What did they say? CFS aka Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ME or in the old days in the UK it was called Yuppie Flu! YES, those rich young workaholics in the city worked so damn hard they then were unable to function. Unable to get out of bed in the morning - or maybe that was over drink indulgence?

Well I am far from being a YUPPIE but I tick 99% of the boxes and that’s what the doc said it was. I know in part it is in the head too. I think of it as a switch. One day when I first found this sport a switch went off in my head and I was in LOVE, I was alive, I had a goal. Well somewhere along the way this year the switch got flicked to 'off'. The passion went away, I had no care or enthusiasm for what I was doing anymore. I am pleased to say though that the smile is back and I have found the switch. I wouldn’t say it is on; there is no rush. I am going to enjoy my break and enjoy trying new things. But I am no longer afraid that I have lost it. When ready, I will just turn it back on!

So many things are happening in the coming months, I will be moving house, AGAIN. Lightening the workload, basically changing my direction. I feel the stars are finally starting to align again which makes me very happy but also quite scared. Good things keep happening, not used to that!

My passion has always been triathlon, helping people, training, running, biking, racing, all things tri related. What is sad though is I lost that passion. I lost the love of something I really LOVE - how the heck did that happen?

The only good thing to come out of the tests is my resting heart rate is still pretty low. This was a shock as I am not training and any efforts I give I know about it, hence the reason I have really backed off and the method seems to be working, finally and just in time for my adventure!

Ok, so I never EVER give stats but I am pretty chuffed at my HR. So here you are for all you stat geeks, not far from Lance-what’s-his-name, it's 37!

BTW: This is absolutely my LAST post without pictures :)