Sunday, 28 February 2010

To write or not to write

I've been asking myself if this week warrants a blog entry and have no answer, so far. As in my training, I have enjoyed the consistency of blogging. And as in my training I feel that I am building something day by day, week by week. So here goes...

It's been another solid week, with its ups and downs. I have been lucky to have been able to train my, by now customary 7-8 hours, though not without sacrificing other activities, sometimes luxuries - like emailing friends, sometimes vital - like eating. But I have to prioritise as it is still a very difficult time for me and my family, both in practical and emotional terms.

Yesterday was just wonderful. I had the day off hospital and really wanted to enjoy it with Duncan. After a lazy morning in bed, we loaded the mountain bikes on the van (which is looking more and more like a sports equipment cupboard and less and less like a vehicle) and headed to the pool. After a quick, yet very satisfying swim, we headed up to Ymittos for some biking with friends, followed by a leisurely coffee and some refuelling.

My friend Paul (not McCartney, though he might have said something along those lines too) said it very eloquently - the best things in life are free: sunshine, mountains and the sea air. And how right he is, though he might be appreciating it them more than us at the moment as he is in still very cold and snowy England.

I often wonder if anyone reads my blog. I have had some comments from a few of you and they are very much appreciated. If you read my blog regularly, I would be grateful if you could add yourself to the follower list (does wonders for my sense of purpose...)

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

A break

We all need a break now and then and last week was half term for me, boy did I need that! My schedule which involved me leaving the house at 8 am and getting back at 10.30 pretty much every night was replaced by sleeping in (even until 9 on some days), more leisurely visits to my dad in hospital and some lovely training.

A southerly wind brought with it Sahara sand, but also the feel of spring and I was more than ready to go out and spend some time swimming, cycling and running.

On Monday my dad got an infection and we were warned that this could be it. Spent some of Monday with my dad, who was deep in sleep and had great difficulty breathing. He was not able to communicate, though he squeezed my hand firmly and smiled when I rubbed his now immobile legs. I went to bed thinking that Tuesday would be a difficult day, maybe the most difficult I was to live in my relatively sheltered life so far.

So Tuesday was such a gift. I got up early for a morning swim, which gave me a pleasant surprise of a new PB, then headed to hospital to find my dad alert and chatty. His fever had dropped and he was keen to discuss fishing again. He was certainly better. I relished my time with him and really enjoyed massaging his legs - it feels that the simple act of touch brought us closer together more than words could ever do.

Touch is so important in life. The simple act of connecting with another human being on the most basic of levels carries such power sometimes. It reminds us of our physical boundaries, it strengthens our sense of self as well as that of our surroundings. It conveys a million words, it gives warmth and love in a way nothing else can. Of my time with my dad the few minutes spent rubbing his legs are most precious for both of us.

The week ended, a new one began and I started back in my routine. I looked forward to going back to school, but was not enjoying the prospect of long days without a minute of rest. I am now sick and confined to bed, having a break of the sort that I would rather avoid.

Training has been solid - same amount of hours, cut slightly short by a nightmare of a ride. It was too windy and I managed to hit a pothole with such vengeance that I got an instant flat. I was shaken up and by miracle managed to stay on the bike and pull over. A quick inspection showed the tyre was damaged and the wheel was also making an... interesting noise. We got home, riding into a fierce headwind and I got off my bike with no particular wish to get back on it anytime soon. Until next weekend, I will give it a rest (and also repair the damage a quick lapse in concentration can bring).

The swim, on the other hand, has been pure enjoyment. I have been doing drills and sets with the new found enthusiasm that only an improvement gives. It feels more elegant and strong and less splashy and I guess that translates to faster too. I am looking forward to my next swim when I am feeling a bit better.

Cross training this week included a beautiful early morning canoe ride to an island my dad and I used to visit when I was little. I recounted the trip to my dad and his eyes lit up. He grew up on that shore, paddled to the island, slept on the beach - the place is alive with his energy. I can't wait to go back, wishing I could be with him, but knowing that he is always with me.

Sunday, 14 February 2010


Usually when I go to hospital and after I have helped my dad have his dinner, "exercised" his now immobile legs, rubbed his back and chatted, he falls asleep and I switch off, reading my book. Yesterday things were different. His condition has deteriorated and I didn't need to do any of the above - he is no longer able to take food and he was mostly asleep, struggling to open his eyes the few times I tried to speak to him. And so sitting in there, in the dark, I put my book down. I wanted to live in that moment, to listen to his breath and feel his energy. To feel lucky one more time, that in that moment he was still with me. I froze that moment and will always have it with me.

What a cliche to say that life is made of moments. We all know it, most of us try to live every single one of them. Yet you can't. Life is not like that - if it were we would get so caught up in moments that we would be unable to function. There is nothing special about grocery shopping, or commuting, or photocopying. But we do owe it to ourselves and to those around us to take some time out occasionally and just be. In the moment. Freeze it and keep it. Your husband's heart beat before he wakes up in the morning. The first sip of your coffee, just as you like it. The moment you finish a run and you lie on the ground, heart still beating, sweat still dripping and you feel like you are on top of the world.

I had all of those moments yesterday. Every day is filled with joy, pain, anguish, happiness, boredom. It's all life. I embrace my tears, I embrace my laughter. I deny myself nothing when it comes to emotions. My parents taught me that and they both still do, every day.


My training has also been full of moments this week. I loved swimming this week, partly because it wasn't as cold and getting into the pool was a bit more pleasant. Partly because my training was more focused with the help of Awesome website - any of you regular swimmers out there: a resource to be used.

I did two bikes (both turbos - had the chance of an actual ride, but did not want to be too far from home just in case I was needed in hospital), 2 swims, 1 gym and only 1 run/walk this week. Hit the 8 hour mark again and my body feels good. I feel like I am getting stronger and I am concentrating on quality and consistency. Racing is a motivating factor, but the rest of the time I just feel lucky to be able to get out there day after day to do what I enjoy.

The run I did with Duncan opened up my heart and nurtured my spirit. It was a glorious day yesterday, though a bit windy, so we decided the track would be better than the mountain. I got so absorbed into it that the 50 mins flew past and I was hoping that D would also want to stay longer. No such luck. I guess it's good to be leaving a workout feeling hungry for more and looking forward to the next one.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Life and Training

It's been a hard week. Made harder by the lack of sleep from Monday to Wednesday. But I am getting better at organising myself, concentrating on the important stuff and just getting by.

My days at the moment consist of getting up at around 7, teaching until 4, gym/training until 5.30/6 then hospital to give my dad his dinner and spend precious moments together until 10.30ish. Then bed. Then again from the beginning. Some days I get some more time and the important thing then is to spend it with Duncan. The best thing however is that we both enjoy training and so a lot of our training time is also quality time together. Two birds with one stone. I knew having a triathlete husband would come in handy at some point.

I get tired. Sometimes I get overtired. So much so that I cannot sleep or eat. I have lost a lot of weight and struggle to maintain a healthy diet, as I am never at home for meal times. But I try not worry too much about it now - I will eat when I can and what I can.

In terms of training I have really enjoyed this week. Training is my "me" time, my psychotherapy time, my stopping-brain-from-overthinking time, my taking-care-of-my-health time, my spending-time-with-my-husband time and lately it is becoming my setting-goals-and-working-towards-them time. I have been setting my eyes on June 13th Half Iron Distance here in Greece, organised by Leo and Marie from Schiniathlon ( Just to be able to train for such an event again makes me happy.

So training hours hit just over 8 this week (that's assuming D and I decide to brave the rain and go for our 70-90 min run). I did two swims, two bikes, and two walk/runs - massive fan of the run/walk movement as led by Bobby McGee(imtalk episode 190 for more info) . The ride yesterday was challenging, longer than I have done in a very long time, but enjoyed it so much that I cannot wait to go out there and do it again.

On top of all this is about to take off! We are starting to work more on the Athletes in Athens side of things, getting some sessions going for local athletes, as well as planning some big training weeks/camps and clinics for later on in the year. Again, very exciting, but lots of extra work going on.

Sometimes I wonder if people who only "do" one thing in life are happier than us overachievers who try and cram multiple roles in our days. People at work, who know me as a teacher, find it hard to understand all the stuff I do outside of school and people who meet me in my gear find it difficult to realise I also have a day job, where I do not wear lycra, but I teach children about Egyptian mummies and irregular plurals. But for me it's all part of who I am and both roles are as fulfilling in their own separate ways. I sometimes ask myself which of the two I would give up if I had to and the answer is never there... Luckily for now I don't have to give up any of it.