Riverside rumbles…

Swan Hillians…. There’s a storm brewing and you do not want to miss out on the thunderous action in just over a week’s time. As the local pool is flooded with foreign beings, the hail of running shoes fill our nature strips and parklands, and bikes flash by like lightening, the Riverside triathlon prepares to make its dramatic debut on the Swan Hill events calendar on Sunday 28th February.


For many years there has been a local triathlon drought in our midst, but all this is about to change as a torrent of diverse competitors emerge from all ages, backgrounds and locations (from beginners to triathlon veterans) to accept the local challenge with enthusiasm and devotion.

Days of deserted roads – void of any human presence – are numbered, as triathlon training dominates our town’s transport infrastructure in the wake of the bike boom. Local swimming pools are filled to capacity and the days of lane choice and black line swimming are over as we make room for the masses. Never before has Riverside Park been such a hub of activity as local fitness enthusiasts hit the park for personal training sessions, swimming, yoga, walks and group runs as early as 5am right through until the sun sets.

The Riverside Triathlon may just be the commonality that the Swan Hill community needs to embrace an active lifestyle in unison and to help us stay motivated through the warmer months. Whether you are a sport participant looking to maintain your fitness in the offseason, or a complete beginner looking for a new challenge to sink your teeth into, the Riverside Triathlon has something for everyone.

For those less practised, who want to experience the rumbling (but don’t want to immerse themselves in the forefront of the deluge), there is the option to tackle the triathlon as a team or complete in the 5km fun run from a more comfortable distance.

With an entry price that is half that of any city triathlon, tremendous local crowd support and the absence of accommodation and travelling costs, locals should find it almost impossible not to be swept up by the triathlon tornado heading this way. However, be warned, if you want to be part of this history-making spectacle and take advantage of the cheaper price, early entries are closing in less than 24 hours at 4pm this Friday 19th February.

A storm is coming and a new bud of triathletes is blooming. If this downpour of fitness continues, the creation of a triathlon club next season in Swan Hill would not be out of the question…

Whether you are a competitor, volunteer, supporter, or would simply like to support Swan Hill’s endeavour to make this a ‘not to be missed’ event on the triathlon calendar in future, come down on Sunday 28th February and witness the inundation of Riverside Park as the excitement erupts. You do not want to miss the action unfold!

Enter here!



8 triathlon tips for the time poor

He lurks around every College, school or workplace. He filters his negative aura into a chaotic household of children. His voice resonates in your mind when you are resting or reading a book. He battles with your will to get out and exercise. He wrestles fun from your life, befriends doubt and together they set out to conquer your mind. His clever conversation and witty dialogue will lure you in with conviction and then, while you are distracted, he’ll pull time out from under you like an insatiable lion.

He is the Time Robber and this villain wants your training time.

Most people have encountered him; he may even be loitering in your mind right now as you prepare to read this. So stop making it easy for him by dangling a tentative rope of excuses, and cut the strings that entice him. There is always time available and here are some ways to ensure you get your triathlon training in before it is hauled from your desperate clutches.

  • Increase intensity

If there is one thing the Time Robber loathes, it is high intensity training. Before he even has a chance to dampen your spirits, your workout is completed. A session of quick running, riding or swimming intervals from as little as a total of ten minutes, that provides good value and is easy to accommodate in your daily schedule, will give you bang for your buck.

Alternatively you could rotate your road bike with your mountain bike or run up a steep hill if you are after a workout of good value.

We all like to spend our savings. Well, when it comes to value for money in fitness, high intensity training will not disappoint. The Time Robber will fail to notice your true fortune.

  • Incidental exercise

The easiest way to guarantee some training and conceal it from the Time Robber’s greedy eyes is to disguise it as a necessary part of your working day.

Ditch the car and ride, walk or run to and from work or the shops. Instead of procrastinating in your work lunch break, jump on the spin bike in the gym for half an hour or run around the block. Better still, do both! A brick session in your lunch break is time well spent. Take the stairs or a quick round of push-ups, squat jumps and walking lunges to the photocopier between tasks all adds up.

Challenge yourself, and try car free February (something I would like to attempt). It’s more difficult than it looks, but with all the added kilometres on foot and on the bike, you’ll be shocked by how many extra miles you can squeeze in to your daily grind.

  • Make time!

So Tom has more holidays than you, Dick works sociable hours with no business responsibilities and Harry has a live in babysitter.

So what? We don’t know what underlying stresses or challenges are present in other people’s tumultuous lives. We all have a tendency to waste time making comparisons, so stop playing the ‘unfair’ or ‘too busy’ card and shield your wealth of time from such excuses. It will only be more rewarding when you experience triathlon success.

Just like earning money, the harder you work, the more money you make. So go out and make some time for your triathlon training; sacrifice something small like a tv show.  Otherwise, the only thing you will be forgoing is your sanity when your hard-earned time is eaten up by the Time Robber and his meaningless tasks, while you become a moody, training-deprived, wannabe triathlete without a cent of time to your name. As a triathlon buddy recited to me this morning on a ride, ‘time is only a four letter word.’ It is accessible to everyone.

  • Mornings

Morning sessions are like bonus interest accounts. If you are not a morning person, you are simply missing out on the extra time bucks! If sipping lattes down at your local coffee haunt in the late afternoon with a newspaper and a cash load of time is appealing, befriend the morning when it comes to your fitness investments. The Time Robber’s charm and charisma as he lures you into a guilt trip will be obsolete if you beat him to it.

Additionally, if you’ve already deposited some morning exercise in the bank, who’s stopping you from squeezing in an extra session in the afternoon? Double time is too tempting and will provide you with some very welcome time in lieu when you need a rest day.

  • Socialise

Similar to his distaste for fitness, the Time Robber doesn’t want you to have fun or enjoy time with your friends. So why don’t you outwit him by combining both?

Train for a triathlon with your friends and help motivate each other along the way. Instead of meeting at the coffee shop or pub, try meeting for a bike ride or a run. The Time Robber will be so delirious, that by the time your trickery is revealed, you’ll have chitchatted the whole way to the post stretching mat without a trace of his existence.

  • Making time with kids

It may appear as if your kids and the Time Robber have a secret alliance, but if there’s one thing he is the master of, it’s deception. He is using your kids against you, so be brave, strong and never surrender; embrace parenthood fitness and get a little more creative with your sessions and there will be nothing left for him to embezzle.

Getting out with the running pram or bike trailer with the kids on board is a great way to squeeze out a few more pounds of valuable time. In fact, pushing a pram or towing a bike trailer with up to 30 or 40 kilograms in it is one of the most resourceful ways to spend your triathlon time when on a budget. You’ll only need half the time to make the equivalent gains of going child free. Additionally, you can use the wind trainer for your bike while the kids sleep if you are looking for a slightly more peaceful option.


A couple of weeks ago I was in a confined state so I decided to take on some 400m intervals at the oval in the company of my kids. This resulted in a game called, ‘Hide and Seek intervals.’ I would run a 400m effort, while they hid in the seats within the grand stand at the footy oval. My recovery would involve the act of finding them (no rush and a lot of fake turns) before I could repeat the interval.

Not only was this the most fun I had ever had running intervals, but my kids wanted to run 400m intervals. Don’t put all of your time investments in one basket; set your kids up for life too.

  • Brick sessions

These are like the mortgages of triathlon. We all know you can’t make monetary gains without them and the best thing about bike to run sessions, is just like real estate, the more you do them (or pay them off) the more your triathlon fitness increases and the more successful you will become! This type of investment is low risk and almost guaranteed to get you results without having to do two sessions for the day.

  • Lock in the event

The best way of all to protect your time from the Time Robber is to enter an event. Once you enter and pay for your goal event, you will discover a secret inheritance of time that you never knew existed. You will never have enough time, so why wait another ten years to spend it? The Time Robber will only steal it right out from under you if you choose otherwise.

So, what are you waiting for? Invest in your future health and sanity and lock yourself into a triathlon. You will not regret it when you are rolling in an abundance of good health and good memories in decades to come. Don’t let those Fraudulent Excuses employed by the Time Robber cheat you of your precious time.

Mum wanted!


A vacancy exists for a mum to cover a two week long service position in a messy house with three kids. There may be an opportunity to extend the contract for a suitable applicant, depending on mental stability.


  • Ability to speak many languages
  • Must be able to handle loud noises
  • A master of multi-tasking (able to coexist in multiple locations simultaneously, while having three separate conversations and playing three separate characters all at once)
  • Must not value sleep or toilet breaks
  • Be prepared to work long hours. In fact, don’t expect to have a day off in twenty years.
  • Be able to negotiate with challenging and unreasonable clientele, possibly in a public setting.


  • Previous experience as a magician or mind reader would be advantageous, but not essential.

So if you are up for up for the challenge of a lifetime and a generous pay of lifetime cuddles and love, then send your your application to:

The Crazy Mother

Hiding in the toilet

Just call ‘Mummmmmm,’ at the top of your lungs and you will find her.


Or worst case scenario, you might find that she’s ran away…

  The elves of the fitness world…

For the majority of people Christmas day is a welcome excuse to relax and indulge without feeling guilty. It is considered a rest from their exercise regimes free from guilt, so they can enjoy time with family and friends. And with good reason- if you can’t have a day off on Christmas, when can you, right?

But there are also many closet Christmas fitness devotees who secretly crave a work out on Christmas day, but feel shameful admitting it. Typically, we can feel guilty and shameful for not exercising, but as Christmas day is upon us, the roles are reversed.

I call them the elves of the fitness world – the Workout Elves – slipping into the darkness of the unsociable hours just to squeeze in a little more fitness in preparation for Christmas Day. Or there are the more courageous ones who brave their final slogging in the daylight hours with risk of being sprung. You may have one in your presence as there are many of them, but they will not disclose their identity for fear of interrogation.

They’re working late into the night on Christmas Eve, squeezing in their finest workouts. They’ll slip into the gym at 4am on Christmas morning before Santa Claus and his arrival, scouting out their final sweat session. However, they will only report to their fitness duties when you are sound asleep in your bed and slink back into bed before the kids awaken. When you open your weary eyes it will be like they never left.

When gifting obligations have culminated, kids are focused on their new toys and everyone has eaten themselves into a profound slumber, they may sneak into the afternoon sun for a quick run or a few push-ups. And if sleeping is not in your family’s genetic makeup, it would not be unheard of for them to mask a round of burpees, mountain climbers and squat jumps with a make believe trip to the toilet.

It is difficult to spot a Workout Elf, but there are telltale signs that you can look for on Christmas day. Workout Elves will never attend Christmas lunch without their sneakers. Being opportunists, they will pounce on any chance to get their work out done. If they happen to suggest fitness challenges or disguise burpees and planking as drinking games, you may have one in your midst.

However, if you manage to uncover their identity, you must refrain from disclosing it. The last thing you need is a cranky elf with no Christmas spirit!

Don’t be mistaken though, these original elves are not in it for the calorie deduction or the six-pack, but simply because in doing so, they are following their bliss (not to mention their mental sanity). Just like a thirsty man and his slab.

So if you want to live another day, the best thing you can do if you are blessed with the presence of a Workout Elf on Christmas, is let them do their exercise in secrecy without judgement. Just as you don’t want to be made to feel guilty for eating too much Christmas pudding, they would like to do their burpees guilt-free.

Plus, a shot of endorphins will make them the happiest little Santa’s helpers you have ever laid eyes on. After all, Christmas is about giving, right?

Merry Christmas and a big thank you for reading my blog entries this year! Looking forward to 2016…

Chapter 2016…

My eight year old daughter arrived home from her final day of school last week, masked by anger. I understood that it had been a tedious term (term 4 always is) and her constant lack of sleep preceding this last day had taken its toll, so I loosened the line a little and let a few insensitive comments off the hook.

However, things escalated very quickly and before I knew it, we came to loggerheads. Reasoning was not a viable option at this point and she needed some time to think about her actions, so with a slammed door (that just about set our house off its hinges) and a few coarse words, we parted ways.

As always is with a child, it didn’t take her a long time to come and seek my attention once again (just like me, she can’t let things lie). Convinced that she was purely tired, while she stubbornly denied it, the situation started to intensify once again. There appeared to be no way out of this ever-expanding hole.

The combination of an erratic, sleep deprived mother walking a tight rope about to snap and an eight year old in possession of an angry mask for the day was not really conducive to conflict resolution.

However, as we reached the pinnacle of our disagreement – with her hurling many insults loaded with incredulous attitude to knock me off balance– the angry mask cracked. Not only did it crack, but it shattered into a million pieces as the tears streamed from their confines.

There was no more angry mask; my eight year old girl and all her underlying innocence were revealed for all to see. I instantly softened and the tired and erratic mother that was standing in for the day took her cue to depart and we were left with two open and honest souls, laid bare for each other to see.

Sometimes you just have to delve a little deeper before you can find a way out of the hole, so once we were on softer ground, that is what we did; we dug until there was nothing left.

Turns out, she was anxious and scared. What initially appeared to be excitement about going into grade three (perhaps she wore the mask of courage this time), was really apprehension and fear over the unknown- something we all experience in turn.

She explained that she felt comfortable in her surroundings, from her familiar teacher and very close friends, to small things like the smells and sounds in her classroom. She was confused and upset about why this all had to change when she felt happy and content at school.

I racked my brains to think of an explanation that would resonate well with an eight year old and being the book lovers that we both are, found the perfect comparison.

‘Your life is like a book,’ I told her. ‘Each year is like a new chapter or little story, and in each chapter or new story something new and exciting happens.’

‘Like my book Kitten Tales? Each chapter has another little story,’ she interrupted with self-satisfaction.

‘Exactly,’ I replied enthusiastically. ‘Would you enjoy this book as much if it was one big story with the same things happening over and over again?’

She pondered this question for a moment. ‘No it would be very boring!’

I was pleased that this made sense to her.

I continued, ‘It would get very boring. To draw the readers in, the story needs to change and grow, and there needs to be challenges to keep things interesting. Similar to your life; you can’t be in grade two forever. Your own story needs to change so you grow as a person. These series of little stories or chapters (or year levels) make up your life and keep things exciting just like a book.’

‘And I wouldn’t have met my other teachers and some of my best friends in grade one if I hadn’t changed grades,’ she clarified. I think she was starting to understand.

‘You are exactly right. Change can bring many wonderful new things into your life and sometimes there is a bright light of happiness at the end of a dark and scary tunnel of the unknown, but you just have to be brave and pass through. Once you do, you’ll be glad you did. Otherwise you would never experience new things.’ I could see the weight lifting off her shoulders already.

An adult’s story is much different, but just like her, many of us dread change and the absence of our comfort zones. We clasp them tightly with fear of the dark tunnel and its passage towards the unknown light. Why leave somewhere that is comfortable and painless, right?

But as we head into the New Year and consider our options and where our own lives are headed, think about your own story. Do you want your story to be full of suspense; one that keeps you turning the pages in anticipation? Do you want to take risks and ride the wave of uncertainty over many bumps and hurdles and think, ‘wow, I gave it a go?’ Or do you want your story to be unchanged, safe and comfortable? A nice book that you may pick off the shelf in passing, but one that would be quickly overlooked for a thriller.

As we get ready to begin a fresh new chapter, think about what you want to happen. We only get one story, so which one would you rather live? Try something new in 2016, no matter how small. Go out and write the chapter of your life. You are the author. What have you got to lose?

6 reasons you SHOULD do a triathlon this summer…

As we reach the first official day of summer and are blessed with an abundance of morning and evening light, now is the perfect time to mix up your fitness regime and attempt a triathlon.

With the addition of a triathlon event right here in our local area at the end of February (12 weeks to be exact) and countless events across the state to choose from right up until the end of April, it is a great time to embrace the heat and dust off that trusty bike and goggles and sink your teeth into a new challenge.

Triathlon is accessible for all fitness levels with an array of distance options, and with an increasing number of first-timers and amateurs now regularly toeing the start line in this versatile sport, there is no reason why you can’t be part of the action too.

So if you have been pondering a triathlon, here are several reasons why you should attempt one this season.

1) You’re a terrible swimmer


So you can’t swim to save yourself? Or you look like a rag doll in a blender? Well – unless you literally can’t save yourself – that is exactly why you SHOULD give triathlon a go. Where is the fun in being perfect at everything? Challenge yourself.

Do you remember when your mum told you as a kid that you should at least try your dinner first, before you had the authority to disregard it? Likewise, don’t count yourself out of the swimming leg in a triathlon until you have at least tried it. And even then, just like your vegies, sometimes it takes a few samples before you are comfortable with it. How many of us now devour the pumpkin that we once despised on our plate? Well, that swimming leg is like the pumpkin; you will be devouring those laps before you know it. Don’t give up!

Countless triathlon fence sitters – in fact most people that forgo a triathlon – are either frightened by the swim, or feel like they are going to create a tsunami with their desperate thrashing and flailing arms in their first and final lap of their attempted swimming sessions. You are not alone; 90% of people feel this way about the swim to begin with.

The good news is that with some minor technique adjustments and a few key drills to help with arm stroke, body position and kicking, you will improve dramatically. Try to have someone with some swimming knowledge to watch your stroke. Just remember that even sluggish caterpillars can turn into graceful butterflies, so there is hope for you yet!

If you are disheartened by open water swimming, start with a triathlon in a pool (like our local Swan Hill one in February) and gradually work towards one in the open water. Remember you can always breaststroke in the swimming leg at any time to regain composure and the best news of all is that the swim leg is proportionately shorter in time than any of the other legs, so if you suck at swimming like me; hallelujah, it will be over before you even have the chance to realise what you have gotten yourself into.

2) You don’t have a bike

If I had a dollar for every person who says, ‘I don’t have the right bike,’ then I would have enough bikes to supply an entire triathlon. A road bike will produce quicker times, and sure, if you are aiming to be crowned triathlon champion, take home the prize money and retire from your day job, then you are going to need one (unless you are Lance Armstrong or someone).

However, like most people who are starting out in triathlon, any bike will suffice. As long as it has two wheels and the absence of a motor, it will be just fine for your first triathlon. Sure, you are going to have to work a bit harder, but imagine how you’ll feel afterwards! However, if you manage to scrape on to Santa’s ‘good’ list and there’s one in your Santa sack, lucky you! Enjoy.

With the silly season upon us, it may not be financially viable to purchase a bike, but when you cross that line on your 1960’s rusted out vintage bike, you will gain the upmost respect from your peers and the spectators that they’ll probably forget who the winners are.

If you’d prefer to leave the 1960’s bike in the shed amongst the cobwebs, you can always borrow a bike. If that is unattainable, there are always team options for you to complete a single leg of the triathlon within a group.

 3) Variety

If you are an injury prone runner or simply experiencing boredom with your current exercise regime, triathlon is the perfect substitute. You still get to run, but with the added luxury of riding and swimming.

If you are a runner, competing in triathlons over the summer can be a great way to mix things up, maintain interest, strengthen your body and provide respite for your aching and overcompensated running muscles in preparation for the upcoming Winter running season. Our body needs to be shocked occasionally and the variety of triathlon provides the ultimate off season training ground. You will come back to running stronger and more determined than ever.

Likewise, if you are a footballer, netballer or participant in other team sports, triathlon training will put you in good stead for the upcoming season. With sturdy bike legs, powerful swimming arms, a lowered heart rate and a running style that would suggest a descendant of road runner- it will be like you never left the field.

On the other hand, if rock tape has become part of your fashion accessorising and you spend majority of your leisure time frequenting health professionals, then perhaps it is time to display a little triathlon promiscuity and spread the muscle attention.  Those neglected muscle groups will love you for it, resulting in an all-round balanced body.

We’ve all been told to cross-train; in fact most people loathe the word. But swimming and riding are so beneficial for maintaining fitness when injured (depending on the injury) and will aid your effective return to running. The upside of triathlon is that you can still focus on two-thirds of your event, so unlike running, you can still maintain a large portion of training, keeping your sanity in the process.

4) A goal/challenge

We all need goals or challenges in our life. Comparable to a coach, they keep pushing us along and picking us up when we are down. They help us hold sight of the greater picture and prevent us from losing our motivation.

By sharing your goal with some friends or entering an event, you are holding yourself accountable and when that alarm goes off, you will have no choice but to roll out of bed with enthusiasm.

Furthermore, the sense of achievement when you accomplish such a goal is so uplifting, that you will be craving more within no time. Could there be a healthier addiction?

5) Friendship/Camaraderie

Whoever said triathlon wasn’t a team sport must have consumed rum as water, because the best thing about signing up to a triathlon is sharing the journey with other like-minded friends.

If you are new to an area, don’t play team sports or would just like to meet some new people while staying fit, then joining some people for triathlon training will provide exactly that. Hours spent in the bike seat out on the peaceful roads or trudging the running trails amongst good company produces many lifelong friendships. There is something magical about the peaceful open roads and trails away from work and the pressures of life that opens the conversation up. And the best part about triathlon buddies is that they’ll provide encouragement for one another along the way.

6) What else have you got to do?

So you don’t decide to enter the triathlon…

Instead you decide to depressively linger around the house with a hangover, wishing your life away, when instead you could be getting high on adrenaline and endorphins while rocking out an exciting triathlon alongside many like-minded and fun people with a view.


Or you stay at home amongst a house of kids fighting over who has the biggest piece of watermelon. Or you clean the house; the house that is going to be there for the next one hundred years and that you are going to spend fifteen hours of each and each and every day to come inside.

Or you could experience the Swan Hill Riverside triathlon – or any other triathlon- in peaceful surroundings with no fighting, cleaning or hangover, and experience a sense of accomplishment… Either that, or spend your weekend grieving your decision to stay home.

Hmmmm…. Give me a triathlon any day!

So with no more excuses left to contemplate; what are you waiting for? You have the chance to unlock your inner fish, flaunt your antique wheels, acquaint yourself with a few new muscles, gain a few more wonderful friends and evade housework and screaming kids. Sounding good yet?

Click on that enter button and lock yourself in. Will you regret it? The only thing you will regret is not having a go. That’s why it’s called TRYathlon. You’ve got nothing to lose…




From Rigid Runner to Yielding Yogi

‘We will be doing some fitness testing today…’ I just catch the end of her euphoric words; her sculpted legs dancing excitedly as if she is the bearer of welcome news. The groans are recited in unison, yet her enthusiasm is resilient. She appears to be immune to its taunts.

I grimace as I think about her request. I love PE and anticipate its arrival every week, however, not fitness testing day. Not because I necessarily suck at all of it ( I can hang off that bar as long as most of the boys and I thrive on running), but because every time I am confronted with the sit and reach test I am like an uncoordinated robot – clumsy and rigid – who hasn’t been oiled for at least a decade. I try to fling myself at the measuring tape in awkward jolts, only to manage a miserable negative twenty centimetres and a resultant strained muscle. It is like déjà vu every time.

Unlike my ungainly self, my elegant female counterparts are like elastic puppets- agile and graceful – as they bend from their supple wastes with finesse, simultaneously clearing their toes with ease. I’m the stiff, faulty puppet equivalent that miraculously escaped from the factory in the early stages of development. Perhaps back when they were trialling superglue in place of ligaments. Without fail, the statement, ‘You are abnormally inflexible for a female,’ is projected at me like insulting bullets each and every time as I am segregated from the masses like some devilish outcast.

I whisk my nomadic mind back to the present; my calm and tranquil yoga class. Twenty years hasn’t brought much elasticity to my robotic life, but astonishingly tonight is rare. I have somehow acquired some kind of superhuman flexibility overnight. If this was running, I would be the equivalent of Steve Moneghetti. Okay, maybe not even close, but I have rekindled my relationship with my lonely toes; even my head is reuniting with the floor in some poses. My head hasn’t seen the floor since I was two years old. How is it possible that I am now only the second worst in my yoga class?

The secret potion: no running. Apparently my ‘no running’ year has given my taut and inflexible muscles time to recover their ancient bendy power. Who would have thought? This year of injury has surprisingly given me a boost up a notch in the flexibility pecking order – one of the very few welcome side-effects of ‘not’ running – and I’m loving it!

My thirsty running muscles have been soaking up flexibility by the gallon. My stiff muscle drought of several decades and short stint as the gymnastics class clown has been consumed by suppleness (well a touch of it). They are in ‘muscle relaxation’ heaven as I woo them back to optimum flexible health. However, the showering of stretchy indulgence won’t last long as my running resumes and the flexibility is sucked dry once again. So in the mean time, I plan to dance in the rain!

The absence of running has not been all doom and gloom. With my new elastic band status and my future as a pin up girl for ‘no running’ (as my instructor so enthusiastically suggested), I have defied the odds of the reject puppet with superglue. Remember, that superglue is never permanent; even superglue is breakable. Just as in life; for every tight door that closes, another flexible one will open in its place…

Everyone needs Dr Cool in their life!

I’m not one to review running gear, in fact I may never have reviewed anything, but curiosity has cursed my mind as my Instagram feed has been infiltrated with images of runners and other athletes wearing useless looking wraps all over their bodies in an effort to stave off injury. So I did a little digging to see what all the fuss was about and ordered myself a couple of these bad boys.

Turns out these colourful pieces of pretty material (Dr Cool Wraps as they call them) strapped on to an assortment of weary legs, are indeed ‘useful.’ In fact, these long strips of seemingly worthless material could be the solution to every running mum’s icing recovery nightmare.

You may have read my blog post three months ago, A tired mum’s guide to recovering like a pro! about the impossible feat of recovery with a house full of lunatics. That was before I was introduced to a walking, talking ice bath- Dr Cool and his Wraps.

Well, hello Dr Cool Wrap! I’m in love.

Dr Cool will nurture your aching body back to optimal condition; all while you can continue to cook, suffer through the mess and negotiate with your free-spirited offspring. Simply mummify yourself in an assortment of bright colours from head to toe on a needs basis, and you will become one big mobile snow cone. Pink mummy or green mummy; whatever flavour reflects your mood on the day. Or you could go multi-coloured if you are feeling bold.

If you are hard pressed to ice five times in a month, then hold on to your sneakers running mums; with Dr Cool Wraps I have already iced five times in one day, while still managing to tend to an array of unreasonable demands! I’m routinely hijacked at the front door as I grapple for the frozen peas (if they’re not eaten first) or my ice bag whose contents are salvaged by insatiable mouths with each forced absence or request. Not any more.

No more fabricated stories of flat tyres or injuries just to get your post run icing in. Dr Cool will convert a luxurious ice igloo into something as common as vegemite toast. Just strap on your lengthy Dr Cool wrap and life goes on in your crazy mansion.

Not only is Dr Cool more attractive than a bag of home brand peas, but he’ll embrace you in his protective arms, while his coolness will have you gagging for more. In fact, the entire family of body parts will crave a piece of the action.

Fortunately for you, Dr Cool Wraps come in three sizes (small, medium and large) to suit all muscle needs: ankles, feet, knees, wrists, elbows, calves and quads. Even shoulders and backs are not overlooked with his most sizeable wrap.

His coolness doesn’t last for long though – just enough to woo your aching muscles – but luckily for us he only needs a brief twenty minutes of freezer reprieve and he will be just as smooth as before. Forget the frozen peas and their ‘one time offer.’ With his chemical free material, Dr Cool devotes himself to you over and over again.

Think you might pine for his presence on race day? Dr Cool is also a mind reader. With the addition of the cooler bag, his cool presence will be waiting for you as you cross the finish line. He will even accompany you on holiday, and stay firmly planted at your side as you struggle with the incessant demands of backseat passengers and frequent toilet breaks. His loyalty has no limits.

So whether you are injured, seeking some post run recovery, tired of fantasising about an unrealistic world of recovery with your feet up in tranquility, or simply can’t think of a Halloween costume, Dr Cool and his wraps will satisfy your most inner muscular compression and icing desires. We all need Dr Cool in our lives.

Dr Cool, where have you been all my life? Better late than never I guess…

Please note– I am not paid in any way for this post. I simply appreciate cool company.

How do you plead?

‘We, the jury, find the defendant guilty…..’

He shuddered as the words were thrust at him. Somewhere deeply ingrained within his interior, this predictable outcome had been stirring; playing havoc with his ability to think straight. But he had tossed those feelings aside, like worthless junk. Somehow, the fading memories of the repetitive abuse that he imposed upon one of his own flesh and blood, were clouded by justification and his own selfish pursuits.

However, this sentence had now exposed those memories in their rawest form; he was a violent man and he was ashamed of himself. He had gotten away with the unremitting mistreatment of his companion. While she showed no signs of ill-treatment in the beginning, the wounds bore deep over time. She was worn; damaged; lifeless, and all because he had failed to listen or understand her.

He trembled as he caught her eye that day in court. The painful memories came flooding into focus as he felt the sting in her glance, just as he would continue to feel for some time to come. That sting would serve as a constant reminder of his negligence. He understood. All the marathons, gym sessions, bike rides, sports and relentless hours on the trails with no thought of her. He had failed to notice her; she had vied for his attention and all he could muster was another thrashing to silence her voice. His cruel heart throbbed as he recalled such lucid memories.

Then that climactic moment came one day when she resisted his force and ruthless beating only to be crushed in defeat, unable to walk. This was the day when he was reprimanded. This was the day that their relationship strained beyond repair. This was the day that her trust dissolved and her soul was broken. This was the day that she put an end to it. This is the day that she stopped functioning.

He wished he could erase time; start all over again. He knew things would be different then. He didn’t need to be punished. He already felt the pain he had caused her. It encased his entire being; a persistent lion stalking its prey. However, his fate was scripted months ago when he undervalued her worth. He had not realised how blessed he was by her constant and loyal presence.

Court was adjourned while the judge reviewed his sentencing. He knew Judge Conscious would feel little empathy for him and his past, just as the jury had. Although in contrast, she was known to be a firm believer in rehabilitation.

His lawyer, Alter Ego, had warned him that the jury had been stacked with unsympathetic joints- knee, shoulder and hip, just to name a few. They had all suffered abuse at the hands of their loved ones so it was always going to be a challenging case to win.

It would be especially difficult after Sub Conscious took the witness stand and told of that beating she received last November on that run through the National Park. He had told himself it was just an oversight, he intended to tell her about the journey, but underneath his stubborn surface he knew he just wanted rid of her and her nagging. When she sought a valid explanation, all he could do is display utter brutality towards her.  He couldn’t even remember Sub Conscious being there; he was never present, but with his fascinating ability to tell a captivating story with such clarity and emotion, there wasn’t a dry eye in the court room.

But did he deserve to win? Maybe Sub Conscious was right. Maybe he was good for nothing, unworthy of such friends.

The moment had come to assemble for his sentencing. He knew he had wronged her and he was ready to accept his punishment, but he could see the accentuated lines of resentment in Alter Ego’s face as he wriggled and squirmed in frustration. He was growing tired of his lawyer. He had been listening to Alter Ego too long and he had pushed him towards trouble on one too many occasion.

He ignored him and turned to face Judge Conscious, accountable and ready to claim ownership of his actions. The court room were silenced in anticipation as Judge Conscious pursed her pitiless lips to seal his fate.

‘After hearing about all accounts of abuse suffered by Body at the hands of the accused, Mind, I find it unfathomable that one could inflict such suffering on a loved one. It is clear to me that the accused displays remorse for his actions, but it is also concerning that he has the ability to show such aggression towards those closest to him while selfishly pursuing his own endeavours with little concern for others.’

She lingered for a brief moment, her eyes firm and unsympathetic, as if to inflict further suffering on him as he awaited the verdict. She knew how to suppress details with such expertise. She dangled that string in front of him for a long moment, as if waiting for him to pounce.

After a long moment of consideration she continued. ‘However, as this is a first offence, I am hopeful that with some counselling and rehabilitation in addition to his sentence, it will help him choose a more positive path in future.’

She took a deep breath of incriminating air and exhaled with a deep authority. ‘Mind, it is with this reason that I am sentencing you to twelve months of ‘no running’ for the assault of Body, in conjunction with 6 months community service in the pool. On completion of this sentence, you are to continue your weekly sessions of physical therapy and complete a further six month good behaviour bond.

May I remind you Mind, that Body trusted you and if your actions follow this heartless path again, we will not be so lenient on you. Next time you may find yourself without a willing Body at all. Ensure you appreciate her. Not everyone has one as dependable and loyal as yours.’

He thought about not being able to run for twelve months and shuddered once again. However, it was now time to pay the price. He had been lucky. He could still walk.

It would be a long road to redemption, but Mind was determined to recover and strengthen his trust once again. He would listen to Conscious and follow her advice. You only get one soul mate and he and Body were destined to be together…

9 tips for running your first marathon…

The flowers are blooming, the sun is out, magpies are pestering and the snakes are catching some rays.  That can only mean one thing: Melbourne Marathon is looming once again. In fact, there are only two more sleeps until many will embark on their first fun run, or those extra crazies who are toeing the start line of their first half or full marathon.

Of course there are the veterans who have dished out their fair share of punishment to their bodies over the years, but there is nothing more exciting (sometimes daunting) than lining up for that ultimate marathon distance for the first time. With a mass exodus of our local area as residents go down to attempt their first marathon this weekend (go Swan Hill!), I thought I’d scribble out some quick tips to help you enjoy the experience.

  1. Forget time!

You have probably heard it 100 times, but I will make it 101- for your first marathon there is no need to aim for a time. Whether you sprint or crawl over that finish line, on Sunday you will receive that elusive personal best time. You are going to complete a 42.2km marathon; time is irrelevant. Ditch the watch and enjoy the experience with no pressure. Whether you take three hours or six, you have run the same 42 kilometres!

2) Race day is not the time for experiments 

Refrain from any new nutrition, shoes or clothes on race day. Stick to the original plan. If you are eager to try something new, save your trials for the training track or your next marathon (yes, you’ll be back). An upset stomach, agonizing chaffing or painful blisters for several hours can be difficult to avert your mind from.

3) Keep the anxiety bugs away and arrive early 

‘An hour early?’ you say. I would say you need an hour minimum to familiarise yourself with the start line, go to the toilet twice (or 10 times), overthink you race attire, get some happy snaps, post a photo to facebook and instagram (we all know how time slips away on social media), fret about finding your gels, only to realise they are in your running belt, and most importantly, to manoeuvre through the ten thousand people headed in the same direction as you. Don’t let time dictate your marathon experience; pick up your race pack prior to the day and arrive early to be on the safe side.

4) Hydration is your best friend 

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. This cannot be emphasised enough. Hydration cannot be left until race morning; it happens in the days leading up to the race. You should only need a small amount of water on the morning of the race. Drink plenty of water today and tomorrow and ensure you have some water from every aid station on the day, even if only a sip. You will be grateful in the latter stages of the race!

5) Runners need fuel  

Stick to your race plan and avoid fuelling your body’s tank too late or that dreaded wall will hit harder than ever after the 30km mark. Precious muscle glycogen stores need to be preserved, therefore it’s vital to start fuelling your tank after 30-90 minutes of running. Don’t let your body’s tank tinker in the red!

6) The race begins at 30km

Consider the story about the tortoise and the hare. Trust me, the tortoise always wins. If you feel good during the first half, resist the temptation to speed up just yet as the race really begins at that golden 30km marker! 12km is a lot of ground to cover if the ‘wall’ has stopped you in your tracks, so just enjoy yourself and go easy on the accelerator. It can be a challenge to avoid rushing off at the start with the masses, but trust me; it is always the speedy ones who are hobbling in doubt when you reacquaint yourself with them at 35km.

7) The mind is a powerful tool

Remember that your mind is capable of anything! Envisage yourself running over that finish line and it will become a reality. The minute you let doubt creep in, your body will surrender to your mind and those final stages will be very challenging. Believe in yourself!

8) Recover like a pro  

If you are unfortunate enough to have your little cherubs with you (a great cheer squad nevertheless), then follow my alternative guide to recovery- A tired mum’s guide to nailing recover like a pro!

Otherwise, keep moving initially, drink up (the water variety is recommended, but hey, you just ran 42km so who am I to judge), consume some protein within half an hour to replenish your muscles, stretch, enjoy the free massages, have your compression leggings handy and bring your strong friends along to carry you home.

9) Enjoy! 

Most importantly, enjoy the experience. You will only be a ‘first time marathoner’ once in your lifetime and although every other run is special, nothing beats the feeling of crossing that line for your first time.

A different kind of race!

Last weekend, my husband and I hesitantly lined up on the start line of one mammoth ultra marathon. Not just your average endurance event, but one that takes extreme dedication and commitment and would put even the most mentally strong human beings to the test.

This event has been known to reveal the cracks in almost every relationship and is not recommended to those who are suffering from minimal sleep or relationship tension. It is not for the faint hearted and only the strong survive.

Well I’m happy to proclaim that we stumbled over the finish line just before the midnight cut off time. Not in one piece mind you, but a small amount of collateral damage is to be expected when partaking in fifteen whole hours of irritating, grating, maddening, and cumbersome screaming and fighting with the footy commentary blaring in the background.

Since there is a lack of race reports on my blog, I thought I’d write a recap of our 1200km car journey with three young kids so you can decipher whether or not this race is suitable for you. Each to their own, but give me a childless ultra marathon on foot any day of the week compared to this confined monstrosity.

My 1200km drive with kids

It all started on a glorious sunny day (perhaps our only warm day of the entire holiday). With a personal best in mind, we were looking to reach the finish line as quickly as possible with minimal ear exhaustion and wear on our bodies. Wishful thinking perhaps? Worth a try.

However, the negative aura was already around us: the sun was beaming down on us with a spiteful grin, the bedroom situation for the week had claimed our rightful sleep, battle scars imprinted the backs of my legs from the urgently packed bikes, departure time was slipping from our grip as the arguments unfolded and lastly, there were no sharks on an intended journey to dive with sharks. The writing was already on the wall.

We finally rushed off on our ultra marathon across three states, already one hour late and regrettably unprepared.

This was our first crucial mistake. Overwhelmed by our journey ahead, we felt it was necessary to recover some time if we were to make our midnight cut off time, so we hastily ‘put the pedal to the medal’ so to speak, with little regard for the moaning and grumbling of our three bodies in the back and their fuelling requirements.

Firstly, any ultra marathoner knows that you should never go out too fast in the first half or the consequences could be dire, and secondly, relying on aid stations is a blunder that will cost you gravely in the latter stages of the race when your little bodies protest to their mistreatment.

Well, our unpreparedness and ambitious travelling distance had cost us. The tell-tale signs and niggles were obvious in the early hours but we were too preoccupied with our finish line time to listen.

A five minute stop turned into two hours as we frantically searched for lunch, toilets and our little bodies protested in favour of the playground on course. That elusive personal best escaping from our clasp was now extinct. We were now chasing a slightly more achievable midnight arrival time.


After finally finding some food! Only one third of the way!

With only a third of the race covered and three bodies that were already writhing in pain and suffering, we were going to have to gather all our mental strength to get through this one alive.

After our extended stopover, we ploughed on for the next section: a tough segment of sickening windy roads with an abundance of vital turns to stay on course. The course marshals were either on strike or by this stage the communication fields within the car were broken down by a disturbing series of shocking murals drawn on the roof and windows of the car, but we somehow endured an extra 50km off course.

Cut off time now looked unattainable as we reached the half way point, but we weren’t vacating this race yet. Our bodies were starting to cry in pain; our necks and shoulders ached from the constant turning around in response to the incessant screaming and unreasonable demands that were hurtled at us with force. Our knees persistently throbbed with the repetitive motions of the ultra. This rapid increase in mileage was taking its toll.

We desperately needed a nurofen to numb the pain and some headphones to block out the screaming of the bodies in the back, but we had banned technology and drugs. We had sealed our own fate.

Fuelling supplies started to run low as we thrust food into our famished back seat bodies in an effort to redeem composure, and the aid stations could not come quick enough as we struggled through the unforgiving ‘wall’ at about the 900km mark. ‘Only 20 kilometres to go until the next town, we’d mutter to ourselves as we’d approach another sign. However, the ravenous feeling encasing our bodies succumbed to the pressure of spending another fifty bucks to feed the whole team if we dared to stop, so we pushed on in fury.


359km to go!

As we continually monitored the GPS, only to find out we’d covered another two kilometres, we noticed that our cut off time was slipping from our clutches with every aid station. Things were looking grim. Would we even make it to the finish line?

The final 200km was the toughest and most tedious couple of hours of my life. Blinded with jealousy by the lonely roads and their cosy motels with bright ‘no vacancy’ signs, we battled with doubt over our decisions to even enter the race. There was nothing remotely fun about it at this stage.

With a fuel line tinkering on the borderline of empty and an array of bodies in the back beginning to shut down, it was too risky to stop in this late stage of the race for fear of non completion. However, as our bodies were shutting down, the hallucinations of kangaroos began. Were these kangaroo encounters real or just a sheer test the race directors threw in our path just because we weren’t working hard enough? Sick joke by them.

The sudden absence of competitors on the eerily quiet road through spine-chilling darkness confirmed that we were approaching our destination a long way off our initial goal. Desperate to reach the finish line before midnight, we soldiered on for a sprint finish, oblivious to the pain of our moaning bodies in the back as we kept our eye on the prize.

With relief, we stumbled over the finish line into the driveway just before the midnight cut off time. Too tired to celebrate and overwhelmed by the journey, we were barely movable. We dragged our exhausted bodies through the recovery area and lay them to rest for the night. ‘Never f*&%ing again,’ was all we managed to blurt from our parched mouths. 

Unfortunately there was no medal waiting for us at the finish line, but it was an eventful and fun holiday had by all. As I stood and watched my exhausted little angels peacefully sleeping in their beds, I thought, ‘here are our medals.’

And with that, the pain had already dissolved, and I went to bed dreaming of our next torturous adventure. Perhaps a 5000km multi stage ultra marathon……hmmmm.

Blessing in disguise

Departure time is looming and I can feel the tension rising within me as the minutes slowly tick. Sometimes I feel as if they are paused, waiting for me to conquer my anxious thoughts so they can proceed. It has taken two years to reach this climactic point so time is not going to relent that easily.

The airport is a hub of lively activity as everyone anticipates their Summer holiday journeys abroad. In true national form, the airport is swollen to capacity and I grit my teeth at the thought of missing my flight.

I glance out of the window into the harsh desert land that spans the horizon and feel gratitude for our impending departure, especially in my condition. The unrelenting sun projects its hot rays on to the white sand like a shower of bullets.

There is a sense of panic as the crowds flock to their gates to escape the merciless heat. Many will not return until the end of Summer when the assault has concluded, however, our journey is one of finality.

I have many fond memories of those desert lands and the people among them. I will miss them dearly. But the sooner I am on that plane to a new destination and this country is a speck in its on constricting dust, the sooner I am at peace.

I can recall the phone call vividly. ‘Just pretend that you are married if anyone queries you.’ This was part of the unconvincing conversation that took place two years ago during our phone interview for a job in a land that, at the time, we hesitantly pronounced incorrectly as ‘Quatar.’ Our naivety shone through.

Nevertheless, they were clearly desperate for a teacher, because with my rawness and my partner’s wealth of experience in comparison, I am convinced he secured the position for me. We were hired as a package deal despite the deceptive nature of the phone call and the erroneous way we asserted the word ‘Qatar’ with a flawed confidence. They cared little for our apparent ignorance of Middle Eastern geography and hired us without a moment to spare. They needed teachers and we needed money.

Despite this limited knowledge of the mystifying Qatar, aside from its more popular Dubai neighbour, our yearning for travel was too dominant and we eagerly accepted the teaching positions in this Middle Eastern country. Deep down we knew that there were questions lingering, but our blinkers were on and our ‘worldly’ sense of adventure took charge. We were oblivious to the fact that I was going to break the law when we made the compulsive decision to reside there.

So with two weeks remaining of our stint in London, and in a newly formed relationship with a kiwi (yes I know) who I had met in Egypt (unknown to my parents at this stage), we quit our jobs and basked in alcoholic greatness to celebrate our time in London and our newly anticipated two year venture in a country unknown to us.

There was no turning back. We were now penniless backpackers surviving on a loaf of bread; we needed the tax-free Riyals and a charitable bed. And this fit our bill.

Life in Qatar was one of extravagance. We resided in a two storey house in a nice compound among families, most having their own maids. This made it easy to keep up the marriage pretence that was so subtly mentioned before our arrival.  We had moved from a neglected old house with 20 occupants in thriving London (some living in the garage and closet), rats and smashed windows, to what felt like a complimentary mansion all to ourselves.


The view from our balcony.

This life of luxury provided ample opportunity to frequent five star hotels, an absence of bills, $8 tanks of petrol, free flights home, tax free income and a lucrative tutoring deal on the side; things that were unfeasible in our Western lives. We even had the opportunity to play rugby in the gulf countries and wakeboard on a weekly basis. We had stumbled upon the dream destination.

Or had we? Perhaps. If we had of been married.

Once we had overcome the gloss of the surreal five star hotels and luxurious way of life, we were left with something more sinister; we were breaking their laws under our own roof. Unbeknown to us, we had broken the law the minute we had chosen to move there together unmarried. Underneath the shine we always knew, but ignorance was bliss.

This harsh reality was truly exposed when we moved to the one bedroom flats in our second year. While living in a compound of families, we had played our fictional marriage roles well, but the idea that we only had one bedroom to share was slightly more difficult to fathom.

The day that it happened is still etched into my memory like a stone carving. The two faint red lines, protruding out at me like a smack in the face for my naivety and inexperience. A reimbursement for my foolish ways. I told you so, they would be saying.

Those breathless moments that followed, only for a brief moment, cut so deep that I longed for the feeling of waking from a perilous dream of no escape. But Reality is a tough bitch at times; stalking you around every corner, ready to pounce on her prey at any weak moment. That day she hung me out to dry. I was pregnant.

Questions flooded my mind like a river about to rupture. What if I go to jail? What are the consequences? I didn’t want to ask the wrong person. Should we apply for an exit visa for the weekend and run away? What if there is a complication? Who can we trust? Who can we tell? We certainly didn’t want this news to slip into the hands of a threatening bystander.

This was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives, yet our feelings contradicted each other; we were both happy and desperate. How is that possible? Strong feelings of confusion were all that we were left with when the waves of despair and joy washed over us.

Time was frozen that day, as it is today in the airport, as if to purposefully intensify the searing pain of that rare, but punishable crime in a country many miles from the safety net of our home.

There were two options available for us: stay for four months and finish our contracts, but with the risk of a jail sentence, or apply for an exit visa and fake a trip to Dubai for the weekend, taking a trip home to Australia from there. The former would involve a lot of lies and uncertainty, but with a hefty sum of money, while the latter would relieve me of my criminal status and ensure we were safely home. The other possibility was to have an impromptu wedding, but at our family’s expense, and to avoid a marriage bound by all the wrong reasons, this idea was out of the question for us.

With dollar signs in our eyes, we chose the first option. In hindsight, this option’s merits were based on stupidity, but at the time we enjoyed living on the edge and we were green parents who had not yet experienced the love that comes with a new child, so perhaps we were a bit selfish in our thinking.

We had also been living in an uncomplicated fairytale life for the past few years so it was difficult to fathom the severity of the crime or the idea that a pregnancy might be with complications.

Over the next few months we concocted a trail of lies and deceit amongst our work colleagues and friends. We felt shameful for this but it was too risky to confide in anyone. Pregnancy is meant to be an exciting time of life, but for my first pregnancy it was all secrecy and scandal.

There was many a student’s face that I caused to flush pink with humiliation when they inquisitively asked, ‘are you pregnant miss?’ I would knock their comments down like a hammer to a nail, recoiling with my replies. If they had of ripened a little more with age, perhaps they would have deciphered my shadowy eyes like the police officer parent who relentlessly quizzed my partner on his absence of a wedding ring.  But kids still see the good in people.

Towards the end of our time, I read an article in the local paper about a Filipino woman who was jailed for six months with one hundred lashes for a pregnancy out of wedlock. Its insignificant positioning in the paper exposed the harsh reality of these crimes: they were common and dull, and there was little care for the fate of the woman. Urgency grew inside me. Had we made the right decision?

We are on board the plane and I clutch my seat with trembling hands in anticipation of take off.  The doubt is still unwavering.

Will they break down the door and rush me to jail? I don’t thinks so. We are not that significant. However, I will feel a sense of liberation when those wheels put air between that hot and dusty, unforgiving desert land and we fly like a bird into the horizons of freedom.

I take a final glance at this chapter of my life. I glimpse the sweaty foreign workers, struggling to haul the luggage into the planes on the ground below, amidst the ruthless heat. I wonder what deep dark secrets they are carrying, not unlike the mysterious luggage they handle. The only difference between them and myself is that I am blessed with the money for wings to evade my prey when life turns rough. They have to stumble on foot.

I quince at the thought of the long tedious twenty hour flight ahead of us towards a land of uncertainty. I am glad to be leaving, but to what I am unsure.

However, no matter how rough or perilous the road is, or how lost I get along the way, the paths will eventually reconnect with reason or purpose at my destination. Life is an around the world ticket; you choose where you want to get off and we had made our own choices.

Our plane was headed into the frightening path of the dark unknown, but life is about the journey, not the destination and sometimes it is the only direction you need to go to experience the light. Little did we know then, that the darkness would lead us to the three most incredible blessings in our life: our three beautiful children.

As the plane roars towards our next chapter, I wonder where our next stop on the path towards destiny will be. I am certain about one thing; I am going to get my money’s worth and take as many stop overs as needed on my journey to get there.