Training for an Ironman is draining let alone doing one, and sometimes you don't quite get the mix right. Even a tried and tested routine that you have always followed may not be the answer this time round. Listening to your body and paying to it's signals is essential, as is keeping your thought pattern and mindset in check.. Which I was about to learn!
It's hard to say what has caused my recent slip in health. I trained well for Ironman Melbourne, but was it too much for my body given what it had been through over the past 6 months? Last year I copped quite a bit of illness, we did return to living in a cooler climate and that can have an impact initially. However, a couple of bouts of gastro, a flu and then a virus at the start of 2013 my immune obviously wan't that strong or was it? Also my recovery from Ironman events is usually very fast, I can usually race again 6 weeks later given I have prepared well for the first. But this time was different.. One week later I was still pretty smashed, I had gone to the well on race day so I assumed that I had just tapped myself out of energy. I managed a few rides, a couple of swims and approaching week 2 an easy run. It started with a sore neck, headaches, then an ear ache, and from there it went down hill..
A couple weeks post Ironman it was my turn to support, Russ had entered Xterra Angelsea. It was his first triathlon, an off road one at that as he wouldn't have done it any other way, and I was excited to support him! I ran from point to point taking photos, encouraging him like he does for me. Except the whole day I had an excrutiating ear ache! It didn't make sense I hadn't been huge amounts of swimming, so I assumed I was getting a cold or something as I had headaches during the week. Funny because initally I thought the headaches were linked to something else, my monthly cycle which happens to be getting worse the older I get! I felt really good running everywhere, so getting sick didn't really sit with me. I didn't feel ill, actually I felt pretty fit and awesome!
Awaking on Monday, there it was.. My glands had gone up on the right side of my throat, just under my ear. Ahhhh it all makes sense now. The earache, headaches.. So assumed yep, I have a cold/flu thing brewing! The other odd thing that came up was a rash on my jaw which resembled more like cystic acne, as it was so sore. It was actually throbbing and sore to touch. We drove home from Angelsea and I went to work. Come 3pm and I was feeling worse, spoke to my boss, told him the story and showed him my glands and rash. By 5pm I had the shakes, I was freezing and trying to find a way to stay warm. Hot bath should do it! I sat in the bath for ages, topping up the hot water as it cooled. Russ got after 6pm and I was in bed and going down hill. So Tuesday morning after waking up drenched in sweat, I was convinced I had the flu and took myself to the doctors. I actually felt a little better in the morning, but I soon learnt that, that particular feeling just came in waves and I was actually quite ill. The Doctor confirmed that I had Shingles. Shingles! I thought, how the hell did I get Shingles! I knew I had pushed my body, but not any more than usual. This time I had done a really good job on myself!
It's been just under 3 weeks since I got sick, the illness and recovery has been slow. However, when I speak to most people they are amazed at how quick I am recovering. I have managed an indoor cycling ride and two swims this week! Apparently Shingles can take a long time however, I'm not that sort of person and if I can find a way to turn it around quick I will! I went to see Adam my Chinese Medicine guy, he gave me some great herbs to purge the virus out of my system, I cleaned my eating even more so and I also went to see my Reiki healer and everything else spiritual guru Neil :-) Neil has been instrumental in my life for many years, I missed him when I moved to Brisbane as I couldn't receive regular healings or guidance. My belief system and mindset wandered off track a little over the past couple of years, it was no doubt the cause of all my illness over the past 12 months. The body can not be at ease, when the mind is at dis ease. Ironic it spells disease huh?! I still have a lot to work on, I still haven't quite mastered the race mindset I need to put a solid performance together however, I do feel I'm getting a little closer. People who know me quite well would know that I'm an extremely passionate, driven, positive person...but along with that has been a tremendous amount of pressure that I have put on myself. Not just in racing, but in life. Practicing flow is my new mantra, placing more emphasis on love and enjoyment, and taking away forced actions and stress is the goal. Our health is a reflection of how we treat ourselves spiritually and physically. When we come from a place of love, our body and mind is in balance.
I really needed this jolt to make some changes. Not just the mindset as I have mentioned, but also some physical changes. One of them is my current working conditions. As most would know making a living as a professional triathlete can be challenging andit can also take time for results to show. Many are still working day jobs and balancing racing, as I am too. However, there needs to be change, it's great having the cash flow and all but having the necessary time to train, rest and enjoy life is just as important too. I have always predominantly worked part-time but I have had stints of full time employment, it's clearly evident to me that I can't do both. It really is just too much, so this year I will be reducing myself to a few days per week. I also want to bring myself into alignment with my passion, being in an evironment that doesn't reflect who you are or what you love can have a huge impact on your energy and health. This is true for me and I am putting steps in place to move towards what I love, rather than doing what has appeared to have been a necessity. I intend to move into a coaching/guidance role as I reduce my work hours, I will also balance this with my training for long distance triathlon and continue to pursue the goals I have set as a professional triathlete. I believe we all have the ability to truly make change in our lives and pursue what we love :-)