Category Archives: life lessons

Coping with sleeplessness

Sleep is really a miracle drug without any side effect. Absolutely everything gets better with sleep. –Arianna Huffington

Get back here you silly little sandman…

Seriously, Mr Sandman, get back here.

The past few days I have battled sleep.  I feel like I have gone back to college days of late nights and horrible sleep.  I walked through Monday with the foggiest, heaviest mind.  I need a solid 8 hours of sleep and definitely notice when I’ve gone to bed even an hour later than normal.

Hong Kong at dawn
Hong Kong at dawn

In an effort of silencing my anxious mind and body I went to a yoga class at the local Lululemon tonight.  The theme of the night was mindfulness.  Focusing on the moment and training your mind to release thoughts which is something I struggle against.  I replay moments and scenarios continually in mind analysing whether my words or actions were the most effective.  Though I do love my analytical mind, having the ability to turn it off and have silence is something I crave.

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Here are ways I try to battle the never-ending thoughts and ultimately find peace and sleep:

  • Running – when I’m pushing through hills or sprints I am putting my whole self into that moment. I’m actually running the stress and anxiety out of my body.  At the end of a good run, though I feel shattered I also have a weightless feeling which follows me throughout my day.
  • Yoga or a few sun salutations – going to a great yoga class or through a few sun salutations helps to center my body and breathing.  Even sitting and focusing on your breathe will help ease tension.
  • Cup of tea – I’m a tea fanatic but the best to help me relax is peppermint.  We have a mint plant, though it’s struggling currently, and I will crunch a few leaves and steep in hot water.  Peppermint tea also has health benefits from headaches to stomach issues.
  • Foam rolling – I hold a lot of tension in my back, shoulders and neck.  Using the foam roller or a tennis ball to provide pressure and release the tension allows a deeper relaxation
  • Focusing on solid white – this is something J had me do while at Uni to help calm my mind and sleep.  I tend to have very vivid thoughts and dreams so when I am trying to fall asleep I will focus on a white sheet covering all thoughts & images.  It’s basically like I’m pulling a shade down behind my eyelids and only focusing on keeping the shade down.

Any other tips of relieving anxiety and finding sleep?

 

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The time I faced a shark

After my first triathlon, we spent the afternoon relaxing, fishing and snorkeling at Green Patch beach in Jervis Bay.  Jervis Bay is said to have the whitest sand in the world.  It is definitely a stunning and peaceful beach full of Australian wildlife.

Green Patch Beach before the clouds disappeared
Green Patch Beach before the clouds disappeared

J and his brother decided to fish on the headland while I relaxed on the beach.  After about an hour they were having no luck with fishing so J and I put on our snorkeling gear to see what was happening below the surface.  Swimming out to the headland was very calm and I didn’t see much other than sand and rocks.  Around the reef we saw a few colorful fish but as there wasn’t too much to see we headed back to shore.  About 75 meters from shore, J tapped me and pointed to a small school of white fish.  After about 30 seconds of watching the fish, I looked up slightly and saw this black figure about 5 feet away sitting on the bottom of the ocean.  The figure was about 4 feet long and at first I thought it was a rock similar to the reef but then it shimmied it’s fin and I realized I was staring down a shark! My body freezes for what seems like 5 minutes and then J grabs me saying “get back”  which quickly snapped me back to reality. We swam backwards back to shore as fast as possible while keeping our masks in the water watching behind us!  Once back on land J determines it was a wobbegong shark which is usually harmless to humans.  Any animal that has ‘shark’ as part of it’s name and is nearly as long as I am tall is not an animal I want to be around!  Needless to say I spent the rest of the day lying on the beach reliving the exciting day!

Crimson Rosella in the Green Patch park behind the beach
Crimson Rosella in the Green Patch park behind the beach

Have you had a crazy encounter while snorkeling?

What I learned from my first tri!

Having a type A personality has it’s pros and cons. As I’m constantly analyzing every situation and playing out the possible outcomes in my head, when it comes to breaking down a race I’ll say it’s a pro! (I’m basically Griffin from MIB3 minus the crazy glowing head thing)

Pre-race photo!
Pre-race photo!

Here are a few things I learned from my first triathlon:

1. Transition is still a race. I obviously knew this was part of the overall race time but I only practiced changing from cycle to run a couple times. Coming in from the swim dripping wet after running through sand and then dirt, I wanted my feet and legs completely dry and sand free before the cycle. It’s not going to happen! For the next race, I’ll spray some water on my feet, step on a towel to get as much of as possible in 10 seconds and ride without socks. I can worry about socks when my feet are drier in T2 before the run.

Running up from the beach into transition
Running up from the beach into transition

2. If you drop your bottle stop immediately to grab it. This could be a debatable point but if I would have stopped when it fell and used 30 seconds at the start rather than stressing for 15k I think my overall time would have been faster. Hopefully I don’t have to test this theory!

running past the team tent - reaching out for a high five!
running past the team tent – reaching out for a high five!

3. A proper warm-up swim is the best thing to settle nerves. Our coach said the best triathletes have a warm up swim before racing, so about 15 minutes before the start of the race we headed down to the water’s edge.  The gloomy morning and knotted stomach was keeping me from plunging in but I pushed myself in and swam out 50 meters.  We spent a few minutes treading water as coach chatted to us about the start of the race before swimming a few more 50 meter lengths.  Once we finished the initial warm up, the water no longer had the initial icy chill, I was moving with the current rather than fighting it and the ball of nerves had turned into excitement and adrenaline.

Post race photo

Post race photo

4. Having a support group or team cheering for you at the finish is ideal!  I ran the Canberra Half Marathon in 2012 by myself. J had just started a new job and was on a project about 12 hours away.  My boss at the time was running the race and let me tag along to their dinner the night before but for the most part I was alone the entire preparation, race and post-race. That was a very internal race with only the thoughts of saying “I ran a half marathon” waiting for me at the finish line. This was the first race where I had a team at the finish and where J was able to see me multiple times throughout the race and cheer me on.  It makes a huge difference to the mental side of racing….which is a much bigger challenge than the physical aspect!

What are some things you learnt from your first race?

*all photos in this post were from BondiFit

{Travel} New Zealand, part 2

This is part 2 of our New Zealand trip, read part 1 for more!

Day 3 in Hahei and Hot Water Beach was as low key as possible due to Js food poisoning, but day 4 was jam packed with adventure!

Day 4: Hahei Beach, Rotorua & Lake Taupo

The Cathedral Cove Kayaks let us reschedule our trip for a morning session on day 4. So after cooking eggs on toast in the camp kitchen and packing up our campsite, we headed down the beach for our kayak adventure. It was overcast and the water was not as calm as the previous day but we were excited! The plan was to kayak from Hahei beach around the headlands to the stunning Cathedral Cove. We were debriefed and given waterproof tops to help keep us dry and warm. I hopped in the back as J was still nervous about his strength and I wanted control over the pedals.

Starting our kayak journey to Cathedral Cove
Starting our kayak journey to Cathedral Cove

The paddle around to Cathedral Cove was not overly challenging once I got a feel for the pedals. About halfway to the cove we linked with the 3 other kayaks in our group and put up a sail which have us a break from paddling! Once we arrived at the cove, the guide helped us into shore one at a time. We were given about 20 minutes to explore, stretch and use the restroom.  Cathedral Cove has a naturally forming archway linking two beaches.  Even in an overcast day the sight was beautiful.

Cathedral Cove archway
Cathedral Cove archway

When we arrived back to our kayaks, our guide had whipped up coffees, hot chocolates and hot teas served with chocolate chip cookies. The coffees and hot choc even had frothed milk! It was an amazing touch that allowed us to sit and chat on a stunning beach before kayaking for another hour.

Hot Chocolate on Cathedral Cove beach!
Hot Chocolate on Cathedral Cove beach!

We hopped back in the kayaks and waited as our guide assisted each with going back through the surf. J and I switched places in the kayak which we quickly found was the worst decision. Going out we were hit with a wave which I was not prepared to handle- rather than paddling through it, I let it wash over me making it harder to navigate and get water down my shirt (fail). The second issue was the foot pedals- they were small and set to the right position for my leg length. When J sat there his legs had to bend more to get his feet on the pedals which caused cramping in his legs and feet after 10 minutes. He gave up on the pedals so we had to use our paddles to steer which is a lot harder! Future reference when kayaking don’t assume the pedals will work for people with a 6 inch difference!

J and I going through the archway
J and I going through the archway

We spent the rest of the day driving to Rotorua. On the drive the rain decided to make an appearance in the drizzly miserable way. We had tentatively planned to camp in either Rotorua or Lake Taupo but once we arrived we decided to reward ourselves from surviving the sickness and check into the Hilton in Lake Taupo. (Plus with it raining our gear would get wet/muddy which could be an issue going back through customs).

This bed was like a cloud especially after camping!
This bed was like a cloud especially after camping!

Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity, through the hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pools. We explored Kuirau Park for about an hour checking out the many bubbling mud pools. We then headed to Lake Taupo, which is an hours drive, for the night.

Kuirau Park geothermal bubbling mud pool
Kuirau Park geothermal bubbling mud pool

Day 5: Rotorua and Lake Taupo
This was our last full day in NZ so we got up early, enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the Hilton and drove 45 minutes towards Rotorua to the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. We got there in time to watch the Lady Knox Geyser erupt and then walked around the thermal park. The park’a layout was fantastic with various options to extend or shorten the walk depending on ability.

Lady Knox Geyser showing off during her daily eruption
Lady Knox Geyser showing off during her daily eruption
The Champagne Pool in the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland
The Champagne Pool in the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland
J and I in the geothermal park
J and I in the geothermal park

After the geothermal park, we headed back to Lake Taupo to explore.  We stopped at a glass blowing studio, Lava Glass,  we saw on the side of the road and it was a beautiful shop and cafe.  We spent the NZ$ 10 to watch the glass blowers in their studio  and then picked up a gorgeous ornament.  Since we bought a piece the $10 went towards the price of the ornament which was $45. We have collected ornaments from all of our big trips since we’ve been married so this was the perfect addition!

Handblown glass ornament from Lava Glass
Handblown glass ornament from Lava Glass

The rest of the day was spent exploring rainy Lake Taupo, complete with some attempts at the hole in one game with a $10k reward.  Though he had some close attempts we did not walk away with the prize!

J trying to win the $10k with a hole in one
J trying to win the $10k with a hole in one

We loved New Zealand and look forward to exploring the South Island!