Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dust Storm

Might have to put the training schedule on hold for a few days as a huge Outback dust storm sweeps its way across Australia's east coast.

It's like we're in a Nuclear winter here. There's a very strange, very surreal orange sky. Here's what the news has to say:

*All images from the Brisbane Times online.

September 23, 2009

Article clip from: The Australian
BRISBANE is a city beseiged, ringed by bushfires and cloaked in a tawny haze of dust, all kicked up by the desert winds that brought chaos to Sydney and NSW early this morning.

An eerie fog of dust blanketed the Queensland capital, reducing visibility to less than 100m, and bringing traffic to a standstill in places as motorists turned on their headlights and hoped for the best to nose through the surreal conditions.

Brisbane's Story Bridge

Photo from a suburb in South Brisbane.

BBC News Online, Sydney:
Australia's biggest city, Sydney, has been shrouded in red dust blown in by winds from the deserts of the outback.

Visibility is so bad that international flights have been diverted and harbour ferry traffic disrupted.

Emergency services reported a surge in calls from people suffering breathing problems. Children and the elderly have been told to stay indoors.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney's Harbour Bridge

(All images from the Brisbane Times online)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Smallest Triathlon Ever

"If God invented marathons to keep people from doing anything more stupid, the triathlon must have taken Him completely by surprise." - P.Z. Pearce

In preparation for the big camping trip in October, Sunday was pack-training day. Normally this would include a very long hike with a 10kg (22 lb) pack, but that's been getting too easy. Instead, we completed a mini, home-grown, out-of-order triathlon!

We started off doing a few hard sprints on the bike around the cycling track in Morningside to get the legs good and sore. The mid-day Brisbane heat was a killer, the seat was far too low to get a good power stroke and the rock-climbing helmet I was sporting didn't breath quite as well as a regular cycling helmet but the ride was successful.

My foot stayed on the pedals a lot better this time and my new socket is cut low enough in the back to really give me the flexibility I need on the follow-through, making for a good ride.

From there it was off to the swimming pool to get in as many laps as possible in an hour, accounting for 15 minutes of treading water, a quick shower after and some pre-swim fun of freaking out the normies when I popped my leg off poolside.

My flutter kick was tighter than ever and I had a strong stroke so I really think my form is improving. I was quite happy with myself when I caught up to the lady in front of me and had to tread water to let her get some distance before starting again. Granted I think the woman I was "racing" was in her 60's but you have to start somewhere!

I had a quick and awkward shower doing my best to to keep my leg dry, then we began the long hike up Mount Coot-tha via the Slaughter Falls track. The 10kg pack felt especially heavy as my muscles were dead tired but it was a good test. The trail is steep and very uneven which makes pack-training all the more difficult for balance and stabilization on the springy foot.

After last week's out-of-control hike down the same track, my prosthetists and I decided to remove the "running wedge" from my flex-foot, leaving the heal very soft. This made a WORLD of difference coming down the steep slopes, allowing my ankle to flex my foot to the ground for maximum traction. The trade-off was the extra energy required when going up the steep slopes so I might just start changing my foot position depending on the day's requirements.

We made it back to the car just before dark, in good time. My lend was really aching but I deserved it -- I had refused to sacrifice time "socking-up" during the descent.

The real test of the last month's worth of training came today: no sore muscles even though they were pushed hard yesterday. I'm very pleased!

Monday, September 14, 2009

How to Save a Bumpy Week

I don't usually like to admit to having a bad day, but sometimes you don't need to for good friends to catch on.

Today, much to my red-faced surprise and delight, these two beauties showed up to work sporting custom made shirts to ensure the week started off with a grin!

That's right, it's official, there is a fan club and they now have t-shirts! All kidding aside, I'm very lucky to have such amazing support.

With friends like these, who could stop smiling?

Krissie and Mel, the very best!
(I need a haircut)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Loren versus the "Lend"

When I first became aware that I might have to pull a "return to sender" on my left leg, I did a lot of reading.

One word that I utterly HATED was "stump". Like most people, I think in vivid pictures so when I heard that word, I imagined a lumberjack with a bloody chainsaw standing over my screaming torso. Not a nice image!

At the time, the word brought to mind something gross, bloody and hacked up and was synonymous with "mutilation".

I suppose I eventually came to accept the word as part of my regular vocabulary because every doctor, physiotherapist, prosthetist, etc insisted on using it. The doctors seemed to think that using single syllable words made them more accessible. For some, I think they did this is in lieu of having to work on their bedside manner.

Since then, I've had the good fortune of doing some peer-counselling in the hospital for other young new amputees. In every case I've encountered objections to using that word but no one had any good suggestions for an alternative.

Enter Loren, a recovering above-knee amputee who I had the absolute pleasure of meeting on Monday. With a big smile and a stern warning, I was told never to use the "s-word" again. Instead, I promised Loren that I'd spread the word to adopt the word "Lend" (Limb-End).

So here you go Loren, this one's for you! I've already confused a few prosthetists one physiotherapist and one super-doc this week on your behalf. By the time you get to rehab, I hope the "s-word" will be a distant memory and entirely taboo. I admire your courage and I wish you the very best recovery possible!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

New Socket

Just a short post to say that I received my new socket on Tuesday.

Breaking in a new socket is a bit like breaking in a new pair of hiking boots, only the carbon fibre and kevlar don't mold or wear in, the leg-flesh does all the adjusting.

Because my last two sockets have been so big, I have new/different loading points on my Lend (Limb-End) to adapt to. This means an awkward uncomfortable feeling that gives me a bit of a limp. I wouldn't call it pain, it's just uncomfortable.

I'm hoping my leg will adapt quickly. It did last time so I'm not too worried. Either way, it's much better than having a socket the size of a garbage can strapped to my leg, so I'm a happy camper.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Crossing the Finish Line

Here's a video of Lisa and I crossing the finish line on Sunday, captured from the race cam!

We show up right under the timing clock 17 seconds into this video. Lisa's in a red shirt with blue hat and I'm in a bright green shirt with a black hat. Both running, side by side. We cross the finish line right around 23 seconds into this video.

Thanks to Adrian for telling me about this!

UPDATE: If you can't see the video, try this link.