The bike crash – Part 2

This is a continuation of the story of my motorcycle crash on 9th November 2006, 20km out of Orbost on the Bonang Highway in rural Victoria. In this part of the story I will share more of my thoughts, insights, learnings and realisations in the time since the bike crash.

“Any crash you can walk away from, is a good one” – Launchpad McQuack

Crashed VFR800
Crashed VFR800

At the time of the crash all I was thinking about was how to tell my wife that a) I was OK and b) the bike was not. At 7:30pm that night (the first opportunity to relax a little and make the call) I called my wife and said “Hi darling, I’m fine, but I’ve written off the bike”. Succinct enough and should get the important stuff out of the way. Well, it does convey the message succinctly, but no matter how it sounded (both in my head and in actuality), it did not get interpreted the same way. It also didn’t help that the crash happened so far from home and she felt completely helpless – questions start piling up but it’s not the time or place to ask them. To me, I was fine and that’s the most important aspect to it.

One other thing to note: this was a crash. It was an ‘accident’ insofar as it was not intentional (i.e. I did not intend to crash the bike), however I feel calling it a crash is the most realistic way of conveying the event. Plus, the word ‘crash’ also conjures up images of something hitting something else quite hard – which is exactly what happened.

In the weeks and months after the accident, I had been asking/answering questions and pondering quite a bit in the time after the

Having a nap
Having a nap

crash. Questions like:

  • Did my life flash before my eyes (no)
  • Did I feel lucky (yes – extremely so – more on this later)
  • Was I angry about the crash (no – these things do happen)
  • Was I sad about it (yes)
  • Did I cause it (yes, I should have read the warning signs re: fatigue and lack of concentration)
  • Do I know why it happened (yes, with hindsight and calm recollection)

The first question is the most interesting as many people seem to ask it of you when you have a serious crash. It’s true that a crash on a motorcycle is usually far more serious than a crash in a car as you have no crumple zones, airbags or seat belts to help keep you as safe as possible. At no stage did I fear for my life nor see my life flash before my eyes.

Bruised Leg
Bruised Leg

So what’s changed since the crash?

  • I now know & ride within my limits. I was fatigued and lacked concentration at the crucial end of the day. I had been riding well up until that point and did not know I had crossed an imaginary boundary that would rob me of such critical skills when I would need them most.
  • Any group rides have very clear rules set out and understood by all. This is something that will resonate with any of my fellow riders from the East coast on the Black Dog Ride (as part of the Riding4aCause project). I played ‘Dad’ a few times making sure everyone knew where we were headed next and even headed back to chase up the stragglers on a few occasions. To my OzVFR buddies this may be a change from my earlier riding!
  • No matter what you say, your message may be interpreted differently. What would you say in your first phone call to a loved one to let them know that a) you’re OK and b) the bike (or vehicle) is badly damaged?
  • I began working from home full-time. At the time, I had all the things in place to do so, but still felt a need to go into the office 4 days a week. Not being able to do more than just hobble around on my sore leg soon showed me I could do my job from home and be just as productive. I had wonderful support from one of the best managers I’ve worked with and she continues to be a wonderful friend and confidant to this day.
  • I realised I was put on this earth for a reason, and that I had not yet fulfilled it. I wasn’t sure what this was (at the time) but knew I was here to do something wonderful. I spent the next few months trying to work out what that was, but didn’t realise it. You know how the more you look for something the less likely you are to find it? This was one of those moments.
  • No matter how good you are; you can always be better. Up until the crash I thought my riding was brilliant. We’d
    The OzVFR Guys
    The OzVFR Guys

    travelled 650+ km’s from Jindabyne to Orbost and I was feeling good, being able to keep up with the others in most areas (I was not afraid to slow down to a pace I was comfortable with on some of the roads). History shows I didn’t truly learn from this…

This is by no means the end of the story, there are more thoughts to be shared with you in the 3rd and final part of the story where I will expand on the last 2 points and share with you exactly how this crash has changed my life and outlook. How have ‘big events’ in your life changed your views/outlook on life?

My own tri :-)

On Sunday, I wanted to go for a swim and rallying the family to get ready to get out of the house was proving too difficult. In order to make great use of the beautiful Sydney sunshine, I decided on a slow ride to the beach (I usually like getting the heart rate up and tearing along as quickly as I can). I left everything at home except a beach towel in my backpack. I went down the path of simplicity – no phone, keys, wallet or other belongings!

I can confidently say I still suck at it and still don’t like swimming, BUT decided to spice things up yesterday by adding in other elements of a triathlon (Cycle and Run)! After my slow and stuttery 350m in the water, I went for a soft-sand run, doping 3.5 laps of the beach I was on (later calculated to be 1.2km total).

As I had done the swim and the run, I was left with the cycle – so I rode home (again, at a leisurely pace).

This was mostly a spur-of-the-moment morning, as I’d only decided to go for a swim the night before; the actual decisions made on the day were mostly free-form and made from a just ‘do it’ perspective. Lesson: You don’t have to overanalyse every decision you make – just make it and move on. 🙂

Swimming

As you may know, I’m comfortable going for a ride (2010 Gongride) or going for a run (my 2010 City 2 Surf story), but leave the swimming to others. I’ve read numerous articles on how great swimming is for you as it’s low impact but a great all-over workout.

I don’t like swimming.

Let me go back a little to fill you in. At school, when they had swimming carnivals (and ‘everyone’ had to participate) I was one of if not THE slowest swimmer. Always last in the last race and likely the last out of the pool. Although some may say it probably scarred me in some way back then, I don’t think I’ve done too badly today for it. I’ve hardly swum in the intervening years, happy to splash around and ‘knowing’ how to swim should the need ever eventuate!

Have I mentioned how I do not like swimming?

As part of my journey to becoming better, one of my main focuses was on exercise – dusting off my bicycle and getting into the cycling, also including some running (check out my 2009 & 2010 goals). 3 weeks ago, I needed to get out of the house (working from home has one major drawback, sometimes you can go a long time without leaving the house, and it does start to mess with your mind and sanity) – it was a beautiful morning, so I packed up the boys and we went to the beach. I had a desire to just go for a swim. After hating it for so long!

I do appear to have absolutely no co-ordination for swimming gracefully. Mentally I know the moves to make, but together, it just doesn’t work. So I plodded along, making the moves, stopping every 15-20m but continued to work at it for a total of approx 300m. I then repeated this feat the following week, and again yesterday.

After 3 early morning swims, I don’t like swimming. I tolerate it. In the words of the Zombiefit team, this is my “ISuckAtThis” exercise!

What about you? What sports/activities do you tolerate in your journey to betterment? Let me know in the comments below!

Note: It’s OK to not be great at everything, in fact I don’t believe I am great at any sport in particular, I just happen to dislike swimming and enjoy running. Please do not see this post as an attack on ‘swimming’ – it’s my view of one of the activities I’ve been performing of late.

Edit: I have just written a quickie post about my own mini Triathlon – read it here: “My Own Tri

http://myproactivelife.com/?p=255

Expanding my exercise regime

I heard that one of my friends (Roger Lawrence) had taken up a new challenge in time for Christmas. It didn’t take much for me to decide (being the proactive fellow I am) to join him on his quest to be able to perform 100 pushups by Christmas.

Boys & Sand
Boys & Sand

I invested a few $ in the official app to help me stay on track with the challenge, and so far it has not killed me. I decided to do this to help support Roger (and I found out later, our mutual friend Robin Dickinson), but also to improve one of the 2 things I believe everyone should have: health and fitness. I’ve never been one for feats of strength but know this will benefit me in the future 🙂

Sandringham
Sandringham

Last week I decided to look into completing at least one triathlon (swim, run, cycle) in 2011. Many of you know of my exploits on a bicycle or my penchant for a half-marathon or 2, but nothing about swimming: namely because I have a strong dislike of swimming. In our family, my wife is the swimmer, and I’d be more than happy to do the swimming on behalf of…but it doesn’t work like that! Swimming is my “ISuckAtThis” activity, probably through no fault of its own. I know at school I hated the swimming carnival where they forced everyone to have a go, even when ‘having a go’ included near drownings on a regular scale!

To make the most of the great weather we had on Sunday morning, I took the boys to the beach where they played in the sand and I cranked out 10 laps of the swimming enclosure (approximate 300m or so). I know my form is crap and I had numerous stops (no-one said they were nonstop laps ;-)) but did complete what I set out to achieve. I am not sure how well I will go with the swimming in the future as my breathing sucks and my form is bad, both of which I hope to make better in the future.

It helps that the day started out perfectly – you can see from the pics that the day was simply great, weather-wise. I’ve decided to give swimming a chance; what sport, activity or exercise would you say is your “ISuckAtThis” that you could work on to become better at?

* Edit: I neglected to mention that the idea of the “ISuckAtThis” is not new – I was introduced to it through the Zombiefit Workout of the Day.

My 2010 MS Gongride review

At the Start of the 2010 MS Gongride
At the Start

Yesterday I completed my 3rd MS Sydney to the ‘Gong bicycle ride, as a way of staying fit, being part of something wonderful and raising a few $ for research into MS.

I was riding extremely well and even commented to my riding buddy Kenny that I was riding much better than last year – in 2009 I had walked up a few of the hills as I was buggered! We’d been stopping at the major rest stops along the way for a stretch, a feed and a rest. We’d discussed various topics, commented on some of the gear and bikes we saw along the ride. Up the hills I would power my way past a number of other riders, and hang around somewhere near the top for Kenny (more a testament to having shoes that clip into the pedals than anything else :-))

Loftus pit-stop
Loftus pit-stop

However, after 70km of the 90km, my right leg cramped up and I could barely ride up any of the remaining hills – some so small you’d swear I was being a wuss! I decided to just keep on pedaling until I reached the finish as I had plenty of gears to help me along. Up the hills I was riding as slow as 8km/h (I’ve famously said that when you ride at less than 6km/h, it’s easier to get off and walk, and I was determined to not have to walk!), but on the flat I was still able to ride above 20km/h. Up the hills I had nothing much left and at the time I thought I’d hit the wall.

I did finish the ride as I don’t stop until I complete my goal!

During the ride I made sure I had a decent rest, food and drink. By the time I had finished the ride I’d drunken more than 4L of water. Perhaps it still wasn’t enough? On the train ride home, Kenny remarked that I didn’t seem my usual self; usually I’d be bouncy and chatty but I just wasn’t – I just wanted to be home lying on the couch. Something was up, but I could not put my finger on it, and I don’t think I worked it out until today.

On the ride
On the ride

I have had a headache on and off since the end of the ride, as well as feeling exhausted. This isn’t normal, and am wondering if this is a carryover from the cold/flu-like symptoms I’d had a couple of weeks ago? Tomorrow, if I’m not feeling much better, I’ll go and visit my doc.

So, what lessons did I (and can you) learn from this?

  • Don’t give up – despite feeling bad, I did feel the sense of accomplishment for continuing to stick out the ride. Time will tell if this was the right thing to do. To me, it was.
  • A continued, small amount of effort can still reap great rewards. Despite riding at 8km/h at some stages, it still helps you progress towards your goal. Sometimes you’ll RUN towards your goals, sometimes you will CRAWL. No matter which it is, you will eventually get there.
  • If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t – If you’re not feeling well, consider how that affects everything – and get yourself to your doctor.

Bushwalk: Appreciate the present

This past weekend I went for a bushwalk with my friend Brendon Walker (he of the FatDadSlim fame) from Cowan to Brooklyn in the Ku-ring-ai National Park, North of Sydney.

Jerusalem Bay
Jerusalem Bay

It was another early morning start for me (just like it was for the Half Marathon, the Sutherland2Surf and the City2Surf. Why do all these events require waking up before the sun? At least it’s peaceful waking up at 5am – it allows for quiet contemplation of the task ahead without interference). I met Brendon on the train, and we discussed how things are going, and the foibles of getting up late, missing alarms and what we packed for the walk. Neither of us had done this particular walk before so could only really compare to our bushwalk earlier in the year on the Uloola Track (from Waterfall to Audley in the Royal National Park).

View towards Sydney
View towards Sydney

It was a cold morning. There was mist in the valleys, but most importantly, the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The track itself starts off quite rocky and heads downhill immediately after you cross the bridge spanning the F3 freeway. Within 5 mins we were in the middle of the bush, and barely heard anything other than the sounds of nature – birds, insects and the natural sounds of the bush. We made it to the start of Jerusalem Bay in pretty good time, but most of it was downhill. The quietness and tranquility soon left us as the drone of distant freeway traffic began to be audible for most of the walk.

It took me about 30 minutes to get into the groove during this walk – where I forget what’s happening at home, what others are up to, and begin to immerse myself in the surroundings. There’s a metronomic sense of being part of a ‘machine’ when you’re working, commuting, consuming, and going about your normal duties on any given day. Once you let those things go and appreciate the present, the real, primal rhythm of life starts to come back to the fore. Brendon and I had many conversations, chats and musings along the way but inside I was thinking proactively about how to get out do it more; how to get others (including my boys) enjoy bushwalking; and also the wonderfully different perspective you get from being in such a tranquil, natural place. I truly get ensconced by the environment – the smells of damp bush, the gentle breeze that rustles the leaves and the sunshine breaking through the trees to light your way. I often envisage living in a place with an outlook to some spectacular scenery, not unlike what can be seen in the pictures throughout this post. (My pictures are all located on Flickr)

Patterned path
Patterned path

We passed many Oxfam TRAILWALKERS getting in some training before their 100km in 48hours journey on the 28th/29th August. We did not know why there were so many Trailwalkers out. Brendon said ‘I’ll look it up when we get home’, to which I replied ‘Why do we feel more comfortable finding information from the web when we could just ask the next person to come along the trail?‘. I countered and said “let’s just ask the next trailwalker we see“. These days it seems looking things up on the web has become synonymous with searching/finding answers; however don’t overlook the opportunity to reach out and connect with another person. As it turns out, the trail we were on is the start of the 100km Oxfam trailwalk – the fellow we asked had actually slept in and also asked us if we had seen the rest of his team. Serendipity?

We passed many people who said “oh you’re doing it the hard way”. Our view was ‘What’s wrong with doing it the hard way?’ Neither Brendon or I had known there was an easy or hard way, our journey was decided and we stuck with it. Ultimately we felt warm fuzzies knowing we started the hard way and if we ever come back in reverse, we’d have an easier time of it (but that was not the point of the exercise). One of the trailwalkers commented to me ‘You must be one of the happiest people on the trail today’ (after I conquered a fairly large rock in one big jump :-)). This got me wondering about the nature of compliments – do people give compliments as a way of saying ‘I see this in you that I’d like to see in myself’? The fellow who gave me the compliment may have wanted to be the happiest person on the trail that day but saw it was me – did he secretly long to be? When giving compliments, is the intention (deliberate or subconscious) a way of saying ‘I want to be that way, too’? Check out my short video and let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Who, then?
Who, then?

At about the half-way point, the track widens out and becomes a fire-trail (wide enough for vehicles to traverse) and signified the start of a 6km walking trail as opposed to a bush track (climbing rocks and navigating obstacles). Referring back to the earlier comments, we can see why our way was the hard way – Starting from Cowan, you’re navigating through the bush; the rest of the track is simply following the (wide) path. Civilisation (in the form of power lines) became a frequent occurrence along this stretch of the track. Check out the cryptic sign on one of the posts (in the pic, right) about who should operate the lever. The main challenge on this part was to seek out little guideposts with small arrows pointing the way – I got the feeling you wouldn’t get too lost following a fire-trail!

Brendon soldiered on quite well with his dodgy knee and one of the other comments made to us along our walk was that there was a pub at the end of the walk where we could get a meal and a cooling beverage…further proof we were heading in the right direction! The final part of the walk was the most difficult as it was very long & steep descent. Did I say it was steep? And long? A couple going in the other direction looked worn out before even doing 1km!

Steak burger & beer
Reward

Stopping for lunch at the pub was the icing on the cake; we’d done the 11km walk the ‘hard’ way, seen some awesome views from various vantage points and had great company during the walk. The early morning starts can be difficult, but the reward is well worth it. I recommend a bushwalk to everybody of any fitness level – not just because of the health benefits of exercise, but also to appreciate what we have in our own backyard and taking some time out of the every-day. I’m also sure more people would have a greater appreciation of nature – something we could all do with. 🙂

(note: all my pictures from the walk can be viewed from my Flickr page)

My City2Surf 2010

Coming just 2 weeks after my Sutherland2Surf 11km run, was the 40th running of the City2Surf. I was running with a few friends from work this year and one confidently said “keep your red beanie on so I know when I pass you! Confident words indeed!

This year I started in the green start group as I had cracked the 100min mark in 2009. My goal was to beat 75mins in 2010 (see my Events tab). I completed the run in 75min, 51 secs. Although I did not crack a below 75min time, in my last 3km I cranked out 3×5 min-km! This was also a 2010 goal, to eventually run a 5min-km.

Running, (and most sports actually), are a mental game, and I played my own mental game very well in those last 3km. I am very proud of my achievement, and will surely do better in 2011.

If there’s one take-away from my run, it’s to keep pushing yourself that little bit more, and a little bit more after that, as you probably do have it in you! 🙂

Sutherland 2 Surf fun-run

Andrew at the Finishing lineThis past weekend, I completed another of my 2010 goals – to complete the Sutherland2Surf fun-run. This is an 11km run from Sutherland to the Wanda Beach surf club. I entered the run for the first time in 2009 and enjoyed it, so went back for more. I also saw this as a good opportunity to see if I had done ‘better’ in 2010 than in 2009. The quick story:

  • 2010 time: 56:59.
  • 2009 time: 58:46.

I did not ‘train’ for the event specifically, preferring to keep up the riding and exercise regime as best I could. I turned up on the day and went for a run, and had a great time. And this here is the importance of exercise to me – it has to be relaxed and fun. Sure, I can get all serious about something (turn on a ‘race-face’ and psyche myself up) – but that’s not what it’s about for me.

There are many people who fixate on numbers. I posted the times at the top to get it out of the way, but I don’t go into these events worrying about numbers. I often get asked ‘how much weight have you lost?‘ as part of My Proactive Life – I cannot tell you as it was never the main focus of my project! In any case, the  purpose of my run was to have fun. During the run I wasn’t always feeling like it was ‘fun, but I did enjoy myself! I especially liked how my boys wanted to be there to pick me up at the end of the race 🙂

Anyway, onto the run!

I decided to run to music this time as many reports suggest you can go further/faster/better as your mind is distracted and does not let you focus on negatives like how much you need the loo, or how thirsty you are! I ran to a Podrunner workout track known as 135-175bpm Upward Mobility. As the name suggests it increases in tempo as the song progresses – the music started out relatively slow (for my liking, I like things in the 150-160bpm range) but soon built up. The mixes are approx 1 hour in length so was perfect for this run. My goal was simply to run to the beat. Every beat = a foot striking the ground. And for the most part, I did it!

I did walk whilst having a drink at 2 of the 3 drink stations (no-one looks coordinated trying to drink from a paper cup whilst running…no-one!) but for no more than a minute, then straight back into it. I found the music took care of my feet allowing me more time to enjoy the scenery and talk to myself. I thought about various things during this run, some of which you’ll hear about in future blog posts/twitter updates, here are some of them:

  • There’s a moment during a run where you hear nothing – the feet of everyone around you seems to hit the ground at the same time, creating ‘pockets of silence’. They don’t happen too often but are perfect little slices of silence you’d never expect during a run!
  • Even though it was a chilly morning I was glad I dressed simply; some people were overdressed and carrying their gear with them.
  • Anyone who runs with a pram/child is a hero. Anyone who does it AND pulls away from me is a LEGEND!
  • I tend to notice just how much incline/decline there is in a road whilst running; more so than when cycling or driving a car.
  • I feel as one with the terrain whilst running – something you don’t feel in a vehicle
  • I feel a silent camaraderie with the other runners – for a small period of time you share space/time with other people whom you may never be in close proximity to ever again or paths could cross at any time in the future.

I didn’t achieve my (2009-set) goal time of 55 mins, but that’s perfectly OK; I enjoyed myself, completed the goal and know the benefits from the endeavour will stay with me for a while. If you’re a regular runner (or cyclist or exerciser), let me know your thoughts and what you think about whilst exercising! 🙂

Age-Proofing your body

I came across a TV show called Body & Brain Overhaul and found it full of great information to help you become fitter and healthier. Here is the summary of key points I found from this show. This episode was focused on Age-proofing your body & brain. The 2 main presenters are Dr Roy Sugarman PhD (brain health expert) and Paul Taylor (exercise physiologist and nutritionist).

7 brain and body boosters

  1. Know it (bio age, brain assessment, got to know it before you can change it)
  2. Train it (exercise for both the body and the brain is essential)
  3. Defend it (against lack of sleep, drugs, alcohol and tobacco)
  4. Befriend it (do nice things for the brain)
  5. Feed it
  6. Manage it (resilience)
  7. Change it (self-belief)

According to Dr Roy Sugarman, his best tip for aging and the brain: Befriend it, socialising it. “As you get older if you want to build resilience and you want to age nicely, you’ve got to have close relationships, meaningful relationships, lots of people“. Paul Taylor chooses the Train it option, relating it to how the body responds extremely well to the ‘use it or lose it’ principle, and it applies equally well to the brain.

Cells

Systemic inflammation (at the cellular level) is the trigger for all chronic diseases. Triggers include stress, pollution, smoking, too much omega 6 and too little omega 3, too much sugar, wrong types of food, and critically, being overweight – fat produces it’s own chemical molecules that trigger inflammation. Also, if you live a sedentary lifestyle, you have much more inflammation in your body. If you adopt an unhealthy lifestyle, unfit and overweight, you’re slowly killing yourself through systemic (cellular) inflammation.

Before they die, cells replicate (make a copy of themselves containing the DNA). One of the key components in this process is the telomere, which gets a little shorter each time the cell divides. If your lifestyle is poor or you’re unhealthy, each time the cell divides it takes more off the telomere – when the telomere is gone, the cell can no longer divide, it dies and we die. We have to stop this process of look after ourselves through lifestyle!

It’s important to look after our cells!

Toxins

If you ignore your emotions, the toxicity of what’s happening for you in your life, never recovering, always on the treadmill, puts a nice thick band of cortisol-based fat on your stomach, which feeds c-reactor proteins to your brain, all these toxins continuously throughout your life: that’s aging; that’s death.

Formula to be a peak performer

Lastly, there was an interview with the AFL Legendary coach, Tommy Hafey. Here are his 4D’s to becoming a peak performer:

  1. Desire;
  2. Dedication (practicing, working on sills, updating yourself);
  3. Determination (never giving up);
  4. Discipline

= Destiny

My notes

I found this series to be quite straightforward without too much hype, and reinforces many of the reasons why I started MyProactiveLife. The information presented is easy to understand and the show does not come over as being preachy. The aim of the show was to take 4 normal, but different people and give them an overhaul. If you get a chance to watch one or more of the episodes, I recommend you do as I’m sure you can get quite a lot out of it!

It's a journey, not a destination!

This is a minor rant, so be warned! 🙂

I’ve had enough of people looking at health & fitness the wrong way.

Fitness (and that dreaded hanger-on “Diet” and his ugly sister “Weight Loss”) are not one-off things you ‘do’!

  • Right now your fitness level is your fitness level. It can be better and it can be worse – it’s not fixed
  • Your diet is your diet – whatever you eat today is your diet. if you eat differently tomorrow that becomes your diet – it’s not fixed
  • Weight Loss is the result of taking other courses of action (such as increasing your exercise and changing your diet)

Many people see fitness/diet/weight loss as a one-off, thinking “once it’s done I’ll be awesome”, and then they can stop. I’m the bearer of a wake-up call to let people know that all of these are part of a journey, not a destination! Here’s the simplest way I can put this: Focus on becoming fitter. Do this through:

  1. More exercise and
  2. Eating better (note I did not say eat less…there’s a difference)

Focus on the act of becoming fitter! With this, you will need to change your diet; weight loss will happen.

Cycling does something great for me, and when I miss out, I feel bad (not for missing the cycling, BUT for missing out on the benefits – It relieves stress and makes me clearer in my thoughts and more resilient when things go wrong). It’s winter time here and getting out on the bike is hard(er) to do. I know I need the exercise in my week to keep me balanced! Make Fitness your focus through exercise and changing your diet and your journey will be more successful (I know, because this is what I have done!) 🙂

What are your thoughts on Fitness, Diet and Weight Loss?