January 11, 2011

ONE STEP AT A TIME - Featured Writer Barbara Hughes

I have found that so many of you women have such amazing stories to tell, and talents to share.  I ran across Barbara's blog online http://barbie-tryingatri.blogspot.com and was so excited when I found it.  I fell in love with her vision for life, her excitement for being healthy, and her motivation to keep going.  Thank you for sharing your story with us Barbara - we are all inspired by your words.
ONE STEP AT A TIME - Featured Writer Barbara Hughes
What an honour it is to be asked to write something about myself for Bella Rosa Bikes – thank you Heather.

Let me see, where do I start? The last 2 years of my life have seen me go through the biggest journey – reaching one of the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. And I am so glad it happened as it has made me who I am today. Let me explain.

After the birth of my twins 15yrs I had always struggled with back pain, until finally after a year of it I could tolerate it no more. I sought the help of a GP and a specialist and was diagnosed with Bilateral Sacroiliitis. The medication which I was prescribed back then made me feel quite sick and made it impossible to be a good mother so I stopped taking them and never went back and rode the wave of back pain for years – tolerating it through another pregnancy, university degree and work.

At the beginning of 2008 the pain really began to intrude in my daily life till I was unable to work (nursing was my life) and I finally made my way back to the doctor with my head held low in defeat. The specialist once again ran a barrage of tests and I was prescribed Prednisone (steroid) to reduce the inflammation in my lower spine. I was finally pain free but the resulting side effects (weight gain, bruising, hairloss, depression) was without a doubt worse than the pain I had endured.
 Me on the left.

In March of 2009 my brother came to visit me for my birthday (green striped shirt) and although I was ecstatic to see him, inside I was totally embarrassed that he had to see me in such a state. And it was this very photo that made me realise that I had lost control of me and my life and it was time to take the proverbial “bull by the horns” and regain that which I had lost. So the journey began.

Initially they were baby steps. I got back into the pool after some 20yrs and started with no more than 500m. A total contrast to my former self - who would have thought nothing of swimming 6km, twice daily. But I knew “Rome wasn’t built  in a day” and if it took me a good 6mths to gain 30kg then it was going to take me just as long if not longer to lose it and stay healthy at the same time.

By July of 2009 I was under the guidance of a personal trainer and I was finally starting to see remnants of my former self start to emerge. I signed up for the World Masters Championships which were being held here in Sydney in October. I trained 6 days a week (swimming, bootcamp, running) and when the day finally arrived to compete, apart from being very nervous – I was ready. The race was the culmination of all of my hard work, sweat and tears – so to have come out 2nd in my 50m Backstroke in the 35-39yr age group was like the icing on the cake.
No sooner had this day finished I was in search of another goal to conquer – not to win again but to prove to myself that I could and that I was the master of my own destiny. So I entered a 500m open water swim – and lo and behold I came first with a time of 8min 17secs. How cool. Life was finally looking up and with that I entered my first Triathlon. What a challenge.

I had not ridden a bike since I was 14yrs old nor run more than 1km but I was determined to do this Enticer. I trained probably 4-5 days a week in the swim and bike but due to running injuries I was unable to actually run the 2.5km needed for the race more than once. The day itself was a bit of a blur, but I do remember being very nervous and inexperienced in all aspects. The 250m swim, 10km cycle and 2.5km run went by in a flash and to my surprise I came 6th in my age group. And with that I was hooked.

Since March of 2010 I have accomplished another Enticer Triathlon as well as my first Sprint Triathlon which saw me place 9th amongst some tough women competitors. I am continually inspired and motivated to push myself beyond that which I thought ever possible. However, I know that a lot of it has been made easier to achieve through having a supportive family and network of friends through my local Tri Club – Panthers Tri Club.

There are so many words I could use to describe the world of Triathlons – exhilarating, exciting, addictive. And it is through the world of Triathlons that I have found myself again. It has allowed me to set goals relative to where I am at the time and has made me want to strive and achieve – the hunger at times is insatiable.

So I have now signed up for my first Long Distance Triathlon – a 70.3 at Port Macquarie here in Australia on May 1st this year. This is a 1.9km swim, 90km cycle and 21.1km run. Am I scared? You bet! But I have never been one to let fear beat me. For me it’s all about the journey – watching myself conquer things, like my first 100km bike ride (what a blast that was). Sure there is pain at times, not just physically but mentally – but half the fun is overcoming them and realizing you are stronger and much more capable than you give yourself credit for.

I look forward to seeing what the next 4months will bring in training – I know I am a capable individual and I know most importantly I am setting a good example to my 3 children. I want them to see that anything is possible in their life and that the sky is the limit if you just try.

Thankyou Heather once again for asking me to be a part of this. And to all who read this who may feel that things are maybe too hard right now – all it takes is one step – doesn’t matter how big or small that step is so long as it is in a forward direction. GO FOR IT.

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