Finale! 4/4: Dini Martinez (& the Sailing Yoga Family) Unconventional Wisdoms

Dini I met Dini aboard her family’s home and sailing vessel “Happy Dancer” to find out more about how this young mother managed to sail, travel, have a career, a family and keep everything afloat, literally.

It was a hot and sunny but breezy September afternoon. We sat up on the deck in shade, our children played quietly below.  It was peaceful and the air fresh and salty.  Dini cut us up a winner of a Maltese watermelon and I felt I would need convincing not to sell all my belongings and buy a boat after this interview.

Dini is 31, an Australian who has travelled a lot (10 countries in her first 18 years) and whenever by the sea she worked on boats. Dini began teaching Yoga at 25, then met and married Pablo Martinez an accountant whom she ‘trained up’ in sailing skills by buying a share in a boat docked in Sydney harbour with a dream one day of setting sail in their own. They have two sons: Noah 4 and Gael 2.5 years (at time of interview).

 

Me (M): The first question I must ask Dini, is, why this lifestyle choice, and why now?

Dini: (D): I have always sailed.  Since I could walk, my grandfather taught me.  I have always been adventurous. My original plan was to buy a really old boat with friends and do it up.  For me it was always an idea centring on community.  No one else at that time seemed ‘on board’ with this plan so eventually I found myself married with an 18-month old son and another on the way.  All our friends were getting mortgages and we just didn’t feel ready for that yet.  We wanted to make our own little world and be cut off from some of the things we liked less about western lifestyles.

When I found I was pregnant with Gael we felt the time was right.  Before that we were worried our older son Noah might feel lonely if we travelled but now our family felt complete we knew it was time.  We sold many of our belongings and gave away the rest.  This wasn’t challenging for us, it felt very liberating.

We chose Happy Dancer because of Moody (the brand’s) good reputation as a safe but also comfortable blue water cruiser.  It’s built stronger than most boats, that was the important thing.  The fact that it was already equipped with solar panels and wind generator was a plus.

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Patrick Sweeney, Unconventional Wisdoms Series (part 3 of 4)

Patrick Sweeney Running Chicago marathon’s a noble achievement.

Running New York marathon in the same year, a life time achievement maybe…

Running both and the distance between the two?  

Patrick Sweeney reckons pretty much any of us can do this.  It’s just a matter of getting into the rhythm of things.

Me (M)- What are you up to tomorrow?

Patrick (P)- Tomorrow I’ll be flying to Chicago to meet with a friend “Barefoot Alex” then onto the Kenyan Embassy to meet some top Kenyan marathoners.  Alex and I’ll then pick up a torch and run from Chicago to New York and then run the New York Marathon.

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Endless Possibilities (2nd half of Unconventional Wisdoms Series)

Sailing Dini & sunset mudra :)
Dini, sailing & sunset mudra :)

After a short break in the series, I have subtitled the remaining two interviews this way, as I wish to convey the under-exploited potential of the human race.

 

Several years ago, my university friend drew my attention to the fact that many of our contemporaries were living in “self-created prisons”.   Luckily, I had already found running as a way of breaking free from the library, or life at my desk, but I understood what she meant.

At a time when we should have been enjoying limitless freedoms, people were living in boxes: a whole world where opportunities outside their windows were left untouched and unexplored, whilst hours were whiled away watching escapist TV, playing on games consoles, or just generally making every effort possible to disengage from the wider world. This habit only worsened as jobs and families became the norm for that generation.  

The notion of adventure seemed too much of an exertion for an already burned-out mind… No wonder the rate of mental illness seemed so disproportionately high… We thought we were happy in our bubbles, but we were scared to break-out of the comfort zone, and that’s a different thing entirely.

The following two interviews taught me that the life of your dreams is possible in the here and now (and here’s the cool bit for me) even with a couple of kids in tow :)  In fact, setting examples for next generations: that we don’t have to live a life of optional limitation, is pretty much a purposeful existence in and of itself.

It doesn’t have to be all rat race and rush hours, it can be sunsets, beer miles and saying “Yes” to opportunities…

Meet Dini Martinez and Patrick Sweeney! Patrick’s interview, regarding his adventure starting tomorrow, will be up later today, so check back for that :)

Patrick (and some random shirtless guy)

 

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Unconventional Wisdoms 2/4: Nathan Farrugia (Part 2)

27 marathons
27 Marathons: Credit: Matthew Mirabelli

M: “Winging it’s” my thing :-) Remember the blog I sent you on minimalist training for Spartathlon?

N: In fact, if I look back at my training for ironman, my  best time was last year, where I came top 10% in the world in my age group, on 12 hours training a week, that is much less than people who get those finishing times.  The thing is, when you are running 250k, you have to get used to the discomfort, the muscle breakdown, the kidneys in clearing the waste production, there is no shortcut.

M: This race is in the footsteps of Phidippides, he dropped dead?

N: Well, yes, whether he had the right training and nutrition, who knows? I do know that 300 people run this a year, 50% of them finish, and as far as I know, not many of them drop dead.  Not to worry :)

M: What have people said about this challenge? Other than the usual “are you mad”?

N: I get that a lot, most people can’t fathom running 246k, particularly when you live on an island that is 17k long! (more…)

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Unconventional Wisdoms 2/4: Nathan Farrugia (Part 1)

Nathan training in Gozo. Credit: Kurt Arrigo
Nathan Farrugia training in Gozo. Credit: Kurt Arrigo

I met Nathan for a cup of tea, a week ahead of his Spartathlon attempt.  I wanted to know more about this family man, business man, and arguably Malta’s best ultra-athlete.

Spartathlon is one of the most difficult ultras in the world (the only challenges that Nathan really takes part in nowadays, alongside his own record-breaking creations).  

Spartathlon is a 246km (153 mile) road race from Athens to Sparta.  It started in 1983 and takes place 25-26 Sept 15.  The goal of all participants is to finish under the cut-off time of 36 hours.  Battling extreme weather conditions and strict cut-offs for the first 100km, it’s not only the distance that will be challenging. It is a stripped back race, no MP3 players allowed.  Little support and only basic food is given.

Up until last year, Nathan was the CEO of Malta’s largest non-profit organisation that helps people with disabilities.  He stopped to maintain his role as president of the foundation. He set up his own business which helps people/ companies with executive coaching and business development.  He is also heavily involved in foundations and charities for young people with disabilities and health problems.

Nathan has been working and volunteering in the charity sector since 2000 and has raised hundreds of thousands of euros for good causes. His latest endeavours are as director of the Lino Spiteri Foundation, working to create jobs for persons with a disability on a national level.

Me (M): Many athletes with families describe their lives as a daily ‘balancing act’, would you agree that finding a sport/life balance is trickier after kids? (more…)

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Unconventional Wisdoms: Interview 1/4: Maria Walton

Maria Walton
Maria Walton

In 2009 Maria Walton, a marathon coach from Arizona, was gifted with a copy of “Born to Run” by a friend. Shortly after reading it, Maria sent Micah True (the elusive and reluctant hero of the book) a Facebook message for some advice on ultra-marathons.

He responded almost immediately,

“It’s not my book. If it’s an autograph you are after, you’re asking the wrong guy.”

Maria replied: “No, no, I’m not a fan. I just want some advice on how to run an ultra.”

“Oh,” he wrote back. “You are going to run a little slower, run a bit longer.  And that’s it really. I don’t train, I eat some oatmeal, grab a coffee, get out the door and run.”

Micah, an American ex-boxer who gave away everything he owned, moved to the mysterious Barrancas del Cobre of Mexico to emulate the methods of the Raramuri, and ran ultra distances there carrying no gear, just a plastic water bottle and a $8 timex watch. (more…)

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Interview series: Unconventional Wisdoms

 Alternative lifestyle inspiration

27 marathonsDini 2luis escobar maria

“Click this” Read an email I sent to my other-half.

“Stop sending me click-bait” was his curt reply.

“:-( But I wrote it?” Was my reply.

Adam: “Oh, ok I clicked it”.

It got me thinking, I don’t want to write click-bait.  I want to write informative, life-affirming pieces, like the kind I love to read.  If I am interested in a subject, my patience lasts longer than 800 words.

So, the idea to put together a series of four interviews came to mind.

Two live in Malta, two are Americans, two are men, two are women.  There’s one grandmother, one father, one working/ sailing mother and the other one, well he defies categorisation.

They are four humans who appear to get more out of their days than the average Joe.

I’ve been working long and hard on this series to try and showcase ordinary people who do extra-ordinary things.

They appear to ask more of life than seems normal.  Are they rewarded, or are they simply nuts?  Let’s see. (more…)

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Homesickness after a decade abroad?

This time when I got back home to Malta after a summer in UK and France, I found it tricky to settle.  More than at any other time before.  The feeling of being happy to be coming back to home abroad, had been lasting for shorter periods each time I returned to my life here.

The taxi driver was 1 hour late leaving with us from the airport, so we left at 1am instead of midnight and I was just immediately tired of Malta.  I’m not going to Malta bash, why would I?  There’s so many awesome things about this country.  The other day I got back from the beach with friends and kids (awesome in itself) and hungry and tired grabbed the kids and bags, ate dinner and about 2 hours later was looking for their water bottles.  I realised I was missing my handbag with the bottles in, and my purse, money, all the important stuff.

I knew instantly I had left it somewhere ‘bad’.  I went down to the car and the passenger side door was wide open, my bag on the passenger seat! It had been that way for some hours.  Quite a lot of people pass there on Saturday night, and I thought of all the times we had been lucky in similar situations here.

I also love running here. The weather is almost always perfect. The smells and feel of the countryside at night is something I’ve never experienced in the UK. (more…)

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Training and motherhood: pregnancy, breastfeeding and beyond.

IMG_0897
Pic taken by ‘Her Majesty’

A pregnant friend recently sent me a message:

Hi Hannah, I have a question for you. How do you manage to train & run, when you are sleep-deprived from looking after your twins? I am just wondering cos I always feel so lousy from lack of sleep and I imagine it’s only going to get worse once the baby arrives! xx

My answer I told her, was extensive, so I thought I would post it here, to maybe help any other preggos or new mums thinking the same things.

My answer is primarily based on my experience of being pregnant with and breastfeeding twins.  I’ve gleaned some other information from here and there.

I’ve heard of mother’s running marathons and ultra marathons, stopping to breastfeed their babies along the way.  I’m pretty sure these mothers didn’t jump into that idea after giving birth.  They must have been in a pretty good physical state before hand.  The first mother I heard about doing this, stepped into a 24-hour timed race (you run as many time round a track loop as you can in 24 hours) after her husband couldn’t take part.  She ran more than an ultra, without planning to. An ultra is anything over a marathon distance.  The second was a professional runner who was back training 6 weeks post-birth and back competing in the first year.

I was not an athlete before I gave birth.  I was training for Malta marathon when I found I was pregnant, before that I was an on-off runner, much like now ;)  I did a 19km run in September 2009 and felt a bit weird.  I discovered I was 6 weeks pregnant and on the next run I tried to do, I felt all kinds of cramping and pulling in my abdomen.  I was not comfortable.  (more…)

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On taking ‘me’ time and not feeling guilty about it…

Between the time they were born and time they were 5, I took one night away from my twins.  This was a night in hospital when they were 2, to recover from a c-section repair operation.  I found the experience really difficult, and missed them so much that I had no desire for time off from them again.

Their father, Adam had had a total of 6 months away from them in their first 3 years, as I took the twins to stay with my mother in the UK for long periods of time.  On top of this, he had had work weekends away.  I had no jealousy or desire to do the same.  I loved being with my kids, and missed them after just a few hours apart, however, from about 4.5 years I had started to feel a bit energetically ‘ground down’ and ‘running on empty’, in terms of what I had to offer them.  Having two first babies at 27 was a full on life-changer, I wasn’t the same Hannah as before they were around.

I booked 16 days away in France for in 6 months time. I started to feel panicky.  I hadn’t planned it to be so long, but a combination of factors meant it ended up being 21 days. I envisioned missing them like I did after a few hours for the entire duration, but on the other hand, the idea of getting up whenever I felt like it, making a cup of tea and seeing to myself first for the first time in 5 years, felt exciting and attractive.  I planned to take long baths, long runs and go out for dinner without worrying what time I would be home.

The fact that every day (except the time of that operation) they had been the first thought on my mind in the morning.  What were they going to eat that day, do, what other things did I need to do for them, etc.  I felt bound-down structuring my day around their routine, everyday.  Oh course this probably sounds selfish, I felt selfish to the point I wouldn’t admit these feelings to myself.  There was slight resentment when Adam went on his latest work trip to Sicily.  Although I didn’t admit it, it was time for me to take a break.  Of course, many mothers with many more children than me don’t have the opportunity for such a break (I was lucky that this chance came about through a combination of factors) but many parents don’t have access to many things, such as nutritious food, it doesn’t mean it is not desirable for the welfare of everyone involved.  Many people have to be involuntarily apart from their children, like I was for the operation, and that’s a different matter and feeling altogether, but ‘mummy burnout’ is now something I recognise, which I didn’t before this break. (more…)

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