25

Jun

A moment two years in the making…

So, two years later here we are, back for part 3 of my Ironman journey.

If you’re interested, or to freshen up your memory, you can get up to date on parts 1 & 2 below.

To say it’s been a roller-coaster of a journey is an understatement. There’s been a lot of ups but some very low lows.

As I sit here and reflect on the past 2 years, I’ve learnt so much about myself. These challenges have taught me things that I may never have learned if I’d had an easier and smoother journey. I’m so grateful.

Returning from Cairns this time last year with a broken clavicle and 4 stitches in my face, I was absolutely gutted. My race before that, was in Busselton WA, 2017. A cancelled swim due to shark sightings and a shortened bike course due to bush fires left me deflated from the day. I felt I had not truly becoming an Ironman.

I couldn’t help but wonder why this was happening, why was each race ending with me feeling so broken, both physically, mentally and emotionally. It made me feel so out of love with the sport, something that had given me so much joy the past 5 years.

While I was recovering from my injury I didn’t think that continuing on with these big events was something I ever wanted to do again. I will never forget the feeling when I got back on my bike for the first time in over 3 months after my shoulder recovery. I was so underwhelmed. I hated it. After not pushing it too much, I decided I’d just let it be, that desire might return later on.

Thankfully it did. Over time I started craving being back on the bike, being with my tri buddies. I started tossing up the idea of getting back into some races. After much debating and discussion, I decided that I did want to have another crack at Ironman. It turns out I wanted it more than ever. But I was only going to do it if I could convince my best friend Sara to do it with me.

With over 6 months from race date, Sara and I made a pact. We were going to do this. It was on!

As the weeks flew past, I felt like I was regaining some of that fitness I had lost, but boy it felt harder than I ever remembered.

Starting from a lower base of fitness than ever before plus trying to rehab an injured shoulder was posing it’s challenges.

I was trying to find the balance of not over doing the shoulder but also not fluffing the process of preparing for what is one of endurance worlds toughest challenges. This is where my coach gave the greatest guidance. Adam from Beckworth Racing was a huge mentor for me throughout the year. I’m so grateful for his work. As the weeks due closer I was starting to feel my best, things were coming together. An Ironman build is truly unique and getting to the end in good health and uninjured was always my aim.

6 weeks out from IM Cairns I raced a half ironman distance (1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run) in Port Macquarie. Boy I’m glad I pencilled this race in!

It was another big learning day for me. Trialling nutrition, race strategies and testing how the body was feeling. Safe to say I was excited to be racing and may have overdone the bike on a tough hilly course which compromised my run.

After that race I made significant changes to my nutrition and my bike plan leading into Cairns.

It was soon time to fly to Cairns, heading up the Tuesday before. It was certainly a nice change in weather. The cold weather had really set in in Melbourne so 25 and sunny in Cairns was just perfect. A few short sharp sessions to keep the body ticking over helped nicely. It’s amazing to seeing the town transform into Ironman Village. Athletes from all over the world here to do the same thing you are. There is such a buzz around.

On the days leading in to the race the weather wasn’t great. It was all: wind, rain, sun, repeat. However it wasn’t anything I hadn’t already trained and prepared for back in Victoria.

The night before Ironman I had the worst sleep I think I’ve ever had before a race. It was an early start in Palm Cove, alarms off at 5:00am to begin the final prep before we were to head down to the swim start.

The sun started to rise, we could see the water was actually the best it had been all week. Still not amazing, but better than the day before. The wind was up, but again we knew that.

One thing I’ve learnt from racing, is wasting energy on being nervous is exactly that, wasted energy. Deep breaths and focusing on the immediate next task at hand kept the nerves at bay. Sara and I suited up and got in for a quick warm up swim, the water temp was cool and refreshing. We were ready.

A rolling start on the beach was slow but exciting, watching people enter the water knowing that they had begun their Ironman journey is great to watch. In we went at around 8:00ish am. Bring it on, 3.8km of challenging open water swimming. There was a lot of people in the first 200m trying to find their momentum as they were swimming into the waves. It was hard at the start but I knew it would settle, just breathe and pass them until I found my groove. The swim was honestly the best part of my day, I was wrapped with my time in those conditions, and to think this time last year I was in a sling unable to move my arm for 13 weeks! It was pure joy!

Straight out of the water, trying to clean the famous Palm Cove mud from my face, I was so happy to be running into transition, I felt so good. Getting on the bike was a slow exit, with lots of other doing the same. Seeing familiar faces who were cheering me on was awesome! Now it was time to settle in for a very scenic 180km on the bike down the Captain Cook Highway. My plan was consistent heart rate (especially on the hills) nutrition and hydration. With the Port Mac’s Half Ironman experience in the back of my mind I feel like I achieved my goals for the bike. My time was slower than expected but I feel the last 70km stretch from Port Douglas back to Cairns challenged me. With a tough head wind I knew I needed to reassess to save my legs for the run. As I was getting back into Cairns city I was so close but the wind was making me feel slower and slower. It was just head down and pedal, focusing on who was ahead, trying to catch them until I was on the esplanade. I was so pumped to see people as I flew down the last 3km. 180km ride was complete.

Transition was heaven, having the beautiful volunteers help you get ready to run, offering food and water, tying my shoe laces. Its only brief but their kindness really gives you such good vibes to get out running.

Running out of transition and onto your last leg is the best. Having friends and family there all cheering for you along. This transition was the best I’ve felt coming off the bike, in any race. The plan for the run was stick to pace and keep on fuelling. I stayed on track until around 21km, I really started to slip in pace and my stomach wasn’t feeling great. My selection of nutrition wasn’t appetising anymore. Soon after it became a run/walk. I loved the 4-lap course, by that time of the day it helped me so much knowing where people were across the course. Knowing they would be there, offering support and encouragement really did help.

Before I knew it, I was finishing my 4th lap and soon to be running the down the famous red carpet. So much emotion came over me, tears running down my face, I had finally conquered my long dream of becoming an Ironman. 2 years in the making!

The music was pumping, friends, family and strangers were cheering so loudly. Hi fiving everyone along the side, the famous words “Jaimie Lee, you are an IRONMAN” while crossing the finishing line. 

I knew my best friend Sara wasn’t far behind, so I waited for her. Seeing her run the red carpet and being awarded with her medal was the absolute highlight of my day.

We did it, we are Ironmen!

The feeling is hard to explain for me. It took so much emotion, time and sacrifice over the past 2 years to earn the experience of feeling that feeling in that moment. It’s something I’ve wanted for so long. The meaning behind this race was so much more this time around.

I guess when you want something so bad, you can push through anything to get it. There is always a way, we just have to dig deep to find it.

Thanks for the kind words or support throughout this journey (and for reading along).

I truly appreciate it.

Here’s to the next adventure, whatever it may be.

JLB

11

Oct

Get your system ROWing!

Here is what you need to know

– These pieces of equipment are unlike typical cardio machines. They will gas you immediately whilst having little to zero impact on your joints

– There are a variety of workouts you can do using one or all three of these pieces of equipment.

– Intervals can range from Time, Distance and a combination of the two. This article will show just how creative you can be.

Growing up and throughout my initial years as a fitness trainer, I was not too charitable when it came to the use of Cardio machines. Gyms for many years and even in present time are always full of treadmills and cross trainers which in my opinion were very isolated and didn’t have much carry over or bang for your buck. However With more years in the industry I have learnt the value of machines such as the Rowing machine or Erg and just how versatile and effective it was.

A little about me

Late last year I ruptured my ACL (Anterior Cruciate ligament) In my knee whilst training in Freestyle wrestling. I had been lucky to not suffer any significant injuries growing up as I played a lot of competitive sports and through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and wrestling I had until December last year been injury free.

I had surgery In February this year and whilst I am starting to work my way back into running. With a significant injury such as an ACL tear It has limited me over the months. As a result My Conditioning has suffered immensely right until I decided to give Cardio machines a go. This is where I am going to share my love once again for Cardio equipment and Interval training once again!

So what makes interval training on the Rower so special? Why the love for this piece of equipment  of equipment?

– First of you can get in a lot of work in a very short amount of time

– It is non weight bearing and won’t cause the type of stress that running or sprinting would on a treadmill

– Following on from point two, The stress is distributed over your entire body and it won’t tax your lower body like treadmill running would

– It is a tough fitness challenge that can be used to help you recover from heavier and more taxing workouts which involve squatting and deadlifting

With all these points mentioned above it is fair to say that Interval training and using the Rower has my tick of approval BUT is it for everyone?

Here are some contraindications for using the Rowing machine

– You Have symptomatic lower back pain or a history of disc pathologies (Includes repeated flexion/extension of your spine particularly under compressive loading

– Hip pain of any sort. The full flexion of the rowing machine can flare up an exacerbate any injury you have.

– You sit for long periods a day (8-10 hours) This point is raised if you plan on spending large periods of time on the machine Over 20 minutes. However with a focus on doing intervals on the machine this should not be an issue but it is something to keep in mind. 

Are there other pieces of equipment which I can do instead of the Rower if any of the contraindications listed above apply to me

– Yes you can! The other two pieces of equipment which you can use to substitute the rower or do with are the Ski Erg and the Assault Bike.

Workouts that can be done on the Rower, Ski Erg or The AirBike

As mentioned above, using any of the three pieces of cardio equipment for short duration  intervals are most effective. Here are some workouts you can add to your training. Like any workout make sure you do plenty of warming up including mobility and activation work and lastly be prepared to work!

1) 30 seconds on 30 seconds off for 1KM

– One of my go too workouts on either pieces of the equipment. For the Rower and Ski erg it is a program already in their custom workout tab. You will row for 30 seconds as fast as you can and then rest for 30 seconds. The goal is to get to 1KM.

2) Meter Ladder 500-400-300-200-100 wth 60 seconds rest between sets.

– This is another low volume, shorter duration style of workout that is a bit easier to suffer through as the distance is slightly decreasing each round.

To Flip this you can also do this by making it an ascending ladder of 100-200-300-400-500 metres too.

3) 3x 1Min Max Outs with 2 minutes Rest

– This one will leave you red face, wheezing and gassed! A great finisher to any workout as it really empties the tank.

Set the Rower/Ski/Assault Bike to a 1Min timer and as fast as you can try work through as many metres as possible. Once complete take two minutes completely off and then repeat. A good target s aiming for 1000m overall for the 3 rounds!

4) Calorie/Meter Target Followed by an active rest

– This workout can be done by setting a distance lets say 10 calories on any of the pieces of equipment and during a rest perform 10x push ups, chin ups, squats etc. You can be pretty creative with this one. Best way to do this workout is a Every minute on the minute where you must complete the target followed by the active rest within the minute window before repeating. Do this for 5-10 rounds and you will be spent!

Interval Training is a very effective training method and when done correctly can have great carry over towards anyone’s training. Give it a go and you will be surprised on just how much volume you can accumulate in a short period of time!

12

Jul

Find your best fit and you’ll find your ultimate fitness

Where do you or why do you train where you train?

Like most people, when I first joined a gym, it was not for fun. It was because it was something I thought I ‘had’ to do.

I’ve been a competitive athlete for as long as I can remember, and until the age of 17 a large chunk of my days were spent sprinting on a track or trying to get a ball into an absurdly located hoop. Like a lot of young athletes, after graduating high school I felt aimless without the structure of classes and training. Oh sure I was still active, but after such a high level of activity for most of my life the drop in intensity affected me in ways that I did not anticipate. I no longer had to wake up early for practice, so I stayed up later. Without school and team trainings, I had to actually make plans to see my friends (ridiculous, I know). Worst of all, as expected when someone goes from training over 12 hours a week to not at all, my body started changing… So I decided to join a gym.

Joining a gym used to conjure up a bleak image of rows of treadmills, and oversized men grunting, in a room of mirrors whose sole purpose was to make you unhappy with yourself. When I did first join a gym, the reality was not far off at all, aside from the perky music constantly blaring to mask the sounds of discomfort. Luckily, that is no longer the case. Unless that’s what you’re into which is fine too. But sometime in the last decade or so, the definition of ‘fitness’ changed. Somewhere between activewear as acceptable streetwear and goji berries becoming a household staple, the concept of a gym became a much broader term, with Crossfit boxes, Yoga studios, Functional training studios like our own RevoPT, and everything in between. Exercise has became less about putting in the man hours against ones will, and more about what KIND of person YOU are, (and want to become).

I think we’re better and fitter for it!

Humans are tribal animals, always searching for a sense of belonging. Whether you are an accountant with a high stress work environment, a stay at home mum covered in pureed peas or a night owl of a university student, there is a training community for you. Or hell, you might even find more in common with someone from one of these other walks of life than you ever dreamed of. The right gym for you is no longer just the place that is located the closest with the cheapest membership. That is not what keeps someone going back. The place we choose to train is where someone else smiled and introduced themselves at your first class when they saw you were nervous. Where a guy you had never spoken to in your life cheers encouragingly at you that you can do it when you thought you couldn’t. The place you choose to train is where the other mums share the appreciation for some time to yourself and say they’ll see you next week.

The actual type of exercise, be it a 45-minute HIIT session or a 90 minute strength grind, is and always will be a factor in the progress you’re achieving, but that almost becomes a peripheral factor in your overall wellbeing. The connections we build within the wall of the places we choose to train at are what keeps us going back. Before you know it YOU are the person introducing yourself to a new face. YOU are the one shouting encouragement to someone you’ve never spoken to. And along the way you have become physically stronger, you’ve gotten leaner, and your energy levels are back up.

Seeing many of the bonds and friendships formed here at RevoPT between people from all walks of life that had never met before is one of the many highlights of working in an environment with a culture such as this. People regularly catch up out side of the gym, for fitness based activities but also simple social outings. This might not be the main reason you to start working towards a healthier version of yourself but I’m pretty darn sure it’s going to help you get your butt to the gym on those days that dragging yourself in here seems almost impossible.

That, in my humble opinion, is one of the main reasons why we choose to train where we train. So if you are still stuck in a cycle of dragging yourself to a gym and seeing no progress, or simply struggling with motivation incessantly, perhaps it is time to consider that it isn’t that exercise is just ‘hard’, but that you have yet to find the place that serves who you are on your strength and fitness journey.

Find your tribe!

27

Jun

Strength, Stamina and… Suppleness?

The three S’s that make up what it means to be fit and healthy, but before studying to be working in the fitness industry, strength was pretty much the only S that I was interested in and that featured in my training regime.

Before I became a PT I was working as an electrician, only interested in being strong for work and looking good down at the beach. I made the career switch to become a trainer a couple of years ago and it was during my studies that I learned about the other two S’s of fitness.

I knew being fit was good for you, but the importance of stamina became clear to me when I got back into boxing a couple of years ago. It was only then that i realised being fit and having Stamina was something I needed if i was going to last more than one round.

Playing team sports throughout school meant that you never had to be super fit to do well, because you would have your teammates to cover your back if you needed it, or if you knew your sport well you could manipulate your position and lacking in fitness and still be a successful contributor to the team. Boxing on the other hand, well, there’s no one that you can sub in and have your back when you’re out of breath, It’s just you vs your opponent till the end! It was then when I started to introduce some Stamina training into my Strength routine and it was not long before I noticed improvements in my fitness when I was boxing.

I started to introduce flexibility and mobility work into my training plan after hearing one of the boxing trainers say to me one day “Matty, you’re a little too tense, just relax and let your punches flow smoothly. Your striking will become much less predictable”. It was a very simple request but I found performing this basic task a little difficult. He then suggested “maybe you try out the yoga class we run here. It might help you loosen up and relax”. What a perfect up sell! I took the fries with that…

Yoga was something I would have never considered doing in the past but after hearing about all the health benefits from stretching and meditating and knowing this may improve my boxing so I could soon step into the ring, I thought why not give it a go.

I knew I needed to stretch more. I was always tight from training but never made time for the third S “suppleness”. I thought that if I went to a class I would have no choice but to participate in a good hour of stretching. I was struggling to do a lot of the yoga poses at first, but luckily for me, doing yoga at a martial arts gym meant there was a lot of other beginner students and people like me who were really tight and struggled with some of the basics.

Just like strength and stamina training, it was only a matter of time before my suppleness improved. After a couple of months of 1-2 yoga classes a week and stretching for a couple of minutes after my strength sessions and my flexibility had improved dramatically!

I was finally able to do most of the yoga poses, my posture had improved, I was recovering faster from my strength sessions and not pulling up as sore. I also found myself in a more relaxed state not just while I was boxing, but throughout the day!

Unfortunately for most people (including myself until recently) suppleness is nearly the most overlooked and neglected S out of all three areas of health and fitness. We always focus on being stronger, faster and fitter, but why not more mobile and flexible? Why do we always overlook joint health until we are injured and have pain?

Flexibility can be defined as the range of motion that a muscle has before it reaches end range, or the ability to move muscles and joints through their full range of motion. The more flexible we are means the greater our range of motion during our lifts resulting in a larger area of the muscle being worked. This improves our muscle blood flow resulting in faster recovery time from our strength training. Being more flexible also reduces muscle tension resulting in a decreased chance of injury.

If you find yourself in a certain position for too long, you’ll notice the tightness in certain areas. If you are a person that is in a position for a long period of time, you may want to be doing regular stretches which oppose the contracted muscles in those positions. Doing so will assist with keeping correct posture and helping your body to be better balanced.

If you’re like myself and find it hard to make time for stretching, try our mobility classes that run on Thursdays. It’s a great way to finish off a big week of strength training and reset the body and also to start to increase or improve the areas in which you might be lacking in movement. Generally we focus on a different area of the body each week and test out your mobility and flexibility to combat being stuck in those common bad posture positions.

If you think you could be doing more stretching or you’ve considered the thought of what it would be like to be a bit a little more flexible and more mobile but you’re not sure where to start, please don’t hesitate to ask a trainer for some help and specific guidance on what you should be doing to assist with achieving your other health and fitness goals.

Thanks for reading and make sure you leave me a comment if you have any questions at all.

Thanks.

Matt

1

May

Instaneck?

Is your Instagram addiction affecting your performance in the gym?

Chances are, you’re reading this on a mobile device. You’ve been staring at your screen with your neck tilted forward and your arms in what can only be described as ‘the T-Rex’. Chances are, it’s not news to you that spending long amounts of time on your phone or laptop isn’t great for your posture. And it’s almost certain that quite frankly, you gave up trying to spend less time on your phone or computer a long time ago.

Forward neck, rounded shoulders and a hunched upper back are all the result of prolonged periods of device use. Even more worryingly, as of recently these well-known signifiers of living your life online are turning into severe real-life conditions. Studies have reported a rise in cervical and lumbar spine injuries and even thumb ligament issues due to overuse of devices! If forgetting to look up from our screens are having this effect on our posture in general, how does this translate to our performance in the gym?

Getting fitter, lifting heavier and progressing with health in general has plenty of it’s own challenges. Now add in tight hip flexors. Shortening of the hip flexors due to prolonged sitting affects your range in squatting movements, not to mention making it harder to fire up your glutes and leads to weakness in the lower back. And if you were wondering why just holding the barbell for a front OR back squat is more painful for you that doing an actual squat, chances are your upper back muscles are too tight to create good rack positions, and your shoulders are rounded making it almost impossible to keep your elbows up. Not only does this hinder our progress, it also means longer recovery times, as the muscles that are already tight and overworked from sitting in a squat position all day and frozen in the ‘push position’ (from holding a tablet or phone) are put through more of the same (but with weight!) during a workout.

So what can we do to negate the effects of Text Neck and T-Rex arms? Firstly, limit the amount of time in one sitting that you spend using your device. Keep drinks or snacks in a separate location so you have more reasons to stand up. Secondly, STRETCH. If you know for a fact that you are tight in certain areas and are someone who trains, 2 minutes before and after a session is not enough. Invest in a proper warm up routine and flexibility techniques. Lastly and most importantly, look up! When was the last time you looked around you while walking down the street as opposed to at your phone? Try it, you might find a few new cafes to Instagram your meals in. And while you’re at it, stand a little taller, you look good when you’re not looking down.

–  Quincee

References:

How Poor Posture Affects Your Health and Athletic Performance | BoxLife Magazine. (2018). Boxlifemagazine.com. Retrieved 1 May 2018, from http://boxlifemagazine.com/5193-2/

Hughes, A., & Labs, S. (2018). Can too much screen time affect your kid’s posture?Screen Time. Retrieved 30 April 2018, from https://screentimelabs.com/is-excess-mobile-device-use-harming-your-childs-posture/

Joshua M. Ammerman, M. (2018). Is Your Cell Phone Killing Your Back?SpineUniverse. Retrieved 30 April 2018, from https://www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/ergonomics/your-cell-phone-killing-your-back

Jung, S. I., Lee, N. K., Kang, K. W., Kim, K., & Lee, D. Y. (2016). The effect of smartphone usage time on posture and respiratory function. Journal of Physical Therapy Science28(1), 186–189. http://doi.org/10.1589/jpts.28.186

15

Dec

My beautifully ugly obsession – The good, the bad & the ugly of Ironman Triathlon.

Shark – Bike – Bushfire – Run

Ironman Western Australia – Part 2, The Race Report

So here is, the race report for IM Western Australia.

I tried to keep it short, but the day was just so unbelievable that it was hard. The journey was one I’ll cherish forever. It has shown me strength I never knew I had. I hope you enjoy.

Its been nearly 2 weeks since the big day and I’m still trying to find the words to express how I feel about the whole experience.
It was such a whirlwind from the moment I left Melbourne right through to crossing that finishing line.

I can honestly say that once I hit the first stage of my taper, 2 weeks before the day, I was so proud and confident of what I had achieved over the past 6 months. I was proud of the commitment I had shown to my training, health and overall the whole process. To me getting through the months, weeks and days of training was the hard part. I knew that if I committed to the process, come race day, it would be the easy part.

The week leading in was pretty crusiey, work definitely kept my mind busy. Packing the long list of equipment for the event, then keeping up with short easy sessions to keep the body ticking over. It felt so good to see the body freshen up, to have this amazing fitness I was feeling ready and excited.

We left home for our flight to Perth bright and early on Thursday morning for our expected departure at 8:00am. While we jammed packed ourselves into the taxi; my partner Scott, Coach Katee and her husband Mick with all our luggage plus 3 bikes, we were pumped to go. On the way we all received a text message saying our flight has been delayed. Cool, no worries, 2 hours is nothing. Upon arrival at the airport when checking in we were then told our plane had mechanical issues and we were being redirect to Sydney with now a 4 hour delay. Not ideal, but ok what can you do. After getting through all that we sat down to enjoy our coffee when Scott received a text to state we were required to now board a flight to Canberra within 20mins of it leaving. WHAT! After confusion and no answers as to why we were headed there, we were on our way. No word of what was happening with our luggage. We landed in Canberra and still they were unable to tell us what was going on, other than we weren’t flying to Perth until 7:00pm.

So 10 hours now to burn in the Australian Capital Territory.
I remember reading in my notes on my training program the instructions for Thursday were to keep cool, hydrated and off my feet. Turns out we spent the day touring around on our feet and very stressed as we still didn’t know where the luggage was.

A phone call from my coach when she had landed in Perth (the flight we were supposed to be on also) made my day. She was standing at the conveyer belt in Perth with our bags and Mick had collect my bike. PHEWWW!!!

Finally boarding the plane to Perth, we were delayed another hour. Ahh what the hell is another hour hey?! Scott and I finally made in to our motel in Perth at 1:00am.

Friday we made the 3 hour trip down to Busselton, south of Perth. I just couldn’t wait to get there. As soon as we arrived I was straight down to the expo to check myself in. This was like no other check in I’ve experienced. As I was a ‘first timer’ the beautiful volunteer called out to the others and next thing they are all cheering and ringing their cow bells. It was an incredible feeling. They too were as excited as me. I signed my life away, got weighed and was on my way. Straight to the merchandise tent. Quick look through we then went to check out the famous jetty. It was BEAUTIFUL! Just like the photos. The vibes around the town were amazing, I’ll never forget it.

That afternoon a few of us went for a quick spin on our bikes to check they were all good from the flight and to have a quick look over the bike course. It was my first taste of the imfafous Busselton wind. Boy it was strong. But hey, I had plenty of training in wind. That wasn’t going to make me worried.

Saturday was a busy day. Our Tri club, Holistic Endurance got together to do a swim, ride and run. The water was stunning, seeing star fish, turtles, sting rays and even a dolphin swimming underneath us. The water was cool, calm and clear. I couldn’t wait to be out there swimming around the jetty. Off on our ride, it was hot already. Again an insight into what we would be facing on Sunday. A chance then to run on the course, along the coast. Not only did this help settle the nerves but it also made the fire in my belly burn big for what was about to come.

After what felt like forever packing all my gear in to appropriate bags, one allocated for all my bike gear the second for my run gear. Plus two bags for special needs that would I would have access to on the bike and run course if i needed. We set off to drop my beloved bike and gear into transition.

From there outside it was like trying to find a needle in a hay bail, there were bikes everywhere! I loved seeing so many people wanting to achieve the same thing I did. Transition is actually very carefully organised, numbered and labelled. The time spent in transition I was able to visualise how it was going to work, where to enter, where to exit. Also have I mentioned how amazing the volunteers are? They were everywhere being so helpful.
After that, everything was completed there was nothing else to do other than relax. Everything was done. Such a strange feeling, something I had been waiting to feel for such a long time. This was it.

A quick visit to see the boss Luke and his family who had flown over to spectate (how cool is that but the way) definitely helped distract me from what could happen on Sunday. Chatting about the whole process of what we had been through and what lay ahead of me, it was such a good time to reflect.

It certainly was an early night for me, I was always curious if I’d get much sleep the night before and Ironman, as in past before previous events, this has not been the case. Turns out I slept like a log!

Waking up at 4:00am, the day was FINALLY here. I remember Scott turning over and saying “Its your Christmas Day.” He was so right, everything I has dreamed about doing was about to unfold.

Well at least I thought it was…

We arrived at the the event and there were people everywhere! I walked straight into transition and dropped all my food, water/electrolytes off at my bike. All was good. I then started hearing announcements being made over the speaker that there had been a shark sighting at the jetty. WHAT THE HELL! Were they serious? Surely not, surely they would scare it off and we would be on our way, this is my Ironman Day. When no announcements had been made the vibes in transitions were getting worse, people talking about what might or might not happen. All we were told was to stay at our bikes until further notice. I remember looking down at my watch and it was nearly 7:00am (our start time) and starting to get anxious, this was our start time we should be in the water, how I thought the day would unfold wasn’t going to plan.

We were finally told that the swim was NOT going ahead. I was honestly devastated! Surely the shark would leave once we all started?

So new plan, we would start on the beach front and every 6 seconds, 2 people were allowed to start. This was to ease the congestion in transition and on the roads. My friend and I waited out in the sun for over an hour. That sun was beaming down on us, it was hot and I was beginning to get hungry. This didn’t make me feel positive at all. I made a new plan for my nutrition, for when I finally got to my bike. 2 hours after our original start time I was out on the bike, it was now 9:00am.

This was the best feeling ever getting out there, we had finally started. I was doing an Ironman.
The first 90km I was having the time of my life, speed was good, nutrition and hydration perfect. I was back to the 90km turn around point in no time. Seeing Scott an my best friend Sara was the best feeling ever. It was definitely heating up though, I was collecting water bottles at each aid station and pouring it over my head, face and back to try and keep cool.

There is about 20km on the bike where I have no recollection of what happened. What I do remember is looking down at my Garmin and it said 110km, from that point on I was in trouble. I started to feel really sick in the stomach. My water was hot, my food melting. Nothing I put in my mouth was satisfying me. I still had 70km to go.

Approaching the 135km mark I start to see a lot of smoke coming from a fire, I thought to myself how strange it was that they were allowed to burn off on such a hot day?! As I came closer to the 135k turn around, someone was calling my name. I couldn’t make out who it was, I was starting to feel so delusional. First I thought it was Scott, it couldn’t be. As I got closer I could see it was my boss Luke and his wife Lisa. They were cheering so loud for me, I was thinking so myself, stop cheering, stop it. As I turned the point I looked over to Lisa and told her I was really sick. She could see it in my face that this was not one word of a lie.

Little did I know that the smoke I had seen earlier was coming from an out of control bush fire. It was headed very close to the bike course. The heat it was projecting towards us was unbearable. Later I found out that it clocked 40 degrees out on those roads.

Nothing improved on the bike, passing aid stations to collect water bottles that were just as hot as the ones I already had. It had nearly been 1.5 hours with me vomiting and unable to keep anything in. I had vomited all over myself, over my bike, still riding. This was bad. I pulled over and this beautiful man stopped to ask if I was ok, he could see I was unwell. I didn’t know what I needed, nothing was working. He offered to get the ambulance, I knew that if he did get them, my day was done. I wasn’t ready to quit yet. I managed to tell him I needed to get back to transition. That was now my goal, it was all I could focus on. He told me to get on my bike and follow him back. So I did. His direction was what I needed, I was unable to make a rational decision. I was finally making my way back to what I thought was transition. In the distance I could see my coach and other athletes from Holistic Endurance, cheering for me like crazy. Again in my mind I was telling them to stop, I was failing, don’t be happy for me! I pulled in as I thought it was transition, got off my bike I was really distressed as I could not cool myself down. I felt like I was cooked from the inside out. I explained what had happened as best I could, I didn’t know what to do. This part is a bit of daze to me, but I remember Coach Katee saying to me, the choice to continue was mine and she would support me with whatever I decided. The look in her eyes, I knew it wasn’t good. She gave me a bottle of crisp mineral water that was so cold that I wanted to skull, but knew I had to sip or it would come up. She also gave me very clear instructions what to do next. To get to transition, cool down by standing under the hose, eat and drink something. And most importantly, that I had this!

I got to transition and Scott was there on the sideline, I couldn’t even look at him, I was so disappointment with myself, I knew I had let him, my coach myself and everyone back home down. I hated this! The volunteers took my bike and I wobbled over to the guy with the hose and I stood there while he sprayed me down from head to toe. This was heaven. I walked over to get my run bag and got organised. The volunteers gave me iced water and help me put it down the back of my top and under my cap. Part of me didn’t want to run, how could I possible get through a marathon? I had been vomiting the past 2 hours. I remember looking around and there were girls everywhere looking as sick as I was. Some vomiting, some crying, some encouraging us saying we could do it. One girl close to me was hysterical, she was so distressed with the whole situation. It actually made me feel uncomfortable. I had to get out there and at least try. I walked out and again got hosed down with water, then spotted a familiar face. Mick (coach Katee’s husband) he had followed me in since seeing me get off the bike. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but I know it was encouraging. Katee and him both believed in me that I could at least try.

So I did, off I went. Out on the run! The crowd along the beach as just insane. The vibes they were giving me made me forget about the past 6 horrendous hours, I was doing this. I was going to give it my all. They were cheering my name, hi fiving and running alongside me. An incredible experience. I got to the first aid station where I took a piece of watermelon, it was the best tasting watermelon I’ve ever had. Finally something that my body would take! The next thing I knew I was passing through more and more aid stations. One of my favourite parts of the run was seeing Katee and the HE crew, I was smiling (and probably crying) I could see the joy in them that I hadn’t given up. I was doing this. It gave me so much strength to keep pushing.

I then saw another another spectator/friend Paul who was on this bike motivating us along the path. He rode alongside me for what felt like eternity. Constantly checking in, telling me to pick it up. He distracted me from the pain I was in. My body was hurting and I was still burning hot.

The minutes, the hours and the KM’s passed, the sun was setting and I was just focusing on the next thing. Get to the aid station, pass that KM. The tiniest goals, felt like the biggest. But ticking them off gave me more strength, it was rewarding. I needed to keep distracted.

On the final 3km of the run I could see a friend ahead, Shelly. I’ve know her as long as I’ve been in the triathlon world, she was walking. I needed to get to her. I did, I told her we had to get to the finish line, we were nearly there. We ran/walked that last 2km before finally hitting the beginning of the finishing shoot. We were there.

I cannot explain the thrill of it, running down that red carpet, lights flashing, the tunes pumping, people cheering for me! I wanted to stop and just watch, take it all in. I wanted this moment to last forever, but I also wanted this whole experience to end. I was hurting.
I could see my name on the top of the finish line banner, Pete Murray calling my name. It was everything I had imagined, however the feelings were 100% sweeter. I had finished. I did it!

A volunteer grabbed me and asked if I was ok, I had no idea if I was. I could see Scott, Katee and the support crew by the sideline, they gave me my finishers towel and walked over to them. Katee had my medal and she out it over my head and hugged me.

I had finished, it was over.

By this stage I was very emotional, seeing everyone so happy for me. I was so happy for me. I have never felt so proud of myself, than what I was feeling in that moment. I had beaten all the demons in my head, I had delt with all the curveballs that were thrown to us, I had overcome the thought that I was going to give up while out on the bike. But, I didn’t.

I DID IT!

It was hard to comprehend what had happened across the day, the sharks, the bushfire, the heat. Everything was/is a blur. But I know I am so pound of myself for finishing what I had started.

The following day it was important to debrief. I had said I was never doing it again. That I was done. After many chats and reminiscing, I found out that over 700 athletes (from 2,600 including the 70.3 athletes) pulled from the event. That someone hit a kangaroo on the bike (could this be anymore Australian). That temperature were much higher than what was predicted, much higher, 36 by 12:00pm.

That the conditions we were faced with were very challenging, some saying worse than Kona.
This helped me not be so hard on myself, sure my times were slower than anticipated, but I did the day as best as I could. I nailed the training leading in and looking back, it was the experience of a life time.

So my response has now changed when people ask if I’ll do it again. From “never again,” to “Cya in May at Cairns Ironman.”

I want to experience the whole thing, swim, bike and run. I will not stop to I am an Ironman.

So, my quest to become an Ironman continues.

I CAN AND I WILL BE AN IRONMAN