Wow! So much has happened in the last couple of months, this blog (not sure I can legitimately call it a blog, I think blogs have to be short?), but anyway, this blog has been started so many times with different themes and threads. There is so much to capture, without it turning into an epic novel (Epic? Probably giving myself a little bit too much credit for being a writer there!) We all know I don’t tend to write short articles, and this one is no different. So this blog/report/novel, call it what you like (utter rubbish has also been used), is a bit of a collection of thoughts going through my head over the past few months…feel free to stop reading now, or jump in and out as you go.
Sunday 27th October: – in the present
In a weeks time I will race the Noosa Triathlon Festival, in the Pro field. Let me just say that again…I will race in Noosa as a Pro. Ha! Can I pinch myself?!
I will get my ass kicked by the speedy young ITU athletes, but I will love it, I will give it my all, and put everything into the race, it’s going to be great fun! What an opportunity to race against the athletes that I’ve watched over the past few years competing in Australia and around the World. Athletes that are at the top of their game, some who have raced at the Olympics, something that as a kid I dreamt about. (Haven’t we all?) I’ve been fortunate enough to experience 3 Olympic Games (Athens, Beijing and London) live, albeit as a spectator and avid fan/groupie, and the buzz I get from them is just incredible, I can only imagine the emotions, energy and adrenalin being an athlete representing your country on the Olympic stage. But I digress…next weekend is Noosa and I’m racing as a Pro.
So this is it. This is for real. I’ve made the decision to take my love of Triathlon and sport to the next level and see if I can compete with the big kids. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about and has been in the plan for a while now, so it didn’t really seem such a big thing when I went online and applied for my Professional licence. It was only when I started telling people and seeing all the responses and excitement from everyone, that it perhaps started to sink in and I perhaps started to think I’d done something big and what it meant.
What have I done?? What does it mean?
For me, it means I want to take my energy and love of this sport to the next level and see what happens. I want to see how fast I can get, how strong I can get, how competitive I can be. I want to challenge myself to be the best, to challenge myself against the best, to get fitter, faster, stronger, and learn about racing and racing hard but racing smart. The buzz I get from training, racing and just being in and around Triathlon (the people, the places, the everything), is too much to let it just be the secondary part of my life. Shouldn’t we be doing things in life that we love? I love triathlon and sport, the training and competing, pushing my body and seeing what I can achieve. Why would I then not want to commit to this and see where it takes me? In 10years time, in 20years time, do I want to look back and say…what if? No Regrets and No Fear!
The day after I joined Ironman as a Professional Triathlete, I saw this Tweet on Twitter.
“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you are meant to be”
This is what I believe. It’s taken me a while to get here, and several different sports but I’m incredibly excited at what lies ahead. I’m ready to learn, I’m ready to put myself on the line and see what happens. There’s a lot to think about and a lot to take in. Some huge changes in store but I’m very much looking forward to it and I’m forever grateful for the people that have been and are supporting me as I start this next stage of my life. It’s so so exciting!!
Now let me take you back a few weeks to recap on September and a small part of how I got to this decision. It’s Saturday September 28th and I’m on the plane returning from the UK to Sydney…….
Saturday 28th September – returning to Sydney from the UK
It’s at times like these when we question our decisions. This Christmas it will be 6years since I left the UK and have lived in Australia. What was, a 2year assignment with Shell (my employer in the UK after University), has very quickly become 6 years and two jobs later. The ‘times like these’ that I’m talking about are the times when I get back on the plane having had some time at home with my family and head back to Australia.
The airport, my parents have kindly driven me to is Heathrow. We know the routine now. Park up, check in, find Pret-a-Manger at the far end of the airport (because it’s the always empty compared to the rest of the cafes), order coffee, Mum and Dad order food. We sit there eating, drinking, chatting and enjoying the last few moments in the same country, basically though just putting off the inevitable when we have to say the awkward good byes. It’s awkward from the fact that all of us are trying to be very matter of fact about it and not get emotional about things. The good bye itself tends to be very quick hug and kiss and I then head off through security, feeling guilty that I’ve decided to live on the other side of the world. Why am I living there, so far away from my family, my parents and my sisters? Shouldn’t I be in the UK near by them all?
I know when I get on the plane, or when I land in Sydney, it won’t take long before I get back into the Bondi bubble. My life there revolves around training, work, eating and sleeping (ok I hear some of you laugh…a bit of sleep but not enough). It’s a selfish life, where I don’t really have to consider anyone else but myself and what I want to do. This is the life I love. I live in an amazing place, and train with an incredible group. I can’t really complain. Sport is a fantastic tool for levelling the playing field and bringing all sorts of people together and I love that about it. It’s also and there is no denying it, a selfish sport and to some degree has to be if you want to make it and be the best.
I’m now flying back to Sydney, to embark on the next steps. This is something I’ve dreamt of since I was a kid, although at the time I didn’t realize it would be in Triathlon. At that stage I thought it would be in athletics or even netball. However now, several (many) years later I find myself returning to Australia, after an incredible month about to enter the next stage in my journey in sport.
Possibly the loudest cheer squad of the day, my niece Maisie and nephew Jack! Although I think all my family were very loud in London! Thank you!
So let me take you back further again…
September, what a spectacular month!
Where and how do I start describing what it’s been like? It had been on my mind pretty much everyday for months prior. The month started with the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas. Having only qualified in June in the Honu70.3, Vegas suddenly became the goal. Having also just stepped up to the 70.3 distance, Vegas was about learning and gaining further experience over the distance, as well as obviously wanting to win. September then became…the dream of doing the double, backing up Vegas World Championships with the ITU PruHealth World Championships in London. This would be to retain my Olympic distance title won in Auckland but also this would be the first time I would actually race in the UK (having only started the sport since moving to Australia). Additionally, the course was pretty much the London 2012 Olympic Triathlon course, so why wouldn’t you want to race there? Most importantly though, it would be a chance for me to race in front of family and friends, who normally have to follow me online, and often in the middle of the night. It would be a chance for me to show them what this sport is that takes up so much of my time and what it is that I love and for now, what it is that’s keeping me in Australia.
Amazing to have the whole family watching in London
To add to the events in September, in the middle of all this, I also had my birthday. It was actually the day I landed in London from an overnight flight from Vegas. My parents travelled down to meet me in London off the flight, which was probably the best birthday present and we were then able to spend the day mainly in Hyde Park just relaxing and catching up. Obviously being in Hyde Park created a mixture of emotions as everything was focused on the race, so a few nerves began to bubble. Anyway enough about London and Vegas, you can read more about those races in my previous reports, if you haven’t already.
So with the Vegas and London World Championships over… the next stop and probably the biggest part of the trip was bridesmaid duties at my sister Charlotte’s wedding. Yes they did very kindly arrange the Wedding around my travel and races, even though I would have travelled back from Australia whenever the Wedding was. There was no way in the World I would have missed it. My sister had also asked me to do a reading, and I can honestly say I think was more nervous about this than racing Vegas or London! It was a good job I had a long floor length dress on as my right leg was doing the Elvis shakes.
The four sisters
As with any trip back home, it was filled with catching up with family and friends. I also managed to visit Huub HQ in Derby to meet the team. Oh yeah, I also sold my house and gained PR for Australia. I apologize to those who I couldn’t make it to see, there is simply never enough time to fit everything in.
As hard as it is leaving my family, I have to bring myself back (and you the reader) and remember that this is all part of a bigger picture. The bigger picture being the step that I have taken to become a professional triathlete. It’s time to turn this rather serious addiction into something that’s more. Well at least I want to give it a crack. This time I don’t want to look back in years to come and wonder…what if? Don’t die wondering!
Again with the risk of repeating myself, what does this actually mean? Over the past few weeks, most of my family and friends have made the comment, ‘so does that mean you give up work’. Well yes I wish, but sadly it’s not quite that easy. Being a professional triathlete sadly doesn’t enable me, or others, to give up work completely. I still need to be able to pay some bills so work will continue for now in some form or another, but hopefully on a reduced number of days. This will allow me to plan my training more effectively, as well as getting some more rest, but also freeing up time for those key activities like physio, massage, food shopping and those types of chores! Glamorous hey! I know it’s no walk in the park, but I’m keen to throw everything at it, to give me the best chance I can.
Now to bring you back to the present and today….
Sunday 27th October:
Like I said the past two months have been quite a whirlwind. From Vegas and London and back to Sydney, it’s been simply incredible. It’s been surreal, it still does feel strange and I’m not really sure it’s sunk in. It’s hard to comprehend what I accomplished and what I achieved. Wasn’t it just a couple of races? It’s really hard to describe.
Trying to let it all sink in hasn’t real been helped by a few more incredible “pinch yourself” moments. With having my brother in law, Keith, take photos of me in his studio (he has a serious hobby too), to an actual photo shoot with the legendary Delly Carr (I was a little star struck that’s for sure), to several interviews for magazines and websites, and then the podcast, it’s been very rock and roll (ha ha), but what an incredible experience, and it has just made me hungry for more. Hungry to throw myself into the next step and take the leap into the Professional side of the sport and if along the way I can inspire and motivate others to get into sport as well, be it triathlon or another sport, and that they get even just part of the buzz from sport that I have had over my life so far, then that is good.
So I will leave you with that phrase again…
“Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you are meant to be”
Now this is just the start….let it begin…
Finally not to forget, at this current time of huge change I just wanted to take sometime to say a big thank you and to recognise a few people (in no particular order) who I’m grateful to for the support and confidence they have already shown in me and their faith that I can achieve the next level in sport.
Shotz Nutrition – Darryl and the Shotz team have been great and have provided me guidance and information around my nutrition plan both pre and during races. So far so good. It’s great to know that I can go into a race with the confidence that my nutrition is sorted and will ensure I perform to my best using a combination of the Shotz gels and Shotz tabs. I recently spent some time with Darryl at the Port Mac 70.3 Ironman event and it was fantastic to just listen to him talk to other triathletes. He certainly knows his stuff and I’m so excited to be part of the team Thank you. (www.shotz1.com)
The Body Mechanic – Blair, Mark, Lewis and Rick (he’ll feel left out if I don’t mention him) are based in North Sydney and have been supporting me with my bike fit as well as physio treatment. Blair’s bike fit is fantastic. I know I can go and tweak and play around with my position on the bike to enable maximum output and efficiency. Mark’s support has helped to keep me injury free and also aided a change in my running style, again aiming for maximum efficiency in my technique. They are a great team, all with incredible sporting histories and backgrounds themselves, so I know I’m in safe hands from a team who not only understand sport and competing but are the best in their business of bike fitting and physio. (www.thebodymechanic.com.au)
Turbo Studio – the pain cave, and I say this with an endearing tone! Turbo Studio is the power house. It’s training with Power. “It’s legal performance enhancement” I think is one of the signs she has on display. I started doing turbo sessions just over a year ago and I can really feel the benefit in not just my cycling but my running as well. It’s not just the power I can produce on the bike but also the efficiency of my pedal stroke, something so key in Triathlon. I love the fact that it’s 60/90mins of effort that isn’t affected by the weather, traffic, dogs on the roads, other packs of cyclists or who does (or doesn’t) turn up for training. It’s just me against the Watts and against the clock. I’m still learning about this whole Power thing, but it’s exciting and I’m looking forward to being able to start taking what I’m learning from the studio into my races. I am forever grateful to Jo Palazzetti for her continued faith and support to me. As a single mum, and running her own business she is an inspiration herself. (www.turbostudio.com.au)
Huub – I love being a Huubster! Swimming is not my strongest discipline, however with the Axena wetsuit and the Swim Skin I have the confidence that I will exit the water a lot higher and a lot closer to the front swimmers than previously. What I like about Huub…pretty much everything. Being an engineer the science and testing fascinates me and I love the complete range of equipment they offer. I raced in the tri suit in Vegas and it was fab, as well as the two piece range they offer as well, I think I’m going to enjoy racing in this kit! I was fortunate enough to visit Huub HQ in the UK when I was back in September, as they are based just around the corner (well almost) from my parents. It was brilliant to get to meet and talk to Dean Jackson and learn all about the company and the product. His passion and energy for the products and brand is just fantastic. Huub is a small company but it’s making a lot of noise and certainly one to watch out for this year and next. This same energy and enthusiasm comes across in the Australian Huub team with Anthony Cook and I’m again so excited to be part of this. (www.huubdesign.com.au, www.huubdesign.com)
Oakley – I have always loved Oakley sunglasses and I train and race in them pretty much whatever the weather. I’m thrilled to be part of this team. Although I’m only a small fish in the big scheme of things, I’m still very grateful for the support. (http://au.oakley.com/)
Kask – another product and brand that I absolutely love! I was lucky enough to be able to race in a Bambino helmet for Vegas. These have been designed in conjunction with UK Sport, so maybe I feel a little bit of home? Super slick design and so comfy too. It’s going to be fun racing round in this in the future. (http://www.italiatech.com.au/brands/overview/kask/)
Happy Wheels – Computa is one of the, if not the, best bike mechanics! He’s also a pretty decent cyclist and I’m forever grateful for him turning up to sessions for me to try and cling to his wheel as he effortlessly storms round Centennial Park. The Happy Wheels team are legends for looking after my bike, particularly on the last minute tight turnaround problems. (www.happywheels.com.au)
Spring Wellness – Radley Spring, also known as the fitness whisperer! Rad’s takes care of my strength and conditioning program and also my weekly massage. He knows exactly how my body works and functions and what’s going to be tight and not. I love the weights sessions we do, as they are always so different. Training outside in Bondi using the natural surrounds is just amazing, and sure beats the same old weights session week in week out in a gym. His energy and love of life and everything is just infectious. (www.springwellness.com.au)
Bondifit – my awesome training group, under the watchful eye of the legendary Spot Anderson. (www.bondifit.com)
They are a fab group of people which makes getting up to train before the crack of dawn and in the evenings after work and at the weekend just so much easier knowing I have some amazing people to train with. The group encourages all abilities and all standards and it’s the complete mix that I love. They are also incredibly supportive of everyone in whatever they are doing. I feel it’s a privilege to be able to train with such a fab bunch of people. As for my coach Spot, what can I say? Words fail me most times with him! He never ceases to surprise me (you’d think I’d have learnt by now), and seems to know how I tick and work and has an incredible knack for reading and understanding me. It’s not always smooth, but then I don’t think it should be, there’s plenty of times when I want to strangle him and I’m sure he does to me. I need him to challenge and push me and sometimes I won’t like it, but that’s the name of the game if we want to keep moving forward. Thank you
Bondifit Tunnel – Port Macquarie 2013, Matthew Flinders Drive, Hill repeats.