Operation Flinders results

The results are in for the guessing comp. Amazingly the guessing comp for both of us was won by the same person - one of the assistant coaches with our squad. Congratulations Coach Craig!!! Craig even donated one of his prizes back to Operation Flinders - a generous gesture on Craig's part.

All in all with guesses, sponsorships and donations we raised over $2,000 for Operation Flinders. We are so overwhelmed with the support we received from everyone.

Thinking about what I was doing for Operation Flinders really helped me through sections of the run, which you'll read about in the next Triathlete Chronicle, tentatively titled "Not Like the Others"... stay tuned...

The Quest continues...

Well, I finished Ironman WA in a time of just over 15:30 - a little disappointed that it wasn't a PB but it's been almost a week now so time has dulled the disappointment a little...

The experience of fundraising for Operation Flinders has brought about some real self reflection. I've decided that I should never lose sight of the fact that finishing an Ironman is quite a feat. PB or not, I got there in the end, and all my training friends were waiting at the finish line.

So, the Quest for the Perfect Ironman continues...

Quickest Post EVER!!!

I'm in Busselton and it's Friday before race day.

Rode this morning in pissing down rain and a cross wind. We've been told Sunday will be less rainy and windy, though still cool.

I am anxious as always prior to a race, but am excited about the prospect of raising money for Operation Flinders. This time I have the opportunity to help kids that need a helping hand - if that's not enough reason to get to the finish line, I don't know what is.

Sunday Morning

My grandfather used to always say that early morning was the best time of the day. As a kid I didn't get it and as a sullen teenager I couldn't fathom it.

As a triathlete, I revel in it.

It's taper week so my ride this morning was shorter and more leisurely than they have been of late. As I rode along the Wynnum foreshore this morning there was plenty of proof that Pa was onto something.

A couple gutting their catch from a morning out fishing on the Bay. A few friends jogging through the park. Some girl friends walking their dogs and others taking a stroll to the shop for the paper or bakery goodies for breakfast.

As I headed back towards home there was a bloke trying to rescue his golf ball from a scratchy part of the golf course. And further along my journey, a few friends on the way home from a night out, beer can still in hand.

Yes, morning is the best part of the day. Sunday morning especially so, because it's yours to use for what you love doing most.

Run like a...?

Well, firstly, I hope I DO run like a girl.

I've been wondering though lately, what I do look like when I run. I seem to be very recognisable, from any angle and sometimes from great distances. I often get encouragement from people on bikes, in cars and as they pass me from behind.

Don't get me wrong. I love my friends giving me a bit of a gee up when I'm out on the road. God knows I need it. But... is it just me that is recognisable from a couple of hundred metres, and from behind? And if so, why?

Maybe my lard-arse is so wobbly the rebounding would be visible from the moon? Or would that be the spare tyre movement around the middle that makes me so distinctive?

Maybe what I've joked about for so long is true - and I really am the slowest runner in the world?

Maybe my favourite old running shorts really are see through in the sun, and I'm recogniseable by my white lard-arse shining through the disintegrating lycra?

I don't know what the answer is to this. Maybe the answer is that everyone else's running style is just as recognisable too... and we all just run like ourselves?

Tickets on what?

I've just bought a new car, and as my short time relying on public transport draws to a close, I'd like to reflect on one of the experiences that rebounds in my mind.

A couple of weeks ago I shared a bus with a fellow carrying a backpack that still had the baggage ID tags from the Gold Coast Marathon. On seeing them I immediately consigned him to the same category of those who leave their bike number ID tags on after major triathlons, for just a little too long. Bloody wankers!!!

The Gold Coast Marathon was in July. Early in July. This bloke certainly no longer needed ID in order for him to collect his backpack post event.

As I sat there clutching my Ironman New Zealand official merchandise backpack though, I couldn't help but change my outlook.

This anonymous man had suffered through blood sweat and tears to complete one of the events at the Gold Coast Marathon. Even if it was the 10k... he obviously feels proud enough of his achievement to have kept those tags on his backpack for a significant time later.

Tickets on himself? Who cares. It's nobody's call but his. Be proud of your achievements and if you feel the need, advertise them however you feel comfortable.

Your guess is as good as...

We have started the "guessing competition" for Ironman Western Australia. One of the other girls from the squad has put herself on the line as well, and our finishing times are up for speculation for all and sundry.

Deal is, it's $25 per guess, closest guess wins a designated prize pool, with most of the funds going to Operation Flinders. (Full Terms and Conditions are available on request.)

It is kind of scary having everyone take a guess - and I suppose it's difficult for those closest to us to take a punt. What if they guess too slow - does that show a lack of faith in our abilities? What if they guess too fast a time - will we feel inadequate if we don't measure up?

I think I write on behalf of us both in saying... just do it. It's just a guessing competition. There aren't any odds and it's not a popularity contest. We're both putting ourselves out there - so why don't you too?

It's only $25, it's for a good cause, and who knows - your guess might even be good for a bit of spare cash.

Roller Coaster of Ironman

A big training weekend at the Sunshine Coast this weekend. The IMWA competitors from the squad (and a few hangers on) based ourselves at Caloundra for a couple of days of long rides and runs. I feel suitably tired and satisfied.

Training for an Ironman can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster at times and this weekend was the epitome. Taking off from HQ on Saturday morning felt great. I was stoked that I was able to hang onto the back of the pack for a good 20ks (and I even took a turn in the lead). Dropping off the back was a little disappointing (but inevitable for a genuine BOTPer like me, especially on a 145km ride).

Being hammered by magpies (hammered is not an exaggeration) was unpleasant, but taking in the view across Ewen Maddock Dam to the Glasshouse Mountains while trail running was breathtaking - the photo I took on my phone doesn't do it justice.

Opting for a shorter, flatter ride this morning was a hard decision - and not one that made me feel good at all - but the words of wisdom offered to me by my recently-returned-from-Kona friend helped me see it with some perspective.

Five weeks from today I'll be making my way towards my third Ironman finish. Bring it on, Roller Coaster and all!

Smell the roses

My mate has returned victorious from the Hawaiian Ironman. His eyes glimmered with sheer pleasure as he recounted the experience - Chris McCormack running past as they pulled into their accommodation for the first time, glimpses of Michellie Jones, Normann Stadler... the who's who of Ironman triathlon all on the hallowed turf of The Big Island.

And race day - it all went too quickly he said, although his finish time was a way off his fastest. Some of those back here had wondered whether he was happy with his day. (His text messages said he was happy... but was he REALLY happy??)

As I hung off every word, there was no doubt that he'd enjoyed every moment. His smile showed everything - and I bet it remains firmly planted on his face for weeks yet.

It reminded me of watching the race coverage online. As women's winner Chrissy Wellington strode towards the finish line the commentators focussed on the fact that she was smiling all the way, with remarks such as "doesn't she know this is supposed to hurt???"

It seemed to me that they were missing the point. Chrissy Wellington was about to become the surprise winner of a World Championship. What's there NOT to smile about?

The saying goes that you should stop and smell the roses - and I guess my friend took the time to do so this time. Chrissy Wellington, though, proved that you don't need to slow down to enjoy the scent of life.

Mild mannered reporter?

Not much media coverage in Australia about the Hawaii Ironman but I'm happy to say that the Triathlete Chronicles' very own Athletic Powerhouse can be thanked for some of it!

Kudos to Beretts the sports guy on Sunrise for mentioning Macca's win in the 7.00 news this morning. Unfortunately the poor bloke struggled a bit when his co-hosts asked him a few too many questions about the event.

Athletic Powerhouse to the rescue... a quick tap tap tap on the keyboard and hey presto, in the 7.30 sports report he read most of my e-mail and thanked me for my effort! So not only Macca, but Crowie and the four Aussie girls that placed in the top ten got some well deserved recognition as well. Even gave a plug to the two Australian qualifying races, IMOZ and IMWA.

Glad to have been of service to the sport, but no, I'm not going to start wearing my undies on the outside...

His heart on his sleeve

Chris McCormack just won Hawaii! There's a great story behind this win, which Macca recently told on online triathlon forum, transitions.

The story is that winning the Hawaii Ironman has been a life goal since he was a teenager, when he and his best friend Sean Moroney, brother of marathon swimmer Susie Moroney, wrote a list of their triathlon goals. One of them was to win the Hawaii Ironman.

Sean has since passed away, but Macca still has that piece of paper where the dreams of two young boys with stars in their eyes are written. He's ticking off those goals one by one, and he reckons that when he's finished the list and retired as an athlete, he's going to frame the list to show his kids the importance of dreaming big.

I had a tear in my eye when Macca acknowledged Sean, which I presume he did privately when he looked towards the sky on crossing the line, but also publicly in his post win interview. It seemed to me that Macca's win was not only for him but also for Sean.

Now, I don't mean any of this in a saccharine kind of way. For mine, I witnessed a man expressing genuine emotion for his departed friend, and the dreams they shared 20 years ago.

Good on you Macca for wearing your heart on your sleeve.

What dreams are made of

The World Ironman Triathlon Championship is on tomorrow in Kona, Hawaii.

One of my dearest triathlon friends is there, after years of slogging it out for the opportunity to test himself on The Big Island. He finally won an International Lottery this year, and while it all came down to luck, in my opinion there is noone more deserving.

He's told the story that when he told one of his best friends he'd won a Kona Lottery, she'd misundertood and thought he'd won Lotto and screamed down the phone at him in sheer excitement. When he clarified that he wasn't a millionaire, but he was going to the Hawaiian Ironman, she cried because she knew that this meant more to him than any amount of money could.

He's won the peer voted Male Athlete of the Year for our Club for I don't know how many years in a row now. He applies himself to his training relentlessly, he races like a man possessed. He's been a mentor and inspiration to all in the Club who have followed his path into Ironman triathlon.

Tomorrow's race is what dreams are made of - not only for him but for all of us who dare to aspire to be the best we can be.

Hardcore weekend and good vibes all round

...hmm... that post title sounds X Rated... read on with no fear, G Ratings prevail.

This past weekend was one of the hardest in terms of training that I can remember. On Saturday The Three Amigos met at the pool for the "Hardcore 100" - a 5.5 hour long mag trainer set courtesy of Spinervals Coach Troy.

Anyone who's ever spent a couple of hours on a stationery trainer knows how easy it would have been for us to walk away at that point. Our legs were throbbing, our hearts pounding out of our chests. All the while the counter on the TV screen counted down second by second, far too slowly for our liking. After two and a half hours it taunted us with three hours and some to go.

We persevered to the final sprint, during which I thought I might yank my aero bars off my bike with the effort! It felt good to get off, although swinging the leg over was hard.

We backed up on Sunday with a 30k 'River Run'. The 'River Run' is usually known as the 'River Ride' - it's probably the most popular round trip amongst Brisbane cyclists... but on Sunday we were 'sans bicycle'.

The run was eventful for me. I was still wary about magpies, and with the reemergence of news stories on the bikeway attacks during the week, I also had human baddies to look out for. I hadn't counted on getting the fright of my life from what I think was a small firecracker going off within a metre of me. True story! I was just plodding along minding my own business, when BANG! After recovering from the initial shock I warily looked around for a camera, a group of kids laughing, but spotted nothing to make me any the wiser as to what it was or why!

By then I was almost on the home stretch. Just back along the Coro Bike Path and over the Goodwill Bridge. I gained some company along the way... perhaps I looked like I needed more than Gatorade, GU and Coke... KKB had already sought me out a couple of times during his Sunday ride, and another of the guys from my squad turned around and rode with me for a k or so when he encountered me on his way home.

But the outstanding support prize has to go to the friend who, on spotting me down on the bike path literally pulled her car over to one of the parking bays on Coro Drive and ran the last 4ks or so with me back to Somerville House, dog in tow. Where, I might add, my coach and his wife were waiting patiently.

I feel like I've recovered better from all of this, better than I did from last weekend's half marathon at Coomera. Must be the good vibes.

A long hot day... but at least it was flat?

So the Coomera Half Ironman on the weekend... neither KKB or I were overly rapt with our times, but it was a good training run and great to get amongst it in a race atmosphere. I'm now getting really excited about Busselton, and that means I'm excited about training for the next eight weeks...

I was expecting it to be hot, and with the way I'd been running, expected it to be long. I also expected a nice flat course - in fact, to quote the race booklet "totally flat". As I relaxed at my club's tent while KKB was out cycling, I was reassured every time the race announcer said the words "completely flat..."

How wrong could we both have been. The new run course included an extra four hills on each lap, and less of the shady areas that had been part of past run courses.

Noone that races Half Ironman triathlon minds a few hills. But not updating competitor information packs to reflect this is really shoddy - especially when heat is such an issue - and the athletes pay good money to compete in a professionally run event.

Anyway, rant over. Bring on IMWA.

...I wonder if the streets of Busselton have grown any hills?

Not just about me

I'm racing a team at Coomera Half Ironman tomorrow. I'm swimming and running, and my boyfriend KKB is cycling.

The team concept in triathlon is an interesting one. It helps many get their first start in triathlon - apparently Emma Snowsill's first outing at a triathlon was a swim leg at the Noosa Triathlon ... it didn't do her any harm did it!

KKB and I have never done a team triathlon together. We compete together a lot, but usually as individuals at mostly the same races.

With Busselton IM looming tomorrow is really a training run, so I guess we both have our individual goals to achieve. But without each other we're both looking at our first DNF... looking at it that way, tomorrow is just as much about each other as ourselves.

And that thought is kind of nice.

You've got mail

I am a victim of crime! Wednesday two weeks ago my favourite merchandise from IMOZ 06, my first Ironman, was pinched while I was out running.

I'd left it with my squad mates' gear at the starting point for our hill reps. I thought there was safety in numbers, and there was. I was determined to finish the entire set this morning, though, and given my authentic status as a back-of-the-pack-er it was always going to take me longer than everyone else. So my prized Australian Ironman spray jacket was always going to be sitting there alone, even just for ten or fifteen minutes.

Yes, it's just a material object. I know that. The person that took it probably needs its warmth more than I do. I understand that.

But, apart from the actual finisher medal, the jacket was the most substantial, tangible (not to mention, practical to wear in public) reminder I have of the heroic feat I'd accomplished that day. Well, heroic in my mind...

I was inconsolable. When I got to work that day the first thing I did was to e-mail Ken Baggs to tell him of my misfortune. I knew it was a long shot, but I just had to know whether there was a replacement garment waiting in the wings. My AMEX was at the ready, whatever the cost.

Tonight when I checked my post box, there was an Express Post bag from IMG.

So, tonight I'm writing this blog in a Finisher's vest, sent to me free of charge by a race director who understands what it means to be an Ironman. Thanks Ken.

What does an Ironman look like?

I went to the running shop to acquire some new running shoes tonight.

I was a bit surprised at the sales assistant's opening line, "do you mainly walk or do you do a bit of jogging???"

This isn't a new experience to me. Once when I went into a bike shop to buy a helmet, the sales assistant suggested one of those chunky little numbers with a visor, that mums and dads wear when they take their kids for a trundle down the bike path on the weekend. After telling him that my fellow triathletes would laugh at me if I rocked up to the Half Ironman I was doing that weekend with a visor on my helmet, he sheepishly retreated to find me something more appropriate to my needs.

Tonight my response was, "yeah, I do a bit of jogging.... (pause)... I'm training for my third Ironman."

Now I know I probably wasn't appropriately attired - no finisher medal hanging round my neck or anything - but it begs the question, what does an Ironman look like?

People of all ages, both men and women, undertake the challenge of Ironman. People of all ability levels, with finishing times ranging from 8 to 17 hours.

We all do it for our own reasons, some more personal than others. Some merely tick it off their list, and forget the hype the moment they cross the finish line and return home to their families, jobs and "normal" lives. Others, including me, take the opportunity to reflect on what I've achieved through Ironman.

I've built a stronger, fitter body through hours of training... not that it seems that anyone can tell... But the most significant changes have happened in ways that aren't visible, or perhaps even tangible. They are in the way I view the world, my loved ones, and myself.

It's not what an Ironman looks like, but how the world looks to an Ironman that counts.

It's good luck, right?

It's magpie season.

Just as spaghetti bolognaise is the natural enemy of the crisp, new, white shirt... magpies are the natural enemy of the cyclist. (I say "natural" enemy... cyclists obviously have other enemies most of which are at their worst when in control of a "man-made" object - such as a bus, a ute or a garbage truck...)

I rode my 120ks this morning in trepidation, wondering when one of the many black and white feathered friends I saw along the way would swoop. I'd had conversations during the week about it being time to bring out the zip ties for the helmet (a la My Favourite Martian) and as I rode along eyeballing everything that flew (I got caught out by a couple of kites), I cursed the fact that I hadn't actioned that thought.

I stared enviously at the cyclists who'd had such foresight and nearly stopped a cyclist I saw on the Hornibrook bridge whose back pocket was bulging with zip ties (what else could they be for but fellow cyclists in need?).

Not long after that I noticed bird crap on my arm. I've been told that a bird crapping on you is good luck, so today I used that good luck as protection from the black and white peril.

Better get those zip ties before my next ride...

Moments of bliss

I feel like Ironman training really kicked in this weekend. Big session yesterday, 2.5k swim and 4 hours on the mag trainer. Double run on today - did the first couple of hours this morning, with a shorter recovery run on the schedule for this afternoon. My Ironman appetite has kicked in too, I was starving yesterday after training and am the same today.

My weekends will be pretty much eating, sleeping and training until Busselton. It doesn't sound all that exciting but there are moments of pure bliss, both in training and afterwards.

It looks as if my motivation woes are over for now. I'll need it to stick around for a little while yet though... keep holding on to those moments of bliss...

A brush with fame

Felicity Abrams was at the pool at UQ tonight. I saw her and Emma Moffatt at Centenary pool a few months back as I was finishing off a water run. They asked about the pool temperature... and tonight Felicity returned the favour of assuring me the water was nice and warm! Not that I expect she'd remember the previous encounter of course.

One of the best things about triathlon is that generally speaking, elites are more than happy to chat with age group athletes. I think it comes from the fact that at many events, particularly Ironman, we all race together. Same day, same course, same time. There are no concessions for men or women, pros or amateurs. We all go through the highs and lows of race day - for all of us it's about being the best we can be on that day.

Of course as an age grouper I don't have the pressure of earning a living hanging over me... so race day is mine to enjoy as a payoff for all that training.

Which, I was trying to get to as I struggled to do up the back zipper of my race suit tonight. Like every good sponsored athlete, Felicity recommended I get into her parents 2XU shop at Southbank and get myself some proper gear! I might just do that Felicity... and I'll say you sent me!

Need inspiration? That's what friends are for.

I've just read my friend Megsy's account of her latest achievement - she raced the Kokoda Track, completing the trek in around 36 hours, non-stop.

Yes, she "raced" the Kokoda Track. As if walking it over 10 days isn't enough (which she does regularly as a tour leader) this time, she took the opportunity to race it.

When she first entered the Race, she was told she was the only woman ever to do so. She's since told me that three Australian women entered the Race this year, and that local PNG women have also previously raced the Track. While official results haven't been released as yet, only 14 people finished from the 34 that entered to walk the same direction as her (the other two women raced the opposite direction).

By her own account, she had "a couple of hairy moments... and many inspirational ones". I have to say that your "hairy moments" make my efforts during Ironman seem positively lame in comparison. And as for inspiration, well, how much better does it get?

I don't bandy the term "legend" around too much, but Megsy, you are a legend. Thanks for the inspiration.

Racing for a Cause

I've learned a lot from my Ironman journey to date. What I've learned more than anything is what a privelege it is to be able to call myself an "Ironman". I've reflected a lot on how fortunate I am to have been able to get past many obstacles in my life to be able to achieve something that many people would consider "impossible".

The fact of the matter is, there is no such thing as impossible. All of us have the power to achieve anything in life, if we allow ourselves to believe we can. It's an unfortuate fact of life that some of us need to dig a little deeper to find this within ourselves. Not all of us have the luxury of a nurturing environment in which to begin our life journey.

Operation Flinders is an organisation that helps at risk youth to develop their self esteem, motivation, team work and a sense of responsibility. I have a strong belief in these individual values, and know they can make a real difference to how an individual views the world and their potential impact upon it.

While many people I know consider Ironman to be an incredibly indulgent lifestyle (in some ways, it is) I hope I can make a difference to people's lives by raising funds throughout this latest Ironman campaign for Operation Flinders. It might not be much, but sometimes little things can make a big difference.

Just because you've done it before, doesn't mean you don't have to train!

I am training for my third Ironman race, Western Australian Ironman in December this year. Well, maybe "training for" is a bit of a stretch... let's just say I've entered - I am the first to admit that I've been fairly lax about my training and the time for excuses is over! There are only 98 days to go until I have another chance at The Perfect Ironman...

I have been blaming the extra cold winter, flu season, and for the last week, I've even been able to blame RAIN of all things! But in the last couple of days I've come to realise that there's a part of me that thinks nothing can stop me in an Ironman race! Of course that's not true. If I do the work, then yes, nothing can stop me... so now's the time to buckle down and start doing the work.

If my past experiences at Ironman are anything to go by, it will be more than worth it in the end.