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!