Here I am on a plane to Cairns in September 2020! Who would have thought that this would be the only full Ironman race this year in the Oceania in September in Spring in Cairns 🥵
First let’s take a quick look back over the first nine months of the year! It’s been crazy to say the lest! It started with bush fires, floods and then into the ‘unprecedented’ times of a pandemic!
Our lives have literally been turned upside down this year. Early in the year up here in Queensland (Brisbane) we literally watched as most the east coast of Australia was affected by massive bush fires. There was a deep sense of helplessness as we tried to find ways to help our neighbours and friends. Then finally after months of fires the rains came, but as is often the case it was never in moderation but extremes and flooding followed! Now parts of Australia were flooding! As Australia Day rolled around collectively as a club Starfish TriAthletic did our 100×100’s swim challenge fundraiser, this year raising funds for Drought Angles. Helping regional farmers and families through these difficult times. As if it couldn’t get any worse, in March the dreaded pandemic hit. In my own nievety I wasn’t too concerned early on, but quickly was slapped into reality as our businesses were forced to close and coached athletes started pulling the pin on my services, in order to reduce their own expenditure. Everyone was going into self preservation mode! This was going to be a very tough period. We had only just opened our new sport training and recovery centre and now we were forced to closed with a very uncertain future. The government were announcing daily updates and changes to what we could and couldn’t do, we learnt to adapt and evolve. Zoom and training peaks became our newest and best coaching assets and tools! Goal setting and checking in on your mates, friends, squad and athletes was more important than ever. The uncertainty of how long and how bad this was going to get was taking a toll with everyone’s mental health, mine included (but that will be a topic for another blog).
Early on I kept busy working out how we were was going to keep our athletes engaged, on track and moving toward something, anything. We focused on the process, ticking boxes and building lifestyle athletes that had a passion and love of our sport. Quite simply because we didn’t know when the next race was going to go ahead or even if racing would return again. During those socially isolated times, we found ways to stay connected and support each other, not face to face with hugs or handshakes, but through our screens. Personally I never expected to become a teacher this year, but there I was for 5 weeks of term 2 with three super unmotivated and not keen students in grade 3, 7 & 9. We set ourselves little goals daily and weekly to try and maintain some form of structure and hopefully get through relatively unscathed and still improving knowledge and life skills! My biggest takeaway, I definitely haven’t missed my calling to be a teacher!
So while the pandemic is still hitting Australia and the world hard we here in Queensland have returned to sport and have become almost a Mecca for all sporting events, from AFL grand finals, to code hubs and bubbles, its all happening here in Queensland. Over the last fortnight triathlon/Ironman has also returned, in the form of a 70.3 at Mooloolaba and this weekend with both a 70.3 and 140.6 Ironman event!
Am I excited, hell YES! Am I nervous, hell YES! Am I well prepared, hell NO! But with that said, am I grateful to have the opportunity to do another Ironman HELL YES! Meredith Kessler’s word at the welcome dinner at Ironman New Zealand in 2017, ring true to me daily at the moment “WE GET TO DO THIS”.
A very wise friend recently explained to me that when your mind operates in a state of gratitude, the body experiences pain in a massively reduced way. Recently having raced the 70.3 and doing it with a smile on my face and using the mantra “WE GET TO DO THIS” I can confirm his theory must be true! Because while I was suffering and every part of my body wanted to stop, I didn’t and I got to the finish line in a respectable time and actually enjoyed the process throughly. You literally couldn’t wipe the smile off my face for days! The endorphin hit from that race has lasted for weeks, and I intend on riding the wave all the way to the start and finish line of Cairns Ironman 2020!
So here I am on the brink on Ironman number 9! Underprepared by my own lofty measuring stick, but living a lifestyle that hopefully will guide me through a long day out on course! Let’s have a brief look at my training leading up to this weekend and my simple strategy on how I hope to complete this years event…..
The Roka 3.8km swim up at Palm Cove is notorious for being rough and murky. I’ve never been to Palm Cover in September, normally only visiting in June, but I expect very little to be different this year. My swim training has been almost non existent, I have tried to use our endless swim jet at least once a week, for 30 minutes, but as the centre continues to build moment and interest, these opportunities have become less and less! I am relying heavily on my swimming background and hope that the muscle memory and limited swimming I have done is sufficient to get me out of the water close to the hour. Total hours swimming this year are 14.5 for a total of 28 kilometers!
There is really no excuse for this leg, even through all the turmoil of the year, I should have been able to get the hours and time in the saddle done. But guess what I don’t feel prepared for this course at all. This year Ironman have made a few changes, and we are doing a 3 lap bike, riding out of Palm Cove headin north over Rex’s lookout and turning around well short of Port Douglass, u turning and heading back over Rex’s lookout to just south of Wangetti. We complete that loop 3 times before heading back past Palm Cove to Carins! It is going to be an interesting change, but with the smaller numbers competing this year will hopefully mean it doesn’t get too lonely! Rex’s lookout is a similar climb to Mt Gravatt, just a little shorter, for those living. In Brisbane! I would normally like t9 have banked a few rides over the 100km mark, but circumstance this year have prevented that, so Sunday’s ride will well and truely be my longest ride of 2020, but almost double! My total training hours and kilometres on the bike so far this year are 4002km in 159 hours!
The run course takes in the beautiful foreshore and esplanade of Cairns. It’s normally lines with support and spectators from end to end with only a few quiet places. Last year saw Ironman switch the run course from my preferred 3 lap course to a 4 lap run. Mentally the 4 lap run is more of a challenge for me. It’s here that I will be calling on all my experience and using every strategy I have learnt to get me to the finish line. The marathon is tough even when you are training well, this year has seen some of my lowest running volumes in the lead up to any of my Ironman races. A total of 841 kilometres and 80 hours will make this the leg I need to focus on gratitude the most! Just like dory, just keep running, just keep running, 1 foot in front of the other, all the way to the end of 42.2 kilometre and that famous red and black carpet lined finish chute!
In summary yes this year has been a challenge for all of us, some have handled it well and trained great, some have battled through but we have all made it to the start line & hopefully the finish line and on Sunday we get to do it together! To all my fellow athletes racing remember to stick to your plan, race smart, race hard, eat often, drink regularly, smile heaps and most importantly RACE WELL! To all the event staff and volunteer army a massive heart felt THANK YOU 🙏 for pulling together this event and giving us athletes the opportunity to compete again!
So if you see me on course on Sunday representing my club in our bright orange and blue Starfish suit, give me a wave, or a shoutout (remember no hi5’s allowed) and celebrate with me as WE GET TO DO THIS together!
If your interested in following along the event online from anywhere in the world, download the Ironman Oceania app and look up athlete number 271, be patient, it could be a long day!
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I believe the biggest regret we can have in life is to not TRI! So get out there and give it a go! If you ever have any questions please reach out, I’m only a message away.
Till next time, build consistency, keep smiling and live to Tri!