“Ironman. Toughest day of my life… so far!”
What started as a one-off Enticer triathlon in 2013 unexpectedly evolved into a full-blow addiction to the sport and the epic journey that is “Ironman”. For me, the goal isn’t to be the fastest, it’s the achievement. Involvement in the sport allows me to set goals. It guides my eating habits. It defines my training. It opens up a world of travel opportunities. And it all comes together as a lifestyle that I enjoy.
Triathlon coaching under Summit Fitness Studio has been an integral component of my success story, and whether your passion be full-distance IM racing or an entry-level Enticer triathlon, the crew at SFS will take you from dream to reality. I couldn’t thank John and the other trainers enough for their coaching and support across the line. Take the step. See you on the start line.
One year from Wollongong Enticer to Husky long course. I don’t really remember how it started. I know that a good friend Adam had an idea of doing a triathlon. I was always up for a challenge so I agreed. We were both out of shape and needed something to get us motivated. We had tried to run at work before but as we had no goal to aim for a few weeks in you make excuses as to why you can’t train. Both our wives had been competing for some time and since this was a sport we had been around it made sense to have a go. The decision was made to start off with the Wollongong enticer. It didn’t sound all that hard apart from the swim.
We were four weeks out and the training began. Well let’s say that it did. I probably completed two runs of about 4km each. That was about as far as I could go if I pushed it hard. I took the trusty mountain bike for a couple of 10km rides as well. Both hurt but I knew that if I had to I could cruiseor walk both of those legs. So now for the hard part the dreaded swim. I remember I probably went to the pool four times in that month. I knew I could swim as I had been a pretty good swimmer at school but the years away from sport really took its toll. I struggled to breath. I kicked around and by the fourth visit I thought to myself I might just make the 300m required.
Probably not the best preparation for the event but as always work and life seemed to get in the road. Apart from that we had been given some direction as to how to lay out our gear in transition and told many times that transition is not a time to take a break. So race day came and we all felt unprepared.
Adam and I were joined by our friend Fil who was fit. He could ride and run but was not a swimmer. With our bikes and gear setup I remember we stood on the beach talking about how long the 300m swim looked. We joked about how far we thought that we could walk into the water before we actually had to do any swimming. Before we knew it we were off. Slowly to let the crowd get away and we walked as far as we could without looking like that’s what we were doing. The swim started ok for the first 50m when I hit the turn and had caught up with the pack.
A few bumps in and I had given up on freestyle. Breaststroke was my saviour. Not fast but I knew I could make it to the end like that. Not being used to the bumping that happens I freaked out and just wanted to keep my head above water so breaststroke was it for me. I came out of the water one of the last in the group and breathing like I had just swam from New Zealand. I waved at my wife taking photos and moved on. The bike leg I felt ok. I had time to get my breath back on all the downhills and felt more confident that I could complete this silly race. Off the bike and into the short 2km run. Leaving transition and heading downhill I got a cramp in one of my calves and had to walk for a while. As I walked and ran my way to the finish I questioned why anyone would do this to themselves.
Finally it came to the end and I was relieved it was over. The enticer smashed me. A few days later I was looking through the photos that my wife had taken on the day and was shocked at how bad I looked. I guess when you live with it every day you don’t see the change. I had left high school about 20 years before where I played some kind of sport most days and since then I have been sitting at a desk. After having to hide some of the bad photos from people, I knew I needed to do something. Adam and I talked and found the Kathmandu adventure challenge.
No swimming which was good but the distances were bigger. Being a two person team event you had to do your best not to let the team down. So this is what really helped with the training. We had a goal and a friend to push us so it worked. After a few weeks of training we stopped eating so much junk food and large portions. Helped by the support of our wives we could actually feel a change in our fitness levels.
Not that a lot seemed to change and we still found excuses to eat unhealthy but we pushed each other to get out and go for a run or ride. The Kathmandu adventure challenge was the hardest thing I had ever done. We were on the go for 4hrs. Trail running, mountain biking, kayaking and rowing. All of it was hard but we completed it and I will say were excited that we had done it. Reading the event details it wasn’t supposed to be that long but we had fun all the same. Chatting the next week about what our next challenge should be we decided that we needed to do another triathlon and this time step it up to the next level. To complete a sprint we need a more rigid training plan so we thought that would motivate us to continue to train. For me I turned to a friend Mike who my wife was working with. He is a triathlete who has completed an Ironman so I knew he had been through all the training in the past.
He talked to me about how much available time I had to train, what my goals are and looked at where my fitness and skill levels were. From thathe created a plan for me to follow. Knowing that I would fail if I did not follow the plan was a big motivator but also having Adam to keep training with helped as well. It came down to feeling bad if I didn’t get out and train and he did, even if we were sometimes training on different elements. Mike also setup my bike and showed me some of the basics around riding, running and swimming so I would be more efficient. Around this time I joined the Hills Triathlon club as part of the Triathlon Australia membership. I selected that club as my wife as well as Mike and his family were part of it. I later found out what a friendly and supportive club it is but then again it seems most people watching or doing triathlons are supportive. I was also luck enough to be able to chat to Adam’s wife Simone who runs Summit Fitness Studio. She was also completed an ironman and would often give me advice or small technique changes that would later help me as I raced more. So for the next few months Adam and I trained and completed a few other events like the warrior dash, Sydney to gong ride and another Kathmandu adventure challenge just to split the training up. Around this time I was finding that my clothes were getting too big for me and people started commenting that I was looking a lot better.
It was hard to see for myself until the belt went to the next notch down or my shorts started falling down as I walked. I had also changed how much I was eating. I didn’t go crazy as I still had some big meals and junk food but I was trying to do that lessoften. With the training that I was doing it got to the point where I didn’t want to ruin the training by eating incorrectly. Another benefit was I felt better than I had felt in a long time. I was no longer having random stomach pains, I stopped snoring, could exercise longer and generally felt better about myself. Around this time Adam and I also had another friend join us in our training. Dave had done triathlons twenty odd years ago but since then had slowly gain weight and stopped doing anything but working. He was our manager in Sydney for many years before moving to the US for three years to work as our director. Well he was finally back and excited about the training. Somehow he had been convinced to sign up for the Elite energy Huskisson long course triathlon. We had a great time training and joking around as we all had different strengths. Dave kept trying to convince me to join him and sign up for the long course but I really wanted to get some sprints under my belt before committing to something like that. So I kept saying I would think about it. I thought that since I still had 6 months till it was on so I would do something about it later.
It is strange but once you get going with training you kind of want to keep going. I remember going to a conference in Queensland with Adam and as usual we fly in on registration day so nothing much usually happens. We check straight into our room and head off for a 10km run. Usually it was straight to the pub for lunch but not this year. We joked that there was something wrong with us.
Unfortunately the next morning we had tragic news that Dave had died from a massive heart attack. He was not much older than I am, a funny man, great motivator, always has something nice to say, wonderful husband and father. He will be greatly missed by many. The news made it hard to get motivated and train but deep down I knew he would want me to continue and above that sign up for the Husky long course that he was trying to convince me to do. So with that I signed up and started to train again. Before I knew it the Hills club triathlon series had started and I was doing the sprint distance. Likebefore I was worried about the swim. I had to tell myself that I had trained enough so I will be ok. Iwas ok but as with every event it hurt. The best part is the feeling you get when you have done it. I am not a happy competitor. I hurt all the time no matter the distance but I feel great knowing that I have done it. One day that might change and I might be one of the smiling triathletes. Over the summer I completed four hills club sprints, two elite energy sprints, one 2km open water swim and an elite energy Olympic distance tri. Plus my training had increased to help with the longer distances and before I knew it the day had come to do the Husky long course. I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before but I felt I had done enough. I remember standing on the beach nervous as always but this time not for the swim. It looked a long way but I had a feeling that I could do it. I now just worried how I would go putting it all together for so long. The swim was a bit rough. Lots of bodies all seemed to want to be where I was. But I was getting used to it. Out of the water and onto the bike I felt pretty good. I took a bit longer in transition and made sure I had everything. I probably went way to fast in the bike. As usual you see someone not far ahead and you want to pass them. Not catch them slowly as you should but pass them right now. One day I will learn just to ride at my own pace. Off the bike I felt ok. I didn’t have any major issues and expected to feel tired. So into the run I go. Things were going ok for the first 1.5kms and then the cramping started in both legs. I pushed for as long as I could thinking the pain will go away justslow down a little. Well that didn’t work and before too long I found an aid station as an excuse to walk for a while. From that point on until the last 4km run to the finish I ran and walked my way towards my goal. The crowd and the competitors were great as they are at most events. They cheered you on and encouraged you to keep going. With 4km to go I decided that I had to put in a final effort and only having a short walk in the middle I finally found myself running up the red carpet to the finish. I had done it not only for myself but for Dave. I was in pain but it was done. I got to sit down and get some food a number of times saying that this is silly and I will never do something that long again. Well as most people do a few days later I signed up for an ironman 70.3. I don’t know what it is but Ifelt I needed another shot at it. I guess it’s the rush you get from completing something that hard that makes you come back for more. So more training and fun times ahead. The next few weeks were light sessions and rest knowing that Tri the Gong where this all started was only around the corner. Adam and I laughed about all the changes that have happened over the last year as we stood on the same beach at Wollongong harbour as we did a year ago waiting for the start of our race but this time it was a sprint. The only thing is I wish I had done it many years ago. I feel so much better now and have much more energy. I would have had more energy to chase my son around outside and maybe even made him more of an outside child than he has grown up to be. That is a regret that I will always have. I know I could not have done it without a lot of help even if they don’t think they did.
Adam for making me sign up and sticking with it as well. Mike for his training plan, advice, tips and his special negative encouragement that makes me chuckle. Dee for her encouragement and letting me spend money on gear. Simone for your tips, advice and the massive cheering she does whenever you are near her and the hills club for being a friendly bunch of people.
Louise and Wade
Louise and Wade have been training for the Disney Half Marathon and travelled from Australia to the United States in January 2017 so they could complete their mission and run the Disney half Marathon, a 22.1 km run. Unfortunately the day before the race, it was cancelled due to forecast thunderstorms and lightning. How could they do this?
Don't let disappointment or an unexpected change stand in your way, instead take it and turn it into a challenge. Read on to see what Louise and Wade did!
"Dear FB friends, you will be pleased to know that we SURVIVED the full marathon-42.2 kms in 5hours and 55 mins. We braved 3 degree temps this morning with a wind chill factor of about -5! It was bloody freezing (we both ran in thermals). We met a friend along the way who stayed with us the whole run.. she was so Impressed that she finished it!
No major injuries just sore knees and feet- better than expected! So, thanks to coach John O'Connell for getting us ready to run and to my bestest friend and hubby Wade Norrie for getting us over the line! BTW, I only complained from about the last 7 km mark- not bad I thought!
Overall, considering we only trained for 21.1 kms for the race to be canceled due to a drop of rain, and ended up running and finishing the full 42.2 kms I think we have achieved more than we set out to and bloody deserve the Mickey Mouse medal!!"
The true benefit of training together. Accountability, support and teamwork.
TRAINING WITH A PARTNER - We know from our own experiences that this is all true.
- The chances of sticking with a fitness program are greatly increased when you train with your partner – a little peer pressure is always good for staying on track.
- You will both benefit from a customised workout from a personal trainer.
- Personal training together allows you both to benefit from an opportunity to support each other’s goals in a very focused way.
- Personal training with your partner will enhance your fitness level and your relationship. It will give you something new to talk about, laugh about, and enjoy.
REMEMBER - If your partner trains with Summit then they ( or you ) receive a 50% discount.