Last year I did the Women’s Triathlon mini tri (150m/5k/1.5k). I chose the mini because it had the shortest swim leg. The bike and run legs of the long course triathlon appealed, but the swim in that is 750m, and if I did that I would be risking the life of a poor surf lifesaver or another competitor.

As you might have read, I also signed up to the Triathlon training course at Challenge Stadium. In November 2011 I started Couch to 5K to learn to run in preparation for the course start in the first week of January 2012, combined with a bit of swim training.

Jeremy was hugely supportive about the training course and drove me up to the event when the big day came. I didn’t do particularly well when it came to final placings but I completed the whole event and enjoyed it greatly. My bike leg was majestically quick but I was let down by my run  (which became a walk after I took off too quick from transition) and my swim is best described as suboptimal.

I kept my running up throughout 2012; particularly after the Claisebrook Cove parkrun started up. I signed up for the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation to lose the extra 10-11 kilos that I had gained. The 12WBT program took me to running a half marathon.

My swimming fell by the wayside however; when I was injured I headed for the pool but other than that I was land based.

This year’s participation in the triathlon was not nearly as planned. I signed up to do the same mini triathlon the Tuesday before event and had managed a total of three swim sessions in the month beforehand. The last of the swims was Jeremy and my first session with our swim coach, and that was what made me decide that I had to do the mini tri again.

My swim was about as suboptimal as last years, but I did manage to recover quite well after being smacked in the head a few times by someone who started the event mid pack doing breaststroke. Again I wasn’t last but the swim did take it out of me and I think my transition was a bit long as a result.

I absolutely flew on the bike. My bike legs both years have involved me sitting on the right hand side of the course with a perma-yell “Passing on your right!” and I pulled into transition and threw my poor lovely bike on the rack while I ditched my helmet and shoes to put on my trainers.

My now-standard pissbolt out of transition wasn’t followed this year by a desperate push to get through the publicly visible section before I collapsed with a coronary. I ran, and ran! Half marathon for the win!

Coming back towards the finish chute I was overtaken by a runner and was gaining on another. The one I was gaining on overshot and nearly ran past the opening of the finish chute. The runner who overtook me grabbed her by the shoulder to haul her back through the chute. I belted past both of them down the chute and put in a final push to pass someone else in the chute.

I flew over the line with my right arm out grabbing my finishers medal with a “Thank you!” then slowed down to a stop near the water station and grabbed my Shotz cup and a banana. Jeremy wandered over with a huge grin and commented on my neat bit of opportunism in the finishing chute. He had grabbed some photos of me as I’d come in and out of transition and showed me them on his phone.

I headed out of the finish area and had to go back in again because I’d forgotten to give back my timing chip. I walked back out to Jez and was asked by Pip O’Connell the commentator for a chat.

Jeremy and I wandered about a bit to spectate and cheer on some people we knew from parkrun who were doing the short (300m/7k/3k) and long course (750m/20k/5k) options. At one point he wandered off while we were near the finish chute, then came back and said that I “shouldn’t bother checking the results”.

I’d gone into the event knowing that given last year’s results my bike leg was going to put me in good stead for an age group place if I could keep it together on the run. Last year I was lacking the endurance to be able to run hard off the bike even for just 1.5km. This year I’d run a half marathon so running 1.5km at a (for me) super quick pace was child’s play.

The way Jeremy delivered that bit of news told me that he was messing with me. I was hoping for top 5 in my age group but he announced that I’d come third.


Better than that, I’d come 9th overall. At no point had I expected to do as well as I did overall, partly because in the first wave of mini tri swimmers there were a few Australia team triathlon suits on some 12-14 year olds and those kids are quick!  (I’ve got a feeling I should note down their names for when they hit the big time and the Olympics I can proudly say that I’ve been beaten by that medalist!)

At one point in the morning Jeremy and I declared that having now come third in my age group in a triathlon I had to step up and really nail my swimming this winter because then I could go and do the long course next year. Now I’ve got my run leg sorted, I need to work on my swim. It is by far my weakest leg, and over a longer distance I’ll find it more debilitating unless I improve my endurance in the water.

So: I now declare the Year of the Swim has to start. I should probably buy that anti-chlorine shampoo.

Choose life*

A few weeks ago we were walking to our cars and complaining about the weather (there was a late cold snap, just as it had been warming to a lovely Spring). I said that “I have to get up at 5am to do a 4km recovery jog tomorrow morning”, and a friend said “Well no, you don’t have to; you choose too. People don’t ‘have to’ run, they choose to.”

I said “No, I have to; I signed up to do a half marathon, and if I want to get to the end without feeling like I’m dying, then I have to do the training. It is not negotiable.”

I can see what he means though – I chose to do a half marathon. I chose to do 12WBT, I choose to exercise, I chose to deliberately lose weight. It is a choice, and I could have taken the other path.

I could have chosen to not lose weight. But I don’t like that choice. I don’t like me at 81.4kg and rising. I don’t feel comfortable at 81.4kg and rising. I am unhappy. I know that I am putting myself at a higher risk of a number of diseases, I deeply resent having to buy larger and larger clothes just to accommodate my stomach rolls and large thighs. I know that the heavier I am the worse I deal with extremes of temperature, so summer becomes generally uncomfortable, and winter is painful.

I don’t like that I have to fight hard to keep up with Jeremy on a bike. I don’t like that he has to slow down for me when I ride. He doesn’t see it as an obligation, but I see myself as an imposition, which makes me not enjoy cycling. I have cycling and multisport goals that I would like to reach in the next decade, and my weight is holding me back from those goals.

So I chose to do something about it. I signed up to 12WBT, and when I did – before the program had started proper – I began to adjust my portion sizes and look at my diet with a close eye, and I am losing weight. It was not luck, it was not a radical adjustment of food in my diet, it was not the elimination of an entire food group, it was a measured, careful approach, and so far it is paying off.

I don’t really have a precise goal weight; I have a bracket that I believe I will be happy in – I think that I should try and get down to 65 through to 70 kilograms. Outside of that amount I am fairly sure that I will be carrying extra fat on my stomach if I go above 70. I have disliked the extra fat on my stomach since 2005 when I first actually took any notice of it, but interestingly I still managed to add on an extra 8 kilos of it until earlier this year.  If I go below 65 I think I will probably be as unhealthy as if I were at 90. I am 173 cm, and currently sitting at 75 kilos, I don’t believe that my frame should be below 65 kilos. I don’t think I’ll deliberately go below 67 kilos, but I believe that if I was putting in serious regular training with a particular event in mind that 65 kilos would be closer to my racing weight.

I did have an 800g gain this past weigh-in day, which I am not entirely concerned about, because I figure I am bound to go up on the odd occasion – particularly around Christmas, but as long as the general trend line goes south I will be happy.


I know three people who completed the Busselton Ironman today and I am in awe. One is an ex-Hockeyroo, who smashed it home in 11 hours, her partner slogged it home in 15 hours, while the quietest, unassuming, most determined woman I know, came in in 14 hours. I am so proud of you all.

*with thanks to Irvine Welsh