Alex is an Ironman triathlete and nurse from Western Australia. She lived and breathed triathlon for several years whilst training and racing for Ironman. Her reason for racing was not to be the best in the field, but to conquer the demons in her head. Her thoughts told her she couldn’t on countless occasions, yet she told herself, she could. Alex then went on to finish two of the most gruelling Ironman races in Australia!
Triathlon has taught Alex many lessons, which have translated into her professional life too. These include discipline, self-belief and perseverance.
Outside of sport, Alex loves to be active and live a healthy life. She enjoys the simple things, like a good coffee, the outdoors and time with loved ones. Here is a snapshot into her journey.
My name is Alex Kent (Cogan), I am 32yrs old and I am a nurse from Perth, WA. For the past 5 years I have been putting my body through the unforgiving sport of long-distance triathlon. I now have countless hours of time on the bike, in the pool and out running under my belt. I have decided it is time to put my feet up somewhat and give my body a break, but what I have learnt along the way throughout my sporting career has been invaluable. Here is a small amount I’d like to share with you…
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN RACING IRONMAN AND HOW DID YOU START?
It started off as a challenge to myself to complete a sprint distance triathlon, then it grew from there. In 2017 I completed my first half Ironman distance, at Busselton 70.3. In the lead up I thought there was no way I could complete this distance, let alone finish a full Ironman! However, not long after, in 2019, my now husband and I completed our first Ironman in Port Macquarie.
It was a brutal but tremendous experience – I told myself, ‘Never again!’ However, towards the end of 2020 there was some part of me that was still curious about the sport. I felt the need to prove to myself that I could do better because I knew I could. So, I entered the Busselton Ironman and my husband and I trained for it together in our first year of marriage, which was no small feat!
The last 6 months in the lead up to Busselton really felt like a long, hard slog. The constant juggle of training, working full time and fulfilling the rest of my commitments was a challenge. Many sacrifices were made and many tears shed. But it was all worth it when I ran down that red carpet and crossed the finish line. There’s really nothing quite like it.
TELL US YOUR WHY
To prove to myself that I could do it. At school I wasn’t always the highest achiever and didn’t feel like I achieved a lot, I was always telling myself, ‘I can’t’, so this was a great opportunity to prove to myself, ‘I can.’ Dealing with all the emotion that comes with long course racing, and adopting the discipline required to train for it, have both helped me in other areas of life – for example, in my career as a nurse.
I don’t race to race anyone or be the best in my age group. It is just to compete against myself.
It is also incredible when you meet people who don’t know you, who say, ‘Wow, you’ve done that!’ It really makes you appreciate that doing an Ironman is no small accomplishment and is definitely a journey. I think you will always come out of it better at the other end, if you are doing it for the right reasons.
TRIATHLON & MY PROFESSIONAL LIFE
This year I have taken a big step back from training and racing for triathlon. I have some other priorities to focus on and my body is also still feeling the effects of the IM and the year that was almost fully devoted to it. So, I’m trying to enjoy a bit more of a balance in life now, which I feel is very important.
Balance is definitely a hard thing to master when your focus has been on something like an Ironman for over 12 months! However, in the context of my work and the pathway I wish to create in my career, I am thankful now to have the tools I gained from sport. I know they will help me navigate what is to come.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST LEG FOR YOU AND HOW DID YOU LEARN TO EMBRACE IT?
Definitely the bike – I didn’t come from a cycling background, so riding 180km in a race all of a sudden was a big undertaking. The sheer volume of the cycle leg was a mental barrier initially, but the solution just came down to time on the bike. Practice makes perfect.
Time and repetition, as well as hills to build strength, were all that were needed. I found some people to ride with too, and learnt to ride for long periods solo, as I knew this was what I was going to have to do on race day.
IRONMAN – IT’S WORTH MORE THAN JUST A MEDAL
I guess the reason I first ever tried this sport was because it really challenged me and made me want to come back for more. It was not to try and be the best or be better than others. It was to push my own limits and prove to myself that I could achieve things, which I initially thought were impossible. Ironman taught me discipline, self-belief, and the ability to dig deeper when you think you have nothing left. These skills have translated into my personal and professional life. Ironman has taught me so much more than just swimming, cycling and running.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR IRONMAN RACING?
Get your nutrition right – I learnt this the hard way in my first Ironman. I had nothing left on the run as I didn’t get my nutrition right on the bike.
Have a good support network – having those go to people who really understand the time and effort you have to put into racing this distance is vital. There are lots of ups and downs and you need people around you who you can count on when it matters.
Have a coach or mentor who can work with you and guide you through the process, so that you can avoid injury and sickness along the way and get to the start line in the best possible shape.
If you want results, or even to finish a race of this distance, you have to put the time into the training and other elements that support it.
There are no short cuts – respect the sport for what it is, as you cannot hide out there. If you want to take on the challenge of it, just know that you must sacrifice a lot, but trust that it is all worth it.
Why do you choose Bindi?
I really like their products. I like that they are local. I have always had a sensitive stomach, and they have always sat well with me. As I mentioned earlier, nutrition can really make or break an Ironman, so knowing I could count on Bindi in training and racing made all the difference. I love the hot chocolate too as a night cap.