Realising the Kona dream

Beginning triathlon is something I always wanted to do, however with a busy career as a vet and then moving into motherhood I had to bide my time.  Five years ago – with 3 boys under the age of 5 and a very supportive husband – I entered my first Half Ironman and so this incredible journey began.  I was a true beginner, having never ridden a bike (without a baby carrier at least) and I soaked up every bit of knowledge I could from those more experienced around me in the thriving Busselton triathlon community.

After 6 half Ironmans (including the World Championships Canada) and plenty of Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons – I felt I was ready for Ironman distance and so the real training began.  My coach and I planned 12 months in advance, with a structured 20 week training program.  Let me make this really clear here, Ironman training is hard work.  It involves sacrifice and consistency.  It’s not glamorous. Most people don’t understand your why, and some days I question it too.  I have said no to a lot of things – mainly socialising.  I don’t watch movies or have nights out, I rarely have time for coffee with friends other than my training partners, and any spare weekend time is spent preparing for the week ahead.  But considering all that, triathlon has given me so much and is a huge part of our lives now.

Having a support network around you who understands what you are trying to achieve is vital.  Early on, my husband and I set some ground rules for Ironman training, and I still stick by them today:

  1. No sympathy – you chose this, and you know it is hard.
  2. No complaining – no one needs to hear this. Complaining is a victim mentality and has no role in our positive household.
  3. Family first – every time. If kids are sick or need anything, then that must always come first. We made it a priority that training wouldn’t interfere with their weekend sport.
  4. Business second – Bindi is a thriving young business and it needs ME – in good health and with plenty of energy to drive it.
  5. Ironman third – keep Ironman in perspective. It is not life – it is a luxury and a hobby!
  6. SMILE! Particularly on race day, and when things are getting tough.  A smile is the simplest thing but it can change everything in an instant.
And so it happened that now I am 2 weeks away from racing Kona for the first time. I am going for the experience, for my chance of a lifetime to race on the Big Island.  I understand how this is such a huge dream for so many people and I respect that for them.  It’s not always been a dream of mine, but once I started to understand what it took, when I saw friends achieve this I realised I also had what it took to get there.  My first Ironman in Busselton 2015 I placed 4th in 10hrs 29 min.   I was only 11 behind minutes my friend who was in second, and she went on to place in the top 10 in Kona.  This was a huge motivator for me – she showed me it was possible and what was required to get there, so I set my goals for 2016.  In my second Ironman I did a PB of 10hrs 20 mins, and in second place I claimed my spot to race in Kona.
And so to the motivation for this training program.  I learnt very early on to not look sideways and to not compare.  Focus on my own game and look forwards (this applies in business and in triathlon). I don’t overthink training and rely on my coach to work that out for me.  The harder it gets the shorter my focus is – sometimes I will just look at today’s training and no further as it can be overwhelming if I look at the big picture too often.  I just do the one thing today that will move me closer to my goal.  I don’t look to others to get me through training, or to pat me on the back when it’s done. It’s important just do it for yourself and your own personal satisfaction.

“Happiness and motivation is an inside job; it comes from within”

I love to control the controllables such as nutrition, race gear and being organised for training. I know that my coach knows everything about the course, about my abilities and he has put together a perfect program for me (and no one else).  My job is to stay on task, stay focussed on every session and execute them as he has asked, and give him feedback both good and bad.  Am I overly tired, struggling, or feeling good?   It is also up to me to stay injury free, which means a visit to the physio every 3-4 weeks, a massage every month and plenty of stretching and rolling at home. This is integral to success and is part of the training.  I eat well as much as possible, which means planning meals, cooking at home, having meals ready in the freezer for busy weeknights, and taking nutrition for training and recovery.  The things that are out of my control like the competition on race day, the weather and mechanical problems take up very little of my thoughts – I just don’t want to waste time on that.
So what is my why? I want to inspire my sons and others around me.  I want them to know we live an active healthy lifestyle, it is normal to exercise every day and be lean and fit. To teach them to eat well – it is normal to have salad every day, that’s just what we do as a family! I love to feel fit and healthy and I am truly happiest when I have exercised and I am living life in motion.  My brain works better, the day flows easier and I am more productive. I am a better at business and being mum when I have exercised.  I want to look back and know I have achieved something huge.  The time won’t matter, then placing won’t matter, but I know I have done everything I can to be my best on the day and that along the way my family are still very much loved and cared for.
And what does the next 2 weeks entail?  I am going to Kona knowing that the hard work is done and that I am ready to embrace this incredible opportunity.  I will soak up every moment, and allow myself time to be absorbed in the race and have time away and do something just for me.  As a mum this isn’t easy and it doesn’t come naturally.  I am looking forward to seeing the pros, the bikes, the beautiful Hawaiian ocean and fish, the lava fields, the Energy Lab and all the myth and legend that is the Hawaii Ironman.

I give my whole heart to this race, just to finish it. I want to cross that finish line knowing I have given every single bit of me out there. And I will do it with the biggest smile imaginable.  And then I will hang up that medal, hug my family and start thinking about the next big adventure.

Belinda x

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