RACING MOTIVATION… A COACH/ ATHLETE PERSPECTIVE

WHY DO YOU RACE?

I love racing. I do. I love the feeling of pushing my body to it’s limits, against every other athlete out there on the day and seeing where that lands me.

For as long as I can remember, I have always been competitive. No matter the sport. I don’t generally half @arse things. I go all in, otherwise I’m out. Growing up I played team sports, netball and basketball both at a high level, and I had a dabble at soccer too. I love the competitiveness, and I love winning.

Then came along triathlon in my 20’s and I went all in there. Wanting to learn the craft, finding out how hard I could push my body and what result that would bring on race day. I would thrive off racing, and I didn’t want to settle. I was by and large ‘all in’. Racing results were my main motivation for training. And I’ve done that for 15 years, with some great success, but not with a LOT of hard work. I trained to race and I thrived off that.

BUT over the past 12 months or so, racing hasn’t been my main motivator for training anymore.

I still train every day. Sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I still put myself through sessions that I give to my athletes so I know what they feel like / should feel like. I still like pushing myself and setting myself goals and challenges. I love the feeling of feeling fit, and healthy.

But I don’t actually have the drive to want to race to win anymore. I know I could. Because I’m stubborn like that. And I know if I wanted to, I could. But I don’t. I’ve still dabbled in running and cycling and triathlon races, but not with as much focus or as much gusto. Old me would not have raced, if I wasn’t fit and strong enough to give it my best, I wouldn’t have put myself on the start line.

And it has been hard to reconcile in my head at times. My last ‘competitive’ race was Port Macquarie Half Ironman in 2022. I finished 4th in my age group, as a full time coach, and full time mum to a 3 & 4 year old. Before that, it was 2 years prior at Geelong Half Ironman where I qualified for the Half Ironman World Champs. (Ironically being held this year in New Zealand) with a 1 & 2 year old. That was tough, but oh so satisfying!

Back then all I wanted to do was win. And I was fully engrossed in it. My whole identity was wrapped up in it. I prioritised training and racing to win over just about everything else in my life. I just wanted to WIN. Until I didn’t want to anymore…..

I saw a post a couple of years ago by another coach and it said something along the lines of a coach must be able to walk the walk, and not just talk the talk. And it didn’t sit well with me. But at the same time I was like, shit I better keep racing to be able to ‘prove’ that I can and prove that I can coach – BUT then it dawned on me. The two are mutually exclusive, they don’t have to go hand in hand. Sometimes they do – which I’ve done for years. But they certainly don’t have to and we all know LOTS of successful coaches that don’t race at a high level anymore – or at all. So, with that, over the last couple of years as things have shifted, my mindset shifted and so did my priorities.

I am always saying to athletes that intrinsic motivation should be first and foremost. Of course use extrinsic motivation to aid you, to continue to drive you to be better, but your main motivator should come from within. Yet here I was, using a post I came across on facebook and the perception I thought others must have of me to continue to drive me. But like most people who rely on extrinsic motivation, that can often only last for so long….

When I had our first born (nearly 7 years ago) I wanted / needed to get back racing. I didn’t want to loose that identity as an ‘athlete’. That’s what I had known myself as for so much of my life. The satisfaction I got from it was huge and all my energy and focus was on those goals.

But in come children, two at that in quick succession and things slowly shifted. My want and need to have a singular goal and focus for myself has become lesser as our children have grown. And my growth and personal satisfaction has come more from the athletes that I coach, the group we have built, of the Club that I support, the community that we now live in and of course – my family.

I don’t need to race at the top level anymore if I don’t want to – to simply ‘walk the walk’.

I don’t need to race for external satisfaction.

I know I can now race if and when I want to.

I can race because I CAN, because I know HOW and because I LOVE to. Not because I feel I have to.

I have learnt that it is the training itself and the discipline it brings that I actually love the most, not necessarily the racing. The racing is a by product – a bonus if you will…. Perhaps, deep down that’s what has always driven me, I just didn’t realise it …. I don’t have to force myself to train or exercise, I do it because I love it.

Which is why I stay fit. Which is why I train every day. So I can, if I want, when I want, where I want. A quick little prep will have me ready and I’ll enjoy returning to those feelings. But I most likely won’t go ‘all in’ like I used to, not because I can’t, but because I choose not to.

Now that all may change again at some point. What feels right now, may not be the same in another few years. We all go through seasons in life and I love embracing all of them.

And that’s what I also love about coaching each individual athlete I have. I have some athletes in the early stages of their athletic journeys, going all in, and I fully embrace that, support that and help foster the environment and training that they need.
I have other athletes who prefer a softer balance to their training, competing when they can, and training as it fits into their life. I have others who don’t compete – at all. They simply love the structure and discipline of training in their lives, and staying fit. Just as I do. And I have the pro and inspiring pros. The high achievers. Those chasing PB’s, wanting the most out of themselves, and I love being on the sidelines for all of that. I love being part of each of their journeys.

So no matter the athletes path, or where they are at in their journey. I love all of it, because it is THEIR journey. Just as I am on my own journey. And as a Coach, I love that I’ve been through all facets of it. I’ve been the beginner, the green and keen athlete, the top age grouper, I’ve dabbled as a pro, a mum juggling it all, and the one still here for the long haul.

And I am grateful to be part of that and still join in on the ride!

Coach Sarah x

Athlete in Profile: Nicole Wilson

An athlete with 30 years experience in the sport still chasing the high of racing, the love of training, the challenge of balancing family, work and training and the ultimate love of feeling strong, fit and healthy. Starting her Triathlon days in the 1990’s Nicole has seen the sport change, and take shape over the years to where we are today and we can’t wait to continue the triathlon journey with her….

Name: Nicole Wilson

Nickname: Nic. Nice and simple!

Age / Age Group: Old Hen! ;-p

Lives: Malvern, Vic

Targeted Sport: Triathlon

Years in the Sport: 30 years (on and off) (told you I was an old hen…)

How did you get started: Monash University Tri Club. Like minded people who even made a Saturday night swim squad session fun!
(I do not know ANYONE who swims on a sat night – so there’s a first!)

Why I choose CPC: I was introduced by another CPC athlete Caroline Houston. 🙂
(would of mouth is fab – thanks Caroline!) 😉

What I ‘get’ from my sport: I love the challenge and diversity of 70.3 Triathlon racing. With more self-sufficient teenagers at home it’s been great to invest in consistent training and hopefully greater life longevity. I aspire to keep racing and training for a long as my aging body can keep up.

Ultimate Goal:  Swimming, riding and running for as long as my body will allow – at at least until l get my pensioner card.

What I couldn’t live without: A family who are very understanding & flexible.

Biggest love: My boys (husband, 3 teenagers and dog)

Pet peeve!: Wasting time.
(ohhhh that’s a goodie! We’re with you on this one!)

Interesting fact about me: Country girl who grew up in Cobram.

Finish Line Feels! Ironman Australia

“You only get to do your first Ironman once. So take your time down that finishing chute! Soak it all in. Look around. Find your loved ones. Embrace them. And draw in all that energy! That is the feeling you have been chasing all day. That is what you have trained so hard for. So don’t rush it. Remember it, savour it and enjoy it !”

Advice I gave first time Ironman Athlete Janelle Wolski ahead of her first Ironman at Ironman Australia last weekend…. And she heeded that advice with full gusto ! Her finish line video and pics are incredible and a memory she will savour forever !

When the dust settled after her race, she shared her experience with me, and by sharing with others, may just inspire someone else to take on a challenge that scares you, to step outside your comfort zone, to be brave, and to trust in the process…..

JANELLE:

Prior to the race: I was nervous off and on , all week prior. Why was I so nervous ? I asked myself…. I think I was scared I wouldn’t have the mental toughness if there was a situation in the race where I got overwhelmed at what was ahead of me and  I might just give up …….which isn’t like me but these thoughts kept creeping in . There is also the ‘mum guilt’ that pops up … if I fail at this , what a selfish waste of time all the training has been and the expense, the race, accommodation etc etc.. I know this is irrational for many reasons. The training plan fitted in with our lifestyle ( legend coach!), sometimes  I dropped the ball with things on the home front and at times I was distracted, but the kids knew what I was aiming for and well, that’s life sometimes. We can’t always have all our ducks in a row, and I know that that’s aok.

I suppose when nerves set in and thoughts of uncertainty about race day follow, the self sabotage sets in !!! What a ride it’s been and I hadn’t even started the race . I know tapering can make you cranky or feel off but I wasn’t expecting the nerves …………..I guess it also showed how much I really cared about achieving this goal …………

Race day ………3 hours sleep tops,  but I had a fantastic sleep the night before and a nap during Saturday and others have probably functioned during an ironman on less sleep.  I just kept thinking that no matter what , by this time tomorrow the day would have been played out and just relax girl …… I started to feel better on the walk to transition and Bryan (hubby) was a calming voice, ‘this is normal don’t worry, everyone is feeling the same‘. Thankfully it helped and I started to feel better …….. Transition done , I found some Maitland Tri Club girls that raced  their first IM last year and before I knew it we were walking to the swim start ( thanks to  Ange, the constant reminder that it is just a long training day) … as coach would say “hurry slowly.”

The swim was amazing , I forgot to hit go on my watch, oh well, I turned it on  at the weir. I liked the stop start of going over the weir, a chance to reset and site from above. The next time going back over the weir I got to put my swim cap on that came off , this has never happened  before but no dramas , I didn’t rush the swim and at no  time felt tired , I felt I was pacing right and because I stuffed up my watch I had no idea of my time when I got out of the water, I was in disbelief later to find out I did 1.13 … goal was 1 hour 20 mins and I expected to go over that …… I was wrapped!

Transition 10 minutes … I’m glad I didn’t go over 10 minutes , I’m totally fine with my transition time and the decision to wear bike knicks as I was comfortable the whole ride , I have no plans to do another ironman in the near future , but if I do, I would like to get use to long rides in a tri suit so as to not have to fluff about with the clothing changes. :-p

Off on the bike and realised I left my electrolyte / hydration tablets in my bike bag. Thankfully (again thanks Coach!) I had backup at personnel needs station. Crisis averted..

The ride going out was flat , I was doing 30  km p/h plus .. with hardly any pressure on pedals, was I going to hard?  I didn’t think so , so I kept on at that pace , the bike course was easier than the old course, everyone I have spoken too has disagreed though.. There were rolling hills but no steep spikes of hills like the first 15km of the old course ( which I knew was ahead of me ). At the 30 km mark I had that preempted thought of “shit  what have I got myself into“ but it was brief,  I didn’t let it fester and though and reminded myself that I’d done the work. Nutrition – I consumed my 3 hour plan of infinite nutrition in  2 hours and my hydration was gone in 1 hour …. I hadn’t factored in being so thirsty and hungry after the swim. The 44 km  mark came, personal  needs stop done, too easy, back we go .

Technically, there were steep long downhills that didn’t feel too steep when going up them . Going down the hills I didn’t pedal much , I got good speed , tucked in and let my legs rest while I held on tight. The tail wind going out was nice but the roads were bumpy and there were bottles strewn all over the place, many with flat tyres. It is proper country roads, so not many spectators. I liked the course ….. but …… it’s not appealing to do it again, I would prefer doing the old IM course because of the scenery, the out and back and the spectators.

Coming back into town and going out for 40 km I knew would be hard however the hills weren’t as bad as I remember when I did 70.3 a few years ago. I think my bike fitness made a huge difference. I had to keep concentrating at this time, the wind was brutal . More times than  I can count I got knocked around by cross winds. Going downhill was particularly nerve wracking. A lapse in concentration and it could have ended my day but I was not breaking in the downhills unless absolutely necessary because it was free speed!

Many times throughout the bike my mind would wander to “how on earth am I going to run after this bike“? Focus was key, I was chatting about my angst with the run leg to a kids sports psych at the boys soccer once and she said “when you are swimming, think about swimming !” “Don’t think about running when you are still swimming”, lol simple and affective, be in the moment.

I was now on the home stretch back in town, firstly ….…..block out all the people already on the run course and already finished, run my own race, it has gone perfectly so far. I nailed the nutrition , I kept it going throughout the ride and it was a good distraction making a few little adjustments that I thought I needed. The  wind was blowing straight up the Main Street of Port it felt like I was going nowhere it was sooooo strong. I did not want to lose control of my bike going down the Main Street of Port 😬 How embarrassing would that be!

Coming into transition and all of a sudden the bike was done! I gave myself a pat on the back – I was happy. I knew I had trained well and executed my race plan well when I was passing people in the last 30 km of the bike who are cooked.

Transition . There is a definite mental lift changing into run gear it felt good. Home stretch ! I have never thought finishing this Ironman was a given. There are so many variables that can be out of your control …mechanical or gut issues, sickness, random niggles that pop up… But so far so good !

Starting  the run I wasn’t yet convinced I would finish but it was definitely looking very likely. I started running to see how I felt. I have learnt after doing long hours of training that often I will feel worse at the start before feeling better. This was in my mind  to not panic if I set off and then felt crap ….. but that didn’t happen. I felt ok, no nausea , no low blood pressure feeling. Nutrition nailed. It was cold by now – and it suited me … not for others who ran in hoodies and gloves! I said to myself if I walk I will get colder and when the wind was behind me I’m not to walk. Some negative thoughts popped up in my mind when I saw someone else I knew out there racing and next thing I know………I am walking WTF !!! 

I thought to myself, “I’m feeling pretty good stop with the unhelpful thoughts !!!” There was an aid station not far from me. I walked to it, regrouped and decided to run … mostly … with blinkers on and sticking to the plan. Get to 21 km, aid station and big hill walk only. Off I went and stuck to it  pretty closely, I was happy ! The 3rd  lap I thought,  keep the plan going with 20% room for error 🙂 This lap was going to be the hardest, seeing others finishing, that point in the race when you aren’t on your last lap yet and it still feels a long way away…. So I had to block it out and my goal was to pass the last finish line for the last time for the last 5 or so kms , then I allowed myself to imagine finishing and think about the day and start to believe it would happen but not only that, it happened really well! I had NO idea at this stage what my time was, the last  2 laps I was feeling the pain. By the 4th lap I gave into the lure of more walks but was so proud of sticking to my plan as long as possible. I stuck to my nutrition which helped immensely I have no doubt !

A Tri friend met me with 200 metres to go and ran with me to near start of the carpet and said some really awesome things and said your time is fantastic and told me, I couldn’t believe my time, it was really such an amazing feeling! And the lights, the people the noise – simply incredible! I found hubby Bryan and son Liam and some other friends were there also, big hugs had all round! I always thought my legs would stop working at the finish line and I would be almost collapsing but I felt like I was running on a springboard.  I was soooo proud of my time, but most of all I was so proud of myself, of my achievement. An absolute bonus, I finished well under 15 hours 14.22  !

What an amazing day, so very lucky to have the opportunity, grateful to have made the start line fit and healthy. There had been a few circumstances that had me very close to pulling the pin on the training and my goal, but I kept training through and adjusted training when needed – thanks to coach – it made all the difference!

…. Mmmm and right now I just had a thought …… imagine if I didn’t have a 20 minute transition time or picked up the pace in the swim?  I could have got under 14 hours ? ………. and there it is …… so this is how it happens that somehow you end up registering for another Ironman 😂😂😂😂😂

Thank you SO much for sharing your experience Janelle. Such an incredible effort ! What a super star mum !

SET YOUR GOAL. DEFINE YOUR WHY. DETERMINE YOUR SUCCESS

This time of the year for many athletes is the perfect time for reviewing your past season, setting new goals, but most importantly defining what success is to you. Then building a framework to measure your success. In sport (well in life really!) the performance journey goes well beyond simple concepts of becoming faster, stronger, finishing or winning…  Results are important. However, a broader perspective provides a healthier and more productive framework to measure success over the long term. And that’s where an athletes WHY comes into it….

Most athletes start their goal setting process with a goal. It makes sense right? ! Set a goal, and lay out the stepping stones to help you achieve that goal…. 

But what if I got you to look at goals from a different perspective? What if I said, without a WHY your GOAL won’t be able to determine your success? What if I got you to first determine your WHY before you set your GOAL and in return then determine your SUCCESS? How do you think this would differ?

Here’s an example. An athlete set a goal of breaking 5hrs in their next Half Ironman. They loved the idea of going ‘sub 5’! Their previous best was 5:30hrs. They laid out the steps they thought they needed to get there, they trained hard, their family / training / life balance was a bit out of whack, they were managing a little niggle, but they had a goal so stuck to the plan….. Come race day they finished in 5:10hrs. 10min off their goal time. What feelings do you think they had? Disappointed in their result? Because they didn’t hit their goal time…. DESPITE still hitting a 20min PB! 

But what if that same athlete was asked the question – what is your WHY ? Why do you want to do a sub 5hr? Why do you train hard, and push yourself and why do you race? After some thought, the athlete wrote down a few things such as: to inspire my children to work hard, to not give up on a goal, to be a better version of myself at work and at home for my family. Their WHY was far more than simply hitting a 5hr time barrier. This doesn’t mean they couldn’t aim for both. Of course they could. But their WHY is what is deep, it gives purpose and means much more than a time on a clock…… That WHY is what should also help drive you – not the goal itself…. Read on >>

A WHY is a statement of purpose that describes why you do what you do and why you live the lifestyle you do. 
A GOAL is the object of ones ambition or effort; an aim or a desired result. 
SUCCESS is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. 

Success cannot thrive without a goal (aim) and a goal cannot thrive without a why (purpose). So when setting a goal, to determine your success of achieving your goal, you want to know the WHY behind it. 

Why do you want to achieve X?
Why do you push your body to train every day? 
Why do you do triathlon / cycling / running? 

“Your WHY is what will set you apart. It will help inspire you to take action. It will also drive you in your training and your racing.”

So as you sit and ponder your WHY, here are some action steps on helping you to determine your WHY: 

1. The first step is to ask yourself what your ultimate goal is. This could be related to your sport. Ie I want to complete an Ironman, or, I want to qualify for a World Championships, or I want to have a balance in life and training etc….

2. When you determine what this/ these are, the next and most important step is to ask yourself … WHY do I want to do / achieve this?

Now, there are some key things to remember when developing your WHY.

  1. Your WHY should be powerful: When setbacks or obstacles (such as an injury or a bad race) arise, use your WHY because it is powerful enough to overcome the setback/obstacle. 
  2. Your WHY should be deep: Having a shallow why can be easily broken. (ie I train because I enjoy it)  Instead, you should focus on a deeper meaning. (ie I train because it helps my mental health and makes me happier)
  3. Your WHY should be intrinsic: Don’t base your WHY on extrinsic factors (ie I want to do an Ironman because my best mate is) instead look inside and feel your WHY (I want to do an Ironman because I want to test my own physical capabilities)

Developing a WHY is the best way to ensure you are avoiding setbacks and continually making progress towards your goals. AND the best way to then measure your success – which I will touch on in my next instalment….

So I encourage you firstly to take some time to write down your GOALS AND YOUR WHY. Remember to make them powerful, deep, and intrinsic. And you need to write them down. Not just have them in your head. Find some paper and write (or type) it out and have it where you can see it. In your phone, beside your bed, on the fridge… Somewhere you can visit them regularly. And if your why truly means something to you, then you will find a way to make your goals happen and you will more likely lead to a happier success…..

IN FOCUS: Ironman Cairns

CPC: Firstly congratulations, Caroline Houston YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!! How does it feel? 

CAROLINE:
Coming down that chute I was so stoked – I forgot to do anything coming over the line, so no special pics there !

I am happy with how I stuck to what I needed to do to prepare, which I don’t think was very sociable sometimes, and gave me some hard decisions, but it really gave me confidence (once I got out there) that I was fully prepared. But I seriously did not believe that until I was on the course, prior to that I was sick with worry (and still not very sociable!)
CPC: It’s a tough game this Ironman business that’s for sure and can bring out deep rooted insecurities and fears. But… for now, let’s take a few steps back, you started your coaching / training with CPC mid 2018 ahead of your preparation for the Standard Distance worlds. You were really looking forward to the experience, but unfortunately race day you had an unfortunate accident and crashed – but even that couldn’t stop you finishing! It did however stop you in your tracks for your attempt at Busselton 2019 with a shoulder injury. Talk us through that.

CAROLINE: 
Yes, I was happy to finally be on a supported track as I had wafted around trying to do a ‘self program’ & was getting very dissatisfied with lack of progress/direction.

Worlds:  lesson here,
1) this was the only corner I didn’t recon thoroughly prior to racing,
2) plus, I went into it too hard as I was trying to make up ground, braked hard (right hand corner & I am worse that side) & the wheel went from underneath me. I knew I had done damage – I got up & yelled at this guy not to touch me (otherwise I would be disqualified) & he said he was an official, so it was OK but as I could move my arm I figured nothing broken and I should just finish. From here, I then worked out I had no lower gears, only big chain ring and I was a bit concerned with a short sharp hill on 2nd lap, also, being on the drops was a bit painful. Then both running in with the bike and the pull on my shoulder was painful on the run, I was always going to finish (this is the Worlds!) , just maybe not in good shape.

CPC: so post race you actually had to have shoulder surgery, spent approx. 8 weeks off training (incl. 4 weeks in a sling) and 14 weeks out of the pool, but worked diligently on your rehab. How hard was it though coming back to full health after your surgery? How did your coach and physio / medical team help you work through that process?

CAROLINE:
This phase was a very controlled & prescribed section. I was on the bike (WT & Indoor classes) as early as possible (in a sling) as I figured I could monopolise on that period to build up my bike strength. Injuries can be an opportunity!

Honestly, my physio & coach worked hand in hand to both strengthen & control me through this phase (which was quite long). One thing I found was, I needed to communicate avidly  to both of those experts in order to get the best outcome. No comment from me – no comment from them , because there were no details – absolutely, categorically, tell them the smallest changes / concerns (eg. something going on in this calf – which turns out to be a stress on the perineal, easily fixed by some rehab) So having a team around ou is super important and helped me get to the start line of my Ironman that’s for you – I could not have done it without them.

CPC: when did it get to that moment in your training when you thought ‘yes I can really do this’! (Ironman) ? 

CAROLINE: I am forever mindful that it’s a huge ask of the body, and, there are so many things that can get in the way/go wrong. When I reached the taper period I added up the training & prep and thought I should be able to do this, and the confidence in my preparation grew, so I was OK to put myself out there, but I think it was only when I was out on the course & gauging how I was feeling, that I actually finally allowed myself to truly believe. 

CPC: Once you landed in Cairns / Port Douglas and checked out the course, what went through your mind? And how did you manage any self doubt that started to creep in on race week?

CAROLINE: Hah ! Thanks to Geoff for getting me in the water at Palm Cove at least 3 times. The more we went in the water, the more comfortable I felt, but I was mindful that I am not strong in the water and if these were race day conditions, I was not likely to make the cutoff and was not sure how I would manage that heartbreak. But for me, it was about being as prepared as possible to help allieviate those doubts, and that included putting myself in situations and exposing myself to conditions I didn’t feel super comfortable about, because you can get anything come race day.

CPC: Despite that, conditions on race day turned out not too bad, soooo, talk us through your race? We want to know how it unfolded! How were the nerves on race morning? What did you find the toughest? How did you keep focused? 

CAROLINE:
I knew I would be almost unable to talk on race morning & we had made the decision to take the buses so I was not having an apoplexy about being late – good move. Checked the bike, heard the usual explosion of a tyre in transition and glad it wasn’t me ! Frantically looked for Sharon starting in the 70.3 and off she went effortlessly into the froth.

Swim: I had been nervous all week and on the morning, luckily for me the water was calmer. So, I figured I had a chance. I was with my friend Michelle (7 time Ironwoman) going into the water, and she was boldly pushing us forward. Once out there, I think I could even see her in the water near me – good news, I was not completely at the back!  Reaching the yellow buoy I knew this was about ¼ of the way but couldn’t see Michelle & figured she was way ahead, it didn’t feel as strong a current against us as it had on the leadup days, but I was getting nowhere fast. So much so, I checked my watch at the 2nd pink buoy (hoping it was 50 mins, but it was actually more like 60 ). Trying not to feel deflated I plodded on hoping for a bit of current to bring me in. For a while there I looked around & figured that the circling rubber duckies meant that I was the last one out there, couldn’t see anyone either. I got into a bit of rhythm & thought maybe I would try breathing on the left as on my right it was very sunny plus into the chop. Turns out that was a bad move, I became a bit dizzy doing that, and went back to 1in4 on the right. Bit tricky spotting the last buoys as the swell seemed bigger in the last few hundred metres. BUT all in all, I got through for me – what is the toughest leg.

Bike: running (trotting) out of transition after my complete wardrobe change, I was hanging onto all the food I had in my back pockets – reckon I could have fed a few of us ! (I watched a video of me getting on my bike – it’s hilarious, it’s as if I am in slo-mo!)

I spent a lot of time thinking about Sarah’s advice to always be pedalling – make the most of the downhills, so we could hit that 27kph average. I was a bit nervous going hard down hills and concentrated to stay alert, and thanks to Geoff for painstaking going over every metre of the bike course (in the car) prior, to be as best prepared as possible – pot holes, wind etc. The scenery was amazing, and, when you are ‘up the back’ there’s quite a bit of open road with not too many athletes so plenty of space to view.

I had slightly misjudged the last 30k’s by not having enough personal landmarks to help me ‘clock’ where I was, so the last part of the ride was a bit of a slog, especially as my expectations of times kept slipping past, and, by this time, me & the saddle were not friends. So I was happy to pass the bike onto volunteers and start to tackle the last leg.

Run:  What a relief to get here with no mechanicals & in one piece !  I set out with a renewed energy but brought myself straight back to sticking to the plan and not going out too hard – a long way to go yet. I was at first very deflated as the pace is very slow but I knew I had to do it to get there, also, some ‘empty gut’ issues were starting and I didn’t want to suffer from that again so started sucking on Clif Bloks as a way to get at least something in. I spent a lot of time thinking about the course and how many k’s I was at as I couldn’t really see my watch, and, I don’t think I had turned it on properly as it kept beeping at me. Once 1.5 laps in, I was a bit more settled and just stuck to the pace, sucked on a bit of water melon and the Blocks & it was starting to go OK, I just wanted to finish ! With 2k’s to go I decided to go as fast as I was capable of at that point & storm home. Stoked coming down the chute!  What a wave of emotions!

CPC: Hearing an athletes race story always gives me goosebumbs!  For most athletes doing their first Ironman (well technically your second after the shortened Busso in 2017), I try not to focus too much on the time outcome, but more the experience and having a consistent and well-rounded race. How do you feel you went in this regard? 

CAROLINE: I was certainly so much better prepared for this race than Busso, I had really put in the training, to achieve realistic goals. I was thinking about it when I was on the bike, I felt confident that I had the prep behind me for all disciplines.

CPC: and the bonus – you nailed the race and came away with not only a fantastic experience, but a race result that reflected all you hard work – PLUS A PODIUM FINISH! Full results here

CPC: So  what would you say is a highlight (or highlights!) is/are from your Ironman experience? What will stay with you forever? 

CAROLINE:
My strength at the end – I had energy left for the last 2 kms and I pushed hard to the finish & enjoyed the finishing chute experience ! It really was a little surreal, and awesome, and hard, and incredible all in one!

CPC: any wise words for other mature athletes thinking of taking on the goal of Ironman later in life? 

CAROLINE: 
Don’t think of the end-game if you have a big goal in mind. Break it down, with your coach, and it is all achievable. Be patient and it is possible 😊

CPC: Wise words!
I always finish with this question…. so – what’s next for Caroline Houston? Would there be another Ironman on the cards one day?…. 😁

CAROLINE: 
Oh wow – right now, I feel like all the stars were aligned for me, I did the best I could do on the day, I had all the training under the belt, plus, the weather was good to us, so if I went in search of a better performance time wise I could be in for a tough challenge.  Not sure I need to go there again, I need to sit back for a while, I might do shorter racing for the time being – I just don’t want to assume shorter = easier, because it is not!

CPC: anything else you would like to add / people to thank? 

CAROLINE:
Gosh, this was a team effort !  A huge thanks to this team 😊

Coach Sarah: honest & upfront, & able to gauge me as an individual to probe questions and help me through with a ‘fitted’  program

Hubby Geoff: for putting up with me hardly being around, being with me in the open water no matter how slow I was

Friend & training partner Sharon: constant encouragement, great friend & being that arse for me to chase (she’s a very good rider)

Friend & S&C Coach Kerryn: constant support, strength training & sounding board to unload to

Steve: physio from Lakeside Sports Medicine Centre, who helped me set my expectations, & used needles & painful massage to keep me on track. 🙂

My employer, Mondelez: for being flexible with my hours

How to nail racing overseas

“Wooohooo BOOM I did it coach! 1.28.56 (50 second PB) And a podium  to top it off. So happy thank you coach you got me the goal we were searching for!!” ~Athlete Andy Rogers

Now this is the kind of message you like to read on waking up on a Monday morning! Andy executed his race plan to a tee, and his hard work paid off.

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There’s nothing quite like a race in a different country / city you have never visited before. The excitement of deciding what to pack, the nerves of travel, the research, the sightseeing when you arrive. Preparing for a race in a different time zone is not only exciting it is also more challenging in managing the long haul travel, the stop overs, the and the jet lag. Ensuring an athlete is able to recover from the travel and feel fresh and ready on race day can be the most challenging part of an overseas travel prep. Last week, we had not one, but two athletes head over for the San Fransisco Half Marathon, and they not only nailed their preparation, they nailed the travel AND their races. Three from three! Read on to find out how their races went….

ANDY ROGERS: 1:28.56, PODIUM –  3RD M45-49!

CPC: Tell us, what was the San Fransisco Half Marathon like? One word – AMAZING! It’s such an incredible city and we had an amazing time. I love being able to incorporate our love for travel with our love for fitness and racing.

A 6.15am start made for our first race starting in the dark, but when you are doing it in a city such as San Fran, it is actually truly spectacular. 6000 Men and Women all with their own stories to why they were led to a very exciting start line in San Francisco. For me, it was about two things: my own achievement and trying to reach my own goals, but also celebrating an event with our overseas family (I’m from the UK but now live in AUS). The 6 all entered the race, and all had our own journeys to get to this day, and it was very emotional and for us to be able to stand together at the end of the race with our medals. It was the greatest feeling ever and something that we all will never forget.

Course highlights:

  • The Golden Gate Bridge – running over this iconic bridge was something!
  • Flaghill – where soldiers held flags every 10 meters cheering you up the very steep hill, gave you goosebumps.
  • The 190mt downhill finish line with 100’s of spectators cheering you home was simply incredible!

CPC: SOOO: Tell us, how does it feel to PB and podium in the same race, seems you nailed it?! 

On a personal front, I ran a pretty much perfect race plan from start to finish. Sticking to a plan and never losing sight of it, even with some very testing hills to challenge me on the course. I went in searching for a PB and PB is what I got! 1.28.54 (50 second PB) 3rd age group, 50th overall. 🙂

As much as being able to achieve your own goals is amazing, being able to share these kinds of experiences with loved ones is simply incredible.

 

CPC: As an athlete that isn’t getting any younger, you still seem to manage to be improving. What do you think has been the biggest contributor to this?  And how has having a coach helped with your achievement?

ANDY: There are a number of factors, including my diet – nutrition plays a big part in being able to fuel your body correctly and recover  well to gain maximum performance. My training program (although I had to manage an injury late on) has been perfect. Low k’s generally looking after my (older) body and listening too it. Not been afraid to call a rest day or to cut a session short.

Practicing my race day nutrition in training sessions and setting out a detailed race nutrition plan was important to ensure I had dotted all the I’s and crossed all the T’s. Like I said before my race was THE PERFECT RACE, I don’t think you get a whole load of these in your life, but it really was spot on, and I can thank my coach for that!

Having a coach on TAP has just been amazing and crucial to my continued performance. Without a coach I wouldn’t have been able to make adjustments to my plan with my knowledge, so having a coach has just made it so easy. To be able to drop a text or a quick phone call to ask a few questions which is then discussed and an answer to a question quickly resolved.

The last 3 weeks was very testing with the onset of a niggling injury, but there is no way I could have made it to the start line in the shape I did and made the wise choices I made without the support of Sarah. Just like my IM achievement under her guidance, ‘WE’ achieved this PB. Thanks so much Coach for your continual support, you are amazing and know exactly how to get the best out of me and I cant wait to set and achieve my next goal with you!

LISA GROVE 2:28.11, sub 2:30 goal achieved, along with loosing 13kg! 

CPC: Just a few short months ago you weren’t able to run 5km without stopping, and now you’ve just smashed a half marathon! How did you find the training, and the race itself? 

LISA: I’m not going to hide the fact that I didn’t particularly enjoy running, I found it a tough slog. But since I decided to do the San Fran half marathon I’ve had no regrets, and dare I say now enjoy running?! 🙂

During my training plan with Sarah, I’ve shredded 13 kilos and over 55cm in my measurements. This has helped make running a lot easier that’s for sure! Not having ran for years apart from run / walk park run, there was only one place to start. 5k run walking we continued to gradually build on that each week until two weeks out from race-day I ran a 19km training run and knew I was ready! The thought of that extra 2.1k didn’t worrying me at all, but the hills I knew I had to tackle did. I had to mentally prepare myself for what was going to be a hilly course and this was the only thing that was going to stop me in my goal chase. But it was never going to happen my mind was in the right place my pre race build was perfect and we were ready to do it come the gun.

Sarah talked me through some great strategies to try if things weren’t going my way on race day (luckily i didn’t need these) so I just focused on hitting each of my race day targets – to slowly run all the hills, then as got to come back over the bridge I could have a quick walk to reset (12km mark) then walk through the last couple of water stations where I needed.

CPC: What did you find the most challenging about your journey, along with the most rewarding?

LISA: The most challenging part of my journey was running at a weight that was uncomfortable but of course the most rewarding part of my journey was losing those kgs, beginning to enjoy running again and feeling great and comfortable. And being able to share this experience of training and running with my partner Andy and being able to make him proud of me and my sister/coach proud of me, makes all the blood sweat and tears worth it. Who knows one day I may just think about doing a full marathon…. but not on a hilly course lol.

CPC: And the result? !

LISA: Sub 2:30.!!! Get in there.!!! Far out the hills were nuts.!  1km in and a big hill climb, 6kms in and another big winding hill climb, a gradual hill up both sides of the Golden Gate Bridge plus another big hill 1km from the finish line! But the views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline for almost all of my run kept me going. The support along the course was brilliant and the support of Andy and his family at the end cheering me down the last hill got me to my sub 2:30 goal! Thanks heaps coach you’ve helped me 100% to get me to the start and finish line of this race. And hopefully many more to come. Thank-you so so much for all your help, support and guidance.

Full details and race results here.