I love going ‘down under’. I though it was great when I went there in 2000 and spent my time engaged in cultural pursuits like drinking and surfing, and then it got even better when I returned in 2005 to cycle tour with the devils in Tassie. And I topped it off last year when I won my first Ironman Australia crown. But to be honest, it doesn’t get much better than last Sunday!
There is only one country in the world where you can be racing and get not one, but seven marriage proposals! I don’t know if I was wearing my lucky pants, but I did manage to count five men that asked me to marry them, and a couple of women too…which is always an honour! I’d also like to say thanks to the spectator that flashed at me as I had just finished cycling up the 15% hill for the last time. My heart was already pumping, but this really got the blood flowing! And it’s only in Australia where I am running along, and am offered a cold beer/keg by almost every spectator and where the most common thing for me to sign is either a stubby holder or a naked male chest – and where else can I get my teeth into the best kebabs in the world than in Port Macquarie?!
I was so stoked to be back in Australia an even more stoked to come away with the win.
I went to IM Australia with a point to prove – to myself as much as anything. The past few months have seen quite a few changes in my life. New coach, new place to live and of course new Slice too! I am sure everyone will be happy to hear that I was still wearing the same non aero dynamic helmet that I wore throughout 2008, as well as the same wheels I rode in Kona – my unlucky, but now lucky again wheels……..
But I wanted to prove to myself, and others, that despite the changes I still race with the same head, and the same heart and the same passion inside. And that’s what matters.
So, a quick recap on the race. The swim – given the torrential rain storms the water was delightful ……brown, warm (not sure why it was SO warm) and with various items of floating debris (reeds, logs and if the rumours are to be believed there may have been a cow in there somewhere). I was super happy to go 3 minutes faster than last year, especially when I actually didn’t even feel like I was going quite that fast. Might have been the feet I managed to latch on to. Or the floating log.
The bike: One thing I do before a race is ride the course with my ipod in one ear. That way when I race I can remember the points where I heard certain songs. When I was cycling the Manic St Preachers came on – and the song – yup Australia. So I had that in my head for a lot of the day…unfortunately I also had Prince’s Purple Rain, which was probably a bad omen considering it pissed it down for about two laps. Without or without the pouring rain, the bike course was tough – with twists and turns, climbs, wind, and even when trhe road was flat(ish) you had the wonderful road surface to bobble along. Whoever invented chip seal deserves to be shot. But the vibrations were rather enjoyable…..Anyway, despite all these challenges, the Slice rode like a dream, and I felt stronger as the race went on, particularly loving the flasher as I came back into town.
And the run – I love the Ironman Australia course. Precisely because it has a bit of everything – flats, road, grass, mud, puddles, awesome awesome scenery (although no flashers), vertical climbs, and of course all the spectators offering you beer/kegs at every opportunity…….And to cross that line. It always blows me away. And this was no exception. And go under 9 hours. That made me as pretty darn chuffed too!
Last year I took a photo of one of the rocks by the ocean. On it was painted ‘Be happy for the moment. For this moment is your life’. I have had that photograph as my screen saver to this day. And that’s how I approach things – savouring the moment and making the most of it. I feel so super happy and grateful to have found triathlon, to have become World Champion and to win ‘down under’ for the second year. But for me, the most important thing is not only the win, it’s not all about proving myself, or getting faster and stronger. For me, every win I get is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to stand at the finish and greet people as they cross the line and an opportunity to stand up at the Awards party, and try and do my little bit be the World Champion that everyone can be proud of.
As a proud Amabassador to the IM Australia’s nominated charity, The Kids Foundation (www.thekidsfoundation.com), i want to applaud everyone that raced and raised money for this great organisation, particularly the inspirational Brad Foster, who despite his own personal challenges has focused all his efforts on trying to raise AU$140,000 for The Kids Foundation (see – www.kidsfoundation.org.au/?id=bradfostersdi4kcommi). The current total stands at around $75,000, and I would like to reiterate his call for everyone to put their hands deep in their lycra pockets and do whatever they can support this amazing cause.
It was phenomenal to see so many women of all ages racing at Ironman Australia. But we need to do more. I want to see the day when women outnumber the blokes, and I would urge everyone to encourage and inspire as many women and girls as they can to take up the sport. As many know, I am helping to set up an organisation called GOTRIBAL (www.gotribalnow.com), which aims to do just that. So lets make a huge effort in our clubs, towns, families, work places – to get even more chicks to the start line at triathlons around the world……..and really give the boys a swim, bike and run for their money!
Of course, I would like to finish off this blog with a round of thanks. To IMG, Ken and Glenda Baggs and the wonderful local committee in Port for all their hard work, enthusiasm and committment. It couldn’t have been easy with the pissing rain, cyclonic winds and knee deep puddles of mud. But the race went ahead without a hitch, and that’s a huge credit to Dallas, his superb team and the local organising committee. I would also like to give a special mention to Andrew Lister and Bob and Jan Crombie, who went over and above the call of duty to help me out and all the boys at Gordon Street Cycles (including Dan The Man) for servicing me and my Slice, and to the wonderful, smiley and ‘cup half full’ Bob Cranny at Altitude Physical Therapy in Boulder for putting me in all kinds of comprimising positions in the name of physio.
Thanks also to everyone who turned out to support, despite the rain, particularly the flasher (who, from the size of his package, was obviously suffering from the cold) and of course the thousands of volunteers, without whom ironman events would never happen.
Finally, of course – the biggest cheers goes to all the age groupers, whose smiles at the finish line remind me once again why I really do love this sport so much!
And to the five guys, and the women, that asked me to marry them…..the biggest …uuuuummmmmm……ring gets my hand!