I have to start of with an apology for my sluggishness in putting fingers to keyboard and posting this blog. I got carried away with post race celebrations and before I knew it a week had passed, my blisters had healed, my chaffing had disappeared, I managed to finally remove the tattooed race letter on my calf, I recovered from the Awards party hangover and I wasn’t walking like a cowgirl anymore!

IM Australia: what an absolutely amazing event. I feel so happy to have been part of it, and to win, well that was just the icing on a very large and tasty cake!

I have to say though. It was, in many ways, the toughest race I have done. My training had been going really well, so I went into the race as confident as I could get (which isn’t brimming) fitness wise, however a series of pre-race blonde moments could have been my downfall. I opened my bike bag when I got to my hotel (The Observatory, which was the dogs danglers) and was greeted by the disturbing sight of one rear race wheel and one front training wheel. Oh dear I thought. This isn’t great. So began a mission to get my mitts on a front HED wheel. Clincher of course, due to tubular incompetence on my part. Luckily, the chairman of the Port Macquarie triathlon club, Andrew Lister, had a great taste in wheels, and kindly leant me his front one, with the instruction to ‘give it the ride of its life’…! So with two matching wheels I was all set. I then took my trusty P2 (the Kona one) into TRS Cycles for a service two days before the race. Lovely Jim the owner wasn’t nearly as lovely when he became the bearer of some rather disturbing news – ‘chrissie, you do realise that you have a crack in your frame don’t you?’. Oh bother I thought again. Needless to say, I didn’t know about the said crack. What to do? Get a new P2 built up or take the risk. It was a small crack. I took the risk. Note to self: bubble wrap around frame next time.

Blonde moment number three was making the assumption that Australia would be warm. It was: when I arrived. However the temperature suddenly plummeted to sub zero, British proportions. And it became rather moist. I had small tank tops, small shorts, and training clothes the size of tea bags. I rode a lap of the course. And froze. Hyperthermia is not the best preparation for an Ironman.

Anyway, blonde moments aside the pre race week went well, and I wasn’t that nervous before the race (although I did manage to munch most of my finger nails). I have been working hard on my swim, and was really pleased that, for once, I didn’t sink and managed to pull a good one out of the bag. Onto the bike I felt a wee bit sluggish and turned into a bit of a grandma when it started to drizzle with rain, and I had to navigate tight corners and a few descents. Although I overtook the lead girl after 5km, at about 15km Kate came zooming past me. Oh dear I thought. She’s motoring and I don’t think I should/can go with her. So I let her go and trundled on – my strength increased as the sun came out and by the third lap grandma legs had gone, and I felt full of beans. I overtook Kate, and a few boys, after about 160km. I went out onto the run feeling pretty rosy, although I was a wee bit concerned about how my niggly hammy was going to pull up. With Kate only 1min30 behind my aim was to try and put as much time between us as I could, in the hope that when the pain hit I would be able to hold on for dear life. With a three lap course you can play mind games with yourself – a marathon seems much less when you think of it as 3×14km. Although no amount of mind games could make those hills any bloody easier! Oh and my hammy did hurt. I ignored it. I remember one guy yelling out to me at about the 16km mark on the run. Chrissie ‘it’s in the bag’! I thought to myself – you’ve never done an ironman mate. The race hasn’t even started – there is a whole world of pain to look forward too!

Luckily for me his prediction came true, and I felt like a million dollars as I ran down the finish chute, high fiving everyone and taking the time to really appreciate the sweet taste of victory. But the other girls sure did make me work for it. Credit goes out to them, and especially, of course, to Kate who gave me a real run for my aussie dollars.

Having spent the last few days in Sydney, nursing the blisters, chaffing and hangover, I have flown back to the Philippines to try and find some fast twitch fibres for my next race: the ITU World Cup in Korea, and then its back to Europe to our heaven in the swiss hills, and preparation for IM Frank-Furter on 6 July. Bring on the lederhosen and sausages..)

I will sign of with some lengthy words of thanks……. First of all to Panthers, all the race sponsors, IMG (Kim, Dallas, Jo, Mariko Driver Extraordinaire and Shaney Boy) and the Port Macquarie population for their unwavering support. Cheers go out especially to TRS cycles, Andrew Lister, and Jan and Bob for helping me through the blonde times…J Thanks also to Gemini Cycles in Sydney for sorting out my ‘crack problem’, by building me a brand spanking new P2. It’s called ‘Harry’ after my granddad.

A huge THANKYOU to the thousands of volunteers (including the wonderful kids from the Kids Foundation) who gave up their precious time to help. I spoke to some of them at the finish line and throughout the evening, but there are so many hundreds more who’s enthusiasm, energy and selflessness help make the race such a success. I also want to say thank you to the thousands of amazing supporters (including Mike and his family) who lined the streets from start to finish: cheering me on, even though I am a (not that whingy) Pom. The atmosphere was seriously electric, not just when I was coming down the finish chute waving the St Georges cross like a lunatic, but right through until midnight.

As I said at the Awards dinner and will repeat here – for us professionals this is our job, all we do is train, eat and sleep. We might grab the headlines, but we are really only a small part of the story. The real story is the thousand or so age groupers who ran, walked, staggered and crawled their way over the finish line. I was lucky enough to chat to some of them, and each person had an amazing story to tell. Watching the determination, courage, joy, and elation on people’s faces reminded me once again why I do this sport. And no, it isn’t for the chaffing, blisters or zebra tan lines.

My smile says it all!