It’s coming up to two months since the 2014/15 tri season finished, so I have had plenty of time to reflect. The past 12 months have been an absolute roller coaster of a ride, reaching heights I never thought possible and plummeting to lows I never saw coming. The highs I have thrived off and the lows I have turned into survival mode, but what I have learnt most from the past season is triathlon is not an individual sport, and the more support around you the more success you will see.
The Gatorade Series 14/15 kicked off in December and the first race was epic to say the least. The top 5 of my Age Group finished within 90 seconds of one another, and any one of them would have won any other age group. The season ahead was going to be highly competitive, and I was pumped for it! To top off the year, I signed up two sponsors, AvantiPlus Collingwood and She Science. This was a big step forward for me in my triathlon pursuits and very exciting.
At Christmas time an unexpected change occurred at home. The emotional stress affected me physically, and as my body ‘shut down’ to cope it also became very sick. With tonsillitis, a surprise (and excruciating) root canal and the flu in January I had the month off training and spent it largely in bed. I missed Race 2 in January which stung; I am not good at sitting on the sidelines but I was in no way healthy enough to race let alone train. With the emotional stress I was undergoing I was tempted to quit triathlon, but with new sponsors signed up I knew this wasn’t an option. As a competitive person I decided to take the focus off the tri season and just do what I love; running! I signed up for the Sunset Series by Start to Finish. I got along some friends to participate with, and with their support my love for exercise and training returned – plus my competitive nature! The events were brilliant, held in different fun locations across Melbourne and it was the perfect alternative I needed to get back out there.
So with a few fun runs under my belt, I got myself moving again and managed to toe the start line for the Gatorade Series Race 3 event. I gave it everything and walked away with a 4th spot. At first I was disappointed not being on the podium, it was the first time in a long time I hadn’t managed a top 3, but then I stopped to reflect and was really proud that I had even got to the start line to race, and gave it my best. I had 4 weeks until the next race and 6 weeks until the finale. I was finally physically healthy, and decided to transfer the emotional stress I was experiencing into training. For six weeks I did not miss a session and have arguably never trained harder. Race 4 in Portarlington saw me not only win my Age Group but was the fastest female of the day! Two weeks later was the final Race 5. There were three of us in my Age Group that could win the overall series depending on that race alone. I couldn’t believe I was on the start line with a chance at an overall series win with the season I had experienced! I came second in the race and second overall in the series.
I am proud, to say the least, of the way the season finished off and I know it absolutely wouldn’t have happened on my own. At Christmas time I was ready to quit triathlon. I was done with it, and couldn’t see how I could possibly train let alone race again. With the time off I was able to focus on myself and my health. Once I got that sorted, I used the people around me for strength to get back to where I wanted to be. Having sponsors on board at first felt like a burden; for the first time I wasn’t just racing for myself. Whilst I know whole heartedly they don’t care about results and are there to support me, I created that feeling of burden. But it was a positive weight and was the first step towards ensuring I didn’t quit the sport. I had my friends around me who were checking in and helping me out where required. My colleagues were also aware of my situation, and without me knowing, managed to ease my workload in the background so I didn’t drown from work pressure. My family unsurprisingly was a huge support and my mum would quietly leave me pre made meals in the fridge or run errands for me during the day. And finally I had my coach and training partners. My coach took it day by day then week by week and got me back to where I wanted to be. He was instrumental to getting me back to racing – and finishing the season with a 10km run PB – who ever would have thought that was possible!!
Whilst it was a challenging season, it is clearer than ever that you can’t do triathlon on your own. And whilst you may think you can, and you may well be currently, I can assure you will never reach your true potential. Triathlon is a team sport. You need to surround yourself with those who believe in your dreams and will assist you to get there. I have sponsors, friends, family, colleagues, training partners and coaches. Each person plays an important role, and I am grateful to every single one of them. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today, and quite possibly wouldn’t be a triathlete anymore.