Busselton 70.3 Ironman: Alcoholic to Athlete

5 years ago I arrived in Australia with big aspirations of changing my life for the better……what I actually did was live in a backpackers hostel for 4 months and get wasted every night on boxed wine which may or may not contain egg and fish. My exercise routine consisted of running/walking 1km on the beach once a week.

Following a stern talking to from my father, after he’d picked me up on Christmas Day with a hangover and I slept for 2 days straight, I figured it was perhaps time to think about that life change.

As much as people moan about Perth’s lack of entertainment, it was my saving grace, and so I discovered running. A 3km loop around Cottesloe, a 4km loop around Mt Lawley Golf Club, a 5km loop around Lake Monger (yes, I get around!), two loops of Lake Monger, a City to Surf entry.

My first triathlon was the BRW corporate event at Barrack St. A 400m swim, a 10km cycle and a 4km run. I borrowed a heavy yellow Zeus road bike with cage pedals.  I have no idea what times I did but I know that I loved it. Even the attractive Swan River beard.

Despite me having to brush the rust and dust off the borrowed bike when I gave it back, I decided that I would buy a bike of my own. Here come the famous words “I only want to spend around $500”. I blame Jen 100% for my cycling addiction, as he bought me my beloved Malvern Star that Christmas.

I VERY reluctantly went along to my first novice SPR ride after running out of excuses; oh I don’t think the weather is very good this Saturday, oh I cant I have breakfast with friends, oh im not fit enough. You know them all.

Welcome to SPR Shorty Shorts.

This time last year, my Dad announced that he had entered the Port Macquarie Ironman 70.3. My initial feelings were of pride and admiration, my second was ‘sh*t, I gotta do one now’.  With a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I watched my Dad cross the finish line in 6hrs 30mins. However, as much as I loved watching him race, I’m not a spectator, and so along with 2000 other people I hit that ‘register’ button at 10am on the dot to enter the Busselton 70.3 Ironman.

And so it begins. Preparing your body to endure a 1.9km swim, a 90km cycle and a 21km run, without two days rest in between! How do you do this? Well you can either remortage your house and join a tri club, or give it a go yourself. I went for the latter.

My goal: To not drown, not puncture and not walk. To finish.

The best advice I ever got whilst preparing for this event was to never lose sight of that goal, no matter what everyone else is doing.

I think the week prior to the event was the worst of all of them. I was hormonal, I was tired, everyone in my office was sick, and it was a full moon (they send me mental I tell you). I was not feeling race ready.

Friday 4 May 2012 – Jen and I rode the bike course. Road was immaculate, no wind, this was going to be a fast treat. Went for breakfast at the jetty, ocean flat, people swimming, even the swim was going to be good. Friday night……thunder, lightning, and rain that sounded like a flock of birds hitting the roof of our house. I didn’t sleep well.

Saturday 5 May 2012 – I have never waited so long for a single day to come around…and now I wanted to wait/train a bit longer!

The rain had stopped but the wind was coming in and the ocean can only be described as a giant washing machine, which I was sharing with 82 other people. I couldn’t sight the buoys, my goggles got kicked, I fed the fish my bacon and egg muffin breakfast, and I couldn’t get into a rhythm breathing bi-laterally. It was a long 41mins for me.

I love cycling. I only had two concerns on the bike; maintaining a 12m gap, and making sure I saved enough for the run. I got off the bike with a 34km/hr average feeling that I had left some energy still in the tank.

Now, for anyone who knows me well, one of my biggest concerns in this event was racing for 5hrs+, eating Gu, and having to stop for the toilet. My fear is not without reason!

Lap 1 of the run, 34mins. Not bad. So lovely to see some familiar faces; Megs, Lennie, my Dad, Mary and Jaz. Pass ‘Best Boyfriend in the World’ Jonno Bolton with his Go Emma Go flag.  

Lap 2 39mins, I probably didn’t need to chat to that girl about her polkadot race belt. I didn’t look at my Garmin for my time as by now I just wanted to finish.

Lap 3, I’ve just been over taken by my triathlon nemesis who I was so excited to have overtaken on the bike, but she is still within sight, so I will just pace behind her……….and then the Gu hits the fan! Lap 3 took me 40mins, even though I was sure I felt faster.

Finishing shoot, Ironman carpet, under the clock, cry, hug my family, get my medal, eat, drink and go to watch Jen finish his cycle leg for a team. ‘Best Girlfriend in the World’!

I can now confess that I secretly wanted to do it in 5hrs however, 5hrs 21mins and 12th out of 82 in my age category still gives me goosebumps.

I said ‘never again’ when I finished but today I am saying ‘what will I do differently next time’.

The moral of my story is that yes there are people who are born with natural athletic abilities, but it is possible for everyone to achieve their goals with a bit of hard work, determination, and love and support from the people around them. I encourage you all to set yourself a challenge and make it happen. Life is too short not to.

A HUGE congratulations to everyone who competed in the individual and team event on Saturday, it was so lovely to see you and your families down there:

Jen Siah, Emma Goodwin, Sarah Bolton, Kat Buckley, Jerard Ghossein, Mike Bonner, Michelle Bonner, Jen Watkins, Ryan Fynn, Brendan Nicol, Jess Huston, Louise Crawley.

24 thoughts on “Busselton 70.3 Ironman: Alcoholic to Athlete”

  1. Great write up Anna. You did really well getting out there and beating your Dad by a fair margin, he would have been super proud (and maybe a little sad to have been beaten by his daughter ;-).

    You set your sights on the goal and you were never in doubt to fail (although I think your sights may have been shifting higher and higher after each podium performance you produced this year).. I am sure you inspire many others within the SPR family to achieve more with their cycling/fitness..

    I was thinking of writing a blog but could not think of much positive to say about my day, I think much better to leave people with your positive spin on what was a very tough day for many out there..

    Now you can go back to your goon bags.. (I think that is the term I have heard being thrown around the dingy part of town)..

    Good luck for SA training..

  2. Awesome stuff Anna – what a great first-up time for a 70.3. Very inspiring!
    A couple more HIM’s and then you’re sure to front up for a full Iron Man!!

  3. Anna Kate that was an extremely hard day and mind power was the order of the day, I did go into the race knowing that there was a very nice bottle of champagne waiting at end, funnily enough that got me through the day and number 10 looking forward to being competitive at 90

  4. Lovely to share in your journey Anna…even if it’s sitting on the couch reading this :-). Seriously Anna, you and the other SPR folk you talk of are an inspiration to us all. It’s amazing where having such focus and discipline can take you. Congratulations!!!

  5. Congratulations Anna! That is an amazing effort in those conditions. I know the feeling of pain amnesia. Even after a crash on the bike and saying half way through that I wouldn’t do it again i managed to changed my mind by the time I finished.

    PS I’m glad you backed up all you gear with a great time, it justifies spending money on an aero helmet over a mortgage.

    1. Hi Chris, thought we saw you!!! We were cheering you on as well. Looked like you had an awesome race 🙂

  6. Amazing achievement Anna…
    “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”…
    Damned if I don’t feel all full of inspiration now 😉

  7. Fantastic achievement and a ripping read. It was an achievement to finish after that swim but a great event all round. Keep inspiring people!

  8. Great write up Anna – very proud!

    Also, just wanted to point out Speedy Gonzalez (Jerry) standing next to me in the photo, just before he tapped out a 41.2km/h for the cycle leg!
    And Bonner who would have done a 2:14 ride if it wasn’t for being a naughty boy and put in the penalty box for 4 minutes. So fast!

  9. Fantastic write up Anna!! So proud of you (and Emma, Ryan, Jen, Sarah, Kat, Jerard, Mr Bonner, Michelle, Jen, Brendan, Jess, and Louise)!!

  10. Oh man, I have done a few halfs and full ironmans and that was my hardest by far! The ugly swim set my tone for the day and personally somewhat dissapointed but happy to see everyone get through unscathed. Big congrads to everyone that competed in some way down there 🙂 Think I will retire (again) haha

  11. Anna great write up Hun – you are an absolute machine!! You always excite me about training when I see or speak to you 😀 WELL DONE! Now you can go back to being an alcoholic… JJ you will smash the UCI with Amanda, can’t wait for that write up too.

  12. Well done to Anna and everyone else who went down to Busselton for a quiet Saturday, which was then spent challenging oneself, each other and the elements themselves. It was great chatting after the race and feeling the shared sense of achievement, especially from those who completed the whole individual event.
    Awestruck at Jerry’s 2:09 bike leg; looking good for the World Champs time-trial now that he’s in.
    Big thank you to John Gilbertson, who trusted me with his fairly new white Cervelo TT bike. Despite being a tad too small it certainly made a big difference time-wise, even though I couldn’t maintain the position very much towards the end.
    And yes, I was put on detention for crossing the white line, whatever that means.

  13. Great write up Anna and top effort for taking part in the HIM…I have a mate here at work who described the swim in detail……..it’s the kind that rescue boats are made of! Well done.

  14. Well Done Anna. Great write up but I reckon a washing machine would be more pleasant than what I saw. I was only a spectator this year (thank goodness) but one of my mates said she was actually wishing for the shark siren part way through that swim. (For those who haven’t done Busso in the past they actually altered the swim course this year to ensure the swimmers were no further out than 200m as opposed to the 850m on the previous course because of our friendly Great Whites). Take heart in that the 41 min swim time probably can be put down to swimming 2.5km while trying to sight those buoys.
    Awesome effort and hopefully you can do it all over again next year. Well done to rest of the SPR people down there too. Great to see a sizeable Tri contingent in the club. After all triathletes are the better riders. Oops did I type that!

  15. Lovely Anna !
    Nice effort and good write-up.
    You’ll be happy to know there are another 3 half-Ironman distance races in WA in the next 12 months to enjoy (Mandurah, Albany & Busso again) – so take your pick !!
    Congratulations from a fellow 5:21 finisher (but years ago ….)

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