My First Half IRONMAN by Laura Anderson @ 30 Apr 2017
It was at the last NunaTriClub presentation night that I caught "the bug" to do a long course triathlon! There were so many inspiring people at our club who had completed either a Half IM or IM that made it seem do-able. I thought, surely I can do that! I flirted with the idea of doing Challenge Melbourne 2017, as the scheduled date would allow more preparation time, but quickly brushed this crazy idea aside.

It wasn’t until the end of 2016 that I resurrected the idea as I felt like I had a strong fitness base. I started to look into getting a coach as I knew I would need expertise and structure to help me achieve my goal. I signed up with Coach Sarah Grove of Holistic Endurance at the start of 2017, which gave me 3 months to prepare for Challenge Melbourne. I upgraded my watch (Garmin of course) and was introduced to Training Peaks and the MAF training style. My weekly training schedule generally consisted of 2 swim sessions, 2 bike sessions (often with ROTB) and 2-3 run sessions. It was definitely the most training I’d ever done, but a quote that has stuck with me helped to justify all the training - “you must be willing to do something that you have never done before, to get where you have never been before”. I was consistent and dedicated to my training sessions, making sure that Training Peaks showed a majority of ‘green boxes’! At times I found it hard to juggle all the training with work, study and social time, but thankfully my coach helped to modify my training schedule when needed. I was fortunate that I only encountered a few little niggles throughout my preparation, but nothing a bit of a massage couldn’t fix!

I used the Gatorade Olympic distance race as a preparation race, 2 weeks out from Challenge. I came away from that feeling strong and very happy with a massive PB. This gave me great confidence that I was in good form for Challenge. In the 2 weeks leading up to Challenge, the emotions were mixed:

- Nervous about doing something that is actually quite crazy!
- Excited at the prospect of finishing and achieving!
- Apprehensive about the weather conditions!
- Scared at the possibility of bombing out and failing.
- Pumped to put all my hard work to the test!

On race day I shocked myself about how calm I felt. Yes, the weather was far from what I had envisioned for my first half IRONMAN, but I also knew that it was out of my control. I took it in my stride and just accepted it as part of the challenge. Throughout the entire race I was focused and positive. I kept wondering when I would ‘hit the wall’, but my body held up strong. I think this helped me to enjoy myself throughout the whole race – who would have thought that a half IRONMAN in that weather could be fun! Without a doubt the support from the spectators helped big time! At the finish line someone asked me “How the hell do you look so fresh?!” Ha-ha, all I could do was shrug and be just as shocked at how good I was feeling.

So now what? Some people have asked – so now a full?! Ha! No thanks. I’d like to aim for another half IRONMAN, preferably one with better weather conditions!