Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Changing direction

During 2015 I have thought very deeply about where I want to go and what I want to do when I leave this sport. I think it is fair to say this year I have struggled a bit with direction. When I first jumped into competing as a pro in 2006 I remember my Head of Department at the school where I was working saying to me that the biggest struggle I would have is that being a pro athlete requires you to be selfish and he didn't think I would cope with that. And I have found this to be completely true. I have times where I just feel I really am not contributing what I want to, to society. At the end of 2010 I was going to depart from the sport entirely when I unexpectedly fell pregnant with Benny. Brett and I decided for me to give sport another crack in 2012 and through Brett's support I was able to do so, and Benny gave me some extra years as I no longer felt like a selfish pro athlete. I had plenty that I was giving, if only to one individual. Now he is growing up, I have more time, and again I have itchy feet.

I have always had many strings to my bow, and that is when I am the most happy, and in my case this has boiled down to 3 main ingredients. Sport, music, teaching and being a Mum of course. Before I became a pro athlete I was working 3 jobs. Maths teacher, violin teacher and violinist. When I became a pro athlete and started travelling around I was no longer able to give students the commitment they deserved and had to give up all forms of teaching. I was still able to keep my music going through my playing, but in 2011 we left Christchurch for a number of years and this was also put away leaving me with just sport in my life. This year I have been up and down, so many thoughts in my head as to what I want to do but finally everything is coming together, I have a clear plan and I know what I want to do.

This year I have also pushed myself very hard in regards to my racing and my travelling schedule. I am always pushing myself hard, I always have, but this year I finished particularly exhausted as I explained in my last blog I just took a step too far. I now have decided I don't want to put myself through that kind of travel and racing schedule again. I love travelling with my family. I love going to Europe and spending a lot of time there and visiting a lot of places and challenging myself to a lot of races, but with Benny beginning school mid year of 2016 I can't expect him to pack up and leave in pursuit of my goals, and I don't want to go away by myself for more than a week. In 2016 I want to stay at home more, which will allow me to keep commitments and do other work. I will focus on fewer races throughout the year, and to places and courses that I am truly passionate about. Financially too, with some changes with sponsorship, my projected income is much less and I can no longer afford to be a full time athlete, and actually it has made my decision much easier, as everything just sort of switched on in my brain as to what I truly want to achieve, and it is no longer simply in reaching my own sporting goals.

So what do I want to do? Well I want to get a balance to my life. As I said before, I am happy when I have a number of different hats on. We are coming back to Christchurch and I have been lucky enough that the orchestra is letting me play in a number of concerts in 2016, so I have a bit of work there. I want to teach the violin. I was doing this before I came into this sport and I love teaching especially one on one, so that will be a major focus for me. And then finally I want to coach a small, limited number of athletes, so that I can give them the time and dedication they need. I have been in this sport for a decade, and I have learnt so much during this time (as well as finishing 37 iron distance races). I have been lucky enough to have learnt off some fantastic coaches during this time, to have been able to pick the brains of the best in the business. I have also had a number of years where I self coached. I did a lot of reading and experimented with a lot of different ideas and have a clear idea of what I believe works and what doesn't (not just for my own body, but for others that I have observed). I was also able to self coach myself to 6 iron distance victories, 5 half iron distance victories and 2 top 10 Hawaii finishes (so I didn't do a bad job there!) I would never coach anyone like I do myself. I have always seen myself as a business. I have never had the opportunity to just pick a race and really train for it like I would coach someone else. I also never gave any coach the opportunity to coach me as such. As a pro ironman athlete without government support like an olympic athlete, it is all about survival. My success is due to the fact I was an opportunist. I was willing to go and do whatever I had to race wise to make ends meet, and a profit for my family, plus of course I was never really driven to just succeed in one race, I always wanted and was driven to challenge myself by doing groups of races. I loved travelling to Europe for instance with my family and challenging myself by doing 4 half races and 1 or 2 full races in a couple of months, and having the whole trip as a whole being a success. Coaching Age Group athletes however will be a new experience, in that they don't depend on the income of the races to survive! So it will be nice to coach people with a plan to get them in peak fitness for their A race. To be able to talk with them about what they want to achieve, and then put a plan in place for them to get themselves there. 

So I have started my journey down this path. In the last weeks I completed the Ironman University course and I am now an Ironman Certified Coach. I really enjoyed this course. It was broad and comprehensive and the assessment was also. It has really kick started my passion. I am now currently coaching two amazing women who have let me in the door to helping them realise their dreams, so I am very lucky. I am also now looking to further pursue my interest in the fitness industry in further study as I want to learn more especially in the area of Strength and Conditioning. So all of this will have me fully occupied in 2016. Having all these goals in helping others' reaching their goals and bettering and challenging themselves has me fully re-energised and raring to go. I think also having areas outside of my own race goals will be beneficial to my own racing. I hope to not have so much financial stress on my shoulders each time I line up for a race. I am still on a much needed break and aim to start moving the body again next week just before Christmas. I aim to be on the start line giving it my all at the 10th Anniversary of Challenge Wanaka on February 20th. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all !!
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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

End of 2015 racing

This weekend saw me race my last race of 2015. It wasn't supposed to be my last race, I was planning to race the IM 70.3 in Taupo on December 12th but unfortunately I fell ill just before departing for my race in Sydney and am still battling this virus still with a fever and a very bad cough. I would never advise anyone else to race when sick. These endurance events are never to be taken lightly, but like most people I find it very hard to follow my own good advice. After my DNF in Kona I really didn't want to let anyone down again and it just came down to the fact I care more about letting people down than I do about my own health. So I got through the race and finished in 4th place and actually I was pretty surprised with the splits I achieved which saw me finishing only a few minutes slower than the year before, but now that it is over it is clear to me that I need to listen to my body and give it the break it needs. I started my season on January 9th and have completed 11 (4 full and 7 half distance races) since then, 13 if you include my 3.8k swim, 180k bike, 16k run in Hawaii. In fact when I look back, by the first week of March before most athletes had even begun their season I had already embarked on 2 full distance races and 3 half distance races! And of course it is not just the racing, I have traveled long distance far too much and that always takes far more out of me than racing itself.

I think part of me has been trying to punish myself these last few weeks. Because of my DNF in Kona I have embarked on a torturous schedule which has seen me travelling long distance, separated from my family on red eye flights with endurance races at the end of it all, all it seems to make up for the fact I was not able to run the last 25km of the race in Hawaii. What is really quite funny though is that after all this travel which took me to Europe, twice to Asia, Hawaii, and numerous times to Australia I am now unable to do the race which is just 3 hours drive away from my house!!

Looking back at my results it looks like the year went very smoothly. I achieved 4 first places, 4 second places, 3 4th places and a DNF, but really 2015 has been one really long battle. From my perspective it has been a battle to get on each and every start line and I am looking forward to put 2015 to rest. So now I rest and recover for a bit. We move back down to Canterbury just before Christmas and I will be taking a slightly new direction in the New Year which I am very excited about. Thanks as always to my supporters and sponsors in helping me through this year. My coach Kristian from Trispecific, Ceepo, Project Clothing, Asics, Rolf Prima, Rudy Project, Keywin, Sweet Cheeks, Powerbar, Roka, Cobb.