Archive | November, 2017

First time on the podium!

26 Nov

Today I came 3rd in my Long Course Triathlon at Bribie Island.  If I’m honest with you, I don’t know if I should be shouting it from the rooftops or just mentioning it in passing…but as there is a race report after each one, today should be no different.

For some reason I actually felt under-prepared heading into today’s race. I raced Noosa OD only 3 weeks ago, and had a couple of weeks recovery (which still included plenty of exercise mind you), and then a week of training prior to racing today.  While I would have given it no thought if it was 750m/20km/5km the slightly longer distance of 1km/30km/8km had me a little concerned. But, everyone seemed to think I’d be fine, so with that I lined up.

For the first time in my time doing triathlons, for this race I signed up in the Athena wave.  What is this you might ask? Great question! 😉 Triathlon is generally set up where you compete against athletes of the same age as you.  However, often they also have a less popular category with which you can compete – and that is based on weight.  Unlike the waves going up by 5 year increments, the weight class is simply females over 75kg (or sometimes 70kg).  Triathlon has recognised, that a heavier athlete will actually find it difficult to be competitive against a lighter athlete of the same age, and have created an option for these athletes to compete against each other.  In the Athena version of this, in particular, there can be a fair bit of stigma associated with it – with athletes thinking the class is embarrassing (and as I recently read, they would rather ride their bike into oncoming traffic than race in this class….). After all, wearing full body lycra is hard enough without entering a wave start that actually acknowledges you’re heavy!  However, recently I decided I would throw caution to the wind and enter this wave category.  The competitive person in me desired to be a bit further up the finishers list, and if I could do this by competing with people who had similar challenges to me then so be it.  I haven’t seen 75kg on the scales since I was about 13, and with my height (and based on BMI) it is the upper limit of my healthy weight range, but unfortunately I’m still 20kg heavier than that. While sure, I agree that it would be amazing to be 20kg lighter and be able to realistically compete against fellow age groupers, to be lighter in the water, more aerodynamic on the bike, and a moving a lot less of me on the run, I have always struggled with my weight. So, the upshot of all of this is that today I took a big breath, competed as an Athena, and against similar people managed to come third!  This is how it played out…

The swim. 1km. Bribie Triathlon is known for its tide assisted swim.  The swim start is moved based on the direction of the tide.  I was looking forward to a fast swim, where the tidal assistance helped propel me along. I did a warm up swim, bobbed in the ocean a little to see what the current felt like, and honestly found myself to not move very far at all.  I felt that there wasn’t an obvious current so it sure didn’t feel like it was going to be a super-fast swim.  Back on the beach and after a short wait we were off.  I very quickly started swimming as each step into the canal landed me calf deep in mud… delightful!  I could hear cries of “ooooh” “gross” all around me, but just decided even if it was shallow I’d start swimming because trying to move through the mud was near on impossible (I had also discovered this in my practice swim).  I found myself at the front of the swim pack which is a bit of an unusual place for me to be.  I wanted to hang onto the girls as long as I could, and tried to put in my hardest swim – maximising whatever tidal assistance there was.  For a majority of the swim I had another swimmer pretty much sit on my hip – which would have been nice for her, but I disliked the constant contact it resulted in, I’d move out of her way a bit by trying to push a bit harder but she seemed to just follow. It was probably only in the last 200m I managed to get away from her.  I found sighting a bit difficult today as the water was a bit choppy straight into my head, but I stayed with the main pack and hoped they were all heading in the right direction. When I finally saw the turning/finishing buoy I was greatly relieved.  Up out of the water I saw a swim time of 24min. This was disappointing as I’d been hoping for about 20, and I felt like I had pushed hard, but it was time to keep moving regardless and head to the bike. Interestingly I came third in my group in the swim, and noted very few sub 20 min swims for those starting around my wave time so I think conditions played a part in my slightly longer swim today.

It felt like a fairly quick transition from swim to bike, though I could hear Dave making wise cracks about me making a cup of tea, so I yelled I was going as fast as I could and tried to get out of there quickly.

The bike. 30km. I was looking forward to this leg as Bribie is touted as a fast, flat bike.  There are a few corners to take into account but very little elevation to speak of (about 100m across the duration of the ride).  I was probably only 2km into the ride when my mate Ki overtook me. D’oh! She had entered the same wave as me, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to beat her.  Still, not to be defeated I decided she wasn’t going to get too far ahead of me and I just had to keep pushing.  I felt that every turn I made was into a head-wind.  The longer I was on course the windier it got.  It was so nice to see familiar faces on course, and to say hello and encourage each other along the way (as there are lots of little out and back bits).  It was a 3 lap course each about 10km (though my total ride was just shy of 29km).  On the second lap I slowed down as a car on the road was approaching a round-about just ahead of me. I sat waiting for him and watched as the marshall directed traffic to the right – and I subsequently followed his directions… only for him to yell “The car, not you. You’re meant to go straight”… so around the round-about I went and back in the direction I was meant to go… oops!  I joked with him on the final lap as I approached the same round-about as I indicated that I was going to go straight ahead this time.  I kept going as best I could on the bike. I appreciated the flat course, got more confident taking the corners with a little bit more speed than I normally would, and very much disliked the headwind.  It was frustrating to be pushing hard and only hitting 26km/hr – the wind was noticeable! I was actually pleased to get off the bike, which is a little unusual after only 30km.  Still, I averaged just over 28km/hr so that was okay – I would have liked it to be slightly better if I’m honest. But no time to think about that, triathlon has three disciplines so it was time to move to the third!

T2 was simply a matter of changing shoes and head wear, racking the bike and it was time to run.

Run. 8km (well 7.3km). It was starting to get a bit warm, but I found the course was fairly shady.  Given I had just come into a headwind on the bike, I knew the first half of the run lap would have a wind in my back so I tried to make the most of that. I struggled at the start of the run – I felt pretty weary and a bit average, but I kept putting one foot in front of the other.  I continued to see friends out on course which gave me something else to think about as I was jogging away.  It was a 3 lap run course, with an aid station in the middle. So I broke the run up into aid stations. As is my custom I stopped for 2 mouthfuls of water at each aid station in order to try and keep a bit hydrated and to regroup. This strategy was again effective for me.  While I could see I was slightly gaining on my friend Ki, I could also see that I would not be able to catch her.  The race was after all about doing the best I could do, and with that in mind I soldiered on.  I found my running actually felt easier as time went on. I found my rhythm, looked forward to the aid stations, and just kept going.  My running has improved so much under Em’s guidance. In the end I finished the run in 46:58. I managed sub 6:30min/km pace (good for me over a longer distance) and was the fastest runner in my category on the day.

Getting to the finish is always a relief, and today was no different.  I was happy with a 2:18:47 overall (a distance I’ve never done before – slightly shorter than Olympic, but longer than Sprint). I’m also pleased to finish 3rd – while I wanted to be more competitive I didn’t think I’d actually ever make a podium. Interestingly, if I had raced in my age group I would have come 10th.

Special thanks to Dave for being chief cheer squad today (and every day). Subsequent thanks to those out there today encouraging me along the way – Ki, Jacob, Rach, Leah, Nikki and Dan in particular.  I appreciated seeing you guys and your smiles and cheers.  Thanks also to those who love the Smiddy suit – the Smiddy cheer squad was alive and well at Bribie today too.  The marshalls, TA officials and crew were wonderful out there today – also smiling and encouraging and it was greatly appreciated.  Thanks as always to friends and family who encourage me to keep on pressing on. Thanks to my great coach Em for believing in me, and writing a program to help get me fitter.  Thanks also to fisiocrem for wonderful recovery cream – I look forward to lathering myself in that a bit later today!! Thanks also to God – I’m thankful to be able to participate in a sport that requires me to be healthy and I never want to take that for granted.

So, at this stage I’m full steam ahead for Tweed Coast Enduro in about 10 weeks.  I don’t have any smaller triathlons booked in for now, so I think the next big race will be my Half Ironman.  Time to keep focusing on the training, increase my mental toughness and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Until next time!


My job…

23 Nov

This week, while sitting in the tea room on my lunch break I found myself googling “compassion fatigue” – the fact I was even googling it shocked me a little. However, I had to admit to myself that I was feeling tired, and after a few emotionally draining shifts, was starting to feel like my patience for my patient was at an all-time low.  I endeavour to stay physically fairly fit as this provides me with the health and energy to do my job, and the mental health break to get out in the world and do some things I enjoy. Lately however, training has been really hard as I just feel so tired! I haven’t enjoyed it as much as I usually do (but I’ve still tried to be disciplined to do it as I always feel better afterwards).

It’s partly that time of year though isn’t it? As Christmas starts to approach the list of jobs seems to get bigger, the social engagements ramp up (Christmas parties and the like) and I often find myself feeling a little overwhelmed.  While for some the Christmas period means holidays and relaxing, the healthcare industry doesn’t stop, and for me, there is no long relaxing holiday to look forward to at this time.  So the daily routine continues, and I will be thankful for a couple of days off between Christmas and New Year, as it brings and the chance for a brief trip to Adelaide to see family.

My original problem remains though.  Sometimes the “daily grind” is exactly that. As I sit here typing this, I know that in about 2 hours I start work. For me, and a few wonderful colleagues, tonight we’ll be seeing every minute and hour between 6.30pm and 7am.  Can you catch a few zzz’s on my behalf?

So, before I head in tonight, I’m reminding myself of all the things I love about my job. Because, I really do love my job. You know, I get to do this:

  • I get to be calm in someone else’s storm. I can be the voice of reason, reassurance, encouragement and peace.
  • I can explain what all the machines I work with do, to help allay the fears of loved ones who look overwhelmed by the environment I work in.
  • I will explain to my patient and my family every task I have to do and why I am doing it, so that they are informed
  • I can provide a box of tissues or hold a hand when it is simply too much
  • With a wonderful medical team, I will endeavour to undertake all that I can to ensure the medications, care and tasks carried out throughout my shift are to the benefit of my patient

The job I do is a privilege that I never want to take for granted.  I will ensure I continue to take care of myself, so that I can take care of others. I always want to be empathetic.  I am blessed to be part of a team that (as Hippocrates said) “cure sometimes, relieve often and comfort always”. Unfortunately, not all illnesses are treatable, but I can always seek to provide comfort.

So tonight, as you tuck yourself in bed, I’d love it if you took a moment to think about those who are not in bed.  If you are so inclined, I’d even love it if you considered taking a moment to pray for us.  For those of us who are working the night shift, for those of us who are currently unwell and not home with their loved ones, and for those of us who are by the bedside of an unwell family member or friend.




Noosa Triathlon 2017

6 Nov

It honestly doesn’t feel like that long since I wrote last year’s Noosa Triathlon race report… they say that the years seem to go quicker when you get older… there’s a thought not worth finishing… I came into this year’s event feeling pretty good. I’ve trained consistently under the watchful eye of my coach Emma Quinn, and I knew I was fitter and stronger than any other year.  I have also completed two half ironman’s since last year’s event, so I knew that going the distance was no longer an issue. So, it was going to be down to the day itself, the conditions and hopefully no health or mechanical issues.  Time would tell.

There’s nothing like a 4.15am alarm to get the day started!  It was up before the dawn to get some food into me and walk the 2km down to transition. I was loaded up with what I hoped was everything I needed to do my race – I was still running check lists in my mind.  I arrived to transition about 5am, I donned my helmet and was able to walk straight through the officials without even encountering a queue.  I laid out my transition as normal, making a list and checking it 100 times, before a kind competitor smiled in understanding and told me I just had to walk away. He was right.  The tyres were re-pumped, everything was laid out in the order I would need it.  It was all there, it was just nerves.  So walk away I did.  Down to the beach and the first sight of what conditions would be like.  Thankfully, they looked pretty good. Waves were breaking near the shore, but much feared dumping waves were no-where to be seen (not sure they exist at Noosa Main Beach, but fear is never rational).  As part of the Smiling for Smiddy Noosa Triathlon team, there was the required photo at 6am, and an early wave start at 6.40am.  Just enough time to wait around and get mildly anxious – however reassurance from many seasoned competitors and team mates, encouragement from family and friends, and some coached deep breathing (thanks Dave) was enough to help settle the heart rate.  Then it was go time.


1.5km… 1500m… It doesn’t matter how you look at it, it’s a decent way to go. My plan was to be confident (ha!). I’ve swum in open water, I’ve done lots of pool training. I wanted to position myself out of the fight zone, pull, breathe, sight, repeat…  and so I did.  I found my position on the left hand side of the start line (I breathe to my right so that way I can still see the action), I let all the fast super keen people go first, before I entered the water, crashed through one wave, and started to swim. Pull, breathe, sight, repeat… I had another little goal of making it to the first turning buoy before being run over by the next wave of athletes… I checked that off my list, I didn’t see the first athlete from the following wave until after my first turn. This was a big win for me.  By the second sighting buoy after the turn I had caught some from the wave before ours. This too was a big win for me.  I was feeling good in the water – I was calm, and I felt comfortably uncomfortable.  So I continued. I had a bit of trouble sighting, my goggles had fogged up a little, and some of the waves made it a bit harder – however I tried to time my sighting with a wave crest so I could see further, and continued on my way.   It was wonderful to head around the final turn buoy and know you’re heading back to shore. I could see the arch on the beach, tried to keep it in line and started to kick a bit harder – trying to move more blood back into my legs ready to get up and run.  I was slightly scared of the waves coming behind me, but decided to keep breathing every stroke (so if I got dumped I theoretically had some air in my lungs), I could fell the push of the waves as they came up behind me… and also the slight pull as they headed back out… I saw fellow competitors standing around me, so decided it was time to plant my feet and head up the beach.  I saw Mum and Dad, and heard Dad yell “32 or so minutes Jen”! Winning I thought – I’d hit my watch button but not looked at my time. Official time 32:36! A new personal best!

T1 – Swim to Run Transition

As I came up from the beach I found others cheering – Dave, Kim, Kez, Zoe, David Smiddy, Liz, other people wearing Smiddy gear all cheering me on. Cap off. Goggles off.  Into transition, pull on my socks, pull on my cleats, throw the helmet and glasses on and get out of there.  While the pros managed this in 1:45, I took 4:51. Still, I was happy with that. It included 400m of running so that alone took most of my time.


40km. As I hit the mount line I heard more cheering and was excited to see Julie right there (on a side note – thanks for keeping my body in working order), and Mum and Dad had managed to get from the beach to the mount line as well. It was a bit congested at the start, but once I found a place to stop and get on (no flying mount for me), I was then good to go. The plan now was to find some rhythm on the way out, control the hill (work hard but keep the heart rate in check), be safe downhill, and increase the cadence at the end to freshen up the legs for the run.  I’m always a little hesitant for the first 10km.  I want to go hard, but I’m aware that the hill climb is coming so I’m always slightly scared that I’ll blow up before I get there, or before reaching the top. However, I also had a little bit of confidence in my training. I know what kind of pace I can sit on “comfortably” so went a little above that and hoped for the best.  This year I was pretty happy to actually pass people going up “Garmin Hill” – a 2.5km hill with an average grade of 4%.  Every other year I’ve been passed constantly and never passed anyone – and while for sure there were still people passing me, I was pretty chuffed as I went up past others. Made it to the top, without exploding my heart rate and feeling like I still had something left for the next 30km…  So then it was focus time, head for the turn around, and then push hard back again. I hit the Noosa descent feeling pretty confident – thankfully the road surface is good, conditions were good, and there is a large sweeping bend at the end. Unfortunately, I had a few people around me so was a little more cautious than perhaps I would have been if there was a bit more space around me, but hitting 71km/hr on my bike is still pretty alright… At the bottom of the hill I saw my coach getting into the SAG wagon and I was devastated for her (while this explained to me why she hadn’t passed me yet – which I had been puzzling over) – I was relieved to see that at a glance she appeared to not be injured, and a mechanical issue halted her race, but I was saddened to realise that her race for the day was done.  This made me extra determined to keep going. I pushed hard home, and despite it only being 40km, I was pretty happy to see the end of the bike leg. 1:23:40 – 28.7km/hr. A new personal best.

T2 – Bike to Swim

It’s a short trip into transition off the bike, but a long run around the whole transition area. Bike to run is always quicker for me, I don’t seem to mess around quite as much, just switch shoes and hats, and grab some nutrition and a race belt and leave.  However, the 500m around transition before you start the actual 10km run had me clocking a time of 4:03. Still fairly reasonable for me.


10km. The aim for the run was to be consistent and controlled. If I had more in the tank at 7km I could push harder, but if not, hang controlled until 9km and then finish strong… That was the plan anyway… As tends to be the way I roll, I did a pretty solid first kilometre and had to remind myself to slow down or I’d cook myself early. Heading out past family and of course the Smiling for Smiddy tent is always enough to make the legs turn over quicker than they should.  Thankfully, a water station not far ahead gave me the opportunity to regroup.  I had decided that I would walk every water station – this is a strategy I use consistently.  It is important to me, particularly when the day is hot like it was, that I stay well hydrated.  Whenever I try running and drinking I end up coughing up a lung and having to stop. So, it is more beneficial to walk the 20m, get 2-3 good mouthfuls of water and start again.  This strategy served me well again in this event.  The water stations each few kilometres gave me the chance to breathe, re-group and remind myself to keep going.  Between water stations I felt controlled, and was stoked to feel much stronger than previous years.  The run leg always gives me a chance to finally catch up with other competitors and to yell out to each other when I have some tiny amount of spare breath. While I felt controlled I wasn’t feeling so strong to think I could ramp it up and still make the finish line. So I continued on in the same manner, deciding to hold on until 9km and then go harder home. However I see that from kilometres 7-10 I got progressively faster, finishing as hard as I possibly could. Of course all the familiar faces and cheer squad at the end made it a little bit easier to get across the line. Another personal best to round out the day with a 1:07:02 run (6:42min/km or 8.95km/hr).


A final race time of 3:12:24 saw me do a 29 minute personal best time (about 15% better than last year).  I was absolutely stoked!  I was so pleased to see the hard days of training pay off.  I was pleased I didn’t have any health or mechanical issues. My motto of “in the first half of the race don’t be an idiot, in the last half of the race don’t be a sook” served me well on course this year.

Interestingly two other good friends and training buddies completed the race, and while we started in 3 separate waves, we all had finish times within 30 seconds of each other – hilarious!

While triathlon is classed as an individual sport, I believe there is no way that this is the case at all.  I would not be able to participate without the massive amount of support I get from so many people.  Friends and family who encourage me to keep going, train with me, and turn up at my events through to those who physically help me improve by coaching me or providing massage or physio as required. The Smiling for Smiddy team are amazing and their encouragement and support (and post race refreshments and physiotherapy/massage) are amazing – I cannot recommend joining them enough. I feel privileged to put on the Smiling for Smiddy suit knowing that my race is helping raise funds for cancer research ($362,000 this year to date).  I’m also incredibly thankful to be part of the T:Zero Multisport team and I’m thankful to be sponsored by Fisiocrem (seriously – the stuff is fantastic for tired and sore muscles – get onto it!)

I couldn’t have started this race without you and I couldn’t have finished this race without you all. I also thank God that he has given me a body that, for now, is able to participate in events like this.

So folks, until next time… and Congratulations on making it to the end!