It was 2004, I was 36 years old and almost 90kgs. At 5’10” 90kgs is not ideal and not pretty. There were a few things that happened that culminated in a big wake up call. The first thing was a photo of me standing on the beach at Port Stephens, in budgie smugglers, after water skiing. Actually now that I remember my friend’s boat could not pull me out of the water on one ski.
The second thing that happened was something was going wrong with my body. My system was working overtime and causing me all sorts of problems. This went on for months and I had numerous tests to try to find out what was going wrong. None of the doctors could come up with an explanation. The root cause hit me one night at 2am. I couldn’t get to sleep and suddenly I figured it out. It was alcohol. In particular red wine. Every time I drank my body reacted for the next 24-48 hours. So I stopped drinking over night. Miraculously the problems disappeared overnight.Decision time
I thought that if I am not drinking then this is a good time to start eating properly. I also decided to buy a mountain bike and do some exercise. I rode twice a week for 20 minutes. I ate nothing but fruit, vegetables and lean meat. I ate no carbs, dairy and anything manufactured like biscuits etc. It was boring me to tears but I did learn to make a lot of nice salads.
Nothing seemed to be happening until one day I was shaving and I felt my cheek bones for the first time in years. I then noticed I had bones in my shoulders. The euphoria was enormous. Now this change in diet made sense.From soccer to triathlon
My next great move was to play over 35s soccer. The only problem was I found I was pulling muscles each week and not training during the week. I needed something more. One of the guys I played with convinced me to do a triathlon. So I got on the web, found a triathlon club and went along. This has been the best thing that I have ever done.In December 2007 at the age of 39 I did my first club triathlon with minimal training. Whilst I was not fast it was easier than I thought it would be. I had never swum or run competitively. I had been doing Sunday rides on a road bike with a mate for a year or so and as a young teenager I had cycled competitively on the road and track.
I was hooked
What I found at the club race were friendly, fit, positive and intelligent people who loved life. I contemplated cycling but to be honest the thought of just cycling was not as interesting as the challenge of doing a multisport. I was hooked!
In the first season I did some Kurnell Sprint races, Tri NSW club champs, Nepean and also some fun runs. By the second season my times were falling and I was beginning to be competitive. There are still people in my age group that I will need to be very lucky to beat but I am not far behind them. I have started taking swimming and running seriously and this is making the sport even more enjoyable.
At the beginning of 2009 I decided to try to make the New Zealand team for the world champs on the Gold Coast. I trained under Bruce Thomas from Energy Link, submitted my application, did one race in New Zealand and just managed to make it on to the team. I never thought I would ever wear my country's sporting uniform even at an age group level.Finding the passion
The thing that I love about this sport is the people, the challenges, the complexity, the weekends away and now the business that I have started with David Stewart. Trizone is a news website for the triathlon industry in Australia. It combines my business experience with my passion. Perfect! My goal of becoming a professional age grouper is now inching closer.A day in the life...
My life is incredibly busy now. I have to get up at 4:30 – 5am 6 mornings a week so that I can fit training in with my full time job as head of digital for The Intermedia Group. Before I head off to train I usually do an article or race report for Trizone. I also have two teenage daughters who are slowly getting in to triathlons and a long suffering wife who keeps us all feed and clean while running her own business. I train at lunchtime a couple of times a week and also run a couple of nights a week. I try to do a long run usually 24kms at Centennial one night a week or run home from work which is about 17kms. A new office building with showers will mean I will run or ride to work every day from the end of November.
I work every night at home until about 11pm or when I fall asleep at my laptop with working on Trizone or fulfilling my role as a committee member for the Balmoral Triathlon Club. I look after the website and weekly club communications. This can suffer sometimes but generally everyone is kind to me at the club when I am off my game.
I race a lot so most weekends involve training or racing. I will have travelled to four races outside of Sydney before Xmas. We now incorporate weekends away in to the racing calendar. This has resulted in many more holidays for the family than we would normally take.The SiS Port Macquarie Half Ironman
In 2010 I completed my first half ironman. I did the SiS Half Ironman in Port Macquarie. Not everything went to plan but I went in to this race with just finishing in mind. I am not a long distance runner and I was worried about doing a half marathon after cycling 90kms. I made many mistakes. I didn’t eat properly in the days leading up to the race. I placed myself in the wrong swim group. I swim faster than I give myself credit for. So it took me about a minute to swim past the start line then I spent the first half of the race swimming around and over people.I got on the bike and got myself in to a good group by the 15km mark and we started to power through the field. We were about the third group in the race when I became yet another victim of the Matthew Flinders hill. My chain snapped. I sat on the side of the rode waiting for the mechanic to come. I lost around 20-25mins. I then got back on the bike and made the beginners mistake of trying to get back in to the race.
I have just signed up for the Canberra Half in December and also have two more mid distance races before Xmas. I then have two more half ironman races in the new year and a number of other triathlons.
People say that multisport is the new sports car for men going through their mid life crisis. I think about the ‘mid life crisis’ often. For me it was getting close to 40, realising that I was overweight and out of shape and that I could only have a maximum of 30 years left of active life (apologies to everyone older than 70 and are still active).Why I do it
There are so many things I want to do in life and I went for a long time not doing them because I wanted to keep other people happy. Now I realise that I could have been doing these all along as when you are happy those around you are happy. It is important that you make sure that the person you share your life with is happy. Because usually that will mean you are also happy. It works both ways.
I see guys who are (apologies for only referring to guys as I know it happens both ways) incredibly hen pecked and are busting to go and do things. Guys need to have an outlet with other guys so that they can compete and let their endorphins run free. It is part of our makeup and if we don’t have this opportunity we can get very out of sync with who we really are. We need our sheds, toys and mates. It is very therapeutic. Sometimes it is like a free therapy session. It is amazing how guys are more open these days. We talk more openly and we learn a lot off each other.And often, you come away more grounded because of it.