Nothing is impossible, even the word impossible means I’m possible – Audrey Hepburn
Words from my mother as she lay bed ridden for years from a crippling disease called MS. She named me after Audrey saying that this is the motto I must live by, this did not make sense to me at the time.
My background has not been a bed of roses, no white picket fence here. I was an only child growing up with a very strict step father who’s disciplining ways were beatings with the shambuck and a mother who was in the late stages of Multiple Sclerosis. My childhood was spent looking after my mom & trying to please my step father. I was academically achieved and primary school was spent being the best for my step father – head girl, 1st in grade, captain of every sport I did (except swimming – no pool).. I got to high school and everything changed, I rebelled against him. I also believed what adults & teachers told me, I was told I could not run long distance (I was a sprinter & use to vomit if I ran further than 1km – we all know why now) & swimming was a joke
I lived just outside East london near a secluded beach. The beach was unswimable with dangerous currents to say the least. As a 17 year old rebel I didn’t take the warnings and would splash around hip deep in the water. One day I was messing around when a strong current pulled me in & the sand gave way under me. To cut a long story short it took me around 40 mins to get to shore where I collapsed & was helped by medics etc. I developed a water phobia after that & could not put my face in water
December 2010, tired of being a typical smoker, yo-yo dieter, party animal I was looking for a new direction in my life. Accidently I entered a 10KM run (also long story) barely finished it and vowed to run two oceans half marathon. June 2011 I made the decision to conquer my water phobia. I knocked on Luke Lalin (excellent swim coach) door & he agreed to help me, it took two months to teach me to swim one lap. I bought my first road bike in July 2011 and so my journey begin. I swam quietly in the last lane at MTD from July 2011 nearly every day. I was incredibly determined to beat this and the only way to do it properly was to enter half ironman in East London & swim in the same water that I almost drowned in. I finished in 5h56 – the media interviewed me on Television regarding my story. I went on to do Ironman 2012 – need I say more.. that swim shook me to the core & I realised just how much mental strength I have. If I could do that then I could do anything and so my dream of what was impossible become possible. No longer would anyone tell me that I cannot do something!!
Last year i went with our MTD group to watch the KONA slot allocation. I have never wanted anything so badly as I did that day when Graham got his kona slot. I secretly cried, not only for him, but I pictured it was me. The month was barely up and I was at Claire’s house for a meeting. I sat down and the first thing I said was.. I WANT KONA.. and I will get it. I opened up a Target account and put away some money every month. This was to help my mind focus on visualisation and training. How can you mentally visualise & believe you getting a slot if you don’t have the funds for the entry let alone some portion of the race?
Training for ironman this year was different. I approached Claire with the times I wanted to achieve and asked her to help me train accordingly. I did things that I thought was absolutely CRAZY like entering the elite ladies 5 day cycle tour on a borrowed road bike for a training block, but I focused on the bigger picture. I VISUALISED.. people think this is corny but it works, I visualised going up for my kona slot to the point that I got tears in my eyes at home, I visualised every discipline I did.. every training session was done by saying things like.. every day in every way Im getting stronger & faster
Leading up to the race I was nervous as hell. The night before I sat with my notes and the course route.. I executed the race perfectly in my mind.
Morning of the race I was calm, I knew that I had done all I could and now it was time for the celebration of the last couple of months. I gave gratitude to the universe to be here healthy & in good shape. The horn went off and so the day began. I ran into the water and started the swim, I felt awesome & comfortable but the swell started getting the better of me, mentally I was ignoring my tummy turning as I swallowed sips of the ocean. Exiting the water I felt rather green but pushed through for a quick transition to the bike. I was super excited to see the results of this bike leg as I training well for it, 30mins in and I was flying.. as planned I took my first gel, 10mins later I started losing steam.. felt nausea and my tummy bloated up, I tried to ignore it for another 30mins then decided to eat a bar. Big mistake, eventually I stopped along the road and vomited. Climbed back on the bike & started up but felt so weak and dizzy that I was worried I may fall off, took another gel quickly and again, stopped to vomit. I chose to not touch nutrition until just 90km. At the turn around point I was emotionally heart broken thinking my race was over and had a moment of bailing, thank heavens I shouted at myself at the thought of wanting to give up so soon.. I chose to ride a bit further and see, as a reward I had a banana & gel and pedalled forward. That gel was like a million caffeine shots and I was back in the game. I felt fantastic but now I had to be careful not to race the bike too hard to catch up time as I wanted to run my target run. I got to transition, racked the bike and was out on the course in no time. Now to execute the run, I planned to walk through two water stations per loop as a reward but no other stops. First loop I was flying but I felt like I was dying, every single time I wanted to stop for a little walk I would think.. do you want KONA.. I ran that marathon in 3h43 and a lot of it was mental strength. I never gave up and with that I felt a huge sense of achievement of what I can do even when the going gets tough. I found out that there was 3 internationals in the top 3 and felt sad as the thought of KONA slipped from my fingers, most of them were there for slots, so the chances were minimal.
I went back to the hotel broken as can be, utterly exhausted but in awe of my mental strength. I expected to be utterly heart broken & distraught about not achieving a KONA slot but I wasn’t. I was happy, I was content and above all I was going to go to the slot allocation as I will be going up to get my slot!! I did just that, I went to slot allocation and was surrounded by fellow caring athletes who knew my determination and dreams. I sat there with my heart beating so hard that I thought the whole hall could hear it. I heard as they called out my competitors & the shouts of joy as they went up, the second international lady went up and whispered in Pauls ear and the hall went silent.. he announced that this will be a roll down as she has a slot already. The hall made muttering noises and I collapsed into my hands with tears streaming down. Kelly did not take her slot and as they announced my name.. I have no words to describe that moment, I hugged Paul Wolff for what felt like an eternity. Memories of my background and life flooded my thoughts. We are what we think we are and we achieve what we think we are capable of achieving. Believe in yourself
I have to give special thanks to three people who have been a very strong & powerful part in my life, Paige Seale my daughter who has been my biggest supporter.. Claire Horner who had stood by me for 5 years, encouraged & believed in me and my closest training friend Duncan Mayne who spent hour and hours with me on the road, lent a ear to my moaning, my happiness, my disappointments etc
Thanks so much x