After falling into the sport of triathlon with some friends by entering in the Husky enticer event in March 2012, for a bit of fun, I am still grappling to realise the journey which resulted in me hearing those beautiful words “Ellyse Turner you are an Ironman!”
A year before I lined up with the other inspirational AP10 athletes to compete in Ironman Australia 2013, I had only ever completed a Sprint Triathlon and didn’t know what an Ironman event was. It was a 6am bike ride up north with Megan, Simone, Sam and Kellie which decided my fate. After a discussion through out the ride I ended up returning home to register myself -exactly 11 months to the day, before Ironman Australia!
I didn’t know exactly what I had signed up to however realised I needed some professional guidance and the obvious choice was AP10. I sat down with Alex and Megan in September 2012 and started on the Ironman journey.
Race Day- I wasn’t too nervous, but very excited and emotional as it had been a long preparation for an event and I had received so many beautiful messages of support from friends back home I felt so empowered and knew this support would carry me through anything that I came up against on the day.
So after a few hugs I said goodbye to the awesome fan club knowing I would see and hear them all very soon, and entered the water. Hearing the gun go off I was relieved….now we could put the plan into action and enjoy the whole experience. I took a while to warm up and get a rhythm with some fellow competitors concerned enough about my breathing they pushed my head underwater, treating me to some salt water nasal irrigation.
I came out of the water feeling ok and got on the bike ready to hit the road, lapping up the awesome atmosphere. I was travelling ok better that I had thought on the first lap, with pain from some pre-existing saddle sores staying under control allowing me to stay comfortably down in the aero position turning the legs over, but on the second lap the challenge was laid down and I had to really focus on accepting the pain and the negative thoughts, but not holding onto them, as we had been taught. It was a hard second lap with the southerly also being a tad unkind however keeping a positive mindset I got through it with some awesome support out on the road with the unexpected yet familiar sight & sounds of Mum & John showing up in Laurieton & Gav turning up on the mountain bike after heartbreak hill. I knew this is what I had trained for & had to put my head down and just get it done. Cramps in my thighs plaugued me for the last climb up the HUGE hill, it was so cruel but I got up that hill and I knew it was 2/3 of an Ironman down.
Part of the mental training we had been through was to prepare for anything, adjust, stay calm & have faith in your training…..so this was the test and I was calm until I reached the top of the hill on the first lap of the run course with cramps in my legs and feeling quite overwhelmed it was hard to keep the emotions under control. But I knew that this was my day to enjoy and I was going to achieve something so special and had such wonderful support back home as well as out on the course.
Having never run a marathon before & not being able to run more than 45mins no less than a year ago, I set about reassuring myself that I had done the training & knew it was going to be tough but that I would get through it. The cramps from the bike proceeded to get much worse and the first lap of the run was tough physically & emotionally, but I set about forcing down 2-3 horrible tasting salt tablets each aid station and trusting they would work, this along with Alex’s advice that it wouldn’t hurt this bad for the whole run leg I kept going!
With the support along the course by athletes as well as supporters and loved ones I grew more confident in my ability and kept a smile on my face for the whole time no matter how much it hurt I knew this experience was something special and something to savour! Before I knew it, it was growing dark & I was heading out for my last lap with a smile, photo and hug from Gav I headed off into the darkness ecstatic.
I made sure I loved every minute of that last lap especially the finish chute but will never know why they put that ramp at the end its just another challenge of the Ironman!! Stoked with the result I can honestly say that I loved the whole day for different reasons, and my smiling muscles were just as sore as my legs.
Lastly and most importantly thanks to all the supporters out there on the course who made such an effort to make me smile throughout (Leisa), the other AP10 athletes for all those training sessions and words of advice & support (Kellie), to Mum & John for making the trip up there to share such an important milestone, to Alex whose guidance and knowledge was encouraging and reassuring, to Megan my awesome coach and beautiful friend; who without you I couldn’t have realised what I was capable of and my boyfriend Gavin who let me challenge myself in this crazy pursuit and supported me the whole way.
There are so many memories I have experiences over the last 9 months of training with AP10 and numerous friends that I know I will have for life, the race was special and I am now an Ironman for life!