My Big Scary Goal*

Thursday, 28 November 2019, By Helen Kennedy

Have you ever mustered all your courage and dared to set yourself a big scary goal?

It could be running 1km without stopping, getting on a bike for the 1st time, swimming in the ocean, changing jobs, establishing healthy eating habits, giving up alcohol, learning a new skill or facing your biggest fear.

Making the decision takes motivation, self-belief, and often encouragement and support from others. Once the goal is set, time to make a plan!

I set myself a big scary goal in June 2018 and with encouragement from Sarah, registered for the Port Macquarie Half Ironman in May 2019. This event involves a 1.9 km swim, a 90 km cycle and a 21.2 km run.

With 10 months to train, I thought "I can do this!"

I spoke to some triathlete friends who had done the event before and got hold of a 12 week training plan to put into action early in 2019.

I was training regularly with 2 weights sessions, 3 rides, 2 runs and a swim each week and competing in smaller events along the way such as the SAN Run4life. My routine was interrupted in August when I travelled to Japan for 2 weeks to visit friends. I did a couple of runs while there, but indulged in much eating of yummy food and drinking of cold beer.

The Bowral Classic 120 km cycle and Nepean Triathlon in Oct 2018 served as good motivation for getting back into training on my return from Japan, and I was feeling pretty good for the Sydney to Gong 82 km ride in November.

Things can often happen to derail us. It could be a holiday, a family celebration, self-doubt, an illness or an injury.

During the Sydney to Gong ride I was knocked off my bike by another cyclist and broke my left wrist and elbow. I had surgery, 3 months off work and 3 months of virtually no training. With my wrist in a cast, 2 screws in my elbow and feeling batted and bruised, even a short walk felt exhausting.

8 weeks languishing at home could have been unbearable, but I received the most wonderful messages of support. Family and friends visited and took me out to coffee, movies, dinner and weekend getaways. My lovely work team welcomed me at meetings and looked after my clients.

Many people asked about my frustration not being able to exercise, but I was too sore and uncomfortable to even concentrate on reading! I did feel sorry for myself and had doubts about regaining my fitness in time for the Half Ironman in May.

I had booked a trip to Morocco in January, expecting to be in peak fitness when I left, ready to leap into my 12 week training plan on my return. The reality was, I got my wrist out of plaster 3 days before flying out to Morocco on New Year's Eve. I went to see a hand therapist and was given rehab exercises to do on the plane and during my time away. My wrist and elbow were weak, stiff & sore, and I felt vulnerable and anxious about the trip.

Morocco was amazing and provided a nice buffer for recuperating without pressure to train or return to normal life before I was ready. However, it was a magnificent carb fest, and after 17 days of delicious breads, pastries, cous cous, sweet mint tea, dates and oranges, I was looking and feeling uncomfortably larger. I felt depressingly unfit and lacking in muscle tone having not exercised for 10 weeks.

In preparation for the Husky Sprint triathlon in February, I had no choice but to force myself back into training as soon as I got back from Morocco. I remember feeling so slow and unfit for my 1st 5km run on 20th January, and quite scared getting in the pool the next day for a 1km swim having done nothing since my accident on 4th November!

I felt quite terrified at the thought of riding on the road, so spent a few weeks doing spin bike sessions to regain some riding confidence and fitness. My 1st   tentative ride back on the road was on the 9th Feb supported by cycling buddies Alicia and Yin.

I completed the Husky triathlon cheered on by my sisters then Sarah proposed we do the Gear Up Girl cycle together in March. My confidence was growing, but the half ironman still seemed a scary prospect.

I conscientiously followed my training plan and did my physio exercises. When I had doubts and thought, "What if I can't do this?" I reminded myself that I was doing this for myself and there was no need to worry about pressure or expectation from anyone else.

I had many sleepless nights in the weeks leading up to the Half Ironman, worrying about multiple things such as logistics, nutrition, mechanicals and weather. Some were within my control, others not.

The night before the race was terrible, I felt sick with nerves and worried about getting a puncture, not eating enough, being dehydrated and the weather not cooperating.

Race day was amazing!!

 I thought to myself, "You chose to do this, just enjoy the experience".

My parents were fantastic, meeting me at the start and being visible at various points throughout the race. My partner Stu surprised me by getting from Hobart to Port Macquarie overnight and positioning himself at a strategic point on the bike course!

I felt well prepared, the weather was perfect, everything went according to plan and I finished on the biggest high of my life!

The best thing about setting yourself a big scary goal is, you have control. You choose what, when and how. 

I look forward to hearing about your big scary goal?

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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