Connect with us

Editors' Picks

Elena Goodall: The Journey Has Only Begun

Published

on

Elena Goodall weighed 184kg just two years ago, now she’s lost the weight and recently finished Ironman 70.3 Cairns and has a full Ironman in her sights. Trizone caught up with Goodall to hear her story of fast food addiction, and her inspiring journey toward recovery.

“As a kid I was always really into swimming. I was so headstrong I used to look over at the big kids doing laps and want to be with them. I was training twice a day doing competitive swimming,” Goodall told Trizone.

Passionate about sport and very competitive, Elena used to swim in events around Queensland until she finished high school and joined the workforce. “I worked on the dive boats doing really physical work, and I got my coxswain ticket. I was always outside and I loved it. Then I moved to the Whitsundays and worked on a few islands as a water sports attendant doing jetski tours and all that fun stuff,” said Elena.

Financial crisis threatens Goodall’s industry and wellbeing

When 2009 hit, though, the tourism industry skidded to a halt in Queensland and Goodall couldn’t find work. Deflated and disappointed, she relocated back to her home town of Cairns and resigned herself to working indoors at an office job, something she’d never wanted.

“I worked in payroll for Queensland Health. Our office was directly above a chocolate factory and I’d have chocolate, chocolate milk and all that sugary stuff everyday. It was pretty much all I ate,” said Goodall.

The downward spiral begins

Goodall met her partner, now her husband, while back in Cairns. But this milestone wasn’t enough to stop her downward spiral. “I was eating at my desk at lunchtime, and getting snacks from the chocolate factory. I was putting on a lot of weight really quickly,” she remembers.

It’s this early period that Goodall reflects on solemnly; the turning point where everything started spiralling out of her control. “I didn’t want people to stop me eating the food I wanted, I just craved fast food all the time. Cyclone Yasi went through Cairns and my partner lost his job. We moved to Mount Isa and there were so many fast food chains everywhere,” said Elena. “You’d go to the shops and see a pie for $2, and a sandwich for $7. It was just cheaper to eat unhealthy stuff.”

After moving to Mount Isa, Elena found solace in food.

Waves of motivation ruined by fad diets

To those who criticise people with rapid weight gain and food addiction, Goodall is quick to say she did have periods of motivation. “I’d join the gym and buy the shakes. I’d get waves where I’d decide I wanted to get healthy and I’d look for a pill I could take.”

While buried in the midst of her addiction, like so many others, Goodall would turn back to where she found the most comfort. “After a week of motivation, I’d be starving and decide I’d rather be on the couch eating McDonalds, so that’s what I’d do. I had no desire to exercise at all,” she explained.

Trapped in a cycle of deriving comfort from a life-threatening diet of deep fried foods, Goodall was unaware of how desperate her situation had become.

I ate the food because it gave me satisfaction. It made me feel fulfilled.

Health results shock Elena to the core

Genuinely unaware how out of control her addiction had become, Goodall received a frightening wake-up call during a routine visit to the doctor. “He asked me to get on the scales in his room and there was a red error message,” she said. “I was too heavy for the scales. In my head all I could think was ‘I’m not that heavy, what’s the issue?’

He took me into the nurse’s office where there was an industrial scale and it read 184kg.

Elena paused here in our discussion, and the weight of this memory was palpable. “I was in tears,” she continued, “[As] I was just so shocked [because] I didn’t think I’d let it get that bad. [You see] I used to see really big girls and always thought there’s no way I could ever let myself get to that point. [Because] I always thought ‘that poor person, she must be so unhappy!’”

Elena Goodall remembers this doctor’s visit as her rock bottom and the moment she realised her addiction. “The doctor took me to do all the tests for diabetes and everything else. They didn’t come back great; I had really bad type two diabetes and they put me on the registry.”

It wasn’t just diabetes that was threatening Goodall’s life though. “I had such bad sleep apnoea, my oxygen levels in my blood were dropping to really dangerous levels during sleep.”

Elena Goodall now finds time for the simple, healthy foods and time to herself.

Gym proves repellant rather than motivating

After developing two life-threatening conditions through her food addiction, Goodall’s doctor broached the subject of surgery. “I was terrified,” said Elena, “I’d never had surgery in my life.”

Harnessing glimpses of determination she’d remembered from her days as a competitive swimmer, Goodall tried everything to avoid going under the knife. “I took the threat of surgery really seriously [and] took up a gym membership again, and tried fad diets to help me loose weight quickly so I could actually exercise. [By then] I was so big, even walking 100m was tiring. It was so hard for me to exercise,”

Despite the struggle, Elena powerfully dragged herself to the gym to start her long journey towards health. Stuck in the lonely, self-esteem rut of addiction, the gym was more repellant than inviting.

“It was so confronting at the gym, it felt like everyone was looking at me. Everyone was skinny in short shorts. I was in baggy clothes with holes in them [and] lasted about a week or two.” Boldly honest, Elena added:

I decided I didn’t have it in me [and] couldn’t do it. [The fact was] I didn’t know what to do [as] I was lost.

Back to the comfort zone

Feeling like she’d failed, and seeing no escape, Elena turned to the only place she found comfort.

I turned back to fast food. Even though I knew it was what got me to that point, I couldn’t stop. It really is like a drug. I knew I shouldn’t be doing it, but I couldn’t help it.

Elena Goodall had hit rock bottom number two, but this time she saw no way out. She was still putting on weight and her addiction was out of control again. Yet amidst it all, Elena remembered there was an exit strategy she’d been offered, and she started researching the gastric sleeve surgery.

“After four months I went back to the doctor. I said I didn’t want to be operated on, but had realised there was nothing else I could do. So I started to get really excited about the stuff I could do after the surgery,” said Elena.

I still see the surgery as something that saved my life.

Having been through the journey of addiction, Elena knows those who haven’t walked in her shoes are always quick to criticise. “A lot of people who have never had weight issues think it’s cheating and it’s the easy way. It’s not. I truly had no other option,” she said earnestly. In November 2015, Elena Goodall underwent gastric sleeve surgery.

A fellow food addict creates the turning point for Elena

While Elena was preparing for her surgery, she met a woman who had undergone the exact same procedure. “She’d had the surgery, but put all the weight back on, and more! She was buying Mcdonalds and putting it in a blender so she could still have it during the four weeks you’re on a liquid diet after the procedure. She was scheduled to get another surgery. I just couldn’t believe what she was doing. Meeting her made something click inside me,” said Elena.

I realised, that is not going to be me.

Knowing it takes four weeks to break a habit, Elena used the four weeks of liquid diet post-surgery to crush her fast food addiction through an intellectual approach. “It used it wean myself off the crap I’d been eating by learning what bad food does to your body,” she added.

Elena pulls herself out of addiction

Like any addict, going cold turkey was tough on both her, and the people around her. “I wasn’t a fun person to be around in those four weeks, but I was just so determined,” remembered Goodall. “When I was really craving something from Maccas, I’d try and have a pumpkin soup I’d made myself so I’d know exactly what was in it.”

Elena Goodall had summoned every inch of her resolve and used her intellect to help change her addiction by learning about food. “I became really aware of processed food and I was just so shocked to see what gets put in food to make it taste better,” she said.

Two months after her surgery, doctors found Elena’s sleep apnea had resolved and her diabetes had disappeared. “The nurse even mentioned how rare it was to see a resting heart so low, as none of their follow up patients are so fit” she said, with a hearty laugh.

The daily battle continues for Elena

The battle is still far from over for Elena, and like any addict it may stay with her forever but she’s learned how to manage it.

Everyday I have a fight in my head. My brain says ‘you need that hot chip. Everyone else is eating them, just have one. Then I convince myself having a few is OK, then I worry I’ll go back to what I was. It’s a constant battle.

Goodall discovers triathlon

Five weeks after surgery, Goodall met up with friends including some who had just finished a training session at the local triathlon club. “They told me about triathlon and I said it was something I’d like to do one day. There was a personal trainer and life coach among them, her name was Vicky. She said ‘you could do a triathlon in five weeks, even two if you really wanted.’”

Hearing one person’s belief in her ability was all it took to kickstart Goodall’s fitness journey to triathlon. “It planted a seed that it could be possible, and it would happen. I met her on a Saturday, and by Monday I started training. We went to an oval and I learned how to run, and we formulated a plan,” remembers Goodall fondly.

Buoyed by a new sense of purpose she hadn’t felt in over a decade, Elena set strict goals for herself. One of the toughest triathlons near Mount Isa is the Julia Creek sprint distance tri, and Goodall set her sights on it. “I focused really heavily on my training, and when race day came, the swim was no problem for me thanks to my background. The bike was tough and I walked a few sections on the run, but I made it to the finish line,” she said.

At this point, most people would stop after having achieved their goal, but Elena’s fierce competitive nature was reawakened and she set more goals. “I finished 16th in my age group, and I decided I wanted a podium finish the next year. Plus, I set my sights on Noosa.”

Laser focus leads to success in Cairns

After running her first 5km non-stop during training, Elena was ready for Noosa. “The buzz was incredible at the event. I ran the whole 10kms and didn’t stop once,” she said.

“I went back to Julia Creek and got my podium finish; [coming] third. I set my goals and I achieve them, there’s no longer any option to fail,”  said Goodall fiercely. Feeling lost after the race with no other goal, Goodall decided Ironman 70.3 Cairns was next.

After going through the tumultuous ride of addiction, Goodall is eager to motivate others to get out there and start exercising while ditching the junk. “I blogged from transition. And I wanted to bring people along with me in the hope I can inspire others to get out there and do the same thing,” she said.

Elena Goodall’s body transformation is nothing short of amazing. She’s dedicated all her energy to become healthy and remain active.

“I was most nervous about the swim, I think because I expect myself to do well as it’s my thing. It felt really good getting out of the swim and felt incredibly strong on the bike. And, I struggled a little bit on the run and I had to use the bathrooms a lot – it could have been my nutrition,” said Goodall.

Elena decimated her goal of finishing under the cut-off at Cairns, but she felt more than just achievement.

That feeling of pride in myself and what I’d just achieved – thinking back to where I was two years ago – there’s no way I could have even dreamed of doing something like that. I was just incredibly proud.

What’s next for Goodall

Elena Goodall has achieved every goal she’s set for herself and now armed with new coach, Emma Quinn from T:Zero Multisport, she’s aiming to finish Ironman Busselton under the cut-off time this year. “I want to prove to myself I can do it. Then focus on 70.3 again,” she said.

After her wild ride of addiction and recovery, Elena acknowledges it’s all about timing.

You have to be ready for change. If you’re not ready, you’re not going to change.

“If you’re at that point where you are ready and you’re willing to put in the hard work. I recommend setting goals. Once you’ve achieved those goals, set more big goals – that’s how you progress. If you feel out of control, now’s the time to make a difference as it will become an issue.”

Trizone wishes to congratulate Elena Goodall on her incredible recovery from food addiction, and her courage in sharing her story.

What do you think about Elena’s journey?

  • After moving to Mount Isa, Elena found solace in food.

  • The Race to the Creek #3 was Elena's first ever triathlon . It was just an enticer distance and she loved it. It was only 150m swim, 10k bike, and 1.5k run but it was enough to get her hooked.

  • Elena Goodall's body transformation is nothing short of amazing. She's dedicated all her energy to become healthy and remain active.

  • In early January 2017 on a training ride Elena completed her first ever 100km ride.

  • This was Elena's official before shot taken a few days before surgery. This will soon be a distant memory.

  • Julia Creek Dirt n Dust triathlon was Elena's first ever sprint distant triathlon in 2016.

  • Elena embracing her old coach, Vicki Nickels from Vitalise Fitness, in Mount Isa. This was a very emotional time as this was her first triathlon ever at Julia Creek Dirt n Dust in 2016.

  • Elena Goodall now finds time for the simple, healthy foods and time to herself.

A cyclist and tech geek at heart with a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of Australia's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.

Continue Reading
Comments

Editors' Picks

Nic Beveridge: Finding Strength and Powering to the Top

Published

on

2015 World Championships. Photo: Delly Carr

“All of a sudden, I found it really hard to breathe,” Nic Beveridge, one of Australia’s best paratriathletes told Trizone. “It was term three and I was in year 12. I was on the phone to my mate from water polo and we were bantering when I just started having trouble talking, so I hung up the phone.”

The chatty Beveridge stopped here, remembering the moment with a calm reverence. “I got down the stairs to my parents and my body started spasming,” recalled Nic. “My parents were watching me but I was struggling to talk and breathe, and I was having trouble standing.” With a laugh, Nic shakes off the weight of the memory, adding “it’s a weird sensation when your muscles are spasming against your will.”

Ushered into the car by his parents who were frantic with fear, Beveridge’s memory becomes clouded at this point. His Mum remembers it well though, and told him many years later the one thing he’d said to her during this tortuous car ride; was

“Mum, I think I’m dying.”

Once in hospital, things only got worse. “The spasms had intensified a lot. I had an excruciating pain in my head; like someone was dropping bricks on it. It all started to get a bit too much. I spasmed so much, both my legs shot up in the air and I passed out.”

Waking up with no movement in his legs

Nic’s memory is extremely detailed about the moment his life changed forever, but he wasn’t sad or frustrated as he recalled the first morning in hospital. His voice was calm and measured. “There was a bit of light coming in the room,” remembered Nic, “I was lying a bit skew whiff [an Australian phrase for off-centre] and I tried to straighten up in my bed, but I couldn’t.”

“I went to put my head up, but nothing else was moving with it. I went to put a leg out.” Nic’s analytical mind remembered the confusion of that moment; an alien experience; “Within your mind you can say ‘straighten your leg out’ and without looking, you think you’ve done it. When you look down though, nothing has happened.”

In a haze of confusion, Beveridge tried to shout to a nurse he could see through the doorway. “I tried to call out for help, but my diaphragm was affected so I couldn’t yell either.”

Breezing past this memory, you can’t help but consider the gravity of that moment for the keen athlete who’d had his heart set on representing Australia in field hockey. Moving on with a smile though, Nic summed up the 24 hours that changed his life with; “long story short, I was completely paralysed from T4, just below the chest. I’d lost control of my whole abdomen and legs.”

After a brief pause, Nic smiled and added, “that’s how I acquired my disability and how my whole second life started.”

The beginning of that second life was a plunge into an unknown world of tests and confusion. “In the first week, no one could tell me what was going on and why I was suddenly paralysed.” After eight weeks in hospital though, his medical team started to get to the root of his body’s sudden change.

Nic Beveridge’s sudden paralysis was due to transverse myelitis, a condition involving inflammation of the spinal cord caused by a dysfunction in his immune system. “Yeah it’s rare, but it’s not contagious or inherited. It causes fluid in your spinal canal to swell and put pressure on your spinal cord. It’s like you’ve broken your spine but you haven’t,” said Nic. “You have to wait for a few months for the swelling to go down and see what kind of damage was done.”

Confusion and a lack of control

“I was definitely upset,” said Beveridge, “It was the surprise as much as anything. I was scared too.” Nic stopped and took a breath, “the most upsetting part was I hadn’t done anything to contribute or cause it, it was fully out of my control.”

Nic’s honesty was palpable, and his ability to reflect on his past so clearly shows maturity far beyond his 30 years. “Before it happened to me, I thought ‘how do you even deal with something like that?’ Now though, I realise when anyone is thrown in that situation, you just deal with it. You don’t really have a chance to choose,” said Nic. “The choice is taken away and you just have to go through the process and work out what you’re dealing with and what the next steps are.”

Nic Beveridge handcycling on the Coast. Photo: Jaz Hedgeland

Powerfully mature for his 30 years, Nic Beveridge finally added “you’ve gotta do what you gotta do, you’ve gotta let them do the tests.”

To add to the confusion of his life-changing illness, Nic was suddenly lonely. “It was years before everyone had cell phones. You had to find a computer and email,” laughed Nic. “Once I was transferred to Townsville Hospital and the spinal unit in Brisbane, I didn’t have daily visitors anymore. Some people would call the nurse’s desk and they’d transfer it to my bedside phone. It was hard,” said Nic quietly, adding “I credit it to toughening me up early in my life, much more than if I’d just progressed along the same track I was on.”

Nic wasn’t into parasport – not even a bit

“They told me swimming was good for rehab, so I started going to the pool but it was so different. How I floated was different, three quarters of my body didn’t even float initially,” said Nic. “Your mindset is so different, you’re so used to being good at something and knowing the basics of how to do it. Starting over was overwhelming.”

Nic moved back to Mackay after finishing school to adjust to his new body. “I trained with an assistant swimming coach who worked with me one on one. He helped me get a grip on not being good,” said Nic. His mindset though, had completely changed.

“I enjoyed the fitness aspect once I learned how to float, but the hunger and passion to want to beat other people, and more importantly find out how good you can be and beat yourself, wasn’t there anymore.”

“To have that desire gone; all of a sudden sport was different, I just wasn’t interested anymore,” said Nic. “I played two games of wheelchair basketball and didn’t enjoy it at all.

“I decided parasport was not for me.”

“I kept swimming for fitness, but I didn’t compete,” said Beveridge.

Surgery and bed rest – Nic Beveridge’s powerful turning point

By 2012, a few years later, Nic Beveridge’s health had deteriorated due to his disability. “There was nothing I could have done. I had to have invasive surgery to correct the problem, and the recovery was three months of bed rest,” said Beveridge, “they took tissue from my other organs to rebuild some of my insides. Modern medicine is amazing!” laughed Nic.

Confined to his bed with nothing to motivate him to recover, Beveridge watched hours of TV day after day and the London Olympics happened to be on. “I’d never watched the Paralympic Games before. Being stuck in bed though, I thought – why not?”

In the gaps between the events, the TV coverage highlighted the profiles of some of the athletes, and one caught Nic’s eye. “This person had lost their leg to cancer, and however many months later, they’d climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.” That inspiring story was a monumental moment for Nic, and his voice became slow and strong as he recalled it.

Something inside me clicked. It’s the most memorable time in my life that I was inspired.

This one powerful story of an athlete gave Nic a jolt of hope he’d been missing. “I remembered I still had full use of my upper body and I’d not made the most of it,” Nic told Trizone defiantly. “I decided if I recover from the surgery I wanted to make the most of it. I wanted to see what I was capable of.”

While stuck in bed, Nic spent hours on Google. “I typed in something strange like ‘extreme endurance parasport’” smiled Nic. “I wanted something that would test my limits I didn’t think a lot of people would be capable of doing.”

Google’s top result was an article about Bill Chaffey, the then three time world paratriathlon champion (now five time) who was training for Ironman Hawaii, and Nic was hooked. “I read the article about Bill and was so excited to hear about paratriathlon! I decided this was it, I’ve gotta get into this.”

Starting the journey from bed to triathlon

“While I couldn’t get out of bed, I got in touch with Triathlon Queensland and they gave me Bill’s email address. I still have that first email I sent him and his reply,” said Nic. “

To send that first email, and to change his mindset and decide to optimise his physical ability in the face of adversity showed more mental strength than most people are able to summon in a lifetime. The huge importance of this transformation isn’t lost on Beveridge either. “I’m a sentimental type, so the fact Bill and I both went to Rio together with the sport’s Paralympic debut was quite special to me,” Nic told Trizone.

Nic Beveridge doing some strength and conditioning work in the gym. Photo: Jaz Hedgeland

Once he’d recovered from his surgery, Nic dug deep and searched for a hand cycle and racing wheelchair. “Those things aren’t cheep, but I networked and spoke to Triathlon Queensland and Bill, plus Sporting Wheelies to get the right equipment. I loaned a recreational hand cycle and a very old racing wheelchair and that’s how I got started in the sport,” said Nic happily.

Making the team for Rio

Working incredibly hard to get into the brand new paratriathlon world, Nic made huge progress and by 2016 he’d “scraped into the Australian paralympic team for Rio,”although we doubt it was really a scrape as he told us.

In 2015, Nic had reached a plateau in his results,. “Being fresh to hand cycling, using a racing wheelchair and high performance sport, I decided I needed to spend time working with a specialist to learn how to use my equipment before anyone else can help me.”

Fiercely driven, Nic Beveridge relocated to Canberra. “I’d never lived outside Queensland my entire life, but I knew I needed to learn how to be a paratriathlete.” After two years, Nic had learned as much as he possibly could about being a paratriathlete and he headed to Rio where he placed ninth.

Paralympian not the title Nic thought it was

“When I got back from Rio, I felt dry and unfulfilled,” said Beveridge, “I had the titles of Paratriathlete and Paralympian, but I didn’t feel like I’d filled them with the meaning they should carry.” Unlike many athletes who would simply revel in the glory of getting to the Games, Beveridge felt he owed it to himself, and to the legacy of the Games, to do better. “I just felt like there was so much more I could do in training, and within myself as an athlete, but I didn’t know what that was,” said Nic.

“Two weeks after I got back, I reached out to Dan Atkins; I knew he was a great guy and a tough coach,” Beveridge told Trizone. “I told him what I wanted to achieve.”

“When my event got added to the Commonwealth Games list I told Dan I wanted to know if I’m capable of fulfilling the title of Paralympian with meaning,” said Nic Beveridge.”

“I wanted to make sure I’d done everything possible, so if my career ended the next day I’d be 100 percent satisfied I’d made the most of it and pushed myself as hard as I could,” Beveridge told Trizone.

Dan Atkins proved to be everything Nic Beveridge needed

“Training with Dan and the squad, it’s everything I needed without knowing I needed it. It was the fulfilment I was looking for,” said Nic. “The training is tough; it really makes you earn your place and keep it.”

Learning from the entire squad is what keeps Beveridge motivated. “I couldn’t be happier with the training environment I’m in, also learning from the able bodied athletes who are younger than me, but they’ve been in the sport a lot longer,” said Nic.

Listening to Nic Beveridge chat about his training colleagues, you can’t help but smile at the admiration and respect the paratriathlete has for his friends. “It blows my mind, the level of commitment they have at that age. Their drive and the support they have for one another, even though they’re in direct competition with each other, there’s just no animosity. Learning that training ethic has taken me to another level,” said Nic.

High performance training gives Nic the edge he needs

“It’s more about just showing up; what I love is when I turn up, everyone is there and everyone’s getting ready. No one says they don’t want to be there, they’re all really positive,” said Nic purposefully.

“When Dan says what we’re going to do, you can think ‘wow what a set,’ but no one complains. There’s no one who brings the squad down. You don’t want to be that person who doesn’t contribute to the squad in training,” Nic told Trizone, his commitment to his sport and his squad shining through his words.

Commonwealth Games on the horizon for Beveridge

“My results this season have gone up and up. I finished within 47 seconds of Bill Chaffy in Yokohama which is a big accomplishment,” said Nic, adding Chaffy had beaten him by nine minutes at Rio.

“Now, none of us in the squad fear racing. The training we do is much harder than racing. When you get to the racing, you know your job. I’m very happy and comfortable that we’re on a good path towards doing the best we can to earn selection for the Commonwealth Games.”

Nic’s eyes are set fully on the future and just listening to him discuss what’s on his horizon is inspiring. “If we are selected for the Games, we’ll be in a really good position to get a medal as well,” Beveridge told Trizone. Unfortunately the day we spoke, Nic was very unwell and had been unable to travel to Edmonton for the third round of the World Paratriathlon Series.

Nic Beveridge’s journey, like any athlete, has been in fierce pursuit of constant improvement, but that’s just the half of it. His mind-blowing transformation from being frustrated after his surgery and having his back turned on professional sport to becoming one of Australia’s top Paralympic triathletes is beyond inspiring. Now all eyes are on Beveridge to see how he goes for Commonwealth Games selection.

Continue Reading

Editors' Picks

Michael Fox: Nearing the podium and what it takes to get there

Published

on

Michael Fox is making his mark on triathlon, and his sights are set on the podium at this weekend’s Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in Cairns. Trizone caught up with the athlete to chat about balancing full-time work with training, goals for Ironman Cairns, and taking advice from Craig Alexander (Crowie).

Swim star turns triathlete

“I was always involved in some sort of competitive sport when I was younger,” Fox told Trizone. “First it was lifesaving, that’s where my swimming background came from.” At 18-years-old Fox started triathlon after a few people had seen his prowess in the pool. “They told me I just had to learn how to ride, they knew I could swim and run,” said Fox.

Crowie’s advice keeps Fox in the sport

Under the watchful eye of a local coach in Sydney, Fox began building up the basics, learning how to ride, and in 2016 he made a bold move. “I came back from overseas in 2015 and I decided I might quit triathlon,” said Fox. “I felt I’d plateaued and I needed a shift.” Almost on the brink of leaving the sport, Fox consulted with the legend Crowie for advice. “He suggested I work with Matt, who is my coach now, I was about to quit but I just got a new coach,” said Fox.

Now coached by Matt Koorey, Fox has a different training regime that involves a lot more indoor bike than ever before and it’s all about strength. “Matt knows the trainer encourages a bit more strength and he knows I have to work on my bike,” said Fox. “I used to hate it. I’d only last 40 minutes, but now I’ve grown to love it. I know the benefits now of doing it,” Fox told Trizone, “I put my phone next to me with my Training Peaks open, and off I go,” said Fox.

Training for Fox used to be a group activity, training at 6pm at night and getting up at 4:30am to do a bunch ride and he was exhausted. “I was working full time while I was doing that. Now the biggest difference with my new coach is around the training. It’s mostly by myself now. I’m in bed by 9pm and up at 5am. Sleep is a big thing for me.”

Juggling teaching work and full-time training is all about organisation

While most professional triathletes manage battle with hours of fatigue maintaining their jam-packed schedule, Fox balances all his training plus a full-time job as a teacher. “I can do my marking at night after training. My new training schedule gives me more flexibility and peace of mind,” said Fox. “I do 30 hours of face-to-face teaching, and 30 hours of training per week. That all sounds pretty straight forward, but it’s the marking and extra work at home I have to do that makes me really busy,” Fox told Trizone.

 

It’s not just Fox who is juggling a lot, his fiancé (soon to be wife in October) has her own Physiotherapy practice. “In our household it’s all about being organised. My partner and I prepare lunches on the weekends and freeze them to make it easier,” said Fox.

Balancing a full-time job, full-time training load and the fatigue involved in triathlon is tough, but Fox is used to it. “I’m at a certain level of fatigue all the time,” said Fox. “Leading up to Ironman Australia I had school holidays where I could train, then go back to sleep, then train in the afternoon. It made me realise how much stress and fatigue I usually have while I’m working and training,”

Ironman Australia sees Fox challenged on the bike

Michael Fox placed fourth at the recent Ironman Australia, finishing in 08:32:15, which was a good result but the race didn’t quite go to plan. “I was able to get away early in the swim with Clayton Fettell. We had about a 3:40 lead getting out of the water,” said Fox. “My strategy was to use the swim to my advantage, then sit steady on the bike while I got my nutrition and had a bit of a break. I planned to have the energy I needed to make moves when I needed to. I wanted to race my own race,” said Fox.

Unfortunately for Michael Fox, the bike saw the field making bold moves early. “I ended up riding a lot by myself and doing a lot of work, which wasn’t quite my plan. I was just trying to minimise the damage.”

In the run, Michael Fox was incredibly strong but by the 30km mark he had a small dip in performance. “I struggled a bit at 30kms, and I think it gave Clayton the confidence to maintain his lead for the 7kms. If I hadn’t had the drop, it might have brought us closer to the finish, closer to the wire. But that’s racing you know?” said Fox humbly.

A possible podium on the horizon at Cairns

“I’ve still got a bit to prove to myself. Racing at Cairns as the Asia-pacific Championships is gonna give me way more experience pacing an Ironman, which works toward my ultimate goal which is Kona,” Fox told Trizone. “Cairns is a good investment for me to get experience against the top athletes.”

While Fox is looking toward qualifying for Kona, he’s mindful that he’s got to make it worth his while. “If you get to Kona without the ability to race up against the best, it’s a little bit wasted. Add that to the cost to get yourself there and it doesn’t seem worth it. I’ve got to be at my best.”

Fox’s goals for 2017

With Cairns looming in just a few days, Fox has his eyes set on a spot on the podium. “I haven’t quite landed an Ironman podium yet, and from my point of view, that’s what it’s about. If I happen to land a Kona spot, I wouldn’t turn the opportunity down,” Fox told Trizone.

While he’s used to juggling multiple commitments, he knows it comes down to race day. “We all know things change on the day. No matter what you’ve done to lead into it, something can always go wrong and throw me a curve ball. That’s probably what keeps bringing us back.”

With a sunny attitude and a rock-solid goal, Fox looks set to run his best race yet at Cairns Ironman, the Asia-Pacific Championships in 2017.

Trizone wishes Michael and all the competing athletes good luck for this weekend’s huge championship.

Continue Reading

Editors' Picks

Matthew Hauser: The Rise of An Australian Talent

Published

on

Matthew Hauser has the world’s attention after winning the ITU World Cup in Chengdu. Trizone spoke to the nineteen-year-old about his past few years and his plans for the future.

AFL sparks a love of sports

Matt Hauser, like many impressive triathletes, has always been a passionate sportsman, starting with Australian football (AFL) “I loved footy, and even got into the Brisbane Lions Academy, but I had to choose between running and AFL,” Hauser told Trizone.

“I was getting a few injuries and concussions from footy, but I was also passionate about running. I was getting really into cross country and even set the state record for the 3km,” Hauser said.

 

At the first crossroads of his young sporting career, Hauser chose running over AFL and his journey towards triathlon began. After a few years Hauser was showing incredible promise, and he made the transition to becoming a full-time sportsman.

Transition from school sport to full time sport

“Triathlon and running used to be a thing I did between school terms, then it became my full-time job,” Hauser told Trizone. “I moved to the Gold Coast one year ago to train under Dan Atkins; the key Under 23 Triathlon Australia coach.”

This key turning point was also inspired by Calvin Quirk, who’d just recently left triathlon. “I just joined the squad when he moved away from the sport. I knew I’d come into triathlon through a similar pathway to him, and it made me question my own pathway and my longevity in the sport.”

“Calvin Quirk leaving triathlon helped me think about what I really wanted in the sport.”

Disappointment creates strategy at ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Cozumel

Years of training gained laser focus when Hauser entered to race the 2016 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Cozumel. “A lot didn’t work out quite right during the preparation. The process of having that goal in sight damaged me mentally I think. There wasn’t anything tp offset focus or racing strategy,” said Hauser. “I would have liked to have raced a lot more before Cozumel, but the pressure just built up, and by the time Cozumel hit, it was like a thunderstorm for my body.”

Hauser finished 45th in Cozumel, but he wasn’t thrilled with his result despite the fiercely competitive field. “That experience was motivating for me. I took a break after that race and came back stronger,” said Hauser.

With Cozumel behind him, Hauser started looking to the future but he realised he needed to make a change. “I knew I needed to race a triathlon, not just swim, bike and smash the run because that’s my strong point,” said Matt Hauser.

Hauser’s team fight red tape to enter Super League

Matt Hauser was already on the radar as one of the up-and-coming stars of international triathlon by early 2017, and the world’s first Super League event wanted him to enter. “I was contacted one month before Super League on Hamilton Island, but the ITU said I was too young. They said juniors were not mature enough to race at that level and for that amount of prize money,” remembered Hauser.

Devastated at the idea of missing out joining the world’s first high speed, high intensity and highly televised triathlon event, Hauser encouraged his team to change the ITU’s mind. “I’m so grateful to those guys who went into battle for me,” Matt told Trizone.

He was thrilled to join the event, but found the races extremely tough as did all the athletes.

The triple mix cut me up like a plate of sushi.

“I didn’t catch my breath until the last race. The massive hill out of the transition hit me the hardest,” remembers Hauser. “The last super sprint started with the bike leg, and I was able to hold on. That really helped me, I ended up swimming one of the fastest swim legs and finished 6th or 7th in the final triple mix.”

It was the final day, the Eliminator, that Hauser really worked for thanks to its game-show style elimination design. “I ended up being 15 seconds behind the leaders because I didn’t want to be eliminated. I went from 21st to 10th on the day. Part of me wanted to make the final, and part of me wanted to have a break, I was glad in the end that [Ryan] Fisher made it.”

Super League was a world first for all the athletes involved, but the calibre of racing and the intense style was definitely a first for Hauser. “Being exposed to world champions and Olympic champions and the style of their racing was amazing. The organisers treated us like superstars and we were given every opportunity to race our hearts out for the viewers. I watched it later, and I was so impressed by the whole thing,” said Hauser, almost forgetting he was one of the most impressive athletes in the event.

Chengdu on the horizon for Commonwealth Games selection

Hauser and his coach Dan Atkins had chosen Chengdu as a significant race for Matt thanks to its super sprint format. “We picked Chengdu as a potential Commonwealth Games qualification as the format is similar to the relay race and solo competitions of the games,” Hauser told Trizone. “It was a good race for me at the start; I came out of the water about sixth. I knew not to overdo it on the bike after the Gold Coast, and I had a new strategy.”

This strategy came into play in a big way in China at Chendgu. “We only did two big speed sessions in the weeks leading up to the race,” Hauser told Trizone, “In the super sprint format, you can’t afford to lapse in the key moments. My running tactics are quite good, and I knew I just had to execute that.”

On day one at Chendu, Hauser was running at a low 15:10, and happy with his performance. “I was able to conserve a lot of energy for the next day which gave me a lot of confidence post Gold Coast,” said Hauser. “The race was a blur. It was only 26 minutes long, the whole race! I was feeling really good. I saw some people go off the front early and waste their energy on the bike.”

Matt Hauser had been refining his bike skills, but his running had always been his strong point and Chengdu was no exception. “When I hit the run and I didn’t really believe I could win it until 600m to go when I broke away. I could feel Petsov breathing down my neck, but with 300m to go, I broke away further and held on from there,” remembers Hauser. “So often it comes down to a sprint, but I think if you can avoid that it’s best. That’s why I broke away earlier.”

Training with Paratriathletes give Hauser’s team a boost

Dan Atkins trains both the junior Australian triathlete team, and the paratriathlete team, and Hauser is loving the combination. “We gel together as a group really well,” said Hauser, “Nick, one of the para athletes, is a great mate of mine now and we chat all the time. Training all together is a really big boost mentally for the overall morale of the group,” said Hauser. “They work their assess off, and our professionalism in able-bodied triathlon motivates them, and their hard work motivates us.”

Always humble, yet keen to prove his ability to himself, Matt Hauser is no longer an up-and-comer in triathlon, he’s arrived.

Continue Reading

Editors' Picks

Clint Kimmins: From Pro Surfer to Pro Triathlete – Rising Above All Else

Published

on

Pro surfer and triathlete Clint Kimmins has had a colourful journey in pro sports; from a dance floor scuffle that turned into jail time, to his quest for Kona. Trizone caught up with Clint to chat about this wild ride.

“I was in class one day at school when my Dad called and said ‘you need to come home now, we need to get you a passport and get you over to Hawaii.’” If you’re thinking Kimmins had been summoned to Kona, you’re way off. Triathlete wasn’t even on Kimmins’ radar when he was 13, but surfing well and truly was. “I rode my bike home at lightning speed and Dad took me to the passport office. I’d been hooked up with Rip Curl, and left school to do a season on the North Shore of Hawaii; surfing’s proving ground,” Kimmins told Trizone.

At just 13 year old, Clint Kimmins was establishing himself as one of the world’ best surfers in his age group, and it was paying off. “I did miss a lot of school. One day when I was back though, a teacher asked me why I hadn’t left school, as I was getting paid more than she was! I’d never entertained the idea of leaving school early, but I figured it was a good opportunity.”

After long chats with his family, Clint decided he’d leave school and pursue his pro surfing career. “I travelled the world surfing. I was earning good money, and had a really good career in surfing,” says Kimmins casually, almost forgetting how many young Aussie guys and girls try to scrape their way onto the pro surfing world tour, but don’t make it.

One night changes everything

After years on the pro tour, gracing more magazine covers than any other surfer at the time, Kimmins was at a friend’s 21st birthday when a group of thugs gatecrashed the party. “A fight broke out on the dance floor and I ended up fighting with this one guy. I beat him in the scuffle and he wandered off and left the party. I thought nothing of it,” said Kimmins.

The scuffle was only the beginning, and as Clint left the party, the downtrodden gatecrasher (who later turned out to be a dealer involved in one of Australia’s biggest drug busts) was waiting with his cronies. “Another fight broke out, and I ended up on the ground with his friends kicking me in the head. I opened my eyes and saw a beer bottle, so I grabbed it and started waving it around. I got the guy on his neck and shoulder; the fight lasted around 30 seconds at most.”

Kimmins remembers the incident perfectly, as he’d scheduled a jet ski surfing photoshoot the day after the party. “I hadn’t been drinking much that night, so I remember it all. The next day, I heard the guy was let out of hospital, and I was getting death threats from his buddies. I went out in the surf on the jetski, but I couldn’t get off the jetski. I was sick to my stomach.”

After the death threats simmered down to silence, Kimmins was continuing with his career and moving on, when two years later he was charged with unlawful wounding. “Nothing happened for two years, then I was charged,” remember Kimmins.

With exorbitant court fees, Kimmins called on his surfing friends for help. “We had a big charity night to raise money, and all the surfing stars got behind it. To have the support of the sports fraternity in Australia meant everything,” but the support wasn’t enough.

“I was found not guilty of unlawful wounding,” said Kimmins, “but there was a mark on the guy’s back and after the three week trial, the court said that wasn’t self defence. I was charged with excessive self defence; two years in maximum security jail as it was a violent crime. Luckily it was suspended after six months.”

“When the verdict was read out, it was like in the movies; it was hands behind my back and I got cuffed and walked off.”
It was knowing people thought of me as ‘that person’ that broke me

In 2002, Kimmins had a good surfing career, and a solid profile. Around the same time, glassing incidences in fights were rife, and even the judge commented that while many people may have stepped over this incident, Kimmins had fallen though the crack; potentially making an example of the high-profile athlete. Instead of getting wrapped up in the drama and mind games of jail though, Kimmins kept a low profile and stayed out of every incident.

“Without sounding too dramatic, jail really rips out your soul and bends your mind,” says Kimmins. “It’s full of tactics. If it wasn’t your life on the line, it could be fun. I knew there was nothing I could do but just knuckle down and be strong.”

Jail turns Kimmins to triathlon

“I trained my way out of every negative thought,” remembers Clint. “I’d run around the oval in jail, sometimes for hours on end.”

Discovering the mental requirements of endurance training, rather than the strength and power needed for surfing, the passion for endurance sport was born, and it continued after Clint’s release.

Freedom leads to multi sport

Finally after six months, Kimmins was released from jail, and retreated to enjoy freedom in private with his girlfriend at the time. “I just wanted to lie down and not be scared anymore.” Remembering his new love for running, his first morning of freedom was a vital stepping stone toward his Ironman career. “I woke up at 3am. I went for a 10km run, then was in the water when it was still dark to go surfing. I just knew I didn’t want to miss any more seconds of my life.”

Kimmins later found out, the day of his release was the day his accuser was arrested for drug charges and sentenced to 12 years jail. “Everything has it’s way of coming around I guess,” Kimmins told Trizone.

Despite his new flare for making the most of every moment, and training hard, Kimmins’ surfing career wasn’t progressing. “I didn’t make many heats after I was release,” said Kimmins. “I thought it was weird I was doing everything right; I was training hard and eating right, but I wasn’t getting the results. I had some friends who did surf Ironman, and some of them were triathletes. They suggested I try it.”

Like most triathletes, Kimmins found long biking sessions the perfect way to clear his head. “I’d finished my surfing tour and hadn’t got the results I wanted, so cycling was really good for my head. I loved being able to ride as far as my legs could take me.” said Kimmins.

Relishing the training, Kimmins started to compete in short course racing, then Olympic distance, then 70.3. “I started becoming friends with Luke McKenzie over the internet, and I looked at his racing history and thought I’d never do an Ironman. But now I am!”

Surfing and Triathlon in one weekend: Oceanside 70.3

Just two days before the huge Californian Oceanside 70.3 in 2017, Kimmins surfed at the giant XL break, Mavericks. While his Oceanside results may not have been his best, Kimmins was thrilled. “On paper I had a bad day but to be perfectly honest I’m stoked to get it done…The positives far outweigh the negatives or the numbers from today’s race. Another reminder of why I love this sport. No excuses, no where to hide.. it is what it is.”

Clint Kimmins – A person, not just an athlete

“I love seeing photos on social media, of the top guys drinking a beer. You know they’ve had a 35 hour training week, but it just shows they’re real people,” says Kimmins. This passion for maintaining his personality, as well as his race profile, may be due to Kimmins’ colourful journey to his current career, and his experience in jail where being true to himself got him through.

It’s this personality that motivates him to push himself in both pro surfing and triathlon. “For me, sport is about how much I cant hurt myself and how hard I can go. For me now, it’s about getting healthy. Surfing is going well, and now I’m getting back to my training for triathlon.”

Being a self-trained athlete may be tough for some, but after being through countless extreme mental challenges, Kimmins finds it works for him. “There’s a lot of structure to my training from what I’ve learned from others, but I’m pretty much just going out and doing it my way, and seeing if I can pull that off.”

This brazen attitude has worked so far, and despite all but ignoring the data and numbers (including power and HR) Kimmins has his sights on Kona. “If I could go to Kona as a pro, that would be amazing and exceed my expectations ten fold. Hawaii has a special place in my heart from going there as a surfer for so many years,” says Kimmins.

If you think most pro triathletes train hard, they’ve got nothing on Kimmins, who maintains his pro status in both surfing and triathlon. Motivated by his past, and pushing towards the future, Kimmins will be focusing on a 70.3 race or late season Ironman, while continuing surfing professionally.

Continue Reading

Editors' Picks

Matt Hanson – No longer moonlighting as a professor

Published

on

Exercise Physiologist and pro triathlete Matt Hanson wowed crowds with his impressive victory at the North American Ironman Championships last weekend. Trizone caught up with Matt to see how his journey to triathlon began.

“Having five guys finish under eight hours means everyone was firing on all cylinders,” Hanson said of the North American Ironman Championships last weekend, “it was a really strong race. It was a great race to be part of.”

Matt Hanson’s life goals lead him to Ironman

While Matt Hanson is at the top of his game now, his entry into triathlon was almost by accident. “When I was 16, one of my mentors challenged me to make a list of 50 goals. One of the goals was to do an Ironman triathlon.” Hanson worked his way through the list, but he’d almost forgotten about the Ironman goal until college.

“I looked at my list of goals when I was working on my masters degree in exercise physiology, but it wasn’t until I’d started my doctorate when I started training for triathlon,” said Matt. Far from having the right gear and supplies, Hanson was a struggling student and purchased a racing back for $600. “I had no money, so I ate ramen noodles and canned soup after I bought the bike. I was only studying!”

Fuelled by his knowledge of exercise physiology, Hanson competed in his first Ironman, where he qualified for Kona. “I had a decent day in Kona, it was a good experience,” said Hanson.

The following year Hanson started competing as an amateur in a few 70.3 races, then Ironman Texas, the North American Championships. “I finished in nine hours flat, and earned my pro card,” said Hanson. “I went to Kona again as an amateur, but this time got three flat tyres. I thought I might have had a shot at winning the age group, so I was pretty annoyed.”

Pushing past frustration at Kona, Hanson competed as a pro at Arizona, finishing in 18th place. “I was ecstatic with my race. I hadn’t come last!” Fuelled by his result, Matt competed at Texas again and ran a 2:41 marathon. “It was the best run I’d ever done, and the first pay check I ever got from Ironman. It was the moment I realised I could really do something with the sport.”

The moonlighting professor commits to triathlon

From Texas, it’s been a lightning fast trajectory for Hanson, who went on to win at Chattanooga in 2014, but he was miraculously still balancing work and triathlon. “I did Ironman Texas, the North American Championships in 2014. I gave my award speech, then drive 17 hours home. I pulled up at work at 7:30am, showered, and taught an 8am class.”

“I realised if I wanted to race at this level, I needed to stop moonlighting as a triathlete,” Hanson told Trizone, “so I decided to stop working as a college professor.”

Armed with his years of experience in exercise physiology, Hanson had been coaching himself as an amateur, but was now under the expert guidance of Julie Dibbens. “I needed to learn how to race too, not just how to train well,” said Hanson. “Julie knows how to race. She’s raced at every level. There’s a huge difference in fitness between age group races and pro mens races, and Julie helps me work on everything,” Hanson said.

With a past as a wrestler at college, running had always been a way f maintaining wrestling fitness for Hanson, it was never the focus. “Running was something I had never worked on developing,” he said, “the mental toughness of being a wrestler is huge. The mentality is; you can always be pushing harder and working harder. In endurance, it’s very different. I had to train that wrestling mentality out of myself,” said Hanson.

Matt Hanson recaps his North American Championships 2017

“I had the best swim of my career,” said Hanson of last weekend’s race, “I was able to hang onto the lead pack for the first two thirds of the race. I got some calf cramps after surging and kicking a bit more, so I lost the lead pack.”

As Hanson began to slip behind the pack, the crowd helped him move forwards. “The last third of the race goes through the canal. I was able to use that to my advantage,” said Hanson. Exiting the water a solid 2.5 minutes after the first pack, Hanson was completely by himself, with the chase pack three minutes behind him.

Photo: Tim Floyd

“When I got on the bike I had to decide if I’d chase the pack, or stick to the efforts I’d planned with Julie. I stuck to the efforts, and when I saw my coach and mile eight, she said I’d closed the gap to the leaders by 40 seconds.” For the first hour, Hanson averaged 266 watts at 26.9mph with an IF of .80.

By the 55 minutes mark, Hanson had caught the front pack. “I sat well off the back. I knew there were a lot of solid runners in the chase pack so I didn’t want to overdo it,” said Hanson. Hanson averaged 215 watts at 25.1mph and a low IF of only .66.

“When Joe Skipper broke away I was able to go with him. Then he got a flat, so I stayed up front. Matt Russell challenged me too. The two of us snapped off the front but he got a mechanical, I think he threw his chain.”

By mile 80, Tyler Butterfield tried to get to the front. As Costes and Starykowicz powered forward, Hanson let them move forward. “If those two guys had been able to run better than me, I would have tipped my hat to them,” said Hanson.

Hanson’s nutrition knowledge helps combat mid-race cramp

Early in the marathon at mile two, Hanson was forced to walk when fierce cramps threatened his race. “I couldn’t bend over or stand up. I had to hold still for 20 seconds. Then I got back to walking, then running. After mile four it didn’t bother me again for the rest of the day,” remembers Hanson.

Luckily, Hanson’s knowledge helped him combat cramping through his nutrition. “I work with First Endurance. I do a lot of the research on the back end of their product development. When things go wrong, I have a solid enough nutrition plan to help me manage my cramps, not just prevent them,” said Hanson.

As the marathon progressed, Hanson chased Butterfield, eventually passing him at mile ten. He finally passed Starykowicz by mile 15 when Starykowicz started walking; less than a year after he was hit by a van while out for a bike ride.

“By the last lap, I knew all the guys were running well, but I pushed through.”

Now Hanson has his eyes on the 70.3 world championships and Kona. Trizone wishes him a huge congratulations after the great victory last weekend.

Continue Reading

Editors' Picks

How Haley Chura overcame her fear of the outdoors

Published

on

Haley Chura just won Ironman 70.3 Buenos Aires and she can’t stop smiling; not just because she won, but because she was able to run pain free for the first time in 18 months. Trizone caught up with Chura to discuss managing work and triathlon, plus the road to recovery.

“I was completely terrified to go outside,” Chura told Trizone, “It wasn’t about racing again, it was about getting myself to go outside again. I was so afraid,” Chura told Trizone.

After being hit by a car while out cycling just three weeks before Kona, Haley was transformed by the accident. However, Haley Chura is an athlete with much more to say than her rehabilitation story, and it starts with her competitive bet with an over-confident boss.

 

Accounting boss challenges Chura to a marathon

“I worked as an auditor in Atlanta after college. I loved it! I would sit in a tiny closet office at some company and make excel spreadsheets and count other people’s money; but I loved it! The people I worked with were so much fun,” Chura told Trizone.

After four years at the University of Georgia on a swimming scholarship, Haley’s entire office knew of her sporty background, and talk at the water cooler turned into a challenge. “My boss’ boss’ boss [one of the firm’s senior partners] challenged me to a marathon on my second week of work!” Chura laughed. “I was only 21 so I felt like I had to do it or I’d get fired!”

Chura hadn’t run in four years; she’d spent all her time in the pool, so a marathon wasn’t something she had counted on. “The first day I went for a run, I ran one mile then walked one mile home because I was so tired!” Chura got serious, found a marathon training plan and set to work. “There was a joke that if I didn’t run fast enough I’d miss the flight back with my boss!”

As the race progressed, it turned out the joke was on Chura’s senior partner though, as she beat him by one minute.

Masters swimming & a local event sparks Chura’s love of triathlon

“I was swimming with the Dynamo team in Atlanta, the masters adult team. A lot of triathletes swam there and I got to know them,” said Haley Chura. “I got really interested in what they did.”

Without realising Chura had developed an interest in triathlon, her boss challenged her to another event; this time a local triathlon. “He knew I had a background in swimming, but he challenged me anyway!” Haley remembers. “So we did the local Ironman in Georgia. I didn’t have a coach or any idea what I was doing.”

Not surprisingly, Haley was first of all the men and women out of the water by a long shot, but that was where her lead ended. “I saw every single person fly past me on the bike. First the nice bikes, then the not-so-nice bikes and then the beach cruisers went by. I got to the end of the parking lot and started walking, but I did finish.”

Once again, Haley Chura had beaten the senior partner who didn’t even finish the race, and this time there were witnesses. “A bunch of people from the office came to cheer, and when they saw he didn’t finish, he stopped betting me to do events,” said Chura.

Being an accountant can be awesome

As Haley started triathlon training with a coach,also she maintained her job at the accounting firm. “After six years working there, the day I knocked on my boss’ door and told him I was quitting, he knew before I finished telling him. Every now and then I get an email from them offering me a new office, they’re amazing people,” Chura told Trizone.

The job not only acted as a support while Haley turned from age grouper to pro, but it continues to act as a source of solace. “It’s great to have that safety net,” said Chura. “It’s a very volatile career being a pro triathlete. Accounting is the opposite; you move up at certain intervals, and you have a steady pay check,” said Chura.

“To have my CPA licence and that experience gives me confidence in my work ethic and intelligence. It’s good knowing I can translate that into another job.”

Haley Chura knows being a professional athlete these days can be likened to having a small business as an athlete maintains a personal brand and relationships with sponsors. “I think some of the skills I’ve learned being a triathletes will make me a better accountant in future if I ever go back to it,” she said.

After quitting her accounting job, Chura found herself at Kona as a pro. She’d placed fourth in the 2015 Latin American Championships in Brazil and was on her way to her most successful Kona yet. “Three weeks before Kona in 2015, I was in the best form of my life. I was out for a bike ride and there was almost no one else around; then a car hit me. I was thrown into a ditch. It was an older couple on their way to church and they just didn’t see me at all,” Chura told Trizone.

Fractures and fear haunt Chura’s recovery

A fractured fibula and large laceration on her left lower leg were only the beginnings of her injury. “The physical injuries were hard as I went from being in the best shape of my life, to not being able to walk to the bathroom. That was really hard, but the toughest thing was I didn’t actually realise how hurt I really was.”

Traumatic, high speed and completely out of the blue, being hit by a car while out for a bike ride; an activity she had done hundreds of times before, rattled Haley to the core.

“I was completely terrified to go outside. I had watched a car come across the yellow line and hit me. It did something to my brain. It made me think any car could come across the yellow line and hit me, and then every car would.”

Fear started dominating Chura’s thoughts, influencing both her recovery and her ability to return to triathlon. “I was afraid to be a passenger in a car, and scared to be a pedestrian. When I’d get in a car to drive and turn the ignition, I’d start to vomit. It was an uncontrollable reaction to how terrified I was to drive, but luckily I had lots of support.”

Haley worked hard to overcome her fears, and saw a therapist, not a sports psychologist, to move forwards. “It was so helpful to talk to someone,” said Chura. “Because she wasn’t a sports psychologist, she didn’t judge me as an athlete. The day I told her I wasn’t afraid to ride outside was really powerful. I really believed it.”

Chura now celebrates the little wins

With a powerful mindset and supportive friends, family and coach Matthew Rose; Chura bravely returned to training. “I realised I loved triathlon, and it was worth the risk. Life is full of risks, but you can’t always live in fear of something bad happening.”

Haley’s positive mindset was back, but she was still in pain during training. “I got used to running with pain, but I told myself I’d never get down on myself again. Even if I was struggling I decided I’d never say ‘these numbers are too low’ or ‘you need to push harder.’ I congratulate myself for everything from signing up for a race, to waking up on race day,” Chura told Trizone.

Winning Buenos Aires 70.3 in 2017

Buenos Aires 70.3 was a huge turning point for Chura, and not only because of her win. “I ran really well and it hurt so good,” said Haley. “It hurt because I was pushing hard because of effort and I wasn’t inhibited by pain. I never through I’d get to experience that again.”

For Chura, winning is great, but it’s not the most important thing anymore. “Even if I’d placed 17th in that race and really raced well, I probably would have been just as happy at the end of the race. Lifting that banner and winning the race was awesome, but my favourite part of the trip was laughing with my friend Ruth and her husband about our bad Spanish.”

Chura’s injury creates perspective on sport

A terrifying injury gives anyone perspective that can’t be gained through everyday life, and for athletes, this perspective translates into their sport. “I really appreciate how special it is that I get to travel, and push myself, hoping my training pays off.”

Trizone’s friend, Australian triathlete Jake Montgomery, was also hit by a car while out cycling last year, and we’ve followed his journey throughout his recovery, as has Chura. “Jake’s story inspires me too. It’s such a journey recovering from injury,” said Haley.

Haley Chura’s plans for 2017

Chura has her sights set on the 70.3 World Championships at Chattanooga, not only because she’s in incredible form, but because the event is only two hours from Atlanta where she spent two decades of her life. “There are lots of my friends and family there, and the race is a trial for a new race format. The top 50 men and women will race each other. Giving women more opportunity in the sport is something I’m passionate about. I want the best women to stick with the sport and not quit,” Chura told Trizone.

Being in top form at Kona is something Chura doesn’t feel like she’s accomplished yet and it may also be on the cards for 2017. “I don’t feel like I’ve raced to my potential as a pro at Kona, and it’s definitely something I want to do in my career before I head back to the cubicle,” said Haley.

Chura’s fresh, fierce mindset and passion for self-care and healthy living is sure to see her smash through 2017 as her biggest year yet. Trizone congratulates Haley on her powerful recovery and wishes her the best of luck for 2017.

Continue Reading

Trending