As the World Ironman Championship in Kona approaches, the world has its eyes on 2015 and 2016 winner and German triathlete, Jan Frodeno. This man also claimed a gold medal in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Commentators speculate about who may knock him out of the #1 spot. Many are looking at fellow Germans Patrick Lange and Sebastian Kienle, the 2014 World Champion.
There is one man who doesn’t always make the cut in sports media predictions, but he should. It is Lionel Sanders of Canada.
Records are Made to be Broken
Sanders is the man who broke the Ironman long distance record with a finish time of 7:44:29 at Ironman Arizona 2016. He broke Marino Vanhoenacker’s previous record of 7:45:58, set in Ironman Austria 2011. Tim Don broke Sanders’ record this year with a 7:40:23 at the Ironman South American Championship in Florianopolis, Brazil.
Frodeno still holds the record if you include non-Ironman events. He clocked a 7:35:39 at Germany’s Challenge Roth in July, 2016. In the 2015 and 2016 Ironman World Championships, Sanders trailed the two-time winner at #14 and #29, respectively.
From Drug Addict to Serial Champion
Sanders began his triathlon career much later than Frodeno. While Frodeno made a name for himself during the Beijing Olympics, Sanders was still struggling with long-term cocaine and alcohol habits. It wasn’t until 2013 that he began beating the established pros in triathlons.
On 8th September 2013, Sanders won his first professional race, an Ironman 70.3 event in Muskoka, Ontario. The victory led him to set his sites on beating Frodeno in a fashion you would expect from your New Age, Law of Attraction obsessed aunt with the cylinder-shaped cob house in the backcountry. During his 2015 pieces of training, he stared at a wallpaper on his computer screen that showed him running side by side with Frodeno.
Like Bernie Sanders, He’s an Underdog to Be Reckoned With
This is the time when it’s fair to start comparing him to his namesake, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential primary rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. Between mid-2015 and April 2016, the relatively unknown Vermont Senator managed to close the party’s matriarch’s 60-point lead over him with a populist economic platform.
To the surprise of dismissive U.S. pundits, Bernie and Hillary were neck and neck by the summer. The race was so close that the Democratic National Convention became a war zone with two opposing factions.
In one corner were the mainstream Democrats who had crowned their inevitable winner years earlier. In the other were Bernie fans, who brought attention to voter registration anomalies and uncounted votes in Brooklyn, Arizona, California, and elsewhere.
Sanders Victories, 2013-2017
Lionel Sanders has continued to win competitions, the most recent being the Penticton ITU long distance triathlon world championship in August. He whooped the closest competitor by roughly 1.5 minutes.
Other victories include Ironman 70.3 Oceanside 2016 and 2017, the 2017 Challenge Family’s inaugural world championship race in Slovakia, Ironman Texas 70.3 2016, and Ironman Florida 2014. He claimed 1st place in 11 events in 2013 alone, the same number of events he competed in that year.
Don’t Let the Kona Losses Fool You
Despite making a 14th and 29th place in his two Kona races, it is his continual improvement over time that may make him a dangerous competitor against Frodeno this year. Sanders has become a symbol of self-improvement and the power of will within the past four years.
It seems there is a recipe for Sanders’ rapid advancement. As he states on his website, “From my experience, it appears that there are no limits, other than the self-created and imposed ones that only exist in your mind. I plan on spending my entire triathlon career testing this hypothesis.”
Why Young Athlete’s Should Consider Super League in Their Career
Super League is the most lucrative, exclusive league in triathlon, and it’s changing the landscape of the sport. With shorter distances, faster races, harder courses and huge prize money, if you’re not getting into Super League you may be missing out.
Super League pays in prize money, appearances and key moves in races
Chris McCormack, the creator of Super League, told Trizone Super League is where the money’s at. “We want to ensure a solid prize purse which is now moving forward bigger than the WTS,” McCormick (Macca) told Trizone. “All aggressive racing will be rewarded with money, not just crossing the line first.”
Ever heard of MVP (most valuable player)? Macca has, and he wants to find the MVP of triathlon. “There may be other possible primes including ‘fan favourite’ and ‘most aggressive/combative,’ and some who are best in the race, like an MVP,” said Macca.
Super League offers athletes, including those young additions who may not be within the top three at the finish line, the chance to win money thanks to aggressive moves during races, and key stage wins.
Even if you’re not first across the line, you can still make money in Super League.
Being a pro doesn’t pay the bills
Unless you’re Flora Duffy, who’s won every triathlon league in the world last year, being a professional triathlete isn’t a financially rewarding job and is fraught with disaster if injury strikes. Even some of the world’s best pros didn’t earn a huge amount of prize money in 2016 despite fantastic results.
Despite placing third in Kona last year, Heather Jackson finished the year earning just $65,000, with Ben Hoffman finished with a reported $62,000. These amounts don’t include sponsorship deals as those amounts are private, but for two some of the world’s top athletes, you can see the sums aren’t huge.
For those pros who don’t make the podium at Kona, especially those who don’t even finish within the top eight at an Ironman race, they don’t even go home with any cash at all.
Expenses for triathletes are huge and often under-estimated
With plenty of athletes paying for their own plane fares, hotel rooms, physiotherapy appointments and other unforeseen travel and medical costs, being a pro can be tough.
Red Bull athlete Jesse Thomas told triathlete.com he predicts he spends $25,000 USD per year on travel. “This means there are around 400 guys with pro licenses making little to no money from the sport,” said Thomas.
But what if triathletes focused their training solely on short course, sprint events like Super League?
Jess Thomas knows prize money isn’t enough
“Prize money will not pay your living. Unless you place in the top three at a world championship, Hy-Vee or Challenge Bahrain, you can’t survive off of just prize money. As an example, here’s my prize money total for a decent post-injury 2014:
- First place at Wildflower Long Course: $5,000
- First place at Ironman 70.3 Mont-Tremblant: $3,000
- Second place at Ironman 70.3 Princeton: $2,000
- Third place at Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs: $1,000
- Fifth place at NYC Triathlon: $750
- Sixth place at Ironman 70.3 Vineman: $1,500
- 12th place at Ironman 70.3 World Championship: $0
Super League has 1.5 Million to give away after just 4 races
With just four championships on the Super League calendar for 2017 and $1.5 million USD up for grabs, Super League might just be the answer to a pro’s desperation for prize money. Only thing is, with short, sharp yet exhausting sprint race formats, many pros gearing up for Ironman aren’t prepared for Super League.
Focusing on Super League means working on sprint-distance
Super League is events between the best triathletes in the world, but it’s the shorter course superstars who do best on the lightning fast courses. In the first Super League event on Hamilton Island, Richard Murray was ranked first, followed by Mario Mola and Kristian Blummenfelt. ITU’s Aussie superstar Jake Birtwhistle made it to fourth place.
We weren’t surprised to see any of these top-ranked athletes on the podium, but it was exciting to see ITU’s newest Aussie superstar Matthew Hauser in 11th place. Hauser’s inclusion in Super League, at only just 19, is an indication Super League may be the future for young triathletes. In Jersey last weekend, Hauser finished Stage three in fourth, even further proof it could be the future for younger athletes.
Focusing on ITU means young athletes can compete for their countries, aim for Olympic prestige, but also look to their own financial futures with Super League.
Earn more by doing Super League
ITU’s overall rankings prize of $755,000 tops the chart, with the Ironman World Championship coming in second at $650,000 and the Island House Invitational coming in third at $500,000. Recently though, Macca has secured more prize money than the WTS, making it the most lucrative racing league in the sport.
With so many pro triathletes struggling to make a decent living, Super League might just be the answers to many triathletes’ struggles. What do you think? Is Super League the answer?
Being a Professional Triathlete – All cards are on the table
Three months ago I quit my job and my partner and I moved to Phuket, Thailand. Like a lot of professional triathletes, sometimes the career path goes a little bit like this – sometimes you have the support and the means to train and compete ‘full time’ as opposed to working and racing on the side. I didn’t actually have the sponsors or income required to justify leaving the safety net of a job, but whatever.
I’ve been registered as a professional triathlete for 7 years now and have had many stints as a professional and also periods of not racing at all while I was doing other things with my life. Earlier this year, my girlfriend and I decided I would commit to being a real professional athlete for 2-3 years and leave no stone unturned.
I’d had enough of half-ass attempts and always having an excuse. I was just sick of being mediocre. I’d always have people telling me I was so talented, but talented is something people use to describe someone who hasn’t done anything. So here we go, my savings account, credit card, no job and my best attempt at putting everything I had into being the best triathlete I can be.
When you’re really committed to something and put absolutely everything into it and you fall on your face, it really sucks. That’s why it was so devastating last week.
Ironman 70.3 Cebu – That Race That Wasn’t
Earlier this month I had the worse race I’ve ever had. I didn’t finish (DNF) at Ironman 70.3 Cebu following the best training block I’ve had in years. I was feeling my best ten days out, I really believed I was going to win this race. I really believe I left a race winning performance on the training pitch 2 weeks before the race.
Leading up to Cebu, I was enjoying coaching myself. I still talk to Grant Giles weekly and he tells me my ideas are stupid and I do them anyway. Not exactly, but he is the guy I turn to for advice. He has coached me for years and knows me better then anyone. I should have been more honest with him and with myself.
Ten days before the race my body and my mind said it was enough, and I needed recovery but my plan was to finish the week off and do the taper the same as I had previously. It’s a bit of human nature to self sabotage I guess, but I went with my plan.
If I had someone else monitoring the signs day to day, it was probably quite clear. But that’s the beauty of hindsight. I went overboard and got excited. It’s normal and I believe we all have the tendency to keep reaching – more is better. Just push a little bit harder, go further.
The week before the race I made myself believe I had recovered and was fresh and excited and ready to race anyone. The current 70.3 World Champion Tim Reed was racing, but Tim and I have been close friends for a long time and although he is the World Champion, I was ready to race him or anyone else. Deep down I knew I would be overdone and tired on race day but you really have to make yourself believe you will be right, otherwise its not worth starting. The mind is very powerful and I almost brainwashed myself to forget what I knew would be the case.
On race day, it quickly became obvious that things weren’t quite right. I was working really hard in the swim, too hard. I knew I wasn’t ‘on’, but nothing is ever perfect so you try and deal with it at the time. I wasn’t in a bad position after the swim, maybe 1 minute behind the 6 leaders, and they are good swimmers. It’s never over until its over, particularly in long course triathlons.
The bike is when it becomes more objective. You can see the data on the bike and you think ‘oh shit, I’m not playing mind games, this is actually happening.’ I was with Tim Berkel and Callum Millward for the first 30km and I was already suffering so bad.
I was thinking everything was terrible, and we weren’t even riding that fast.
We were riding within a power zone that’s certainly within my reach, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was sad really. I knew at that point, that the last two months of work were going down the drain. Not totally, but at this moment it was useless. My heart rate was flat but I felt like I was pushing 1000 watts.
I finished the swim in 28:14 and the bike in 2:16:05 but I couldn’t keep going. I didn’t even make it until 1km of the run. It’s a hard decision to pull out. Some days the decision is made for you.
I always feel an obligation to organisers and the people who invite me to show up and work hard, so it’s really sucks to DNF.
Upon reflection, it’s not a waste of fitness. Training is an investment, and the reward for your effort can be seen on race day but only when the timing is right. I have learnt so much in the past few days and weeks when going back through everything to figure out exactly why.
Win or Learn.
Nic Beveridge: Finding Strength and Powering to the Top
“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.”
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.
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.
Elena Goodall: The Journey Has Only Begun
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.”
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.”
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.
“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?
Michael Fox: Nearing the podium and what it takes to get there
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.
Matthew Hauser: The Rise of An Australian Talent
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.
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