Road to the Gold Coast World Triathlon Champs as a Mum

I recently represented team Australia in the ITU Age Group World Triathlon Championship Sprint distance event. I was happy to finish 37th in my age group in a time of 1hr16mins21sec.

Having emigrated to Australia back in 2011 this is something I wouldn’t have pictured, not knowing how to swim freestyle when I first arrived. Fast forward seven years and anything is possible!

This has been my first major championship event since becoming a Mum which has been a different experience with two little munchkins following my every move.

How this campaign began…

When I returned to racing after having Huw in late 2017 I hadn’t initially thought of this event as a goal. I was happy to just get some fitness back and get back out there. I was then inspired however by some friends racing the qualification circuit and I thought I’d have a go as it would be nice to have a race goal again. I managed to qualify and started training properly for the sprint distance event in late June after a trip back to the UK.

Lessons learnt racing as a mum

I’ve previously written about lessons learnt from completing an Ironman distance triathlon (prior to kids) and thought it would a good chance to reflect on the journey this time round as a mum. Here are some thoughts:

Acceptance and laughter – Along the way I had to accept that with little ones there can always be unpredictabilities. The week of the race for example, Huw developed conjunctivitis and wasn’t sleeping properly. The night before the race we discovered headlice had returned to Ethan’s blonde Afro (it was inevitable!). I went straight from the opening ceremony parade to the chemist to delice him before the big day! This is a frequent piece of adaptation that parents will be used to. I’ve learnt you have to laugh where appropriate and keep perspective.

Perspective is paramount – Being a mum this time round in a build up to a big race helped me keep a good sense of perspective. Sometimes as any athlete knows you have a bad training session and can feel disheartened. Seeing the boys for mummy cuddles afterwards always made me realise perspective. On race day Ethan was running around in my husband Owain’s race helmet which made me laugh and loosen up the nerves.

Patience is a virtue – With the reality of having a 3 and 1 year old, a solid job and a husband who coaches and races at a top level, I knew I realistically I wasn’t going to be able to fit in two sessions a day. I had to accept that a lot of my competitors would be training more and just focus on what I could do and not worry about anyone else. A saying I heard which rang true is ‘comparison is the evil of all joy’. I just kept my head down and ticked off what I could do and kept improving against myself. I believe no one has exactly the same composition or circumstances as you do so it’s hard to directly compare yourself to others. If you focus on developing your own personal bests that’s something you can track. Comparing myself to myself in a growth mindset approach, I raced a lot better in the Gold Coast than in 2012 when I raced at the world age group tri champs in NZ and came 72nd in my AG.

Teamwork makes the dream work – With Owain and I both competing at this event in separate races we had to create a schedule that would work. Owain (coach Waino) crafted this and was a great support to me. Some days I’d get home from a big day at work and once the boys had gone to bed felt like I had no energy to train. He’d always encourage me and I’d feel better for ticking off the session afterwards. The team was extended for this event with our wonderful babysitters Kya and Bri who enabled us to get the key training sessions in together on a Thursday evening and Saturday morning.

Community is key – I believe our local triathlon club, Balmoral tri had the largest amount of representatives for the world’s this year. There was a wonderful spirit of comradeship and support in the build up to the event. My favourite weekly session was our Saturday morning team brick at the beach. I really believe a sense of community is one of the big keys to happiness.

Enjoy the journey – not just the destination – From my previous experience at the World Triathlon I recalled the actual event flashed by so remembered it’s important to enjoy the journey as much or if not more than the main event. I think this is a good metaphor for life too. Instead of dreading the drive up to the Gold Coast with two little ones we decided to make it an adventure and had a great family road trip.

Back yourself – There were some comments early on around how can you fit this in and I’m sure some judgements along the way. I’ve learnt what other people think of you is none of your business, everyone is welcome to their opinions. As one of my mentors said “For me it’s about what you do and not what you say. What you do- role models to your kids – anything is possible if you back yourself…. the habit is the outcome.” I think you know what works and what is right for your family and you have to trust that and back yourself even if others don’t always think it’s the right thing to do.

Watching Ethan put on my medal while he ate his weetbix the next few days after the race morning endorsed this has been a worthwhile journey and I look forward to some more racing and family goals. Ethan started his own swimming lessons this morning inspired by watching mummy and daddy swim.

I feel grateful for an incredible experience. What I’ve learnt is, whether you’re a Mum or not, if you put your mind to something, create a plan, focus, be consistent, have an awesome support network and keep perspective then anything is possible. Go chase your dreams!

After the sprint distance race, it was very inspiring watching my husband race in the Olympic distance event and win the 35-39 year old age group coming 5th overall. You can read his race report here.

Now we’ve been celebrating success and look forward to the next adventure.

Congratulations to all the athletes that raced and wishing those chasing a dream all the very best xxx

5 Comments on “Road to the Gold Coast World Triathlon Champs as a Mum”

  1. Pingback: Husky Classic Race Report | Dani Matthews

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