Its 4.30am on December 7th, 2014.
I call my husband, Steve and wake him up. He sounds terribly tired. I don’t care. I am excited, nervous, petrified, exhilarated.
We arrange a meeting point for 10 minutes time.
I am standing in the transition area at Ironman WA with 800 other triathletes. All of us preparing to begin a 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and 42.2km run. This could take anywhere between 9 and 17 hours to complete.
I began triathlons about 2 years prior to this date. I had begun running for the first time in my adult life. Mainly to drop a few extra kg’s after having my 3rd baby in as many years. It seemed the most time efficient method of exercise. But truthfully, when I went for a run, my children couldn’t come with me! They weren’t old enough to ride their bikes with me, pushing the old pram was not an option, and my husband had a dodgy knee. So it meant alone time for me. I think just running away from my house in general felt liberating, and by the time I turned around I was reaching exhaustion, so I genuinely wanted to return home when I got there.
My 5km runs developed into longer runs. I found a running group and a great training buddy and my running, as well as my determination, just gathered momentum. A half marathon, full marathon, 70.3 distance triathlon... I was hooked. I found a coach and entered the crazy unknown of a new sport as an adult. I loved it.
The idea of a full Ironman just seemed ludicrous, but due to increasing levels of stubbornness, perseverance and mental strength, I can continue swimming, riding and running (albeit slowly!) for longer and longer.
The day before Ironman I had packed my three son's lunchboxes, snacks, and a bag each for a very long day of spectating. I may have starting running to get away from my family, but they never have and never will leave my thoughts.
As I hugged Steve goodbye before entering the Athlete starting area, I handed him my wedding rings (a pre-race ritual). My only request for the day was that the boys be at the finishing chute, no matter what happened that day, they must see me finish.
As I ran down the red carpet, music blaring, faces blurred, high fives all round, all I saw was Steve and the boys. I had been racing for 10hrs and 38minutes, and it was an almost perfect race. I was so proud of what I could do, yet so grateful to my four boys for supporting me to chase a goal that invariably impacted their lives too.
After crossing the line, receiving my medal and towel, I turned around to see them at the fence, hugs and kisses all round. Steve looked so proud of me (writing this brings tears to my eyes). Tom (at five-years-old he is the youngest of them all) shouts above the music, holding something up for me to see. ‘Mum! Mum! We had McDonalds! Twice! Look at the toy I got!’