The rookie mistakes this non-rookie triathlete made in the swim

Location: Noosa Triathlon Multisport Festival, Queensland, Australia

blogNoosafinishgreece6You would think that having done in excess of say 20 triathlon races since 2011, and countless ‘practice’ tris, that I would have race day all sorted by now. Nup. Nope. Yep, it came as a surprise to me too. Surprises during the race aren’t nice, and I got really annoyed with myself for not being better prepared. I should have known better, I should have taken the proper time out to visualise the race, and stick to what has worked for me in the past. But Noosa Tri kind of came out of nowhere.

Now that sounds really silly, because Noosa Tri had been on my training radar for several months. But Noosa Tri is always epic, we exhibit our brand FOHER Co over two full days, and there is always weeks of planning, and the days leading into the expo and the tidy up afterward are massive and long. Add to that mix training and racing!! So two days out from race day, I was on my feet at the expo all day, having a ball, chatting, rolling out, catching up with our FoherFam, and not thinking about the race at all. Same thing for the day before. I racked my bike on race-eve with about an hour to spare, and again, didn’t take my time and sit down and visualise what I needed to do, as I had to rush back to the expo. When I got home that night, it was the first time I had a chance to read the Athlete Guide, confirm my wave start, and get my gear in order. I realised I had left my aero water bottle on my bike in transition, so had to prepare an extra…no biggie but annoying all the same. I went to bed at around 11pm.

The alarm went off at 4.45am on race morning. Tatted and kitted up we jumped in the car so we could drive a little closer to transition, but the roads were already closed. I thought I was early enough to make it. Oops, Mistake Number 1. Now on foot and a bit stressed, we hightailed it (with hundreds of others which calmed me a little) to transition. Five minutes into our walk, I realised I had left my hydration in the fridge. Cue a short run back to get it. Oh man, Mistake Number 2! Made it to transition at 5.45am, with 15 minutes to check my gear. I was feeling the pressure but calmed down and took a few deep breaths as I set my kit out. I checked my hydration and nutrition, took a few minutes to visualise my T1 and T2 whilst laying out my gear, and was happy as @MultisportMC booted us out. I then had a very long 2.75hr wait until my wave start. We took up residence in a nearby cafe, and chilled out. Coffee, second breakfast, chats, braids, good lucks, insta-updates then time to head down. I did a quick warm-up swim, then headed over to the start. 30 second warning, the siren goes and 170 of us are off.


I got a great start and got away quickly. Then my goggles started to fog. Fark NOOOOOO! So many times in the prior 2 days, I had meant to do what I always do and buy new goggles at the expo. New goggles don’t fog! But I guess I kept getting distracted and didn’t buy the new goggles. Mistake Number 3. And this was the biggest. I refused to stop and defog. The swim is my strongest leg, I was off to a good start, and I wanted to maintain my rhythm and post a fast time, but my stubbornness got the better of me and taught me valuable lessons this time around. The fogging quickly got so bad that I couldn’t even sight properly.

Then, a girl swam up beside me so in the moment I decided to draft off her, sticking as close by her hip as I could. Now, I usually ALWAYS swim my own race. I generally don’t draft as I find it more of a hindrance being bumped along and mentally it screws with me as I try to ‘keep up’. Normally, I constantly sight, every four or so strokes, or even more frequently if it’s rough or if there is a strong current. But drafting can be very beneficial if you position yourself well, and can save your energy output by up to 38%! Drafting was a really bad move for me here, and I didn’t swim my own race. Mistake Number 4. Drafting like I did and trusting someone else to sight for me, I will never do again. I am sure we swam all over the place as she abruptly changed direction a few times, and we kept bumping into each other, and other people! After a bit, I couldn’t take it anymore, my goggles were so stuffed and I was starting to feel really disoriented as we were now really in the thick of other swimmers. So I bit the bullet and stopped to defog. OMG! What an instant relief and I was kicking myself I didn’t defog earlier, or better yet, at least prepare my goggles properly before my race started. I usually spit in my goggles (gross but it works!!) at training, especially if I’ve had a pair for a while (the defog never lasts long) which helps keep them defogged, or even better, bloody well buy new goggles like I always do!

I spent a lot of hours as a kid following the black line in swim training. 11 sessions a week. I competed at State Championships a few times, and held a few National rankings. I like swimming and as I mentioned, it’s my best triathlon leg. With so many swim hours under my belt, I like things a certain way and am used to my particular brand of goggles which I use during all my training and racing. I find they give me plenty of room to sight with. But this time around, I didn’t follow my own rules and it messed with me. I still did a great time, but nobody needs additional stress while racing, so I will not make the above mistakes again.

In summary, my 4 rookie mistake fixes:

1.       Read the athlete guide thoroughly and familiarise yourself with dates/times/closures that are important to your particular circumstances.

2.       Visualise your race. Picture in your mind what you need for every leg and transitions. Do this when you rack your bike. As you set out your flatlay the night before. In transition on race day.

3.       Make sure you buy your gear, nutrition, hydration in advance (saves running around like a headless chook!).

4.       Race your own race. Swim, bike, run as per your race plan and stick to it.

And for the swim. I know that a lot of my fellow triathletes really struggle with the swim. A good friend of mine came from having panic attacks and not being able to swim 5m unassisted, to completing 3.9km in an Ironman in rough seas. Another amazing friend had a near-drowning as a child and has only just completed her first open water swim at the young age of 45. These achievements blow my mind, and firm up my belief that anybody can achieve great things if they have a strong support network, determination and focus, which triathletes have in droves! At the end of the day, we are all doing our absolute best, and I hope my sharing my experience has helped, even a little. We all have our favourite tri-leg, so please, if anyone has any good ‘do not’s’ for my run, then do let me know!

XX Kylie


The Ironman Dream – Balancing Training, Work, Motherhood and LIFE!

Kylie here! Since having Theo almost 11 months ago,  I have discovered an entire community of Insta Tri-Mums – you know, triathletes who have kids. Some of these Mums are brand new, their babies less than a year old.  One of these has a 4 months old,  and she just did her fourth Ironman. Another has a 7.5 month  old, she just did her first Ironman, and had to express four times during her race!! A third Mum has an 11 month old,  and guess what? She just did her first Ironman too. I look at these amazing women and just cannot imagine juggling all that. Just trying to keep on top of FOHER, my husbands bookwork, my children, managing the household, making sure the dog has her walk, trying to fit in my own casual training (and you get the picture) has me exhausted at the end of the day, let alone adding IM training to the mix. We are so lucky to have a number of SuperMums in our Official FOHETTE roster of 2016. One of these amazing women is Rebecca Sheppard. Beck has written a fantastic article on how she manages to juggle the lot…and I find it just incredible. Absolute Kudos to you Beck,  keep up your incredible work!


REBECCA’S TOP 5 IRONMAN TRAINING TIPS (while trying to hold on to a full time job, be a mum and a wife)

I was asked for some tips about training for Ironman – so here are my top 5!

  1. Involve your family in the decision to do it. The training, time away, moodiness, grumpiness (because of the lack of sleep) impacts them too! Make sure they know how important it is to you and they will support you.
  2. Be organised – plan, plan and plan. Have meals prepared, get groceries delivered, have uniforms ready the night before, lunches ready, training gear by the front door, training/sports bags packed to go. Every little thing helps.
  3. Be adaptable and willing to change things if needed. If my hubby is away I do a 1km loop around my house for my run set or use the wind trainer or do water running. You can make it work if you need to. There are no excuses!
  4. Find someone to do the long sessions with. If you rely on each other to get up at stupid o’clock to do a 6 hour ride, you will get up!
  5. Make every session count.
fam IM2
Having family support is incredibly important when training for an Ironman!


People talk about their ironman journey and I never really appreciated this expression – until I finished one.

I am a 41 year old, mother to 3 kids (aged 9, 7 and 7) who decided 2 years ago to have a career change from a Fisheries Scientist to a full time high school teacher. While I have always been sporty and swam as a kid, I only completed my first ‘enticer’ triathlon 4 years ago, after getting fit again and losing my baby fat. I then did the swim leg for the Cairns 70.3 and was hooked and thought I can do this myself! I bought a second hand bike and started riding, running (very badly) and swimming. In the following 2 years I completed local triathlons and two Cairns 70.3 races which I loved.

Last year I hit the big 40 at the Julia Creek dirt n dust festival…..and while being slightly intoxicated ….joked with a mate about doing an Ironman. Why not I thought? Then when I mentioned it to a friend, they laughed and told me there was no way I could train for and do an Ironman with a full time job and 3 kids.  I made the decision right then to do it. Never tell an Aries they can’t do anything! So a week after the 2015 Cairns 70.3 I signed up for the 2016 Cairns Ironman without telling anyone. I ‘mentioned’ it to my husband one day and while he was supportive he also told me I was insane. While I kept fit for the rest of the year, I didn’t start my ‘proper training’ until January 2016.

I didn’t employ a coach – although a friend from the surf club did my swim programs and another family friend helped with my ride and run sessions. As my husband works away a bit I had to change things up quite often and do lots of sessions with the kids in tow. Generally I trained every morning – up at 4am – so I could be home by 615am – to do the morning school, lunch, drop off rush – and get myself to school by 8am. Afternoon sessions were a bit ad-hoc and fit around the kids activities. I swam when they did swimming lessons, I ran around the footy field while my son trained and the kids rode beside me on their scooters along the strand or around the block. Weekend sessions were the longer ones – sometimes up at 3am to be able to fit a 5-6 hour ride in AND be home for the football games, dance lessons or lifesaving patrol. The rest of the weekend was spent preparing meals for the following week, school work and marking, nippers, surf patrol and the never ending washing and cleaning.

The first 4 months training were good as the sessions weren’t really (really) long and I got into a routine with work, family and home. It was still hectic and tiring and I felt like a juggler (an angry, tired juggler), but I managed. I had cut out alcohol and processed sugar and physically was feeling strong. Running has always been my nemesis and something I have never comfortable doing – or good at doing – so being able to run 20km comfortably on a Sunday morning helped both physically and mentally. Which is why rolling my ankle and then developing plantar fasciitis in the other foot was such a big kick in the guts (and head). I did everything I could to help – physio, podiatrist, sports doctors, massage, drugs…… but nothing seemed to work.

I felt defeated – I had put so much effort, time and training in for so long and felt like it was all for nothing.  Mentally I was a mess and ready to give up. Luckily I have some amazing friends who I could talk to, draw inspiration and reality from. Maurice from Skilful Thinking shared a saying with me that stuck with me through to race day….“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”. I needed to stop making myself suffer for a silly mistake (running in dark without a torch) and focus on what I could do. For the last 2 months of my training I was limited to water running and very short runs…..but could still ride and swim. So that’s what I did.

Leading up to race day was not as relaxing as I would’ve hoped as we were in the middle of exams and marking. I only had one day off – which was spent packing the car and driving with the 3 kids to Cairns. Once in Cairns I started to relax as my hubby was there as well as my mum. The day before was relatively quiet after making sure I was organised with nutrition, race bags, special needs and equipment! I did however spend some time reflecting on why I was doing an Ironman after a friend shared his ‘why’. As I had never raced/trained/exercised for more than 6 hours, I was unsure why I needed to do this…..but I took the time to think about it anyway.

These are my “WHY’s”.

  1. Is for me. Selfish – yes, but once you have kids nothing is ever about just you. But the training part of this race is. It’s to show myself I can be an independent, amazing and determined woman who can do anything.
  2. Is for my kids. To show them no matter what you want to do or how hard or stupid it may seem, you can do it. And you never give up. Never.
  3. Is for all the busy, tired working mums who are exhausted, overweight, depressed, under-valued and who feel worthless at times. I know how you feel because I WAS that mum. It’s to show you that you are and can be so much more.
  4. Is for all my friends, family, colleagues, neighbours and random people who support, train, wake up at 3am, lend a hand, babysit, cheer, encourage, smile and wave…’s for you that I will keep going when I want to stop…. because you helped me when you didn’t need to or expect anything in return. I’m not going to let you down.

Race day

swim IM
IM Cairns Race Start

The ocean was a bit wild and rough, but as a good swimmer, I didn’t mind at all. My goal was to do the 3.8kms in 1 hour. My first lap was good however my second lap was a bit slower as I got stuck in ironman ‘traffic’. It had also got choppier by then as a storm came in. I felt great as I ran up the beach and looked at my watch and read 1:00:20. Transition went smoothly and I was on the bike. The roads were wet so I took it fairly steady.

Beck out on the IM Cairns Bike  Course – seriously the best in the world!  Photo: Phil Copp

At the 29km mark I felt the dreaded lump in my rear tyre. A flat! In my 6 months of training….averaging 300 km a week – I never once got a flat. So I managed to get the rear wheel off, pull out the glass and put a new tube in. This took me about 15 mins and then another 5 mins to get the wheel back on in the pouring rain. 1 km down the road and it was flat again. I quickly worked out I hadn’t put the tube in very well (got a pinch flat), so I took a little more care and changed it again. For some reason I was ok with this and wasn’t too stressed. I got back on the bike and got another 100kms on the bike and was feeling good. Then the worst happened – just outside Port Douglas – a third flat. With no tubes or gas left I had a bit of a cry and thought this was it. All over! 6 months for nothing. This is when my values, my reflection and mental strength helped. All I could think of was the reasons for doing an Ironman and my kids standing on the esplanade with their homemade signs, pom poms, bells and face paint waiting for me. I had dragged them to physios, chiros, pools and running tracks over the last 6 months……and for what? It couldn’t be for nothing. I had made them believe they (and I) could do anything they wanted. I looked at my watch and worked out I had 4 hours to get back. Could I walk my bike back in that time? I was willing to try. Thankfully it didn’t come to that as an event person rode by and stopped. He didn’t have any spare tubes but he rode into Port Douglas to get one for me. In this time I turned my garmin off – I just wanted to finish.  20 mins later and I was back on the road….fingers crossed that I wouldn’t get another!!!

The head wind and rain along the coast was full on but as long as my tyre was up I was happy! My friend Nat was still waiting for me at Yorkeys Knob (I was an hour behind my predicted time) and she drove beside me cheering, yelling at me and encouraging me. Riding along the esplanade and seeing my kids, husband and mum waiting was amazing.

I took the time in transition and strapped my dodgy foot before the run, took a nurofen and started. My good friend and training partner Trevor had said to me, once you get off the bike and start that run – you are an Ironman. That was forefront in my mind. Nothing was going to stop me! My plan was to run between each aid station (2-3kms) and walk through the aid station (while drinking and eating…..the flat coke was amazing!). The first time I saw the kids, my friends and the crowds was incredible. I felt fantastic and couldn’t stop smiling. I can’t remember thinking about much on the run…..but I loved every kilometre. As I had stopped my watch I honestly had no idea what pace I was doing (nor did I care) or what time it was – I just had to finish. The final 3 km were fantastic and having my friends and family there as I crossed the line will be something I will never forget. I crossed the line at 12:58 and can honestly say I loved every minute.

Rebecca out on the run, and looking way too happy! Photo: Phil Copp

Was it the hardest thing I had ever done: YES!

Was the training and preparation physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting: YES!

Did I finally understand why they call it a journey and not just a race: YOU BET!

Will I do it again: HELL YES!!! Sign me up for next year baby!

ironman finish (3)
Rebecca Sheppard ‘YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!!’

Join the Pink Bike Posse

…and help support Breast Cancer Research.


In 2016 NBCF has committed over $12 million to fund more than 30 research projects that will contribute towards our goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030. This year we have continued to fund innovative projects that investigate new avenues for treatment, and new applications for existing treatments to improve outcomes for breast cancer patients. The researchers will explore promising areas of investigation, some of which include more effective immunotherapies for hard to treat breast cancers, targeted treatment delivery systems, and predictive tests for relapsing cancer. NBCF also launched the Leadership Fellowship, a five year grant which allows a senior researcher to address some of the big questions in breast cancer. In total, since 1994, NBCF has awarded more than $127 million to around 430 Australian-based research projects to improve the health and well-being of those affected by breast cancer.

We believe research is the most effective way to end breast cancer. Our aspirational goal is to achieve zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030. With 42 Australians diagnosed each day and seven dying from the disease, there is still much to do.

FOHER Multisport will donate 5% from the sale of each Pink Bike Posse singlet and t-shirt to the NBCF. We are also proud to be the major sponsor of the Cairns Crocs Triathlon Club’s annual ladies only triathlon Tri de Femme, where 100% of  proceeds from the event are donated to the NBCF.