This weekend I completed my 5th Coolangatta Gold Short Course in the Masters Women 190+ Teams . For those of you who may not be from a Surf Life Saving background it is an iconic Australian endurance event which began in 1985 to be part of the movie The Coolangatta Gold. After 4 years of racing it took a break and then was reintroduced from 2005 when females were also allowed to compete. After getting my bronze medallion and becoming a Life Saver in 2010 a group of girlfriends hatched a plan in 2014 to enter a masters women team for Coolangatta SLSC “The Gatta Girls” In our inaugural year we won Silver and we have been excited about competing ever since. We got 4th this year & 2017, a Bronze in 2016 and a very controversial finish in 2015 (Story for another day !). While our team always competes to the best of our abilities, getting medals is just an added bonus. As women around the age of 50 being able to support each other and actually show up to compete in such an event is testament to what true potential lies within all of us. With busy lives, work and families we certainly don’t have time to dedicate to extreme training but we work with what we have and we get it done.
Over the past few years I have competed in Surf Life Saving State and Australian Titles, a range of Triathlon events both Sprint and Olympic, and a wide variety of running events including the Gold Coast Marathon and Warwick Pentatharun. I find the best motivation is to register for the event as early as possible and make that commitment. Being totally time poor and unprepared for some events does come with a WTF have I done a week out from some events, but I can honestly say I have never ever ever regretted finishing any event no matter what the result. The camaraderie and friendships you make at events or training alongside one another brings a wonderful sense of community and belonging. I find people who are physically active are often extremely motivated and you soon find yourself surrounded by a tribe of people willing to support you and help you become the healthiest version of yourself. And it goes without saying that the social coffee that comes after almost every training session or event it just as beneficial to my overall emotional and mental well-being.
As was evident in this years Coolangatta Gold and many of my recent Running and Triathlon events is the ever increasing number of older women taking part. And WOW talk about incredible athletes !! I often think I would rather be in one of the younger age groups, even male, as they are not so competitive or fast. So while from a competitor viewpoint it may seem more difficult as a Personal Trainer who encourages women to get involved I am so inspired every time I watch or compete with these amazing women. Age really is no barrier and I certainly find that the older participants totally understand the concept of training smarter not harder.
I know a lot of you are sitting there thinking I could never compete in a triathlon or running event as I am not fit enough or not fast enough or not prepared enough. Sure it requires a bit of dedication and commitment but start small and work you way up to bigger events. Parkrun is a great example of how to get started if running is your thing. Or maybe you are more interested in swimming, there are plenty of local ocean or pool swim clubs and some wonderful events to aspire to. I didn’t start running properly until I was about 42yrs old and even then 1km was a challenge. This year at 49yrs and in the middle of an extremely stressful work situation with very little time to train I came 21st out of 654 participants in the Gold Coast Half Marathon 45 – 49yrs.
Which brings me to the number one reason why I run and enter events. My mental health is dependent on it. The best and sometimes only way for me to manage my emotional and mental state is exercise and of all the exercises I find running the most beneficial. I often start a run so stressed and then by the time I finish, or usually by at least the 3km mark, I start feeling like a completely different person. Those endorphins added to that personal achievement you get from completing any goal is always enough to make me smile and then tackle any obstacle in front of me. When it comes to events it is a little bit more challenging as I struggle with very bad anxiety and can sometimes be close to a complete meltdown the night before or prior to competing. What I have learnt each time is the more I do it, the better I get at it. It still isn’t easy so my next goal is to learn some better meditation and breathing techniques to overcome the fear factor.
I have already signed up for some new events in the coming months including my first 70.3 Ironman event. Did I mention I am a really slow swimmer and after crashing my bike badly as a teenager a very nervous rider ? So I effectively do Triathlons so I can run at the end !
So if you have always wanted to do an event but never believed you could do it my suggestion is go find that event website and register today. Then work out how you are going to train or learn the new skill which will enable you to complete it. If you need help or motivation either engage a professional or surround yourself with like minded people who will encourage and support you every step of the way. Contact me if you need any help finding an event or assistance with how to train.
Go out register today and watch your life change !
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