Back in 2009, I was in my mid-20s, a uni student and suffering from gym boredom. My membership wasn’t seeing much action and I needed to change that. I was living in uni accommodation, where our whole apartment would gather around the TV to watch The Biggest Loser and in the ad breaks do crazy bodyweight exercises. I reminded myself of how fun this was as I struggled through my first BodyPump class in months just before New Year. I told myself 2010 would be different – and it was!
I signed up to the first-ever Round of 12WBT, hoping to get inspired in the gym, learn new exercises and meet new people. I got all of this and more – a lot more. Round 1 was so personal. Everyone knew each other on the Forums and it really felt like a community. I would meet up with fellow 12WBTers at the local gym, park or cafe to train, discuss workouts and check in with how everyone was going.
My training itself was going really well and not only did I start running during that first Round, I also entered my first half marathon. I’d gone from lugging myself to the gym three times a week to training daily and running the Bay in Sydney.
I did a few more Rounds after that, was a 12WBT Ambassador and got to meet many Members whose lives were totally transformed by Michelle’s program.
Running Further and Faster
I never knew I would love running, but 12WBT gave me the tools to build up to my goal of running a marathon. I did that in Oct 2010 and I’ll admit, it was HARD! I was hooked though, and then ran the Gold Coast marathon in 2011 and qualified for the 2012 New York marathon.
That year saw me run races in Australia, New Zealand and the USA – but when I came to boarding the plane for New York, the tragedy of hurricane Sandy hit home and I decided not to go. The organisers cancelled the race in the end, but I knew I would run it eventually. I ran the Berlin marathon in 2013 and crossed the finish line of the New York marathon last year. It was a fantastic experience, despite the cold and windy weather!
After the 2012 New York marathon was cancelled, I decided to use my training for something different. I bought a road bike and entered a sprint triathlon (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run). Running clearly wasn’t an issue and I’d grown up swimming, so I figured it would be worth trying.
Best decision EVER!
I came second in my first race and that sparked a fire in my belly. From November 2012 to mid-2014 I trained harder and longer than I ever thought my body would be able to handle, but the rewards were worth the pain. I raced various distances, from sprint to Half Ironman races, and always placed in the top 10, often coming home with a top-three finish.
I represented Australia three times in 2014 – at the ITU World Championships in Edmonton, Canada, for sprint distance, at the Half Ironman World Championships in Mont-Tremblant, Canada, and the XTerra World Championships in Maui, Hawaii. I finished off the year in New York for the marathon.
What to do Next?
The only question left was, how would I top 2014?? I’d met some amazing athletes along the way and one of them suggested we form a team for Race Across America. Now, that may sound like a reality TV show, but let me assure you, it’s not!
Race Across America, known to most as RAAM, is a cycling race that crosses from one side of the USA to the other. Starting in Oceanside, California, we’ll ride to Annapolis, Maryland, in a week, a distance of 4828km. Over the course of that week we’ll climb 51,816m – that’s equivalent to climbing Mount Everest almost six times in a row!
The whole thing is a time trial, which means we don’t stop. From the minute the clock starts, our goal is to reach the other side as quickly as we can (in less than eight days). This means we cycle day and night. We don’t stop off to sleep in hotels and have nice, hot showers. We have to keep pushing through, regardless of what’s going on with the weather or how tired we are, to try to reach the other side as quickly as possible.
I, along with my fellow Veloroos Julie-Anne, Sarah and Nicole, will attempt to win our category (four-female team). We’re the first all-Australian female team to do RAAM and it will be an amazing experience, although it will be mentally and physically challenging. We’ll have a support crew of 12, two support vehicles and a motor trailer. As you can imagine, logistically things need to be spot-on for us to do well. We’re raising funds for two local cycling-focused charities, the Amy Gillett Foundation and Tour de Cure. We’re also looking for financial sponsors to help us fund this crazy adventure.
It All Started With 12WBT
Cycling and triathlon have changed my life, but that wouldn’t have happened had I not started with 12WBT. All I can say to those who are interested in triathlon and/or cycling is, give it a go!
The sport of triathlon has grown over the last few years, and organisers offer shorter, introductory races for those just starting out. Contrary to the belief that you have to have expensive gear to do triathlons, the reality is if you have a swimsuit and goggles (you’re given a swim cap) you can do the swim, any bike will do for the cycle part, and the run only requires shoes. The events are fantastic and the support you get from spectators and fellow competitors is far greater than I’ve experienced in any other race.
Starting to cycle can be daunting, what with all the gear, the technical aspect of the bike, riding skills … the list goes on. My advice is to set a budget for your bike and safety gear before you go to a shop. Talk to a few shops about bikes and always ask if the price they are offering is the best they can do – the mark-up on bikes is insane. Getting a bike properly fitted to your body geometry can be expensive, but it’s worth it. Injuries related to wrong bike set-up can be far more expensive.
If you’re just starting out, find a safe area to ride, away from cars and pedestrians. You’ll find your bike legs fairly quickly and, once you’re confident, check out the local riding groups or cycle routes. You’ll be amazed by how much you’ll see when you’re out and about.
Your goals don’t have to be as big as Tash’s! Don’t know what yours might be? Join 12WBT and we’ll help you set ones that you’re sure to SMASH!