Ironman 70.3 Cairns – My Journey

On Sunday 11 June 2017, BEXI triathlete Michelle Nicholas became an Ironman 70.3. This is her inspirational story:

It is simply the best experience! The training, the inspirational buddies, the journey of ups and downs and the most incredible feeling of crossing the finish line. It takes you to another level!

I wanted to do an Ironman for around 20 years. When my eldest, Gemma, completed the Coolangatta Gold at 16yrs-old, I felt inspired to get fit and focus on myself again.

I signed up for Beauty of Exercise’s beginner triathlon program last year (2016) and completed my first sprint triathlon. After that I was hooked and started dreaming of completing an Ironman 70.3.  I signed-up a year out and starting surrounding myself with the right people. My coach, Debbie Solms, was fully on-board and excited for me. My BEXI buddies were amazing – even though they weren’t doing the event, they still committed to train with me.

I truly didn’t think I was capable and leading up to Cairns I was very nervous and worried that I would let myself down and my BEXI buddies down if I didn’t make it.

The weekend was awesome! My gorgeous BEXI buddy and lovely friend Monique, travelled to Cairns to support me.  The day before the race we went to the swim/bike transition and sat in a beautiful restaurant in Palm Cove enjoying a healthy meal, looking out at the swim course and feeling mentally prepared. Monique was a calming presence who kept my mind off the race and we spent the afternoon laughing lots. I loved that day.

Race day I got up at 3.15am, my bus to the swim start was 4am. Preparing for a full day on the course, I rubbed sunscreen on my body… only to realise that my race number tattoos were never go to stick. Lucky for permanent markers!

A few friends came to find me at the start to wish me good luck. I felt special that they’d woken early and made the effort to see me. The swim was fantastic, dark and murky in the water, but with the rolling start I didn’t feel like I was fighting my way through the crowd. I had a great rhythm from the start and I never once thought anything negative.

I couldn’t believe I was actually doing this and I was really loving it.

I started the bike with the biggest smile on my face. The hills were longer and harder than I had imagined but I took it in my stride and did my best. Turning around at Port Douglas was a highlight, as I realised I made the cut-off time!  This enabled me to enjoy my race.
Shortly after disaster struck!  My gears jammed and I was restricted to using the small chain ring for the rest of the ride.  I was slow but I was never going to give up!  I finished the ride in under 4hours which I quietly wanted to do (but didn’t think I was capable of). Monique was waiting for me at the bike finish which gave me a good chance to have a giggle and a quick chat.
I set off on the run and my legs felt like lead weights for the first 5km.  The crowd along the run course were so very supportive and yelled my name like I was their best friend, it was a great pick me up when I needed it.  The run isn’t my strong leg, I was negative towards myself and didn’t like that I was so very slow – but I finished (finally) and the elation of the finish shoot was worth every single slow step. It was worth every sacrifice I had to make in training for this event.
That finish shoot I had dreamed and visualised for one year, finally came true. The journey from start to finish was worth every sacrifice. I was an Ironman 70.3! 
Photo credit: Delly Carr

If you would like to take on the IM70.3 challenge or mix it up, then join our BEXI team as we train for IRONMAN70.3 Western Sydney and the Long Course Weekend.