A Lot of Thanks..

 

Lying in my hospital bed in France learning my foot was broken was easily the lowest point of my triathlon career. I had worked my ass off to overcome a torn calf and get over to Europe in good enough shape to compete in big grand prix and ITU races. As always, I had some big goals, but for what felt like the first time, I had everything lined up to achieve them. For me 2015 was going to be another breakthrough year. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out. Thankfully, something else did. In the 6+ months that passed between sitting in an ambulance on my way to a French hospital and crossing the finish line in Canberra on the weekend, I learned some valuable lessons. Lessons that have made me a better person and will help me be a better athlete. There are so many people that helped teach me these lessons and literally got me back on my feet and doing what I love.

I can’t begin to thank everyone enough, but I will try.

Julien. You were kind enough to give up your day in Les Sables in order to come to the hospital with me and translate. That five hours in the hospital would have been a lot more daunting and less enjoyable without you there patiently putting up with my questions on French grammar.

Virginie and Ruben. You guys went above and beyond for me and I can never thank you enough for all the help you have given me. You were there with a set of crutches when I got out of the van in Rennes and have been there every minute since with anything I have needed. My recovery would have been far more difficult without everything you have done for me.

Everyone in Rennes Triathlon. You guys welcomed me into the team like family. I know having an international athlete is a big risk. Obviously, when that athlete has a DNF in their only race start, that risk hasn’t paid off. I thank you all for the support you gave me despite that and hope to see you all out on the race course again soon.

Florian. I appreciate everything you did for me in France. Going to le tour was something I had looked forward to for years. Simon and I are so thankful you took the time out to take us up to Fougiers to see the stage. Navigating our way onto the train was also something I will never forget! J

Brad Fenech, my second brother. You’re a legend mate. I love you.

To everyone I met and who helped me while I was on crutches. If you’re reading this, I am sure you are very much aware that I am not the type of person to sit still and do nothing for a while. I tried it for a day and hopped on the next flight to Poland to see parts of the world I have always wanted to. Being an athlete means you don’t have much spare time to travel purely for enjoyment. Thank you to everyone that convinced me it was possible. I know my ideas weren’t always the most conventional but you guys all turned my 10 weeks on crutches from a disaster into an amazing time. I will never forget the help you guys gave me in seeing and doing some once in a lifetime things.

 

Mum and Dad. For your son to call you and tell you their risk of packing up and moving from one continent on the other side of the world to another has failed spectacularly is probably not the best call to get. Getting another one 6 weeks later saying being in a cast did nothing to heal it and I have to come home immediately for surgery was probably even worse. Thank you for welcoming me back home with open arms and taking me to the hospital and physio to get this thing fixed up. It would be understandable for you guys to recommend I quit and get myself a more conventional full time job, but you have been even more supportive of my future goals. That means the world to me, thanks for all the support.

Dave. When Brad Williams sent me your twitter handle recommending you as a foot specialist, I must admit I wondered what help you could have been from afar. I now tell everyone that if I had my time over, I would’ve boarded the first flight to San Diego to have had you fix me up. I am so thankful for all the advice and peace of mind you gave me. Your opinion was far more valuable to me than any of the doctors or specialists I saw in Europe or Australia. Brad, a massive thanks for the recommendation.

Tim. You went above and beyond as a physio. I have grown up playing sport and being in and out of physios. I don’t think I have ever looked forward to going to see the physio as much as I did with you. Knowing we were doing the right things to get me back on track gave me added motivation to work hard day in and day out to get back out there racing. I appreciate all the support you continue to give me.

Corey Bacon. A couple of thanks here. Firstly, for taking me on to swim with you guys. I love being part of your squad. Not only has my swimming been heading back on track quicker than I imagined, I have formed some valuable friendships in my first couple of months swimming with you guys. Secondly, for turning my idea of racing on the weekend into a reality. It was a long shot when the idea struck me at the start of swimming last Monday and you made it a reality by Tuesday morning. I loved racing next to PTC athletes and hope to share the race course with them all again soon.

Brad Allen and everyone at First Edge Endurance. You guys welcomed me to the race with no idea of who I was. Your race was beautifully run and the course was one of the best I have ever raced on. Despite the immense pain I suffered on the run leg, I will wholeheartedly recommend your race to anyone in future years.

Everyone who came out to watch me on the weekend and supported from a far. It was unreal racing in my hometown. When I entered the race, I didn’t really tell anyone and was planning on rocking up and racing by myself. To have my friends, family and coaches there was amazing. I had more people cheering me on and congratulating me post-race than I ever have. Thank you to everyone that was out there or sent me your love, it is much appreciated.

Blueseventy. For a sponsor, having one of your athlete’s seasons end in their first race is not ideal. You guys continued to give me your support despite the fact. I am glad to have been able to cross the finish line after wearing your helix and kit at least once this year. If anyone is looking for a new kit or wetsuit for 2016, go and get yourself a blueseventy one. These guys rock, and so do their products.

Brian. I know you have had some crappy luck with athlete injuries during the year. For that, it would be easy for you to lose interest and support in those of us that looked like we were headed out the triathlon door. Your advice through my injury has been exactly what I needed to hear. Your support at the race on the weekend and in the proceeding months has been much appreciated. Looking forward to doing some serious damage in the coming months!

Finally, the biggest thanks goes to my brother. The months following my injury were some of the best I have ever had thanks to you. Without you, I wouldn’t be in the place I am today. You not only helped me in everyday tasks that would have otherwise been impossible, but you kept a smile on my face that helped me remain as positive as I could possibly manage.  I love mon frere.

Triple Edge Endurance Race Report

If you asked me at the beginning of last week whether or not 2015 would have seen me finish a race, the answer would have been a very disappointing no. That all changed in a matter of days after an idea was planted in my head at swimming on Monday evening. After a hectic week of organisation which involved literally dusting off my TT bike, I found myself lucky enough to get an entry to the 2km/60km/15km Canberra Triple Edge triathlon.

Obviously, the decision to race a distance longer than I have raced since December 2013 was one that came more from my heart than my head and despite the insistence of my coach, Brian that 15km is too long for me to run, it was too late. I loved everything about the triple edge race. It was in my hometown, it was the last possible race I could race in 2015, the distances of the swim and bike would give me a good idea of where I was and a couple of my talented lane mates would be lining up alongside me to give me a little bit of a test in the otherwise low key race.  I was diving in and I was going to try and shake things up for everyone on the local triathlon scene that had never heard of this Thorp character wearing a USA labeled blueseventy kit.

Thankfully for me, Brian was set to be in Canberra the weekend of the race. Having him go through the lead up to the race and being on course was just what I needed to calm the nerves and remind me that despite the fact I don’t feel like it entirely at the moment, I am a professional triathlete and I know what I’m doing.

The race itself couldn’t have got off to a better start. I felt confident lining up next to Daudi, Adam, Kym and Dave who I have spent a bit of time swimming with under the guidance of Corey Bacon since returning to Canberra. The swim itself was rather uneventful. What was probably the most relaxed swim of my triathlon career saw Adam and myself joined by Shane Ilgen in a trio at the front of the course. From here, the real challenge started for me… running barefoot to T1. Under coach’s orders I rolled through T1 gently and headed out onto the bike.

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From there I quickly hopped to the front of the field and pushed hard. Despite running being my strength, having a world U23 duathlon medalist in the field and having not run more than about 10km in a single session post surgery, I knew I had to have a massive lead off the bike to stand a chance of attaining my lofty goal of winning the race. Entering T2 off the front of the field in my hometown was something I wanted to do, but with a lead of 2:10, I knew the odds weren’t in my favour.

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Taking off on the run, I felt absolutely horrible. My stride felt like rubbish and I wasn’t sure if I was moving at all. Thankfully I was able to build into the run a little and as we came to km 7 I was feeling OK. That was where it all started going south. Adam passed me right at the 10km mark and I started to go into a bad place. The last 5km were an absolute struggle and I began to walk through the aid stations to try and cool my body temp down a little. I was passed by Shane at km 13.5 and went on damage control to get to the finish line that I have been craving for all year.

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I have so many thanks to give to everyone that has helped me get back racing and helped me out this weekend that I will dedicate another post to ensure it can all be put into words.

If there is one thing I have learned this year, it is the lower the lows, the higher the highs. I have really struggled at times this year, but crossing that finish line showed me that if you work hard enough for something and believe in yourself enough, you can accomplish things you never imagined.