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#AnythingIsPossible – Ironman Melbourne 2015

March 26, 2015

File 26-03-2015 7 19 26 pm#IMMelbourne champion Jeff Symonds said after winning: “For all the youngsters watching – I grew up in an IRONMAN town watching this. I challenge you to dream big.”

This week’s Parsha (Torah Portion) Tzav in a Nutshell from

G‑d instructs Moses to command Aaron and his sons regarding their duties and rights as kohanim (“priests”) who offer the korbanot (animal and meal offerings) in the Sanctuary.

The fire on the altar must be kept burning at all times. In it are burned the wholly consumed ascending offering; veins of fat from the peace, sin and guilt offerings; and the “handful” separated from the meal offering.

The kohanim eat the meat of the sin and guilt offerings, and the remainder of the meal offering. The peace offering is eaten by the one who brought it, except for specified portions given to the kohen. The holy meat of the offerings must be eaten by ritually pure persons, in their designated holy place and within their specified time.

Aaron and his sons remain within the Sanctuary compound for seven days, during which Moses initiates them into the priesthood.

The Theme of this year’s Ironman Melbourne was #AnythingIsPossible

As normal I will try give a run down on my experience and include some lessons learnt or observations made with a twist.

With Pesach around the corner I would like to share a thought on life’s Challenges by Rabbi Dovid Weinberg[1] from Oh Somayach. In an article he talks about the difficult challenge the Jews as a people faced when leaving Egypt and their on-going struggles through the ages until today. He goes on to say that besides our national challenge, there is the “individual” challenge”. Each and every one of us has his “specially tailored” challenge. There are many challenges in our lives to see if we will follow what G-d taught us, and what has been handed down throughout the generations — just as we hand down this rich history on Pesach to our children at the Seder. When a person overcomes a challenge or says #anythingispossible he is re-enacting the original Exodus, moving toward the original goal of receiving the Torah or any other goal he may have.

I am currently reading a book called the The Mountain Family about an Appalachian Family of 12 and their Fascinating Journey to Judaism. In the book the author makes a very good quote “that every challenge in life has an opportunity for growth”. Their journey proves #AnythingIs Possible

Hopefully through the challenge of training and competing in Ironman I as a person have grown. Below is a summary of my journeyto IM Melbourne 2015.

I have been training for Ironman Melbourne for a good few months (more like close to a year). I really think I did all the training I possibly could in the time that I had. As I have often said I really love the training, but those extra Ironman “sessions” really take it out of you and are tough on the family with long Sundays of training or waking up very early during the week for a long run. I am fortunate not to have had many injuries during my training (a few scares like falling off a skateboard and hurting my hand!).

File 26-03-2015 7 20 06 pmI hate the taper period. You always think that you are underprepared and are not doing enough. Does tapering help?? I did see a good tip on Twitter – “In final stages of ironman training, single greatest item 4 AGers would be trying 2 prioritise extra sleep over cramming “extra” training”

File 26-03-2015 7 35 27 pmRace weekend is a drawn out process – register on Thursday, bike hand in on Friday, panic etc. on Saturday, event on Sunday and then bike collection on Monday! (and I could not even attend the after party on Monday!!)

Saturday was meant to be a day of resting, but with a RAVE Concert at Caulfield Racecourse, there was not much of a Saturday afternoon nap. Thank goodness the music stopped just after 10pm. Not fun hearing the BOOM BOOM Music.

As normal you never sleep much the night before and I woke up early to go through my routine of eating, stretching, showering and Davening (with a toilet stop – relief!).

File 26-03-2015 7 21 30 pmThis year I had a few people to “compete” with, which was really good. Especially good to have Peter my brother-in-law from Hong Kong with me on the start line. Look for me this is by no means a race.

Swim start was different to the past. Basically rather than everyone starting together people were funnelled into the water in 4’s. The swim was amazing, water was calm, warm and very transparent. I had a few goggle issues in the 1st few hundred metres as we were not allowed a warm up. I tried as hard as possible to not drift off course, but this was hard at times with the sun in your eyes and your fellow competitors having the same problems.

Transition 1 went as planned. Maybe I was a bit slow?

Bike ride on East Link was 2 laps from Frankston to the “City”. The in effect 3rd quarter was very tough with the northerly blowing. It was a 45km battle. During the ride I felt pretty good. I followed my nutrition plan and had no stomach issues. I was happy I had left a bottle of electrolyte at the special needs stop, as the nutrition on course was not kosher. I did slow in the last 10-15km as I began to think of the run. Really focussed on not drafting. Got a fright when officials came next to me and said stay back as they were watching the guys in front of me. I am sure a few people did get nabbed.

Transition 2 went ok. The guys in the Transition tent were so helpful. I even had them rub sun-cream on me. This did not help much as I got fried on the day.

File 26-03-2015 7 22 04 pmI started the run feeling pretty good. I said I would not start fast. When I noticed my 1st km was faster than planned I slowed down. I love running when you get into a good rhythm and you just go, but I found this run pretty tough and battled at times to hold pace/ form with the heat and the wind. I did get a stich twice (not sure why?), but battled through it by slowing at the aid stations. I left an electrolyte drink at the special purpose collection point, but this was boiling hot. Thank goodness they had ice at the next nutrition stop to full my bottle with. My run nutrition was OK, by the 30km mark I could not face another gel. I keep saying this – I need to start making healthier gels! At least on the run you can speak with fellow competitors which really helps PLUS it is exciting and motivating to know you are going to see family and friends along the route. There is an amazing vibe on the run with so many people watching, especially going past the Giant sponsored bar in Elwood.

The end is unbelievable. A mix of joy, emotion and relief. I took it slowly down the shoot and enjoyed the moment. This time I was able to see my family. Crossing the line is brilliant with the Ironman announcer Mike Reilly, calling out “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”.

The helpers at the end make sure you are ok. They present you with medal and towel and help you along. To collect your stuff and get something to eat (nothing Kosher for me!). After nearly 11 hours of motion you have to stop. That feeling is weird.

File 26-03-2015 7 20 37 pmI was very excited that Pete, Alex and Jason all finished.

Instead of my normal reflection and lessons learnt I thought I would share an interesting fact I heard about on a Podcast on why geese fly in a V formation.

Geese fly in V formation. The flapping of wings of one goose creates an uplift for the goose immediately following. Flying in V formation adds at least 71% greater flying range, than if each goose flew alone. When the goose in front gets tired, another goose will take over the front position. Geese will honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Goose V formationBased on an article titled “5 Things Geese Can Teach Us About Teamwork[2]”, I would like to bring some of my own thoughts based on the authors 5 Things:

  1. When geese fly together, each goose provides additional lift and reduces air resistance for the goose flying behind it. – This is very similar to the effects of riding in a bunch. Even though triathlon is an “individual” sport and drafting or riding in a bunch is not allowed, having a team to train with, who supports your goals makes all the difference. Without the support of my cycle, running & swimming groups and especially my family I would never have reached the start line. Thanks to you all. I do have to give Loren a special special thanks for allowing me to do Ironman and supporting me through my training. Hopefully I was not too bad!
  2. When a goose drops out of the v-formation it quickly discovers that it requires a great deal more effort and energy to fly. – Competing in a triathlon without the help of a bunch makes this sport so much harder, while training you can stop if you having a bad day or battling, but with a race there is nowhere to hide. Getting through some long training sessions on my own was tough to say the least. Fo a race you need that mental resilience to suffer through the tough times and moments when you want to stop. I think this is the challenge of the Ironman.
  3. Geese rotate leadership. – As many of you know I read and listen to a fair amount on training, nutrition etc. I think that just as I try to inspire people through my training, competing, eating/ food posts and blogs. I know that there are many more people out there that know so much more and through these leaders I learn and grow.
  4. Geese honk at each other. – I need to give a special thanks to everyone who came out to support me on the route. You do not understand what this support meant to me. Some of you could not believe I tried to chat, but that is all part of the battle to finish. You were all my V formation.
  5. Geese help each other. – Once again competing at IM Melbourne I was blown away by the volunteers and what they do and have to put up with. I really made an effort to thank them along the way. Thanks gain.

“Like I said, for me – it was a tough day at the office. But that’s triathlon – I’m glad I stuck it out. Ultimately, persistence builds mental strength – strength that you need to achieve any worthwhile goal. And the good thing is, I’m validated for Kona and I earned some extra points along the way.” – Triathlete Tim Berkel after Ironman Melbourne

There is a lesson from the offerings in this week’s Parsha from the Maayanah Shel Torah[3] that I think is very relevant – “This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons… a meal offering perpetual, half of it in the morning, and half of it at night (6:13)”

The priest brought a meal offering on the day that he began serving in the Sanctuary, while the High Priest brought one every day. It is a mark of greatness that a person regards his every day as a new beginning in which he strives to transcend all his previous achievements.

I think this is the lesson of competing or completing an event. You cannot just stop! You need to keep training and maintaining your #HealthyLifestyle and focussing on a new goals. Fitness and diet needs to be part of your life and something that you do long-term. For now I am going to just slow it down – Yes Aubrey I will be taking it easy.

@firstoffthebike: “Ever done an IM? Ever want to? The finish is all that matters! shivers down my spine!”



[3] The classic collection of divrei Torah on the weekly sidrah. Originally published in Yiddish in 1937, Ma’ayanah shel Torah was compiled by Rabbi Alexander Zusia Friedman, a remarkable man with an encyclopedic knowledge of hundreds of Rabbinic commentaries and chassidic sayings pertaining to the Torah and the haftaros.

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