I took up running in 2007, 18 months after having my first daughter. I tipped the scales at 99.8kgs from an unhealthy, inactive lifestyle, and I decided that I needed to change. I had started walking around the block, which then led to slow jogging and then finally hitting my goal of running 5km nonstop. For me it was never about being fast, it was just about being fit and healthy!
I combined my running with regular gym work, healthy eating and ended up losing 28kgs. After the birth of my second daughter in 2011, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to run City 2 Surf with her. Me? Run in a running race for more than 5km? Ok! I love a challenge. We ran the City 2 Surf 2012, I ran the whole 14km including up Heartbreak Hill. It wasn’t fast but it was so much fun and I was so proud that I ran my first event. I was hooked.
I had run a few local 5 & 10km events from then on, but after the birth of my 3rd daughter in 2014 I wanted to go a bit further and run my first half marathon! I decided to run the Orange Running Festival in 2015. By this stage I had joined my local Parkrun and this is where I have met some wonderful RMA ladies that I now call my beautiful friends. I followed a running plan and I ran my first half marathon in 2:12. What a feeling!! I was extremely proud of myself. I remember running and thinking to myself as I watched the full marathoners run past me that there is no way I can ever run 42.2 kms. Double the distance to what I had just run! I just couldn’t comprehend it.
After Orange, I had starting trail running with my local RMA ladies through our incredible Blue Mountains. WOW! I have found my happy place. What an incredible feeling being out in glorious mother nature. It filled my soul with happiness. In May 2015, I met up with our amazing Nicole and some of my local RMA ladies and we drove up to the finish line of The North Face 100 (currently known as Ultra Trail Australia). Watching the competitors come up Furber steps and crossing the line stirred something inside me. I was so emotional watching these amazing people run 50 or 100km. I knew then, I HAD TO RUN THIS RACE! I decided I would run the 50km in 2016.
Following my love for trail running I also wanted to race the Six Foot Track Marathon (a 45km event) which was in March 2016. All this, and I hadn’t even run a trail half marathon yet, ha! So, next on my list, I would to run the Glow Worm Tunnel event in 2015. A beautiful scenic race which I completed in 2:34. To race Six Foot Marathon you must qualify to gain an entry. One of the qualifying races could be a full marathon in under 4hrs 20 mins. Could I do it? Can I really run 42.2km’s? Me? Well as my family know when I set my mind to something I don’t look back!
Blackmores running festival 2015 was my goal and the training begun. My training was a combination of road running and trail running. Most of my training was on my own and with a local running group. Big training runs were sometimes done with my local RMA friends who also were running Blackmores. My husband is a FIFO worker and works away for 4 weeks at a time, so training was tricky, but I still managed to get it done. My goal was to get my qualifying time for the Six Foot Track, but running 42.2kms was overall the biggest goal as it truly was something I never thought I would ever achieve.
Race day had arrived and I am proud to say I did run the whole 42.2 kms! AND I just managed to get my qualifying time for Six Foot Track with only 2 mins to spare. My first full marathon time was 4:18 and I was now a marathoner.
My training was now focussed on Six Foot and UTA, but in the new year of 2016, the load of training (over 70kms a week) and incorrect trail shoes, I gained my first ever injury. I started suffering from Planta Fasciitis in my right foot. I tried all the remedies in the lead up to Six Foot (March) and I entered the race feeling very worried and anxious (more than just general race nerves). The weather predicted for the day was very hot and humid. Two days before the race, the race directors even gave people an opportunity for a refund and priority entry for the following year. I was determined to race though. I started my race and I had raced well till about the 15km mark to where the real race begins and the climb of over 1600m of elevation begins for over 10.5kms.
This was by far the hardest thing I had ever done. The heat had gotten to me, and I was exhausted by the time I had got to the top of Pluvi (26kms in). My foot was hurting and I was limping. I couldn’t put any pressure on it. There was an aid station and it was at this point I decided I could no longer run. I received my first ever DNF. I was gutted.
I took 2 weeks off running and saw a doctor. I had an ultra sound on my foot where it revealed I had a tear in my Planta Facia. I was told I could still run the UTA 50km in May after some time off to heal, but I knew I would never achieve the goal time I was after. I knew I could finish the race but for me it was more than just finishing. This race meant a great deal to me and I wanted to give it all I had, so I decided to sell my 50km entry and leave it for the another year.
It was this point I joined a local gym which had amazing facilities including a heated pool. I decided to give my body a rest but I want to keep active so I started swimming! Something I haven’t really done since I was a child, apart from the occasional dip in our home pool. Swimming my first 50m, WOW, I thought I was going to drown! It was so hard and I was completely out of breath. I would go at lunch time when no one else was there to gain some confidence and I would gradually build up my distances each day till it got easier and I found myself swimming over 2kms.
Over 6 weeks my foot had healed and I got fitted for the correct pair of trail shoes. I had only done 3 runs over this time when a lovely friend had offered me her entry to the UTA 22. I thought, why not! It will still give me an opportunity to feel apart of UTA but not run the original 50km I wanted to.
I found myself at the start of the UTA 22 with only 3 runs under my belt and I had a fantastic run and came in at 3:18. I was extremely happy with my result with such little training and coming back from injury.
A good friend who also attended my gym was training for triathlons and an Ironman. I found myself thinking, I can run, I can swim, wonder how I would go at riding a bike? So I bought myself a road cycling bike and off I went. I will admit, I didn’t like it. It hurt my quads! My gym also provides an indoor cycling centre (it’s very much triathlon based), so I trained on my bike indoors until I got some confidence to go out on the road. Once I realised I could do all three disciplines, I asked my friend to coach me. He had completed numerous triathlons and a full Ironman. I felt I needed some help and guidance that a coach could provide me. That was it. I decided to do a triathlon! Not just any triathlon, I decided to do a half Ironman. Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney. 1.9km Swim, 90km Bike, 21.1km Run.
With that race as my goal, first I’d better do an actual triathlon! This would be a local club enticer distance 250m Swim, 10km Ride, 2.5km Run.
I survived my first triathlon and continued through my 20-week program I had been given for Ironman. Over the 20 weeks I trained in my gyms swim squad doing swim sets over 3kms of swimming. I also was Riding on my bike with my longest ride being over 100kms, and continued my running which incorporated speed work, tempo runs, and long runs which I did on trails. I entered more local races and before my Ironman 70.3 arrived in November 2016, I had only done a total of 3 triathlons!
Ironman 70.3 Western Sydney had arrived. 20 weeks of 4am wakeups and hard consistent training and I was ready! I was the strongest and the fittest I have ever been. I am an average but confident swimmer, but with less than 6 months of cycling experience, the bike leg was the leg I knew I would struggle in. The run leg, well, being a runner, it’s safe to say I had that part down pat.
It was a dream race and I completed my first Ironman 70.3 in 6 hours 25 mins. I raced strong and injury free under the guidance of my coach and I couldn’t be happier! Being a mother and growing little humans, I always thought our bodies were amazing and can do incredible things, but finishing Ironman, I realised our bodies are far more capable of things than I ever imagined.
As 2017 approached, new goals had to be set. Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie and finishing what I started at Six Foot Track Marathon! I was lucky enough be picked by the lottery system. And so, it began. Training for the race that broke me mentally the previous year. A new 20-week program was set for me and Six Foot would be used as a training run for Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie. I trained weekly on the Six Foot track as well as my regular swimming and cycling. Training on the track was tough, but I knew I had to be tougher to get through it this year. 3am wakeups were required to travel to Katoomba get my run done and back home in a time that wouldn’t disrupt family time. As race day arrived, I was ready this time. I raced and I beat my demons, and I finished Six Foot Track Marathon in 6:41. My dream came true and I finally became an Ultra Marathoner. I will not lie, it was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Ironman 70.3 was easier, but one of my most rewarding races to date.
Next up Ironman 70.3 Port Macquarie. I was told Port has the hardest bike courses of all Australian Ironman, it being hilly with rough road surfaces, and seeing as it was my weakest leg, I had some hard work to do. Training on hilly roads was a weekly regular and I found myself getting stronger and stronger. I found a love for cycling that I once dreaded. I even treated myself and bought myself a TT Bike. At this stage I had started open water swimming at Manly beach. A free local swim squad that swims daily at 7am. Swimming out into the ocean watching the sunrise, spotting young Port Jackson sharks and stingrays in the reef below, swimming through swarms of Jellyfish (safe ones), getting stuck in my first Rip, has been an incredible experience for me. It made me stronger mentally and something I will always tressure.
7 May 2017, I raced my second Ironman 70.3 within 6 months. I had another amazing race. The swim was good, I had my best and fastest ride, even on a tough course. My run funnily enough which is my strongest and most loved was a slight let down. I gave all I had on the bike leg and didn’t leave much left for the run. The weather was hotter than I expected and I had a much slower run than I had predicted. Finish time was 6:52. A highlight would have been seeing my daughters in the finish chute. I stopped and gave them a hug and I welled up with tears hearing them yell I’m so proud of you mummy as I finished.
My love for trail running will always be number one. Running through our majestic Blue Mountains is my happy place. Ultra-Trail Australia is my most favourite racing weekend of the year. I decided to race the Pace UTA22 again this year. The conditions for this year wasn’t ideal. The 22 started off cold, windy and raining! After rolling my ankle at the 14km mark, it slowed me down a great deal. By the time I hit the famous Furber Steps at the 21km mark, the fatigued in my legs had finally caught up with me, and they weren’t quite recovered from racing my half Ironman 10 days prior, that with upset tummy left me feeling quite broken, but I managed to push myself to the end and finished. Wasn’t quite the race I was after and was 26 mins slower than last year, but I loved it all the same.
2018 will be my big year, with hopes in racing my dream race UTA 50 or 100, along with my very first full Ironman 3.9km Swim, 180km Ride, 42.2km Run
Making the decision to start racing triathlons was one of the best things I ever did. It combines my love for running in with other sports, and I am the fittest and happiest I have ever been. Training for these events is never easy. My daughters are 3,6, and 12, with a husband away for a month at a time and I work a casual job also. It just makes me more determined to reach the goals I set myself. I know I am setting a wonderful example for my girls, to be active and healthy and that by far is my overall ultimate goal…. Dream, Believe, Achieve.
Kelly Taylor (KT)