Country girl to Kona glory - Riana Robertson's Ironman Story
Country girl to Kona glory - Riana Robertson's Ironman Story

Country girl to Kona glory – Riana Robertson’s Ironman Story

Country girl to Kona glory - Riana Robertson's Ironman Story

We chat to Riana Robertson about her journey from small town South Africa to racing on the biggest stage in Ironman triathlon. This is her story.

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Transcription:

BRAD BROWN: We head to North of Johannesburg in South Africa. A city called Pretoria to touch base with our next guest. It’s great to have another South African on the podcast once again. We don’t chat to too many of them. A great pleasure to welcome our next guest onto the show, Riana Robertson.

Riana welcome onto The Kona Edge. Thanks for joining me today.

Having a small dream come true

RIANA ROBERTSON: Thank you Brad. It’s been a little bit of ‘I wish I can get onto your show one day’, so it’s a bit of a dream come true. So, thank you very much for having me.

BRAD BROWN: You’re way too kind. I think I dream of Kona more than you dream of getting onto The Kona Edge. Let’s talk a bit about you.

RIANA ROBERTSON: I suppose when you do the one you want to do the other one, so it’s like a progressive growing into something else.

BRAD BROWN: Sadly I think there’s more chance of people getting onto The Kona Edge than me getting to Kona, if I have to be brutally honest. But that’s a story for another day.

Let’s talk a little bit about you and your journey into the sport. Growing up, were you always sporty? Has sport played a massive part in your life?

RIANA ROBERTSON: It has. I grew up in a little town called Bethlehem in the Eastern Free State, and I was always involved in cross-country and netball. I actually played provincial netball at school and provincial cross-country and athletics.

The influence of family friends

I was about 16 when I was exposed to my first Ironman event. One of my Dad’s friends participated in Vanderbijlpark and I was just intrigued by this sport of swimming, biking and running.

BRAD BROWN: Riana I’ll get back to that in a second but you are going to laugh. I grew up in the Free State as well, in a little town called Virginia. And we have a major Bethlehem connection and I don’t know if I should admit this in public. We used to go on holiday to Bethlehem. Like the big lights of Bethlehem, Loch Athlone I think it’s called, the dam that’s in Bethlehem. We used to spend 3 weeks there, a year. That was our family holiday. So I know Bethlehem very well. I don’t think I’ve been back since those holidays. But yes, I know exactly where it is. It’s a quaint little town, to say the least.

Let’s talk about that first exposure to Ironman, was that where the seed was planted and you said ‘You know what, I have to do this?’

RIANA ROBERTSON: Yes. I was still very young and only 16. In those days the Iron events was known as The Vanderbijl Ultra. The athletes could have a second who was able to run or cycle with them. Because I knew Oom Clint, my Dad’s mate who was doing it, I got to run 12k’s. His last 12k’s of the event with him.

Riana Robertson - Country girl to Kona glory - This is her Ironman Story

Knowledge will fill your mind

I was intrigued and fascinated with how these 3 sports fit into 1. Started reading up and wondering how am I going to do this coming from Bethlehem? We started with the 5km in the Energade series. Which was the first race in Bloemfontein. I think I was 17 or 18 then. And we went from the one little event to the other little event and I remember, I think my Dad’s got it on VCR, but I was backstroking into the reeds and bushes. All sorts of crazy triathlon stories that people don’t believe if I tell them about it now. I think I’ve always been intrigued about it and it’s a very passionate sport and I think that’s what hooked me.

BRAD BROWN: Were you good straight up? You talk about swimming into the reeds. I want to see that video firstly because we need to get that onto YouTube. But were you good from the start?

A natural talent for Ironman

RIANA ROBERTSON: I was a very good runner at school, which you wouldn’t say now. I’ve lost a bit of my running abilities. And the cycling has always come very naturally. Growing up in Bethlehem, unfortunately swimming is not a big sport, or school sport there.

You referred to Loch Athlone earlier and my Mom used to take me to 2 dams. There was a 30m indoor pool in Bethlehem and I used to swim in the open water dams. Saulspoort was the one and the other one was Loch Athlone. My Mom used to drive a little Uno back then and she would drive next to the dams as I was swimming in the dam.

So, swimming has always been quite challenging for me because I didn’t have that growing up. It turned out quite well. I tend to be a good swimmer now in South African triathlon races. But I didn’t have that  growing up and I think my swimming really came along when I went to the High Performance Centre at University of Pretoria and I got to spend some time with good coaches there who really helped me. I think I was lucky in a way that I have a fairly good technique. We always say swimming is physics 1-0-1. I was able to take that into a swimming career for triathlon.

TKE370

BRAD BROWN: And then making the step up. I love the fact that you started on the shorter ones when you were younger and worked your way through the different distances. So often, I chat to age groupers who see an Ironman, think that will be nice, and that’s the first triathlon they ever enter, is an Ironman.

And I’m putting my hand up because that was me. My first exposure was an Ironman and I was like ‘I want to do that’. It’s probably not the best way to go about it. You want that slow progression where you can find your feet in this sport. Are you glad you did it that way?

Ease your way gently into Ironman racing

RIANA ROBERTSON: Oh yes, definitely. I think we were lucky as 18/19/20 year olds, that there was the BSG and the 5 Pin Energade series. It got us to compete around the country with all the different athletes, when Dominique Donner was dominating at that time. She was a real idol for me, growing up. We got to race with Kate Roberts and Rea Steyn.

There’s a whole range of us that used to come through those ranks that had the exposure of doing little, shorter races and I think it lifted the competitive edge for the South Africans back then as well. I wish we can get that series back. It was brilliant. We town-hopped every week. From the one town to the next town, and met up. It was a little bit like a triathlon family that formed from that year up.

BRAD BROWN: Yes, the South African fraternity is a very tight-knit fraternity. It’s not massive and everyone does know each other. And you mentioned those short series and it’s the countries around the world that have those short sprint series that produce great triathletes time after time.

Losing out on the short distance Ironman races

My concern and I’m sure you will echo this; particularly here in South Africa we don’t have one of those short distance series at the moment. The biggest races are the ultras. Ironman put on 3 great events here in South Africa. They’ve got 2 x 70.3’s and the full. In Nelson Mandela Bay they’ve got a couple of other series that are half Ironman distance. We don’t really have the shorter stuff for people to get their feet wet, so to speak. That’s a massive concern.

RIANA ROBERTSON: Since I’ve finished my racing, if I can call it that, because I’m only racing very casually and enjoying the sport. But I’ve been very involved with Triathlon South Africa and trying to get some juniors out. I’ve been assisting some juniors on junior tours overseas and working with Kate Roberts and Neil McPherson, and the whole bunch at USA. So we’re really trying to get juniors up on a trainer-racing platform.

Junior triathletes need International exposure

We started introducing a junior tour, so I was lucky enough to take the juniors to Hungary and the Netherlands last year, and they’re planning to take a group again this year. It’s very good for them to get that type of exposure. Take them overseas so they can get used to the type of racing which is very different to the South African racing style. Like you mentioned, if you open up the calendar at the moment, there’s a lot of ultra events which is great for the people interested in that.

I really miss that vibe of junior series. The exposure from it was brilliant. Teams formed from that. Sponsorships formed from that. I remember when I was a student, I used to race for the Nestle team and I would get my funding for the whole year from that series. I was able to go to Europe and race the Bundesliga in Germany, from the prize money I generated from that.  So it just opened up so many doors going forward.

BRAD BROWN: Yes, it is vital to have something like that. But let’s talk about the step up to the long stuff. You obviously raced the shorter stuff. You were good at it. Not that you weren’t good at the longer stuff as well. But for an athlete that’s very competitive, it’s a big decision to go into the ultras. It’s a big step up, let’s be honest. Racing a sprint or an Olympic distance, then moving from that to a half Ironman distance, or a full Ironman distance is massive.

Make the right Ironman choice at the right time

RIANA ROBERTSON: It’s also a bit of a mind-set change but I think for me it was the right choice at the right time. I actually did my first Ironman in 2010 which was a little bit early I think. But I purely did it for the sake of going to enjoy it and see what Ironman is all about. I think I was 25th overall in the male/female category in my age group. And apparently I was 4th in my female category. Someone phoned me the next day asking ‘why didn’t you go to slot allocation:’ because apparently they rolled down to me. Back then I was so naive, I was like ‘what’s this slot allocation?’. I didn’t really know what it was about back then.

My mind was still so set on sprint racing and faster, shorter stuff. I think I came to a bit of my own where I’m a little bit of a morbid diesel engine. So I’m able to keep a fairly hard pace for a longer period of time and not being able to run shorter, faster, quicker stuff. I think I made the move at the right time and the race format certainly fits me better than the shorter, faster stuff. I’m also a bit of a bigger bone structured girl than the other triathletes, so I think the strength that comes into the longer racing distance definitely played to my advantage.

TKE370

BRAD BROWN: Riana what do you love about Ironman? It’s a long day. There’s so much that can go wrong. I don’t think anyone ever has the perfect race because there are always things that you can improve on. But for you, that distance, what do you love about it?

That magical Ironman red carpet moment

RIANA ROBERTSON: I think it’s the camaraderie. The training, the mind-set, the actual event. The people on race day cheering you on. We all speak about that magical red carpet moment and I don’t think you can really explain that emotion and feeling that you’re going through to someone that hasn’t done it before. So, I think it’s more the extra’s that go with the event. The people, the cheering, the motivation. I think that’s the big part about it that drives me.

BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about when you eventually did get that slot to Kona. You talked about getting a roll down that you weren’t even aware of in 2010. When did the seed get planted, that you know what, we now know what it is, and it’s a viable option. It’s something that I want to chase. Tell me a little bit about that.

RIANA ROBERTSON: It’s actually silly because as I mentioned in 2010 I was all about sprint and fast and Olympic distance races, and the mind-set changed. I was watching Ironman World Champs 2013; we watched the live streaming at home. My coach and mentor Neil, who still helps me, phoned me about 6 or 7 o’clock that night. He’s like, ‘You know what Riana, I’ve been thinking and I really think you should try and qualify for Kona next year’. And I was like ‘That’s a damned good idea. Let’s try that’.

When you’re ready to race and life has other plans

And then obviously I entered for Ironman 2014 in Port Elizabeth. But nothing went according to plan. I got German measles 2 weeks before the race, which obviously isn’t ideal if you’re trying to go top podium for your age group or try and qualify for Kona. But I got the go-ahead to go and race and I was 4th at Ironman South Africa which I was very lucky I think to get. I also got in a back door slip to go to Kona because of the roll down system that they have, so I think I was very lucky to get in. Like I say and you’ve mentioned it earlier, nothing really goes according to plan but it’s what you make out of it.

I just said, ‘You know what I’ve paid for everything, I’ve trained. 2 weeks before the race you can’t change the outcome of the work you’ve already done. I went and tried the best I could on race day despite having measles 2 weeks before.

BRAD BROWN: That’s crazy. You must have felt okay to put in a performance like that. But the disappointment of realising that you’ve put in all this hard work and 2 weeks before when you should be considering the taper and something like that hits, how do you deal with disappointments like that? It happens to all of us.

Give it your all when disappointments lurk in the build up to Ironman

RIANA ROBERTSON: I think the fact that it was 2 weeks before was probably not a bad thing. And I say this with respect to the bigger picture of things. You’re going into taper; you can’t really train that hard. We were doing 20/25 hours of training leading up to Kona. Neil was really pushing me and we were working hard.

I knew it was all going to come down to how I feel on the day and we’ve done the work. It’s more a case of now just making peace with what happened. There’s nothing you can change about it and just going on the day and giving the best you’ve got. Ironically enough, on race day I didn’t feel great. I was like a zombie. The body didn’t really want to respond. But you know what, that’s just part of racing. And maybe because I’ve been racing for so many years you try and block it out and put it in the back of your head and deal with business as you should on race day.

Adapt weather conditions to simulate race day conditions

BRAD BROWN: Riana, let’s talk about Kona and that build up to Kona. Obviously, you’ve been racing for a while before then and you had things pretty much dialled in. Did you change anything?

We’ve spoken to a couple of South Africans and I know after Ironman South Africa which is very late in our season because we’re in the Southern hemisphere. It’s very early in the Northern hemisphere season. But training through winter to get to Kona; although it starts warming up a bit before Kona, was that a major challenge for you?

RIANA ROBERTSON: It was Brad. And you know, we up North are a little bit soft when it comes to cold weather even though I did grow up in Bethlehem. I try to approach the race and make my environment very similar to what race day would be and that certainly paid off.

I would get home on an afternoon at 3 o’clock and then I’d have a 3-hour bike set waiting for me. To go out then on the road when it’s going to get dark, it’s going to be cold, was just not an option. So I used to sit on the indoor trainer, ride the virtual route of Kona. Do my sets on that, with my heater on in the middle of the room to make it as hot and humid as I possibly can.

Just try and adapt as much as I can from home, to the race circumstances. Instead of doing early morning runs I used to do midday runs to try and get used to the heat as much as I can. But you know what, these are the cards that you’re dealt with and you try and make the best that you can from it.

Riding the virtual Kona route

BRAD BROWN: Absolutely. I love the fact that you had done the route simulation. Coming into Kona that must have given you a lot of confidence and on race day almost felt familiar.

RIANA ROBERTSON: It did. It turned out the virtual trainer was very similar to the actual route. It was a bit of a mind-set to get myself to sit on the indoor trainer 3 times a week for 3-hours., but we got it done in the end. It’s just that little bit of, you know there’s a climb coming, you can actually see a bit of what the trees look like around you, there’s that rock, and there’s this, etc. You’re going to get ready for the climb that’s coming or the long downhill. Of course nothing can prepare you for the Kona winds or the Kona heat which plays a big factor on race day. But I think coming from where I am I was the best mentally and physically prepared for what’s to come on race day.

Riana Robertson - Country girl to Kona glory - This is her Ironman Story

BRAD BROWN: I know in your post-race report you also spoke about the side shows and everything that’s going on. You arrived about 10 days before race day which is ideal. The longer you can get there ahead of time, the better. But how difficult is it to stay focused knowing what you’re there for. Do you go into it as a case of I might never come back here, I’m going to race this thing as hard as I can? Or is it an experience and we see what happens on race day? How do you get that balance right?

RIANA ROBERTSON: You know what Brad, I’m very focused when it comes to a certain goal that I have and I think that’s also the reason why I’m struggling. Well not struggling to get back to racing, but trying to race competitively in my age group, is that when I do something I try and do it as best as I can.

Balancing fun and racing

We were in Hawaii, which is like the mega tourism place of all places in the world. But we also knew there was a job to do. So, we divided our days. There were 2 things that we didn’t miss. That was the Parade of Nations and then obviously the underpants run.

Other than that we really tried. We wouldn’t walk to places, we would drive to places. We’d drink as much, and hydrate as much as we can in the morning and afternoons. Try and stay out of the sun. We were quite focused on what the job was.

As you would have known my goal was to be top 10 in my age group which I unfortunately didn’t achieve so I’ll have to go back for that one day. But I think we were very focused. We knew what we had to do and we didn’t go wild. We didn’t go haywire. We did a little bit of fun but obviously keeping focus on what we were supposed to do there.

BRAD BROWN: You talk about not making the top 10. You just missed it. I think every Ironman leaves you with some unfinished business and you mentioned that maybe one day you’ll go back and try and do that. Is that gnawing at you? Do you feel like you are better than the position you finished in and you are worthy of a top 10. Is it there all the time or is it a case of if that opportunity crops up later we’ll cross that bridge then?

Recognise your race day errors and correct them

RIANA ROBERTSON: In the back of my mind I would really like to go back. But then again, you’re only as good as you are on race day. That’s the fact and that’s what I tell my athletes as well; ‘This was the test and you’re as good as your last race’. It’s a very different mind-set; I’d like to go back. I missed that, I was 12th so I missed it with literally 2-minutes.

There are a few things I might change. I made some rookie errors on race day that obviously had made a big difference but I think I’d like to go back and see if I can get that top 10 slot.

BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about those errors, because I don’t think they’re exclusive to just Kona. Everyone can learn from their mistakes that they made. What were some of those things that you did that you, in hindsight, realised they were rookie mistakes?

RIANA ROBERTSON: There are actually a few things. One was, and we’re going to touch on nutrition a bit as well, but one was the nutrition error I made. But in the beginning of the race, it’s not like Ironman South Africa where you start on the side. You actually spread the water for a few minutes before the actual race starts. I got to the water a little bit late forgetting that everyone else is as eager as I am to get this race going and to try to do the best that they can do on race day. After all it is World Champs.

Get to the start line early

By the time I got to the water, I was read in the 4th female row and I ended up not having any clear water for the whole race because I was fighting to get space. I actually got kicked in the ribs; my ribs were bruised the day afterwards. All the other girls and females were fighting for their positions. I’m a fairly good swimmer and I was hoping for a 58-minute swim on race day which ended up being 1-hour 4-minutes. Which is still not bad but those are small things that I would like to correct one day. By the time I got to the start there were so many girls already in front of me that there just wasn’t space 1:23 to go.

Then trying to make up and trying to get to the front, I went out the first kilometre at 1-minute 18 pace which is quite fast for me. I was bargaining on 1-minute 23, 1-minute 24 pace; so I basically blew by the halfway side of the swim which is in the beginning of the race at the turnaround at the boat. So I had to just relax and get back down into rhythm which obviously resulted in having a 6-minute slower swim than planned. But that’s unfortunate. Like I say that’s what happens on race day.

TKE370

Dehydration will affect your Ironman performance

The second big mistake I made was the last 20km of the cycle there’s no more water points going back into the town of Kailua-Kona and my nutrition was finished. 20km is roughly equal to half an hour. I just needed to get home, why am I so thirsty, why isn’t this working for me and you’ve got all sorts of things going through your head then. Luckily when I got back into T2 and headed out to the run I could rehydrate. It didn’t seem to affect me that much but I’m sure it would have made a difference on the day with results and like I say that top10 position. Those 2 things might have had vital errors. But you’ll never know.

BRAD BROWN: Exactly. As much as those are 2 things, the water start and no water points the last 20km on that route, it’s important first of all not to go out too fast in a race. Particularly an Ironman, because it’s a long day. And make sure you know where the refreshments stops are on the route. Doesn’t matter what race you’re doing. So there are some big lessons to be learnt there.

Riana, if I say the word Kona, what emotions, what thoughts does it conjure up in you?

RIANA ROBERTSON: I’m sad in a way because you don’t get to go back, or I suppose you could go back everywhere and you’re not sure you want to go back. You’re not sure that’s going to be a reality because of the qualification standards and I think every year is getting a little bit more difficult to qualify for these type of races. Everyone is just getting so much better and faster.

Kona, the Disneyworld of triathlon

There’s a little bit of sadness not knowing if I will qualify to go back again but then there’s also the excitement that I knew I had the best race I’ve ever had. I smashed my Ironman PB which not a lot of people get to do in Kona; and the fact that I was able to share it with my husband who was there. We made a lot of friends, it’s a happy place. It really is this magical Hawaiian Island. And everyone speaks of the Hawaii gods and when you speak to them beforehand, without not being there, you’re like what are these people on? But it really is a magical place. So it’s a little bit of mixed emotions that go with it.

BRAD BROWN: I have to chuckle because Disney World is known as the happiest place on earth. I think Kona is the happiest place on earth for triathletes. It’s the Disneyworld of triathlon, I think.

Riana, what’s the biggest life lesson you’ve learnt out of the sport of triathlon?

RIANA ROBERTSON: Never to give up Brad. My mom and I always used to joke and not to change the subject but I was born in 83. So if you think about it, Kate Roberts was born in 83 and Rea Steyn was born in 83, so it was like there was something happening that year. It’s a very competitive age group. The fact that I came to my own doing Ironman races and I never gave up on this passion of triathlon that I had. I think that’s the biggest life lesson learned from that.

BRAD BROWN: I love that. There was obviously something in the water in 83, no doubt about it. You mentioned earlier that you’re, not battling, but that you’re struggling to get back into racing. Is that one of the things you’re sort of grappling with at the moment? What are some of the things you’re working on right now? What are you battling with?

When work gets in the way of your time

RIANA ROBERTSON: I think the biggest challenge for me, when I came back from Kona I started focusing more on my own coaching career. And time obviously is a big issue. So I had to put my own racing a little bit on the benchmark and just put it on the shelf for now.

And then also knowing what it takes to get to Kona and knowing what it took for me to have that absolute phenomenal race. There’s a lot of effort that needs to go in that. When I want to race I don’t just want to go and tick the box. Yes, it’s passionate and I still train every day and I love the sport and the people. But I don’t want to just have bucket list events. I really want to go be the best that I can be on race day. I think that’s the biggest challenge I need to work with in my head. Not having sufficient time to put in what I used to put in and trying to make the best of that.

BRAD BROWN: You mentioned knowing what it takes to get to Kona. What is the secret to qualifying? Somebody listening to this, thinking ‘You know what, I’d love to do that but I don’t know how’. Are there characteristics, what’s the workload, what’s the secret to getting to the Big Island?

Research triathlon before you get involved

RIANA ROBERTSON: I think the biggest is to do your research. I get athletes coming to me and saying they want to qualify for Kona. And then we look at where they are and what they need to do and what the people around them are doing. What sort of watts do you need to put out, what type of swimming times you need to be swimming?

I think that’s the biggest thing. Do your research; know what you’re in for before you decide to go for it. The biggest training factor is consistency. It comes down to every day you need to go and do your little bit of work. Obviously you’ve got rest days and recovery. And a lot of people forget about that most important vital part that actually makes part of your training program. When you’re training 20/25 hours a week, recovery is absolutely important.

But the biggest thing is do your research and be consistent in what you do and with that you’re almost halfway there.

BRAD BROWN: Fantastic. What’s next on the cards for you? You mentioned you are still racing but you’re not going full tilt. What is the plan for you from a racing perspective? What do you still want to achieve in the sport, that sort of thing?

The burn to go back to Kona

RIANA ROBERTSON: Obviously, as I mentioned, I’d like to go back to Kona. I’ve actually entered for 70.3 Durban which is in a few weeks’ time. I only entered last week Sunday, so it’s like 6-weeks out to the race but I have been training for it. I tore my calf muscle in March so that kind of put me back to square 1 and then I wasn’t sure how training was going to go leading up to it. Like I mentioned I’m still competitive at heart so I didn’t want to enter for something if I wasn’t completely sure I was going to do it.

Riana Robertson - Country girl to Kona glory - This is her Ironman Story

And then I would like to see if I can get a slot for 70.3 PE which is World Champs in 2018. Durban will be the first step to that. That’s obviously short term goals but I think long term will be to go back to Kona.

Ironically enough, my husband and I watch a lot of YouTube and videos and we were watching 1982 when I think the first Hawaiian Ironman Kona was held and I said to him I really want to go back to that place. That’s obviously still a long term goal.

BRAD BROWN: I love that. I was reading an article this morning about suffering and the ability to suffer and that’s what separates the good athlete from the great athlete. How high would you rate your ability to suffer? Do you reckon you are one of those that are mentally, extremely tough. Do you think that’s one of your strengths?

Put your head down and do it

RIANA ROBERTSON: I’m a sucker for punishment. As I mentioned Neil really pushed me hard in my training programs. I would open up this training program and it’s just like how do you want me to  run 25k’s in the middle of the week and then cycle 3-hours on my indoor trainer. I’m just one of those people, if that’s what you need to do you just put your head down and do it.

I don’t know if you ever read Chris McCormack’s book? He talks about embracing the suck, and that’s exactly what it is. Deal with it, get over it, recover and move on.

BRAD BROWN: Yes. Put on your big girl pants and off you go. That’s one of my favourite sayings. It’s just one of those things; you’ve got to live with it. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable, I guess.

Riana work wise and family life and getting that juggle right. That’s something that age groupers really struggle with. You mentioned the workload, 20 odd hours, 20 plus hours. How do you deal with it? Tell me about your work situation, you’re obviously married. How do you get that balance and juggle right?

RIANA ROBERTSON: I had a great support structure when I was trying to qualify and training for Kona. I basically work a full day job at a high school, from 7am to 3pm in the day so I have a lot of compassion for people that work and don’t have time. And with that I have my coaching company and then trying to train. I had a lot of support.

A strong support structure the key to Ironman success?

My husband would get up in the morning with me. He’d do the indoor cycle; he’d do the runs with me. He doesn’t do swims so unfortunately I was on my own on that one. I’m trying very hard for him to do his first triathlon. So if he hears this it just might motivate him. But I had a great support structure and I think that was also the big key to do what I got to do.

Anna Watkinson sent me a message I think 2 years ago and she said what did I do for Kona? How did I ace that type of perfect race? And I said you know what, I stuck to my program and I played Tetris with my time. It’s hard because you don’t want to neglect your family. They obviously come first. You don’t want to neglect work because that pays the bills. And you can’t neglect your training because that’s the end goal. I remember saying to her that a day was like playing Tetris just trying to fit in all these different things that needed to be done.

BRAD BROWN: I think that’s a great way to describe it actually. That’s one thing that a lot of age groupers do struggle with and again I think there’s a few things that go into being able to do this and do it competitively and that plays a big part. Sometimes your life is going to be out of whack but you’ve got to figure it you for you. And everyone is different; I think that’s the key as well.

Riana it’s been great catching up. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I look forward chatting about the individual disciplines next time out but we’ll save that for next week. Thanks for your time today.

About Us

Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).

Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.

He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.

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