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Ten Questions with The Turtle.

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Once again Ten Questions goes far and wide to nail down an interview. In this case we go all the way to Mildura, Nth Victoria to meet Cath "The Turtle" Hall.

 

Cath is a self confessed BOP'er. Not the usual elite performer we sometimes hear about. But when you start to hear about this still youngish women, I think you will find her amazing, drop dead jaw dropping awesome, I think you might find her.

 

They used to say in the States, "she's quite a gal"...horrible expression, I never liked it. But somehow it fits our subject.

 

Cath. Would you answer 3 Intro questions before we go to the set of 10?

 

 

1. Kindly give us a brief personal bio-data. Narrative form. Where were you born, and where have you lived over the years?

 

 

2. Then add a brief professional CV.

 

 

3. Now tie that together and mention your sports background, all the sports you have participated in from childhood to now. And mention how you entered triathlon, when and where was your first race?

 

Ten Q's will follow.

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Ten Questions with The Turtle.

 

 

1. Hi Cath. You did come into triathlon a bit late as you may have mentioned above? How many IM's and HIM's have you done. Mention a few career highlights if you like.

 

2. Now I suspect biking might be your strongest leg, maybe running in terms of time might be your weakest. What are you PB's over the full IM distance? In each discipline.

 

3. You have done a whole set of ultrabike events including several 200 milers and one of them was a well known race. How long does it take to ride 200 miles, 320 kms? And take us through the Mount Tam Double, with some background on the event, held in California. And since most of the biking was done in the USA, tell us more about the California Triple Crown and the Thousand mile club, also in California.

 

 

4. Same concept , but apply in to ultra running. Take us through a 100 km run. Where did you do that one?

 

5. Mate, you picked up a slew of chronic injuries along the way, probably all running related? And a lung condition, which might hold you back a bit. In context, you are still going quite full tilt at your bucket list of events. What are the injuries and how do you cope with each of them?

 

 

 

 

6. I did say bucket list. What do you have on for 2015, and maybe even 2016? Mildura's a bit of an outpost, so how do you get to all those places?

 

7. Cath. You are married, no children. And I think you mentioned on one of the threads you maintain 2 separate households.

Brief answer, you are sports minded, he is not. How does that work out long term?

 

 

8. Cath again on forum. I think people might notice you are very advanced in mechanics and even technology. Could you build up a bike from scratch, given that all the parts were laid out in front of you? Including setting up the gears and the timing? Could you do that blind with no instructions in front of you? Could you therefore (obviously) put together a new bike out of the box?

 

9. Not only that, you renovate houses, do hard outdoor work like concreting. You build things and even adapt changes (I'm thinking of the kayak). Come on mate, that's way outside the norm? Did your dad show you maybe? You can't get all that from a book.

 

10. Last question. Cath let's backtrack. You have enough injuries to more or less shut down the longer events. Not only that, you are a very busy woman. Why the long stuff? You could be doing shorter events and more low impact work?

 

 

 

 

Thanks Cath. Fascinating stuff.

 

You earned 3 bonus questions.

Edited by kamalarrowsmith

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Bonus Questions.

 

 

 

1. Who is Ann Trason?

 

 

 

 

2. You are attending a kids U-9 rugby game. A parent approaches you and tells you, the ref has not turned up. Would you take the whistle, otherwise the kids won't get a game. What do you say?

 

 

 

3. You have a friend working in a hospital pharmacy. She tells you she takes small regular doses of EPO, which she has access to. She offers to put you on a low dose regime of EPO, telling you that age group athletes who don't win a major race are rarely tested.

 

Not whether or not you take the EPO. Would you give any thought to taking it, before making decision, one way or the other?

Edited by kamalarrowsmith

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OK, well, thanks for the questions! I'll start off with the first 3, as a tease. Tune in Sunday/Monday for the main set!

 

  1. Kindly give us a brief personal bio-data. Narrative form. Where were you born, and where have you lived over the years?

I love to tease my Mum by saying “yeah, I've been around” when I talk to her friends. But it really is a wee bit true.

 

I was born and raised in Sydney, living in the same house till I left after high school. There was mum, dad (from Scotland), and my one brother (older). I then headed south to Warrnambool, Vic, where I put up with the wind for 3 years. After that I headed north and worked up in Brisbane for a couple of years. I started in Milton but then moved out to Kangaroo Point, and ended up just behind the Pineapple Hotel near the top of the cliffs. Working in Indooropilly, I used to ride the river path to work rather than drive. It was a great trip except for the stretch between the golf courses where all the cane toads came out when it rained (and one mad magpie that drew blood on several occasions)!

 

I worked up there for 2 years and then skipped across the ditch to New Zealand (Dunedin) for another 3 years. I had the opportunity to get over to Hawaii which was pretty cool – and a taste of “American”. I had a few friends who were from a bit further south (Gore and Invercargil) so sub-conciously I must have worked hard on developing a weird r-rolling accent. This wasn't quite weird enough yet though – so I jetted over to California for a few years to round it out a bit more.

 

Finally having had enough of being o/s, I came back to Australia – to a job I had lined up in Mildura. This lasted 18 months, and I was all set to keep moving and brave the stereotype that is Perth (they seem to hate mexicans – I mean Victorians - over there!) when I decided I was sick of moving and liked Mildura. So I bought a house and stayed. I've now been here 10 years – almost to the day!

 

  1. Then add a brief professional CV.

Professional reasons is mostly behind all those moves. I always had an interest in environmental science and management, which is why I headed to Warrnambool for my degree. Whilst in Brisbane I spent 11 months doing my Honours by research and was offered a scholarship to do my PhD over in New Zealand. So I moved to Dunedin to spend 3 years (2 yrs 9 months actually) working with one of the top names in my field. I then caused quite a ruckus at the Uni by actually publishing research papers as I went – so when it came time to write a thesis at the end, I just stuck my papers together. They didn't know what to do to mark it – I mean it had already been peer reviewed and published! Maybe that's when I started being a trendsetter????

 

After that I moved on to a research position the US, as a senior researcher at the University of California. Their system is pretty different from ours and I had trouble getting anyone to listen to me as the average age of someone with my quals over there was a few years older than me!

 

But it was quite an experience and meant that when looking for a job back in Aus, they actually created a senior researcher position at the research lab here in Mildura, just for little ol' me. Pity it didn't last – restructure and takeovers meant most of us got caught in the black hole of redundancy after 18 months.

 

As I said, I was all set to move to another research position in Perth, but decided I wanted to get out of the short term stuff and moving all the time – research was fun but the job insecurity was not. I finally had assets (car and a kelpie) and liked Mildura. I kicked around for a few months doing what I could, then picked up a shit-kicker job with the local Council in horticulture. To make ends meet I also worked 30 hrs a week or so as a lifeguard at the local pool complex. I knew there was a level in Council that would give me the work I wanted and pay I needed, so I stuck it out and built lots of bridges. Took me 5 years, but I finally ended up in my current position, managing water and energy sustainability in Council and the community, with an element of school and community education. I also work on the environmental aspects of stormwater management and constructed wetlands.

 

I now have loads more assets, including a house I'm renovating, motorbike (Triumph Bonneville), sailing boat, half cabin cruiser, and an extra kelpie.

 

  1. Now tie that together and mention your sports background, all the sports you have participated in from childhood to now. And mention how you entered triathlon, when and where was your first race?

This is probably going to sound like a really pathetic answer. Not on length, but on quality of interesting things!

 

I always had bad asthma through high school, so anything too aerobic was off the cards. As a kid mum took us to swim squad at North Sydney Olympic Pool, but our family's main thing was sailing. We bought a little dinghy and all taught ourselves to sail. Dad kept sailing for fun and my brother and I also became sailing instructors – money and fun! We all raced on the weekends. Our sailing club also hosted the outrigger canoe club so I jumped into that too, in the 6, solo and doing some races. So through high school that was the sum of my sports. Ours wasn't a sporty household but I liked to watch the footy (league, union and AFL) on TV – on a tiny back and white TV in my room as I was the odd one out – but had no one to explain the rules or scoring, so I had to just try and pick it up. Whenever the score came up on an AFL game I always thought “gee, I always seem to switch it on in the 3rd qtr.... and they always do really well in that part!” (not realising the 3 columns were goals, behinds and total score – although I still think it's funny that it's the only code of footy where you still get a point for missing the goal. Points for trying?). I never knew anything about triathlon, but watched a lot of surf ironman – the era of long races and Trevor Hendy dominance. Somehow that concept of a multisport relay event appealed to me.

 

At Uni I hooked up with the hockey club as goalie (although we were more the drinking team that played a bit of hockeyy) and had a mountainbike for transport – I lived on campus and EVERYTHING was at least 5kms away. I wanted to take up rowing, but the Uni club was waaaaaay on the other side of town so it was a bit far to get to training and back to uni.

When I moved to Brisbane (1997) I wanted to ride to work as well, but it was a bit of a hike on my crappy bike from Uni days. So I bought a dunga roadbike at Cash Converters and fixed it up. Trial and error I guess. New tyres/tubes, tuned it, bita lube..... not too much. I started looking to ride for fun on weekends and would ride up north or out to the Bay. I turned up to my first organised/charity ride knowing nothing about water stops or anything. Since I thought I'd need more water, I used plumbing hoseclamps to attach 2 extra bottle cages – one to each fork! What a wally. A few times I took my old MTB over to North Straddie and camped for a few days – riding around, swimming and relaxing. I had no idea of riding on safe roads – in hindsight I think I was lucky! I also got back into hockey and a bit of outrigger canoe paddling. But the mozzies, humidity and crappy scenery put me off the canoeing thing pretty quickly. Did a bit of surfing (9'6” mini mal) down at Currumbin and enjoyed that a lot. At that point I had a metallic blue 1974 Holden Statesman DeVille, so cruising down for a surf was pretty cool.

 

Over to NZ and I bought a better MTB to do dome decent MTBing – there was even a good park just up the road from me. Stopped the surfing because of all the noah's..... lots down there with all the seal and penguin colonies. Plus the water was fricking freezing. Had a dabble in rugby league and union (as a #8 I was pretty quick off the back of the scrum), but gave that up when I was straight-armed by a large Maori girl and fractured my sternum and a few ribs (and nearly my neck in the pile up that followed..... reminiscent of “stacks on” at school......). I was also lucky enough to pick up a little car so that in the really shiite weather I didn't have to ride. And a 76 Hillman Avenger is still a sweet little car to rock up to the trails in.

 

Moving to the US is where it really began. I lived in a university town called Davis, a bit out of San Francisco. I did miss the coast, so bought a sit-on-top kayak and took that out surfing – figured I was safer out than in as we were still right on the bottom edge of the red triangle..... where most of the white pointer attacks happen. I used to also take my kayak and a bike out on the weekend. Leave the bike at the bottom of a stretch of river, drive up, ride the rapids down, haul out, ride back up to the car and then drive back down to pick up my boat. Fun stuff! But mainly, Davis had a big bike club with a racing and touring group. I hooked up with them and started my obsession with going long (and slow). That was great as there were lots of great places to ride. We did winery and microbrewery crawls (fancy pub crawls) in and around Napa valley and the Bay area. Rode the coast, the redwoods, the Sierra Nevada range. We rode for pancakes, waffles and oatmeal. Even ice cream. Sometimes we rode to the Bay area outlet shops and rode back with backpacks full of cheap Pearl Izumi gear. We rode with bears in Yosemite Valley and over a ton of massive mountains. I rode in a fair few states – over the Tetons, into Jackson Hole, through Nevada, Utah, and all the fantastic national parks like Zion and Bryce Canyon.

 

But then I was coming back to Australia. To Mildura. If you want to get technical, you could call it “topographically subdued” and a food bowl. Or just call it frigging flat and boring. But there was a tri club (the internet is a wonderful thing!) so I thought I'd try a tri before I left the US. My first was a womens only enticer in the pond under the cooling towers of a nuclear power station (explain anything?????). Then there was a sprint distance with the swim in a river flowing so strongly even the top guys were barely making headway. I felt like I would swim for 5 minutes and still be looking at the same stone on the bottom! We had to swim up and down. Long swim. I finished off with an Olympic distance even – Treasure Island Tri. Around 5000 entrants I think. Some wave starts were finishing hours before the last ones started!

 

So there began the tri addiction. The next question is about my tri's, so I'll leave you hanging here!

Edited by The Turtle

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OK, now for the rest!

 

Ten Questions with The Turtle.

  1. Hi Cath. You did come into triathlon a bit late as you may have mentioned above? How many IM's and HIM's have you done. Mention a few career highlights if you like.

When I moved to Mildura in 2005 (age 29) I hooked up with the tri club. They were training for the Meningie half so I thought why not? I came dead last, but it was such a small field that the IMOz qualifying spot rolled down to me. Again, why not? I figured that with qualification requirements, it might be the only time I ever get a spot. As that point I had no idea it would become about how quick you were on the computer rather than around the course. So my first IM was in 2006. I really didn't have much idea what I was doing, but read a few books and had a red hot crack. Unfortunately I got sick before the race and had a pretty nasty chest issue for the race. If I'm one thing though it's stubborn. So I ticked around as best I could and continually made mental calculations as to how fast I needed to go to finish in the time limit. As I said, I thought this might have been my only chance to do an IM! I ran/walked myself to a 16:24 finish and was ecstatic but it took a good 4 months and a fair bit of medical intervention to recover my already impaired lung function. After the finish I really should have gone for medical help, but since I was on my own I didn't want trouble with my gear and hotel room and thought I'd be right. I reckon I was pretty lucky!

 

After that I was sure I wanted to do another – but financial issues put a dampener on any specific plans. I managed to get back to it in 2009 with Shep, and then Busso IM in 2010. After that the downhill slide took a serious turn with successive races in 2011 (HIM), 12, 13 and 14. I've now done 5 IM's - Port Mac x 2 (2006 & 2014), Busso 2010, Melbourne 2012 and Cairns 2013. PB was Busso, in 13:56.

My worst physically was my first in 2006.

My worst mentally was Melbourne in 2012, when I fell short of my overly ambitious goals and cracked mentally. Came in a bit over 15 hrs.

My best mentally was Cairns the next year. Stacked my bike at T2 and could hardly walk let along run - but my head was in a great spot and I had a great time. Came in just under 15 hrs.

I've also done 5 HIM's or 70.3's, and Challenge Batemans Bay, which is the length of a 70.3.

 

I'm proudest of my Batemans Bay finish as being in the last swim wave, I was near the back from the start. Then my back gave me issues on the bike, and 8k or so from T2 I broke my chain. I've had a few smart arse comments on here when I mentioned carrying a chainbreaker – well, I needed it that day! I fixed it in a bit of a hurry though so on the last steep hill it went again. Fixed again. I reckon I Iost around 40min on the side of the road but I was determined not to give up and was followed in by the SAG wagon. I took off on the run and had my best 21km – followed for most of it by the tail end charlie on a pushy. I finished dead last and I felt really bad that the vollies and staff (and other athletes!) had to wait for me to finish – but even if they called me a DNF I was still going to bloody well keep running!

As my username suggests, I am a definite BOPer. I just really enjoy being out there and participating in the events and although I do train to improve, it’s primarily to enjoy myself more and not get injured, as opposed to getting faster and finishing quicker. I enjoy pushing myself a bit, but not to the point of red-lining and suffering during an event – I guess I just don’t have the inner drive to push that hard for so long. I really enjoy participating in the events, challenging myself in small ways and try to get to races at different locations so it’s an extended holiday as well. I appreciate the opportunity to see new places and experience the vibe at the back end of a long race and probably waste a bit of time chatting to other competitors or vollies rather than running! But that’s part of the experience I enjoy – it’s not about doing a good time, but rather having a good time.

 

  1. Now I suspect biking might be your strongest leg, maybe running in terms of time might be your weakest. What are you PB's over the full IM distance? In each discipline.

 

My bike used to be my strongest leg for the first few years after I cam back from the US. Running was definitely my weakest. However over time, my running has improved a wee bit. Correspondingly my bike has deteriorated, so now I suck a all 3 legs. But I do enjoy all of them now! In fact, I think I enjoy the run leg more now, possible because I am seeing improvements. I also think that my run started really improving when I chanced onto Hokas. While I am a wee bit faster, I am definitely more comfortable and enjoy more running with less issues – this means I can train better and am definitely a stronger runner.

In true embodyment of my username, my IM PB is 13:56 at Busso in 2010 but another 3 at 14-15 hrs. My best swim was 1:23 at Port Mac in 2014, best bike of 6:30 at Busso in 2010 and best run 5:28 at Port Mac 2014.

(if you're interested in seeing just how slow I am in more detail, it's all over on my blog, cathsracereports.com).

 

  1. You have done a whole set of ultrabike events including several 200 milers and one of them was a well known race. How long does it take to ride 200 miles, 320 kms? And take us through the Mount Tam Double, with some background on the event, held in California. And since most of the biking was done in the USA, tell us more about the California Triple Crown and the Thousand mile club, also in California.

 

My time in the US was mainly spent on a bike, with the odd charity 5km run run thrown in. I went pretty long with these events, completing many 100mi and 200mi events. They weren't races, but like IM you could be slower and just a participant, only racing yourself and the course cutoff. There were water stops every 25mi or so, but no one handed you a bottle – you stopped, pulled in, filled your bottles yourself, grabbed some food, and hopped back on. Some of them were pretty challenging, starting and ending in pitch dark, doing all your navigation off a piece of paper that had written instructions on where to turn and distances, and negotiating some wild roads. Some of the highest sealed roads in California, some of the steepest, some of the most beautiful, and even roadworks where you had to jump pipes and ditches cyclocross style. Interesting.

 

My longest/hardest was the Mt Tam Double. Lots of climbing around the Mt Tamalpais area north of San Francisco. 200 miles, 15,000 ft climbing. Took me a smidge under 18 hrs. This is the birthplace of mountainbiking, so you know there's some pretty gnarly hills in the area! But unbelievably beautiful. Sometimes the weather is terrible, sometimes it's nice. And sometimes you have a bit of everything. I remember once being so unprepared for the chill that came with the fog that I stole rubber gloves from the food prep ladies to shove down my armwarmers – and breadbags to put over my feet. So cold. And sometimes so damn hot. My worst double was down in LA. We lost headlights on a rotten section of road, got lost, peaked at around 42 degrees till the cool change came though...... so we got caught in a hailstorm, had 5 flats and lost my pump. I also did doubles north and south through Death Valley, and what's considered one of the hardest common events in California, the Climb to Kaiser, over the highest sealed road in Cal (only 150mi, but 13,500 ft climbing – and 90% of the climbing was in the first 75mi as you started in the Valley, rode up to the top, turned around and rode down. Did a few interstate too, though Utah, Nevada, Oregon, etc.

 

The thing about doubles is there is a cult following, kinda like IM I suppose. In California they also had a thing called the “California Triple crown” and “Thousand Mile Club”. If you did 3 or 5 of a select group of doubles, you got that level. I hit the triple crown one year, and thousand mile club the next. The select ones were usually the hilliest ones. And you got a jersey if you made it! Like IM and 70.3's, there's only so many you can find the time and $$ to do each year. But at least they are cheaper than IM as there were no road closures or transitions. Pretty casual really – you registered in advance, turned up in the morning, collected your number, route instructions and started riding. Then had a big feed at the end. No timing chips or finish line medals. Just the satisfaction of finishing....... and the unbelievable feeling of getting your arse off the saddle after 15-18 hrs! And then putting your bike on the roof and settling in for the at least 4 hr drive home (via every Jack in the Box you could find).

 

  1. Same concept , but apply in to ultra running. Take us through a 100 km run. Where did you do that one?

 

I never would have thought that I would do a 100km run. All the people I tell (that know me) respond immediately with “but you hate running!”. And I guess I used to not like it as much as it really hurt and I never got any better – my injuries in my knees and ankles just limited me so much. But as I said above, I think I had my biggest breakthrough finally finding shoes that helped me run more – the Hoka. I heard about the Surf Coast Century which is a 50 or 100km trail run starting and finishing in Anglesea. I think around 300m of climbing over the 100km. Sounded like an adventure, but I figured I wasn't going to drive all the way there for a 50km, since I know I can do 42 at the back end of an IM. So I went in hot and did the century. It was pretty epic. Water stops every 12 km or so, minimum mandatory gear and water to carry, beaches, cliff scrambles, rock reef hops and headlamp running. My right leg went wonky around 30km so I limped/walked the next 50 – but it was still enjoyable. Hiking along singletrack in the middle of nowhere dodging grass trees on the tops and tree ferns in the valleys was everything I wanted. I managed to run/walk the last 20km or so, with 100 steps running and 20 steps walking. I finished in 18:45 and was over the moon. And heading back this year! I really enjoyed the challenge and adventure of being out on trails, on your own in the dark and the middle of nowhere. Just you, the circle of light form your headlamp and the scurrying of animals out in the dark. Quite a change from the sanitised formalised commercialised format of IM.

 

  1. Mate, you picked up a slew of chronic injuries along the way, probably all running related? And a lung condition, which might hold you back a bit. In context, you are still going quite full tilt at your bucket list of events. What are the injuries and how do you cope with each of them?

 

My lovely other half often jokes... 'lucky you're not a horse!”. I have a trail of injuries, but mostly not running caused!. In fact, most are related to me being an uncoordinated dufus.

I really buggered my ankle at hockey training by doing a zig instead of a zag and stepping on a ball. 3 surgeries, pins and grinds and it's still rubbish.

I buggered one shoulder in a bike crash, and the other one in a workplace incident. Surgery helped that one, but it's not great.

I severely busted both thumbs playing rugby league in NZ, so I have trouble getting a tyre back on a wheel without help from levers.

I fractured my sternum and a couple of ribs being straight-armed by a large Maori girl in a rugby union game in NZ.

I have always had asthma (now fairly well controlled with medication) but picked up whooping cough in NZ and it took them a month of the wrong antibiotics to correctly diagnose it. I ended up in hospital and have some permanent lung damage as a result.

I initiated some back issues with a surfing incident back in the late 90's – and now it's un-healing pars fractures, OA, compressing discs, a synovial cyst in one lumbar facet joint and some displacement of a couple of vertebra. With a side of nerve compression to complete the picture.

I had one knee operated on in Brisbane, but never knew the cause. Just started hurting and when they went in they found a flappy bit of cartilage and plica(?) issues. My other knee just seems to be a magnet for the corners of opening draws so my kneecap is kinda spongy and the bursa shot. If I fall over for any reason I also manage to land straight on that kneecap.

The patellar tendinitis can probably safely be attributed to overuse. The specialist suggested at least 12 months off everything but walking. Not a chance.

 

As for managing them, it's about medicating my asthma, and just not going too hard with training. If I keep it moderate and do lots of stretching and icing, I can get through events comfortably and still come back for more. If I try and step it up, I just fall apart and up with predictable weeks off and physio. I'd rather be happy with 15hr IM finishes and still be doing it in 15 years, than push for a faster time and put myself out of action in 5. I just listen to my body and rest or cross train (kayak, yoga, hiking) when needed.

 

  1. I did say bucket list. What do you have on for 2015, and maybe even 2016? Mildura's a bit of an outpost, so how do you get to all those places?

 

That's one of the challenges to doing events. Since it's at least 2 days on the road to get to an event (not to mention the fuel $$), it means a bit more time off work and putting my dogs in the kennels. So I only travel to events a few times a year. We always drive to events and make a holiday of it to justify the time and cost and distances involved.

I have a pretty extensive spreadsheet with all the races I want to do, with one column listing how far it is to the destination!

That's probably why I do the longer stuff too – make the trip worthwhile. And it gives me a reason to train for more months of the year.

 

In birding terms, 2015 is my “Big Year”. I am doing 2 tris (Husky LC and Busso IM) and 2 ultras (TNF50 and SCC 100 again). If I like the NF50 and feel that I am able to train for such climbing and stairs with what I have here, then I'd like to do the NF100 in 2016. And probably finish the year with a tri – at this point tossing around Harvey Bay 100.

 

  1. Cath. You are married, no children. And I think you mentioned on one of the threads you maintain 2 separate households.

This is a brief one. Yep, married with no kids (2 furry ones though). Yeah, we currently have 2 houses. It's a bit of a weird situation, but we each have a small house as a renovator bought before we were serious. Neither are quite finished yet, and neither is big enough for both of us to live in considering they are small houses and we have lots of toys! The plan is to sell both and buy a big place with lots of sheds on a bit of land outside town. Was going to be this year, but might now be early next year.

 

Brief answer, you are sports minded, he is not. How does that work out long term?

 

That's true – he is not into sport at all. Except for fishing! But as I slowly increase the events I do, he comes out training with me when it suits. When I swim in the river, he usually comes out with me in the kayak. He did come a couple of times in his boat, but when close enough to be a protection from being run over I'm just breathing boat fumes. So yak it is!

If he's not out fishing, he comes on my long runs on his bike. This also saves me from carrying my water on some of them! Having said this, my long runs coming into Husky he has been out fishing so I've done them on my own. I don't mind though- that's his hobby and I don't expect him to come all the time!

I select events based on nice places to go and always make sure we take a long enough trip to be a good holiday and do a bunch of things he will enjoy – not just the race.

Over the years he has learnt a lot, and I even got him to do the bike leg as a team in an enticer tri at Port Douglas before Cairns IM. He loved it!

 

  1. Cath again on forum. I think people might notice you are very advanced in mechanics and even technology. Could you build up a bike from scratch, given that all the parts were laid out in front of you? Including setting up the gears and the timing? Could you do that blind with no instructions in front of you? Could you therefore (obviously) put together a new bike out of the box?

 

I'm pretty sure I could. My second roadie in the US I bought all the gear online and a frame from a local framebuilder. I assembled that myself. I do a lot of gear upgrades/changes on my bikes and have changed everything from BB's, chainrings, cranks, cassettes, running gear, shifters, switched road to tri front ends etc and tuning everything up. The only things I wouldn't do at this stage is build a wheel from scratch (don't have the tools) or repack a hub /cassette body. And I have no experience with the electronic gear.

I love playing bikes out in my shed and have 5 goers, a single speed I built up and a couple of parts-ers hanging off the roof. I often get old bikes from the tip and do them up – then give them to folks who need a bike, or a kids bike program here in town.

All learnt by just having a fiddle. I did buy a book in 2002 I think – the complete guide to bike maintenance – but I haven't used it as reference for a loooooong time. Can't remember the last time I took my bike in to a shop for works! Buy parts yes, works no.

Perhaps out of necessity and the desire to be self sufficient? You don't want to head off on a long ride and not be able to help yourself if something fails. I can't believe some folks travel such long ways to races and then have to take their bike to the race mechanic as they don't understand micro-shifting or how to tune their gears at all.

 

  1. Not only that, you renovate houses, do hard outdoor work like concreting. You build things and even adapt changes (I'm thinking of the kayak). Come on mate, that's way outside the norm? Did your dad show you maybe? You can't get all that from a book.

 

It's true, I do like to keep busy! I guess I got the bug for getting in and having a go from my dad – but I didn't learn everything from him. He was an engineer and when he retired, started a home maintenance business. When I was living at home I used to go out and help him on jobs, and he used to pay me in power tools rather than cash. I've always been more practical than my older brother so I think he preferred to take me when he needed a hand. I did learn a bit, but being young, I wasn't really open to learning skills in particular. What I did learn though was the idea of having a go. If there's something you want or want done, first look to see if you can work out how to do it yourself. There are so many resources around that it's not as hard as it used to be. My dad learnt a lot from books, but I do most of my research online and just looking around at Bunnings to see what sort of tools and materials are available – then thinking about how I can use them. I have payTV and mostly watch educational/real life shows. I have learnt a lot from Selling Houses Australia in terms of the options available for house jobs to get the most bang for your buck. For the other stuff I just like the challenge of coming up with a solution to my problem - applying things I know from the past, tweaking the ideas and getting an outcome. Think it's important to just get in and have a crack and not be afraid to fail. Within reason, I'll also take things part to learn how they work so I can fix them.

 

Before I had a house, I used to do small projects like buy old furniture, restore it and sell it. I used to have to hire tools for some of these jobs as I was o/s and it wasn't worth buying some stuff. I also build my slat bed in the US and shelving/cupboards in various places.

 

Some of the more different things I've done are design, build and fit a rudder system to my kayak using PVC pipe and perspex, fix the fuel pump relay in my Honda after years of no mechanic being able to find what was wrong with it (5 mins on google and youtube), track and test all the components of the car air con to find the problem, fit lights, outlets and secondary battery in my 4wd, completely restore a 1960's 12ft timber sailing skiff and paint my car in the US (was a really ugly hatchback, so I painted it john deere yellow and it looked awesome!). Some of the jobs around the house I have taught myself and done are: build carport and patio roof, paving, painting, replace toilet and cistern, concreting, fit a new kitchen, install floating floor, and small jobs like reframing doorways and restoring the old wood stove in the kitchen.

And yes, 99% self taught.

 

Having said that, there's that old saying “measure twice, cut once”. My motto seems to be “measure twice, cut once........................ get the gapfill”.

 

 

  1. Last question. Cath let's backtrack. You have enough injuries to more or less shut down the longer events. Not only that, you are a very busy woman. Why the long stuff? You could be doing shorter events and more low impact work?

 

I guess this also really relates to question 6 about how I get to these events. Mildura is a bit out of the way, and it's a long drive to anything. So the way I figure it, if I'm going to drive days to an event, I want that event to last as long as possible! I also seem to have only one speed (slow) because of the other things I do and my injuries. The long stuff seems more forgiving in terms of being slow and still having a good time and not getting kicked off the course! Plus, a long event means a long training program. So it keeps me more focussed for more months of the year. Essentially I'm a lazy bugger. If I don't have a goal and training plan to stick to with an end accountability, I'd do nothing.

I also think that the longer stuff is more forgiving of my injuries. Yes there is longer impact, but it's less intense. It's when I try to pick things up a little that my issues get worse. Running is probably the worst for impact on my injuries but it's perfectly acceptable (to me at least!) do do the cliffy shuffle and walk in an IM or an ultra.

 

 

Bonus Questions.

 

Bonuses.... love 'em.

  1. Who is Ann Trason?

Straight up? Not a clue. So I googled her. Pretty awesome! (google her folks, I won't spoil it for you).

I tend to be someone who does things because I enjoy doing them and I don't pay too much attention outside my square meter. I'm terrible at knowing the names of any pioneers or key players in any of the things I do. I should pay more attention. I have read a bunch of books on tri's and ultra-running, but I'm hopeless at retaining names and dates.

  1. You are attending a kids U-9 rugby game. A parent approaches you and tells you, the ref has not turned up. Would you take the whistle, otherwise the kids won't get a game. What do you say?

Absolutely. I think I have enough of an understanding of basic rules that I could make a go of it. But I would get both sides to agree to officially call it a draw (if they score these things) and make it a “friendly” so the kids could get a game, but the season outcome wouldn't be negatively affected by my poor reffing skills!

 

3. You have a friend working in a hospital pharmacy. She tells you she takes small regular doses of EPO, which she has access to. She offers to put you on a low dose regime of EPO, telling you that age group athletes who don't win a major race are rarely tested.

Not whether or not you take the EPO. Would you give any thought to taking it, before making decision, one way or the other?

 

I wouldn't take it and wouldn't have to give that decision any thought. Some might say there's no difference between that and taking caffeine to boost energy. But caffeine is legal. Even if I wasn't a BOPer, I still wouldn't consider it as it would just be cheating myself as well as others - reckon we should all get the outcome we deserve based only on training and genetics. Caffeine picks up your alertness so you can get the most out of your physical capacity. EPO changes your physical capacity.

Thanks for reading folks!

 

edited for a couple of typos I found. Probably more though!

Edited by The Turtle

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Brilliant Cath. One of my best subjects.

 

Do you need more time? :shock:

 

Deserves more views. Quite a long read, and that's great.

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Anyone would think I like talking about myself!

 

But once I started, I began to remember all sorts of things and it just kept coming! Laxette style. Imagine if I had done it in work time........ hate to think how many pages it would have been! :shy:

 

But meh, no secrets with me.

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Really enjoyed that, Turtle. Thanks.

 

Would love to see the Troopy roll in to Hervey Bay one day. I can highly recommend a trip to Fraser Island after the race, too. If you've never been there, it's a must do.

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Really enjoyed that, Turtle. Thanks.

 

Would love to see the Troopy roll in to Hervey Bay one day. I can highly recommend a trip to Fraser Island after the race, too. If you've never been there, it's a must do.

 

cheers! I really am looking to do it next year.

 

Fraser Island? Yep been there a couple of times from the Rainbow Beach end. But buggered if I'm taking my truck there! Bloody salt water. Either rent a heap of crap or do a tour. It's a beautiful place!

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An excellent read Cath.

Lots of little gems on getting the most out of life and sport.

 

Will definitely read it again when I get more time, and am looking forward to one day finally meeting you and finding out what gives you all this energy. Plus I might even get some home renovation tips from you!

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Thanks folks for taking the time to read and reply! And thanks for the opportunity to contribute :-)

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