JC Award Winner 2015 – Michelle Grocock
At the TA Presentation Night last week, I was absolutely blown away to win the John Cornish Memorial Award. Yes, I’ve had an amazing last year but, despite all of that, my brain was telling me “wow, people like me just don’t win awards like this. I’m not an athlete”.
But I am an athlete. I’m the fittest I’ve ever been in my life. And I’ve just completed an amazing 4 Ironman races in the last 14 months. Everyone at work thinks I am completely crazy. But I’m also having the best time of my entire life so far. I love this sport and all the amazing friends I have made through Tri-Alliance.
Sometimes when you see people achieving crazy goals, you can admire what they have achieved, but also think it is way beyond your own reach and something you will never, ever do yourself. It just isn’t possible. You can also assume that person has always been a great athlete, and hasn’t had their own journey to get to where they are today.
So I thought I’d share some of my own journey with you guys. Many of you know at least some of it, but many of you who may have joined TA more recently won’t. I hope in my own small way, sharing this story will help you think through your own goals and dreams, and also realise “Anything is Possible” if you really want it enough.
I’ve always liked sport and generally been relatively active. I played tennis all my childhood and thru Uni; I was pretty good at it, but it never kept me truly fit if I’m entirely honest. About 10 years ago the combination of too long working hours and a lack of understanding of what good nutrition really looked like, accumulated in me being quite overweight and only vaguely fit.
I signed up for a 5km run, did some vague sort of unstructured training and managed to get myself through it. It almost killed me but I was so proud of myself for achieving that. But I then meandered for a number of years. I always had good intent, did a few similar events, but was very mixed in terms of translating the good intent into real consistent effort and outcomes. It’s so hard motivating yourself on your own, particularly when none of your friends have similar goals, and so it’s all too easy to slip back into the bad habits.
It took me about another 6 years to start to get my act in order a bit more. I did my first triathlon at Sandringham in early 2010 (the shortest distance) and I even did my first half marathon in late 2010. I kept it going into 2011 as well completing my first Gatorade triathlon in Feb 2011 in Portarlington (later to become one of my most favourite places anywhere – my happy place!) and then my first Olympic Distance in Port Douglas. I’d chosen the location as an incentive to do the training – a race in a beautiful place. I finished all of these in OK shape and OK times (for a slow person). But throughout the whole period I was still very inconsistent with my training. I was still trying to do it all on my own. I don’t think I swam at all in the months leading into Port Douglas and then just prayed I would survive the swim, as an example.
The turning point for me was in June 2011. I was on holiday in France cycling with some friends, Steve and Hilary. Steve suggested I join a triathlon club. It would help me get some consistent training but also would have a great social side as well to meet people and make new friends. I was on my own on the last day of that trip in the city of Grenoble on a miserable day where the rain never stopped pouring down. Not a single shop was open (it was Sunday), not even Maccas. My hotel room was a dump. So I sat on my bed with my iPad and started googling “Triathlon Clubs in Melbourne”. I came across a few, including Tri-Alliance. I decided I liked the look of TA as they trained in locations near my home. So, there and then, without doing any further research I signed up and paid my membership to join TA, sitting in that hotel room in France.
With a quirk of timing, I joined TA and turned up for my first training session out at Bulla, north of the airport, the day after coach John Cornish passed away. I didn’t actually complete that training session as, not surprisingly but unbeknown to me, it had been cancelled. It was a tough time to join a club, with everybody going through such a difficult time, but I instantly felt a connection and a sense of welcomeness with TA and all of its members that really energised me.
I haven’t looked back since. The support of TA has made such a difference. The TA Family (and I truly thing of all you guys like that) has inspired me, made me far more determined, given me resilience, and has fundamentally changed my life. In fact, it is the best thing that has happened to me in my life. Full stop. All of the support you all have provided me just energises me to want to be a better person myself and to support all of you to achieve your own goals. There’s nothing more exciting than racing in the TA kit and hearing all the support on course from fellow TA competitors and supporters.
With the intensity and quantity of the training I do now just as a ‘normal week’ I need to keep looking back on where I have come from and pausing and celebrating that journey. It is absolutely amazing what we can all achieve if we put our minds to it.
I might share some more thoughts and tips in a future post, but some of the most important things I have learnt along the way include:
1. Take accountability for yourself – reach out to others for support and advice, but ultimately it is up to you – nobody else is going to put in the hard yards for you.
2. Set some goals that scare you but excite you at the same time.
3. Work with the coaches to set a realistic plan to enable you to hit those goals. A dream is just a dream, it will never happen without a plan.
4. Have a thirst to learn and develop yourself – ask lots of questions, speak to coaches and other athletes; you never ever stop learning.
5. Be prepared to push yourself and to accept that at times it will feel really hard and be painful (in an effort sense not an injury sense). But have the determination to push through that and make yourself a stronger and better person. Learn to know when to ‘suck it up’ and when to properly recover.
6. Fit triathlon into your life in a way that is sustainable – triathlon can be very demanding; particularly if you want to be competitive. Determining how you juggle that with other important parts of your life is so important. Without this, triathlon will just be a short thing you once tried, not an enduring part of a healthy lifestyle.
Determination. Consistency. No Excuses.