PHOTO 3 - in the water

The Calm Before the Storm – Ironman Triathlon

Start of the Ironman Triathlon

Six weeks before the 1994 Australian Ironman Triathlon at Forster, NSW, I was involved in a heavy bicycle crash.

I picked myself up and rode alone to the hospital, whilst my companions continued their last long training ride. X-rays showed that I had dislocated the AC joint in my shoulder.

After weeks of painful, intensive physiotherepy, my therapist was doubtful that I could compete in the race. Nevertheless she strapped my shoulder and, unwilling to waste 12 months training, I traveled to Forster.

The afternoon before race day I struggled into my wetsuit and into the murky waters of Wallis Lake. To my chagrin, I found that, because of the pain, I could not swim a stroke.

PHOTO 5 - changing out of wet suitIn the predawn darkness of race day, I  went down to the race start and prepared myself as if I was to compete. In the light of a cold dawn, I followed the other competitors into the water.

When the gun fired, I just swam.

Weather the cold water dulled the pain, or perhaps it was my mental preparation, but I finished the  3.8 km swim, with only dull pain, in a little over and hour. PHOTO 10 - out of the water

I rode the 180 km in more significant pan as I laid on the profile bars on the bumpy roads. Again I think the cool breeze dulled some of the pain, but I remember getting off the bike with serious misgivings about the run. 1994 tri ride

As soon as I started the marathon I knew I was in serious trouble. The pounding of each step sent my shoulder into spasms, but somehow my mind kept me going. Many times I wanted to stop, but something spurred me on.

Eventually, a kind volunteer placed a sling around my arm and that reduced the pain to a manageable level.

A few hundred meters from the finish line, for some reason, I threw off the sling, just as my young son greeted me with a “high five”.

Jono and Dad

Though the elation of finishing dulled the pain, at the time, I could not appreciate what force had kept me going.

It was only much later that I realized that the mind is the most powerful resource we have and, it alone, can assist us well beyond our physical limits.

I learned many lessons from completing that race. I understood the importance of a positive approach to any situation and, most importantly, that the body will do anything a properly focused mind demands of it.

Years later, the lessons I learned about myself, during that race gave rise to my first novel, The Seasons Within.

Leon Davis

1994 tri finish