McPherson vs. Coyle

“Most people, they raise a family, they earn a living and then they died. They stop growing, they stop working on themselves, they stop stretching, they stop pushing themselves. Then a lot of people like to complain but they don’t wanna do anything about their situation. And most people don’t work on their dreams, why? One is because of fear, the fear of failure, “what if things don’t work out”? And the fear of success, “what If they do and I can’t handle it”? These are not risk takers.” – Mateusz

But Ironman athletes ARE risk takers. And, their reward after swimming 3.8KM, Cycling 180KM, and Running 42.2KM in the toughest one day endurance event in the world is something that cannot be described, only experienced. So who completes these events? A diverse group of individuals from all walks of life. From 18years old to 80+years old. Men & Women, Doctors & Teachers, Celebrities & the Rehabilitated, Thin & Overweight, fully functional and the paralyzed, cancer survivors and the blind. If you don’t think you could ever do an Ironman because this excuse or that excuse, you really should watch some YouTube Ironman RaceDay videos.

One day these people cross that finish line and become an Ironman. They have achieved something they thought impossible and one in which 0.001% of the world’s population ever will achieve. They may have trained for weeks, months, or even years to get to that point but eventually, their goal of being an Ironman is realized. After crossing the line before the 17 hour cutoff, they would most likely have looked up their time but they most likely saw it right over their head as they finished. Was it good? Where did it compare to others? If truly analyzed how would they rack & stack against others in another race. Or, in this race, this Competition was the time impressive?

On December 6, 2015, Fiona Coyle at 31 years of age finished her 6th iron-distance race. Having been an triathlete since 1998, Fiona finished the year with 17 years of experience in the sport of Triathlon. Her improvements in the sport dramatically improved in 2013 after using the FREEL-TT (Facebook) Plan and a PowerMeter. She improved from an 11:08 to a 10:08 on the same course in Ironman Western Australia. At Challenge USA 2014 she was the 2nd Amateur Female, and in Ironman Australia she took 5th in her A/G in 2015. With another 6 months of FREEL-TT, she increased her time at IMWA again by 9 minutes to go 9:59:33 finishing 5th amateur female of 226, 2n/d in her A/G putting her in the top 6%  of the 34 finishers, earning a spot to the 2016 Ironman World Championship. As always, Fiona was competing against some of the best athletes in Australia and the world; many of the athletes Fiona competes against have gone on to become Professional Triathletes.

On the same day, Karen McPherson at 60 years of age finished her first ever Ironman. A triathlete in Alice Springs for several years, she built up the distance over time. She did Cairns 70.3 and Yeppoon 70.3 both in 2013 and Geelong 70.3 with our squad in 2015 and joined the squad heading to Busso for her first Ironman. Literally training alongside Fiona whether climbing ANZAC hill 12x non-stop, running intervals at Anytime Fitness, or competing 6 hour long rides in the Western McDonnell Ranges or South Stuart Highway, she did it all, even focusing on a more plant-based diet while married to a cattle-rancher! She crossed the line in 12:38:37 as the 91st amateur female of 226 and beat the next place woman in her A/G by 2 1/2 HOURS! There were 4 finishers putting her in the top 25%. She too qualified for the Ironman World Championship; something that less than 3% of Ironman Athletes get to achieve and in her first Ironman, at 60 years old.

So, how do we compare these? What is more impressive? Is it to be expected that it was inevitable for Fi to do this because she has put in the “hours and hours and hours of beating on her craft”? Or that she broke the coveted 10 hour mark? But Karen, twice the age of Fi, had also achieved Kona? Do we really have to bring age into the equation?

There is a reason that Ironman age groups are divided in 5 year increments. How can you compare an 20year old to a 25year old, a 35year old to a 40 year old, a 75 year old to an 80 year old???!!!

No matter what age you are, we are all at different stages of our lives. It doesn’t matter what stage you find triathlon and/or Ironman because you can be competitive in your age group.

But, re-read the comment at the top. Do you know what my conclusion will be? Think I was going to say Karen eh? After all, how many people 60years old do you know swim, bike, and run? Karen has led a long life so far, with being a mom a grandma, worker, etc, she never gave up. She kept moving forward. She didn’t let age give her an excuse.

Someone I know is clearly out of shape and rapidly approaching Karens age. She claims she was fit when she was younger and eats “healthy” now but appearance wise, not so obvious. She has also said to me that she will exercise when she retires; this is not Karen nor the way Karen, Fiona, nor I live. In the same likeness, people all around us, clearly do not take care of themselves. With 50% of the Northern Territory adults overweight or obese and 30% of children holding the same facts, unhealthy lifestyles are all around us. So is it fair to say that Fiona couldn’t be susceptible to this either? Couldn’t Fiona just as easily become overweight since the Odds are clearly stacked against her?

My inevitable conclusion is that I am 100% incredibly proud of what both Fiona and Karen have done. A 31 year old and a 60 year old, in the middle of the Australian Outback qualifying for the World Championship. And I salute with fingers to eyebrows both of them in saying YES to living, growing, and working on themselves for their entire lives. I realized while thinking about this that this comparison isn’t needed because both have done what I find to be one of the most important things in life; never giving up. These women both realize they can do great things and have done this. Now they get to celebrate and inspire others to say NO to excuses and YES to putting themselves forward.

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