Growing up, Christy Guinea was never an active kid and transformed into a self-confessed ‘couch potato’ as an adult until a fitness challenge in 2011 lit a fire in her belly. Since then, she has taken up mountain biking, road cycling, paddling, and running and competed in numerous local events including the Marathon at last year’s Townsville Running Festival. Now Christy is facing her biggest challenge yet: Ironman 70.3 in Cairns next month [1.9km swim, 90km bike ride, 21.1km run]. And she’s been drawing the support of friends (pictured) and spending plenty of time in the saddle to get ready.
“When I hear about a new sport, I do some research and see what the clubs are like, then give it a go. Unfortunately, I usually really enjoy these things and then need to buy the gear!”
Have you always been active? No, I used to be a couch potato! I never played sport as a child and was never a member of a sporting team. I started exercising in September 2011 when I did a fitness challenge and things have grown from there. Now I’m out and about every day doing something fun and active. Although I am training for an event at the moment, I think being active is important for health, stress relief and catching up with friends.
When did you start riding and how did you discover it? I started mountain biking in December 2012 when friend Sussanah D’arcy (main pic, far right) asked if anyone would like to join her on the 2013 Paluma Push. I had never even been on a bike trail but it seemed like it would be fun.
I started road cycling in October 2014 after Top Brand started their Wednesday morning ladies’ rides. I had completed a couple of enticer triathlons in 2013 but they were done on my husband’s hybrid bike and I had no idea about road rules or bunch riding. Again, I discovered this when a friend put a challenge out to compete in the Townsville Triathlon Festival. Generally, when I hear about a new sport, I do some research and see what the clubs are like, then give it a go. Unfortunately, I usually really enjoy these things and then need to buy the gear!
What do you enjoy about cycling? Ooh, that is a tough one; there are lots of great things:
- Seeing interesting places in Townsville and in North Queensland (I’m often away for work in Charters Towers and The Whitsundays and the roadie always get packed),
- Cycling is a great entry sport; especially if people have bad knees or aren’t confident with running,
- The challenges – completing windy, hilly and generally tough courses and seeing how your strength changes with the more cycling you do. And finally…
- The coffee – I am all about training for breakfast and cycling and coffee go together.
Tell us about how you got into triathlons in 2013? A friend offered the challenge to do the Townsville Triathlon Festival. At that stage I really couldn’t swim, didn’t have a road bike and couldn’t run for a full 5km. But, I do enjoy a challenge. I recruited a friend to run me through the rules of triathlon and help me with tricky things like transition. I did the Townsville Tri Club’s Annandale event with a friend doing the swim leg for me then stepped up to the Saunders Beach Tri soon after where I managed the swim on my own. I got to the Townsville Tri Festival 2013, completed the enticer and promptly decided triathlons weren’t for me – the swim was just too daunting at that stage. But now that’s changed!
“I am less than six weeks out and feeling really confident about the ride and the run. The swim… this is my biggest challenge, but I try to remind myself that I am doing the training and I am certainly swimming a lot better than I was when I signed up”
What made you sign-up to Ironman? At the end of each year I make some ‘New Year Fitness Goals’. In 2014, I spent hundreds of hours doing running training for the marathon as part of the Townsville Running Festival’s Chosen Ones program and then the Melbourne Marathon Festival. When I finished the marathons, I was looking for a new challenge that would really push me. At the time, the registrations for Cairns were about to open. I had a chat with a couple of friends who had competed before and checked that six months was enough time for me to train (and learn to swim again). When they said, “You’ll be right”, I signed up.
How’s your training going for Cairns? It’s going well, and is helped by the fact that [Ironman and triathlon coach] Brendan Cochrane is training me for the event. I really believe that you need to get some good advice when you are doing long endurance events. I often have to adjust my schedule as I am out of town for work, but I always try to get a swim, run or ride in, wherever I am.
At this point I am less than six weeks out and feeling really confident about the ride and the run. The swim… this is my biggest challenge, but I try to remind myself that I am doing the training and I am certainly swimming a lot better than I was when I signed up (my first 25m swim with Brendan nearly killed me).
I am aiming to finish the event in the cut off (eight hours) – if I do that I will be really pleased with all of my training.
What local events have you been doing to get ready? I have competed in any triathlon-style events that have been on offer. Both of the tri clubs have run Aquathons/Duathlons that have really helped. I have competed in Adventurethon, which really pushed my legs as it was on the mountain bike, plus the Outer Limits trail runs and the Burdekin Sugar Rush Half Marathon and the Free Radicals Triathlon Club’s ANZAC 100 [1km swim, 90km bike ride, 9km run]. There is always something to do in town that can get a group of us together to train.
What are you most looking forward to with Ironman? The sense of accomplishment at the end: I generally cry at the finish line of every event – I think the feeling of finishing overwhelms me. I also really love the camaraderie that comes with these events. I know a huge group of people who are competing at Cairns: It’s really great to share the feeling of excitement, walk around the event expo and proudly wear the finisher’s shirt afterwards.
What’s your proudest achievement on wheels to-date? The ANZAC 100 on ANZAC weekend. It was my first triathlon in two years and it included a 90km bike ride to High Range and back. I had never ridden there before and the weather was really windy and cold (and I was in a wet tri-suit). There was a great group of girls riding together pushing through the headwinds and side winds to get back for the run. Although I had ridden 90kms before, I hadn’t done a long distance in a triathlon event.
“I also really love an event that is for a cause – there is a little fundraising queen hidden inside of me!”
What other goals do you have on the horizon? My recurring goal is to try and improve my time from any of last year’s events, so Running Festival, Adventurethon and OnaMission [Mission Beach]. My other big goal for the year is to complete the Townsville to Cairns Bike Ride (TCBR).
Why did you sign-up for this 358km charity ride? For the adventure: I have heard it can get tough out there riding through Tully and the range. I also really love an event that is for a cause – there is a little fundraising queen hidden inside of me!
Do you have any particularly memorable moments in the saddle? It would have to be the first time I had to do Castle Hill repeats: The looks, stares and comments from hill walkers as they realised I had done more than one lap. People are really supportive and will generally shout out some encouragement.
“It’s a great situation when there is so much on offer in Townsville that I need to make a choice on most weekends about what event I do”
Any tips for women in particular with their riding? Cycling is not a male’s sport! It is a great social sport to get into especially if you are just starting out with fitness. Join a group, learn the rules and recruit quasi coaches – I have heaps of people who I call ‘coach’ because they have helped me to learn and improve. And enjoy it… and don’t forget your coffee money.
What gear would you recommend that beginners have starting out? What are the must-haves and what are the buy-laters? The essential item has to be knicks – bike pants just will not cut it. You can get a jersey later, but good cycling pants are essential. I also held off on getting clip in shoes, I used my converse canvas sneakers for months until I really felt confident enough on the bike to clip in. I also think that beginners should hold out on getting a new bike: I rode my husband’s Hybrid for over a year before I decided to buy a bike. And then, I bought a mountain bike and a road bike. Make sure that you enjoy cycling before you outlay a stack of money.
What’s your favourite thing to do on a weekend in Townsville? Go exploring on my bike with a group of friends. At the moment, I am only on the roadie but I usually rotate between road and mountain. My weekend always involves an early morning wake-up to get a good ride in but I always make time for coffee and breakfast after.
What other active things do you enjoy? I like lots of other things like kayaking, orienteering and running and it’s a great situation when there is so much on offer in Townsville that I need to make a choice on most weekends about what event I do.
Tell us something that people don’t know about you. I am generally a confident person but when I’m exercising I’m often plagued with doubts about my ability to keep going. I see a Sport Psychologist when I’m training for big events and she helps me train my mind to talk positively. It has probably been the biggest help for someone who doesn’t have the competitive sporting drive that others may have. I can normally be spotted at events with messages written on my arms to keep my mind on track.
Last words? No matter how slow you are on the bike, if you’re out there having fun, that’s all that matters.
One of the final sessions of the Women in Cycling Series is the Ladies’ Come Try BMX Day in Ayr on Saturday (May 9). Adopt Christy’s ‘give it a go’ attitude and grab some girlfriends to head down and check it out. After all, why should the kids have all the fun?