With the finale of The Block 2015 drawing nearer, we caught up with Townsville’s own ‘Caro’ (AKA Caroline Tahana) — master budgeter, renovator and Ironman athlete — to get to know this time-maximising chocolate-devotee better. After doing her first full Ironman on Melbourne in March, she still ranks The Block as the toughest thing she has done mentally and physically, and has some great tips and motivation for other time-poor mums who are keen to get moving.
“A lot of our friends didn’t know what we were up to for the three months while it was being filmed, and then they saw us pop up on the TV and we got inundated with text messages and phone calls!”
How would you describe your experience on The Block? The hardest thing we have ever done — mentally and physically — but, at the same time, the best experience we’ve ever had. What a ride it was!
What was the biggest highlight? Winning kitchen week, and also getting told by judge Shaynna Blaze that we had so much talent and should be doing this as a career. That blew us both away. As a couple that had never really renovated before on this scale and having no interior design experience whatsoever; this was definitely one of our proudest moments of the whole series.
What was the most challenging part? A few things! Mainly missing our daughter and our home, but just the stress of the whole build. It’s constant for three months and you really need to remind yourself to just breathe and take it all in and not to get overwhelmed by it all.
What was the biggest lesson? What we were both capable of. I think we actually surprised each other with how much we grew as individuals, but also with our relationship. It definitely made us stronger and we learnt how well we worked as a team. We backed each other on the show and always supported each other — I think that’s the key to our winning team.
Were you pleased with how you both represented Townsville? We love Townsville and wanted to let everyone know where we are from. It’s our hometown and we love living here. We wanted to show everyone our beautiful home and that people from regional areas should apply for shows like this. You just have to apply!
“Since I’d just finished the Ironman Melbourne in March, I was at the peak of my fitness… I didn’t get sore from the physical labour and I was used to the hard work and early/late hours with all my training”
What’s the reaction been like since you’ve been back (especially with the show still airing)? The Townsville support has been amazing! People will high-five us in the shopping centre and love what we are bringing to the show. I think a lot of people are proud of what we have done on the show, and even more proud that we come from here. A lot of our friends didn’t know what we were up to for the three months while it was being filmed, and then they saw us pop up on the TV and we got inundated with text messages and phone calls! I think we surprised a lot of people.
Has anything changed since then? Any new career directions or new goals? We haven’t really thought about life after The Block too much yet we are just waiting for the auction to come and see what happens with that first! Anything can happen. But we’re excited to be working with Ellis Developments and their new 200-home estate ‘Haven’ at the base of Castle Hill, and we’ll be showcasing Kingi’s rendering at their display homes in 2016, so watch this space!
Did you manage to keep triathlon training up while filming, or was the reno work enough of a workout? I definitely tried to keep fit as much as possible during filming, but it was pretty hard to organise anything as you’d never know what type of day you’d have. I would make sure that I got to the gym at least once a week for a boxing class to just de-stress and not think about renovating! I think that saved me! But since I’d just finished the Ironman Melbourne in March, I was at the peak of my fitness so the reno work wasn’t really enough for me. I lost heaps of my fitness during the show, but at the same time, I think being as fit as I was worked in our favour. I didn’t get sore from the physical labour and I was used to the hard work and early/late hours with all my training.
Five-minute breather with Caro
“Just to all the mums out there who think you don’t have time to exercise, you do! You just need to make it a priority and involve your kids!”
Here we put our standard Real Goer questions to Caro to find out about her current training and goals, what she loves about getting active in the ‘Ville and her tips for others to get moving.
Occupation: Service manager at a local dealership, triathlete and motivator.
What are you doing to get moving at the moment? Right now, I’m not training for any race — I’m just trying to get fit again. So swimming at lunchtime and running as much as I can. I don’t get much time to ride at the moment as we have a three-year-old daughter so riding early mornings is hard.
What activity makes you the happiest and why? I will always swim. It’s my once place I can be happy and enjoy the water. It’s so quiet and I love swimming in our Townsville sun at lunchtime when the pool is almost empty. I have so many great ideas in the pool while following the black line!
How did you discover it? My parents got me into swimming at an early age and I just never stopped. I used to race competitively when I was younger, but even when I got older I would still swim. It’s the one sport that I know is good for my lungs and will get me fit… fast!
Have you always been active? Yes, I’ve always been active and into sports. I love it. I’m always doing something every day. I don’t think I ever have a day off unless we are travelling and I just can’t fit it in. Being active makes me happy and I’m a better person when I’ve been exercising.
Are you a morning or afternoon mover? Oh this is a great question: I’m an all-day mover! I love early mornings on the bike when the world is sleeping and I’m up riding, but I also love to run into the sunset with the sun on my back. So yes put me down for both…
“Saturday afternoons Kingi and I will push our daughter up Castle Hill in the pram… I am amazed at how many mums there are pushing prams up that hill! High five to you all! Respect!”
What’s your favourite thing to do on a weekend in Townsville? A local triathlon if there’s one on. If there are no races locally, then it’s swimming lessons with my little girl. Saturday mornings I’m normally going for a 100km ride or at swimming squad. Saturday afternoons Kingi and I will push our daughter up Castle Hill in the pram. Now that’s a workout no matter how fit you think you are! I am amazed at how many mums there are pushing prams up that hill! High five to you all! Respect!
Your most motivating tune? Any old school R&B and Hip Hop! R&B is great for warm up and cool down and the Hip Hop is fast with a good beat to keep me going during my workout.
Motivational quote? “We all have the same 24 hours in a day; it all depends on how you use them” – I use this quote for training and life in general. Reminds me to use every hour like it’s your last and to get the most out of every day. I hate wasting time!
“It’s so quiet and I love swimming in our Townsville sun at lunchtime when the pool is almost empty. I have so many great ideas in the pool while following the black line!”
How do you pep yourself up when you’re craving the couch? Of course we all crave the couch from time-to-time, but I think as a mum our time is limited! So when you have time, you take it because you never know when you will get the chance to exercise again! So, yes, I always pep myself up because I know tomorrow might be a bad day and I won’t get to do a thing! Time is precious and I take every minute I can to exercise, even when I don’t feel like it because I know I will always feel better after.
Do you prefer to get active solo, or with a buddy? Well, I love to do both. I love to ride with bunches and my training buddies. I love to swim with my squad at Tobruk Pool (those kids keep me honest that’s for sure!), but I love to run alone. Music in, and just run!
“Time is precious and I take every minute I can to exercise, even when I don’t feel like it because I know I will always feel better after”
Most annoying fitness fad? I haven’t really been one to follow any fitness fads at all because I believe if you enjoy what you’re doing when exercising then that’s all that matters. The key is to be consistent… you can’t do something for a week and expect results!
What’s your greatest fitness achievement? Finishing the Ironman Melbourne this year. It’s a 3.8km swim, 180km ride and 42.2km run. It took me 11 hours and 30 minutes — let’s just say it was a long day and I loved it! Triathlons and Ironman events are my passion and I love the science behind what the body can do in endurance events. Our bodies are just amazing how they can keep going!
Most memorable active moment? Upon finishing Ironman Melbourne, running down the red carpet after doing the 42.2km final leg was amazing. To hear those words “Caroline, you are an Ironman!” was a fantastic experience that I hope to do that again very soon! It gives me goose bumps thinking about it. I trained so hard for something I only dreamed about and that moment it finally came true — as the Ironman motto goes — “anything is possible”. Doing that race really makes you realise what you can do and how far you can push your mind and body!
“I trained so hard for something I only dreamed about and that moment it finally came true — as the Ironman motto goes — “anything is possible”. Doing that race really makes you realise what you can do and how far you can push your mind and body!”
What activity have you always wanted to try (and what’s holding you back)? To be honest there’s nothing really out there that I’ve always wanted to do. Everything I want to do I’ve done. I don’t really let fear hold me back — I think you only live once you have to try and test yourself all the time. It reminds us that we are alive when we try something new and I love that.
What’s your arch nemesis and what have you done to conquer it? Being a mother I would say time would be my number one arch nemesis! It’s hard for me to train in the mornings as Kingi works at 5.30am most days so if I want to get up and train I have to be up by 4am and home before he leaves. That makes it a long day. But when you want something bad enough you just do it.
What’s something we don’t know about you? I have a massive sweet tooth and there is always chocolate in our house somewhere. I just have to hide it from our three-year-old!
What’s your next goal? Not sure — I’m still deciding on what race I want to do next. I do love the full Ironman race, but I think I might give the half 70.3 Ironman a go at some stage next year once The Block is all over and done with.
Most embarrassing moment on the go? When I was learning to ride my triathlon bike and still mastering clip-in shoes — I didn’t click out quick enough and just fell on the ground still attached to the bike!! But I think most cyclists have experienced that! You just have to get up, dust yourself off, and get back on again — it’s the only way you get better!
“Being active makes me happy and I’m a better person when I’ve been exercising.”
Who would you most like to train with (e.g. famous person, or someone you look up to)? Oh that’s a no brainer! Definitely Mirinda Carfrae — World Champion Ironman.
The training advice I wish I’d listened to was… have patience. At times I would get frustrated that I wasn’t improving or getting better, but that’s when being consistent and having patience will see you succeed. And always listen to your coach!
Most treasured piece of fitness gear? That would be my Specialized Shiv triathlon bike from Top Brand Cycles. She’s just beautiful and flies like the wind! I wash my bike more than I was my car! Also my Garmin watch… I think a lot of triathletes would agree with that one! We clock everything we do!
My best local fitness tip is… if you’re trying to lose weight or get fit, nothing beats walking or running up Castle Hill. You can do so much with that hill! Use the goat track for toning the legs and bum, or run up the road to work on your fitness and feel the burn!
Tell us a joke (why not?) I will leave the jokes to Kingi — he’s the funny one!
Last words? Just to all the mums out there who think you don’t have time to exercise, you do! You just need to make it a priority and involve your kids! Make exercise fun and make them take part, and they will love it. You will feel better when you’re healthy and happy. It’s hard to make a lifestyle change but once you do you will never look back.