When I started triathlon back in August 2002, I wrote down my goals for my ?rst season and gave them to my coach at the time.

To complete the Kurnell Sprint Series of I think 4 triathlons.

I thought this was pretty ambitious. If I could get ?t enough and con?dent enough to race then that would be fantastic. I was 29 years old. I had moved to Australia from the UK, and needed to make friends outside of work.

In April 2003 I was lining up for my ?rst Ironman. How did that happen?? This was not my original goal. I got totally sucked in.

When I started I didn’t even know what an Ironman was. I had watched Hawaii on TV, but had no idea that it was something you could do unless you were super human, toughest athlete on the planet type material.

So when I lined up for Forster Ironman in 2003 I was both excited and terri?ed and had no idea what to expect. I honestly had no goal other than to ?nish.

I ?nished in 10.26 ish, was 2nd in my age group. I cried at the ?nish, I couldn’t believe what I’d just done. I had the opportunity to go to Hawaii to LYA luau on Oahu. It was quite unbelievable. I had reached my goal plus some.

I took that spot to Hawaii, and I was totally hooked on triathlon.

Now, my goals were changing… I started to look at times. Wouldn’t it be nice to get onto the stage in Hawaii, that’s a top 5 ?nish.

I was 6th. I was a little bit disappointed. And yet one year previous I wouldn’t have believed I could do an Ironman let alone be competitive.

Now back to Forster again in 2004, and Kristian was getting pretty excited about what I could achieve. He wrote on a whiteboard the times he thought I could reach. I thought he was nuts. But the times excited me. What if…

I cried ?nishing the bike in 2004, I couldn’t believe I had ridden a 5.30 split. I was totally overcome and overwhelmed. I was so ecstatic.

And to cut a long story short my goals kept going up and up and this is a familiar story.

The bar is continually raised, and we do need that. If we sat on our laurels and were happy with the ?rst small achievement we would never be driven onwards and upwards.

BUT, there is a catch.

You never ever reach your goals because you are continually raising the bar. This can if you let it make you totally loose sight of your achievements and this is very sad. As I improved my expectations increased and I lost sight of how far I had come.

When I stepped away from triathlon at the end of 2009 I hadn’t achieved my goals.

But hadn’t I??

I left the sport after a run of bad races and my self esteem was pretty low. I felt like a bit of a failure. I wasn’t totally content. I thought I would have to return to triathlon to tick my goals off.

As time passed I realised, hang on a minute, these were not my goals when I started the sport! I just wanted to race a few sprint tris! I never imagined I would race Professionally, that was not my goal. In fact to be honest I thought it was a way of saving money on entry fees!

I didn’t become a Professional thinking I could one day win. No way.

I had to see it to believe it- but then that’ a whole other story!

I did have a lot of be proud of. In fact the more time passes the more amazing it is to me that I took part in the sport AT ALL, let alone anything else.

Goals keep you motivated and driven. They keep you chipping away. They are absolutely essential to keep going onwards and upwards.

BUT.

PLEASE take a step back and witness how truly amazing you are to be a triathlete. You train in 3 disciplines. You juggle work and family to do this. You get up when it’s still dark, you get up when you don’t want to. You commit.

And I know this seems like nothing at the time. You’re in a routine and its just what you do.

To take an unscheduled day off and you are ?lled with guilt. It’s unimaginable not to train.

But once you are at ground zero, training to complete an Ironman seems like climbing Everest! I rode about 45 mins today, my second ride in 4 years, and I loved every pedal stroke. But 180 kms right now would be impossible.

I wish I had been less hard on myself, and not so quick to judge myself against others. I am now beyond happy because I achieved so much more than I ever believed possible.

Triathlon changed me. But it should not have taken me this long to appreciate my personal success, because that is exactly what it was. Personal.

Use goals to drive you on, but realise what they are. They are designed only to motivate, not to berate. Don’t take them so seriously that you forget what their purpose.

Goals are a necessary evil. Use them to your advantage, but BEWARE!

Charlotte