We are thrilled to begin our series profiling each one of our age group team members racing in this year's Ironman World Championships. Team SFQ'er Megan Gray earned her first Hawaii Ironman qualification by winning the 45-49 age group at Ironman Subic Bay, Philippines in June.
This is your first Kona! We’d love to hear about the journey to get here— was it a long road?
Yes this is my first Kona, and most likely my only so I'm hoping its extra special! I'm fortunate that it hasn’t really been a long road as I only started Ironman 70.3 three years ago and never initially aspired to an Ironman. But when you surround yourself with amazing people amazing things happen and pretty soon I was swept up in the belief that I could do an ironman and registered for Ironman Langkawi in November 2016.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first Ironman where my mission was just to complete the race as comfortably as possible. Once I finished I knew I could do better and dared to dream that I could one day qualify for Kona.
I registered and trained for Ironman Taiwan in October 2017 but after fracturing my elbow at the 70.3 Worlds in Chattanooga a few weeks earlier I had to withdraw. I was really, really disappointed. I realised how much a Kona qualification meant to me so decided to switch coaches dropping my local Singapore based coach for Australia professional triathlete Kate Bevilaqua who I had witnessed first-hand turn an age grouper like myself into a Kona champion.
Kate & I decided on Ironman Subic Bay in June 2018 as my target race for qualification. I had raced the 70.3 here before so was familiar with the course, and it was super hot & humid which Singapore conditions prepared me for perfectly. My training preparation ran smoothly and I had never felt fitter & stronger. I trusted in the process and on the day executed my perfect race which secured the age group win and punched my ticket to Kona. It is still so surreal that I'm going!!
Your post- Kona-qualification celebration vacation looked like some amazingly well-deserved R&R— tell us about it (and pic please!)!
I literally flew home from Subic Bay and less than 24 hours later was jetting off to the Greek Islands with my favourite cousin. She was so proud of me she would tell everyone we met - "my cousin is going to Kona"! Either that or she was trying to explain my swollen ankles, blistered feet & chafing on my inner thighs - I was a sorry sight in a bikini!
We visited 4 islands in 16 days - Mykonos, Naxos, Koufanisia & Santorini. It was the most amazing holiday I've ever had... sleeping in, leisurely breakfasts, lazing on beautiful beaches, sipping cocktails, exploring the maze of the old towns, shopping, feasting on Mediterranean cuisine and NO training! It was the first real break from training I had had in 3 years and I came home completely refreshed and rejuvenated, to be swiftly reminded by Kate that I had 2 world championship events coming up and the holiday was over. I stepped off the plane at 6am straight into a double training day - AM swim & PM run - the holiday was most definitely over!
You are part of TeamSFQ’s international contingent...if we remember correctly you are originally from Australia and now reside in Singapore. What brought you there?
Australia will always be home but I have lived in Singapore for almost 9 years now. We moved here for my husband's work. Funny thing is, he's never here as he runs a global team and is constantly travelling to each of their locations to oversee the local operations. It's perfect for guilt free triathlon training!
My eldest two children are in Australia so I visit often and enjoy training there too especially in a cooler climate.
Can you tell us what training is like in Singapore? Any unique challenges?
Singapore is a haven for triathlon training. There is a fabulous triathlon community here with many organised training groups and a selection of well run local races.
I do most of my training on my own though as it is so specific. I join 1-2 swim/run squad sessions a week with a local group and then ride with an awesome bunch of ladies on the weekends often including fellow Singapore based team member Elaine. We are all of a similar speed and chasing similar goals so it's a lot of fun to share the pain.
Singapore does come with its challenges though! It is very small, always super hot & humid (at least 86F & 80% humidity), virtually flat & has lots of traffic lights. There is also lots of heavy vehicle traffic going to/from the major international ports as well as the ongoing construction so we need to start early - my alarm goes off at 3:30am on long ride days.
Most weekends we ride around the entire island - it's about 120km (75 miles) to circumnavigate so we have to add loops on to increase the mileage when training for Ironman.
We are blessed to have Bintan Island (Indonesia) on our doorstep, literally an hour ferry ride away. At least once a month I take off for the day to do long rides over there as the traffic is much quieter, there are virtually no traffic lights and the endless hills provide good strength training. Bintan is also blessed with nice beaches so it’s a great place to practice open water swimming.
What are your goals for race day?
I know it’s a cliché but I feel truly blessed to be toeing the start line at Kona fit & healthy. I really feel like it is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me so I want to soak up the experience and enjoy each moment as the day unfolds so hopefully I won't be suffering too much. Of course I'd love to execute a perfect race. I don’t know what that looks like time wise as I am unfamiliar with the course and I know the bike conditions can be super tough, but I know what it feels like.... crossing the line beaming from ear to ear knowing that I left it all out there and have justified the sacrifices and hard work to get me there!