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It takes a huge family effort to ensure either mum or dad to get to an Ironman start line. You have to consider the family dynamic at all times, understand how the work environment influences training, as well as the added pressure the athlete feels being away from their family while training - this is all outside of the continual assessment of how the athlete is travelling physically and mentally and making the necessary changes (some minor, some major) to their the program to ensure they are ready to tackle anything the race brings.
But what if mum AND dad wanted to get to the same start line? Coach Richard's task last year was to get Kim Andrew and Brett Kerwick to their first Ironman- fit, healthy and importantly keeping the family unit happy. 3 kids, 2 full time jobs and 1 massive goal. What was their secret? How did they go? What is next for this inspirational family?
Coach Richard sat down with Kim and Brett to find out more:
1. How did you get into triathlon and what made you decide to be a part of the T:Zero Multisport family?
K: I actually did a few triathlons in my late teens/early 20s to keep fit for netball, and then discovered the Noosa Triathlon weekend which became a regular part of my calendar most years – whether doing the whole race, in a team, or spectating.
As for T:Zero – probably threefold for me. Firstly, I watched from a distance as Richard guided Steven, Natalie and a group of their mates to all successfully achieve Ironman status and actually enjoy it! Secondly, the opportunity to be coached by Richard, knowing what he had personally achieved in the sport. And last but not least, I really loved the idea of a personalised program.
B: Kim got me interested in triathlon back when she was training for her first Noosa race. I did my first Noosa Tri the following year. I got in to T:Zero because I saw the program Richard was preparing for Kim as she took on Busso and I thought that was a great approach.
2. You both successfully completed your Ironman debuts at Ironman Western Australia in
December last year – what made you decide Ironman was the goal and when did you both
make the decision to focus on this race?
K: Knowing I was turning 40, I wanted to do something awesome and memorable. I decided Ironman was the perfect choice, so although daunted, I signed up in December and started training in February, 10 months out from the race.
B: We were both competing at a corporate triathlon for my work. Kim had started her Ironman training about 2 months prior and to be honest, I was teasing her about it all…..the personalised program, all the Ironman gear, her own Coach etc. We were having a laugh and then she said why didn’t I do it as well…and we laughed some more…..and then signed me up on the spot, on my mobile in the carpark of the corporate race!
3. Ironman training can be a daunting prospect for any individual and their household. How
did you manage doing the training at the same time, all while running a household with 3
young kids and two full time jobs?
B: For us the key to managing it all was the way Richard specifically designed our program, for us as a couple and also us as a family. We didn’t want our Ironman goals to come at the expense of our happy life all together. We actually found as the training went on and became more and more demanding, we in turn got better at managing it and actually enjoyed it even more.
K: We also got a lot of help from family, friends, random strangers…..anyone we could rope in to help!
4. With all of that chaos, what would a normal weekday and a normal weekend look like?
K: Most mornings, we would either sub at the front door from one person’s session to the other, or alternately, one would be out running or swimming, while the other hit the wind trainer. Then, the reverse at night. In between all that was work, school drop offs, kids sport and all the normal stuff of life.
B: On the weekends, there were plenty of times when one person would be training almost all day, but we made the most of that by the other person getting in some quality time with the kids. Certainly there were some insanely early starts (we discovered the 3’s…) so we could watch our boys play rugby, and there were some nearly midnight runs, so we could see the kids off to bed and still get our longer sessions done.
5. What do the kids think of all the training and racing?
B: We were nervous about whether or not we were doing the right thing by our kids in taking on the dual-challenge. However, the reality was quite the opposite. They have learnt so many lessons from it all; they have seen first-hand what hard work achieves, and they are already themselves showing signs of putting those lessons in to practice in the context of their own young lives. On a recent rainy day, our 6 year old son actually came up and said he was going for a ‘rainy day run’ because Saturday was his favourite day to run and it didn’t matter if it was raining or not, that was his day! Then, all 3 of the kids went and ran together.
K: The kids embraced it all better than we could have ever imagined. There were certainly times when recognising their sacrifice and support, we realised we also had a big commitment back to them to keep trying our very best. They also loved the little things like running to get our gu’s for us, filling drink bottles while we were on the wind trainer, and of course all the races and trips away.
6. Tell us about your respective days at Ironman Western Australia and how has Brett
managed knowing he was ‘chicked’ by his own wife?
K: Waking up and hearing the howling winds and pelting rain on race day, I honestly thought I was in the middle of my worst nightmare. But we just lay in bed laughing and decided, the horrible weather was just going to make it more epic. From then on (other than my 3 nervous vomits), it was actually all a dream come true. In the swim, I just focussed on conserving energy, following feet, and getting through it knowing that with each leg of the race I would get stronger as I moved on to my preferred disciplines. The ride was pretty tough in the wind and there was also that moment as you leave the final transition to go out on to the run, when the task still in front of you seems absolutely overwhelming. But I actually felt better the longer the run went on. I loved seeing all our friends and family out on course, both competing and cheering. But most of all seeing Bretty out there and realising we were ‘doing it’ was the best. With about 15km to go, I realised I was slowly catching him but worried I would just miss out on the chance for us to finish together so I dug in a bit more until I caught him at the start of our final run lap. We ran together for a while and it was fun to laugh and realise we were going to both beat our goal time. Then, I smoked him like an old dog and hammered out the last 10km to the finish! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!! (cue: evil laugh)
B: I’m married to a bitch. Enough said. Thanks Richard for pointing this out to the world.
K: Truth be told, we had always agreed it was my main goal for my 40th and Brett doing it was a bonus. Our program from Richard was actually designed accordingly, and so was our allocation of things like race wheels and so forth. On race day, out on the run leg, Bretty even raced across the median strip at one point to offer me a drink and see if I needed anything, which was pretty cool. So, there was definitely no ‘getting chicked’.
B: I did cop a bit of a ribbing from some of the guys at work about Kim beating me, but I reminded them that none of them could have beaten her either and that shut them down pretty quickly.
7. We have read Brett’s race report from AAA (click here for an epic read), but Kim, how was it for you on race day as Brett’s crew?
K: AAA was the most incredible race I have ever seen – the scenery, the unbelievable course, the Kosciusko summit, the freezing temperatures. It was honestly an honour to be there crewing. I can certainly recommend it to anyone, whether as an athlete or supporter – definitely a bucket list ticker!
8. What is next for Team Kerwick/Andrew?
B: Kim is targeting Ironman NZ in early 2017, whereas my immediate goal is to work on my run leg (can’t let her beat me twice!). So for me, that will mean the Gold Coast Marathon in July and then the Blackall 50 later in the year. My ultimate goal is to do Ultraman 2018, but a lot of work to do between now and then.
9. Truth be told - leading into Ironman Western Australia, you were fairly sure that 2016 would
see you both take up a more leisurely approach to fitness. No less than 4 weeks after
crossing the finish line, Brett had signed up for the AAA (Australia Alpine Ascent – the
hardest daylight triathlon in the world) and set an even bigger goal for 2018 with Ultraman,
while Kim focused her attention to 2017 with some impressive goals herself. What changed
to make you set these amazing goals for the future and allowing T:Zero Multisport to help you achieve these goals?
K: That’s true. I was quite determined to have a big break in 2016. But just a few weeks after Busso, I was running through the Noosa National Park during our holidays and I realised how much I enjoyed the feeling of being strong, fit and healthy. And I also realised that to be honest, the money spent with T:Zero was actually our best investment last year and had made a huge, positive impact on our lives. By the time the day ended, we had messaged Rich and we were both back in the fold! Within a few weeks, Rich had mapped out an overarching plan for us both – individually and as a couple – for the next two years and we are super excited for the adventures ahead.
10. There are plenty of spouses out there, supporting their loved ones in triathlons, keen but
maybe a little reluctant to give it a go. What advice would you give couples, who are
training for endurance events at the same time?
K: We love to do things together – it’s more fun and it’s also a lot more fulfilling as a couple, rather than just one person achieving their goals. We couldn’t have done it without Rich though – that’s the truth. Rich made it manageable and it was great knowing he was in our corner, helping us to keep it all on track and make it fun too.
B: My tips are: don’t get overawed by the training. Manage it in small parts i.e. one week at a time. You can do it – it is possible, and it’s worth it!