Mt Isa triathlete Elle Goodall ticked off a goal recently - a podium place at the Julia Creek Dirt'n'Dust Triathlon, one of many she is working through on her way towards her ultimate goal - a Kona qualifying spot.
What makes her triathlon story remarkable is her incredible weight loss journey, losing 120kg.
Elle knew that a complete lifestyle overhaul was needed alongside her gastric bypass surgery to effect real and lasting change in her life. And her triathlon goals, guidance from her local triathlon club and supportive coaches have helped her get there.
A throw away comment to a friend who was doing a triathlon training session at the local lake was the door into triathlon for Elle. Her comment "I wish I could do that" was met with a reply of "you can, you can do it". Local athlete and Personal Trainer Vicki Nicholson was confident that if Elle wanted to, she could be competing in her first triathlon within a month. And she did.
"I took the bull by the horns and I did it".
From that small beginning, Noosa Triathlon was her next goal, and with her trainer, Vicki, they worked together to achieve it.
Growing up a competitive swimmer, Elle knew the determination it would take to make the starting line at Noosa. Having people who believed in her and believing she could do it, made all the difference.
Crossing the finish line at Noosa Triathlon last year is one of Elle's highlights so far: "People tell me 'I don't understand how you can do it', but that feeling when you cross the finish line - that’s why I do it. Especially from where I have come from and to where I am now, it is mindblowing."
"I absolutely fell in love with Noosa. My long term goal for Noosa is to be a part of the Noosa Legends Club".
Each success has fuelled Elle's determination and now her focus shifted to the Cairns Ironman 70.3. And with a change in race distance, has come a change in coach. Elle now trains using an online program with Em Quinn from T:Zero Multisport - a Triathlon Queensland affiliated squad specialising in long course events.
Not working with a coach face to face hasn't been a barrier for Elle "I just feel like Em knows where I am at and her training sessions have been really good to follow as well, and I love the layout that they do with the training peaks as well. People ask is it hard not having your coach here, and I am really dedicated and really focussed, so I don't need someone there pushing me, just someone who can answer questions if I need them and telling me what to do."
Instead, the challenges that Elle faces living so remotely, is the heat, "there were days when I was going for a run and it was getting up to around 45 degrees, even hotter, and this was at night". Sharing the road with road trains with 4 or 5 trailers is also challenging. "But if you are dedicated and willing, you can definitely work around all of that".
Elle has been very open in her weight loss journey, documenting it on social media, and using it to inspire others to get active and healthy. "A lot of people , a lot of my followers and close friends, have come to me and said that your posts have encouraged me to try it and see how I go, but I don't think I have time, I don't think I can do it. And I look at them and say no, you can do it, it is your mind. You definitely can, look at me, look at how big I was when I started, you can definitely do it."
Looking forward, Elle hopes to complete a full Ironman in 2018, and one day qualify for Kona. For the moment, she is in full training mode working towards Ironman 70.3 Cairns this June.
"When you cross the finish line, everything makes sense and every little thing that you have done to get to that point, it’s all worth it at the end".