22 Mar Sarah Thomas
Sarah has a laid back and determined approach which is typical of many successful triathletes in Australia; however as with many high achievers it is overcoming adversity that has seen her emerge stronger and faster than ever. This pocket rocket came to Australia from Wales for a holiday dive job on the Great Barrier Reef… and the rest they say is history as she has lived in Cairns for over 10 years now as she loves it so much. We caught up with Sarah this week to find out what she loves about triathlon and what her aspirations are too.
What do you do with your time when you’re not swim-bike-running?
I work full time as a physiotherapist, which takes up the majority of my time. I love travel and visiting new places, live music and food and wine.
How did you discover triathlon?
I was very sporty growing up, but then had a big break in my 20’s from any real exercise. When I heard about triathlon I thought it sounded awesome and I wanted to give it a try. I started gradually, just doing a few short local races for fun, and then my first Ironman 70.3 in 2014. I started taking triathlon a bit more seriously when I qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships on the Sunshine Coast in 2016, and did my first Ironman in 2017.
What are some of the challenges you have had to overcome to reach the level you are at in triathlon?
I was hit by a car on a training ride a few years ago, and as a result of my injuries I ended up having to take a break from running for about 6 months in 2015/2016. I am sure that by doing proper rehabilitation I actually came back stronger.
Another challenge was learning to swim efficiently, which took me a very long time as swimming is not something that comes naturally to me, and I still have to work very hard at it.
What are some of your results and racing highlights so far?
My highlights so far would have to be winning my age group at Ironman Cairns (the Ironman Asia Pacific Championship) two years in a row in 2017 and 2018. And then placing 8th in my age group at Kona in 2018.
What race destination would you love to go to?
There are so many race destinations I would love to go to! I really want to do a race in Asia, maybe Ironman Malaysia. I would also really like to do Challenge Roth one day. And of course Ironman Wales!
Tell us about your training group?
I have always done some of my training with friends, or with my partner, and some alone. Currently I swim with a squad 2-3 mornings a week. I do most of my cycling alone, unless I can occasionally recruit someone to join me on long rides! I do my run training with friends when I can, and have recently started triathlon and run coaching, so the athletes I coach sometimes run with me now.
How do you plan your race nutrition?
I have never had a coach (up until this recently, when I have finally started with one!) so I have always done a lot of research into all things triathlon, and have worked out my nutrition this way. I’ve made some changes based on personal experience, but the only race I’ve really had issues with nutrition was in Kona in 2017.
Do you have any lessons learnt with regards to race nutrition?
In Kona 2017 I was so worried about the heat and taking on enough fluid and electrolyte, I drank as much Gatorade as I could, as this was the electrolyte given out on the bike course. I ended up feeling very sick, as it was way too strong for me and I had never trained with it. I had a terrible ride, but luckily came good when I started the run and drank some water.
How do you fit all your nutrition on your bike?
In a full Ironman I have 3 bottles of fluid on my bike, and put my solid food and gels into my bento box, with extra gels taped to the bike. I get any extra fluid I need from aid stations.
What is your favourite inspirational quote?
I believe in “Seize every opportunity and live with no regrets”.
What keeps you motivated?
I love how much better I feel when I have got up in the morning and exercised. I enjoy the challenge of seeing what I can achieve with hard work, dedication and consistency.
What is your favourite session?
This is a really hard question! Even though its definitely not my strength, I really enjoy swimming in the mornings with my squad. I love being in the water, and if I have a good swim it’s the best feeling because I know I have had to work so hard at it.
Any other interesting facts about yourself?
I used to play Rugby Union!