Journey to an Ironman 70.3 ~ An Inspiring Story

Posted on: Sep 19th, 2022 by Belinda Brown | Categories: Uncategorized

Ironman Number

Paula Pool’s Journey to an Iron-woman

You know those mates that you have, and when you say – “hey, do you want to try this out with me” they immediately respond, “that sounds awful, sign us up!”. Well, my friend Melz is that person for me, and in late 2016 I asked her – “hey, do you want to do a triathlon with me?”, she said “yes, of course.”

I have a background of body building. So apart from lifting heavy weights, the only other way I can manage to get my heart rate up is through trail running – and trail running is something I really love to do. So consequently, neither of us had competed in anything like a triathlon before. I especially had not, I couldn’t even swim. My parents had just never thought of putting me through swimming lessons. So, in February 2017 I got myself a swim coach and learnt how to swim from scratch.


Kylie Muldoon (De Rooy) said to me on the first lesson, “Ok hop in and show me what you can do.” So, I hopped in… that was all I could do, quite literally. At this point, I’m pretty sure Kylie was thinking, “oh my god what have I gotten myself into.” 

So, we started out with just trying to get me to make it to the 25-meter mark with, ‘bubble, bubble, breath’. One month later I entered a local triathlon in Charters Towers. The swim leg was in the freshwater creek – it was 300 meters, and I was able to wear my flippers. I got 5 meters into the swim, and I had a panic attack. I felt way out of my depth, I don’t know what on earth I was thinking… my family could hear me panicking from the shoreline!

But nevertheless, I made it through the swim and proceeded to do finish off the ride and run no worries. Mind you… I wasn’t that great at those legs either. The next Triathlon I competed in was a local Townsville Triathlon, just a few months later. The same thing happened here in the 400m swim – I had a panic attack and swam pretty much the entire 400m on my back. Gosh, that was just horrible.


The following year I competed in a team Ironman 70.3 as the runner. At this stage, I had been doing a fair bit of running as I was training for my first half marathon along the Great Ocean Road. So, the week after I did that, we went to Cairns to compete in an Ironman team. I loved the atmosphere so much that I signed up to do a 70.3 on my own. It was one of those “F it” moments, when you just do it without thinking too hard about it. However, talk about jumping way out of the comfort zone – I hadn’t swum any further than 400 meters, yet I continued to sign up for a 1.9km ocean swim. So, I got stuck straight into it! I scored myself a very patient coach (the amazing Claire), and away I went.

First, I thought, I better buy myself a bike (I was using a borrowed one), so I did just this and bought myself a great bike, as well as a wind trainer. You see, I work A LOT. I wouldn’t be able to go on a ride at a normal time, let alone a bunch ride. My training has to be done at 3:30am as I start work at 5:00am and work right through until 6:30pm almost every day (except for the weekends – just half days there). Most importantly, I don’t ever want my personal schedule to impact the kids, as my work schedule impacts them enough. So, to me, it just makes sense for me to get up an hour earlier and do it then.


I started entering into the TOWSA swims and started some ocean swimming. Now, I prefer ocean swimming over pool swimming, hands down! After learning how to swim for the past 2 years, in 2019 myself and 3 friends completed the Magnetic Island to Townville swim. It was slow, but I finished it and I was so proud of myself. Leading up to that swim, I had only completed a 1km and 2km open water swim. So, this was something I thought I could never, ever, do. There is just something so special about learning a new skill as an adult.

Then, Covid hit…… the event that stopped the world! My first Ironman 70.3 was put off… so instead of June, we did it in September.

“I completed the Ironman 70.3 in 6 hours and 16 minutes, the job was done!”


All in all, learning a new skill like swimming not only allowed me to take on a new sport but it also helped me with my fear of water. You see, I never got in the pool or swam in the ocean with the kids when they were little, but since learning how to swim I feel much more confident. The kids now love that I’ll get in the water with them!


~ Paula Pool (Fuel for Schools, Fuel PT Solutions, bodpodtownsville)


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