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Kona here I come . . . Flo Lodge strides out during Challenge Wanaka in which she was placed third. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

 

 

By Robyn Bristow

Florence Lodge has a “love-hate” relationship with Ironman events.

“I first started triathlons when I was 18 and I hated it. It was awful and I vowed never again. It is weird. It’s a sort of love-hate relationship,” she says.

But she says once you finish you feel “really excited” and just keep entering.

Now the 24-year-old physiotherapist from Amberley is headed to two of the toughest Ironman events in the world.

“I used to joke that one day I would go to Kona for the Hawaii Ironman. It seemed so ridiculous, but now I am all booked up and my entry is in,” says Flo who qualified after winning the 18 to 24-year-old section at the Taupo Ironman recently.

But before she packs her bags for that prestigious and gruelling event, she is off to the ITU long distance world championships at Penticton, Canada, on the back of the form shown at Challenge Wanaka where she placed third and which was “supposed to be a training run for Taupo”.

“I was really pleased with my time at Wanaka. But not at Taupo, but there the time didn’t matter,” she says.

The Penticton world championships is a distance “half way between a half and a full marathon. It is a bit of a weird one, but it will be the perfect build up to Hawaii”.

Flo was really excited when she found out she had been accepted into the New Zealand team for the Canadian trip the night before Taupo.

“Then to finish first in Taupo, it was so unexpected,” says the athlete who had planned Taupo to be the end of her racing season.

She says the biggest obstacle in the lead up to both overseas events is time management.

“There is not enough hours in the day,” says Florence who manages up to 24 hours training a week close to events, though she starts out at about 10 hours a week.

A full time job means “I am up early and go to bed late”. As the event nears she bikes up to 300km a week, runs about 80km and swims about 10km.

In her lead up to Taupo, the weather was awful, so she sat inside on a wind trainer for seven hours watching documentaries and movies and “hating my life and wonder why on earth I was doing this”.

“I got cabin fever and at the end of seven hours I got out of the house and went for a swim.”

There are good and bad training days and it’s mostly just sheer hard work and with goals to work toward.

“But when you cross the line its all worth it and fun,” says Flo, who says having the support of her family and siblings is a great orale booster. Family will be with her at both overseas events to help spur her on.

Her mum has run in a team with her while she was training in Dunedin for physiotherapy and took part in Wanaka.’

“She said she would never do it again but I said ‘watch this space’.”

Her Queenstown-based sister introduced her to Ironmans. “She is 30 and is still at it,” says Flo.

She reflects on younger days as an athlete where she enjoyed running short distances, but her coach had trouble persuading her to run more than 400m.

She was a North Canterbury Club member in Rangiora before a knee injury stopped her in her tracks prior to her departure to Otago University where she had fun and stopped serious training.

“But then my sister said she was doing an Ironman and that’s when it all happened,” she says.

Florence is not only training and working fulltime, she is also fundraising for her two overseas adventures with lots of quiz nights, raffles and a Give a Little Page. She is looking for sponsors and says it is going to be a “tough” ask to get to both events.

“Finances are going to be an obstacle. but I will figure it out,” says Florence who in the meantime is working hard at Motus Physio in Amberley, a job she “loves”.