ALEX ANDRE

Can you tell us about yourself? What should we know about you?

I had the great privilege of growing up in the country and am certain this not only grounded me but also gave me a great sense of balance and authenticity – traits that have and will stay with me for life. Other words that might describe me are energetic, optimistic and driven. I like to push the boundaries and realise my full potential, I take every day as a gift and I love to encourage others to do the same.

How did you hear about The Trail Beyond and what do you like about the project?

I heard about the project from a great friend and encourager of mine – Femi. What I like about the project is it’s philosophy and vision, and in particular it’s focus on women. No matter where we are today we can ALL achieve so much more. More than we would dream possible… with commitment and self-belief anything really is possible! To me the project is not only about the amazing achievement of these 4 women, it’s about inspiring others and lighting that little flame inside… 

What does your fitness routine look like?

I love to start each day with some training – it gives me energy and sets me up for a great day!  I’m generally training for something; I like having a goal to work towards. A general week at the moment will be 2 swims, 2 rides, 3 runs and a PT session, the distances all vary depending on what I’ve got my sights on event wise.  At the moment it’s New York Marathon! 

Do you have an inspiring story to share with us?

Having run one marathon and then unsuccessfully attempting to get to the start line of a number since, I did something a little crazy… I signed up for an IRONMAN.  At the time my good friend Mads had been diagnosed with Myeloma - a rare blood cancer with no cure. He was 37, wife to Emma and father to a son, little 2-year old Ollie. I had seen many friends endure Melbourne Ironman and was completely in awe of what they had accomplished. Taking one on was never something I’d even remotely considered – but with the battle Mads had on his hands, my motive didn’t need a ‘why’ it became a ‘why not’, I was one of the fortunate ones who could.

Despite his incredible strength, the unthinkable happened and we lost Mads. I would dedicate my Ironman to him, and in the process raised over $10,000 for the Myeloma Foundation thanks to the incredible support of my family and many wonderful friends.

Ironman Day, March 22nd 2015 - arguably one of the longest, yet seemingly short, days of my life started with a stack of good luck hugs from friends and my legendary family all travelling miles in high vis 'team Alex' tops. The nervous energy was bottle worthy. I asked Mads to sort the weather out and that he did - it was a pearler of a day!  

Finally, it was time for the 'big dance' and we were away... Gliding through the water on the swim course was an amazing start to the day, I didn't want it to end and even saw dolphins on the ocean floor! Out on the bike, pushing into the headwind we earned a tail wind home and that last turn felt so good. Then on the runners go and we head for home along the marathon course... Melbourne city was but a spec in the distance, slowly getting bigger. The support the whole way was incredible. The sign that perhaps gave me the most goose bumps: 'Dear stranger, YOU are my hero'. Team Mads were out in full force, so were many of my dear friends from all walks of life and the 2,000+ volunteers were amazing.

7km to go - the pain could not wipe the smile off my face. I kept telling my legs they were champions and absorbed every step - the beautiful sunset, the high fives, the awe of onlookers, then the emotions kicked in as I became overwhelmed by what I was about to achieve... One last turn into the finishing chute - I felt like a movie star on the red carpet (albeit it slightly under-dressed) and even managed a little jump through the finishing line in a time of 12:12 - ironically Mads' son Ollie's birth date (1/2/12).

My Ironman journey and day was more than just meant to be - it was an achievement and experience that will perhaps never truly sink in, but one thing is for certain... Anything IS possible - it just takes commitment & self-belief.

And the most inspiring bit was learning of the incredible impact an individual can have on others. With the right support network, commitment and self-belief - you can make a difference, you can be the difference. To see the smiles on Emma and Ollie's faces, and know I had something to do with putting them there – that was worth more than a million Ironman medals. It's a day I will never forget.

Who or what do you turn to for inspiration?

In recent times I’ve turned to my friend Mads, his strength and never give up attitude was just incredible. I’ve learnt to live each day just a little bit more and a little bit better. And I think now what inspires me most is the fact that I can. So many can’t or perhaps choose not to - I can and I will, so I do.

What challenges did you overcome to accomplish what you did?

Where do I start… for about 3 years I kept going from one injury to the next (good ones too like achilles and stress fractures); when I signed up for IM I couldn’t confidently run more than 12km and during my training I got to 35km run for the 1st time in 7 years; I had severe bloating/stitch issues in the 2 races leading up to IM; 10 days out I had shoulder issues and couldn’t swim; a week out I had a lovely ingrown hair in the wrong spot and could hardly sit on the bike more than 20min without being in a fair bit of pain… But these were all physical – the biggest challenge is the one between our ears, get that on side and anything really is possible! And that was were my strength lay, I continued to work through every issue and maintain my belief that I would get there, I could do it, and I would do it.

What advice would you give other women and girls to get out there and achieve more than they thought possible?

  • do not compare yourself to ANYONE else, running and any other form of exercise (like everything in life) is relative - a marathon to someone is like a 2km distance without stopping to another person
  • listen to your body - respect it - if it’s telling you to go harder go harder, if it’s telling you to take a break and have a few days off then do so, if you don’t - believe me it will find a way of delivering a lot clearer message
  • tick all the boxes: start slow and gradually build up, get the right shoes, have and respect rest days, have regular massages, get some physio treatment if anything isn’t right, keep a positive mindset, and just be grateful to be out there running/training - not everyone can
  • appreciate that start line – getting there is an effort in itself!  And when you’ve missed out on a few due to injury or alike, you’ll form a whole new appreciation for it. Treat the start line like the finishing line, then just give it your all on the day and enjoy it!
  • believe you can – and you’re there! If you really believe with your whole heart, then you will not fail.

What do you get up to on a Sunday?

Assuming I haven’t had a late night… I get out for my long run, generally with my running buddy Andy, followed by soaking the legs in the bay and a well-deserved coffee. After a hot shower and some breaky I might head to the markets for a weekly shop up, perhaps a spot of clothes shopping in the afternoon, then often an impulse visit to the wine bar with the girls, Thai takeaway for dinner and tucking up on the couch with a good movie to finish the day off.

Do you have an inspirational quote to share?

She believed she could, so she did.

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