One Woman's Wild Transformation
Memories flashed back this year at the Wildside Adventure Race, when i ran into a previous competitor, whom i met at the finish line of the same five day event two years ago. Last time we met she was in good spirits but a little worse for wear. (see the photo at the very bottom of this article).
At that time Tamara Howlett was relatively new to adventure racing events and the five day expedition race known as Wildside had her leaving the safety of her comfort zone. In fact leaving her comfort zone started long before that race had even begun.
Like all AR events, Wildside Adventure Race is a lot about the journey and discovering that adventure is actually everywhere, day and night, 24, 48, 72+ hours if we want it to be. Events like these are about challenging competitors, taking them to new places and beyond their limits. Tamara shares with us her very personal and inspirational transformation story in the lead up to her first big race in 2015.
My name is Tamara Howlett I am 38 years old have two beautiful teenage daughters and am married to my High School sweet heart.
While driving today I started thinking about my upcoming adventure, in two weeks I will be in Forster preparing for the Wildside Adventure Race (a five day non-stop multisport race including navigation, MTB, Treking, Kayaking and mystery disciplines). Just a few short years ago who would have thought I would be getting ready for an expedition Adventure Race.
Three years ago I was 30kg overweight and severely depressed. I had never been physically active. The thought of enjoying exercise was totally foreign to me. I couldn’t work, drank a bottle or two of wine a day and was seriously contemplating suicide. The doctor’s were giving me so many drugs I was more zombie then alive. The few people I socialised with just fed my negative thoughts. In one word I was sad.
One day in August of 2011 I woke up and made a decision to change my life. I started my transformation. In December 2011 I went to a gym for the first time in my life. I met some amazing people who were positive and encouraged me to make more positive changes to my life. I began to live again.
Since then I have learnt a lot about life, people and myself. Along the way I learnt many new skills including how to ride a mountain bike, how to kayak, navigate, and some basic roping skills and not to be scared of attempting new things. I also learnt how to enjoy myself.
Mid 2012 after much encouragement and with much apprehension I entered my first short course adventure race. My nerves and anxiety nearly got the better of me both before the race even started and several times during the race but I completed the race and fell in love with Adventure Racing. Everything about it from the comradery with other competitors, the teammanship, being outdoors, to contributing to the team when I was the only person who knew how to complete the sudoko which had to be successfully completed before you could commence the first leg and especially finishing.
Since then I have completed several more sprint races and five 24hr adventure races. On the side I have completed a trail marathon, an off-road multisport race, several obstacle course races, and a few MTB endurance races. To round things off I have become a keen Rogainer competing in events lasting anywhere from 6 to 24hrs.
Eight months ago I commenced training under the guidance of Jan Laverton from Tri Adventure an experience multisport athlete and coach. Thanks to Jan’s patience and mentoring I have gained a lot of experience and broadened my skills. She has encouraged me to train outside my comfort box and a lot harder than I would have on my own.
Fast forward to today and even though I am nervous and excited about the race I am physically prepared stronger and fitter then I ever imagined I could be, I am mentally stronger than I ever thought possible. I AM READY.
It is almost unbelievable how far I have come in three years. Three years ago I would never have thought it possible that I would commit myself to a Bike race little though an Expedition Adventure Race.
It is amazing what you can do when you try hard. I am definitely not the best or fastest athlete on the Adventure Racing circuit but I am capable of doing what is needed to be done in order to be successful in an adventure race. I am not a naturally gifted or talented athlete. I have to train and work hard just to have the basic understandings of each discipline but I love it and enjoy every minute. I am happy and look forward to more adventures great and small.
By telling you this some of which still upsets me to think about I hope to inspire you to DO. I want you to believe. I want you to get out there and do what you can’t believe possible. If I can YOU can.
This excerpt was taken from Tamara's team's facebook page at the time.
"I have tried and tried to write a report about completing the Wildside Adventure Racing in October. I just can't get the words I need to explain the whole experience, so, I thought I would use a picture to explain the experience for me. This photo says it all to me. It is me at the finish line. When I look at this photo it shows my exhaustion, it makes me feel the pain I was in BUT when I see this photo it makes me proud of what I achieved, how far I pushed myself. It brings back all the good and not so good memories of the whole race. Thank you to my wonderful family for supporting me. Thank you Rushie for being my teammate. Thank you Lloyd's IGA for supplying our food for the race and to TBSM for the bike mechanics work experience.
will be having my knee reconstructed early next year. With some good rehab, fingers crossed, I will be back racing late next year some time."