When Mater Intensive Care Unit nurse Jen Nutchey first decided to take on the Noosa Triathlon as part of Team Smiddy in 2014, she didn’t even own a bike.
Or as she jokes, “Well, not one that anyone in Smiddy would consider a bike!”
The novice cyclist had only taken up exercise in 2013, focusing initially on running. A road bike had not been high on her list of priorities.
But once Jen got out on the bike she discovered that riding with the Smiling for Smiddy team brought together two of her passions—testing her limits and helping others.
Not being one to shy away from a challenge, Jen had already mastered a career change in her mid-30s, moving from the business world into nursing.
Now, a new sporting challenge was on the horizon.
“In 2014 I had done a few half marathons, but I was looking for a new challenge,” Jen said.
“A friend of mine had been joking that I should do the Tri with her and, eventually, she stopped joking. So I thought, let’s have a crack!
“I liked the idea of the challenge of it, even though I hadn’t done much cycling at all. And I hadn’t been in the pool for a long time.”
Despite being “a little bit petrified”, Jen successfully ticked off her first Noosa Tri that year but, unbeknown to her, her biggest test on the bike was yet to come.
In the 2015 event, 10 kilometres into the bike leg, she suffered what doctors would later describe as a suspected ovarian cyst rupture.
“I was in excruciating pain,” Jen recalled. “I thought ‘if I vomit, I’ll stop’ but otherwise I’d push through the pain.
“So many times I rode past an ambulance and I thought I’d quit, but being doubled over on the bike actually made it easier!”
Not only did Jen finish the bike leg, she did it in a personal best time and went on to finish the whole triathlon—despite being forced to walk the final run leg.
She said focusing on the suffering of others was what helped her get to the end.
“I had a friend who’d recently had a mastectomy and an uncle who’d had a renal tumour removed.
“And I also see so many people through work who are suffering. At times like that, I reflect on other people’s journeys.
“I tried to think about other people and what they go through—I just had to knuckle down and try and do the same.
“I was choosing my battle.”
This year Jen will be taking on her third Noosa Tri as part of Team Smiddy and, while she still considers riding a challenge at times, she has a strong support network to keep her on track.
Do you want to Join Jen at the 2016 Noosa Tri?