Eight years ago Hidden Valley resident Lee Bova was stressed, tired and struggling to keep up with life’s demands.
A mother of four children and a policewoman of 13 years, she couldn’t find the time or energy to look after herself as well.
“I was always stressed getting out of bed looking after the children. I was overweight and drank quite a bit – I also loved sweets,” Ms Bova said.
“I thought to myself one day, there’s got to be a better way to do this.”
Her family had three cattle dogs, who before the children were born, went everywhere with her and her husband.
“Since I had kids, they hung around more so I thought I’m going to get up and walk them every day,” she said.
“I had no idea about what that was going to lead into.”
Since that first walk in 2010, she has lost 15 kilograms, completed an ironman race and last weekend completed a long course involving a four-kilometre swim, 204-kilometre bike ride along the Great Ocean Road and a 50-kilometre trail run.
“My own mind has gotten me there. Our minds are so strong and we don’t really give them a chance to work,” she said.
“It all started from walking that led to running a six-kilometre loop. I couldn’t believe I started running – I would (normally) run away from running!
“When I got injured, my husband suggested I get into bike riding then one day a friend said ‘why don’t you do a triathlon?’. I didn’t even know what a triathlon was.”
In 2018 she qualified for the Ironman World Championships at Kona, Hawaii in October and completed the course.
“You get the highs, the lows – people told me to hang in there and it will pass. I made sure that I got up every single day and trained,” she said.
“My husband has even gotten into fitness now as well. He said I had motivated him.”
Ms Bova hopes her message will empower mothers to also feel strong and powerful.
“It’s amazing what we can do with our own bodies and just for ourselves, not just for being someone’s mother or partner or work colleague,” she said.
“I remember having a panic attack when I first got into the open water of my first triathlon, but I pushed myself and said to not give up.
“I can now see photos of myself and actually feel happy.”