IRONMAN TRIATHLON: Buddina's Carrie Lester admits she is unlikely to tackle the prestigious Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Hawaii despite winning the Australian qualifying event at Cairns last Sunday.
The 31-year-old has quit her job and pitched all of her efforts into the gruelling endurance sport, but is unwilling to commit to its marquee race until she is fully prepared.
"I raced at Hawaii back in 2010, but that time I wasn't in a very good place physically and mentally," she said.
"I really do want to have another crack at Hawaii ... but when I'm ready. At the moment, I'm really happy just training and racing and getting experience.
"It's all still a learning curve for me and I'm excited to learn more about how to compete in these types of races."
After some success on the ITU World Triathlon circuit, Lester burst on to the ironman scene when she won her debut event in 2010 - the Australian Ironman at Port Macquarie.
She has competed in six ironman events but has recently adopted a more professional approach to the sport.
"Over the last five months I've been training newly under Brett Sutton and that in itself has given me a whole different perspective on training and racing," she said.
"I've given up work and now I'm training and racing professionally.
"This is my job now and I need to be as professional as I have to be to be the best I can. That attitude comes down to training, racing, recovery - everything I do."
Lester believes she is mentally tougher than ever.
"I am starting to see improvements across the board, especially ... how I've been able to control myself through a race.
"We all have our ups and downs in ironman, but it's how you deal with that which gives you the result on the day.
"I've got a much stronger head on me than I ever have - that's where the big difference is.
"When I started racing ironman in 2010, I really didn't know how to race at all. It was swim, then bike hard and then run for as long as you can until you blow up.
"For me that was always about the 25km mark.
"I'm going into races now with a strategy and I am controlling myself through the whole race."
Her patience paid dividends last Sunday when she refused to panic despite her rivals pushing the pace during the180km cycle leg.
"The other girls were going harder on the bike, but I had a plan and I was trying to stick to it," she said.
"When you see girls riding that much quicker you do have those thoughts, 'what do I do - do I dump my plan?'
"But I made a decision not to do that. I was backing my run and that's where I made up time."
Rebekah Keat led in the run until the 6km mark, where she had to withdraw after tearing a calf muscle.
Belinda Harper found herself in the lead but she was run down by Lester with about 4km to go.
Lester will leave for Europe next week to train for three months.