Athlete takes healthy focus on Tinman

By Peter White

When David Littlewood was at his lowest point ever, lying in Tauranga Hospital with life-threatening blood clots lodged in his lungs, he decided it would be a good idea to enter the Tinman Triathlon and the (Port of Tauranga) Half Ironman events.

The power of positive thinking has helped so many people through adversity and in Littlewood's case it proved to be a major spur to his recovery.

"There is no doubt it has been good to have something to aim for once I got sick and that definitely helped me get through,'' said Littlewood.

"The main thing is to set yourself a goal to work towards.

"It can be a long way off. I was sitting in hospital thinking about the half ironman, which I have never done before, and it keeps you going through the hard times.

"Part of it was also that my wife Linzi had recovered from having an operation on a collapsed disc and she was told she would not get through a half ironman but she has gone on to do two of those, a marathon and an ironman.''

Littlewood lined up on Sunday among a record crowd of more than 900 others who took part in the Craigs Investment Partners Tinman Triathlon at Mount Maunganui.

His journey to the start line has not been the conventional way to train for the rigorous Olympic distance of a 1500m swim in the harbour, 40km bike ride towards Papamoa and back from Pilot Bay, and 10km run which includes a lap around the Mount base track.

Littlewood's problems started on February 4 when he ruptured an Achilles tendon playing club cricket.

He followed the usual process of having his leg immobilised in a cast and was told to go back to hospital in two weeks.

But he had not been told there was a chance of complications from his injury that, at the most extreme level, could result in blood clotting, with chest pains the likely early-warning symptom towatch out for.

The chest pains and breathing difficulty arrived a month after he had the cast put on and Littlewood was told by a duty doctor at the hospital that it was probably sore ribs from using crutches.

The next morning he was coughing blood but in his role as a director of Modern Office, he had a presentation to make to Bayleys to provide office and reception furniture for their new building.

Somehow he got through it but immediately after was rushed to hospital and this time extensive blood clots on both lungs were diagnosed.

"I had treatment to thin my blood through injections and warfarin and was in hospital for a week,'' said Littlewood.

"I had my 42nd birthday in there. Doctors told me later on that I actually had only a one in 10 chance of surviving what I had.

There was a case a month ago in the UK of a guy who sprained his ankle badly, had it immobilised, and had exactly the same thing I had and he dropped dead.''

It was six months before Littlewood started running so he has only been training for the past two months.

He says the Triathlon Tauranga club and trainer Brad Dixon have been invaluable.

"I was very unfit so I started from a very low point but training has been going really well.

"I hope to finish in under three hours. My favourite discipline has always been the running but I'm only just getting back into that which has been a bit frustrating.

"I went and did the distances last weekend as part of my training and it went well.''

- Bay of Plenty Times

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