'I drive past the cemetery just to remind myself how lucky I am'

When it comes to competing in triathlons, double-lung transplant recipient Rod Marshdale doesn't worry about catching his breath.

It's the rest of his body that concerns the 47-year-old.

Rod Marshdale, of Albury, is in Canberra to compete in a triathlon in the national capital on Saturday after receiving a double lung transplant. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

Rod Marshdale, of Albury, is in Canberra to compete in a triathlon in the national capital on Saturday after receiving a double lung transplant. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

"What I'm learning is that my lungs are brilliant, but I'm getting old. I'm always injured,'' he said, with a laugh in his voice.

"My muscles and tendons and sinews are the ones letting me down.''

He'll be hoping everything holds up when he competes in the Canberra Triathlon Festival on Saturday. The event, starting from Rond Terrace, has dropped the swim leg and reverted to a 1km run, 10km ride and 2km run due to high levels of blue-green algae in Lake Burley Griffin.

For Rod, every step is an achievement. Born with cystic fibrosis, he had a double-lung-transplant at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney in January 2015. He did his first triathlon in March last year.

It came after a physical and mental struggle. Rod understands his second chance at life all too well and is forever grateful to his donor, who remained anonymous.

"Sometimes I drive past the cemetery just to remind myself how lucky I am,'' he said.

"When I go over that line [at the end of a triathlon], it's a mixture of feelings. I always think about my donor. Always. Different things cross my mind, but it's mainly a silent fist pump. I've been there and I've done it and it was hard at times. But I didn't give up.''

Based in Albury, Rod is competing in Canberra as he works towards his ultimate goal of competing in an Ironman event in Busselton, Western Australia in December. His journey is being filmed for a documentary by Adam Drummond.

Rod hopes to inspire particularly children and young people with cystic fibrosis, an incurable condition that affects the lungs and digestive system. He is candid about his admissions to mental health units in 2005 and 2009 when he felt his failing body was taking too much of a toll on his family.

"It was such an effort every day and I just couldn't see a way clear of it. I felt like such a burden and I just thought to end my life, in that crazy state, was the answer,'' he said.

"Obviously, it wouldn't have been any good at all, so I went in there [to the mental health unit] and I felt good. I felt free. I didn't have to be strong. And I found a strength within that. So I exercise to get around that, rather than drinking or gambling using marijuana, whatever.''

He still suffers from anxiety and depression but finds physical exertion keeps that at bay.

Rod was recently contacted by St Vincent's telling him it had a received a letter for him from his donor's family. He intends to open it on February 27, in front of Adam's cameras. He feels excited and anxious.

He is unequivocal about the difference to his life as a result of the organ donation.

"Toward the end, I couldn't really walk from the toilet to my room without gasping for air, like a fish out of water almost,'' he said.

"I had a mask on at the end that pushed air in and sucked it out.  But since then, honestly, I've travelled overseas and I'm going back to the [World Transplant Games] in August.

"I can do these events.''