I guess I could have just bought a plane ticket and traveled to the 50th state at any time during my adult life, but that’s not how I wanted to get over there. I wanted to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI that goes on every year in October.
Let me back up a few years. Here is a brief recap of my life as a triathlete…
- 1999: Did my first sprint distance triathlon and was hooked
- 2001: Did my first ironman distance triathlon and was hooked
- 2001: Watched the airing of the Ironman World Championships on TV and wanted to BE there
- 2002: First year I trained with the ambition to earn a qualifying slot (typically top 2-3 in each age group for women)
- 2002: Placed 22nd in qualifying race
- 2003: Placed 28th in qualifying race
- 2004: Placed 45th in qualifying race
- 2005: Placed 22nd and 28th in qualifying races
- 2006: Placed 29th in qualifying race
- 2007-2009: Took a break from racing altogether
- 2010: Placed 38th in qualifying race
- 2011: Placed 31st in qualifying race
- 2012: Broke collar bone and had to forfeit qualifying race ☹
2013: Placed 3rd in qualifying race and EARNED A SLOT IN HAWAII!!!
So as you can see, it took me 12 years to earn my slot into the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI. And what an AMAZING road it was! I’m not by nature a patient person, but it makes sense to me why it took so long.
I am naturally an average athlete. I am very active, love competing, have been in sports since I was about 6 years old, am obsessed with nutrition and exercise, and was a full time personal trainer and fitness instructor for 15 years of my adult life, but by no means did I have “natural” ability. If I did, I would have qualified at my first qualifying race like my BFF Wendy did when she was 19 and had no clue what she was doing!!
There is a NY Times best-selling book called OUTLIERS: THE STORY OF SUCCESS by Malcolm Gladwell. Throughout the book, Gladwell repeatedly mentions the “10,000-Hour Rule”, claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours.
I subscribe to this theory and have seen it work in my own life in my relationships, businesses, personal growth, and of course, athletics. I train “in season” an average of 25 hours a week, “off season” an average of 15 hours a week. This averages out to about 1,000 hours a year. This means I would hit my 10,000 hours in about 10 years. Since I took a couple years off in the middle, it makes sense it would take me a bit longer.
So 12 years after I set in motion my dream of earning a Kona qualifying slot, I finally made it. I talk in detail in my book TRAIN SMARTER FOR BETTER RESULTS (www.KirstenMcCay.com) if you want to know HOW I did it and what I learned over the years, but it really boils down to the “10,000-Hour Rule”.
So whatever you want in life, KNOW what you want, WORK toward what it is, and be PATIENT as it takes time to become a master at anything. My favorite part is that I have control over the time and energy I put into something. So although it may take me 10,000 hours to be great, I get to decide if 10,000 hours happens in 5 years or 30 years. Like I said…patience isn’t my strength.
If you want to follow my entire “Road to Kona”, check out my videos at www.YouTube.com/FitnessDivaKir