Race Report: Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI 2017

Race Report: Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI 2017I was just going through my 2017 posts to put together my annual “top posts” post and I realized I never posted my race report from the biggest race of my life! WHAT??? I must have gotten distracted with the 900 changes that were going on in my life when I returned from Hawaii at the end of October.

I just wanted to send an extra shout out to my bf, Matt, who miraculously got me a hotel room near the race start the night before and after the race to make my life easier, my gf, Ashley, who turned her Hawaiian vaca into helping me have a successful pre-race week.

All the insanely generous peeps who contributed to my www.gofundme.com/kirtokona campaign, and everyone who took time out of their own busy lives to track me, text me, send me good vibes, and share their love and support with me through social media.

Anyhoo…here it is…

Without the never-ending love and support I get from those around me, I would have never had the amazing race and experience I did in Kona.

I am forever grateful!

Thanks for being part of my life!

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See you soon!

My Friends ROCK! – Sending Kir To Kona

My Friends ROCK! Send Kir to Kona!!!A little over a month ago I qualified for the Ironman World Championships which take place in Kona, Hawaii on October 14th.

Although I had been training hard and had a 2 year goal to qualify, I went through several life changes in the 4 months leading up to the race, which resulted in me having to use all the money I had been saving toward my trip the past 2 years in hopes and preparation of qualifying, on other life expenses.

All went well on race day and I qualified!! I was ecstatic and grateful that all my hard work had paid off. The race was Sunday and if you want to secure your spot in Kona, you have to pay for the race Monday morning.

The entry fee alone was $999. I had $1,000 left in my savings. PERFECT! Entry was paid for and I had 4 months to figure out how I was going to pay for my trip.

My amazing friend, Tara, had the idea of a “go fund me” campaign which I reluctantly said I would consider with no intention of actually considering “begging” my friends and family for money to help me reach my goals. That seemed very self-indulgent to me.

But reality set in and honestly I didn’t know how I was going to save up an additional $5,000 over the next 4 months when I didn’t even know where I was going to be living 2 weeks after the qualifying race in Boulder.

So I gave in and thought “what the heck, I’ll see what happens”.

Tara wrote a heartfelt summary of my time leading up to the race from her perspective, and I posted it to my social media. What came next brought me to tears.

Within a day I had received about $1,500 of my $5,000 goal. People wrote me notes like “you have helped me so much, I’m happy to return the favor” and “go for your dreams”. And many of these were people I didn’t even know! This blew my mind. I couldn’t figure out why all these people would help me!

So I thought back to all the times I have helped people I did or didn’t know without any expectation of getting anything in return. It reminded me how amazing people are and how we all just want to feel connected to those around us. That our community is strong. That at the core of our being, we want to see each other thrive. That helping those who need our help is fulfilling. And that karma is beautiful and the more we live to serve others, the more others live to serve us.

And it’s such an upward spiral of positivity. The more donations I got from my peeps, the more I wanted to give. And the more I give, the more others want to give. Pretty soon we are all giving and receiving and loving and connecting and all is well in our world.

Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to my dream! What you have done has not been taken lightly at all! I have a plan to make a banner before I leave to Kona on October 5th and put every single name of every person who has made my race possible, and take it with me to remind me I am loved. To remind me I am doing the race for all of you who believe in me. To remind me that what I do every single day in my life makes a difference. And to remind me that we are all just walking each other home.

I love you!

Thank you!

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Race Report: 2017 Ironman Boulder

Race Report - 2017 Ironman BoulderSo two days after I raced Ironman Boulder, I sat down to do my race report. In my head I was just going to give some details about my race, with extra on race day nutrition (because that’s what I was getting the most questions about from my clients, friends, and fellow tri-geeks).

As I started my video, I realized there was so much more to this race than just a swim, bike, and run for me. This was a really important race for my self-worth and confidence and confirmation that I am on the right path in my life.

After 4 months of transition, traveling, life changes, doubts, fears, and constant inner struggles, it all came together on this one long day.

After I finished my report I noticed it was 32 minutes! HOLY CRACKERS! That’s a fricken long ass race report! I was convinced no one would waste 32 minutes of their life to find out what happened in the 10 hours and 55 minutes I spent racing my heart out on June 11, 2017.

I was wrong.

I have received so much love and support about my long race report where I chose to be brave and vulnerable and transparent. When I started to tear up the first time, I was so tempted to turn off the camera and start over, but decided to just feel whatever I was feeling. By the third time, I just let the tears roll down my cheeks.

I am so grateful to have attracted such amazing people into my life! Yes YOU!!! You get me excited for my next adventure in hopes that it will help you get excited about yours!!

If you missed my race report, here it is…

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Thanks again for giving me a safe space to be me!

I LOVE YOU!!

See you soon!

What I Am Adding To My Ironman Training For 2017

What I Am Adding To My Ironman Training For 2017… As an athlete who is getting faster as I get older and getting better every year, I get a lot of questions about what I am doing differently as I age up.As an athlete who is getting faster as I get older and getting better every year, I get a lot of questions about what I am doing differently as I age up.

Here are the 4 things I have added to my ironman training this year.

My first race is April 1st, so I will let you know how it worked out, but from how I am feeling so far and the small tests I have given myself over the past 3 months, I know all 4 of these are benefitting my training, racing, health, fitness, and life as a whole.

YOGA

I have literally been “trying” to add a regular yoga practice into my life and into my training for the past 10 years, with no success. It’s always the first thing to go when I get busy. It’s slow, I get bored, or I just forget to do it even when it’s scheduled in!

In July last year, one of the companies I am a rep for, Beachbody, put out a super easy to follow yoga program that streams online on any device anywhere (http://www.foodfitnessfinancefun.com/AABOD)!

Plus, there are workouts from 10-30 minutes to choose from so even when I only have 10 minutes, I can still do something! I toyed with it on and off last year to start the habit so that this year I could turn it into a regular practice. Some weeks, of course, are better than others, but for the most part I have been doing yoga 3x/week typically for 15 minutes each. Sometimes a little longer, sometimes a little shorter, but always at least 10 minutes.

MEDITATION

If you have read any of my other posts, you know I have also struggled with a regular meditation practice since I was a kid. I do believe it’s a good idea and will help me in ALL areas of my life, but as with yoga, when I am busy, it’s the first thing to go!

At the beginning of this year, I uploaded the HEADSPACE app which is guided meditations. I did like this and it started me in the right direction in forming a habit. However, once I started working in the mornings, my morning mediation habit left the building. I have been working on some other ways of meditation that are starting to stick a little better, ways that work better with my lifestyle and my crazy brain. As of now I am doing some sort of mediation pretty much daily. So I will keep doing what is working for me. I definitely recommend trying LOTS of different meditations to see what fits into your world and your head.

STEPMILL

Ahhh the stepmill! The thing that looks like you are walking up an escalator, and feels even harder! I decided to make this a regular part of my training when I decided to do the St. George 70.3 race again this year. The bike is super hilly and the run is super hilly. Since the race is early May, I won’t be on a lot of hills outside before then, so I thought this is the next best thing.

I started in January with 15 minutes once a week. 15 minutes on that thing is HARD! Each week I added 15 minutes until I got to 2 hours. Then I stayed there, let’s not get too crazy! So once a week I do 2 hours on the stepmill. By the end my calves, quads, and glutes are trashed, so I know it’s working. The St. George race is May 6th. I’ll let you know how it goes!

ROWING MACHINE

What? How come no one ever told me how awesome the rowing machine was? I thought it was just some old school piece of equipment leftover from the 80s infomercials! I don’t even remember WHY I decided to get on it one day. I think I wanted to strengthen my upper body for swimming without actually doing any strength training. #lazyathlete

So I got on for 5 minutes and LOVED it! Not only did I feel like it strengthened my shoulders and back, it helped my posture, stretched my chest, worked my forearms, strengthened my glutes, stretched my calves, and helped the flexibility of my knees. I decided I would add it in 3x/week. I started with 5 minutes, added a minute each week until I got to 15 minutes and decided to stop there for time reasons. So I have been doing it 15 minutes 3x/week every single week.

I am excited to see how these 4 new additions to my training help me in my racing season this year. I age up to the 45-49 age group in triathlon so anything I can use to keep my body recovering quickly, my joints and muscles pliable and flexible, and my mind excited to keep training and racing will help me physically and mentally.

I would love to hear your favorite workouts and what you are adding ad taking out of your training as you get older and wiser!

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Race Report: 2016 Ironman Boulder

Race Report: 2016 Ironman BoulderAt the beginning of this year, I decided I wanted to try to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona again. Currently I am in the 40-44 age group which in most races, the winners come in around 10 hours. At the time, my PR was 12 hours.

I knew it wasn’t realistic for me to take off 2 hours in one year after 15 years of hard and smart training, but looking at the winning times for the next age group 45-49 (where I will be next year), which are around 11 hours, I started to get my hopes up.

So I decided on a long term goal, a 2 year plan, to qualify for Kona.

This year my goal was to do the Boulder Ironman, take 30 minutes off my PR to get around 11:30, make top 10 in age group, and learn from the course how to train better next year.

Then next year, do the Boulder Ironman again, take off another 30 minutes to get 11:00, make top 3 and get a slot to Kona!

This year I blew my expectations out of the water. I ended up with a time of 10:56 and a 5th place age group finish. I know what I need to do next year in training to get even faster, which I will need to do as this year only the top 2 (not 3) earned a spot to the World Championships.

This is how my 2016 race in Boulder went down…

 

For 2017 I want to take another 10 minutes off my bike and 5 minutes off my run. I’m putting it out there now so the Universe can work on it for the next 10 months until the race on June 11th .

Thanks so much for being a part of my amazing life’s journey! I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have the best friends and family EVER!!!

See you soon!

How I PRd My Ironman Marathon

How I PRd My Ironman MarathonFrom what I have seen, read, heard, and experienced, the Ironman marathon is one of the toughest parts of the race.

Even for runners, experienced triathletes, and those who have completed their training “perfectly”, too many factors come into play after 5-10 ½ hours of swimming and biking.

Whether it’s fatigued legs, tired heart, overworked brain, or lack of digesting the calories, electrolytes, and nutrients you are feeding yourself, I have seen the best endurance triathletes in the world reduced to a walk (or something resembling a walk, shuffle, wog, drag) by the end of the marathon.

I completed my first Ironman distance tri in August 2001 and immediately signed up for another then another then another. I added in some shorter distance tris and runs for training, but always focused on the long distance.

I typically finished in the 30%-ish of my age group but I was determined to get faster and train more and maybe on the off chance when the planets were aligned with the sun on the 1st Wednesday after the full moon I could MAYBE qualify for the “elusive” Kona World Championships.

But I kept training and getting similar results. I was really hard on myself telling myself I needed to eat less, train more, blah blah blah. I continued to disappoint myself so in 2008 I decided to take a year off to get my HEAD in the right spot. A year turned into two. And in 2010 I was ready to come back.

It was a harder process of getting in shape because I had gained 20 pounds and no longer taught regular fitness classes. I struggled through an early season ironman distance race and then started to focus on my nutrition and recovery more. By the end of that year I had one of my “easiest” races ever!

But even in my easiest race, the marathon at the end of the ironman distance was always pretty ugly.

Even after I had done hundreds of 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon races, I still couldn’t nail it! I typically had bad GI distress coupled with achy joints and tired muscles. If I was going to improve on my run, I would HAVE to make some changes.

The reason I just shared a bit of my background with you is so you can understand that I am an average runner and athlete. I am not a natural cyclist or runner and it’s taken me years to learn about my body and fine tune my training so that I get the best result I can get.

I have read my share of tri stories and training programs and bios and although they are SUPER inspiring, there aren’t many that have helped me in a practical way. They are either written by amazing athletes or people who have had tragic accidents or illnesses and have overcome and conquered.

My story has neither…I am a boring, average girl wanting to continue to set PRs and possibly hit some good luck at a super cold, hilly, high altitude race where such a high percentage of people didn’t finish that I could finally grab that Kona slot!

So I want you to know that you don’t need to be a naturally gifted runner, you don’t need to have a compelling “why”, and you don’t need to do anything super crazy to feel great during the marathon portion of an ironman distance triathlon. I made 5 simple changes to my training that I want to share with you.

In my 10th Iron distance triathlon over a span of 13 years, I finally had an awesome marathon. I attribute it to these 5 things…

1. I ran more overall, total mileage, frequency, and distance

2. I cleaned up my eating

3. I was on my bike more, mostly on my trainer

4. I swam longer sets with more drills, fins, recovery

5. I visualized my race every single night before bed

Now I know you may be looking at these 5 “secrets” to my success and be thinking “DUH” but there are a lot of reasons we don’t do any or all of these, and I hadn’t for 9 other races, so I couldn’t be the ONLY one.

The reasons I hadn’t done all 5 of these before is…

1. I was addicted to junk food

2. I worked long hours

3. I was too tired off the bike to run

4. I wasn’t motivated to get on the bike

5. I was always sore/fatigued

6. I had reoccurring overuse injuries when I added more running

7. I didn’t have the energy for long workouts

8. I thought I had to do my long workouts back to back

9. I was following a strict training program that didn’t allow me to listen to my body

10. I wasn’t in a place in my life to take the time to allow my mind to focus on me

Train Smarter for Better Results: How To PR Your Iron Distance MarathonGet the book! Train Smarter for Better Results: How To PR Your Iron Distance Marathon

In 2013 when I PRd the marathon, I had FINALLY found a way to get around all 10 of these obstacles and I share them in my book “Train Smarter for Better Results” which you can get here (www.KirstenMcCay.com) for only $2.99.

I hope this gives you hope that you too can conquer the 26.2 mile run after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112.

HAVE FUN!! And see you next week!!

Why I Have to do Another Ironman

Why I Have To Do Another IronmanI said I would take a break from triathlon after the Ironman World Championships in Kona…and I will…but I know AT SOME POINT I will HAVE to do another Ironman. WHY? Because I feel like I failed at my last race. Not because of my time or my age group place…I wasn’t expecting to place high at the World Championships, I was TRULY grateful just to have qualified and am proud of myself and understand that just being there was an honor and a great accomplishment.

Here is where the problem lies…

I let the race beat me mentally. I had a much harder bike leg than I anticipated and by the time I got 10 miles into the run, I had talked myself into walking most of the remainder of the race, convincing myself that running wouldn’t really make a difference since I knew I would finish well under the time cut off even with walking the entire 2nd half of the run.

And it worked, I finished in just over 14 hours (cut off is 17 hours), and was happy I finished since it was a long, hard day. I was proud of myself for being there, but I did NOT give it all I had. I cannot honestly say I gave it everything, that I did all I could do that day, that I left it all out on the course…and 3 weeks after the race, that isn’t sitting well with me at all.

I am a big proponent of the Four Agreements. The fourth is “Always Do Your Best”. And I do in most areas of my life on most days. So when things don’t turn out exactly the way I want them to, I am fine with it because I did the best I could at that given moment.

But on Saturday, October 11th, I did NOT do my best, I did not give it everything I had, and I want to. I want to make it up to the sport, to pay respect to the race, and to KNOW in my heart and soul that I gave all I could in that situation on that day.

I know some of my besties will tell me I am being too hard on myself, but I also know that my tri geek peeps will totally get where I am coming from. I appreciate and need both groups of people in my life.

I am grateful for those who challenge my type A, 3 on the enneagram, perfectionist tendencies so I know that what I do and how I perform don’t make up WHO I am and are the only basis’ for how much love I deserve and receive.

On the other hand, I am also thankful for those in my life that make me feel like I’m not the crazy, OCD, addict and can get behind my decisions and fire me up when I need a little extra energy to move toward my goals and dreams.

I have for sure learned a lot about myself from this race and this experience and will take it all so that next time I can finish knowing I gave it ALL!

If you haven’t watched my race report, here it is…

Thanks again for being in my life!

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I Will Never Do That Again…

For those of you interested in hearing about how the day I have been dreaming of for the past 13 years ended up…

The Kona Ironman - I will Never Do That Again!