An EPIC Bond

  • Have you ever had a coach that knows you like the back of their hand?
  • Have you ever had a friend get up at 4am to drive over an hour to the airport to surprise you and wish you luck on an event?
  • Have you ever had your sister ask you to pee in a cup to make sure you are not dehydrated?
  • Have you ever had to watch your sisters get a 2 min paddle board lesson 10 min before they have to site you on a 7.2 mile swim.
  • Have you ever had to be escorted across 4 lanes of a major highway in the pitch dark to get off an exit on your bike?

My journey stated 5 months before EPICMAN took place when I asked my sister Heather, Jonesing 4 Fitness, to coach me for what was sure to be the most difficult event to date. Not an easy task with a client like me who will not train more than 2.5 hours on a work day (and that includes drive time) as I get to work at 7:30am. Heather took on the challenge and it was amazing to watch both of us grow over the 5 months as an athlete, coach and sisters.

My family and friends mean a lot to me. They keep me grounded and remind me what is important in life.  My friend Heather Davenport, a little ball of energy and smiles, showed up at the airport to surprise me and wish me luck on my event. Really!? She got up at 4am and drove over an hour to the airport and was not even sure she would find me. I almost cry but I was too happy to see her! And my special friend Marie (midget sister :)) sent me a gift package in HI of all my favorite goodies which included M&Ms!

Being on the beautiful island of O’ahu with my sisters was really special. We enjoyed our time together and had fun preparing for the adventure we were about to take. Everywhere we went people would comment about our smiles and energy. We bring it out in each other.

The crew car was all packed and we all got a good night sleep and were ready to go! The 7.2 mile swim was really fun! I actually enjoyed it and I completely loved watching my sisters on a paddleboard next to me ensuring I was staying on track. They did great with only a 2 min lesson before the event!

The bike was 336 miles of fun, nerves, smiles and camaraderie! The one loop around the island (104 miles) took quite a bit of time with the amount of traffic, stop signs, stop lights, major roads you had to travel on coupled with the wind and some nice climbs. But it is the EPICMAN CHALLENGE so getting blown into a guard rail when climbing up a steep hill is just part of the journey. Carrie and Heather were right there to ensure I took all the right turns and kept me well hydrated and kept me well fed with peanut butter and nutella sandwiches! Then we hit the 1.4 mile out and backs for 230 miles or so. That was fantastic as the crew could get a little sleep (not much!) and it was a safe lit road and the other athletes were so friendly as we went around in circles. Riding through the night was actually neat and every time I circled around the parking lot all the support crew and volunteers were cheering and keeping you alert and smiling.

The run!! My favorite part! Since I took it very easy on the swim and bike I had a lot of energy and excitement going into the run. My legs were not worn at all so it was time to see what saving it all for the run could do. Heather coached me for this. This was the part where Carrie and Heather would take turns going mile for mile with me by my side. We pushed out 21 or so miles at a nice clip and we all took an hour nap and we were back at it. Of the 78.6 miles I walked about 3/4th of a mile which was a hill or two early on in the run and the last lap prior to heading into the finish. I was starting to feel the sleep deprivation and just needed to get some coke and food in me to get me back on track.

The last 7.5 miles is where the “light at the end of the tunnel” adrenaline kicked in. Some caffeine and nutrition and I was good to go. Heather, who had almost 40 miles on her legs already took the lead and just told me to stay on her feet and think about all the woman and young girls I was inspiring. That was exactly what I needed! Heather paced me at sub-9 mile splits for 7.5 miles and that includes a climb up Diamond Head. Heather was in her element and put on her coaches hat and pushed me past what I thought my limits were. I owed it to my sisters to give it all I had! As we approached the last 2 miles Carrie and a new friend Marlene (who lives in the island and FOUND Carrie at a gas station through tracking us on Facebook and jumped in the crew car and directed her to the finish) were running at us and we all ran around the park to the finish line. Holding my sisters hands we crossed the finish knowing that we once again formed an EPIC bond to complete a journey of a lifetime.

This journey would have never happened if it where not for some very special people.

Jason Lester is the man with the vision and a dear friend that offered me the chance to take part in this event. When he first contacted me I told him I could never even train for a race of that magnitude with a full-time job. He believed in me and knew me well enough to know I would bring my family with me and make this another epic adventure for us to share. Thanks you for believing in me, Jason. And thanks for the 534 text messages you sent to my sisters along the way to make sure I was still alive 🙂

Rebecca and Jen were the two amazing woman who provided my sisters and I the support that reminded us why we do events like this. They took us in as family and encouraged  us from start to finish. What can I say, you were our angels that looked over us and you became part of our family over the 3 days and we love you!

Rebecca, Me, Jason and Jen!

Stefan, owner of TriFREAKS,  joined up with Jason to put on the EPICMAN Challenge and he was out there on the bike course with me for many out and backs. Just having that companionship out there at 2am really kept me focused and smiling. AND he wore a skirt to the award ceramony…classic! Yes, even I had a skirt on to hide my 110% Play Harder. Juggler Knickers which were my savior!

Jason, me, Stefan!

Carrie and Heather, what can I say, you are my sisters, my coach, my heart. You believe in me more than I ever could believe in myself. You help me reach my goals and remind me that as a team we can do anything we set our minds to. You inspire me, you make me reach for the stars, you are my angels. I love you with all my heart.

For a little look into what it is like to be a crew take a look at what Carrie and Heather had to say…

What was the experience like for your crew of sisters?

Carrie: “Surreal” is the one word that sums up the total experience. To have someone you love rely on you for her well-being and safety as you lead her through one of the most physically and mentally tough times of her life is a daunting task. We felt elation, frustration, adrenaline rushes, and sleep deprivation. We smiled when she whizzed by on her bike, we yelled at each other when we were unsure of a turn. We felt happy when accepted our peanut butter and honey sandwich and we were terrified leading her across four lanes of a busy highway in the pitch black to an exit. We felt fresh and excited as we maneuvered a paddleboard across the ocean waters so she could site us and we felt utterly wiped out as we paced her at 2 am back and forth on the sidewalks of Honolulu after being up for 30 hours (but who are WE to complain). The one feeling our minds and bodies never let go of was the love we had for one another… three sisters in this together through the good and bad and the ugly. Crewing a race like this is not for the faint of heart. I know I speak for both of us crewmembers when I say that we would not want anyone else to be there for Kellie but her two biggest fans.
Heather: Epicman was amazing, frightening, exhausting, frustrating, and exciting. I am pretty sure I felt every emotion possible in that 48 hours 30 minutes and 50 seconds. When someone asks you to crew for them it is truly an honor because they trust you enough to be their life line.
I have crewed (along with Carrie) for Kellie during Ultraman Canada, but for me this was a very different experience. Unlike Ultraman Canada, we got the opportunity to paddle board next to her as she swam (usually we do not get to “be” with her until the run). So that was a really cool new experience. The bike, oh the bike, my least favorite part. The twists and turns of the roads, plus traffic, and crossing a four lane highway made me a nervous wreck! By the time we hit the run, sleep deprivation was setting in, and we knew sleep was not in our near future. However, before I knew it we were on the last 7 miles and I was pacing her to the finish. The only thing I could think at that moment was “please don’t let me fail her now.” To be honest, it took a few days for the reality of what happened during EPICMAN to set in. Even today I am still a little shocked that together we helped Kellie make athletic history! However, even above that, the most important thing I have learned out there is that the love that Kellie, Carrie and I have for each other runs much deeper than the bonds of sisterhood

14 Responses to “An EPIC Bond”

  1. totsrocks Says:

    You are a TRUE inspiration and xoxo love you! ❤

  2. OH, Kellie!!!! There is much LOVE coming to you from Wisconsin right now! I read your blog post to tom and had to stop about 8 zillion times as I cried tears of JOY for you, your sisters, Jason and his vision, and this race. Just like Heather told you, keep going for all those you are inspiring!!! I am so elated that your beautiful, loving, committed sisters got to experience this EPIC journey with you as well. You 3 are some of the most amazing souls I’ve ever met! So proud of you girl! Of you ALL! I send my biggest hug full of love, joy, and pure happiness for you! xoxo Perfect “Icing on the Cake”!

  3. PS This TRULY is an EPIC Bond. What an incredible journey for you sisters!!!!

  4. Soooooooo… what’s next?
    I said I needed 2 years off but I changed my mind 🙂

  5. Will I ever stop crying? While we were able to get sleep every waking hour was spent on pins and needles reading Facebook and Twitter. It was joyful! When I saw on Twitter that you had won I was only able to say “she” before my voice cracked and I could not speak for a moment. I am so proud of you all and have taken every opportunity to brag each time you embark on another adventure. I would say big and small but it really is big, and bigger and bigger isn’t it? You are an inspiration to many, many people. What a gift! Love and huge hugs, Stepmonster

  6. Terry Jones Says:

    Damn it, you girls have got to stop making your old man cry!!

  7. You are amazing and truly inspiring. I so enjoyed tracking you during this event. Whenever I think i can’t, I’m going to think of you doing this amazing event!

  8. I never had a doubt 🙂 crying again after reading this as I was when we caught word of how well you were doing along the way. you all inspire so many and not just for making history for women in sport, but for doing it with such great love, care, centeredness and focus on the importance of the bonds of family and friendship. you 3 are an amazing team, one that I am so very proud to know. I’m so glad you keep making your dad cry, I can’t even begin to imagine how proud he is of his girls because I can’t imagine anyone being more proud of you 3 than I am!!!
    you did it girl. you absolutely crushed it. thanks for inspiring as again with your superheroic feats 🙂

  9. You all are such a tremendous inspiration! I am in awe of you all! I am looking forward to my ultra journey this year and am happy to have Heather coaching me through it. Kellie, I can’t wait to see you in person and give you a big hug! And maybe some of your amazing energy (and speed) will rub off!

  10. Inspiring to the point I want to buy a running skirt and wear a “Girl Power” shirt in my next race. But that would be weird…

    Incredible journey…and you do have THE BEST coach & crew in the biz!

  11. You are a huge inspiration to this little boy too! Congratulations on an amazing feat of mental and physical strength!

  12. It has taken me a while to respond because I finally just stopped crying! It has been just over 3 weeks since EpicMan, and quite honestly it still doesn’t seem real, and I’m not sure if it ever will.

    It’s funny because when Kellie asked me to coach her I said “no, you need a different coach.” We went back and forth a bit and right as she was about to hang up she said “the check is in the mail, you’re coaching me.” And so our new journey began…

  13. Belated Letter to Kellie Smirnoff:

    March 26, 2012.

    It appears that on december 31, 2011, the world was populated with about 3,456,800,000 women (out of a world population of almost 7 billion people).

    On that same day, it is to be said that, in the world history of mankind, 1 out of these 3,456,800,000 women has accomplished something no other woman ever had attempted to do before: swim 7.2 miles, bike 336 miles and run 78.6 miles continuously in 48.5 hours with a little more than a hour of sleep. 1 out of almost 3.5 billion women and it is you, Kellie Smirnoff, that has accomplish this adventure with the best support team you can dream of … the Jones sisters.

    This is not just a physical accomplishment where one prepare itself for 6 months and just do it, it is also an unbelievable act of determination, courage, mindfulness, positive spirit, mental strength and ……. smiles to no end!!! It is the cumulation of hard work over the past few years to get to this ‘natural progression’ as you mentioned it in your blog. This didn’t come with luck but with your amazing soul, sweat, dedication, hours of training and your constant search to reach the limits and then … of course … keep on climbing once you get there. You are an incredible woman and everyone of us who has the chance to know you admire the woman strength, capacity, endurance and beauty you have shown the world. Benjamin Zander once said:

    ”It’s one of the characteristics of a leader that he not doubt for one moment the capacity of the people he’s leading to realize whatever he’s dreaming.” (Benjamin Zander)

    You are a true leader to so many of us and especially to women, young women and girls. THANK YOU for your leadership, your smiling spirit and your endless achievements to make the world a better planet. I applaud you and your dreams and hope that the 6,999,999,998 other people on the planet will applaud you as well.

    This was certainly your biggest icing on cake to date! Besides teaching us about icing on the cake, you have also taught us that they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. What matters is the icing! One of the best icing I was able to experience so far, thanks to you and your sisters inspirations (Y), was a 1 mile run on February 16, 2012 with my 8 year old son the ‘Mighty’ Quinn. It was his first run ever and our first run together for fighting breast cancer. This icing has definitely a special meaning.

    It is hard for oneself to grasp these incredible distances you have covered during those 48.5 hrs and the challenges it may represent for our ordinary lives, yet you have shown us that when you set your mind to it, regardless if you have regular life or not, you can do amazing things. You have just done that!

    Kellie Smirnoff, your amazing performance should be known and spread around the world. December 31st should be officially declared as ‘Kellie’s smiling day’ !!!

    Thank you for what you do.

    Your friend,


  14. Shannon Meyer Says:

    I love you Jones girls! How beautiful are you in this picture? Proud to be your friend!

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