- 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