This year, Steph Corker raced and completed IRONMAN Hawaii in under eleven hours. This sounds impressive, certainly; after all, this is Kona, the notoriously grueling race filled with sweltering temperatures and punishing headwinds. What makes this feat truly incredible is what it took for Steph to achieve this goal.
Five years before this, in 2007, Steph ran her first 10 kilometer race. Fast forward five years later and Steph has now finished a race consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.8 km) swim, a 112-mile (180 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile (42.2 km) run.
Here’s how it all went down.
After catching the adrenaline bug, Steph began running and riding her bike more and more frequently, in addition to swimming laps at her pool (she grew up swimming competitively in her hometown of Aurora, Ontario). In 2009 she set a BHAG for herself (big, hairy and audacious goal): finish an IRONMAN. She achieved this goal and continued to train for fun and various run and bike races, with the intent that by 2020 she would conquer IRONMAN Hawaii.
In 2011, Steph picked up Rachel Ross, an ambassador from our Ala Moana store who was going to race IRONMAN Canada; Rachel was attempting to qualify for Kona one last time at the Okanagan race – and in order to qualify, she needed to finish in the top three. A big believer in supporting others in their quest to make goals happen, Steph drove her to the race and cheered her on that day - lo and behold, Rachel won ensuring her spot in Hawaii.
On the drive back home to Vancouver, Steph realized that after watching Rachel go after her dream she also wanted to race IRONMAN Hawaii – and sooner than 2020 (after failing to qualify in 2010 at a shorter distance race, Steph had hung up her runners). However, seeing this ambassador fly to a different country just to qualify reinvigorated her desire to make it to Kona.
Steph came home and examined her life. What did she need to change to make her goal?
The first thing was time management. She got groceries delivered to her house, had her bike set up on a trainer in her living room and got a cleaning service once a month at her apartment. She relied on acupuncture and massage therapy to keep her body feeling strong and consistently ate clean food for fuel. She got up at 5:00am five days a week and stayed in on nights when her girlfriends were going out to try new restaurants and catch movies.
Finally the moment arrived: the race Steph had selected to be her qualifier for IRONMAN Hawaii. She felt good and ready, a long winter of sacrifice and hard work under her belt. With the scent of aloha in her mind, she took off. As luck should have it on that day, she finished just short in the nemesis position of 4th.
the second attempt
Dejected at missing the chance to qualify again, Steph began to question if 2012 was her year. However, some strange energy in the universe kept her IRONMAN dreams alive. A sponsor (yeah you, Newton Running!) stepped up to secure her a spot eight weeks later at IRONMAN Canada. The only caveat? It was taking place in only eight weeks - not a lot of time for recovery. Luckily, she had a crew of rad friends and family who knew she had what it took to try one more time. Steph remembered when Rachel tried (and made it) in the 2011 IRONMAN Canada race. Instead of thinking of all the reasons why it wasn’t possible (like the fact she had only eight weeks between races!), Steph signed up and headed to the Okanagan on August 26th. With her crew of ever-supportive peeps cheering her on, Steph had her fastest race ever and qualified for IRONMAN Hawaii.
Steph had just finished her second IRONMAN in eight weeks – and now she had another race only a month away. She was excited and also nervous – the amount of time (or lack thereof it) was daunting. Nevertheless, instead of focusing on all the reasons why it wasn’t going to work, Steph kept her mind on her routine. She headed to Hawaii a week early to prepare for her big day – and guess what? Her crew of loyal supporters all came too!
On October 13th, 2012, Steph finally got her chance at her dream: IRONMAN Hawaii. She took a deep breath, filled with the smell of flowers and salt water and knew this was her day.
sweet, sweet victory
Steph took off and gave the race everything she had. Despite having raced only a month before, she was able to find what it took to have the race of her life. Despite blisters that formed on the bike, she turned in her fastest marathon time ever and a IRONMAN personal best. Every step was a choice and she remembered that when times got tough in the lava fields.
10 hours, 54 minutes and 37 seconds.
Five years before, Steph hadn’t run more than 10 kilometres. Now she had completed Kona in less than 11 hours, not only beating her wildest dream time but also the sun setting into the Pacific. Her moment of aloha had come.
key takeaways from steph’s journey
1. have a support system that ROCKS.
As incredible as Steph’s drive is, a critical ingredient to her success was her amazing crew of friends and family. This tribe cheered her on, encouraged her when things were tough, believed in her when things seemed impossible…heck, they flew half way around the world just to see her sweat!
2. everything is a choice.
There were lots of reasons why this goal might have seemed impossible. Logistics, blisters, time commitment, money (news flash...triathlon bikes are more expensive than some cars)….all of these things could have stopped Steph, but she realized that it was all a choice. While there were some tough conversations, sacrifices and tight timelines, she made it happen.
3. when you want something bad enough, failure isn’t scary anymore.
Steph wanted this goal so friggin’ badly that it no longer became terrifying to go after it. The fear of never having the experience was far greater than the pain at mile 22.
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