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Kona Inspired: Kelly Miyahara

Kona Inspired: Kelly Miyahara

A few weeks ago, you all got to know my friend Amy, who is in the contest for Kona Inspired to race Ironman Kona in October. Today you get to know my other good friend Kelly Miyahara. I’m sure you’ve seen her video that I’ve been promoting this past month. If you haven’t, please check it out (and vote)!

Kelly is one of my closest friends and I’m honored to be her teammate 2 years in a row, first of which she was doing Vineman 70.3, then just last year we both raced Ironman Canada. You see, she’ll never admit this to your face, but she’s a celebrity. A very humble, super friendly, funny, thoughtful one. I didn’t even know she was part of the Clue Crew of Jeopardy until 9 months had past! We’ve shared many memories, all of which have bonded us so close that I consider her one of my best friends and I would take a bullet for her. Of the many happy memories, we also shared a very sad one. One of our other close friends, Mari, passed away from a terrible bike accident on PCH last October. As tragic as it was, we all try to look for the meaning of it all, the brighter side, and Mari has always inspired us to go “all in.” So that’s what Kelly is doing. She is going all in by trying to get a spot in Ironman Kona by submitting a video and racing in Mari’s honor and memory. So please, also get to know her a little more by reading my little interview of her:

How did you get started with triathlons?
I friend recruited me to join TEAM in Training’s L.A. Triathlon Team in February 2010. I figured since it was for a great cause (benefitting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society), I couldn’t refuse! Shopping for gear was daunting and expensive, as there is a lot of gear necessary for triathlon, but I assure you, it was worth every penny! From successfully getting a swim cap on for the first time, to relearning to ride a bike with clips, every step meant a new adventure. Being part of a wonderful cause and meeting some of the best people on the planet changed my life forever. I also discovered my knee was capable of so much more than what doctors told me I couldn’t do anymore. So, this was just the beginning.

Since then, I have completed 3 seasons with TEAM in Training. I have raised over $30,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and have finished more than a dozen races. Best of all, I am now an Ironman with the most incredible group of lifelong friends/teammates.

Do you have a name for your bike? Is there a meaning behind it?
My bike’s name is Estella. Why Estella? Well, I love the show, “Modern Family” and I think Sofia Vergara is not only gorgeous, but hilarious. I adore the French bulldog on the show, and Gloria calls her “Estella”. The dog’s name is actually, “Stella,” but because of her accent it comes out “Estella.” I thought it was a cute name, and it makes me giggle.

I got Estella in February of 2012. She is the “upgrade” I promised myself after committing to train from my first Ironman. Estella is a white & grey Trek Madone, with pastel pink accents. While most women may be thrilled with the feminine touch, I was hoping for a something like a matte black bike with lime green or cobalt blue embellishments. However, much like in life, I don’t judge based on one’s color, so I accept Estella as she is, and love her all the same. =)

Have you ever gone through a mental slump in training? If so, how did you overcome it?
Thankfully, I am pretty tough mentally. Sound funny, but I thank my injuries for that. I grew up playing sports, but along with sports, came injuries. I’ve recovered a broken arm and 3 knee surgeries in my days of soccer and softball. Since I started triathlons, I have also added a crushed vertebra, herniated disc, spinal slip & dislocated shoulder to rehab from.

It’s always soul crushing to be side lined, however I have learned to focus on being patient and not rushing a solid come back. It is often frustrating, and can be hard to stay positive at times, but while training for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, it was easy to remind myself of those I train for. No sports injury could compare to the challenges so many cancer warriors face while battling the disease. It’s all about perspective, positive energy and determination. Whenever a training day gets really tough, I just remind myself to be thankful that I am healthy enough to train at all. It works like a charm! Set your goals high, allow yourself to be motivated by something bigger than yourself, and dedicate yourself to being inspired. The slump will be merely a bump to move past.

What’s your favorite thing to do in transition before a big race?
I don’t really have any real rituals. …although, I’m always eternally grateful if I can “go to the bathroom” when I wake up before heading to a race. Sorry, is that T.M.I.? After getting all set up, I find myself triple checking that I didn’t forget anything. In addition to getting a mini jog in, or a lil’ jump up & down session, I try to just spend my time talking to teammates, chalking a transition area with fun pictures or inspiring words, and just reflecting on the fact that all the hard work pays off now! Race day is the after-party, so I just remind myself to enjoy every moment and have fun!

You’ve had more than a year of experience training for triathlons, especially for an Ironman. I also know you have busy lives outside of training. How do you balance all of that?
It’s all about balance and dedication. Ironman training is demanding, in terms of time and physical energy. The world goes on whether training or not, so I try not to let it consume my life entirely. I travel a lot for work, so I’m often doing advance research to discover nearby gym, pool or running path options.

I have learned to be flexible and to make the best of any situation, no matter where I may be. I have swam in circles in a tiny motel splash pool in Arkansas while trying to avoid disturbing the kids playing “Marco Polo.” I’ve hooked up resistance bands to a small ship deck while traveling along the Mekong River because swimming in the river behind the boat was not an option. I have run 9 miles while circling a parking lot because I was the team’s “stay back” to watch over the bikes, but needed to get a run in.

Again, it’s all about time management, dedication, and utilizing the resources you’ve got. Having a good attitude and being willing to make the best of it all, helps too! I guarantee creativity will keep training interesting and your devotion will make it most fulfilling!

What advice would you give a newbie who is interested in starting to train for a triathlon for the first time?
I could go on and on here, but I’ll stick to the basics. If you want to do an Ironman, know what you are signing up for and then commit to it! For your first one, definitely join a team to train with if you can. Having a support network of people who understand what you are doing (because most people, will just think you’re nuts) is really awesome. Long training days are a million times better when you’re not out there alone, not to mention, safer, in case you have a rough day.

Training hard and being devoted isn’t always easy. If it was, everyone would do it! If you are true to yourself and your training, you will be rewarded with an awesome race day! When I say “awesome,” I don’t necessarily mean in terms of time. I simply mean that you will be able to have big dumb grin on your face for all 140.6 miles while truly enjoying the experience, like I did. J The Ironman race is just one day, but the training lasts for several months! Make the best of it all. As my dear friend, Mari, once said, “All in means all in.”

What is your ultimate favorite food (non race-related)?
While training, ALL FOOD is good. I didn’t get the nickname “Nom-Nom” for nothing. J However, if we’re talking ultimate favorites? If you say, “Chocolate ice cream, anyone?” I’ll say, “Me, please!” It’s been my favorite since I can remember! If your Coach or your tummy frowns upon a cone after a long training day, then I recommend Fluid Recovery – Chocolate Wave! You can thank me later.

UPDATE: She made it to the final round! A new URL is created — Now please watch her video & vote! — http://konakelly.com.