Show­case: Be­com­ing Iron­man

When life takes an un­ex­pected turn, face it one step at a time

More of Our Canada - - Contents - by Kellie Mcnabb, Bar­rie

Learn­ing that the best way to face life’s chal­lenges is to take them one step at a time.

RUN­NING THE JOUR­NEY This is not the way it was sup­posed to go.

That was me, af­ter my di­vorce. I felt so com­pletely lost and alone and fig­ured that I had to do some­thing dras­tic to put my life back to­gether again.

A 3.8-kilo­me­tre swim, 180-kilo­me­tre bike ride and 42.2- kilo­me­tre marathon run, all within 17 hours, would make me an Iron­man and would be my ticket to whole­ness.

It has been a fiveyear ad­ven­ture— two years of train­ing and writ­ing, fol­lowed by three years of edit­ing. I came up with the idea to train for and par­tic­i­pate in an Iron­man be­cause the word “Iron­man” it­self sounded like it would give me the strength and sense of whole­ness that I had so des­per­ately been seek­ing. At the same time, I thought I would write a book doc­u­ment­ing my jour­ney. Most im­por­tantly, I felt that be­com­ing an Iron­man would give me the per­fect body and that would be it. Per­fect body = per­fect life.

Or so I thought.

I have al­ways ad­mired run­ners. I would wave at them from my car and long to be one of them. I dab­bled in run­ning here and there, but only started run­ning more se­ri­ously about 20 years ago. I ran my first half marathon in three hours and 30 min­utes. A year later, I shaved half an hour off of my time and ran the half in 3:00. One year af­ter that, I ran the half in about 2:30. In 2009, I lost 60 pounds and ran my first full marathon in 3:45:33. This qual- ified me for the Bos­ton Marathon. At the “Around the Bay” road race in Hamil­ton in 2009, I earned a sil­ver medal by run­ning the 30K race in 2:27.

To­day, I am nowhere near the run­ner that I used to be, but I am busy pro­mot­ing my book ONE, The Power of One Step, and my long-term goal is to truly en­joy life ev­ery step of the way, no mat­ter where life takes me.


I set five goals for my­self: 1. Com­plete an Iron­man triathlon. 2. Write a book about it. 3. Find a pub­lisher. 4. Be on Ellen. 5. Have my book made into a movie.

Goals one through three have been com­pleted. I have not been on Ellen yet, but I have the shoes! They are colour­ful and fun and the heels look like choco­late/straw­berry/vanilla ice-cream cones. They are perched proudly on a ledge in the closet as a sym­bol of the day that I’ll wear them on Ellen. There is some­thing about hav­ing a tan­gi­ble re­minder of your goals that makes it much more real. I be­lieve that goals four and five are on the way.


My book is di­vided into three chap­ters: Swim, Bike and Run. In the first chap­ter, I am ad­just­ing to be­ing di­vorced. Di­vorce changed ev­ery­thing, and I re­ally didn’t know which way was up. In the sec­ond chap­ter, I be­gin work­ing with the home­less. And in the third chap­ter, I am gear­ing up for my big race. The themes of di­et­ing and dat­ing come up a lot, and swim­ming 3.8K, bik­ing 180K and run­ning 42.2K is noth­ing com­pared to dat­ing in your 40s! I was in­spired by the books Eat, Pray, Love and Brid­get Jones’s Di­ary. Al­though I wanted to write a swim, bike, run ver­sion of Eat, Pray, Love, my book is more of a Bas­ket Case’s Guide to Com­plet­ing an Iron­man.


On my jour­ney to be­com­ing an Iron­man, I had the blessed op­por­tu­nity to be­gin work­ing with the home­less. It was only when I started think­ing out­side of my own head and fo­cus­ing on oth­ers in­stead of on my­self that things re­ally be­gan to change. It is a process and does not hap­pen overnight. It starts with a wish—to help oth­ers and fo­cus on oth­ers— and then slowly it builds.


I have learned to truly trust life and trust that when things do not work out the way I had planned, that’s great! I try to fo­cus on oth­ers more than on my­self. This is re­ally hard to do. I dare you to give it a try! I have given up on the idea of hav­ing things go my way, be­cause life has a much greater plan for me than any small plan that I could have come up with on my own. I have sur­ren­dered com­pletely, and I re­lax and en­joy the ride! ■

Clock­wise from left: Kellie par­tic­i­pat­ing in the swim, bike and run legs of the Iron­man triathalon; Kellie with her book cover; the shoes she wants to wear on Ellen!

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