The best thing about being a pro triathlete is that you get to, in just one word, sum up your commitment to this sport. It’s like having a passport. People ask me all kinds of questions now, like what I eat for breakfast, to what I have in T1/T2, to how I talk to my kids about being gone for seven hours on a Sunday. I get to give swim clinics and talks. Somedays I want to go back and talk to my like middle school self and just say, hey, it’s going to be ok, great things are in store for you, so just chill a little.
The other thing I love about being pro is that Ironman racing becomes like this whole other animal. You get to be in the race with your competitors, instead of blindly time-trialling it through a zillion people because you started in wave 23. Being in the race with these phenomenal women, I find the best in myself.
I probably didn’t start out much different than a lot of folks: I grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado and did age group swim team as a kid. I was good, but certainly not great. In college I was running marathons, just with training templates I’d find online, and got to run Boston my senior year. Again, good—but not great. I continued swimming and running the next few years, but really just for fitness.
One reason I resisted triathlon so long is that my mother was herself a triathlete. She discovered Ironman when I was a teenager and let’s just say I was a bit resentful of how much it took her away from the family routines I’d been used to (more on this here). But then a friend of mine gave me Chrissie Wellington’s book and I realized that I could be a triathlete in my own way, I didn’t have to do it the way my mother did.
So I told my mom I wanted to give triathlon a try and she, in her generous way, took me to buy my first bike. This is a huge deal: there are some huge economic barriers in triathlon, resulting in shamefully non-representative participation. She and so many others helped me those first couple years.
Slowly I overcame my terror of being on the aerobars and began to realize the joys of cycling, passing roads and farmlands at a slower pace. I started racing locally in 2013 and had immediate success: I was good at swimming, running, and biking—but put it all together and I was great.
Then in 2015 I raced St. George 70.3 and finished third amateur. “Well, that’s your pro card if you want it,” said my coach. I didn’t even know what he meant! But I gave going pro some thought and decided I would do it: I wanted to race in a way that would make me dig deeper and this was also the time of the 50 Women to Kona heyday so I thought it was important to swell the ranks of pro women.
Last year, I raced my first season as an Ironman pro and I also finished my first Ironman. I literally leapt across the finish line at Vineman! I also got married and became a bonus mom to two wonderful kids.
This year, I feel more hardened as a pro athlete. My mom and husband bought me a truly pro-level bike for Christmas and I’m racing almost double what I did last year. I’ve also been fortunate to continue my partnership with Northwest Tri & Bike and to join with F2C Nutrition and Tri Sirena!
The most precious part of the last few years has been strengthening my relationship with my mom and seeing her as a person in her own right: strong, determined, and just good down to her bones. We share a common interest and passion, and how many mother-daughters can say that?! Back before my first race, I remember being in a panic and saying, “Mom, what do I wear?!” I think that whole first season I didn’t even own a tri kit. It’s sharing this sport, even doing the same races, that makes my heart swell for her.
Last month, when I met Stefani and the Tri Sirena team at Oceanside, I knew I wanted to help Tri Sirena grow in whatever way I could. Let me just say first that they had created a cheat sheet with all the pros’ headshots so they could recognize them at the expo; I mean, talk about making me feel like a rock star!! But more importantly, I am all about anything that helps bring women into triathlon and that makes them want to stay.
Tri Sirena is focused on women: women who want to race with the best gear, bar none—not just the crappy knockoff line of what the men are getting. And women also want to look good. I feel a kind of euphoria when I’m racing well; I want to look as radiant on the outside as I feel on the inside. Plus, don’t we all want to be sirens? Beautiful, strong, ferocious hunters.
Are you just starting out? Interested in going pro? Just want to know MORE about this beautiful Siren? Here's your chance to ask our Tri Sirena Pro! Post your questions for Kyra in the comment section below.
Written by Kyra Wiens
Follow Kyra on Instagram! @kyrawiens