Featured Athlete, Kalee Tyson

Female triathlete looking at the camera while on her bike
November 23, 2019

D3 Staff



Kalee certainly embodies all aspects of being a D3 athlete!  Most notably to her coach, Brad Seng, was her Desire to improve and be her best.  She had an extremely hectic summer outside of her training/racing with both work commitments/travel and multiple weddings.  Kalee's ability to stay focused and desire to get the work done when having to make adjustments due to "life" happenings allowed her to make continued gains throughout the season.  I was extremely proud of her ability to have a strong mental psyche in Cabo which put her in a position to secure the worlds slot (and beat her husband for house bragging rights).  He admittedly was having a rough day.  She is passionate about the sport and healthy lifestyle it offers which she shares with her husband. 

After IM Mont Tremblant in August, she expressed the goal of qualifying for 70.3 Worlds in November's 70.3 Cabo and it's from there that we begin our Q&A.

Congratulations to Kalee for her amazing 2019 triathlon season.

1. You had a goal going into Cabo 70.3 and that was to qualify for 70.3 Worlds in New Zealand 2020.  Coach Brad indicated that you two worked on three things to get you in the best position to achieve your goals.  

  • more open water swimming
  • dialing in her pacing, fueling, and hydration for the bike and run
  • use of positive self-talk/mantras to overcome any mental lulls - this was huge in dealing with the heat & humidity in Cabo on the run  

Those are all specific and important things to dial in.  Can you speak to each of those and what you needed to do, any trial and errors you experienced, how you persevered through everything and what you learned through it all?

More training in open water was one of the best things I did this season. I went and swam in some really rough waters and those swims felt terrible!! But, after battling through those swims, every OWS during races this year felt like a piece of cake (even the ocean swim in Cabo). It made me better at sighting, managing any nausea when the waters got rough, and helped me practice how to not drink all the lake/ocean water. I also regularly swam with swimmers who were faster than me (think sub 1 hour IM swimmers) so I had to fight to catch up – which also helped.

With hydration and fueling – I’d never taken the time to sit down and do the math I should pre-race, so Brad and I actually did that and made a plan for each race. I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten so much on the bike as I did this year, but it definitely helped for all my races! I also practiced nutrition during my long rides, which made a big difference (obvious, but something I had not done well in the past).

Positive self-talk/mantras were a big thing for me this year. Typically, in past races, when things got tough during a race I would talk myself out of pushing through the rough spots, or I would let negative self-talk take over. I got better and better each race this year at the mental part, but in Cabo, I had the best turnaround mentally I’d ever had in a race! As I got out onto the run (after what I felt was not my best bike ride), about 1.5 miles in I really felt the heat. I started to feel like I was spinning out of control and wanted to slow down/walk to cool down, but instead I started repeating to myself “you can do hard things” and “it is hot and that’s ok” (haha not a standard mantra but actually helped) and “YOU DO NOT QUIT”. I managed to slog it out and run everything outside of aid stations (which I used to pour ice water all over and cool myself down as much as possible). If I would have quit and walked, I definitely would not have gotten my slot to worlds.

It also really helped me to do race visualization this year. Coach Brad put some visualizations on my Training Peaks in the weeks leading into Ironman Mont Tremblant (my A race), and I would try to envision tough moments and what I would do to get through them. Every race has tough moments, unexpected things pop up, and I made sure not to visualize a perfect race that was easy but try to visualize how I would approach tough spots. Knowing that I would get fatigued on the bike, that the run would really hurt, but I always pictured that finish line, because that’s always my goal. A proud finish.

2. Describe the moment(s) as you learned you qualified for 70.3 Worlds.

I was very hopeful based on my placing and the number of slots allocated for my AG that there was a good shot I was going to get a spot. BUT nothing is certain until you’re there! I was SO STOKED when they called my name!! We were at awards with friends and it was so awesome getting to celebrate with them. 

3.  You have a year to wait for the race, how will you bide your time, prepare, stay focused?

I feel fortunate that I have the qualification part out of the way – now I can spend next year racing whatever I want instead of putting pressure on myself to qualify! I plan to race more local 70.3s (Victoria, CDA, and maybe the new race that might get added in WA!) and one full Ironman in July outside of Worlds. I love training and racing, so we’ll keep focusing on improving heading into worlds but keeping me fit as I race throughout the season! I am taking a few weeks off structured training, because I had a long season, and I’m trying to do more yoga, classes, etc.

4.  What is a favorite workout that Coach Brad has given you (maybe more than once!)?

That’s a good question! I’m not sure I ever see a workout and go “that’s my favorite!” Instead, I end up loving when I get through a workout that I looked at and thought – “there is no way I can hit those targets, no way!”. I can think of a few specific run workouts this year – where the paces were speeds that I thought were too fast for me and even though I almost puked after, they were my proudest moments in training. For some reason I’m super intimidated by really hard/fast efforts. Accomplishing things I didn’t think I could and seeing proof of improvement end up being my favorite workouts… AFTER they’re done. So to answer, I only remember the worst workouts. But I know that if I don’t like the workout – it was one that I needed.

5.  Which of the 3 Ds do you resonate with most:  Desire, Determination or Discipline? 


I do not miss workouts. I do everything I can to hit whatever workout I have on my schedule. I’m fortunate to be able to prioritize training over most things since my husband also trains/races and I have a consistent work schedule. I know even on days when I don’t want to train, if I show up and get it done, it’s all money in the bank or hay in the barn!

6.  As you mentioned, your husband is also a triathlete.  If you would like to, please share some race stories or support or training stories that will help us understand what it's like to have two competitive triathletes in one house!

Isaac and I almost always race the same races (at least the same A+B races) so it helps with planning life around training cycles. We do get a little competitive with each other during daily training (asking how long the other trained for to compare, trying to size up who did more, etc.) but we are very supportive of each other. My favorite part about racing/training with him is getting to see him on race course. He can tell when I’m having a good day and really helps me keep pushing. I can think of a few moments specifically that stand out during races:

During IM AZ 2017 – I had a goal to run the whole marathon. I saw Isaac at my mile 10 or so and towards the end of his marathon. He shouted at me “everything hurts but I’m still going” and for some reason that reminded me to keep going and what my goal was – just keep jogging until the day was done (I did run almost ALL of the marathon outside of some cramps) and was so proud I pushed when it would have been easier to walk (I had walked a lot of my prior 2 IM marathons, so this felt like a massive success).

Two really memorable highlights just happened in Cabo. My husband is pretty darn fast – he has beaten me in every tri we’ve ever done (always by quite a lot). He had a really tough day in Cabo which is not something I would ever be happy about, but it became clear on the run when we saw each other on some out and backs that I might catch him. I was in a good head space at that point and just kept chugging along and around mile 9 I saw I would for sure pass him. At mile 10 I made the pass, and I actually beat Isaac!!! 

First time ever being the fastest Tyson on a course.  He was really proud of me, and I got to hug him at the finish line as he came through. My favorite race moment in Cabo – when I got into T1 and saw Isaac was still there (we swam almost the same time) and we got to roll our bikes out together (it was a long transition). I’ve never been side by side with Isaac in a triathlon! It was such a cool moment and was a really nice way to start the bike that day.

Quick Bits:  

What is one thing you always make sure you do before a workout (any of swim, bike, run, strength)? 

Make sure I pre-hydrate with some Nuun! I love Nuun.

Favorite long workout recovery food? 

Does wine count? I always eat a protein bar within 30 min of a long workout, and I love to make nachos or pizza with my husband after our long training days.

Favorite piece of tri equipment? 

My new, Quintana Roo PRSix (thanks D3 for the hookup!) She’s hot pink and beautiful!


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