Karen attended Harvard and played soccer and softball on nationally ranked teams. Her love of skiing brought her to Colorado and her passion for triathlon and all endurance sports only grew. This year she qualified and competed at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. She works with Coach Jim Hallberg.
Summary Karen Rice, a high-level athlete with a background in college softball, soccer and endurance sports, discusses her experience qualifying for and participating in the Kona Ironman World Championship. She shares her journey in sports, the challenges she faced as a female athlete, and her transition to triathlon. Karen emphasizes the importance of finding a coach who understands her goals and supports her desire to participate in various sports. She also highlights the significance of enjoying the training process and maintaining a balanced approach to endurance sports. Karen's positive mindset and determination have allowed her to excel in both triathlon and ultra running races. In this conversation, Karen Rice shares her advice for beginners in endurance sports, emphasizing the importance of building endurance over time. She also discusses how age doesn't have to limit performance and how aging can actually make competition more enjoyable. Finally, she talks about her future goals and adventures, including qualifying for the Boston Marathon again.
00:00Introduction and Qualifying for Kona
01:21Karen's Background in Sports
03:24Transitioning to Triathlon
07:17Finding a Coach and Balancing Training with Work
10:35Participating in Ultra Races
19:13Lead-up to the Race and Training Highlights
24:29Race Day Experience
28:21Hardest Part of the Race
31:04Favorite Part of the Race
32:58Drawing on Ultra Running Experience
35:27Future Challenges and Goals
37:08Getting Started in Endurance Sports
39:25Building Endurance Over Time
41:19Age and Performance
42:27Future Goals and Adventures
Hi, Coach Mike Ricci here from D3 Multisport with long time D3 athlete, Karen Rice, who recently just came across the finish line at Kona this week. Congratulations on that. Karen has nine Ironmans to her credit and she qualified to Coeur d'Alene this year. And I'm sure that was a quick turnaround to think about doing another Ironman only a few months later. What do you have to say, Karen?
Karen Rice (00:25.599)
Yeah, I mean, it was the end of June and I think you're so excited you got into Kona and then it's kind of like, oh, I get to do this again. But at no point was I bummed about that. So yeah, it was great news all around. It meant I had the whole summer to think about it though, which was like, you know, it's something, I mean, it's exciting, but something on your mind that's that far out.
That's awesome. So just take me back.
Karen Rice (00:53.39)
It just consumes a lot of your thinking because you're so excited about it. So as I got closer to Kona, I remember telling people at work, I'm really having trouble concentrating. I'm doing my best, but I'm so excited. And that's usually I can compartmentalize pretty well, but this was just such a big thing that, you know, it was good. It was just such an amazing experience.
Yeah, I bet. I bet. So take me back a little bit. I know you're a high level athlete. You played college softball and what other sports did you play growing up?
Karen Rice (01:24.504)
Yeah, I mean, I started liking sports like it's like when I was three, like I was always someone that liked the ball more than a doll. My parents quickly learned that. So back in the day, you know, they called us tomboy. I hear that term's going out of favor now because so many girls are doing sports. No, it's not different for a girl to do sports. I mean, there was I was the only girl on pretty much every team I was on.
Karen Rice (02:00.63)
which I never really thought anything of it, but looking back on it, it was a very big deal. And certainly was very formative in terms of character building. I think it's probably the thing that made me the most resilient person. I could be just like standing up in the face of parents that would be like, why is this girl pitching? The stuff I had to go through, like I'd strike out the boys and.
I had long braids and they'd be like, we can't see the ball, you need to put the braids under your hair or we'd be on a road trip and I'd have to change in like the janitor closet because all the boys were in the locker room. I mean, it was just like, why is this? And I didn't really think anything of it at the time, but it's definitely, I think I wrote about it in my college essay. I mean, it's really what has kind of made me a person that's determined to do anything.
If you tell me I can't do something, that makes me want to do it even more. So it's carried over into work as well with some of the challenges I take on. So sports has always been super big part of my life, something I've enjoyed. I played all team sports growing up, soccer, basketball, softball. Basketball was my favorite, but I was better at softball and soccer. So I played division one softball in college and
That was really fun. We made it to the NCAA Division I tournament back when there was only 32 teams in the tournament. And we went to what would now be the Super Regional. So we played at the time. We lost to Oklahoma, and the coach is still the same now. And of course, they're this powerhouse in softball. And then I also played a year of Division I soccer. I was a goalie. So key there is I was not in endurance.
person. Even though I had to pass all the running tests. But yeah, I was like the third string goalie, so they just beat up on me to save the best goalie for the game. That's right, that's right. So I had my purpose.
In practice, you were the beat up, yeah. And did you play soccer with boys too, or was it girl soccer?
Karen Rice (04:14.93)
Oh yeah, there was no girls on anything when I went through. And I mean, this is post Title IX, but I grew up in a small town. Um, so it was, it's very different today.
Yeah, you know, it's, I have a niece that's playing right now and she plays on a team with all boys because it's a small town and it's, she's the only girl out there. She's one of the better defenders and the parents do complain still. And you're just like, give this girl, you know, some, some kudos for being out there. Right. Like, holy shit, she's just holding her own. So.
Karen Rice (04:41.182)
Yeah, it was interesting. We had the coach of my soccer team. He was the coach of Williams College, the group of Williamstown Mass, and he took the Williams team to England to play. And he decided to take, we were sixth graders at the time, the sixth grade team too. And the English people heard that I was coming and they were literally like, we are not going to play you guys if you let a
Karen Rice (05:10.366)
a girl play on your team. And he was like, No, we're, you were, we're taking care of it like you deal with it. And I mean, I was out there and all the girls that came up to me after the game, it was like, I like just couldn't believe that I was able to play. And it's just been so fun to watch over the years the evolution of soccer in England and to think like they, the women's team filled Wembley Stadium. I mean, it's just
And when I was in college, we traveled to Europe too. And we, at the time, you know, we're division one, so we were good and we were top 10 at a point. But we played the national teams of every, all the UK places. So we, you know, we played the national teams and we beat them, but, you know, that was college. So that was 99. And then, you know, now if we'd play them, we'd get crushed. So it's just like my whole life, I've seen the evolution of women.
kind of going through sports and it's been really amazing to see. So, and that could, yes.
Do you feel, as a sixth grader, were you hurt, were you hearing this, that they weren't gonna play you? How did that make you feel? I mean, that's brutal.
Karen Rice (06:20.478)
Oh yeah, yeah. I mean, I was like, this is so stupid. I love to play. I just didn't understand why it was such a big deal. At no point did it seem weird to me. And all the guys were like, I was a good goalie. They were like, Karen needs to come. We're not going without her. So the guys kind of were like, she's just a player on the team. My teammates never treated me as, this is odd. It was always the parents of...
Right, right, right. Especially if you played over a boy, right? Like those families probably didn't like that.
Karen Rice (06:55.066)
Oh, that, they had problems with that. That is true. Yes. And when I made their sons look bad, that was also, that was very fun. Yeah. Yep.
Well, that doesn't matter what gender, it doesn't matter what gender that is. If you're not the starting catcher, then why is my kid not getting, it's amazing, even to this day, right? I mean, you just see this all the time. That's awesome, that's awesome. So when did you, gosh, you're a big skier, you do a lot of different things, mountain bike. When did you get started in triathlon?
Karen Rice (07:17.166)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I think this kind of goes along the same path, really. It's like to have sports be such an important part of my life. And then college, it's done. Like you're at the year 21 and your athletic career is kind of over. And it's like, well, now what? You know, you still love sports and you've really.
everything you've known. I mean, you can play in rec leagues, but that's not division one softball. You know, you're used to so much more. So, I mean, I just started to do other things. It was like, I had to find new ways to integrate athletics and an active lifestyle into my life, which was, you know, something I absolutely wanted to do. And I was lost without, you know, some sort of physical activity. So that's when I just started.
dabbling in some of the individual sports, but not very seriously until I'd say even through medical school. Like I was really busy with school, so there wasn't a lot of time to do stuff, but it was towards the tail end of residency when I got into triathlon. That was 2012. And even then it was...
I did a couple triathlons. I was able to buy a bike because it was so funny. I could never have afforded a tri-bike as a resident, but the guy at the local bike store that was in Maine at the time, he's like, he's like, here, take the bike, just pay me when you can. I mean, this is amazing. Like this guy did this. And I'm like, are you sure? He's like, I know where you work. Like, you'll pay me back. So I mean, thanks.
really, I mean it was huge that he let me get this bike that I never would have been able to afford just because he was a nice guy. And then as soon as I got the Tri-Bike it was like, this is really cool. So then I really got into biking after that. As much as I bike now, it's hard to believe that was not a part of my life at all until I got that bike.
Karen Rice (09:36.286)
So that was kind of how Triathlon started. And then I, of course, I also came back several years later with the same bike. And I told him, here's your bike. And it's been, I had been to South Africa for 70.3 worlds at the time of like, it's even been to South Africa. Like, look what you let me do. So he was really pleased about that. He's retired now, but.
And you did pay him back, right?
That's full awesome. That's so awesome. What a great story.
Karen Rice (10:05.014)
Yeah, so then, yeah, so I, and then just to finish the triathlon, I, you know, I love skiing and that's why I wanted to move out to Colorado. So I kind of knew as soon as I was done with training, my last year was in New York City, couldn't wait to get out. I moved out to Colorado and I started skiing and now I need something to do in the summer and of course it's like crazy Colorado, you know, triathlon, endurance sports. So that's when it really took off when I moved to Colorado.
Awesome, awesome. So I know you've done some ultra races too, right? Some ultra running races, right? When's the last one? When was your last one?
Karen Rice (10:39.542)
Karen Rice (10:43.506)
Um, I did one back in September. I mean, I was actually looking back at the calendar. I I've only in the last two years, I've only had a couple of months where I haven't had a marathon distance or longer run in there. I even, I did a hundred mile run for my birthday in February of this year. Yeah. So, um, that's an interesting experience in itself, but it's apples and oranges with comparing to triathlon. I think that's.
Karen Rice (11:10.702)
Common question. It's like you can't really compare them. They're very different.
Right, totally different things. Yeah. Now people ask me all the time about, you know, I haven't run a marathon yet. I'm about to do an Ironman. I'm like, it doesn't matter. It's a completely different sport. Like, in a marathon, you're going for a specific time and a pace and all this other stuff. In an Ironman, a lot of it's like, aid station to aid station. How do I feel right now? How do I feel in five minutes? Oh, feels pretty bad. What do I need to do to feel better? Right? I mean, it's definitely a smaller, you think of it in smaller segments, versus I'm running 26 miles at X pace.
Karen Rice (11:22.562)
Karen Rice (11:30.914)
Karen Rice (11:39.722)
Yep, absolutely. Yep.
Right, so tell me a little bit about, like who you're working with coach wise, and then tell me, you know, like what your lead up was like in going into con.
Karen Rice (11:49.079)
Karen Rice (11:53.258)
Yeah, so I've been working with Jim Hallberg since 2019. And I was with another coach for a couple of years prior to that. And when we had an elite team, that was something I was on and a lot of fun to have training partners. Something to get me out of bed to go swimming, which was the worst thing. On a Friday, no less. I'm drained by Friday. Anyway, I think.
Karen Rice (12:20.394)
You know, I think for me, what's been important, my work life is pretty demanding. I'd say on average, I work 50 to 55 hours a week. A lot of it, I try to make it predictable and spread it out over the course of the week. But there's a lot of weeks where I just have a super long day or something came up that I wasn't expecting. And now it's dark by the time I get home and I can't ride my bike, like was on the training peaks. Yeah. So I think.
It's been important. You know, Jim has been a good fit for me because he, he's not necessarily a high volume coach. He's like high quality, which I don't think a high volume, you know, some athlete, I could be probably better if I was more volume, I don't know for sure. But, you know, right. Actually that would be the thing. Just take your word out. That's right. That that's absolutely true. And I think so.
I mean, if you had 15 less hours a week of work, maybe that would make a difference, right?
Yeah, it doesn't mean more is better though, so just to be clear.
Karen Rice (13:17.138)
I think that's really what the coaching experience helped with, because it really helped me focus on the important things. So I think by and large, my weekly average of training is around 10 hours. There's a lot of 10 to 12 hour weeks in a triathlon build, like an Ironman build, it's probably closer to 14. But by and large, it's a sustainable thing for me. It's always...
You know, it's not so much, I don't think, especially with my background of kind of being told I can't do things, like I always wanna do something bigger and more and prove something to myself or others, or myself, but it's, so what I need to learn is, or what's important is you can do this sport sustainably and still have other parts of your life. I mean, you.
Maybe in a build for an Ironman, you're spending a lot of weekends training, but for the most part, it's just part of my daily activity. And I think when you have a coach, you learn that you don't have to invest crazy hours, you train smarter. It just makes everything more efficient. You don't have to think about your training. I mean, these days I've...
I've done this enough that I think I could probably put together a decent schedule for myself. But the reality is like, I don't want like that's more thinking that I'd have to do. And it really helps. So and so finding a coach that was willing to work with my schedule, you know, and it's like, okay, we've got a few key workouts this week, like just get them in on whatever days. And I think the other big
thing with Jim has been, he's been accepting of my kind of attitude towards sports. I'm, I'm someone that just likes to do new things more than maybe get really good at one thing. I want to be good at everything. But, you know, I think, for me, like, part of the build up to Kona, it didn't, it was not stressful in any way. It was not. It was fun.
Karen Rice (15:37.974)
because I did a lot of gravel rides. So instead of having these five, six hour, kind of monotonous, boring bike rides that I have on roads I ride every day, practically, now I'm going to Nebraska to do these gravel rides in the middle of nowhere. And it's still a lot of time and more time because you travel, but it doesn't feel like training. And so he's willing to work with me around that.
you know, sometimes maybe it wouldn't be ideal to do like certain things back to back days or back to back weekends. But maybe that two to five percent I could gain by resting or something or just focusing exclusively on triathlon. It's it's not worth it to me to lose the fun of all the other things I like to do. Or, you know, like I want to go skiing for the weekend like.
So things like that Jim has been really helpful with. He's kind of just accepted that this is the type of athlete I am, that I want to make sure the training remains fun. And that's going to mean that I don't necessarily follow these really strict triathlon training plans. And I think a lot, you know, when I went into coaching, you know, to get a coach, it was... I was...
The thing that made me the most nervous is like, okay, now is this going to take over my life? Is this going to like take over all the things I love about sports? And it didn't, but it did take the first coach I had it. That was more of the issue. And I think that is why the coach wasn't as good a fit for me. But when I moved with Jim, you know, he really accepted, you know, just the kind of athlete that I am. And worked that into my training. So it didn't, it never felt like I was sacrilegious.
anything. It was just doing things I love to do.
Right. And you know, you're, you're just listening to your high achiever, right? You went to an Ivy league school, you played division one sports, like you're, you're a doctor, you get all these things going on. And I think it would be safe to say, and you can tell me if I'm wrong, but it'd be safe to say if you left your own devices, you'd probably do too much because you enjoy so many things that you would do a six hour bike ride and then go ski for eight hours the next day. And the next day you'd go run 20 miles. And then by Tuesday, you'd be like, I'm so tired.
Karen Rice (17:57.559)
Karen Rice (18:04.926)
Right, or at least I'd feel like that's what I had to do to be good. And I. Yeah, it's easy to get stuck in the trap of like when you're studying for the test, like you could study forever at some point, you just got to take the test, you know. And I think it's just. You know, I'm never at a point where I'm judging myself if I miss a workout or maybe. I don't I don't miss many, but it's just like.
Right, right. Just to fill that void of that adrenaline and just fill it, you know, all the all the great memories.
Karen Rice (18:32.77)
It's not that big a deal. It's like, it's just, so.
It's not that big of a deal. If people, I mean, it's so hard to get that across to a high achiever that sometimes you can just be instead of do, and when you be, you're doing more than when you're doing, right? You just want to be. That was a hard lesson for me, you know, as I got older because I might be a little bit type A, I'm not sure.
Karen Rice (18:39.05)
Karen Rice (18:43.458)
Karen Rice (18:55.618)
Yep. We type A people, we can evolve.
Totally, totally. So give me a little bit about the lead up to the race. Like what were the harder workouts? What were the longest workout you did? What was the workout you did that you said, man, I'm ready to do this, right? I mean, you had just done an Ironman, but I mean, cone is special, right? And it's gonna take a little more with the hills and the wind and the heat. And you feel like you probably need to drive that fitness a little higher, right? Like just feel like I need to be the health care of my life.
Karen Rice (19:13.835)
Karen Rice (19:23.23)
Yeah, yeah, you just want to have you want to have the best day you're capable of having. I mean, I didn't have any time goals going into Kona. I really wanted to make sure I enjoyed it. And plus, it was easy not to have time goals because the elements are so much a factor here. There's really no like.
Karen Rice (19:44.534)
you know, everything could be so much slower based on, you know, waves or wind or temperatures. So it was easy to be like, yeah, I'm just going to do the best I can on that day. And I mean, I think in general, the only times I get upset about a race is if I feel like I, I didn't have the race I was capable of having. You know,
If I have the race I'm capable of having, like when I qualified for Coeur d'Alene, I didn't know if I qualified right after the race. But what I did know is like, I did the absolute best I could do. And that's all I can do. And like, let's hope that's enough. So, you know, I think in that way, I'm never having to be motivated by external goals. That's always about just doing what I'm capable of doing. So that was kind of the focus going into Kona. I just wanted to have the best race I could have.
That's all you can do. Yeah.
Karen Rice (20:41.532)
So training, I had a couple of epic gravel rides. I did a 150-miler, which was the longest I've ever ridden any bike. Oh, jeez, how many was it? Yeah, always. Yeah, and it had rained the night before, so it was...
Yeah, how many hours was that? It had to be like 11, 12 hours or something, right?
Mucky Merde and all that.
Karen Rice (21:01.482)
It was, oh man, the worst part, it was a very rolly course, which normally would, you know, I don't mind rolly courses, but you got no speed going downhill because you're just like quicksand. Yeah, and it's like riding through like kitty litter that's like clumping. But I mean, I remember doing that and I'm like, this is like such good training for Kona, this is so hard.
The wheels weigh 400 pounds with all the muck on them. Yeah.
Karen Rice (21:29.606)
I mean, I was just absolutely exhausted, but it was, I was having a great time. I was, um, I paired up with another woman who happened to be pregnant and doing the race, which really I admired. So, I mean, it was super hard, but at no point was it not fun. It was, um, it was great exercise. And so those were the big, and I had a couple of those gravel races. Um,
a couple of ultras, a really hard ultra that I did at Pike's Peak. You know, all those were hard, but in no way did they feel like hard training workouts. And, you know, that was the kind of thing that I needed from Jim, is like he just worked that into my training plan. So yeah, they were hard, but they were fun and they were still like achievements in their own right.
I think, you know, for me, so none of the kind of the athletic part of the build to Kona was to me unpleasant. Maybe.
Do you think that's because you had this giant enormous, I'm not gonna say a lifetime goal to get to Kona, but since you've done a few Ironmans, I mean, you know what's out there at the end if you have a great day, did you feel like this race was out there for you and you're just like, I'm gonna get to enjoy this. I mean, this is gonna be awesome and this isn't really work, it's fun, right? Yeah.
Karen Rice (22:56.214)
That's right. That's right. Absolutely. And I think as soon as, as soon as it starts to not be fun, like that's like the biggest red flag. And I mean, I just kind of want to emphasize that was a concern of mine when I got into triathlons and I got a coach and to be able to find a coach that has been able to work with me in a way that's kept all this fun and sustainable. Like that's been the most important part.
Yeah, no, I agree. I agree. And I think, you know, just the coach athlete relationship, it definitely has a lot to do with communication, understanding each other, and knowing when to push someone's buttons, you know, and saying, OK, you're great at climbing hills, but you never go hard on the flats. Like, it's time to do some of that, or vice versa, right? So I think a good coach can pull that out of somebody and, you know, get you to race your best. And if you're having fun, like, I hope all my athletes think like you do, that.
Karen Rice (23:34.998)
Karen Rice (23:41.744)
Thank you, thank you.
Karen Rice (23:46.73)
They're excited for a race and it doesn't feel like work and it's fun. I'm sure many of them will tell you they want to throw their bike across the lawn when they finish the last long ride, but I think that's pretty normal. Yeah. No, I agree. I agree.
Karen Rice (24:06.285)
Well, if you're not having fun, it's not sustainable. And like sustainability is the key to endurance sports. So if you can't find that sustainability, that's when you're going to have challenges.
Right. Well, tell me about the race. Tell me what the best part of it was, the hardest part. Did you have any moments of why am I doing this? Or you know?
Karen Rice (24:29.999)
I promised myself at no point would I let that thought come into my mind. It's like I worked. I mean, I got to Kona the Saturdays, so the race was on Saturday, so the week a week before. I really.
That's strong. That's some strong mental strength right there.
Karen Rice (24:49.122)
I mean, so much of the race and kind of like telling you about it is not just race day. It's just the whole experience of the week. Yeah. So I wanted to have the whole experience. It was like triathlon heaven for a week and year around people like, I think normally I like to be on my own a little bit more quiet, but like I want, yeah, I wanted to be like in the action. And I just really
to build up an experience.
Yeah, low key.
I mean, you can feel the energy, right? Like a leahy drive, every morning you walk out, you feel the, and you see the fit bodies and people, and the spouses of the people racing are all fit, running around with the strollers, and you're just like, oh my God, these people have already had million cups of coffee, and it's 7 a.m., and this guy just finished a 10 mile run. I mean, you're just like, wow.
Karen Rice (25:21.595)
Oh, oh man.
Karen Rice (25:27.882)
Karen Rice (25:35.179)
That's right. So I mean, you can't be intimidated by that kind of thing and you have to just do your own thing. But that certainly was everywhere and just fun to be part of that. And I mean, I think the fact that this was a all women's race, you know, I have nothing to compare it to, but for, you know, world championship, but it...
Karen Rice (25:58.078)
It was just different. It was like, I think the focus, you know, you knew just the women were racing and I don't know. I think it just gave it a little bit different flavor. But, and it was like, I thought it was just a pretty supportive environment. Like everyone was really happy to be there and didn't feel competitive.
just like we're all here having a great time. So yeah, it was great to be able to do those kind of easier taper workouts. It was to do them on Ali'i Drive or the Queen K or in swimming. I actually enjoyed swimming for the first time, like swimming in Kona.
Well, I always tell people, like, when you get in at Dignity Beach and you do a swim, it's like swimming in an aquarium. I mean, there's so many fish and you're just like, this is wild. You know, it's so cool.
Karen Rice (26:46.046)
Yeah, yes, yes. So it was, it was so it was fun to just be able to do workouts there and be around the people and they had a full distance swim on Sunday before the race. And I mean, that to me was so helpful. You got to swim the course. I think, you know, one of the
Karen Rice (27:13.11)
hardest or most stressful parts of triathlon is just when you're starting and to know exactly what to expect like I was not at all stressed when I started the swim so that really that really helped and then just kind of the events like the banquet to have the underpants run I mean just like fun things like that so
Did you ever, did you, during the race, so you're out there, you're, you know, you're, you're biking up and down, you know, in, in town, you bike out and back. And then you go up Pilani and you know, obviously all that. Do you feel like it was more males out there cheering for you? Or do you feel like it was still a mix? Cause it, I mean, on the video cover, all guys was like all guys watching this race.
Karen Rice (27:52.41)
Yeah. Yeah, that's I mean, I actually wasn't paying attention, but I think now that you mentioned it, that was that was that was more of the case. Yep. Yeah. So, I mean, I yeah. The hardest part was it being over. It was so fun, you know, right. But I think, you know,
Yeah, for sure, right?
What was the hardest part?
Yeah, you don't want it to end.
Karen Rice (28:21.186)
There was really, I can think of one moment that was really hard. And I was in the last wave to start. So, I mean, even the bike, like I was just trying to be so conservative because I didn't know what the heat was gonna do to me on the run. And I really felt like the only way this race could go bad for me is if like.
Karen Rice (28:43.974)
I was just like toast and had to start walking on the marathon or something or I got GI distress. Like that was my biggest concern. So I'm like, I just need to save energy for the marathon. So the bike was, I had no issues on the bike. The run it was after you kind of do an out and back in town on a lead drive and then you go up on the Queen K.
and it's just like this endless road and you just rode your bike on it and it's like that took me like five minutes and now you're running for what seems like forever and it was just so fun.
I mean, it literally takes you 80 to 90 minutes to get back up there. And when you start the run and yeah.
Karen Rice (29:22.438)
Yeah, that's yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think I was at the time I was thinking this is like this is by far the hardest road marathon I've ever done. Because it wasn't just the heat. It was the humidity. I mean, it was just so humid. Oh, yeah. You're just it's just it's just so hot. And I mean, I knew that coming in, but like you can't really
Yeah. Well, the ground is so hot, it just bakes the asphalt. Like, every step is just so...
You can't practice it, you can't train.
Karen Rice (29:53.054)
appreciate it. Yeah, you can't. And honestly, like I've always had an appreciation for the pros that do it. But I'm like, how the heck did they run like, I mean, granted, they're running earlier in the day. So that probably helped. I, I mean, I thought, so that middle part of the marathon for me on Queen K, on the out part, that was when I was like,
For sure, for sure.
Karen Rice (30:17.618)
I felt, like mentally I felt like I was at mile 20 and I was only like at mile 10. And it just seemed, yeah.
Yeah, you know, that section, like once you caress Pilani, you take a left in the Queen K, and then you go past all the crowds. And then for a couple of miles, it's just you. You know, it's an aid station, and then to, and an aid, that's it, I mean, there's nothing else out there. And you're just looking around for somebody to say, come on, Karen, let's go.
Karen Rice (30:33.12)
Karen Rice (30:36.81)
Yep. Right. Except you just. Well, you just see you just see this string of runners as far as you can see. And you're like, oh, I got to get all the way out there. But then you finally it's like the energy lab turn off. It's like it's like how far away is this? It just felt like forever. But as I was turning down there and that was probably my favorite part of the whole race.
Karen Rice (31:04.907)
The sun started setting. It got a little breezy. I mean it just started to get cooler. It was so beautiful.
And then you actually got down by the energy lab. And I mean, I was, it was like perfect time with the sunset. And it was, it was, I was going faster now cause it was cooler. And they had, there were the people out at the aid stations just had the music jacked. You could hear it like all over and it was like 80s music. It was great. Perfect. Perfect for the moment. So just kind of, I remember running down there by the energy lab.
with the music blaring and you're out there, you're just with the other athletes and you're doing this thing in Hawaii and now you've kind of, you're more than halfway so you're feeling better and you know and then from then on it was my like those last few miles in the marathon were much faster for me and in the dark which I was happy about. Oh it made such a difference.
Yeah. Well, it's cooler, right? It's cooler.
I mean, your quads are starting to break down and you're like, how many more miles do I have on my legs?
Karen Rice (32:15.367)
Yeah, so I mean, I felt I physically I felt I felt good and that you know, I think that was another thing that I've learned in these Iron Manses, especially on the run, there's often a period of time where I feel like, oh, how am I going to make it?
And like those times pass and like I get through it. It's like I get my second wind and I feel good again. Like that happened at Coeur d'Alene. So I think, I mean, it may not happen that way every time, but I think I've been through some of those tough times and knowing that they'll pass, that like it's easier to push through them. It's like, don't let this get to you. Like you're gonna start feeling better. And sure enough, I did. So.
Do you, so going back to your ultras, like can you make a comparison from the late, you know, late in an ultra to the end of the Ironman was it the same kind of feeling and like, you know, what were you, could you draw off that experience late in the Ironman and say this ultra, I went a hundred miles or you know, that was, this is not only 26, right?
Karen Rice (32:58.863)
Yeah, it was.
Karen Rice (33:16.927)
Yeah, well, I think in the in the ultras, especially the long like 100k 100 mile, I mean your body truly does start to break down and it's just like it, you know, you it's a lot more mental. I'd say because you know, like your, your body just can't give much more. And so you just have to push on mentally.
I think negative splitting a hundred milers is impossible even for the best of them. But, you know, so I think for the marathon, I mean, I was confident. So knowing that I've done these even longer runs, I mean, now it sounds like so silly. I never thought I'd be saying something like this, but a marathon really doesn't seem like that long a run for me at this point. So...
Karen Rice (34:12.074)
You know, it's like I've done this distance many times. It's just a matter of getting to the finish line. And it doesn't seem far away when you when you're doing 50 milers. It's like, well, that's like halfway through a race. So I think it's just changed. It's made a marathon more like a five day for me versus in the past. It was a marathon, an actual marathon and a five day. So it does. So that changes your mentality. So I think that's what.
Yeah, I mean, it changes your perspective for sure.
Karen Rice (34:41.674)
I mean, that's helped in terms of doing ultras. It's like, you can just kind of mentally say, like, this is not that far. I mean, it is, but it's not as far as some of those ultras.
So years ago we had the DECA Ironman. I don't know if you know about that or not, but it's 24 miles. What's that? No, it's 10 Ironmans. You do a 24 mile swim, an 1100 mile bike, and then a 262 mile run. And it was based in Alabama. And I'm not sure they still have it, but it was pretty popular. Not pretty popular, but there were some crazy people who did it. That might be you. Yeah, you might want to get out there and try that.
Karen Rice (35:02.076)
Was that 10 sports?
Karen Rice (35:07.818)
I'm going to go to bed.
Karen Rice (35:17.731)
Uh huh. Trying to give me ideas? Is that your plan here? Well some of these like, I guess, what do they call, extreme tries or ultra tries? They, they, the Ultraman, yeah. That requires a 10k swim. That would be, yeah. Which I could do, but it's, yeah, right. I don't know if I could do it. I think I could do it. Yeah.
The Ultraman, right? Yeah. And Case One. Yeah. That's a few hours as well.
But you'd love the bike. I mean, the bike ends up being 70 and then a 170, I think. And then the 50, then you run the double marathon the last day from Javi back into Kona. So you'd like that.
Karen Rice (35:44.247)
Karen Rice (35:50.21)
I think I would like that. I mean, I think now it's you do Kona. I mean, that's definitely the top of that's like the pinnacle. So it's like, well, what do you do now? I mean, I don't I don't work. Oh, sure. Absolutely. But, you know, I think it's always I mean, that's always been a fun part of sports for me. It's like, OK, now what's the next thing? And there's plenty of.
It is, for sure. Yeah. Would you want to go back to Kona? Yeah.
Karen Rice (36:18.238)
other things out there.
to do in it. You know, I have no doubt I will continue to do triathlon and Ironman, but you know, so much of what's been fun about this is there was always a challenge. I was always kind of pushing myself more than I thought I was capable of doing. So now I got to find more of those things, you know, something beyond that. So and even, I mean, it doesn't have to necessarily
Right, right. Yeah.
something different, right? Off-road, off-road triathlon, off-road Ironman, something like that, yeah, cool. Well, there's gravel nationals, you know about that, right?
Karen Rice (36:50.91)
Yeah. So I'll um, it'll be fun. I did those acts. I did it. Yeah, I came in third, but to be fair, there was only three in my age group. Yeah.
Oh, you did that, okay. Awesome.
But that's okay, it's still a podium finish, so it doesn't matter. All right, so just to wrap up, let's say you meet somebody who's new to the sport. You know, what advice do you give them to get going in something like this?
Karen Rice (37:17.022)
Karen Rice (37:22.23)
Yeah, I think it's really, you know, given all that I've done now, and probably if you're listening to this, thinking all the things that like I've done and how, you know, endurance wise, like, you got to remember, like, I was never an endurance person. I mean, a long run for me was like a run around the bases. I hated running. It was just like those t-shirts say, my sport is your sports punishment. Like I hated it.
There was nothing about me that would have ever thought this was gonna be something I would do and do at the level I'm doing it. So, you know, I tell people that now and they really just, you know, cause I see people like me, you know, 12 years ago, and they just can't believe it. I'm like, you believe it. Like, I never thought I would do this. Like, never.
Same with Boston Marathon. I remember hearing about that in college, being like, that's impossible to qualify. So I say to people starting out, I was in that place where this was absolutely not something I ever thought I could do, or even wanted to. And it's something that just build up over time. And some people maybe wanna get through the process and get to the Ironman distance right away.
that, you know, go for it. But I think in general, you got to think of.
If you want to do this stuff, you think more in terms of years, in terms of what you want to accomplish. I think you're just kind of putting bricks in the wall and building a foundation for yourself. And that you really can't, maybe you can do that for a couple of months, but you really need many years of endurance works to get your body ready. And it's just something that takes time.
Karen Rice (39:25.222)
I think I could pretty much gear up for an Ironman within a few week block. Like my base fitness is high enough where my body can endure those distances and just kind of be out there all day. You know, I'm not going fast, but just being out there all day. Like my body is very used to that. So I think the other piece of advice is like, don't expect that to come right away.
I mean, that's something that's going to come over years of time. But once, but you will get there. And then once you get there, it's just everything, it just seems so much more possible. And, and, and yeah.
I couldn't agree more with what you're saying. And a lot of people want to rush it. And that's just great advice. People do, they see it, anything is possible. I want to do an Ironman in six weeks and six months. And I'm like, let's do a sprint. Let's do, let's build it up. And people have a hard time with that. They don't understand like just, it's like studying, right? Like, the professor doesn't give you the textbook on the second week of class and says, okay, we're having the finals today. Like you've got nine months to prepare. And Ironman is the same thing, right? And you have great advice because
Karen Rice (40:33.896)
Um, you know, myself and the other coaches, we talked about this all the time. Oh, I got a new athlete. They want to do an Ironman like next week. And you're like, okay, listen, you need to build into this and your body will give you so much more if you treat it right. Right. And if you abuse it, you're going to, you get injured and then it's no fun. And all that stuff. Yeah.
Karen Rice (40:50.646)
Right. Yeah. And I think that, you know, something else that's important. I mean, I'm 46 now. I didn't get into this until my mid 30s. Yeah. And part of why it's fun is I still feel like I can get better even though I'm getting older. Like, you know, it's just I think people maybe think, oh, you know, do I have time like to kind of wait for my body to adapt? I mean, I feel like
I'm in the best shape of my life. Like it's, my body very much can handle this even though I'm getting older. I, I feel that way. You know, I still feel like I can, I can get faster times and that, you know, there'll be a day when, when that changes and maybe I'm delusional right now, but who knows? But you know, I, I just, I think it's just.
and your best days are ahead of you. I mean, you can still get stronger and faster, and there's no question. Yeah.
Karen Rice (41:44.862)
I think also, you know, it's something that I like because aging, unlike team sports, like aging really doesn't have to factor into what you can do. And then you're always racing against people your age. So it makes the competition doable. So that's part of the sustainability piece that, you know, anyone that's going to succeed at this has to make it fun and sustainable.
It's comparable, for sure.
Right, right. Well, thanks so much for coming on with us. Safe travels home and look forward to seeing when you get back. And yeah, what's on the schedule for next year?
Karen Rice (42:16.774)
Karen Rice (42:27.504)
I don't know yet. I'm looking forward to finding some new adventures. Ski season, I think, is A-Basin open yet? I'm expecting it'll be open by the time I get home. OK. That's good. So.
I'm skiing. Yeah.
After Thanksgiving, I think it'll open up. So in a couple more weeks, yeah. I did see some snow up there though. Yeah, it'll be happening.
Karen Rice (42:45.702)
I will find some epic adventures. I would like to qualify for Boston again. That was an amazing experience, especially being a mass native. I want to do that again for sure. So that's one goal I have. I qualified this year, but I didn't make the cut. 11,000 people didn't make the cut. Oh, a couple minutes. But yeah, it was like 537 or something you had to be under your qualifying time.
Awesome. Alright, well.
Oh, how much did you miss a bone?
Yep, yep, yep. Well, more people are doing it, so it's getting harder, right? The numbers are getting bigger.
Karen Rice (43:14.87)
So anyway, now I wanna actually run the race this time, not just qualify. I'm just kidding.