The Circle of Life on a Dirt Track


Back to reality after another week of fantasy-world in Hawaii. I almost feel like I was in school this week. Like I should’ve been taking notes on how to live, eat, sleep, train, worship and exist in this fragile life. The Big Island will do that to you as anyone who has ever been there can attest. This is one of the few places on earth where you can visit a living rainforest and then get swallowed by a dried lava field within just a few miles.  I saw a smoldering erupting volcano right before my eyes and swam with turtles, dolphins, eels and Ironmen. I saw white sand beaches, green sand beaches and black sand beaches.  My senses were heightened from day one on this trip, where I always return just a little different from before. 

Inspiration is easy to find ANYWHERE as long as you are open to it. Case in point. Shawn and I googled “Kona High Schools” in hopes of finding a local high school where we could bang out some Yasso 800s before our big Marine Corps Marathon this weekend. I felt like I needed some speed work to release some remnant gunk from the Longhorn 70.3 and our long run in Kona. We found a high school with an old dirt track…no lanes…no fancy synthetic rubber surface ….just some loose gravel 1/4 mile round surrounded by a football field…far from inspirational. It was the two of us and another “older” couple out for their morning walk-or so we thought.
We warmed up for a mile and some random idle chatter with the couple. Shawn and I then began our respective repeats. He was doing 3:45s-3:55s and I was between 3:15-3:20 for our 800s. We knocked the first few off systematically. It was freakishly humid and hazy (from the vog no doubt–damn erupting volcano).  In between sets, we would take a 2:00 min rest. It was during these rest breaks that we starting talking a little more to the couple who was there still banging out their laps. 
Come to find out:
1.) They have a daughter who lived in Austin right down the road from us and worked at Castle Hill Fitness.
2.) I happen to know of her daughter because she’s great friends with my running partner Amy.
3.) Their daughter (Kristen) and her husband moved to Ohio a while ago–they were shocked that I seemingly pulled that one out of nowhere. (because being an Ohio native I’m supposed to know everyone) 🙂
4.) Fortunately, she’s moving back to Austin soon!
5.) The couple we chatted with, Mr. and Mrs. McCary, moved to Kona in the 80’s because they both competed in Ironman and fell in love with the sport and the island.
6.) Their family is the first family to ever qualify and race in the World Championships together! How cool is that?! Well, it’s so cool that they wrote a book about it. It’s a book that Mr. McCary just happened to have in his car and he so graciously signed and gave us a copy that day on the track.  
As we all know, Ironman is a family that is more close-knit than most traditional families. The gift of that book sent goosebumps down my spine, more so than the dehydration of knocking 10 x 800s between 3:13-3:26. Seriously, it’s those serendipitous moments that make me look up to the sky and say, “I’m listening.”  I’ve started the book and know it will be a quick read packed full of inspiration, love, heart and advice. Not that I needed any more coercion to want to race in Kona someday, but this couple’s spirit and kindness only solidified what I already knew. Ironman is so much more than 17 hours of self-inflicting, selfish torture. It’s opening yourself up to more love, strength and courage than you ever thought possible…and it doesn’t matter if you finish in 8 hours or 16 hours 59 min. 
If you’re interested in purchasing the book, please send him an email at: patmccary@aol.com
It chronicles his love and passion for Ironman and how it has influenced his family through the years. Hello–Holiday gifts!
Please let them know that you heard about his book from Carrie whom he met on the Kona Track running around in circles. 
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13 thoughts on “The Circle of Life on a Dirt Track

  1. what a great story. you’re right – there are always amazing things out there… you just have to be open to seeing them and being a part!welcome back to ATX!

  2. Very cool! But no moving to Hawaii. Well, not unless you have a ton of guest bedrooms…When are y’all coming home, anyway? I know you’re flying out of AUS…

  3. What a cool thing to have happen. You work so damn hard and are so motivated, that I have no doubt you could make it to Hawaii (and not through the lottery either – leave that space for ME because I would never qualify unless I was the only 85 year old racing!).

  4. This is the first blog I’ve read in …. too long! You should link your blog posts to your facebook, you can make posts import automatically 🙂 then I won’t miss anymore of them.Thanks for the recommend. Not much non-school reading in my near future.

  5. wow, that is cool. just a reminer to TALK to people! so much of our time we spend walking around trying to be anonymous that we don’t know what’s lurking in the person next door!

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