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First Time is the Charm. Meet Kona Qualifier Ellen Wexler

Posted: Oct 04 2015

Just like her coach Sonja Wieck, she's incredibly thoughtful and incredibly hard working.   She's also extremely committed to her craft and after coming tantalizingly close to qualifying several times, she finally punched her ticket to Kona this year.

Meet Ellen Wexler!

Ellen Wexler with bike 

Coeur: First, congratulations on qualifying for Kona!  How did it feel to get one of those coveted slots?

Ellen: UNREAL. Literally – like it wasn’t real. I had trouble booking my flight, because I couldn’t believe that was actually necessary. I got some advice from a good friend – “BOOK YOUR DAMN FLIGHT! And OWN IT”. Ha. Needed to hear that.

Coeur: Now, if we’re not mistaken, you missed getting a slot a couple years ago by less than two minutes. What advice would you give to the person who just missed qualifying?

Ellen: I’ve been one slot below the line a few times (even as close as 78 seconds, its true!). My two pieces of advice:

  1. You know, “almost” qualifying is totally weird. It REALLY forced me to learn the difference between outcome based goals/extrinsic motivation (racing for time or place, and for the public glory of a KQ), and process based goals/ intrinsic motivation (racing AND training for reasons other than just the finish line, maximizing performance race day and showing up mentally, spiritually, and emotionally ready to let it rip). In fact – I got so good at this process-based stuff that once the KQ happened at Whistler – I though “Maybe this isn’t MY spot?!?!?”! Can you believe that?? My first piece of advice: it’s about the quest, not the outcome.
  2. Second tidbit – choose what you want to happen next. There’s no wrong answer. It’s a real commitment to train to race like this. You can have whatever you choose to create. Doe this contribute to wholeness in your life, or is it requiring sacrifice that is inconsistent with your values? If you love it – I believe you gotta just keep putting it on the line. 100% or nothing. Just be IN CHOICE about it.

Ellen Wexler at awards

With a wave and a smile, Ellen accepted her Kona slot

Coeur: You’re coached by Sonja Wieck, who knows a thing or two about Ironman Hawaii.  What advice has she given you?

Ellen: Haha, right!?! Doesn’t she! How lucky am I? One of my favorites: “All it takes is all you got”

Coeur: Like so many Ironman competitors, you're an over achiever. You have a full time job and still find time to train, recover and race at a very high level. How do you find time to do it all?

Ellen: Simple – choice. (Note I didn’t say easy, I said simple). You either do it or you don’t. No one can “find time” – it’s fixed. We create space for the things that are important to us and are in line with our authentic desires. This is true in all areas of life – work, love, family.

Ellen Wexler on bike

Coeur: Of course Kona is the big show in long course triathlon and everyone who is anyone seems to be on the Big Island. We've heard that some athletes like to experience as much of the race as they can and spend a lot of time on Alii and at the expo. Others make a point of staying away from the action so that they don't get distracted. Do you think you’ll fall into one camp or another?

Ellen: Before I qualified, I always imagined I’d want to just go and “experience” it (whatever that meant). I very quickly realized that this wasn’t exciting or motivating to me. There’s only one way I know how to do Ironman that lights my heart up – and its to do my best prepare my mind and body to have my best day out there. I’ll show my respect to that course by giving it my all – I’m ready to rip it up!

As for staying out of the action – I’ll balance some “must do” experiences (obviously!) with avoiding some of the craziness. Although I am staying at the Courtyard King Kam (thanks, Marriott!), so that will be interesting since I’ll literally be in the center of it all – haha!

Coeur: We don't want you to give away any secrets but do you plan on racing Kona any differently since it is the World Championships or once the gun goes off will it just be another Ironman?

Ellen: I’ll approach it the same way I approach any of them – control the controllables, stay in, focus, make good choices. Embrace the experience, with a spirit of openness and possibility. I’ll race my race to the best of my abilities on the day, conditions, and course that is before me.

Coeur: Quite a few of us will be out cheering on the course in Kona, so we have to ask. Do you ever hear what people yell to you on the bike and the run or are you concentrating so much on your body that you don't notice? Also, if you do notice, what is the best thing you've heard from a fan during a race?

Ellen:  YAS! Cheers, PLEASE!! Even when I don’t respond - I hear everything and it’s super motivating and energizing (side note – how cool is it of a concept that you can literally GIVE energy away to people?!)!

Best thing I’ve heard – some dude proposed marriage to me at Ironman Wisconsin last year (clarification: as in – someone I don’t even know… he was a stranger). Haha. Most recent best thing – at Ironman Canada I only knew one spectator, my friend Brynje’s husband, Gant. I saw him at mile 24 of the marathon, he had gotten a split from Sonja (my first split of the day) – he said: “SONJA SAYS GO….. NOW!!!” haha. 2nd place was 2:20 up with 2ish miles to go, and at that time we thought there were only 2 slots in my AG. By the finish I’d lessened the gap to ~40 seconds... but I lucked out and there were actually 3 slots!!

Coeur: We think that the finish on Alii drive is one of the most magical places in all of sport. What do you think you'll be feeling when you make the turn on to Alii?

Ellen: oh my gosh. Holy cow. YES – this is a very special place for our community. It’s still a little unreal that I’ll be making that famous turn (I’ve watched it hundreds of times in the race footage, like most of us!). I imagine I’ll be overwhelmed with emotion – gratitude, joy, love. Definitely love.

Coeur: Well, thank you so much for chatting with us! We’ll see you soon in Kona!

Ellen: Thank YOU – the honor is all mine! So excited to be out there with y’all!