While Katherine Kelly Lang’s Bold & the Beautiful character Brooke lives an opulent and glamorous life, it is in her personal life while racing triathlons and being outdoors that Katherine feels most comfortable.
Within one minute of chatting with Katherine about triathlons and her Hawaiian Ironman I felt like I was debriefing with one of my friends. Her love of the sport and insights into setting goals is admirable, as is her lighthearted take on some of the quirky things that happen while you’re racing.
You’ve come from the Bold and the Beautiful where Brooke’s life is glamorous, to triathlon racing in your personal life. Was it a difficult transition?
I’m more comfortable in the al ‘natural. I love nature. My Dad and I loved camping when I was little and I was brought up loving the outdoors. I feel most comfortable with no make up on, wearing jeans and a t-shirt – that’s more my style than being glamorous. Of course I have to do it because it’s part of my job and Brooke is very glamorous in the Bold & the Beautiful.
Do you get recognized when you train and race?
Sometimes. Particularly when I’m racing, the crowd will cheer “Go Brooke”. The fans are really supportive. I love getting cheers from other competitors too – we’re all just out there on the course together experiencing the same things.
What is the least glamorous thing about triathlons?
I would say the least glamorous thing has to be going into one of those porta-potties.
So you don’t have special VIP porta-loos?
No (followed by a giggle). We have to go to those loos. By the time I’m half way through my run they are disgusting. You just don’t look. You go in quick and get out as soon as you can.
As athletes when we run down the finish chute, we feel like celebrities. You ARE a celebrity; describe how you feel when you finish?
I feel like an athlete, which is great!
You are part of the Women For Tri Board. Tell us about it.
It all started this year and I am one of the first team of board members. There are 12 of us we’ve come a long way in a year. It’s huge. A lot people follow our Facebook page and there is a lot of information and advice. Women love it.
The Women For Tri members also raised a lot of money. We’ve proudly raised around $100, 000 this year to give as grants to Tri clubs, as scholarships and to help get women involved in the sport. We’re just getting started and it’s really exciting
How have you seen women involvement evolve since you’ve been racing?
In the last year we have seen women participation grow a lot. I see more younger women getting involved and even older women who decide they want to do their first race. There are women who are 50 deciding to do a triathlon for the first time. I’m 54 and I did my first triathlon when I was 52. It’s never too late.
10 years ago if someone told you that you would finish the Hawaiian Ironman World Championships would you have believed them?
I always saw the Hawaiian Ironman on TV and I was always mesmerised by it because I love endurance sports. I was heavily involved and almost obsessed with horse racing. I did 20-50 mile horse races for almost 25 years. It’s quite similar to triathlon.
Once I started triathlons I thought this is cool, I kind of understand this, I did this with my horse – the training, the nutrition and the same things you have to pay attention to, injuries and different things. There were similarities in the training for the endurance aspect of it all, we had long slow sessions and then sprint ones.
Now I don’t have to worry about the horse, just the bike.
Do you love your bike?
Yes, I love my Cannondale bike. Domique is a wonderful support. He helps me with a lot of things, including helping me polish my bike.
Let’s talk about the Hawaiian Ironman. What was your favourite bit of the race?
Long pause with a smile on her face…..
I found moments along the way to enjoy everything – I thought that was really important because I wanted to make sure I got through the race.
My biggest fear was not finishing. I would have been devastated if I didn’t finish. I was thinking “I – have – to – finish”.
There were training days leading up to the race where I was a physco! Dominique would say “Relax today, you can take a day off today” to which I would respond “no I can NOT”.
It was all because I was soooo nervous and I just knew that I HAD to finish. I stressed myself out about that, but once I got there and it was the day before the race I had finally settled in and went “ok”.
I had survived the crazy week leading up to it – the press excitement, the parties, the get togethers and the commitments for the sponsors …. I was kind of exhausted.
Did you do the undie run?
That was one event that I chose NOT to do. No, no, no! We didn’t do it because we had other commitments.
There was just so much on, it was kind of overwhelming because you want to rest and take it easy.
Talk us through race day.
By the time it came to race morning I was calm and I thought “ok, this is nice, enjoy it”.
I got into the water and then my goggles started leaking and I thought no, no, this isn’t happening and it was salty, salty water.
Then I was treading water trying to fix my goggles. As I was treading water my leg started cramping and I was thinking, “no, how is this happening”
I just had to swim with my eyes burning so I could relax my cramping leg.
It eased off as I relaxed and I thought it would be ok and then the other leg cramped. I guess I was swimming with no eyes or legs.
So the issues started early, but I knew this was bound to happen, maybe not STRAIGHT way (she says laughing). I just smile and thought I’m just going to just have fun and enjoy it.
I got through that and then headed out on the bike.
The bike felt good. Really good. I was riding fast and I thought maybe I was going too fast but I just went with it. I found myself having to slow down for the last 20 miles because of the head winds. It was hard and people were just dropping. They were just dropping along the way. Completely falling off their bikes. Lying down.
I would think are they ok? I would always ask if they were ok and I was wondering what I should do, should I stop, do I help? But I always saw vehicles come and get them so I knew I needed to keep going.
But then I started to wonder if that could be me in the next 5 minutes?
So I’d eat more, drink more and have some more of my gus.
I got through the bike and it was all good.
The run felt good, but I had never done a marathon so I didn’t know what to expect. I just wanted to get through it.
I got through the first 10 miles feeling pretty good. I was doing a bit of running and walking but then I got to around the 15 miles– and I started to think “ok, nobody talk to me”.
A friend of mine was racing also so she started talking to me, I didn’t talk back too much, but she was happy to just chat. She really helped me mentally through that part because I was tired and a bit over it. My feet were really hurting.
Then, with 3 miles to go I felt better again so I started running.
Running through the finish chute was amazing! I had a lot of energy. It was all very exciting.
Dominique was there at the end, which was nice. It was nice to give my sweetie a kiss . It was what I would think about during the race. He has been such a great support and he had been through the thick and thin of it. It was really nice to see him at the finish
The Women for Tri girls were all there too and some other friends. It was lovely.
I was definitely keen to get changed, showered and sit down for a bit, but apart from that I felt ok.
I was lucky I wasn’t too tired, because we had to leave the next day to get back on set to shoot.
I don’t know if I was still on a high or it was adrenalin but I was ok. I imagined I would be barely walking for a week, but I was ok. I was lucky to not get a blister!
What message or advice would you give to women who are thinking about doing their first Ironman, 70.3 or maybe their first triathlon?
Don’t you always want to challenge yourself? I know I do as a person. You just have to think “I can do this” and commit to it.
I love a challenge and my first sprint races excited me. I thought “Ohh yeah this is good” and I got competitive with myself. I’m not competing with everyone else but I like to push myself, I like to have a goal. That for me is exciting, that is what gets me up in the morning and gets me going.
Having a great partner helps as does having a good support. You might find girlfriends to run or ride with. Sometimes I train alone, but sometimes I love heading out on the bike with company
You need to find what YOU like and what works for you and then just GO FOR IT.
Maybe you can find a good coach, or a good triathlon group or some more Ironchicks – anything that can help you out and help you get as much information as you can.
Once you do your first 70.3 it is fantastic because then you know you can do it!
It’s a great feeling. You can think to yourself “I’ve done it”.…. but once you’ve done a 70.3 then you will want to do a full!
Will you go back to Hawaii or do another Ironman?
70.3 distances are a little more doable when you have a busy life but with a full Ironman you have to be very committed. I’m sure I will, but I don’t know when or where yet.
As a parting gift, Katherine was given an Ironchick singlet and t-shirt, which she thought was “adorable”. Luckily for us, she spotted the “drink coffee” part and declared with a laugh “ohhh yes, that is essential.
It was great to see Katherine wearing our t-shirt proudly on race morning at the Ironman 70.3 West Sydney race.
What a beautiful, talented and inspiring woman!!!
I hope you have taken something away from this blog that will help push you closer to your goals.
Happy training & racing Ironchicks,