Robbie King

It’s been awhile since I last sat down to write, and while I contemplate how to tell my Ironman story, I’ve had some fun writing a different story that highlights my training partner’s journey to the Boston Marathon.

I still remember when I first met Robbie – it was his legs that caught my attention. He didn’t have those skinny endurance running legs, they were more bull-like and perhaps better suited for out-running opponents in a sport like rugby – his sport of choice in university. Either way, he was fit and fast, and his effortless-looking stride was enviable.

For Robbie, running was never something he took very seriously. He ran for exercise and the fresh air. It wasn’t until a friendly, competitive run with his uncle and his first 10K race that his running goals quickly evolved.

On a visit home from university, after Robbie had polished off a milkshake, burger, and onion rings, his uncle asked him to go for a run – something they had been doing together for years.

“You would never ever say that we were racing, but every time we ran, we were always racing,” he admits. “And, I was always able to beat him.”

After Robbie gave his stomach an hour to digest the food, the pair tied on their running shoes and went out the door. Perhaps, it was the belly full of food, perhaps it was something more, but Robbie’s uncle was the faster runner that day.

It wasn’t until many years later that Robbie would have the chance to redeem himself when his uncle suggested they sign up for a 10K road race on Vancouver Island. It was all the fuel he needed.

“Now I’ve got to beat my uncle,” he smiles.

Robbie set a plan in motion and hired his coach, Maurice. Over the next couple months, his uncle would check in to see how things were going, but Robbie wouldn’t let on that he was doing any sort of training.

“I was so diligent on my diet; I was diligent on everything.” he laughs.

When Robbie finally admitted he had been training and was going for a personal best time, his uncle was “blown away.” Robbie had won the race before it even began.

On race day, Robbie not only beat his uncle, but he crossed the finish line in 41 minutes 39 seconds, which was one second faster than his goal, and more than three minutes faster than his previous personal best.

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“It was then I realized how much I loved running,” he admits. “For me, running was never a racing thing.”

Robbie’s progression in running continued to take shape under the guidance of coaches and mentors as he worked diligently on his pacing, cadence, and form. His success would come from relentless dedication and commitment, and a little bit of help from those powerful bull-like legs that carried him from rugby runner to road runner. His story speaks of triumph, success, disappointment and redemption.

In the year after his 10K race, Robbie looked to his next challenge in the half-marathon, and eventually set his sights on the next big thing. He called up his coach, and said, “I’m thinking about doing a marathon.”  Almost immediately, Maurice asked if he was going for a BQ. Chasing a qualifying spot for the highly-sought after Boston Marathon wasn’t something Robbie had even considered.

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“Way deep down there somewhere far away, I was thinking that’d be good, but not a reality. He believed that I could, I didn’t,” Robbie admits.

Either way, he went for it.

In the following months, Robbie did what he had always done in training and remained diligent and committed. On July 27th, at a qualifying race in his hometown of Kamloops, B.C., Robbie set to the start line of his first marathon and crossed the finish in a time of 3:11:54 – 3 minutes 6 seconds under the Boston qualifying time for his age group.

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“I was super stoked and excited; the fact that I finished the thing and had a qualifying time,” he says.

Despite his time, Robbie still didn’t know if he was going to Boston. It would all depend on his competitor’s times at other qualifying races. Each year there are a limited number of spots per age group and if those spots fill up with times faster than Robbie’s, he would be out of luck. All he could do was wait.

“It’s like anything when you’re waiting for something, you’re kind of holding your breath,” he recalls.

Almost two months after his qualifying race, Robbie received the news he had been patiently waiting for – he got in.

“It’s just like a college acceptance letter; you’re so excited; you’re relieved. You’re in this head space where you can breathe and you know it’s reality. You’re excited, but you don’t go ‘wahoo!’ It’s relief,” he says.

The final cut-off time was 3:12:30. Robbie had slipped in by 36 seconds.

“The best thing about that time is I went out and I studied that course. You want to run the tangents; you want to take the straightest possible route. I ran that race perfect to the tangents, and had I not, I could have run longer and missed the cut-off time,” he admits.

Once Robbie had officially registered and reserved his spot in Boston, he had almost seven months until race day. There was time for a short break, but determined to improve his time, Robbie quickly got back to training on his own. In the month of December, he set out on a run challenge after being motivated by his friend, Wayne, who ran 400 kilometres in December the previous year.

“I just ran every moment I had the opportunity. If I could run at night, I would run at night and it was always dark and cold. I ran every lunch at 45 minutes,” he recalls. “And then sometimes I would run at 5:00 a.m. and go for an hour and come home. So I was just putting in as any miles as I possibly could.”

In that same month, Wayne was also back to putting in the miles, and the two of them would watch each other’s stats as they posted to Strava, each of them racking up the hours and the miles.

“I didn’t want to be in a challenge with Wayne; that’s a whole other league so I was like, this not a challenge I want to take on. But deep down I kind of wanted to,” he says.

Towards the end of the month, Robbie logged a 32 kilometre run and that was enough to put him over the edge.

“I got an email from Wayne saying his legs were done; you win,” he laughs.

That December, Robbie logged more than 400 kilometres, which equated to about 100 kilometres per week.

“I didn’t miss a day,” he says.

By January, Robbie had a solid fitness base and was back into a scheduled training program with his coach. Together they laid out the plan for race day and set a goal time of 3 hours 8 minutes. As race day drew closer and Robbie excelled in his workouts, Maurice decided he could push for 3:05 if there was a tailwind and 3:12 if there was a headwind.

Watching Robbie at the track in the days leading up to Boston, you could see a guy who was fit and ready. He looked strong, he looked fast, and he looked relaxed. As Robbie put it, his training was going “super awesome.”

On April 20th, 2015, Robbie lined up with thousands of others on the infamous Main Street for his first Boston Marathon experience. He was proudly sporting a Canadian singlet and ready to put all of those long training days to the test.

Robbie ran the first 10 kilometres of the race in perfect pacing hitting 45 minutes bang on. He admits though that his legs felt heavy.

“I wasn’t exhausted or tired but I just didn’t feel how I should have felt and it was downhill and I love downhill,” he says.

As per the plan, he was supposed to pick up his pacing, but soon realized he would not be able to sustain it, so he settled back a bit and hoped maybe he would have a kick at the end.

He crossed the half-way point at 1 hour 36 minutes, which was about one minute off of where he should have been. Robbie says he knew in that moment he had to go for it, or it wasn’t going to happen. Within the next five to six kilometres, he says his quad went into spasms and then he felt a pull in his hamstring. Despite trying to stretch it out, Robbie knew his race plan was over and his goal time was out the window. In that same moment, he made the decision to turn over his watch, rip off his pacing tape, and just enjoy the Boston Marathon for what is was.

“People are cheering everywhere you go. It’s just a crowd on both sides of the streets the whole 42 kilometres,” he recalls. “People are BBQ’ing, giving out water bottles, cut-up oranges, and bananas. There was always somebody cheering the whole way. You never forget you’re in a race. It’s so liberating.”

Robbie admits that for the last 15 kilometres he was in some serious pain, but he allowed himself to enjoy the moment and take it all in. At the final aid station, he grabbed some water, wiped his face, and readied himself for the finish chute. He says that he didn’t want to walk through the end and wanted to make sure he had something left in the tank so he could run.

Robbie may not have achieved his goal for the day, but his finish line photo paints a picture of a winner; smiling and celebrating.

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After the race, Robbie says he found a nearby park to eat and relax. He also picked up the phone and called someone he knew was closely following along his journey that day.

“This all started because of a stupid email from my uncle saying he wanted to do a race,” he laughs. “I knew he would be watching me online, so I wanted to call him right away.”

In the moment, Robbie recalls “riding a high” immediately following his race and it wasn’t until the next day that he started to feel some resentment towards his race and time. He was disappointed in his performance.

“I sound really competitive, but I’m not. I don’t race against others when I’m in a race,” he says. “I’m highly competitive with me.”

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When I asked Robbie if he’d ever go back to Boston, he paused for a moment. “The feeling I’m getting says, no, but maybe if someone else got in, I might want to, that would be fun…” he trails off.

Boston may not be in the cards again for Robbie, but he admits he has unfinished business, including a sub 40 minute 10K and a sub 1:30 half-marathon. Of course too, he will continue to chase that sub 3:10 time in the marathon with the same diligence and commitment he’s had since that first 10K.

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Katrina Cavaliere

On a warm April morning, Katrina Cavaliere is hunched over her bicycle in the most aerodynamic position she can manage as she grinds it out on a Saturday morning time trial. From a mile away, you can see a fire in her eyes burning with relentless determination, strength, and a hint of competitiveness. With every driving force of her legs, she is working to be better and stronger than she was the day before and to be one step closer to the athlete she wants to become.

Athletic hasn’t always been a characteristic Katrina would choose to describe herself. She spent almost a lifetime on the sidelines, spectating, but never participating. “I’ve always been kind of the fat kid in my head,” she admits. “I was not very athletic, even though I wanted to be. I often quit because I felt people were judging me or looking at me.” Katrina’s time was mostly consumed with building a real estate company with her husband and raising three children. It wasn’t until Katrina was in her 40s that she found a sport that would ultimately change her life and catapult her into taking on one of the toughest physical challenges she’s ever endured.

After spending a couple years running with a local club, Katrina stumbled onto the sport of triathlon when a friend suggested they try a local sprint race. From there, she slowly began to include more swimming, biking and running into her life, even taking on a few more shorter distance races on relay teams with friends.
164638_10200298600280019_1721397358_n 10269654_10152440000558209_3227608499347704001_nIn 2015, after spending a year of supporting her husband, Vince, in his journey to Ironman Canada, Katrina decided she was ready to step out of her comfort zone bigger than she ever had before, and signed on the dotted line for the half Ironman race in Victoria, B.C.

Once she had made the commitment to race, her mindset had to quickly adjust from years of saying, “I can’t,” to “I can.” She knew the road wasn’t going to be easy, but she was also not quite prepared for the workouts her coach would throw her into right from the start. “I remember he would give me a workout and in my mind I was like, are you f**king kidding me, Maurice?” Katrina recalls that in the beginning when she looked at some of the workouts on paper they seemed insurmountable. It took an adjustment and time for her to break through her mental barrier and realize that she could do it, she just needed to believe in the process, her coach and above all else, herself.

In the following two months, Katrina soon adapted to her new training program and started to feel healthy, strong and fit, but more importantly, she started to let go of her insecurities and her fears. “I realized about two months after I started training that I did not go to bed feeling fat, I did not wake up feeling fat, I did not think about it all day long,” she recalls. “I just realized that it’s about strength, and everyone is different.”
10320469_10205017316605765_2534546721129152669_nKatrina was physically and mentally in a prime place to begin her journey, but it was just a couple short months later when she would be hit with her biggest challenge yet. During an interval training run Katrina suddenly felt a “weird” popping sensation deep in her ankle. At the time though, she didn’t think too much of it and continued running. “I was trying not to be a wimp. I knew everyone was dealing with their own injuries,” she says.  But the pain was worsening and swelling started to hinder the movement of her ankle. Stubborn and determined to keep on track, Katrina continued to ignore her injury for the next three to four weeks until her coach finally ordered her off to the doctor. Admittedly, Katrina says she made the mistake of not acknowledging it soon enough. For the next two months, she would bounce around from doctor to doctor trying to determine her prognosis. She would also spend many hours in the pool water running. “It was frustrating because you’re watching everyone improve on their running, and you’re driving to go water run by yourself in the pool,” she says. “I had worked so hard to get where I was, but it could always be worse. You just move forward.”

In the weeks and months ahead, Katrina continued to do just that and forged forward with her training, doing what she could, making the most of it, and coming to an acceptance with her injury. “The ankle was going to be what it was going to be, I did everything I could,” she says. Nothing, not even this injury, were going to stop Katrina from completing her race, even if it meant hobbling through the run.

On June 14, 2015, Katrina walked under the Ironman starting arch and into the cool waters of Elk Lake with her husband by her side; his presence helped put her at ease. “Vince has always believed in me, more than I see in myself sometimes,” she says. In her mind, she knew the work to get there was done, and any insecurities and doubts had to be pushed aside; it was time to put everything to the test.
11062336_10205555768706731_8400553955955115463_n “Once the gun went off, I was calm. I couldn’t believe how calm I was. I thought, I can do this, I can swim.” Katrina settled into her rhythm and made it back to shore in a time that would position her well for the start of the bike. But it was not long after that when she heard the dreaded “pop” sound from her tire. She had a flat and it would be more than 20 minutes until she was back on course again. “I had practiced changing a tire once before,” she admits. “It was so hard watching everyone else ride by as time ticked on.” But Katrina did what she has done since day one of her journey and forged on, never willing to give up. As she approached the bike dismount line, she recalls being happy to be off her bike and back on her own two feet, but it also meant she was in for 21 kilometres of pounding on her injured ankle.
11425861_10205565653833853_4934052702926348750_n “By about 11 kilometres my ankle was throbbing,” she recalls. “The swelling had gone up so much that the tape was digging into my foot.” Katrina was forced to a walk. In her mind, she battled with knowing she was losing time, but it was all she could do to keep moving forward, one step at a time. “The last 5K hurt. My ankle wasn’t moving anymore and the swelling continued to get worse,” she says. As Katrina tried to compensate for the pain, other parts of her body felt the shift and become aggravated. She could feel it from her hips to her toes. Still though, Katrina wasn’t stopping for anything. “I wouldn’t stop, unless it broke, even then I would have crawled across the finish line,” she laughs.
11183466_10205565653313840_9110143333953860346_nWith less than one kilometre to go, Katrina mustered everything she had to turn up her cadence for the finish line. This was the moment she had worked so hard for, and in that moment, she was just grateful not to be dragging herself towards the finish.  “I remember seeing the red carpet and I saw my friends, and my mom waiting to give me my medal,” she recalls. “And then I looked up and I’m like, oh my god, I’m done.”
11407187_10205555793627354_8384677515528082510_n 11391531_10205565654233863_8406264640706543457_n 11400960_10205565656473919_6912255779107351125_n Katrina finished her race in a time of 6 hours 56 minutes, and with a smile on her face. “This was me doing something at 48 years-old; it took me a long time to believe in myself,” she says. “But it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still try something different and push yourself.”
11232232_10205565654673874_8307179600904249070_n Katrina credits the sport of triathlon for pushing her from the sidelines to being a competitor and an athlete. The fire that burns in her eyes during every workout comes from a place of determination and a place of knowing she is stronger both mentally and physically than ever before in her life.

“I knew I had strength, it was just finding it,” she smiles.
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Vince Cavaliere


It’s an early Saturday morning in mid-March, and Vince Cavaliere is halfway through a suffer grinder fest spin session. He’s hunched over an indoor trainer, pushing a big gear with a grimace on his face, pain in his eyes, and sweat dripping from his nose. His training partners, working right alongside him, see his relentless determination and shout out words of encouragement. His wife, seated on the bike next to him, calls out his increasing wattage numbers, and this only makes him work harder. You can see him feeding off the energy around him.
Standing at 6’1” with a looming athletic frame, dark Italian skin, and deliberately coiffed flowing locks, Vince carries a presence. He’s loud, outspoken, competitive, driven, and a man of business. He knows what he wants, and he’s calculated in his dreams. As an entrepreneur of a real estate company, Vince has built something from nothing, and he is no stranger to dedication, perseverance and hard work. Dreaming big and always searching for the next best thing is in his DNA.

“I’ve always been goal driven, I’ve always been motivated to be something – and I’m still wondering what I’m going to be when I grow up,” he admits. “My brother says that I’m never satisfied, and even when I get to where I’m going, it’s like, really is that it?”
It was perhaps this mindset that propelled Vince from casual jogging with the run club to the world of eating, sleeping and breathing the sport of long distance triathlon, and ultimately, chasing the dream of racing at Ironman. But, outside of who Vince is as a person, are the people he trains with day and day out – the people he affectionately calls his, “tribe.” They are there for every suffer grinder fest spin session, every pain cave tempo run, every back breaking 200 kilometre enduro ride. They are the ones calling out the encouragement and egging him on to push himself beyond his own limitations.

Since his training journey began, Vince says that finding his “tribe” and the camaraderie of the sport was something he least expected. While, swimming, biking and running are truly individual sports, Vince says he discovered the team in triathlon.
“I never expected to be as connected to people,” he admits. “This is as much an individual sport as you can find. I have to swim by myself, nobody pulls me, nobody pushes me, I have to jump on my bike, nobody pulls me, nobody pushes me, and then I have to run, and nobody pushes me and nobody pulls me. But at the end of the day, the tribe are indirectly pushing me and pulling me.”
Vince’s training partners ultimately became a source of inspiration for him, and played an integral role in helping him to overcome  one of his biggest hurdles, running.
“Running is my worst discipline,” he admits. “It’s the one I work the hardest at, it’s the one that intimidates me the most, and at the end of the day, it’s the one I love the most.”
Reflecting back on his first year of training, Vince says he ran scared. Notably, he remembers his first half marathon in Vegas. He crossed the finish line in just over three hours, and for the next three days, he says, he sat in his hotel room with ice packs on his shins to dull the pain. “It was ridiculous,” he says.
Once Vince made the determination in his own mind to improve on his run times, he looked to his tribe for support, in particular, his training partner Kate, who was a driving factor in pushing Vince outside his own comfort zone.

“She is one amazing runner,” he laughs. “And just watching her and realizing she took an hour off her Ironman time, from 2014 to 2015, and won and qualified for Kona. If I can take an hour off my time, that is unbelievable, and I will have won in my mind.”
After spending an entire season chasing after Kate during training sessions, Vince went from running a three hour half marathon, to a 3.5 hour full marathon. While Vince admits the support from his training partners played an integral role in his physical running transformation, he had to rely on himself to overcome the mental hurdle of running, and says, he has yet to find his own breaking point.
“The hardest part is probably understanding, truly, where your limitations are as a human being, and at what point will you truly break. I haven’t found that yet,” he says.
Outside of Vince’s accomplishments as an athlete, and overcoming his own personal hurdles in the sport, Vince says his greatest fulfillment throughout his Ironman journey has been the opportunity to train with his wife, Katrina.

“She’s super talented in her own right, she’s super strong, mentally one of the toughest people I know, and I draw from that,” he smiles.
As his Saturday morning spin session wraps, and he wipes the final droplet of sweat from his nose, you see a man who is driven by his passions, his fear of failure and the desire to be the best he can be, not only for himself, but for others around him.  “I think I’m a true domestique in many ways,” he admits. “I like to see other people do well around me, and in order for people to do well around me, I have to be doing really, really well. I have to lead by example.”

The Rust2Iron Project

For the past two years I have been writing my story. It has allowed me to be open, raw and honest with myself and to reflect back upon some of the most challenging adventures I’ve ever been on – both in my triathlon and personal life.  It has also allowed me to share this journey with others and to give some insights on the gruelling demands of training for an Ironman and chasing a dream larger than myself. When the dream was accomplished I felt at a lose for words. Although I am still dreaming, and still training, and still embracing new challenges, I feel that my story has been told. There are only so many ways to say, “I came, I saw, I conquered.” I want to take the opportunity to tell some different stories – stories from new faces, new places and new perspectives.

In the Rust2Iron Project I will continue telling my own story, but will also include guest appearances from other athletes.  

I hope you enjoy the ride.