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Transcending limitations: the heart of an IronMan

Kay McVey


Kay McVey, a Boeing employee, tackles a 2.4 mile swim in the Pacific Ocean during the IronMan World Championship in Kona, Hawaii in October. McVey overcame a fear of water to complete the grueling triathlon.

When Boeing employee, Kay McVey, crossed the finish line at the invitation-only 2012 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, 16 hours after she began, the 59-year-old declared, “I am an IronMan.”

For many people, completing a 2.4-mile swim in the Pacific Ocean, 112-mile bike ride through the mountains and ending with a grueling 26.2 mile marathon, all in the course of a single day, would be unfathomable.

But for McVey, the minutes, hours, days and years of intense training through extreme climates and weather were hardly the challenge. Instead, McVey grappled with a barrier that should have prevented her from ever competing -- a lifelong fear of the water.

Dedication, along with encouragement from her husband Terry, also an IronMan athlete, enabled McVey to beat her fear and compete in her first IronMan in 2004.

McVey would continue her pursuit of athletic accomplishments, including running marathons in all 50 states. But her fear of the water still persisted.

It was while training for the Lake Placid IronMan that McVey received a channel of inspiration from an unlikely source; a Boeing health coach named Lisa Skerjance.

“Lisa really helped,” McVey said. “She’s a wonderful person. I never expected this type of support from a health coach, but it made all the difference.”

Watch the video to see Kay McVey’s IronMan journey.