Kyla Presley is a woman with a very interesting background. Before getting into the OCR world, she was a professional figure skater for Disney on Ice. I was rather intrigued that her fitness background of skating and training led her into our crazy yet fun-loving OCR community, and wanted to learn more. I decided to feature Kyla in my Badass Women of OCR article series, as I wanted the world to get to know this fun-loving, hardworking wife, mother, and trainer. Often I find myself juggling training/work and home life, and it is a breath of fresh air to get to know others that have the same juggling ac but can still pull off amazing OCR race course finishes.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm 41 years old, married and have 4 kids. I am a registered massage therapist and also a personal trainer. I work from home. I have a treatment room set up in the house and run boot camps in my backyard.
What made you decide to embrace fitness / OCR as part of your lifestyle?
I have always been athletic. Growing up I was on all the sports teams at school as well as a competitive figure skater. When I was done competing I coached, while having all my kids. After my fourth was born, I didn't have the time to be away at the rink anymore so I focused on building my massage business. Working and kids kept me from anything fitness for years, but eventually I felt drawn back to running and working out. That's when I became a personal trainer so I would have an excuse to get active again. I've always enjoyed a physical challenge.
Please share with us the story of your biggest OCR / athletic achievement so far.
My biggest OCR achievement also happens to be my worst race experience ever. I came 2nd in the 2015 Sun Peaks Ultra Beast. Only 1/4 of the racers finished and of those 3 women. I wasn't prepared mentally or physically for what that race handed to me. It was hard! I was hypothermic, ran out of food and water and I dislocated my shoulder at the last spear throw. I nailed it though! It was a burpee free race.
I was angry at first, pushing to make the first lap cut off. Thinking, “This is impossible! I can't do this. I just want to walk off this mountain right now. But then what will I tell all my boot camp ladies? I can't tell them I quit!” So I decided to go until someone told me to stop, or I actually finished.
A lot of us are considered the weekend warrior crowd – we work and then race on the weekend.
How do you find balance in your busy life to train / race?
My husband has built me all sorts of obstacles in the back yard. I incorporate them in my boot camps, but most of my upper body training comes from playing out there with the kids. Sometimes while I'm cooking supper I will run out there and do a set of pull-ups or rings in between flipping or stirring food. As for racing, I am so fortunate to have the support of my husband who stays home with the kids while I travel.
What was one of the scarier moments on course you would like to share with us?
On the short course at OCRWC last year I dislocated my shoulder on the platinum rig samurai and I couldn't get it back in. The KT tape I had on to keep it in was now keeping it out. It took a solid 5 minutes of pulling and wiggling before it slipped back in.
Is there advice that you would like to share that you have learned on course that applies to normal life?
Proper nutrition makes all the difference. Being dehydrated or depleted can slow me down both in a race as well as in my busy life. If I'm feeling tired and can barely function, I can always trace it back to not eating or drinking enough.
Do you currently work with a coach or trainer? If you do how does that help you stay motivated?
I don't work with a trainer or go to the gym. I have obstacles and weights here and all my running happens on the road or trails near my house. What I do need for motivation is my friends and family that come over to work out with me. I make plans with different people to do runs and circuits with. I also do pull-up and rig challenges with my 15 year old son. But for as driven as I am, sometimes if I didn't make those plans I probably wouldn't feel like getting out and doing it.
In your own eyes and I know this is hard, but what makes you a Badass in the OCR community?
I think I am a super fun positive person. I am always smiling and encouraging on the race course. Whether its 1 hour, 5 or 10, you will find me laughing and joking with anyone around me. I have had people come up to me after a race and tell me they were having a terrible time or ready to quit until they saw me and how happy I was. I lifted their spirits and inspired them to keep going. I think having a positive impact that way is pretty bad ass.
If you were given a blank check to do any OCR / race / run in the world, what would that be and why?
I'm becoming more interested in the longer endurance events. A 24hr OCR somewhere cold. They couldn’t make us swim if the water was frozen!!
What is your next biggest personal / OCR related goal?
My next biggest goal is to keep my band at OCRWC this year. My shoulder held me back last year and I only missed 2 obstacles. I'm hoping for a clean run this year.
Is there any race or challenge that you would never do, if so which one is it and why?
I have never done a Tough Mudder because I hate cold water. The arctic enema is not on my bucket list!
Is there a weakness that you are currently training to overcome? If so what is that?
I think that will always be grip strength. Just when I master the rings and bars, they go add balls and short ropes!
Longer races often require us to go into an almost dark head space? How do you train for the mental aspect of the longer races (ie silence the demons)?
When training or racing a long distance and my mind starts to go to a dark place, I tune into my body. I say, “Hello legs, how are you feeling?” Then they say, “We are juicy and springy. Let's keep going!” I have these conversations with my body parts and try to focus on my breathing. Consciously willing the oxygen to my muscles, feeling them working and thanking them for doing a great job. Tuning into the physical sensations I am feeling and being grateful for my strength distracts me from negative thoughts.
Do you find that as the sport matures, women are being taken more seriously then we have been in previous years?
I think that as this sport becomes more recognized, women are seeing what these female athletes are capable of. It's encouraging more women to come out train harder and accomplish more than we thought we could.
Please share with us a little known fact about you.
I used to be a professional figure skater for Disney on Ice. I toured North America for 2 years doing ice shows. I met my husband here on a break between seasons. When I got offered a contract to skate in Australia and Japan, I turned it down to stay here with him. I never regretted that decision ever.
Is there an aspect of training that you struggle with? If so what is it and how do you overcome it?
Time management and my love of napping. If I let my day get away on me and I only have time for 1- I will most likely choose a nap over training. I look at it as quality recovery! That's why I need to book workouts or runs with friends. They keep me accountable.
Is there a single person in our sport that you admire / look up to? If so who is that and why?
I admire Allison Tai. I have been on the podium with her twice at Sun Peaks for both my Ultra Beasts. Her Tough Mudder accomplishments are amazing. I am in awe of her strength and endurance.
Is there anything else you wish to share with us?
A little bit about my shoulder. I originally dislocated it when I was 17. I was competing in skating so I never took the time to do physio or rehab. It never healed and eventually anything would pop it out. I finally had enough when it started to interfere with my racing. I had surgery in December 2016 and spent the first half of this year recovering. Now my shoulder is better than new and nothing is in the back of my mind holding me back.
If someone wants to reach out to you on social media what's the best way?
Facebook: Kyla Presley