At Pike Trail we have some of the best brand ambassadors on Planet Earth. We have world-class athletes, average Joes, and everything in between. But no matter who they are or where they come from, they all have one thing in common: they crush the outdoors every single day. One of our favorite and most accomplished BA’s is Paulene “Iron Pauly” Williams. Running the Boston Marathon is a slow day at the office for Paulene. In addition to running Boston, she is a four-time Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualifier and a two-time 70.3 World Championship racer. As if that’s not enough, she spends her weekends maintaining the American flag atop Mount Baden Powell’s 9,400 ft. summit. If you are not following @ironpauly on Instagram yet, stop what you’re doing right now, grab your phone, and correct that deficiency pronto. Once you are done having your mind blown by Paulene’s sheer awesomeness, check out our interview to find out what makes her tick.
Pike Trail: Paulene, you do some amazing and physically grueling things, what drives you to work so hard?
Paulene Williams: For me, it’s the journey towards a goal I set for myself. No matter what it is I decide to do, I devote 100% of myself to that goal. I become a student of that sport. I learn everything there is to know about it, and then I apply it to my everyday life. So, if it is mountaineering season, I will be in the mountains climbing in altitude every chance I get. I will be sharpening my skills in bouldering and alpine climbing, and I will live climbing while I am training. I will structure my life around it.
Then, when it’s triathlon season, I will shift my entire training structure for that sport. I will train in swimming, cycling, and running every day of the week.
What’s crazy is my body composition will transform to suit the sport I’m training for. That’s what amazes me about the human body, and it is what drives me. We can all push ourselves to do anything we put 100% of ourselves into.
PT: I have to ask about the flag on Mt. Baden’s summit. I know you maintain it and make sure it is in good repair. How did that start?
PW: Many people don’t know this, but I’m a naturalized citizen. I wasn’t born in the United States, so I appreciate more than anyone the opportunities afforded to me by being able to make America my permanent home. My daughter was born here, and we are so fortunate. I know that we owe our freedom to the brave men and women who have fought, and continue to fight, for it. Old Glory is the very symbol of that freedom. I dearly respect the flag and what she symbolizes. The mountains are my happy place, and when I summited Mount Baden for the first time and saw that the flag was worn, I knew I had to go back and replace it. That’s been my thing ever since. I summit every few weeks and change it out. I still get emotional every time I do it.
PT: Ok, one more question. You are such a fierce competitor on the Ironman circuit. How did you get started in that sport?
PW: Well, I was a swimmer in high school, so I had that background. After high school I stopped swimming for a long time, but fast forward 15-years or so and I started dabbling in a couple of sloooow marathons. (interviewer’s note: I don’t think Iron Pauly and I share the same definition of “slow”)
Then one day I saw the Kona Ironman on TV and thought, “oh wow, how cool would it be to do one of those!” A co-worker friend of mine suggested we do a half Ironman together, so I joined a local triathlon club, bought a beginner triathlon bike, did a sprint tri, and a year or so later did my first Ironman.
At the time I never would have guessed that I would start seriously racing triathlons, and that three-years later I’d be toeing the line for Team USA at the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Zel Am See, Austria!