When her alarm rings at 5.a.m., Jocelyn McCauley jolts out of bed and heads to her local YMCA where she begins her morning swim. She’s home again by 8 a.m. to prepare breakfast for her daughter and husband before he heads to work. Then, Jocelyn’s day continues with nearly constant training that includes running and biking, totaling about 30 hours a week.
This is the life a professional triathlete.
A 2013 graduate of UC College of Nursing’s Accelerated Pathways program, McCauley’s motto has always been, “Believe your dreams.” As early as kindergarten, she recalls a desire in the back of her mind to become an Olympic athlete. Little did she know, she would become a professional triathlete and win an Ironman triathlon.
A Texas native, McCauley received a full scholarship to Brigham Young University in Utah for cross country. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, then ventured to the University of Cincinnati, where she earned a master’s degree in exercise physiology. Soon after joining the workforce, however, she decided to return to school to become a nurse.
“After working in the clinical aspect, I really liked the atmosphere and the more challenging aspect of the job, so I decided why not, and went back for nursing,” McCauley says.
Before earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, McCauley discovered her desire to compete as a triathlete. She watched her sister complete the 2012 Ironman St. George in southwest Utah and became obsessed with what she describes as an electrifying atmosphere.
McCauley successfully competed in several half Ironman triathlons and came in first in her age group in her first full Ironman triathlon in Texas in 2014. Her finish qualified her for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, where she was the first female amateur overall to finish.
A half Ironman includes a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bicycle ride and a 13.1-mile, half-marathon distance run. Double it for a full Ironman for a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and marathon-distance run of 26.2 miles.
Preparing for such long distances is time consuming, and McCauley soon found it difficult to balance her work schedule and her triathlon training schedule, so she quit her full-time job as a cardiovascular intensive care nurse to commit to Ironman races.
“Being a professional triathlete is a lot of work and a lot of time by yourself,” says McCauley. “But you also get to meet and build relationships with sponsors, athletes, people in the industry and, most importantly, build a relationship with your team.”
Having a routine schedule, along with different dimensions of her life, has helped her achieve success, but McCauley says being a nurse has aided tremendously in being a professional athlete.
As such, McCauley challenges herself every day physically, but nursing challenges her mentally, which is just as invigorating and exciting.
“Being a professional athlete of any kind can be selfish and self-centered, but being a nurse is a complete 180-degree turn from that, because you have to be selfless, you have to be giving.” - Jocelyn McCauley
Working in the cardiovascular ICU was one of McCauley’s dreams because she got to see the massive progression of her patients. “I love the heart, and being able to see how it works and how you can push your body is eye-opening and amazing,” McCauley says.
In her mind, she’s more than a triathlete. She’s also a wife, a mom and a nurse, but for now, she’s not ready to give up her racing identity.
By: Tiffany Walker