Emily K is a text book overachiever. She knows what she wants and she goes out and gets it.
She graduated from college (Penn State!) in 2+ years and had her masters degree secured by the time most people get their undergraduate diploma. She now has more than one job, continues to work her butt off and is very successful.
Like any Type A, overachiever, she was looking for a new challenge. She had been a runner, but she wanted something more than just running.
“Why not sign up for a triathlon, she thought.” And even though she didn’t have a bike or know how to swim, that’s what she did. GAME ON!
Below is a short Q & A with Emily regarding her triathlon journey.
Becoming a Triathlete
Emily decided to do her first triathlon in 2017. And by the end of 2018 she had completed her first IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon. Oh, and she also has signed up for her first IRONMAN triathlon in Lake Placid for 2019.
Sounds pretty straight forward, but needless to say, there was a lot of hard work, determination and perseverance from 2017 to the finish line of Maine 70.3 in August of 2018.
She will also be the first to tell you that she did not do it on her own. She was smart enough to surround herself with a team of positive like-minded individuals. She also contacted RTA Triathlon for 1 on 1 instruction for swim, bike and run as well as guidance with her training and daily programing.
Through RTA, I met amazing people who continuously inspire and motivate me to be the best athlete and person I can be. – Emily
Emily’s IRONMAN 70.3 Journey – Q & A
How did you get into triathlon?
I got into triathlon on a shim. As a runner, I entered the superhero half marathon and at the bottom of an email was an ad for the Denville Sprint Triathlon and I thought I should try that.
I then signed up without owning a bike and without knowing how to actually swim.
Completing a triathlon was a bucket list item of mine and my plan was to do one and done.
Three weeks later I completed my first triathlon and I was hooked!
Why did you decide to hire a coach?
At the my first triathlon, I was one of the last ones to finish. While about 1/2 mile from the finish a man with his bike in an RTA kit gave me a high five and ‘said you’ve got this.’
I really wish I knew who it was!
That night, I went home and Googled RTA. The website seemed to offer a lot of ways to help me and to have fun in the process. Since I had another triathlon on my schedule and was already registered for the Marine Corps Marathon, I knew I needed help.
That man’s kindness has always stuck with me and was the catalyst for this journey.
The 1:1 sessions with Chris and Elizabeth were invaluable, particularly in the pool. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made! – Emily
You recently completed your first 70.3, what was that like?
Next to running my first New York Marathon, that was probably the next best day of my life.
I remember waking up and just feeling at peace with everything. I was ready for that race and I knew I was going to finish. That was my goal just to finish. Seeing everyone from Team RTA at transition, continued to make me smile and take my mind off my nerves.
The encouragement from many of my teammates on that day was priceless.
Starting the race with Colleen (RTA teammate) was also one of the biggest blessings. We talked about what we were going to do that night and completely distracted me and my pre race nerves.
At the end of the run, seeing my dad cheering at the start of mile 12 brought tears to my eyes because I knew I was almost there and it gave me the motivation for that last push. Then seeing my mom at the finish line in the trying to take pictures. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
Having my parents there to celebrate my finish line was something I will never forget.
What was the best part of the race for Maine 70.3?
The best part of Maine was probably the run.
I loved high fiving and cheering with all of my teammates as we passed each other. I was also able to run with Morgan (teammate) for the first 2 miles and then Colleen which was great.
The course also offered plenty of time to see my parents and I cried each time I saw them. It reminds me how lucky I am that I have them and kept me going.
What was the worst/hardest part of the race and how did you overcome it?
It was the end of the bike. Around mile 48/50, my neck was getting very tight and I was starting to get that bad lower back pain.
Luckily, teammates reminder and encouragement came back into my mind and I laughed. I also happened to be riding with a woman who had an older version of my bike and we both kept cheering each other on.
The support from other athletes during these races is something I always tell people when I talk about racing.
What will you do differently next time (if anything)?
Next time, I think I would listen to my body more during training and communicate better with my coach.
There were times when I was absolutely exhausted and I should have taken a day to just gather myself and rest. I also would not wait until I was too far gone until I finally said something to my coach.
I would also make more of an effort to ride with groups outside. I did a lot of long rides on the trainer and then other rides alone.
I do triathlon to have fun and I need to remind myself of that a lot more than I do.
What was going through your head when you crossed the finished line?
I remember seeing my mom and that finish line and those are the only two things I saw.
I couldn’t believe it was already over. That day flew by like I blinked and it was over like all of those months and hours of training just poof gone!
It was also an added bonus that Marie (a teammate turned nurse and friend) put that medal over my neck. Pretty sure I hugged her so tight because I was just in disbelief.
I remember going to get my lobster bake and I wasn’t even hungry, but I was going to get that lobster.
Overall, I think doing Maine taught me I can do hard things and that it’s okay to be proud of yourself when you work hard for something.
You just signed up for your first IRONMAN… was this something you had planned all along when getting started with triathlon? What would you say to other women thinking about doing IRONMAN?
I always joked around with people that I was going to do an IRONMAN. I always meant some truth to it, but no one ever really believed me. I mean I don’t think anyone meets me and automatically assumes I do triathlons and to be honest I still don’t consider myself an athlete (Weird, I know).
For anyone considering IRONMAN, I would say it’s never going to be the right time, but if you have a dream go after it.
I never would have thought I would have done Maine 70.3 after only doing 3 Olympic distance triathlons and only learning to swim about 12.5 months prior.
I have no clue what is going to happen with IRONMAN but I do know I have an amazing support system from the RTA community and my family.
TO OTHER WOMEN:
I would also tell other women it’s going to be a journey, but find friends and remember to always have fun. I think back to that KYAH (training camp) trip with Janna and the day we biked together after my breakdown and just kept making up silly lines like “Take that Goldilocks” and “That wasn’t even a hill.” That’s why I tri for moments like that. Before Chicago, we both even joked about Goldilocks so that friendship has continued to other areas of our lives.
Any general advice you’d give to other women in general about triathlon?
Don’t be scared to get involved.
Most people who do triathlons are some of the nicest people on the planet.
I was panicked to go on my first KYAH training camp after only learning to swim a month prior and just getting clip in pedals 2 weeks before, but it was one of the best things I’ve ever done due to the support from other RTA club members.
No one made me feel less of a person because I was slow and truly had no clue what I was doing. I biked 25 miles on that trip and it was a lot! Basically, a year later I completed Maine … that still is crazy to me.
Are you a woman with dreams of doing a triathlon?
Do you aspire to maybe some day finish an IRONMAN triathlon?
You’re not alone.
RTA Triathlon is a proud Grant Recipient of the IRONMAN Foundation’s Women for Tri Grant. We have a wonderful group of women within our community who help one another along their journey to be the best they can be.