D3 Athlete of the Month: Kristen Klein

D3 Athlete of the Month: Kristen Klein

Kristen Klein is the D3 athlete of the month for December. In November she completed her first Ironman tackling Ironman Cozumel in 12:37. On her way Kristen tackled a hectic schedule, illness, and a calf injury just to get to the start. She tells us how she got it all in and managed to have a great day.

D3: Can you tell us a little bit about your sports background? Which sports did you do as a kid and as you got older?
I played sports in junior high and high school, mostly volleyball and track. I have waterskied and downhill skied most of my life though that has been limited since the girls were born. We are hoping to hit the slopes hard this year! I have also jogged over the years.

D3: What was your motivation to get started in triathlon?
My best friend and I had just finished a 10K race when she said we should sign up for the Danskin Sprint Triathlon which was only 5 weeks away. Neither one of us could swim more than 25 meters and we didn’t even own road bikes so this was a bit of a stretch to say this least. Both of us ended up doing pretty well, considering, and we were hooked. We bought some bikes, hired a swim coach and trained properly for our next triathlon.

D3: You recently completed your first Ironman, how did the day go?
It was awesome! You couldn’t ask for more beautiful surroundings and supportive community. A dolphin show started the swim and the water was crystal clear and calm. Aside from a few jellyfish stings, it was actually pretty easy and fun. The bike was better than expected too. It was three loops and we dealt with some ocean head and crosswinds for about half of each loop, but we had a great tail wind as we crossed the center of the island and headed into town. The crowds on this section and in town were incredible! My nutrition was dialed in perfectly, thanks to AJ, and I was able to ride a little faster with each loop. Knowing I wasn’t going to have a strong run (see next question), I pushed a little more than I should have on the final 12 miles and had a hard time trying to lift my leg over the bike at the dismount line. I won’t lie, the run was difficult. It was very hot and humid and I was undertrained for this portion of the race due to injury. Having said that, when I realized that I might be able to finish around the 12 hour mark, I did all I could to keep moving.

D3: You were dealing with an injury in training that limited your running, how did you work around that?
I truly couldn’t have done it without my coach, AJ Johnson. I tore my calf muscle in mid September and I was told by my doctor NO running for a minimum of 4 weeks. AJ immediately adjusted my training program and replaced the runs with elliptical workouts and water jogging after some swim workouts. After 4 weeks of not running and only 6 weeks until the Ironman, my doctor gave me the go ahead to try running again, but only up to 20 minutes and half of that was walking. I eventually got up to 30 minutes of nonstop running on the treadmill and would finish the workout on the elliptical. AJ checked in frequently to see how I was doing and would adjust my training schedule accordingly. We were both worried about re-injuring my calf again, especially so close to the race so we were conservative. Needless to say, I was concerned about the marathon portion of the race!! We decided I would approach the marathon using a run 6min/walk 4min approach. After the first 8.7 mile lap, my calf was holding together so I decided to run as much as I could for the remaining two laps and hope for the best. With AJ’s adjusted training plan and lots of PT work, I was strong and healthy enough to actually run the rest of the marathon albeit at a slow clip.

D3: You also had to work your training around your kids and your husband’s traveling, how do you juggle it all and find time to get your own workouts in?
As AJ can attest to, I had to move my workouts around a lot! He was very patient with me, but would also guide me where best to move them or if it was better to just drop one for the week. Also, I tried to “hide” most of my workouts while the kids were at school or would train really early or really late on the trainer or treadmill in my basement. Try as I might, I couldn’t hide all of them, especially the long rides, so I owe my friends a lot of babysitting hours!

D3: Tell us about your best triathlon moment?
That one’s easy! I won a sprint triathlon (first female finisher) in Wisconsin and my Dad was there at the finish line. I think it shocked us both, but having him there to see me cross the finish line first was truly special. He is my biggest fan!

D3: If you could spend a day training with anyone, who would it be?
My husband. He has done a few triathlons, but it’s not really his thing. Having said that, he supports me to the nth degree. When I was on the fence about doing IMCOZ, he texted me one day and said he booked us a vacation in Cozumel for the same week as the Ironman so I may as well just sign up for the race. Back to the point, Chris and I had a few hours free one day while the girls were at a birthday party. We decided to get our workouts in and he joined me in the pool and did my workout with me. It made the workout so much easier and it was a blast to hang out with him sans kids. It doesn’t happen often enough!

D3: What is your favorite workout?
See previous answer.

D3: What your least favorite workout?
The seven hour bike ride! I picked the wrong route on the wrong day. The first half was uphill and when I turned around, I was faced with strong head and crosswinds. I wasn’t very happy at the end of the ride.

D3: Tell us something interesting about you!
Turning 40 makes people do some crazy things. I am no different. Doing the Ironman was my “freak out 40 thing” and I’m beyond thrilled that I completed it. I am a little worried about what I will decide to do when I start approaching 50!

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