About Kendra: "Kendra set out to race an IRONMAN triathlon in 2011, but faced a considerable problem in that she did not know how to swim and didn’t own a bike. A year and many swim lessons later, she placed Top 10 at IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
But what drew Kendra into endurance racing was not the desire to accomplish a feat of physical strength but rather the pursuit of a social cause. In 2003, Kendra’s father was diagnosed with a rare and incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma. With IRONMAN triathlon as her vehicle and voice, she has raised nearly $80,000 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (themmrf.org).
Kendra is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Nepal and Ecuador), holds an MS in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and works in strategy for a large consulting firm in Arlington, VA.
Visit her blog (chitoandkgo.com) or follow her on Twitter and Instagram (@chitoandkgo)."
Kendra was kind enough to answer questions for us in the latest edition of our Featured Athlete series.
Tell us about your athletic background.
I grew up in an active family. Afternoons playing catch, hitting tennis balls. Vacations hiking in the mountains or playing frisbee at the beach. But it wasn't until high school when I joined the cross country team that I found my athletic home; and running has enriched every day since.
What sports are you actively competing in now?
My main athletic focus now is triathlon. Over the last three years, I have competed in 9 full Ironman triathlons (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). In the off season, I climb volcanos. My two favorite ascents are Cotopaxi (19,400 feet) in Ecuador and Rinjani in Indonesia.
What do you consider your greatest athletic accomplishment?
Going from "can't swim" to "Kona qualifier" in one year. I signed up for my first Ironman before I could swim across a pool (even before I had competed in a triathlon of any length). After 12 months of dogged determination, I not only crossed the Ironman finish line, but qualified for Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
Finish line of Ironman Lake Placid 2015. Photo Credit: MMRF
You have been heavily involved in using your athletic pursuits to support charitable causes. Tell us about this and discuss how the two endeavors support each other.
Completing a 140.6 mile race was a huge challenge for someone like me who, just one year before, didn't know how to swim and had hardly ridden a bike 10 miles, let alone 112. In moving my body across seemingly impossible distances, I showed my father that I had learned from the determined way in which he repeated defied the odds in his battle with myeloma, a rare and incurable form of blood cancer. Partnering with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (the MMRF), I continue to use triathlon as a platform to raise awareness and nearly $80K in the fight against myeloma.
What is your favorite DC area setting to visit for a long run?
My favorite long run starts at my doorstep in Arlington and features a quick refueling stop in Columbia Heights, where my friend leaves a sports drink on her front porch for me. Urban running is fantastic because (since I don't want to jog in place at every red light) the route is forged in the moment, based on green lights and traffic flow. The route to my friend's porch and back is never the same way twice.
What is a typical week of training like for you?
In the height of Ironman training season, I train about 20-22 hours a week. Most days are double days and some are triple. A typical week is swimming 4x, biking 4x, running 4x, and strength training 3x. A recovery week is in the 12-14 hour range. Beyond the training hours, I also find time for foam rolling, yoga, and physical therapy.
Do you cross train outside of the triathlon sports? If so, what activities do you participate in?
Yes, outdoor adventure is my off-season fave. I just got back from backcountry skiing and glacier hiking in Iceland and next month I'll be hiking Volcano Villarrica in Chile.
Given the grueling nature of triathlons and similar endurance sports, aches and pains are a given, and injuries can also be common. What is your approach for staying healthy and avoiding injuries?
Recovery is crucial to long-term physical and mental health. For me, that means going ridiculously easy on recovery days (light spins and silly slow jogs and swims) so that I can go ridiculously hard on hard days, all season long. It also means taking off (no swim, bike, or run) a minimum of 3 weeks at the season's end. And when I do all of that and still find occasional aches and pains, I address them with the help of a physical therapist who understands an athlete's body.
Photo courtesy Rose Physical Therapy.
On your blog you mention that you have tried dry needling to treat a foot injury. Tell us a little about dry needling and how it has worked for you.
When I started going to Rose Physical Therapy, I had been battling terrible heel pain, a symptom of plantar fasciitis, for 18 months. My therapist, certified in trigger point dry needling, inserts a thin acupuncture-like needle into the muscle knots in my calves, creating an involuntary twitch, which in turn relaxes the tight muscles bands that create such knots. This, along with targeted stretching at home, has dramatically improved my foot problems.
Any quick advice for someone considering their first triathlon?
Yes, team up with other newbies. For example, your local non-profit DC Tri Club offers the New Triathlete Program, a great way to learn all you need to know to finish your first triathlon. My best pals and training buddies are the other newbies I met when I was training for my first triathlon.
Kendra is sponsored by the Rose Physical Therapy Group. The Rose Physical Therapy Group specializes in diagnostic physical therapy, provides one hour, one-on-one appointments with a licensed therapist, and accepts all private health insurance.
RosePT is certified/provides Active Release Techniques (ART), Graston Techniques, McKenzie Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (MDT), Trigger Point Dry Needling, Biofeedback, and Advanced Video Motion Capture Analysis.
Read more on the Rose Physical Therapy Group website.