Katie Araujo is a top age group athlete and Kona and 70.3 Qualifier. Katie qualified for The World Championships 2011 and 70.3 Championships at the Honu 70.3 in Kona, Hawaii.
Katie has podiumed many times taking the following places:
1st San Diego Triathlon Classic (2010)
2nd at Honu 70.3 (2011)
2nd Orange County Triathlon (2011)
3rd Wildflower Long Course (2011)
3rd Vineman 70.3 (2010)
9th Ironman 70.3 World Championships (2010)
Katie’s first half ironman was Vineman 70.3 in 2010, a mere one year ago. Prior to that Katie had casually jumped into two local sprint races without any training or the proper equipment, and fell in love with the sport. Taking this newfound interest to the next level, she decided to challenge herself by signing up for a half ironman (Vineman 70.3).
Katie comes primarily from a soccer background, having played division 1 soccer in college. Having received a serious back injury that ended her collegiate career, Katie was unable to run and told she would likely not be able to get back to where she was. With a competitive spirit and passion for sport, Katie was driven to return to living an active lifestyle and found triathlon to be the answer.
Katie has a background in sports marketing and media, and recently earned her Sports Management MBA. Aspiring to pursue a career within the endurance sports field, Katie has worked in media and athlete sponsorship as a consultant for many of the top industry competitors. Combining a full-time classroom commitment with working towards make a name for herself on a professional level, she has found a passion for the sport of triathlon.
EG: Katie, where did you grow up?
KA: I was born in Mountain View, CA, but grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
EG: What brought you to San Diego?
KA: I began my collegiate career being a soccer player first and a student second. Having sustained a pretty serious back injury during my freshman year that included a few bulging discs and a hairline fracture in my lowest vertebrae, I found myself in a position where I needed to reevaluate my priorities. Being told I may never get back to running and participating full speed at contact sports ever again, I shifted my view on what was important, reevaluated my priorities, and decided to focus on my studies. I knew I wanted to pursue a business degree, and was impressed with the program at the University of San Diego. A combination of the beautiful campus, great weather, and academic atmosphere made it an easy switch! My life took a dramatic turn for the better and I ultimately graduated from USD with honors.
EG: How did you get into Triathlons?
KA: Since I was pretty injured and my hopes and dreams of playing professional soccer had quickly disappeared, I knew I needed to get healthy before I even attempted to do anything else. I spent endless hours and numerous days in physical therapy offices and seeing doctors, all to no avail. One of my teammates at the time recommended a local facility called Rehab United. I decided to call and make an appointment as my spirits were beyond low. It’s difficult to explain the feeling of having something like the ability to compete in sports being taken away from you and not knowing if you’ll ever be able to get it back.
Walking into RU1 in Kearny Mesa literally marked a turning point in my life. Bryan Hill and the RU family quickly brought me under their wing and took a genuine interest in my wellbeing. I remember making progress in leaps and bounds, and one day found myself sitting on the table and icing after another solid workout. I was looking around the facility to pass the time, people watching and checking out the Christmas decorations. I noticed three Santa Claus sponge paintings in the windows: one was swimming, one was biking, and one was running. This sounds funny but I remember seeing those paintings and thinking, “Hey, that looks like fun. I wonder what that’s all about.” This whole sequence of activities was something new to me, and once one of the aids told me that combining those three disciplines into one is a sport called “triathlon,” I knew I wanted to try it. Pretty funny, right? Yes, I got into the sport of triathlon thanks to a few sponge paintings.
EG: You came from a soccer background and you have competed internationally at a high level as well as in college, tell me a bit about your competitive sports background?
KA: Growing up, I always preferred to hang out with the boys and play any sort of sport than sit down and braid Barbie’s hair with the girls. With sports running through my veins since a young age, I’ve had a turn at tennis, basketball, golf, and soccer. I attended Jesuit High School and narrowed this down to golf and soccer, as their seasons did not overlap. I was fortunate enough to have some pretty cool experiences through soccer, training with the Ghana Women’s National Team for the 2003 World Cup and playing for the Holland U19 National Select Team in 2004, resulting in an offer to go play in Europe. My mom wasn’t too keen on the idea of me bypassing college and forfeiting time in the classroom for time on the pitch, and I ultimately decided to stay here to combine the best of both worlds by playing division 1.
EG: I understand you had been sick before Honu half tell me about that.
KA: To begin with this race almost did not happen for me. And by almost, I mean I was literally packing my bags at 1:30am to make a 7:30am flight that very same day. I had been on antibiotics leading up to the race and had not trained for a solid 10 days prior because of it. With my MBA thesis project due the week of my return, I seriously needed to get my Hemingway on and crank out a bit more work before putting the finishing touches on my project. The light at the end of the tunnel was graduation, set for 7 days after the race. Topping this busy time of year off, race day was also my 24th birthday. All such awesome challenges and milestones in my life, and they all just so happened to fall within about two weeks of each other – gotta love the fast pace!
I called up my coach Lesley Paterson and spelled out the situation for her, running through the reasons why I thought I should and should not get on that plane. She quickly responded with, “first, you’re going. Get packed. If worst comes to worst you’ll be in Hawaii on a nice little vacation and hey, if you feel up to it, make your way to the start line on Saturday.” As an incredible coach, mentor, and friend, Lesley made a good point and I started packing. Needless to say, I found my way to that start line on Saturday morning with a smile on my face, my pride in my transition bag, and just wanted to enjoy this learning experience. I knew it certainly wasn’t going to be a day filled with rainbows and sparkles, but it was a good test of character and how I would respond in facing a bit of adversity prior to the canon going off.
EG: What was it like racing in Honu to your Hawaii/70.3 winning slots?
KA: Honestly, it was unreal. And awesome. All at the same time. Talk about the most unexpected outcome ever considering the circumstances going into this race. Hands down, this is the one race I am most proud of. Was it the fastest time in the field? No. Was it a new PR for me? No. But I earned every single second of my time that day, and was damn proud of being out there and giving it a go considering what the last couple weeks held. If given the opportunity, I’d do it all again.
The goal of the day was to have fun and enjoy the experience, and I achieved my goal and then some. To date I’ve competed in about 8 triathlons total, so any opportunity to learn and gain experience is super beneficial for me. Earning slots to Kona and the 70.3 World Championships was icing on the (birthday) cake.
EG: Tell me about some of your wins and AG placing?
KA: While each race has its own unique story, there are a couple that stand out above the rest. Vineman 70.3 last year marked my first half, and there truly is nothing like racing a new distance for the first time. The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming and I’m sure you could see the smile on my face from miles away. My boyfriend raced with me at that race and was the one to tell me I placed 3rd in my AG. I was in disbelief and stoked all at the same time. The OC International Triathlon this year featured traveling up to Newport Beach with a group of the greatest girls ever – Stacy, Tammy, and Lesley. What I loved so much about this race was the experience of getting to watch and take notes on prerace prep from some totally accomplished ladies. And of course, Honu 70.3 was fantastic. Again, I had no idea how I placed until I walked back to grab my transition bag, turned my cell phone on, and received a handful of texts letting me know what just happened. A flood of emotions came over me and the people around me probably thought I was strange, sitting there by myself next to my bike with nutrition and salt plastered on my face, dirt and chain grease all over my body, and just feeling a ridiculous sense of happiness. Great memories… more to come!
EG: What was your preparation for Honu. I know you went into the race not feeling well. How did that affect your race?
KA: Like most triathletes, a typical training week for me features thousands of feet of climbing on my bike, miles of pavement under my feet, and a time commitment that could almost qualify as a part time job. The span of these 10+ days leading up to race day included maybe 10 feet of elevation gain in walking up the stairs to my apartment, a few miles in my car to and from the pharmacy, and a record amount of time spent hunting down tissues. Adding in the effects of being put on antibiotics to combat this sickness, I was an absolute mess. I’d say my preparation for Honu was anything but textbook, but when you’re handed a card like this, you either choose to act or react. Thankfully, I chose to act and took Lesley’s advice. Half the battle is just showing up – I showed up for my flight, showed up for the race, and showed up mentally.
EG: Tell us a little bit about your year overall, the ups and downs and wins
KA: This time last year I competed in my first half ironman at Vineman 70.3 and where I really mark my official race start in the sport. It’s been a wild road since then! Having purchased an online 90-day cookie cutter training template for that race, I’ve made more of a commitment to the sport and it has become part of my daily life. The day-to-day training is something I love, and have built some incredible friendships with the training partners I’ve made. Highlights from the past 365 include receiving a slot to Clearwater in my first Half, earning my MBA, being on the verge of launching my own PR + Media company and now earning slots to Kona and Las Vegas. Some of the downs have included struggling to go into a race in good health and having to bypass Vineman 70.3 this past weekend due to a hip tweak. My one win thus far was at the San Diego International Triathlon, and I must say that this is hands down the best local race you will find in San Diego – it’s put on like a top notch race you’d pay bigger bucks for and have to travel to. This is essentially my entire triathlon career in a nutshell! It’s been a phenomenal year.
EG: You were getting your MBA at State while working and training for Honu and other races. How did you handle all of this?
KA: One day at a time! Early mornings, long days, and late nights have been an overarching theme of this past year. Juggling schoolwork, consultancies, and training sessions was definitely pretty difficult at times and causes you to take a hard look at your priorities and where you’re investing your time. There are only 24 hours in a day – hopefully I’m dedicating 8 of those to sleep, which leaves me with 16 hours to conquer everything else. The funny thing is that about 98% of all other triathletes are facing this same time management issue on a daily basis – the ones that have a job, a family, and still find time to train and cross that finish line. Those are truly the people I have an incredible amount of respect for - the people that work a 40+ hour work week the week of their race, are sponsored by their own paycheck, and make it all happen. I’m very lucky in that I have such an incredible support system of family and friends that encourage and push me on a daily basis.
EG: What do you want people to know about you?
KA: I’m incredibly lucky to be where I’m at in my life and have the friends and family that I do. My sister and my mom have witnessed the transformation I have made into a spandexed out, compression dawning, aero helmet wearing triathlete, and provided nothing but encouragement along the way. I have a best friend to share these crazy adventures with, and a coach that doubles as a role model and one of my greatest friends. Honestly, if there’s one thing that always amazes me, it’s the sense of community that you find in triathlon. Think about it, in what other sport do participants hang around until midnight cheering on their competitors until they finish their race?
This is just the beginning! I’m driven and motivated to chase after reaching my potential on a daily basis, and love every second that I’m working hard to push the limits. I love that I can only get better from here, and will look to keep making improvements one step at a time, between two wheels, through the sport of triathlon.
EG: What are your plans for the future in the triathlon world after Kona?
KA: My plans are to continue to do everything within my control to be the best I can be. I will continue to compete at the 70.3 distance for 2012, and may be tempted to throw in another Ironman. Next season will also see me compete in my first XTerra race, as that was something I wanted to conquer this season but it was not in the cards. Through all of this, I hope to keep gaining experience, learning, and having fun. That’s the feeling that got me into the sport, and the feeling I hope to continue to feel every time I set foot on the swim deck, clip into my pedals, and lace up my shoes. Follow Katie on www.onetwotri.blogspot.com