Meredith Kessler Wins Ironman New Zealand


What I Learned in St. George by Meredith Kessler

Meredith Kessler

A true veteran of the sport, Meredith Kessler has plenty of experience racing (and winning!) some pretty tough courses. Despite competing in over 50 Ironman events, she continues to learn something new every race. On the eve of this year's hotly contested Ironman 70.3 St George, we caught up with the defending champ to see what she had to say about her gutsy performance last year.  Go get 'em Meredith!

As we approach the 5th year of St. George being offered on the race circuit and the 5th year I have had the pleasure of racing this course (3 times as a full ironman and once as a 70.3) -  there is always something new to learn, absorb, adjust and deliver. Last year, "chasing Svenja" was absolutely the theme of the day. When she amazingly flew past Annabel Luxford and me at mile two of the bike like we were going a true SNAIL'S pace, we had to make the decision right there to just race our race and hope to catch her later! I know I had no chance to try to hang with her on the bike - she was humming like a freight train!

Coming into T2 about 4:30 down on Svenja, the thought process was to take it mile by mile and mainly, hydration and nutrition like a rolling buffet at every aid station. Oink Oink I know - but it was absolutely needed to survive out there and not pop like a champagne cork. I felt grateful to have known the trials and tribulations of this beefy St. George run course and thankfully knew where to hustle and hum up the longer inclines best I could muster. As the miles ticked off and I could see Svenja semi in reach up the long, dry, hot road amongst the gorgeous red rocks - it was the raw moment of pleasure and pain to try to go as fast as I could up to her to have even a glimmer of hope to make the pass. A risk that had to be taken in the moment. At mile 11, the TT effort to Svenja combined with my piggy like nutritional feast seemed to work out a-okay and the rest of the course was a downward grade to the finish! It was a risk worth taking and you always relish the days where the body behaves as a result of this mindset and risk.

I'm delighted to have the opportunity to come back to St. George again this year and have a chance to share the course with the MOST world class field of pro women that this race has seen yet. The "US Champion" title is back up for grabs and the person willing to take the most chances and "go for gold" will be the one to come out on top. I wish everyone the absolute best for a safe and happy race!

- Meredith Kessler

May 02, 2014

Jesse Thomas' tips on racing Wildflower

ROKA's Co-Founder Kurt Spenser interviewed Jesse Thomas ahead of Wildflower this year.

KS: Wildflower is a BLAST, but it is also a BEAST!  How do you set yourself up for a great race here every year?

JT:It all starts with the Maverick Pro, obviously. :) Honestly, you've got to approach this race with respect. It's a tough, hilly course, and usually pretty dang hot. I'd say it's impossible to be too conservative early in the race. That starts with the swim, staying as relaxed as possible and keeping in mind you have LOTS of racing left once you exit the water. The last two years, I've had guys fly by me and pull away from me on that first hill on the bike, only to come back hurting 30-40 miles down the road. I really gauge my effort on that first climb, and try to find a pace that feels too easy, because that's probably about the appropriate pace. You have a lot of adrenaline and excitement at the start, so do your best to chill. I tell myself to keep from pushing until about 40 miles into that course, and even then, it's with the knowledge that I've got a super tough run ahead, so you never want to feel buried.

KS: Wildflower is an awesome campground-community experience for most athletes.  Super fun - but not the always the best pre race sleeping conditions..... 

JT: I strongly believe that sleep the night before a race doesn't matter. I've raced well with 8 hours of sleep and 3 hours of sleep. Because of nerves, weird sleeping environments, and busy prep, my typical pre race sleep is no more than 4-5 hours. So don't over think it. You want to do your best to get as much rest in the 3-4 days leading up to the event, which includes sleep, but also just means staying off your feet, trying to sneak a nap in and in general keeping chilled out. My wife tells me to "keep it low," which means I do my best to not worked up or worried about anything. It's as much a mindset as anything else, and how relaxed and refreshed you are mentally is more important than how you approach it physically.

KS: As you pointed out - this race can get get HOT!! (and we're not talking about the naked aid stations...)

JT: For the heat, the most important thing you can do is be conservative with your effort. It can be like an extra weight on your shoulders that you don't feel until it's too late. So I'll adjust my effort on the bike and early run to account for how hot it is. I'll also take in plenty of liquid and electrolyte. I'm using OSMO at the moment, which seems to work great. I'd say it's impossible to over drink, so slow down at the aid stations and take in plenty of liquids. I'll literally walk through the run aid stations to make sure I get enough water in. It doesn't matter how strong you are, if you get dehydrated it's game over!

Thanks for taking the time out for all the "crazy-ass fans" and Wildflower athletes JT -- we'll be wearing our Aviators and cheering like maniacs on Saturday!


 -Kurt, Rob, T-Bone and the entire ROKA team

May 03, 2013