MBK is Back

May 11, 2018

Meredith Kessler returns to racing after taking a year off to have her son, MAK. Meredith and her husband Aaron have made a great team in triathlon for many years, and now they added a new member to their crew. Coming back to racing after a year off, she admits she’s a bit “rusty”, rightfully so. Throw her son into the mix and all the “normal” race week tasks change.

IRONMAN Texas was her first race back, we spent a lot of time with her leading up to the race and would like to share an inside look at it all. The images bellow are all narrated by Meredith.

I’m a creature of habit regarding races and like to go back to ones that I really know and love. That said, this year I’m trying to hit new races on the circuit while still keeping the usual favorites. We have never been to Ironman Texas, so it was nice to get out the day before the race to scout out the swim and run courses.

Checking in for Ironman Texas-the usual race waivers to sign and a bonus chat with fellow Ventum rider (and lovely friend) Lauren Brandon!

These three bracelets come with me everywhere. They say: (1) KEEP YOUR CHI; (2) LOVE IS ALL and (3) GUMPTION. These are all very important sayings to me personally.

GUMPTION. This word has always been paramount in my life since youth. It’s an inspiring and enriching word that I carry with me for so many reasons, and I hope to always have it within me to GIVE IT SOME GUMPTION! We made these particular bottles for my annual CAF (Challenged Athlete Foundation) event where we raise money for Challenged Athletes to help them thrive in sports where they otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity. I am in awe of CAF athletes and their pure stamina, fortitude, resilience, and grit. I think of them all the time when I’m racing.

It’s been a feat to try to get the run back to standard post Mak and it’s all finally starting to click as our bodies can be so resilient if we allow them to be. My ammo at the beginning of this 2018 season is to race my way back IN IT even if that means I fail in the process. For over a decade of Ironman racing, I have raced in these Saucony A7 running shoes, and it was essential to be consistent here and not change anything up at this time!

Mak in the midst of making sure we have our needed race items! The Rudy Project Boost helmet an extremely vital component of the day!

Gear check with Mak to make sure we didn’t forget anything! You would think I had this part down by this 61st Ironman, yet it’s always critical to triple check it all and repeat. It’s vital to make sure everything is organized and only put in your gear bags what you know you will use in the race. The less riff-raff, the better!

Laying all of the transition bags out on the ground and next to my Ventum helps me visualize exactly what is needed for swim-bike-run-special needs bags! This ensures that I can SEE everything close up to make sure nothing obvious is forgotten!

The first 500 meters of an Ironman is especially chaotic for the athletes. I’m trying my best to get to some fresh tracks out there in these beginning strokes to avoid any punches and to try to sight where the buoys are located.

We have the whole body of water to swim in so I try to get out of the group hustle if at all possible. My chi is much more centered if I’m swimming with fewer people as it’s easy to feel claustrophobic in the depths of open water when you are in the middle of a lot of flailing arms and legs!

T1 is very hectic for everyone. While I love to swim, it’s also the modality that I look forward to being over with the most, especially T1 transition! My transitions have always been very slow, yet now they are both slow AND rusty!

Race Summary

” Ironman Texas was our first race back in almost a year to the date, and since having Mak this past November. I knew that racing Texas would be a big ask on the body especially since Mak was born via a c-section. As a result, the running especially was a lengthy and patient work in progress even to get back to Ironman race pace until my pelvis and scar could adequately heal.

Like for many, there were so many unknowns leading into this one! Would I even be able to complete a full Ironman? Would I get absolutely crushed by the fantastic competition? Was there even a small chance to race at the pointy end of the race? Would my pelvic region hold up? Would Mak be OK while I was racing?  SO many questions rolling around the head leading into the race and during it as well. The key for me was not to be afraid to fail. I knew that racing Ironman Texas and St. George 70.3 a week later would be risky yet I wanted to test the waters and see where everything was even if that meant failing miserably.

When the cannon went off, I just tried to swim smooth and steady and see where that left me out of the water. Swimming superstar, Lauren Brandon, swam away from us all and it was nice to come out of the water in 2nd by a few minutes.

I had some sighting issues out there and chose to not wear goggles for the swim which helped my life at the moment. I’m very rusty in this capacity and was in T1 as well when I mistakenly dropped my chain when mounting my bike. On to the bike, I felt the most comfortable in the bike preparation that we had done leading into the race. My Ventum was like a fast friend that I had been without while pregnant but we kept on going right where we left off! The bike was the modality that hurt the least in my recovery from having Mak. It was awesome just to ride hard, and ride on open roads since I hadn’t ridden outside in a year! This is not something to brag about by any means; I just had chosen to ride indoors when pregnant with Mak and then stayed indoors after having him as I needed to be efficient as a new mom! ZWIFT became my new cycling BFF!

Michelle Vesterby caught me early on during the ride, and we exchanged positions out there for many miles together which was awesome camaraderie. We were then caught by the chase pack of women later in the ride, and all ended up coming into T2 together. It was hectic out on the bike and certainly like riding in a video game when trying to avoid the packs of amateur men. We all did our best to navigate through the chaos and get to T2 safely. When we got to the run, I was just so glad to be in the mix out there! I ran in third for the majority of the run until I popped like a champagne cork and got passed the last few miles to finish in 6th. Of course, it would have been awesome to make the podium for this race; it was just a privilege to be out there racing at all after having a little human five months prior.  It was a great stepping stone to kick off the 2018 season with gusto, and I look forward to many more races to come! “

We thank MBK for taking the time to share her overall experience with us and for being a great person all around. It was great to share this time with her, Aaron and MAK. We wish her all the best on her first season back!