In the grueling world of triathlons, Kristin Andrews is a name you should learn, if you haven’t already. The 30-year-old Chevy Chase resident just finished her first year as a professional triathlete, placing fifth at the Ironman Cozumel and first at the Athleta Iron Girl Columbia Triathlon.
Even before she turned pro, Andrews was the surprise amateur champion at Ironman Lake Placid, where she also broke the amateur course record by ten minutes. Nowadays, she manages to squeeze in an average of eight triathlons a year while keeping her full-time job as a health research analyst.
We recently spoke with Andrews about going pro, her biggest challenges, and the local triathlete community.
So how did you get into the world of triathlons?
I did track and cross country at Dartmouth and was a runner in high school. Once I graduated, I wanted to try something new to stay active. So I signed up for local triathlon near my parent’s house in Long Island and did that one month after I graduated from college. It terrified me, but the atmosphere was really great.
How does one turn pro? What do you have to go through to get to that level?
You have to place at one of the major races, and there are a number of bigger races in the US that are sort of qualifiers. If you place in the top three amateur field overall, then you qualify. I guess I qualified back in 2009, and I could have turned pro for the 2010 season, but I wanted to have another season as an amateur and qualify for the Ironman Kona race in Hawaii. I did that before turning pro and placed third in my age group.
Out of all the triathlons you’ve competed in, would you say that’s the hardest race you’ve done so far?
I would say it’s the most challenging because of the conditions. I do pretty well with heat, so I didn’t have problem with that, but a lot of people do. I was more nervous with the wind, because there’d be parts of the course you’d be biking along and the winds would come, and you could get easily get knocked off your bike and crash. The swim’s pretty difficult, too. So it was definitely the toughest race, but also the most exciting.
What is your best event?
Probably the bike, based on my performance in races compared with other people. While I grew up running, I never been a high-mileage runner. I just don’t want to get injured.
How often do you work out a day?
First, I should say that I try not to sacrifice sleep for my workouts. I usually try to fit in one before and after work. I don’t do three workouts a day. A lot of pros train that way, but the coach I’m working with now has more of the philosophy that it’s the quality of the workouts that’s most important.
DC has one of the highest concentrations of triathletes in the United States. Based on your experiences, what are your thoughts on the triathlete community here?
The triathlon community here is just great. There are so many training groups around. I’ve met most of the friends that I train with just through a swim team that has a lot of triathletes. For people seeking out a training group, there are so many clubs in different areas of the metro area that are really welcoming. I think that’s something that might surprise people about DC.
Why did you decide to be a part of the EnduraHealth Summit?
It sounds like a really great event for athletes, because there’s a lot of information out there about training and workouts. It will be a good opportunity for people to learn how to stay healthy and avoid injury, as well as learn about training tips to get faster and stronger. I definitely like sharing whatever I’ve learned along the way in my experiences with triathlons.
What does the rest of your year look like? Any more big races?
My next race is going to be out in Oceanside, California, at the end of March. It’s the Ironman 70.3 California. I’m also doing several TriColumbia triathlons, like the EagleMan 70.3 Triathlon in June, and I also plan to do the Ironman US Championship in New York City.
On Saturday, March 3, you can meet Kristin at Virginia Hospital Center for the first annual EnduraHealth Summit. The event, hosted by TriColumbia, will provide tons of resources and information for athletes, whether you’re looking to run your first marathon or want to become the next Andrews. Several doctors and other professional athletes will be on hand to offer any advice and consultation. Sign up for the free event here.