Monday, May 19, 2014

Triple Threat Profile: Emily Blakemore - Washington DC

Fittingly, our nation's capital has some solid representation on our national triathlon team. Emily Blakemore is actually a Washington state native who has lived in the DC area for several years now. She recently went back to school to study kinesiology (in my mind the perfect degree for a triathlete) and brings an awesome attitude and personality to the Triple Threat team.

What’s your background and how did you get into triathlon?

I ran my first race in December of 2009; a half marathon benefiting the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America. I dedicated my race to my 2 siblings who have Crohn's and had just an outstanding experience. I was immediately hooked. I signed up for more races in 2010 and my sister-in-law, Natalie, convinced me that I could do a sprint triathlon that year. I did, and it was kind of a mess, but I also LOVED IT. 2011 brought another triathlon, then in 2012 I joined a local triathlon team and got serious. Training was my life. I ran many road races with several PRs and completed 3 sprints, 2 olys and ended my tri season with a 70.3 joined by Natalie. An incredible year which I was so proud of.

I hate these group shots where u can't tell who is who
I know you battled some injuries last year… what were you dealing with and how has your recovery process been?

At the end of January of 2013, I was in the middle of training for a half marathon when I got the flu. It was nasty and knocked me out for a good 6 weeks. Stupidly, when I finally had my energy back, I jumped right back in to training where I left off and ran 12 miles. It was during that run that my knee started to hurt, and by the end of it, it was VERY painful. Again, stupidly, I still "ran" that half marathon in March, but only lasted 5 miles before I had to stop and walk. I walked the rest of the way, sometimes stopping dead in my tracks because my knee hurt so badly that I couldn't walk. I hated to quit, so I kept going. This was the worst thing I could have done. I was not being smart about my injury, because I had never really been injured before. I took some time off and tried to run intermittently, but it just wasn't getting better. 8 months later, I finally saw an orthopedist and got in to physical therapy. I was diagnosed with "runners knee". Physical therapy was helping, but after I got my first bill, I stopped going. Recovery has been slow, but I'm finally starting to see some improvement. I'm hoping to strengthen the muscles around my knee so I can stabilize it along with taping it and wearing a knee strap to allow me to run further and be able to run hills pain free.

How frustrating was that, following your triumphant experience at Rev3 Cedar Point the year before?

Completely and utterly frustrating and depressing! I had to eventually stop running altogether while I went to physical therapy. I still biked, but with no race to look forward to or train for, I completely lost my motivation. I turned in to a real lazy person, and lost all my fitness that I gained in 2012. Looking back, I should have found some aquabike races to participate in to keep my fitness level and spirits up. But I was just so shocked by the extent of my injury that I felt a bit lost.

You recently went back to school for something health/sports related, right? What and where are you studying, and what prompted you to make this change?

Yes! I just finished my first semester at George Mason University. I'm getting my Bachelor's in Kinesiology. Last summer when my parents were visiting, my dad and I had a conversation about running; him relating his experience in the military and running with over-sized boots, and me offering what I had learned from my year with my tri team. We discussed fitness in general and I was able to offer knowledge on aerobic and anaerobic workouts, heart rate zones, what your body does in order to fuel itself, etc. I realized that I am actually fascinated by this science and wished I knew more about it. LIGHTBULB! It's never too late to go learn about something that you're interested in. I first thought I would just go get some sort of certification, but eventually decided to go for the full monty.

When will you finish school and what are your post-grad plans with the new degree? Have you learned anything cool thus far that can be applied to triathlon?

I am still working full time, as I have bills and a mortgage to pay for. This means I'm only able to go to school part time, which will cause me to take a long time to finish. I'm guessing maybe 4 years from now, I'll have my degree (instead of 2 years). I'm honestly not sure what my post-grad plans are. I got back in to school not necessarily for a career change, but because I really wanted to learn. Of course I will want to do something with this degree, but as to what extent, only time will tell. I haven't gotten in to body mechanics quite yet in my studies, but one thing that I did take special note of this semester in my health class was the importance of sleep. Your body needs sleep to recover and heal. We all loosely know this, but a lot of people disregard how important getting a quality night's sleep really is. Sleep is just as important in your training as those brick workouts are. Consistent, quality sleep sets you up for your best performance, mentally and physically.

With all that you have going on, will you be able to squeeze some racing in this year?

Oh man.. Yes, PLEASE!!! I've run several 5ks and my knee has been alright. I'm currently slowly building up my miles, paying attention to my knee, and trying to avoid hills. I definitely want to sign up for a few sprints this year at least, and I have an end of season goal that I would love to meet.... not quite ready to reveal that yet, as I don't want to over-commit my abilities, but I'm itching to have a big race to train for again!

Rank the 3 disciplines from your personal strength to weakness… also, which do you enjoy the most & least?


I enjoy swimming the least. And I think it's mostly due to having to squeeze in to a speedo, painfully shoving my hair underneath the swim cap and making sure my goggles don't leak. Swimming is also the sport that I feel least confident in, as it's so hard to be aware of form and how to improve. I also get intimidated jumping in a pool to swim laps with all the other crazy-strong swimmers. I do always feel awesome after a swim workout, however... joints and bones never hurt.

I LOVE road biking! Natalie also introduced me to this love (before the thought of triathlon). I bought a road bike a week after she let me ride hers. I was instantly hooked. I love the speed, and especially love seeing how fast I can get going downhill. Fear of crashing doesn't really factor in. It is just pure joy speeding down the road and feeling the wind whip at your body. I recently purchased a new road bike after getting a professional bike fit (5 years after owning my bike) and being told I was riding too big of a bike. I'm anxious to become "one" with my new bike as I was with my old.

What are your future triathlon-related goals?

There is a full Ironman race in my bucket. I obviously have a long way to go to be able to train and complete that huge of a race, but it is there on the horizon. The Big Intimidator. I will eventually do it. Yes, I will. In the near future, I'd like to complete another Half and in the very near future, I'm anxious to get my fitness level back up, get my knee back to 100%, and get some more races under my belt!

What’s the triathlon scene like in DC? In what ways did your local club team help you get started?

The tri scene in DC is quite large, actually. There are several tri clubs in the area, and lots of active, athletic people. The tri club that I selected really took care of everything, and was exactly what I needed. They provided training plans geared toward my ability and what season goals I had, organized workouts every day, coaching at each workout, informational clinics, a team race calendar, lots of support & motivation, and TONS of cheering at each race. It was really great taking a lot of the mental fatigue out of training, as everything was already organized and figured out; all I had to do was show up for the workout. Definitely helped bring down the possibility of feeling overwhelmed by it all.

Anything else we should know about Emily?

I'm not a fast racer. I'll never hit a podium, and I will always be mostly a BOPer. But what I've figured out, especially dealing with this knee injury, is that it's a blessing just to be able to race at all. It's super fun and exciting to be fast and to get PRs. No doubt!! But I've really been able to step back and appreciate the race for itself. If I don't get a PR, it doesn't mean that my race was a failure and I should feel bad. I can be happy just to be participating! I have shifted my mindset to be grateful for the abilities my body DOES have and not focus on what I'm lacking, or all those other people who are faster, fitter, stronger, etc. I've really been able to see the bigger picture, and this is more motivating than I thought possible! I'm no longer discouraged by comparing my current abilities to what I used to be able to do and thus feeling defeated before I even get started. I'm motivated to get to the level that I can participate. I can then build my goals from there. And I can be proud of that achievement! The power of positive thinking is amazing, and it is key to keep going. Lastly, I'm super excited, humbled, and grateful to be a part of Triple Threat Triathlon!!

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