Kara and the Jersey Girl Triathlon

If there is one thing us WiOs know about our wonderful instructor, Kara Hermes, it is that she is a real life energizer bunny.  She never seems to stop, from teaching a gazillion classes a day, to taking other WiO classes, to riding her bike all over town.  Kara literally, keeps going, and going, and going.  So, when she announced that she was going to pursue her first triathlon at the Jersey shore, we had no doubt she would cross that finish line. 

Being born a competitor and true athlete, Kara has competed in fitness competitions since she was a little girl.  This year however, she said she was “ready to step up her game and challenge herself.”  She started this challenge by participating in the Spartan Race earlier this summer.  This grueling race got her prepared to take her fitness to a new level, at the biggest race of her life, The Jersey Girl Triathlon.

Kara’s day job as a fitness instructor allowed her to be training and preparing for the event multiple times a day.  And the classes she taught and took at the studio became her sole preparation.  The only downfall of teaching all day was she never had the time or the energy to run or swim, but her body was prepared regardless.

"Nerve-wracking and exciting" is how Kara describes the night before the race.  She stayed with a friend who was also a triathlon first timer and they had a pasta dinner with a glass of wine that put them fast asleep by 9:30pm.  The wake up call for the event was a daunting 4:45am as the race began at 6:50am on the dot.  When getting to the starting line, Kara admits feeling a bit intimidated by the 1800 female only participants, ready to go and lined up.  “It was clear the women who were there were experienced, they just seemed to have a different look in their eye," she says.  On top of that initial intimidation, she also had a ton of other factors on her mind.  One, was a huge fear of the ocean and heard of a shark sighting in those waters a week prior. Two, was riding a borrowed bike! However, once the race was under way she had one thing on her mind, getting to the finish line!

The most challenging part of the competition for Kara was the first leg of the race, the 300 yard (three football fields,) swim. “It was overwhelming and the current was rough.  I panicked on my way to the first buoy.  I took off my goggles and resorted to a doggy paddle just to keep my head above water! I got so winded and was having a hard time breathing.  There were so many women, that it was common to get kicked in the face and chest.  However, somehow, I still made it in decent time.”  Kara was extremely happy to get out of the ocean and into her comfort zone, the bike.  She describes getting her groove back and feeling confident when she hit the pavement!  It was 10.6 miles on a flat land and was moving pretty quick.  To her surprise, the run is where she felt the most confident!  She says this is because running is the experience she was most familiar competing in.  “It was 3 miles and I refused to slow down or give up!  I sprinted like the wind into the finish, and the crowd cheering helped for a little extra boost at the end.”

Awesome, is how Kara describes what it felt like to cross that finish line.  “I was psyched to see the finish and managed to muster out a sprint in the end. The crowd was calling out my number and cheering me on. I was so proud of myself!  I felt like I could cry just based on sheer pride.”  Kara admits that crossing was that much sweeter because two weeks prior, she was close to bailing on the race because she began to doubt herself.  Luckily, she had friends who pushed her to make it happen and she is so glad she did.  Kara placed 104th overall out of 1800 women with a time of 1:13:59.  She sees her time as one she wants to beat at her next triathlon, which she has already planned for the fall.

With the triathlon now a week behind her, Kara sees it as one of her proudest fitness accomplishments.  She explains that everyone around her has been so kind and interested in her achievement and that she loves talking about it, because it truly makes her feel proud.  When asked about other’s wanting to try it, she explains, “If it’s something that you want to accomplish, you can do anything you put your mind to. All I wanted to do was finish, now I have a time to beat- my own! So if you go into it and do the best you can, its possible!”

The WiO Team is extremely proud of you! Congratulations Kara!  Can't wait to watch you "keep on going!"