In the world of competitive sports, the pack tends to be pretty evenly matched. Finish lines are fiercely contested and margins for error and victory tend to balance on a hair's breadth. So when Kathryn Marie Haesner beat the entire field of female athletes in the recent Bintan Triathlon by well over 10 minutes to place 4th overall, we immediately recognised someone with some serious sisu.
Bubbling full of energy - even after a half marathon training run the morning we met up with her - she has recently decided to go 'all in', and see where a professional sports career can take her. Currently training for the Phuket Challenge 70.3 Triathlon (or half ironman), at 38, Kathryn is a late arrival to the world of triathlon and competitive sport, but is already testament to the fact that it's never to late to go after your dream. We salute your sisu, Kathryn.
Please can you give us a brief introduction of yourself?
I am a relative “newbie” to the sport of triathlon. I have recently turned a pro triathlete at the ripe old age of 38. In between all my training and racing, I am a mum of two girls and a graphic designer by trade. Note: the sofa and TV at home get very little use except when I collapse from hard training sessions. In most cases the TV is just a decorative piece on the sideboard :-)
What is a typical "week in the life" of Kathryn Haesner?
Most days consist of morning and evening training sessions, be it swim, bike, run, gym or brick sessions. I train 6 days a week, with some weeks being “load weeks” and others being less endurance and lighter training. In the run up to a half iron[wo]man I will be swimming 12-15km a week, biking 300km and running 70-80km.
You came to triathlon as a sport quite late in life. Why was that? Were you always sporty growing up?
Haha! I was never one to sit still for long and I still have “ants in my pants”. I have always viewed sport as a great outlet for releasing frustration and calming the soul. My background is swimming, but I quit competitive swimming at 15 when I started to question why I was doing such a physically demanding sport. I started masters swimming again 20 years later at 35 and also discovered the joy of open water swimming. My journey to triathlon was just totally out of curiousity and want of a challenge in life.
What are your long-term goals?
To complete an Ironman before I turn 40. Also trying to remain uninjured.
Are there any lessons you've learnt through triathlon that you are teaching to your two daughters?
If you stay calm and pace yourself you can finish anything you set out to do and this does not only apply to sport.
What piece of advice would you give to your 13 year old self?
Be yourself, believe in yourself, and never let other people create doubt in your mind.
What makes you wake up each morning?
My cat biting my toes or batting my face, lol! Seriously… the innate urge to work towards achieving my goals and inspiring others in the process
What and who inspires you?
Everyday people overcoming personal challenges and not giving up. I am also inspired by many endurance athletes - way too many to mention.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Who do you think has serious sisu?
Dawn Fraser, Bethany Hamilton and Chrissy Wellington to name a few, but basically any women out there doing endurance sports and pushing the boundaries of expectations.
Kathryn will be competing in the Challenge Laguna Phuket Tri-Fest 70.3 Triathlon on November 30th 2014. You can keep up with Kathryn through her website or Facebook page.