Meet Renee: A Winter Triathlete!

Athlete Profile: Meet Renee “Kippie” Friedkin
— a Winter Triathlete


She didn’t own XC skis and she’d never biked on snow, but that didn’t stop Renee “Kippie” Friedkin from signing up for the New England Winter Triathlon series.
With a fitness base built from running 20-25 miles/week, her goal for the first event, a duathlon, was to finish and to not hurt anyone, herself or other athletes. She'd learned about the series via active.com and was hoping learning winter sports would help her love and appreciate winter more!
Getting started was simple, she took her bike in for a tune-up and changed the tire pressure. "Biking in the snow doesn't really require much in terms of accessories but you just have to learn to let the bike lead you in the snow and not fight to control it," says Friedkin. She was also able to rent XC skis.

The events included:
Jan 10 - Weston Winter Duathlon, Weston Ski Track, Weston, Mass.
4K trail run, 6K XC ski, 4K trail run
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done so far,” says Renee Friedkin after finishing the Weston Winter Duathlon. It was probably most difficult for a few reasons:
- the temps were below zero for the first time here,
- the snow was soft and deep to run in, so 2.5 miles felt like forever and the second 2.5 miles at the end was painful.

The XC ski portion was about 3 miles and had a big hill to climb each of the three laps. “I think if I can improve this part of my race I could take a lot of time off my finishing time,” says Friedkin.
Being new to skiing, Friedkin thinks she expended too much energy trying to get the skate down and that she has a lot to learn here. “I actually did well at the marathon skate, but most people don’t use that because it’s slower,” she says. “For short distances it would be good but not for hills or speed.”

“Anyways, overall I’m very proud I finished and not even last!” she says. “It definitely wasn’t easy in the extreme cold and deep snow, my knees took a pounding.” Her strong fitness base helped her survive and recover quickly post-race.

Friedkin hopes to learn more about skating, biking and running in the snow. “I was blown away with how hard running in the snow was, it was like running on sand in the conditions we had,” she says.

Jan 24 – Gunstock Winter Triathlon, Gunstock Mountain, Gilford, N.H.
short course: 4K trail run, 3.5K mountain bike, 3K XC ski

Her next event, the Gunstock Winter Triathlon, was definitely more challenging she says, mostly due to the inclines. “It was nearly ALL uphill!” she says. The short course was 4K trail run, 3.5K mountain bike and 3K XC ski.

This time the temperature was mild, in the 20s and the snow was soft and deep. “Running was tough, biking impossible (I pushed my bike 80 percent as did even the expert bikers) and the XC was really hard for me since I just got comfortable with the XC skate technique,” says Friedkin.

Armed with new gear (Yak Trax from her husband) and tactics from the clinic the day prior, she felt prepared for the most part. “However, next time I look at a course map, I need to look at elevation!” she says. “I have even been practicing hills in my runs now and skiing more uphill.” But, she’s also run into some overuse injuries and is icing her legs daily.

She also learned the hard way that “you need to remember to drink either between events or along the way, and eat!” Even with a bit of dizziness, Friedkin took 3rd place overall female in the short course and first in her age group (1:41:44)! Well done Renee!

Feb 6 – Massachusetts Winter Triathlon, Weston Ski Track, Weston, Mass.
5K trail run, 7.5K mountain bike, 6K XC ski

Still battling knee pain, Friedkin questioned weather racing the next event was the best choice. “I still wanted so badly to get to do the course,” she says. “I know it and it’s flat for the most part.” Friedkin spent a week trying to rest and recover prior to the race.

During the run, Friedkin’s knees felt heavy and stiff. The bike portion started off well, but by the second of three loops, she felt minor pain in her other knee in the same trouble spot. Her concern grew on the third loop and the pain intensified and so she skipped the XC portion of the course.

“I was proud of myself for doing the right thing,” she says. “At the time though I was so conflicted and I cried like a little baby because I felt like a quitter.” A DNF is never fun or easy even when it’s the wise choice.

The next day Friedkin setup an appointment with a sports medicine doctor.
Knee: 1 vs. Renee: 0.

Feb 21 – King Pine Winter Triathlon, King Pine, Madison, N.H.
4K trail run, 7.5K mountain bike, 5.5K XC ski

Friedkin’s MRI showed she had a sprained MCL. The doctor gave her the OK to train and race, but to avoid some exercises, she says.

“To be honest, if I baby it, it gets worse and if I don’t, it still feels sore,” she says.
And good or bad knees, her last event the Gunstock Winter Triathlon was cancelled due to poor/dangerous conditions wrapping up Friedkin’s first winter triathlon series.
But she'll be back next winter, hopefully with her own skis as well. "I'm also getting ready to train for a summer tri starting in May," she says. She's adding swimming into her training routine which will be new for her.
Best to you in your summer season Renee!

Questions for You:
- Have you tried a winter triathlon? If yes, what drew you in to your first event?
- If not, what of the disciplines looks most fun?

Photos by Renee Kippie Friedkin from the Gunstock Winter Tri. Thanks Renee for sharing your experience becoming a winter triathlete!!

3 comments:

Velma said...

Great post! I admire people who go out and try it - no matter what. Nice job. No winter events for me, although I would like to ski

Karin & Brian said...

This sounds awesome! I have cross country skied in the past but never done all three disciplines together. I would happily replace the swim with XC skiing! :)

Sara Cox Landolt said...

Velma- Thanks! It was so fun learning more about Renee & about winter triathlon! I would also love to ski.

Karin - Thanks for stopping by! I agree, it sounds awesome. Maybe this will be the year hubby & I get skis... :-)