Chicago Athlete: How did your triathlon journey begin?
Karis Youngblood: It’s so funny because I am a better athlete now in my 40’s compared to the athlete I tried to be in high school; I did very poorly run track, I was a sprinter in junior high and some of high school, but I didn’t make varsity. I also didn’t do collegiate sports, I wish I had though because I went to Georgetown and they had an amazing tack program, but I wasn’t good enough. So, I kept working out on my own and started doing trail runs.
During one of those runs I injured my ankle, so I wasn’t able to run, and the doctor suggested I swim and bike to stay active. Then, once my ankle healed, I missed swimming and biking, so when I saw an ad for a FFC Indoor Triathlon, I did it and I had a blast. In 2010 I did my first SuperSprint outdoors with the Chicago Triathlon, and then I joined Infinity Multisport in 2015 when I was really hooked.
CA: What is your biggest accomplishment in the sport so far?
KY: Registering for my first SuperSprint; being able to say I am doing something different that nobody I know is doing, even when I’m not a good swimmer. I’m really proud that I keep trying and waking up at 4:30 in the morning to train for this.
Also I recently just did my first official Half Ironman, and it’s just such a great community. As an African American woman, we are poorly represented in sports that included swimming, and there’s limited exposure to triathlon, so the more people I tell about it, the more curiosity is piqued. Every summer I hook a new fish.
CA: What are your short- and long-term goals?
KY: My goal is always to be smiling when I cross the finish line, but I have time goals now too. I’m really excited that I’m now moving into the space where I can be competitive. My short term goal is to successfully complete the Madison Ironman in September, and my long term goal is to continue to encourage other people they can do this. I also hope to have multiple Ironmans under my belt eventually.
CA: What advice do you give to triathletes?
KY: Don’t be so hard on yourself, find a community that supports you and pushes you. Find a coach and group to train with; the bond that you create with folks that you’ve sweat with, cried with, progressed with, and succeeded with is like none other. Encourage somebody else too. Also, don’t whine. I’m the biggest cheerleader, but this is not the sport for whiners.