Kevin Merlander moved from northern California to Colorado in early 2020 and joined RMTC as soon as he got here. He shared that RMTC was very welcoming to him as they immediately invited him to come to a Track workout, then, after, he started going to anything his calendar would permit. When Kevin was young, he swam on summer swim teams and was a big surfer, as he had easy access to the ocean, therefore has always been comfortable in the water. In high school, he developed a passion for running by playing skill positions on the football team and leveraging any running opportunity as a “mental outlet”, therefore, he would get out to run 3-to-4 times a week. After college, he started racing 10Ks and Half-Marathons, then he bought a road bike and got involved with various clubs, to include, a local tri-club, which motivated him to do a triathlon: the 2015 Napa HITS Olympic Distance Triathlon.
The first triathlon is always a memorable experience and his was as well. The swim was in, the beautiful, Lake Berryessa, in Napa, but problem was, it was in April… So the water was absolutely “hypothermia freezing” and further complicated with the fact that his rental wetsuit was oversized as he lost weight from the time he rented it until he actually raced. After getting out of the water, he made his way to the bike course which was fun, but challenging as he’d never raced bikes before; then, on the run, he started up and realized, due to his strong run background, he was passing people like crazy. After that race, he was hooked.
He shared that he “loved the variety of training you need to do for triathlon and the strategic thought that goes into attacking the race”. He went on to race 4 more races that year and continued into 2016, building up to Santa Cruz 70.3. Santa Cruz, to this day, is his favorite race and he has raced it several times since. He shared that he really loves the course. It is challenging and can be fast as it is really flat but can be windy as you go out and back on Highway 1 along coast so there is often crosswinds and headwinds to deal with one way or the other.
His most memorable tri experience was at IronMan Santa Rosa in 2018. He shared that, despite a cold, cold morning (which seems to be a theme for Kev…) that the race was on his birthday. He was very apprehensive on how his body would respond to 11+ hours of racing, but everything came together with a great swim and bike; and, despite concerns about not being able to run the whole marathon, he held it together and ran the whole thing. There is nothing like crossing the IronMan finish line for the first time!
Prepping for St George has been good. He is disciplined and good at following schedules and maintaining a consistent routine. He has been getting in 3 swims in a week, for the bike, he has been consistently getting shorter interval work in during the week and long rides in on weekend, and plenty of quality running. He shared that he has been investing a lot of time into getting his arms around nutrition. He has realized over time that nutrition is an aspect of the sport that, is often overlooked but, requires a lot of attention and something that folks should be considering early in their multisport journey. In managing nutrition, in addition to using RMTC sponsor, BASE SALT, he has been working closely with, RMTC sponsor, NOURISH2FLOURISH which is a nutrition, fitness, and wellness provider. Kevin shared, “I have been working with them on a meal plan and have learned a ton about nutrition and how your body is fueled and the importance of how to adjust what is going into it. Throughout, they have been providing all kinds of clever approaches and I have been experimenting with new ways of optimizing what I am putting in my body.”
His parting words were how excited he is to get back to racing. “The triathlon community has changed my life for the better. It helped me to maintain a healthy lifestyle, get outside, be active and be engaged. I am so looking forward when I get up to St George to take in all that positive energy that will be flowing all around me.”