Tango empowers teams to share and scale their knowledge so everyone can be their best at work. And we’re equally passionate about empowering our own team to be their best at work, outside of work, and everywhere in between. This series is all about the people behind the product (the Mangos behind Tango, if you will 🤗) and everything they bring to the team that makes us stronger.
Kathryn Dahlke is Tango’s Customer Success superstar. She has one of the most important jobs at Tango: making sure our customers are happy. It’s the perfect job for Kathryn, too (she’s one of the most positive and upbeat people we know!). How does she maintain all that positive energy? Must be all the endorphins she gets from being a world-class triathlete. Yep, you read that right.
When Kathryn isn’t running customer calls, she’s literally running—and biking and swimming—her way to World Championships across the globe. Where does she get the energy to do this, you ask? Must be her homemade energy balls.
All world-class triathletes had to start somewhere, right? Let’s learn how she got started.
I’ve always been active! I played soccer competitively a majority of my life, but by the time I went to college, I was burned out. When I decided to quit soccer, I wanted to find an activity where I could stay in shape and be competitive with myself. I always loved the freedom I felt riding my bike, and watching Ironman from the comfort of my own home was a favorite pastime. So after my sophomore year in college, when a friend of mine jokingly encouraged me to do an Ironman myself, I strongly considered it.
Turns out that I’m not one to say no to a challenge. As I began training and talking about my new “hobby” at work, I discovered that my boss at the time was also training for her first triathlon! We ended up swimming during lunch and doing the Tri for the Cure together that year. I caught the tri bug after crossing the finish line of that first race and haven’t looked back.
How did you get to world championship status?
In 2022, I had recovered from an intense knee injury and reparative foot surgery and wanted a challenge that could help me reconnect with my competitive side. I was also looking for opportunities to meet other athletes in the community I had recently moved to. A friend invited me to do the Portland XTERRA Triathlon, which was happening in three months. It felt like the stars were aligning and I said yes without hesitation!
The XTERRA race was an Olympic distance, off-road triathlon. The course included an open water lake swim, a mountain bike required ride, and a trail run. It was a distance that I had never done before, but I was stubborn and determined to compete no matter what! My friend didn’t end up registering, but I was so excited about trying something new that I went ahead on my own. I showed up in August with the goal to simply finish and prove I could race again. Fast forward to the race awards ceremony, and I heard my name called as the winner of my age group. I was shocked!
By winning my age group, I qualified for the XTERRA World Championship, an invite-only race that attracts over 800 elite athletes from all over the world—including professional triathletes. The race was in October—and in Italy. 😳 With a month and half to train, plan an international trip to a country I’ve never been to, and a full-time job I’d started just two months prior (ahem, Tango), I probably should have said no. But it was an opportunity of a lifetime that I just couldn’t pass up.
What was your experience training for a world championship while working full-time?
My training was condensed due to the timing of the race, which made balancing an already busy schedule incredibly challenging. I often batched my training into two parts each day, starting my day with a swim or run and ending it with a long bike ride. I tried to integrate workouts with plans I already had, like running parts of a hiking trail and riding laps with my friends—and then do a few more laps solo while they had dinner. It was a grueling schedule, but I made it work!
What challenges did you face along the way?
Proper nutrition and sleep were my biggest challenges. I’m somewhat of a “snacky” person and I didn’t realize the amount of additional food I needed to support my training. Bars, fruit, and veggies were not cutting it and the need to double my weekly meal prep quickly became apparent.
I was two months into working at Tango and just hitting my stride when the XTERRA opportunity came along, so putting in the extra hours personally and professionally forced me to stay incredibly disciplined with my time and energy.
What was the best and worst part of the experience?
Best: Crossing the finish line and hearing my friends cheering my name.
Worst: An Airbnb host that charged for gas and electricity without mentioning it in the listing. They also demanded I pay cash upon check-in as a solo female traveler.
Any advice for people looking to do triathlons competitively?
Yes! A few things I recommend:
Know your “why” for signing up and make sure you are at the center of it.
Focus on your “least strong” event and put extra effort in to improve in that area.
Do at least three open water practice swims at or near your race distance. Open water swimming is not the same as swimming in a pool or river with a current!
How has Tango supported you on your journey to accomplishing your goals as a triathlete?
I was only two months into working at Tango when this opportunity came up, and I was a little nervous about asking for time off. But my manager was fully supportive and encouraged me to go to Italy. Tango’s flexible working hours made it easier to keep up on anything I needed to from Italy, even with the time difference. Tango also has a lot of active folks on the team who inspire me to continue to push my physical limits and try something new.
What’s next for you with triathlons? (Or not doing triathlons…)
This is a great question! I’m really tapping into listening to what my body is telling me this year. Triathlons are taxing on your body and having pushed myself physically most of my life, I’d love to do more—but I also feel really proud of what I’ve accomplished thus far. So time will tell, I guess!
What were you most excited to get back to after competing?
I was most excited to see my friends and relax after coming back from Italy. I was so focused on maximizing the small training window I had available to me, so reprioritizing my connections and building community has been a welcomed refocus.
The bottom line
The Tango team comes from a wide range of industries, all with unique backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives—and we’re stronger for it. Join us.
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