? About

About Karen

In 1992 I jumped in to my first triathlon on a dare. I was the second to last finisher of the entire event! It was one of the most empowering moments of my life! Needless to say, I fell in love with the sport of triathlon :

Over the past 24 years, I have trained and raced at all levels ranging from "back of the pack" age grouper to professional athlete. I've learned so many lessons on this journey and some of the most significant are:

1. Never give up. If you believe you can do something the probability that you can instantly becomes 100%

2. Life will always bring many obstacles but they will be overcome with patience and perseverance. There is a solution to everything!

3. Things happen for a reason, we need to let things flow and trust that life always finds a balance.

Triathlon has enriched my life in so many ways and given me so much joy that I want to share that with everyone I can. I've been coaching for 9 years and I've had the privilege to work with all types of athletes ranging from 5k runners to Ironman World Championship qualifiers.

My main goal as a coach is to share a vast range of experience and knowledge gained over 24 years of dedicated training and racing and 46 years of living! I want to teach and inspire others in a way that helps them reach their ultimate goals.

Career Highlights

Kona qualifier (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015)
Multiple 70.3 Worlds Qualifier
USAT All American Athlete

Recent Personal Bests as of 2013

Ironman 9:42 (3100 mtr swim 41 min, 112 m bike 5'14", 26.2 m run 3:40)
Half Ironman 4:46
Olympic Tri 2:17
Half Marathon 1:28


Nick Dupre

“Karen began coaching me three months before my first full distance IM. Prior to meeting her, I had completed dozens of marathons over the last decade and had just started getting into triathlon. My goal prior to meeting Karen was just to finish the IM (maybe in 14-15 hours or so) and never do another one. I hired Karen, finished in under 12 hours and hope to qualify for Kona sometime in the future. Suffice it to say that I learned more from Karen in those three months than I did in the last decade of participating in endurance events. At the outset we established my race goals, training guidelines and what we both expected of each other. We identified my strengths and weaknesses, and Karen tailored my program to reflect same as well as to fit my life schedule. The difference between Karen and a lot of other coaches is that she addresses all aspects of training, i.e. not just the physical "are you doing your training?" "what are you eating?" but the mental, emotional and logistical as well. "How are you feeling?" "How is your family?" "It's okay to miss this workout if work is stressful." She took to the time to get to know me as a person/athlete (what motivates me, my goals, and my approach/attitude to training). She understands that life and family happens. Her training plan kept me on track, honest, and motivated with my workouts while adapting to real life challenges like work stresses, time management, and relationships. Karen told me not only what I wanted to hear, but also what I needed to hear at the right time during training and provided the perfect guidance I needed to arrive at the race line with 100% confidence in my ability. I was relaxed and excited rather than stressed and intimidated. One of the best things about Karen as a coach is that she is very accessible. I lived too far away to meet in person regularly, but she replied to my questions promptly and always made me feel valued. She's an excellent listener and always gives meaningful, regular feedback during training. Karen is amazing athlete herself, which gives her advice a high degree of credibility. She knows what works and what doesn't and shares her own experiences honestly rather than strictly looking at the science and saying "This should be working." And she's great for the sport. Regardless of your athletic ability or experience, she's just as excited to help you reach your goals. Athletes get so focused on spending huge amounts of money on bikes, shoes, pedals, gels, wheels, etc., but the single smartest investment I made towards fulfilling my goals as a triathlete was hiring Karen as my coach." ”

Susan Kooiman

“Coach Karen took me from a middle-of-the-pack runner to a podium triathlete. She's a great coach. She knows her stuff. She's been there, done that, so that her clients don't have to suffer the same trials and can benefit from her experience. She's kind, she's understanding, easy to contact and great at creating training plans. She knocked two minutes per mile off my marathon times so that I qualified for Boston, and my 5K time by more than 3 minutes/mile. She's the best!"”

Ed Hulsewe

“As for many of us doing an Ironman race seemed to be only something only a few elite folks could accomplish. I surely was not one of those. With Ironman coming to The Woodlands several of friends signed up in 2010 and 2011 and completed their first ever IM event. Having done one sprint tri I was seriously intrigued by the possibility. One thing led to another and one of my friends told me if I was serious about considering a journey like that to use the coach he had used to lead him. This is how I met Karen Maldonado. Karen ended up coaching both myself and my wife through our first IM 140.6 event in 2012 and 2013 and several other races. Her knowledge, personal inspiration and friendship made for a great fit to help push and set new boundaries. Now at least five full IM distance events later and many more other races I am hooked to the sport and get to compete in the top of my age group bracket. If it was not for the motivation and inspiration of Karen I know we would not be where we are today.”

Kristine Anthony

“I am not a podium finisher. I am not the fastest, thinnest, or youngest competitor in my age group. I am not an "elite" athlete, but Coach Karen has always treated me as if I were these things. She is as supportive of her "regular" athletes as she is her champions. Her training program is just as challenging, her availability for questions and advice just as open, and her congratulations just as heartfelt. I am proud to say that I am an Ironman. With Karen as my coach, I have successfully finished 3 Ironman events (IMTX 2012, IMAZ 2013, and IMFL 2015) and she's coaching me for IM Louisville 2016. Her coaching program has resulted in my crossing the finish line at the 2014 NYC Marathon and numerous shorter distance triathlons and running events. Karen both encourages and inspires her athletes. I am proud to call her my coach and proud to be a member of BALA Racing.”

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BALA Racing invites athletes of all abilities. Our group training sessions are open to EVERYONE! Please review our calendar for weekly training sessions and social events.