ChIPster Spotlight: Kathi Cover

ChIPs exists because of our members – each of you is an important part of this vibrant, giving community that we have created together. We are constantly inspired and impressed by your different backgrounds and diverse paths you’ve taken, both in and out of the office. We’ve so enjoyed hearing updates from ChIPsters that we’ve decided to start sharing them with the rest of the ChIPs community.

First up is Kathi Cover, Vice President of Intellectual Property at DTS and ChIPs East Coast Chapter Co-Chair. It might not be surprising to hear that Kathi has an electrical engineering degree from Rice University and worked as an engineer for Texas Instruments. Or that she clerked for Hon. Sharon Prost (Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit) and has been VP of IP at a technology company in the Washington, DC area for over a decade. But you might not know that Kathi also recently competed in her 6th Ironman distance triathlon and owns and lives on a farm in Maryland.

Below, you’ll find an energizing Q&A with Kathi and some great tips.

1. How did you get into competing in Ironman distance triathlons? I signed up for my first triathlon, a sprint distance, as a goal to get me out of the office and outside on an adventure. I had no ambitions of becoming a “real” triathlete, but after doing a few shorter distance races I started to wonder if I should take things more seriously. I replaced my used $25 clunker of a bike from college with a racing bike and joined a regional triathlon club. During one of my first club meetings, I learned about this thing called an “Ironman” from some seemingly normal people who had just done this impossible sounding race in Lake Placid: a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. I wanted to be like them: bold, fit, healthy, happy, and a little bit crazy. That’s when I decided to attempt an Ironman.

2. How much/often do you train? For my first Ironman, I trained seriously for a full year with a coach who programmed workouts every day, sometimes twice a day. It was a lot of work, stress, and fun. For the three months leading up to the race, I was riding my bike all day on Saturday, running for hours on Sunday, and then doing nothing other than sleeping and eating in between. For my races since then, I’ve kept things much more informal and low key. I still spend summer weekends riding, running, and eating. The rest of the year, I will open water swim, trail run, hike, and do anything else outdoorsy that sounds like fun. I also throw in CrossFit during the week for some variety and functional fitness.

3. What’s your advice for other women thinking about competing? My first piece of advice to anyone thinking about doing an Ironman is to dream big, but start small with a short distance tri to be sure you like swimming, biking, and running. If you like it, and want more, then my second piece of advice is to find a regional club in your area to meet some like-minded people. Having a community of support is critical to making it through an Ironman. Training peeps can make the endless hours of swimming, biking, and running fun, provide much-needed encouragement when things go wrong or start to feel too hard, and share good advice based on their experiences. Having family and friends on board is also important. The commitment to Ironman training can be very difficult for those closest to you; be sure they are ready for you to make training your top priority.

4. Does competing help you professionally? I don’t really “compete” – I never go to a race to win. I’m there to finish and have fun. In that respect, racing has taught me that the concept of “winning” shouldn’t be limited to conventional norms, such as crossing the finish line first. I think the same is true when thinking about what it means to be successful professionally. We can all choose what success or failure looks like, on our own terms. Ironman also has taught me how to tackle seemingly impossible problems or situations. Even the biggest problem can be broken down into manageable parts. Working through the parts one-by-one, with patience, persistence, and consistency will eventually lead to a successful outcome – just like with Ironman training.

5. What is your favorite thing about being a part of ChIPs? Meeting other people like me. There aren’t very many women who are in-house counsel at tech companies, and ChIPS helps bring together others who are in similar roles with similar challenges. This ChIPs community in my professional life is very much like the Ironman community I’ve built in the triathlon side of my life. It is an invaluable resource.

6. Okay, we have to mention your farm. How did you end up living on a farm, and how many animals do you have? I have wanted a horse in my own backyard for as long as I can remember. My dream to have a horse on my own farm came true shortly after I moved to DC and realized that the Metro system went far enough out of the city that I could live in the country and commute into work in just over an hour. I have one horse, two dogs, and two chickens.