Blogs / From Kristen
I grew up learning that bragging was bad. If you do something really, really well, it will be noticed and acknowledged, but you should never acknowledge your own accomplishments. It’s impolite.
I get that, but since joining the Fit Bottomed Girl crew, I’ve learned that everything is good in moderation, and that includes bragging. I mean, have I shut up about the Leadman Tri yet? Nope, and I’m not planning to any time soon.
But here’s the thing—bragging is a good thing when it’s used to encourage and motivate people, or when it’s shared with people who care about and understand you and truly want to hear how hard you worked and how proud you are of an accomplishment. Positivity and excitement beget positivity and excitement, so I see no harm in sharing.
Bragging only becomes a problem when it’s used to “one-up” somebody else. I would never, ever talk about a big, successful race as a way to top someone’s recount of their first 5K. I wouldn’t rub my finish line joy in their face if they had a DNF for a marathon. No way.
I’ve gotten an enormous amount of amazing, positive feedback since posting about Leadman. I’ve had people tell me that I was part of their inspiration for signing up for race in a distance that truly terrified them. I’ve had people who haven’t been on a bike in over a decade ask me about getting into triathlon. And that never would have happened if I hadn’t posted about my training and my race here and on various social media channels. It never would have happened if I weren’t a Fit Bottomed Girl.
Truth be told, I probably never would have ventured past the Olympic distance if I weren’t a part of this site. And even if I had, I wouldn’t have had the accountability of having to write a race recap to push me past my comfort zone. I wouldn’t have trained to the point of earning a “BAMF” title from people at my gym. And I certainly wouldn’t have had the self-confidence to hear that title and think and think, “You know what? I kind of am.”
So, yeah, I’ve learned to brag a little, and I’ve learned that it’s totally okay. You know, in moderation.
What kind of lessons have you learned as a part of this community? Do you agree with me or think I’m full of hot air? —Kristen
It’s no secret that the half marathon and I have had a rocky relationship. My first one, back in 2005, was really not enjoyable. But then again, I had no idea what I was doing. I loosely followed a training plan but didn’t get any runs longer than 9 miles in. I didn’t do any cross-training. I didn’t eat anything during the race and drank only water. And I felt like absolute crap when I crossed the finish line.
I vowed to never do it again.
For my second attempt at the 13.1, I trained well and had a solid nutrition plan. I knew what I was doing, and I couldn’t have felt more ready … until the heat and humidity got the better of me. If I felt like absolute crap at the end of my first one, I’m not sure there’s a way for me to describe the way I felt at the end of the Miami half. Not words that are allowed on Fit Bottomed Girls, anyway. It was a horrible, horrible, horrible experience.
I swore that would be my last half marathon.
As you’re reading this, I’m on my way to California for the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon. And, ever the optimist, I’m convinced that this time will be different. Here’s why:
- I’ve been training hard (and consistently) for months on end. Training for the Leadman Tri got me basically ready for this race, and since that triathlon, I’ve gotten in three long runs—one of them a full 13 miles—and they were all really successful. There’s not a doubt in my mind that my legs can carry me that distance, since they just did it a couple of weeks ago.
- I’m not setting any time or pace goals. Although I’ve worked hills into my training runs, I’m fully aware that the hills I run in Florida are a far cry from the major climbs I’ll face in California, and I’m giving myself permission to walk when it feels right. I’m still going to challenge myself and push when I can, but my mindset is far more focused on enjoying the experience than running a 10:30 pace.
- My only goals are to finish and have fun. And if I were to prioritize, I would put the fun first. This shouldn’t be hard—I’m running in a beautiful location, past wineries and through a field of lavender, for Pete’s sake, and I’ll be there with two of the coolest and most inspiring women I know. My husband will be waiting for me at the finish line, and you know what else will be there? Wine. What’s not to enjoy?
It might seem nuts to be so excited about running a race distance that’s brought me so much pain in the past, but maybe this time will be the time we work out our differences and become good friends. And if not, drowning my sorrows in local wine really is not the most terrible of options.
Any pearls of wisdom or encouraging words from you Fit Bottomed runners out there? I’ll be sure to tell you all about it when I get back! —Kristen
I love the idea of a spirit animal, and I had a couple of possibilities in mind long before this became an official Question of the Week.
I mean, my first thought was a dog, because, well, I love dogs, and it would be cool to have an animal I love so much as my spirit animal. But, while I might be as goofy as any Labrador you meet, I just don’t have that much energy.
I considered the penguin, and for a long time, that seemed just right. They love to swim, they’re not too fast on land, and they like to slide rather than walk, when possible. But then, I thought about the fact that they go for loooong periods of time without eating, and that? Is so not me. Not at all.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that, without a doubt, my fitness spirit animal had to be a seal. Hang tight while I explain.
Why My Fitness Spirit Animal Is the Seal
1. Seals are wicked fast in the water. I’m pretty comfortable in the water, myself, and like to think of myself as fairly speedy.
2. They’re a little more awkward on land. I may have mentioned in the past that running is not my strong suit, and if you’ve ever watched a seal waddle clumsily along the beach, well, you’ll get the connection.
3. They’re very trainable. One piece of feedback I’ve gotten from almost every coach I’ve had is that I’m super coachable. I might not be the best or the fastest or the strongest, but if you tell me what to do, I’ll try like hell to do it right. Especially with a little motivation.
4. Seals eat 6 to 8 percent of their body weight in fish every day. I might not eat quite that much fish, but, I mean, I do consume a fair amount of food each day. On a long bike or run day, I feel like I must come close to that percentage. Know what I mean? You know what I mean.
5. They look cute and playful, but probably? You shouldn’t mess with them. Yeah, it’s been said that I have a sweet smile and innocent eyes, and I try to live by the motto, “When in doubt, just be nice.” But that doesn’t mean I’m not a bad-ass when necessary. I will work as hard as anyone I know in order to be the best FBG I can be, and, well, I really wouldn’t recommend getting in my way in the process.
I can’t think of another animal that would be a better fit, can you? Have you come up with your spirit animal yet? —Kristen
I’m a huge fan of cheerleading. Not the sport, specifically (although I know how hard I had to work just to nail a back handspring, so I have mad respect for those competitive cheer teams), but the idea of cheering someone on. I do it a lot in races—if I see someone struggling, I tell them if water is just around the bend or encourage them to just keep moving forward. And I’ve been fortunate in races where I’ve had a hard time—someone has always said a kind word or otherwise cheered me on.
In the Leadman Tri (What, you thought I was done talking about it? Ha! Hardly!) I had a lot of time (like, seven hours) in my own head. There were plenty of spectators out, but only in specific parts of the bike and run course. And that meant the folks who were in the less populated areas really stood out.
There was one guy in particular, standing on a median in the middle of the bike course on a section where we passed him on both sides of the road, who I wish I could find and thank. He cheered loudly from the very beginning, but what stood out was the fact that he was still there at the end, and he was just as enthusiastic for those of us near the back of the pack as he had been for the pros. He’d taken off his shirt—it was pretty darn hot by then—and was sweating just about as much as we were, but he was still ringing his cowbell and screaming encouragement as we rode by.
But that’s not the only reason he stands out in my mind. He made a point to comment on specific things people were doing well, which was much needed by the end of the four-hour ride, let me tell you. I mean, after that long on the bike, I was pretty much feeling like I couldn’t do anything properly, but as I passed by him the last time, he yelled, “Your form looks great! Stay strong!” That was just what I needed to hear at that point, and I have no doubt it helped me focus on the positive for a few more miles.
That’s not to say the folks at the aid stations weren’t amazing, too—their wigs and costumes and giant smiles were a truly welcome addition to the Gatorade. But it was that specific feedback from that one dude that’s freeze-framed in my mind.
Do you react better to specific compliments and encouragement like this when you’re busting your butt? Or do you tend to block out the outside noise? —Kristen
The Leadman Tri Marquee in Tempe, Ariz., on April 14 was billed as epic, and you know what? It wasn’t just epic. It was life changing.
This was my first foray into a true endurance distance race—prior to this, I’d done Olympic length triathlons, and I’d done half marathons, but I’d never done something that I knew would take me the better part of a workday. But, when fellow FBG Susan, who’s based in Phoenix, told me about the Leadman, I realized this was my opportunity to step it up.
The 125 km race played to my strengths—the swim was long (2500m), the bike was long (109.5k), but without any major climbs, and the run was relatively short (13k). Those were all distances I was sure I could do, so it was just a matter of training hard and putting it all together on race day.
Despite plenty of preparation, loads of encouraging calls, texts, Tweets and more, I was beyond nervous the morning of the race. Like, fighting back tears level of nervousness. And when my group was just moments away from entering the water, the nerves hit even harder because I realized … I had forgotten to use my asthma inhaler. And I had not left it in transition. Basically, I was about to embark on the hardest endurance event of my entire life without the one thing I’d done religiously before every single workout leading up to it. I didn’t puke, but it was a close call.
Fortunately, my plan had been to stay aerobic throughout the race anyway, and I generally only run into trouble with my asthma when I jack my heart rate way up, so I figured I’d be okay. And if not? Well, there’s always medical support at these things, right?
I placed myself behind the first line of swimmers with the plan to stay just behind the front of the pack and see how I felt with 500m or so to go, at which point I could decide if I wanted to make a move or stay where I was. That plan didn’t exactly work out—these swimmers were fast, and before long, I was swimming (blindly and directly into the sun) all by myself. I was way behind the top swimmers and far enough ahead of the rest of the pack that I didn’t see anyone nearby for a while.
I got a bit off course here and there until we turned away from the sun and I could see again. I’d had a little breathing trouble on the first half of the course and felt like my wetsuit was too tight around my neck, which was really due to nerves, I think, but once I made the turn I settled in and reminded myself that this was just the beginning, and this was the part I was supposed to like. If I let myself feel miserable at that point, I was going to run into trouble later.
Also, can I just say thank goodness for wetsuit strippers. Seriously.
Swim time: 51:13
Wetsuit off and Gu safely packed in the back of my kit, I jogged over to my bike and, very methodically, went through my mental checklist. I grabbed my sunglasses, my socks and shoes, bike gloves, and, of course, my bike, and started heading for the exit. And that’s when I realized I’d forgotten my helmet, which, well, you sort of have to have in these situations. I hightailed it back to my transition area, grabbed the errant helmet and hopped on my bike. And stayed on it (more or less) for the next 4-plus hours.
This was a tricky course, not because any of the hills were particularly challenging, but because there were loads of super sharp turns, and, considering the Leadman athletes did the same loop four times, there were a fair number of wipeouts (none including yours truly, though!). I had simple goals—don’t get sloppy, don’t get lazy and follow the nutrition plan.
I nailed it. My speed wasn’t anything spectacular—15.8 mph average, which was much slower than some athletes, but I was able to do the bottle exchange on both my left and right side (although I might’ve said, “Oh sh*t oh sh*t oh sh*t oh sh*t,” as I pedaled up to each one) and, when I dropped my chain on a sharp turn during the final loop, I got off my bike and put it back on without incident. A year ago, the thought of doing any of those things would’ve sent me into a panic, so by the time I rolled into T2, I was feeling pretty good. In fact, at various points during the ride, I found myself with a huge smile on my face, thinking, “Dude, this is awesome.”
Bike time: 4:18:19
At this point, it’s safe to say my brain was not working at maximum capacity. I’d spent the last mile or so of the ride running through what I needed to do in transition so that I wouldn’t make another bonehead move like I had with the helmet in T1. I racked my bike, took off my helmet, grabbed my race belt and bib, and took off.
And then I realized I still had my bike shoes on, which aren’t even made for walking, let alone running. I popped back over to my transition area (again), switched shoes, and headed out for the final—and arguably most challenging—portion of the race. (more…)
This week in celebration of Fit Bottomed Pets’ Week, each FBG is writing about her experience with pets and how they make us healthier, happier and generally more awesome.
My dogs, Rudi and Hollie, didn’t exactly pass their obedience classes with flying colors, but when it comes to living life to the fullest, well, they could probably wag their way into Mensa. They’ve certainly taught me a few lessons!
6 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dogs
1. Enthusiasm is contagious. There’s rarely an occasion when one dog gets excited about something without the other one jumping in. Someone’s at the door! A leaf in the backyard moved! The cat looked at me! Mom shifted in her chair! These are all things that get both of them going, but none of that compares to the excitement they show for getting to go out in the backyard or going for a walk. The enthusiasm with which they greet every single day? That is ruffing awesome.
2. Stretch because it feels good. I tend to schedule in stretching sessions because, well, if I don’t, sometimes I just don’t do it. The dogs? They have no schedule. They’re not in training. They don’t do anything that should make them particularly sore. But they stretch all the time, and they clearly enjoy it. When Rudi goes into downward dog—and trust me, you’ve never seen as perfect a downward dog as hers—it reminds me of how great it feels to spread out my shoulders and fill my lungs with air in a great stretch. I should do that more often.
3. Eating nutritious food is something to look forward to. I feed the dogs a high-quality kibble, and they get the same thing twice a day, every day. And they’re just as thrilled about it each time as they were the time before. The fact that it’s good for them doesn’t quell the drooling—they truly cannot wait for me to set those bowls down and give them the okay to begin.
4. Earn your treats, then enjoy the hell out of them. The dogs generally just get a treat or two per day, and they have to work for them by doing tricks. Then they scarf them down like it’s going out of style. It’s kind of like me and ice cream—if I’ve had a good workout and eaten reasonably well that day, I deserve a bit of a treat. And oh, do I enjoy that treat. So much.
5. Rest is also good. Despite their seemingly limitless energy, they’re also great at fully embracing rest. They’re great at finding a cozy spot in a sunbeam or rolling around in a warm patch of grass until it’s just perfect for sleeping. And, when I let them climb up in the guest bed with me as a special treat (yes, I’m a mean old pet owner who doesn’t allow my dogs on the furniture on a regular basis), well, they might not be able to smile, but their thumping tails let me know that they’re as excited to snuggle as they were for anything else that day.
6. Shake it off. Although they’re the best of friends, these two dogs have gotten into a couple of scraps with each other. They’ve done things to make me yell at them. Loudly. They’ve run into walls and fences and who knows what else while playing, but nothing’s ever slowed them down for long. They don’t hold grudges. They don’t sulk (much, anyway). They never sit around feeling sorry for themselves. They just move on and find the next fun thing.
I want to be as excited about anything as my dogs are about, well, pretty much everything (other than the vacuum cleaner). I feel like that’s a great way to look at living a fit and healthy life—get excited about all the things you get to do and never even give a thought to something you can’t do.
Do you have pets who have taught you some good, healthy life lessons? Do any of these sound familiar? —Kristen
Just a reminder that this is our new feature called Workout I Did. Read them all and feel the workout love here!
I’ve probably mentioned a time or two (oh, look—here and here!) that I don’t see vacations as an excuse to be a lazy glutton. When I actually have loads of time and a flexible schedule, that’s all the more reason to get in a really great workout that I might not have time (or energy) for on a regular day at home.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband Jared and I took a quick trip to the beach, which was amazing, but required a bit of planning since it was the last weekend I could get a long bike ride in before my race (which is, ummm, this weekend. OMG.), but I knew I could run as long as I wanted along the beach.
So, I rode after work on Friday, hit a theme park on Saturday, and instead of just planning to run for, like, a long time on Sunday, I broke it up as follows.
Sandy Sunday Morning Run
Mile 1: Warm up—nothing hard, nothing tricky.
Mile 2: I spent this mile focusing on form. I have a tendency to allow my arms to cross my body when they swing (which is actually a fairly common problem, especially for women), and this wastes a lot of energy, so I made sure to keep my arms and hands by my sides and swinging in a clean arc. I also made a point to keep my neck and shoulders relaxed, getting good, deep breaths, and even rolling my shoulders back and down when I felt myself tensing up.
Mile 3: This was all about keeping a high cadence. My actual speed didn’t matter so long as I kept my cadence (the rate at which I go from one foot to the next) high. I don’t actually keep a count (although you can totally calculate yours, if you like), but I know how it feels when it’s in the right range, and I know how it feels when it slows down. My trick for keeping mine high is to think of kicking my feet up and back behind me—it speeds the cadence up without my having to think about any actual numbers.
Miles 2-4: Repeat miles 2-3, but instead of running entirely on the hard-packed wet sand, I mixed it up with a few minutes here and there in the softer and more uneven sand.
Miles 5-6: I took these miles nice and easy, running for four to five minutes and then taking a walk break. At one point, I took a nice long walk break to allow my calves to stretch out a bit (and, if I’m being honest, to look at all the gorgeous beach houses and pretend I was shopping for my next home).
Mile 7: Strong finish! I picked the pace up and held it until the end. I always like to see what I have left on my legs at the end of a longer run, especially when I run on sand or trails, because those different surfaces really tax different muscles than a road run. I was pleased to see that I had enough gas left in the tank to finish at a comfortably challenging 10-minute-per-mile pace.
Cool down: I popped over to the sidewalk and walked a leisurely half mile down the road to grab a latte and a muffin (Which I could eat! Sort of! If I break it into small enough pieces and don’t really have to chew it!), then strolled back to the hotel to get ready for a day of rest and relaxation.
How do you break up long runs? Do you just set a time or distance and finish it, or do you shift focus or goals on each mile? —Kristen
Seeing that we’re all still abuzz from the Oscars, we thought that for this Question of the Week we’d keep the movie-love going by asking each FBG: What movie motivates you to be fitter? Enjoy the responses, and be sure to leave your own fave fit movie in the comments!
I was so excited to see Erin’s choice for a motivational movie was The Cutting Edge. It’s one of my all-time favorite movies, period. But personally, that’s a flick that makes me want to curl up and drink hot cocoa in an oversized hockey sweater. When it comes to a movie that makes me want to be fast, strong, brave and a total badass, there’s nothing like Blue Crush.
Now, I might live in Florida, but I’m no surfer. I’m a Midwesterner who relocated in search of warmer climes but retained a slight fear of sharks, so I have yet to get out on a board. But damn, do I admire the people who can do it. (And I have plans to try it myself. Eventually. Probably.)
And I seriously admire the way Kate Bosworth’s character, Anne Marie, overcomes all kinds of obstacles—absent parents, a rebellious kid sister, an incredibly difficult financial situation, the allure of a romance that could derail her dreams, not to mention a traumatic near-death surfing experience—in her pursuit to compete among the best at Pipe Masters surf competition.
The beach shots are gorgeous, and the footage of the surfers during the competition is incredible, but the parts that get me are when Anne Marie is getting up early, marking off the days left before the competition (in lipstick, on her bathroom mirror), and the awesome workouts she gets in before beginning her day as a hotel maid. She runs the beach, she does pull-ups using trees. She doesn’t let her job or her lack of money keep her from being the best she can be.
We all have days where we think, ugh, I don’t have time to work out before going into the office, and I don’t have money to join that gym/sign up for that class/hire a coach. And this movie proves that those excuses are all total crap. It’s up to you to do the work, regardless of your situation.
Anybody else out there always feel like going out for a long, hard run after this movie? Or maybe a swim? —Kristen
We’ve reached the point of no return, y’all.
The Leadman Tri Marquee Epic 125 is in less than two weeks. My bike is already en route to Phoenix. There’s really no turning back now, is there?
Sure, I’ve had to repeat my “Don’t panic” mantra a few times, but I’ve gotten some nice, long rides under my belt, along with an open-water swim in my wetsuit and plenty of good runs. I’m as comfortable as one can be with the idea of doing the race. I’m comfortable with my abilities. (Mostly. I think.)
But that still leaves plenty of room for the things that are completely out of my control to creep in and freak me the $@%& out.
It started when we were getting my bike ready to ship and couldn’t get the pedals off. “Maybe this is a sign,” I told my husband Jared. “I mean, if I can’t even get the pedals off, am I going to be completely out of my league at this race? Maybe I’m going to be the last one. OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO BE THE LAST ONE IN, AND THERE WON’T EVEN BE ANY FOOD LEFT, AND THE CHASE CAR WILL BE BEHIND ME ON THE BIKE, AND THEY’LL YELL AT ME TO GO FASTER, WON’T THEY?!?”
For the record, the removal of pedals? Yeah, that has nothing to do with, well, any of that. Which Jared kindly reminded me as he tried to keep my mind from spiraling off into even worse places.
Anyway, I like control, and I like knowing exactly what to expect, which is what I’m having a hard time with. I’m unfamiliar with the area, and because the race is a new one, I don’t even have the benefit of looking at past results to see where my estimated finish time puts me in comparison to other athletes.
So, the plan is to focus on what I can control, which, really, is always a good plan for race day. You never have control over the weather or the other athletes. All kinds of unexpected things might happen, and while it’s important to be prepared, it’s no good to dwell on those. Knowing how to change a flat tire? Super. Freaking out for a week about whether or not I’m going to end up with a flat and have to change it while I’m tired and sweaty and nervous? Not at all helpful. Not even a little bit.
Things I know for certain: I can complete these distances. I have worked really, really hard and completing this race will be a huge accomplishment. My friend and fellow FBG, Susan, will be there to push me in at the start if I freeze up, and she’ll also be at the finish line cheering me on, even if I am the last one in. She’s even offered to go do a loop of the bike route with me on Friday to help me get used to it. These are all good facts. I can work with this. I know I can.
A week from today I fly out to Phoenix (giving me two full days in the area before the race, because, hi, have I mentioned I like having some control?), and I know the time will fly between now and then. And the time between arriving in Phoenix on Thursday and the race start on Sunday will go by in a flash. Even so, I’m very open to tips for how you control the (violent, malevolent) butterflies before a big athletic event.
Got tips, tricks, inspirational stories? Share ‘em. Please. (And wish me luck on April 14!) —Kristen
Social media can be a huge time suck. It’s easy to waste an hour skimming Facebook or falling down a crafty Pinterest wormhole. But, as much as social media can be used to put off exercising, it can be even more useful to motivate a workout.
The other night, I had a challenging run on my calendar. I’d already done a tough swim early that morning, and work had gone a little late, and all of a sudden, it was after 6 p.m. and I was really tired and, man, I did not want to run. So, I put out a call for help on Twitter and Facebook.
Mere moments later, I had a whole slew of people offering every type of encouragement a gal could possibly need. Some reminded me that I never regret going, but always regret skipping a workout. Others told me to get off my lazy ass and take advantage of the gorgeous Florida weather. Still others mentioned that after I run, I could have a glass of wine as training for my upcoming half marathon.
I went out and had one of the best runs of my life. And I want you to have that sort of experience, too, so, I present to you Kristen’s Guide to Using Social Media for Motivation in 3 Easy Steps.
Step 1: Find Your Community
Whatever type of exercise you like to do, surround yourself (virtually, anyway) with like-minded people. For example, if you’re a runner, do a search on Twitter for #run, #running, #5k, whatever suits you best. Don’t just follow anybody, of course, but try to find a few people whose Tweets you like—if you want positive and funny or hardcore and serious, follow people who seem to fit that mold. Then, see who they interact with, and when you see a conversation that’s interesting, follow the other person, too.
Better yet, jump in with your own witty comments and encouragement! Before you know it, you’ll all be Tweeting each other like old friends. Shoot, I even exchange holiday cards with some of the friends I’ve made this way.
If you have trouble finding your kind of peeps, try our list of Fellow FBGs—we know there are some super cool people on there!
If Facebook is more your style, make sure you’re friending folks with similar interests. This might mean liking your local track club/running store/Zumba class’ page and trying to get to know some of the folks there. Of course, you might be surprised by some of the friends you already have—it’s not just my fellow runners who step up when I need motivation!
Step 2: Ask for Help
This part is pretty obvious, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. If you don’t like admitting you could use a hand, well, you have two choices. Get over it and take advantage of the generosity that’s out there, or, uhh, don’t. There’s nothing wrong with feeling uninspired once in a while, but make sure you’re not relying on other people to get you out the door for every single workout. Fab as the virtual community is, getting the work done still comes down to you.
Step 3: Stay Involved
This isn’t just a one-way street. Make sure you’re giving back, giving encouragement when your online friends ask, and congratulations when people share their results. And that’s another thing! Follow up and let people know that you did the workout, and thank them for the help. I love knowing that something I said got someone to do something awesome; sometimes that in itself inspires me to exercise.
Feel weird about just writing an update? Use a tracking tool like Daily Mile or RunKeeper to automatically post your workouts. Hey, you never know. Someone might read about your bike ride and be struck with a sudden urge to hit Spin class!
Do you utilize social media for motivation? What else would you suggest? —Kristen