Training, Unsolicited Advice

A call to stop being so damn hard on ourselves

I haven’t blogged in a while. Despite my New Year’s Resolution to “write more,” I just simply haven’t had the free time between work and Ironman training.

I was recently promoted at work (yay!). While promotions are awesome, early feelings of pride and accomplishment quickly converted to stress and anxiety as I realize the implications of having more responsibility, more exposure to leadership, etc. More than anything else, it’s been a struggle to navigate my new role and still make it seem like I (at least somewhat) have my shit together.

To use a swim metaphor, it’s like just when I figure out how to tread water to stay afloat, someone comes and hands me a 20 pound weight to hold over my head and am back to almost drowning. Essentially, I’m doing too much to really feel like I’m doing anything well. I shared this with one of my mentors and asked for advice on how to do better.

Her response was this: “I think you’ve got it wrong and actually you are kicking ass and we, as women, are just way too hard on ourselves.”

Oh. Damn.


Maybe she was kind of right. I was probably promoted for a reason… was probably given more responsibility for a reason. No one has called me out on not doing a good job in my new role.


I started thinking about this and wondering about other areas of my life. Silly things that have been causing me stress for no reason.

Take this photo: 28472168_2100323953535974_5536323473011463419_n

This is a photo of me taken at the Outrival Racing training camp. It ended up getting picked up by Outrival and QT2 Systems and shared on their social media accounts. This could have been really cool but all I could think while looking at the photo on my phone screen is that I’m nearly 10 pounds over “race weight,” that I don’t look like an endurance athlete… blah, blah blah… all the horrible things we think about our bodies from time to time for no good reason.

The thing is: I was one of the strongest runners at that camp. The fact that I was even at that camp and the fact that I’m training for an Ironman 10-12 hours a week shows that I have a pretty decent level of fitness. So really,  that kind of self-loathing about an extra few pounds is kind of crazy!

And obviously I’m not alone. Here are just a few examples of conversations with my girlfriends from the past few weeks:

  • I could seriously be 10 pounds lighter if I didn’t drink beer. (Yeah, maybe… but then you wouldn’t drink beer and that would be so sad and boring)
  • I only worked out 4 days this week… that’s pathetic. (No, you’re working full time and going to nursing school at night and it’s amazing that you find any time to work out)
  • I’m going to show up for work my first day and they’re going to immediately fire me when they realize how unqualified I am. (They hired you knowing your experience and decided you were the best person for the job.)

You get it. This topic is so pervasive in women’s conversation it is almost cliché to even write a blog. But for real.  Maybe it’s time we actually start to cut the crazy talk and cut ourselves some slack.

So I took that quote from my mentor and have used it as mantra these past few weeks. Here it is for you to keep in your back pocket for whenever you need it.



In endless support for the sisterhood …on International Women’s Day and all the days!


Unsolicited Advice

What does it mean to show support?

What does it mean to show support?

I’ve come back to this question a lot this week. Often support just means money: Whether it is traditional patronage, i.e. supporting local breweries by spending too much of my disposable income on craft beer, or donating to NPO whose cause you support, i.e. for my birthday I donated and collected donations for the organization She Should Run.

But sometimes “support” is subtler, more personal. For example, my husband supports me in triathlon by taking care of the dog in the morning so I can train.

I mention this because, like so many others, 2017 made me angry (see #metoo movement for details). Every election, every corporate restructuring, and every misogynistic comment helped nourish the nasty seed in my head that the cards are stacked against women and minorities in an infuriatingly real way.

Obviously this wasn’t new to 2017… but this past year pushed me to where I had to start doing something productive. So I decided at the end of last year to start consciously and directly supporting women.

Triathlon was a good place to start – it’s another thing I throw an obscene amount of money at. I joined a women’s triathlon team founded by pro triathlete Angela Naeth (a woman and badass athlete that’s had to overcome a lot in the sport) and volunteered to help out the team however possible while serving as the Regional Director for Boston.

Side note: feel free to talk to me directly about joining IRACELIKEAGIRL.

Then there’s coaching. Coaching is one of the most obvious examples of the double standard: At the elite level, it’s perfectly acceptable for men to coach women and women’s teams but the reverse is rarely true. A reminder that there are certain power dynamics we are comfortable conforming to and a certain type of person that we trust as “experts.”

So, I started working with a female coach in October. From high school through college athletics, I’ve had many coaches in sport, but this is my first time working directly with a woman. That’s kind of crazy, right? Working with Coach Karen has been amazing and I’m 100% confident it was right the move.

But these things were relatively easy. They’re largely symbolic, grand gestures that make me feel like I’m contributing to the solution instead of the problem. These actions, however, are not how you change a system. Real change is wayyyyy more complicated, baked into our day-to-day interactions, how we do business, how we interact on social media, what we choose to blog about… 0a87bfc45f2b8112753b4805d6d987da

Fear of backlash is a common reason why we stay silent… and why things stay the same. So if we want change, we have to support things we believe in, loudly and publicly. Where you have a voice, use it, wherever and however you can.

So I am using mine. Here. At work. Online. Wherever possible.

If you disagree, you can “unfollow” or “defriend” me… but I’d much rather you let me know in a constructive way. Drop me a suggestion of how you go about supporting positive change. I’d love to hear from you.

In solidarity,



Beer, Training

Negativity,*!@#!$ Tendinitis and the Trillium Beer Garden.

I like to think of myself as a generally positive person. Not the… in-your-face, everything-happens-for-a-reason type of positive. More the pragmatic… “sh*t happens but it will all work out” type of positive. You know what I’m talking about, right?

So when my Achilles Tendinitis flared up 3-4 weeks ago for the first time in years, I was okay with taking it in stride. As my Coach reminded me, now is the time to rest and heal; focus on my swim; take a needed break from running, etc. I’ve been a good little athlete: avoided running; prioritized stretching and strengthening; convinced my husband to torture me with an achilles “sports massage” almost nightly.

Because of all of this, I was really ready for my test run today (20 minutes, super easy) to go well. But it didn’t. It still hurt… so much that I had to cut it 2 miles in.

Pragmatic, positive Kalyn reminded myself that it’s only been three weeks; that it’s cold  and my achilles is going to be extra stiff in this weather; that injuries (this one in particular) take time to heal and Ironman Lake Placid is still 8 months away.

But then Negative Nancy (that bitch) swept in: “How am I going to ever get to marathon level run-volume if I can’t even run 2 miles?” “Swimming and biking alone is no way to work off these holiday cocktails and cookies.”  “I’m getting so out of shape.” Wah. wah. wah.

Basically Nancy won. She took over my mind like whoa and I spent the rest of the afternoon sulking through social media, being a brat to my husband, contemplating quitting triathlon all together (such a drama queen). When the hubs said he was going to the gym, I begrudgingly agreed to go with him….I literally rolled my eyes pulling on my bathing suit on and grimaced as I got into the pool.

GoPro birthday present FTW.

But something changed as I started to go through my swim drills. I actually felt really good in the water and couldn’t believe how quickly and easily I was reaching the wall. I checked my Garmin to confirm: yes, this was a good pace!

HOLD UP! Maybe I wasn’t so out of shape! Maybe this whole “focusing on swim technique for the winter” thing was actually working!

I met my husband in the lobby feeling significantly more perked up.

“Should we grab a beer at Trillium?”

Um… yup. With good beer, the answer is always yes. 

So we did. For those not familiar (i.e. non-craft beer peeps): Trillium makes some of best beer. No joke: their double IPAs are ridiculous. Awesomely enough, they just opened a seasonal, beer garden at the old Substation in downtown Roslindale… just a few blocks from our house.

The Garden was filled with fellow yuppies, buzzed off 8.5% beers and holiday cheer: Exactly our kind of scene. 😉

Trillium Garden
Dialed In & Farnsworth St

I had the Dialed In DIPA…So freaking crisp and juicy that I had to get a second. And somewhere on the way to my own beer buzz, I decided I’d stick with triathlon a little while longer.

The moral of the story is that injury still sucks but there’s nothing that a decent swim and even better beer can’t make better.  So I guess I’ll continue to practice patience and positivity to ring in the New Year!

Happy Holidays All!




Acknowledging my ignorance: My Nutrition Consult with The Core Diet

You ever have one of those conversations where you realize halfway through what an ignorant dummy you’ve been?

That was essentially my experience during my nutrition consult with  The Core Diet this weekend.

“Back in the day” finishing a leg of the 4X400 at UVM (2010).

By way of background, “back in the day” I ran D1 track while earning my degree in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Vermont. I was a sprinter in college but spent the next 5-6 years training for some longer races, including the 2013 Boston Marathon and most recently a half ironman (70.3) this past fall. All of this is to say that I thought I knew a thing or two about nutrition and training despite some lived experiences suggesting otherwise – e.g. debilitating muscle cramps, GI issues (oh, I could blog for days about the runner trots), essentially crawling (dehydrated and under-fueled) the last 6 miles to the finish line of 70.3… etc.

So, I finally figured when I signed up for my first full Ironman (IM Lake Placid 2018!!) that I needed to actually get my sh*t together. I was beyond pumped for my initial nutrition consult that came with my 1:1 coaching package from QT2 Systems.

Our conversation went something like this…

Me: I know everything about eating healthfully because I went to school for nutrition  (I’m paraphrasing….and I hope I didn’t sound this arrogant) 

RD: How do you usually fuel during long runs or rides?

Me: Hmm… I use Infinit sometimes—like when I have it—but I’m out of it now… so usually just water and a Clif bar or Gu or something.

When was the last time I fueled or even brought hydration for a run??

RD: What do your longest training days consist of right now?

Me: Two to three hours. I’m doing a two-hour trail run this weekend.

RD: You need to be fueling for something like that. How are you doing that?

Me: Ehh… I hadn’t thought about it honestly.  It’s pretty cold out…I’ll probably just carry a water bottle.

This sounds incredibly silly as I’m saying it out loud.

RD: You should have more than water and probably need more than one water bottle’s worth.

It goes on. We start talking about electrolytes and glucose and all things I “knew” or at least thought I knew, but definitely forgot how to apply. Namely, you need to fuel for long workouts (duh!) and there are ways to do that are better than others to keep your training on track over the long – term.

Long story short, RD Jaime (who’s a serious badass, by the way) dropped a whole world of wisdom on me during that 30-minute call. I swallowed (pun intended) my ego and and realized that sports nutrition for endurance is it’s own crazy discipline that I apparently know nothing about.

I picked up a new CamelBak (because I hate my handheld water bottle and fuel belts) plus some electrolyte tabs and put my nutrition refresher crash-course to the test on my two-hour trail run.  I’m pleased to say that it WENT AWESOME! Yes, I ran slower than normal (coach’s orders) but I felt confident that I could easily run another two hours without bonking… and what’s better than that? I actually felt so great and energized afterwards that I went for a second hike with my family later that day.

Training day: CHECK.

Time with family: CHECK!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ That does not always work out so well!

Committing to Ironman training has meant surrendering to the idea that I don’t know everything, or even close to everything. It’s been about finding a team of experts that know their sh*t. It’s been about talking to other athletes, about listening more, about trying new things… and eventually I might figure it out. This weekend’s conversation got me one step closer.

There is more than one water bottle’s worth in here and it didn’t bother me at all to carry. 🙂



Rest and a run to take me out of my funk

Like so many others after the New Year, I started 2017 with a crazy amount of motivation to train. I had signed up for my first half Iron and started working with a coach for training for the first time.

I trained every day, rarely missing a workout. My “tempo” run pace quickly dropped from around 8:30 min/mile to 7:30 min/mile. I bought a new Trek Speed Concept (not a bad whip for a bad a newbie) and a power meter and watched my watts increase. My first race of the year (despite racing like a complete idiot) I took 3rd overall for women and won my age group at the HITS Hudson Valley Olympic.

That was July.

Then life happened.

Luckily most were good life-things but still life-things that needed to be prioritized, often times over training. (1) I was promoted at work, (2) we adopted a puppy (she’s the best), (3) my only sister got married, etc.


Some were bad life-things. I had two bad bike crashes in one month, the second ending with a broken hand just two weeks out from the 70.3 I’d been training for all year.

All that is to say that somewhere along the line, I forgot that I do this shit for fun. Training became a stressor instead of stress reliever: another obligatory responsibility that I’d grown to resent.

So, after my last race I took about 6 weeks off from “training”. I worked out when I felt like it, and I didn’t beat myself up when I didn’t. I gained a few pounds and didn’t sweat it. I mostly just focused on letting myself heal.

This week I started back up again. With a new coach from QT2, who I love, my training theme for the next few months is durability. I’m keeping my training effort very aerobic to work explicitly on building endurance (as a former college sprinter, my slow-twitch fibers are the ones that need the most work).

All of this is to say that I am doing a lot workouts at lower effort.  Lots of Zone 1 runs and rides, lots of swims where I’m not caring about the pace at all and just focusing on technique.

And you know what? It’s been awesome. This weekend I went out for a 90 minute easy trail run and genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. Loving that run took me out of my funk. I’m not sure I can remember the last time I found myself smiling during a “work out”. I’m pumped to do speed work again. Waking up at 5:45 to get on the trainer isn’t my favorite but I’m doing it and do not feel like I’m acquiring massive sleep debt along the way.

Ironman Lake Placid is 9 months away. My prep race for it is Ironman 70.3 Raleigh in June. I have plenty of time to stress about training as race day grows nearer… but it’s too early in the journey to sweat the small stuff. For now, I’m just pumped to be excited to train again.

P.S. Easier pace runs means more runs with Evie – so she is very happy too. 🙂

Race Reports

Recap: Sea Gull Century and My First 100 Miler

Some rides are not meant to be raced. Your first 100 miler is probably one of them. At least that was my takeaway from this weekend. I rode the Sea Gull Century ride in Salisbury, Maryland and had the most fun checking off my first 100 miler on the bike.

Going into the ride, I was in decent cycling shape coming off training for a 70.3 in September. Still, making the jump from 60 mile long-rides to the full century was intimidating, even on a flat course. I had never fueled for a ride that long and it was more hours than I’d ever put in the saddle. In my over-anxious mind… there was much to go wrong!

Common Roots Family
The family – most of us rocking our Common Roots Brewing Company jerseys.

Turns out, I need not have worried. The day was perfect. I rode with my entire family and, despite coming into the ride with different levels of fitness, the group of us decided to stick together and ride socially. We built our own pace line and slowed down anytime someone came close to falling off. In addition to spending a lovely day together as a family, this was also great pacing mechanism, forcing me to quell my [overly] competitive nature, focus on fueling and hydrating correctly, and truly just enjoy the day.

As an event, the Sea Gull Century is a perfect course to ride for pure fun. Over 5,000 cyclists turn out for this fundraiser for Salisbury University. It is well-organized and supported by volunteers and draws cyclist from all different abilities. In addition to the 100 mile course, there is also 62 mile “metric century”. There are rest stations every ~20-25 miles (even one that serves beer 10 miles before the finish), the terrain is incredibly flat, and the 99% of the roads are in perfect conditions.

We only stopped at two out of the five rest stations but did spend a solid 20-25 minutes at each one, using the restrooms, fueling up, filling our water bottles and stretching a bit. I did find that starting up again after stopping was one of the toughest parts of the day so will keep that mind in the future… and maybe be a little quicker at the rest stops.

Other than that, I’m going to be arrogant and give myself an “A for execution” on my first Century. Here are some things that went well:

  • Pacing – riding several mph slower than I would have normally allowed me to finish the ride with some gas in the tank… i.e. great practice for Ironman when I’ll be starting a marathon (versus cracking a beer) off the bike. My legs felt fantastic (almost fresh even!) on my 5-mile recovery run the next day, which gave me some confidence about my fitness base going into the “off season”.
  • Fueling and Hydration – I ate some sort of solid carb every 20 miles or so (I like having something solid in my stomach) and kept my water bottles filled at the rest stations. I ran out of Infinit powder but filled up one bottle of water and the other with Gatorade and that seemed to work okay. The shots of pickle juice at mile 65 on Assateague Island were a game changer… I felt awesome afterwards.
    • Note: Had it been a hotter day, my casual approach to fueling may not have worked so well (I have a pretty high sweat rate). Planning to get more precise and dial in nutrition in prepping for IMLP.
  • Equipment – I hadn’t spent much time on my road bike since starting triathlon race season so decided to give it some love with a proper tune up before the race. Shout out to Mystic Cycle Centre – my old roadie rode great! My one blunder was forgetting to transfer my tube repair kit from my tri bike to my road bike, meaning I nothing to change a flat with. Luckily, we had just one flat in our group (and it wasn’t me), so we were covered in terms of tubes and CO2… still not a great move.

    Citra Session Common Roots Beer
    After being carried 100 miles, this tasted delicious.
  • Fun – I had fun from start to finish of this ride – took in the scenery, caught up with the family, and visualized cracking open the 16 oz can of Citra Session Pale Ale we each carried in our jersey pocket the full 100 miles. Slightly warm and shook up… It was as delicious as I imagined it being.

Summary: The Seagull Century was a fantastic experience. We will be back again next year to do it all again.

With my first 100 miler under my belt, signing up for the next one won’t be so intimidating. Any good race (or ride) suggestions? Currently accepting recommendations for my next century!



Me and Mom celebrating the way we do after the ride.
Unsolicited Advice

Year 1 as a Tri-Newbie: Lessons Learned

I did my first triathlon September 2016. It was an Olympic distance in upstate New York in the town I grew up in. Aside from a decent level of general fitness, I was totally unprepared. I mix-matched borrowed apparel and made every newbie mistake under the sun. I looked like a huge nerd but smiled through every minute of that first race. From then on, I was hooked. In my first year of racing, (with help from my coach) I dropped half an hour off my Olympic time from that first race, completed my first 70.3 and even picked up a few podium finishes along the way.

My first triathlon. Almost everything I’m wearing is borrowed.

I’m still far (far, far, far) from being an expert—But I did learn a bunch this year…mostly through making a ton of mistakes. Here are some lessons learned from one tri-newbie to the next.


Training Lessons

    • Buy a heart rate monitor and know your zones. Prior to starting triathlon, my “normal” run pace was at my threshold HR range and I was doing that pace for 95% of my runs! Training with heart rate helped me shave over 5 minutes from my 10K time and avoid injuries from over training. Heart rate monitors are relatively inexpensive (comparatively, for the sport that’s annoyingly expensive) and probably the best bang for your buck in terms of training value.
    • Practice swimming even if you hate it. True, swimming is “the shortest leg of the race” but that’s actually a pretty silly excuse to not try to get better at it. Swim workouts used to make my skin crawl so I procrastinated the crap out of them. When I stopped being a baby and started putting in the time, my form and pace started to improve and the entire experience became less terrible.
    • Learn to love your bike trainer. Yes, riding outside is more way fun but the trainer is so much more efficient if you only have an hour or two to train. You can consistently hit heart rate or power targets without having to worry about traffic, stoplights, weather, etc. It can be a little rough at first but movies, playlists and fun cycling apps make trainer rides way more enjoyable, so does having a good bike fit. Which reminds me…
I rode “in aero” 90% of this race. Bike fits matter.
  • Get a good bike fit. Especially if you’re on a tri bike! Riding “in aero” has a very different feel than a regular road bike. And no matter what bike you’re on, you’re going to be putting some serious hours on it so you want to be as comfortable as possible. I was lucky enough to get a really great bike fit using the Retül fit technology at Patriot Multisport in upstate New York. In my inexpert opinion, a good bike fit falls into the “not cheap but necessary” category.
  • Bike maintenance matters. Learn how to do the fundamentals: change a tube; clean your chain; etc. For minor adjustments, get an Allen wrench set and watch some YouTube videos. It may be a little intimidating at first, but knowing how to do the basic stuff goes a long way. Also, you should clean your bike and all of its components pretty often. This may seems obvious but I neglected to do so most of the winter on my new fancy tri bike and ended up with a stuck brake on my first outdoor ride of the season. (Did I mentioned I sweat a lot? Like… kind of a freaky amount). Clean that shit off!
  • Don’t forget chamois cream. Enough said. Especially on the long rides.
  • Remember you’re not a pro. This is was tough lesson to learn. There are days I would be super pumped to train but just couldn’t swing it between other responsibilities (work, family, etc.). It’s okay to want to be a badass triathlete that competes to the best of your abilities… and also has a life outside of triathlon.

Race day lessons 

  • Make a pack list and check it twice. Go through each discipline and transition to cross of what you’ll need. Don’t forget the little things like sunscreen and hair ties. *Two* races in a row I forgot my race belt, which wasn’t a huge deal but did cost me an extra minute or two pinning on my bib and added stress I didn’t need.
  • Be prepared for any weather. As the saying goes, “hope for the best but prepare for the worse”. My race at the end of this summer was 47 degree and pouring rain. I froze my spandex-covered ass off on the bike when I opted to wear just my race kit. Better to pack layers and not need them then not have them at all.
  • Know that the swim might be a little crazy. Until you’ve experienced it, there’s no real way to prepare for the chaos of the race swim. Particularly with mass starts, the crazy amount bodies in the water, kicking and splashing around you, can definitely be overwhelming. Unless you’re a super strong swimmer, it’s probably not a terrible idea to stick closer to the back or outside of the pack for your first few races.
  • Swimming straight is better than swimming fast. In my first race of the year I swam a great pace (for me) but swam an extra 500 yards, which tacked an extra 8-10 minutes onto my swim time. Practice sighting and, especially during the chaos of a race, be prepare to sight more frequently if you need to.
  • Practice transition. My T1 in my first race was laughably horrible. I couldn’t get my wetsuit off; I forgot to untie my shoes ahead of time (I use no-tie laces now); I couldn’t find my sunglasses; I left my bike in too high of a gear to get moving. It was just ugly. Practice ahead of time so you can layout your transition area the way you need before the race starts.
Thumbs up for running….at the start of the run.
  • Pacing is a real thing: Respect it. Two races in a row (nope, didn’t learn the first time) I took off at my normal 10K race pace, not respecting the fact that I’ve ridden my bike 25-56 miles already. The results? A really miserable second-half of the run. Be smarter than me and hopefully you won’t hate yourself with just a few miles to go.
  • Have fun. I know, I know! This is the most cliché… but it’s legitimate advice! As many coaches say, the race is just the celebration of the work you’ve put in until that point. Take it all in. Give high fives when offered. Smile. Drink the beer afterwards. You’ve earned this celebration!


Always have the beer after the race.

In addition to complete my first full Ironman, my main goal for 2018 is to have as much fun in every race as I did in my very first one.  Be serious but not too serious. Drink beer after every race (okay, fine… I should choose a more ambitious goal.)

…to be continued…

For more experienced triathletes, do you remember your rookie season? What classic mistakes from your first season of racing did I miss?