Happy Thanksgiving Eve, friends! Today I’m sharing with you the story of someone that I’m incredibly grateful for and want to celebrate. Keirsten is my brother-in-law’s girlfriend, but she really is like a sister to me. This past year, she did something amazing. She decided that she wanted to take her health and fitness seriously, and she trained like crazy to complete her first half-marathon! Last week, we ran the Rock N’ Roll Las Vegas Half-Marathon together. It was one of the most special memories ever for me to get to cross the finish line with her.
Keirsten’s story really inspires me because her mental toughness and determination shines through. (Just wait until you see what time she woke up for training runs – this girl is committed!) I know this is just the beginning for her and I hope you will be encouraged by her running story.
Hey, Keir! Thanks for joining us today. Tell the readers who you are.
My name is Keirsten, I’m 34 years old. I have 3 younger siblings, 2 brothers and 1 sister. I have 7 nieces and nephews and 3 God-children. I am a cardiac nurse and I live in Las Vegas, NV. My boyfriend Adam and I came out to Las Vegas a little over a year ago. We moved from Wilmington, DE, where we lived our entire lives, after I brought up the idea of travel nursing. We settled here in Vegas but traveling isn’t off the table! We have a Jack Russell/Cairn Terrier mix named The Dude. He’s about 3 years old and is just the best little guy. We enjoy family walks at the local parks and climbing to the top of the mini mountain across the street! Dude could walk/run for days so he keeps us active!
What made you want to start running? When did you start?
I started running off and on about 6-7 years ago. I started with the couch to 5K app and started training for my first 1/2 marathon about 4 years ago, I was half way through the training when I tripped on a curb and broke my foot. After that, getting back into running was hard. I was so unmotivated. I would run a few 5Ks here and there but never stuck with it long enough to start a training plan again. Once I met Adam, I started getting more motivated to be more active. He is pretty fit and I wanted to keep up, haha! Once I met his family, specifically Charlotte, I got inspired to really take my health more seriously. I wanted to eat better and exercise more. When we got to Vegas I decided to start all over again with my couch to 5K app. It was working and I was running more and more. Then I started a new job and I gained about 10lbs working at a Cardiopulmonary clinic because most of my day I was sitting at a computer. So all of my running seemed counterproductive because I was so lazy at work. I was used to being on my feet as a floor nurse for 12+ hours a day. I knew I needed to change something.
Adam and I decided to take a road trip to California for the 4th of July weekend, we stopped in Huntington Beach to visit friends then headed to San Diego to see Chad and Charlotte! It was an amazing weekend! Except for the pictures.. I was so disgusted with the way I looked in the pictures. SD is so picture perfect and I felt as though I was ruining the scenery. I knew then that when I got home it was time to make a lifestyle change and I knew running was going to be my new obsession. After chatting with Char about running I was convinced that her and I were going to run my first 1/2 marathon together! I joined the local Las Vegas Runners running group and got a local run coach. With the help of Charlotte and Melissa I was able to customize a 1/2 marathon training plan that worked with my new crazy work schedule! And on November 12th I ran, slowly, my first 1/2 marathon! And I loved every second of it! Even though if you were anywhere near me during those last 3 miles you would beg to differ, haha.
With a tough work schedule, how did you find the time to train?
Yeah so I started my current job right around the time of the 1/2 marathon training. This meant if I had to train on days that I had to work, I was up at 3 or 4am to get my workout or run in before I needed to be at work at 7am. Then I’d work a 13 hour day as a nurse on a super busy IMC unit. It almost seemed insane to be training so early but I was committed. I never really found the time to train, I just made the time and it was so worth it.
What was the best part about training for a half-marathon?
Oh gosh! I don’t think I can name just one thing… I loved talking to people about it, hearing their training stories. I loved all of the support from my family and friends. I loved running Saturday mornings with my run group then getting coffee with them afterwards. I love the quiet time of my long runs; it really does something for a person’s peace of mind and sanity haha.
What was the hardest part about training?
The hardest part of my training was controlling my breathing and my heart rate. I am still working on controlling both of these while running.
Any particular fuel, products, or tech stuff that you found to rely on during training?
I used a FlipBelt to hold my keys, chap-stick and phone on my shorter runs and my fanny pack (as Adam calls it) made by URPOWER that has 2 water bottle holders on it and a zip pouch for my keys, phone and chap-stick for my longer runs. I would also hydrate before my runs with either a LiquidIV pack or Nuun tablet. Loooove all of these products! I use the LiquidIV or Nuun before work as well to make sure I stay hydrated during my work days.
On to the race! Why did you choose the Vegas RNR as your first half-marathon?
I decided on the Vegas RNR because I knew it was going to be a good time! I mean running the strip at night is definitely an experience! The strip is shut down twice a year, for the marathons and for New Years Eve! Also Vegas is pretty flat, haha, so I could train locally and know that it would be about the same as the race.
Was there a particular mantra you used during the race?
The mantra that I used during the race and throughout my training, was “one more mile”. I was scrolling through instagram and a runner had a head band on that said “Run the mile you’re in” so i borrowed that saying and turned it into my own version, “One more mile”. To me this means I can do anything for a mile, maybe not cartwheel as my coach pointed out haha! It means that I concentrate on the mile that I’m in, I concentrate on my breathing, I look around a little, I pet a dog or 3 (which I did a lot). This mantra helped me not take the training too seriously. My goal for the race, other than finishing, was to enjoy it enough that I’d want to do it again, which I soooo do!
What was your favorite moment during the half?
My favorite moment during the race was at one point you had run ahead of me to get some pictures of the Vegas strong sign that all the runners had signed at the expo, I had slowed down a little to get my heart rate under control, I looked up and you had turned around to look for me and kinda jogged in place until I was at your side again. You soo could have kept going and run at your pace to finish in a decent time but you didn’t. You stayed at my side throughout the entire race, even when I wanted to give up! My favorite memory of this race was doing it with you! I can’t wait to get my finish line photo of us with our medals framed!
Do you have the running bug now? Do you think you’d like to do more races or happy to just cross this half-marathon off the bucket list?
I totally have the bug! I’m doing the Turkey Trot 12K at Lake Mead on Thanksgiving and I plan on doing my next 1/2 Marathon in April at Mt. Charleston!
What would your advice be to someone who is considering becoming a runner or signing up for a big race?
Do it! Just do it! You won’t regret it at all! Training for and finishing this 1/2 marathon has done something for my confidence that I can’t describe. Running has changed my life. I am no longer on my anxiety medication and I have never felt better!
Just for fun — what are 3 non running things you’re loving right now?
I am currently reading Furiously Happy (a funny book about horrible things) by Jenny Lawson, I am obsessed with my Polaroid SNAP and I am currently binging Cheers, haha yes Cheers!, on Netflix.
So proud of you, Keirsten!
Thanks again for sharing your story with us! 🙂