Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


one week to go… for Big Climb 2014!!

Originally posted on Cast Iron Strength:

Race Day… Sunday, March 20th 2011… 9:00am start time.

I was entering the unknown.  Having always raced in the great outdoors, it was quite a different experience for me entering the narrow stairwells of the tallest skyscraper in Seattle.  I had a new challenge in front of me and I had no idea what to expect.  Adrenaline was high, so it was essential for me to focus on the fact that I had trained for this moment.  Between the gym, kettlebells, and outdoor stair climbing, I had put in my time and I had to be confident in that.  But nonetheless… my heart was racing!

They took my picture, and then I set off into the stairwell.  I never have liked stairwells much… they actually creep me out.  Not as much as spiders do… but still, one time, many years ago, I got locked in a parking garage stair well and I got that claustrophobic panicky feeling you get when you think you…

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Hot Rocks!

Posted: March 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

I just had my first “Hot Stone” massage yesterday, and let me tell you… they work!  I’ve been training for the Big Climb (70 flights up the Columbia Tower) so I’ve been running stairs and my calves have been screaming at me.  There are days that I hobble around like a little old lady and can barely get down the stairs in my own house.  That’s true.  But no more!  (and to think that all this time there was something that could help… and I always thought it was just an expensive add-on at the spa.)

Hot stones can do what fingers and foam rollers and lacrosse balls can’t.  Here’s the deal:  Hot stones can slide across your muscles, and get into the muscle tissue like nothing else.  You know the feeling… you have a sore muscle, and if someone tries to massage it, you jump, cringe and yell “don’t touch that!”

Not with the stones, my friend!  Between the massage oil, the heat of the stone, and the size/shape of the stone… a trained person can get right into the muscle, just where you need it.  It was awesome and I feel like a million bucks today!  That was definitely worth the add-on cost.

So turn on some Hot Rocks (classic Stones from the 60′s and early 70′s) get out the kettlebells and start swinging!

Peace Out,

This is a great combo when you’re looking for a total-body exercise to add into your workout:

Warm up with a few rounds of alternating reverse lunges (sometimes called a step-back lunge). Then add a decent sized kettlebell to the move.  Now, if you step back with your left leg, hold the kettlebell in your right hand and swing it up into what I call a suitcase swing.  (or, as only Mike Mahler can describe so perfectly:  it’s a “One-Arm Kettlebell Bottom-up Clean”)

Check out his link below for a good illustration of the bottom-up clean (it’s about mid-way down).  Thanks Mike!

Now, put on some good music and get swinging!  If the kettlebell flops over at the top, it’s too heavy.  I’ll do about 10 on one side, and then I’ll switch sides.  You’re working on wrist strength and grip control with this one… along with good coordination to do the lunge and the swing at the same time.




                                    Add a “hold” to both the Around the World and the Figure 8′s and step up your game!

Originally posted on Cast Iron Strength:

Want a great kettlebell workout today that will really make your abs work hard?

During your entire workout remember this one thing, and say it over and over: “Bring navel to spine.”.

This works really well during a kettlebell workout.  You essentially “suck” your belly in and bring your belly button back towards your spine.  Imagine bringing your “front body” through to your “back body”.   It’s a yoga technique and the visual will tap your abs during all your regular exercises… so check it out, give it a try… and then let me know in 24-48 hours how your abs feel!

One other thing, when you’re doing your Around the World sets, stay low on the first 100 reps or so, and then for the next 100 reps bring the kettlebell around and up each time to an alternate shoulder for the “Around the World with a Hold”.  As you do this, remember to suck navel to…

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Be Strong in Your Convictions

Posted: January 4, 2014 in Uncategorized


Reblog from Jan 1012: Two years later, and people are still too damn busy for their own good! Probably even more busy. We’re too busy to understand ourselves and our convictions and our passions. Too busy to contemplate both our personal beliefs and to what extent we share them with others. Social media has brought about a culture of oversharing, but often in a hurried and scattered way. In 2012, the book I should have written was written by someone else. It’s called “A Mindful Nation”. Just reading the foreword of the book made me exclaim out loud: “Damn!”

“What’s wrong?” my husband asked from the next room. I told him I was reading another book I was meant to write. I hate it when that happens. Yes, I’m working on my book, but my writing ebbs and flows. In the meantime, I enjoy what others have invested their time in.

Congressman Tim Ryan has written an excellent book that reminds us how important it is to think and be mindful. He shows us how to start paying attention and prioritize what is important. As I read his book, it’s clear that practicing mindfulness and setting your intentions will improve performance, in all areas of your life. From the gym to the conference room. It’s a great reminder to be strong in your convictions. Always. Know who you are and what you believe in. That strength will serve you well.

Happy Swinging, and Happy 2014!
Peace. Kate

Originally posted on Cast Iron Strength:

You already know how I feel about yoga and kettlebells.  Yin and Yang… perfectly matched, each one helps achieve a higher level of success at the other.  Today, I’d like to discuss a few things from my yoga practice.  At the start of every yoga class we’re always asked to set our intention. Our intention is something that will resonate through our practice.  It’s quite often something we want to work on… and then we are reminded to think of our intention throughout the class.

I always appreciate this part of class because it forces me to focus on something and be very present.

Today my intention was strength and compassion. I often feel like those are the yin and the yang of life.  I merge these two into a single phrase I can repeat: “Be strong, be compassionate, and be sure of yourself and your convictions.”  If there’s one thing that resonates true for me…

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“Maintenance” for 2014!

Posted: January 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

I was at my CrossFit gym yesterday, getting in one more workout before the end of the year, and something very interesting happened: The instructor asked the class what their fitness goals were for the new year. Normally, when you ask a room full of people about their fitness goals right after a big holiday of eating and drinking, losing weight and eating better will be at the top of the list. But not today.

Français : Force athlétique (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People just shrugged their shoulders and said “maintenance!” “…I want to maintain what I’ve got!” Welcome to a CrossFit box.

You all know I love kettlebells and encourage practically everyone I meet to try them, but this speaks volumes for CrossFit. We didn’t sit around and reel off the tired old new years resolutions about how much weight we needed to lose, and there were no complaints or excuses or sob stories. Just a bunch of people committed to exercise who will keep on keeping on. I love it! And it’s not that everyone is walking around with “perfect” bodies either. It’s just that they have achieved a level of fitness that allows them to enjoy life and they are happy with that.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… CrossFit works! I don’t care how “busy” you are… anyone can fit a few CrossFit workouts into their week, and that’s half the battle, isn’t it?

For the last year and a half I’ve been supplementing my kettlebell workouts with CrossFit, and it’s been a great combination.  I’ve written about this before in previous posts, but there is something very empowering about achieving a level of fitness that helps you move through life easier.  Just the other day I took my son and his new bike to the park and he says “Mom, run along side me while I ride!” (I was glad I was up for that!) But you find yourself in a great position to say “yes” when your friends ask you to join their running team, or meet them for a swim, or go for a hike… you don’t ask “How far?”… you just say “Yes!” This level of fitness allows you to keep life interesting by always being up for trying new things and meeting new people.

Let’s commit to fitness and start signing up for some races in 2014.  …and put them on your calendar.  Remember last year’s post on Strategic Fitness Planning?

An Alcatraz swim is on my list this year… along with my usual stair climb up the Columbia Tower and swimming across Lake Washington.  I want to try SUP Yoga, and do a trail run somewhere high and beautiful.  A few triathlons would be fun… maybe as a relay.  I’m open to suggestions!

Here’s to a great year ahead, and happy swinging!


Back from Vacation!

Posted: August 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

Two months have flown by since my last post. I’ve been riding it out for awhile on vacation. When I got home I had to step on the scale… and here’s what happened:

First, a disclaimer: Before my vacation I got down to my “fighting weight”. I trained like a crazy lady! Kettlebells, CrossFit, running, swimming, you name it… I exercised 6 days a week. I also avoided wheat and dairy for about three weeks before departure. So by the time I left, I was a lean and mean 124 pounds. (What!? No wheat or dairy? That’s right… I took it out because I was told it causes “inflammation” in the body. (More on that in a later post) Nevertheless, we were off to France and I was ready to eat some good French cheese and baguette on a daily basis.

I packed my running shoes, but never wore them.

My kettlebell stayed at home. Too heavy to travel with.

I packed a jump rope and a few resistance bands. I used them twice.

We were vacationing with friends and we all ate and drank like… well… people on vacation!

I was certain that after nearly a month of eating what I wanted I was going to pack on a few pounds. But here’s a (somewhat) brief little story about life in the south of France.


We rented a house in a little village in the Var region of Provence. (This is my soul’s home!)  The sun shines every morning with its warm yellow glow, and the day starts magically. Slowly, our little village of Salernes wakes up to the smell of fresh croissants and espresso. Soon the venders will be setting up their stalls for the morning market and you’ll find some lovely fresh vegetables, herbs and meats for your dinner later.


By about 12:30, everything closes down. You’ll find yourself in a little restaurant settling in for a nice, long 2-hour lunch that includes at least 3 courses and several carafes of rosé.  At 2:30 the shops open up again and life resumes to the village.  Music may start up in the square, the little boutiques open their doors, artists and potters display their things and then your wine guy opens his doors for business and he’s ready to help you select the perfect bottles for your evening meal. By 4 o’clock we were usually back at the house for an aperitif and a swim in the pool. Next thing you know the baguettes and raw French cheeses were being consumed in considerable quantities. Wine was poured, we’d prepare an amazing dinner and sit outside and watch the sun set behind the hills. Many hours later we’d still be out there talking and relaxing… long after you could see every star in the sky.


This was the good life!

Yes, it was idealistic. We drank good wine, ate amazing food… and our pace of life slowed down considerably. One would think we’d pay for this lifestyle with a few extra pounds. After we’d been home for a few days my husband and I looked at each other and knew we had to do it… we had to step on that scale.  Being “A Pig in Provence” was about to reveal itself with a number! (an excellent book, by the way, “A Pig in Provence, Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France”, by Georgeanne Brennan)

OK… so our numbers?  Maybe a pound heavier… maybe two at the most… but completely inconsequential!

The secret?  We walked to get our meals.

Yes, there is something to be said for walking, eating slowly and relaxing. (This, I believe, is one of the many secrets of the svelte French women: They eat what they want, but they walk to get it!) And not only do they walk to get it, they actually sit down to eat.  And I’m not talking about their car either.  (tres, tres mal… C’est déplorable!)  No, They will sit down in a restaurant and enjoy their food at a civil pace.

(I remember one day I didn’t have much time and I just needed a ‘coffee to go’.  Walking around the village, this Seattle girl was thinking “Where’s my Starbucks when I need one!?”  But there was nothing of the sort.  You must sit down and have your coffee in a small ceramic cup.  And it will be 30 minutes.)

From a fitness perspective, this vacation was truly ideal.  We walked to get our food and the food was all fresh and local.   I ate whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted, and with no guilt… it was fabulous!

Ahhh… so, back to life, back to reality.  It is now time to train for my next fitness challenge… swimming across Lake Washington!
Stay tuned!


Kettlebells and Sprints

Posted: May 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

WP_20130515_005I tested this workout this morning, made a few tweaks, and I’m proud to say this an awesome workout for a crisp, sunny morning.  Have at it:

2 lap run (1/2 mile)

30 Double-Handed Swings

1 lap sprint (.25 mile)

30 Single-Handed Swings (15 each side)

2 lap run

30 Two-Handed Releases

1 lap sprint

30 Figure 8′s (15 each direction)

2 lap run

100 kettlebell situps


I used greenie for the whole thing (12KG) and it was a good workout.  I finished in about 30 minutes (not including situps).  got a 2 mile run in, and a bunch of good swings.  (We start with a half-mile run, so that by the time you get to the quarter-mile it will feel short, so you should sprint it.  It’s all psychology!)  My runs were at a 9 min/mile pace, and my sprints we at a 8 min/mile pace.  (Give or take… I’m sucking wind on the hills near my house… so if you use a track, step it up if you can.)

When you get to the situps, put on a nice long song and try to finish all 100 before the song is over.  My new favorite is Guns n’ Roses, November Rain.  It’s 9 minutes long and it has a false ending at about 7 minutes in… so just when I think I’m not going to make it, I’ve got 2 more minutes to pound it out till the end.

Try it out, and let me know what you think!




Are you ready to try something new to kick off the weekend?  I’ve got a challenge for you:

Get out several sizes of kettlebells… put on Guns n’ Roses “November Rain”, and knock out 9 minutes of uninterrupted TGU’s (Turkish Get Ups).

Take No Breaks!   Just switch sides when one hand gets tired.  Sure, you can alternate getting up to standing, getting up to one knee, or getting up to side plank… but the point is… keep working for the whole song… and enjoy the bliss!

Good Luck… and Happy Friday!


What are your fitness goals for this year? How many races have you signed up for in 2013? Are you ready for a new challenge?  My Paleo Challenge starts on Monday, Jan 7th… so I’m indulging until then.  In the meantime I am also working on my goals. I’d love to hear yours, and then let’s map out a fitness plan to make them possible and achievable.  I just heard on the radio today that 80% of the people who buy a gym membership because of a New Year’s resolution will stop working out by mid-February.  Hey, if the kettlebells are in your basement, there’s no excuse!


80% of people …

Posted: January 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

“80% of people who get a new gym membership because of a New Year’s resolution will stop going to the gym by mid-February.”

This Girl is on Fire!

Posted: November 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

Thanksgiving in Seattle is usually rainy, but wow… we’ve had so much rain (downpours, really) over the last few days, it’s been hard to get motivated to run.  However, the sun came out this morning and made it very easy to get outside and burn some post-Thanksgiving calories.

By the way, today is my last day at 44.  I’m savoring it.  Tomorrow I’ll be officially “half-way to 90″, as they say.  This most likely bumps me into an older age group for many races.  (Hmm… will this be an advantage to getting into top 10 categories for my age group? Maybe. But I have noticed there are more and more fit 40-somethings out there who can give the 20-somethings a run for their money!)  Go get ‘em… 45 is the new 25, right?

Anyway, I am spending my last day at 44 doing all the things I love, starting with some strong coffee to wake me up, and then kale and eggs for breakfast to prep me for a little workout:

I took in some fresh air with a nice 3 1/2 mile hill run.  Nothing too strenuous… but enough to get the blood pumping and the heart rate up for a good kettlebell workout in the yard:

Here’s my morning routine:

Warm-up with about 20 double-handed swings with the 25 lb. MedBell.  Move to single-handed swings, and then right into as many reps as possible of the two-handed release.  I take a short break here when I reach exhaustion, and then do the whole thing over again.

After 2 rounds of that, I went into the swing-flip-catch and squat: (see video if you missed it):

Cool down with some around the worlds and figure 8′s.

I’ll probably knock out some pull-ups, sit ups and push-ups before the day’s out.

Tonight… side cars, karaoke and delicious treats from Tom Douglas’s Dahlia Bakery are in order as part of a very fun birthday celebration!!



Ab Update:

Posted: November 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

5 weeks before the Tough Mudder I went on a little “ab-quest”… I wanted to see if I could dramatically improve the look of my abs before race day.   I was at it for about 10 days and saw great results… but then I injured my Achilles tendon pretty bad, and I realized I needed to focus on getting back in shape for the Tough Mudder, and my little ab-quest would have to wait.

My results were pretty good for just 10 days though, I started to get definition pretty quickly.  The first thing I noticed was the vertical cut down the middle.  I imagine the horizontal lines would have been next…  I have a picture if I can find it…

Since that time, I have discovered the “Blog of Impossible Things.”  Check it out here:  Joel’s got an interesting story and I love his perspective on life.

He’s got a whole list of “Impossible Things” he wants to achieve… a bucket list of sorts. (click here: and 6-pack abs is on there!  In fact, he has a whole website dedicated to getting 6-pack abs.  Check it out here:

Think 6-pack abs are impossible?  They’re not… and I agree with Joel, with a little dedication, you can achieve it at any age.  I’m willing to try it… who’s with me?  Do we wait until after the holidays, or do we get lean and mean before Christmas?  Anything is possible in 6 weeks, ay?


What’s up with “Top 10″ lists?  If someone gives you ten ways to improve your kettlebell swing, you probably won’t remember them all during your workout.  All you really need to do is remember three basic muscle movements while swinging and you’ll improve your form and get better results.

Add these 3 techniques to your next workout and watch how your swings become more productive.

1. Suck navel to spine.  This is a yoga term, but when you apply it to kettlebells swings you will dramatically increase your ab workout.  From the starting squat position, think about sucking your belly in towards your back.   Navel to spine.  When you bring your front body towards your back body, you are engaging your abdominal muscles.

2. Lift quads to hips.  Stand with your eyes closed and imagine your leg in three parts… knee, quad, hip.  Now, lift your quad muscle up from your knee toward your hip-joint.  This is where your quad needs to sit when you’re at the top of your swing.  Practice this before you swing.

3. Tighten Glutes.  The Gluteus Medius is that outer hip muscle that gives you the sought-after cheek dimple (see volleyball player above!).  Think about tightening your glutes at the top of your swing as you pop your hips forward.  This movement becomes almost like a “hop-snap” at the top.

Add these three together and try some swings.

Other good ways to increase results?  Take fewer breaks to increase cardio strength (but never compromise form), put on good music to keep you pumped, and then mix up a bottle of MRM ReLoad to help with your post-workout muscle recovery.  Remember, you’ve got to tear down to build up!



Pain and Strength

Posted: October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

“Pain is a feeling.  Strength is your power to chose how you’re going to live.”

My Tough Mudder report???  Well… the MOST important thing is… I got my orange Tough Mudder headband at the finish line!!  OooRah!!!

It’s taken me more than a week to sit down at my computer and try to describe this amazing event.  Call it writer’s block, or some sort of inertia to document the incredible.  (…and it only gets more incredible with each passing day!)  True that.  But there is much to tell, and it’s hard to know where to start.

I’ll start about 10 days before race day.  That’s about the time when my blog went “dark”.  I was training hard (some would call it over-training) with not much time to sit and write.  I was running long distances in my new “zero-drop” shoes (they are all the rage, don’t you know?) when all of a sudden I could not run 3 miles.  I blamed it on the heat.  It was, after all, 75 degrees here in Seattle in September, and we are just not used to that kind of heat.

Ah yes, well, as Bill Maher would say, “I kid the Seattle weather.”  It was not the heat.  The next day I could not even run around the block.  That’s right… I had gone from running across town on a whim, to barely being able to get around my neighborhood block.

My Achilles tendons were shot.

Between my new “barefoot running” routine and probably too many box jumps at the gym, I had strained both my Achilles tendons to the point where I was hobbling around my house like a little old lady.

It was then that I hit a point of self-pity.  I got home from a failed run and cried.  I cried for about 5 or 10 minutes, but then I knew that had to be the end of it.  No more feeling sorry for myself.  I’ve been down this road before… this feeling of defeat is not new, it is just a hurdle.  When I begin to feel that my body is letting me down… the best thing for me to do is get angry, not sad.  (and certainly not go to the “oh poor me” stage… God forbid!)  Anger was the next phase of my “grief”.  I got angry, and that launched a feeling of stubborn determination.  I was not going to quit.

I absolutely believe with all my heart that once an athlete reaches this level of mental determination (which quite often starts with anger, but needs to channeled positively) their body will respond to that.  Anger bubbles up and becomes the “trigger” for momentum and action.

I have blogged about this before, it’s something I want to write a book about someday.  I feel so strongly about will power, and what it can do for people.  I know that the body will respond to what the mind is saying.  I’ve lived through this before with two torn ACL’s, so this feeling is not a new one for me.  I had to recognize it, and then deal with it.

Here’s the key: If you tell your body to be strong, your body will respond to that.  We all wake up in the morning and set our intention for the day, whether we’re conscious of it or not.  We are always setting our intention for small tasks, or for the day, or for the week… or even for how we want to live our lives.  Intention is all-encompassing and a very powerful force.

I set my intention to compete, and I did.  (I also got a lot of help from a few sports medicine docs who had positive, “we’re-going-to-tackle-this” attitudes… more on that later).

I’m going to leave it here for the day… I’ll continue this story tonight.  For now, just know how great it is to have a mind and body that work together.


Volunteer Park Workout

Posted: September 18, 2012 in Uncategorized


I can’t make it to the park this Wednesday for kettlebells, but I put together an awesome new circuit to try in my absence!  It’s all Figure 8′s and Figure 8 to a Hold with some fun Cross-Fit stuff added in.  (We’re working on core strength here!)

And speaking of rest… no breaks allowed during the circuit!  You’ve got to earn it baby!  I tested this out tonight, and it was just about 3 tracks off the Fat Boy Slim record.  Here we go:

Warm up: 50 Figure 8′s

20 Figure 8′s to a Hold
20 Kettlebell situps
20 Figure 8′s to a Hold
20 Air Squats
20 Figure 8′s to a Hold
20 Push-Ups
20 Figure 8′s to a Hold
20 Handstand Push-Ups
20 Figure 8′s to a Hold

Cool Down: 50 Figure 8′s

I use a lighter kettlebell for the warm up and cool down, and then switch to heavier ones for the circuit.  It’s 200 total reps for the Figure 8′s, and just remember to tighten/suck in your abs (or bring navel to spine, as they say) during your workout.  This will greatly enhance your core workout.


From my last post… here’s how I got motivated:

I spent about 15 minutes to do the following, and then I was ready to run… sore muscles and all!

I took a hot shower to warm up my muscles and immediately afterward rubbed on this crazy stuff pictured below… Zheng Gu Shui… I put it anywhere my I had muscle soreness.  Love this stuff!  My old acupuncturist would use this after he did the needles, and it felt amazing… check out this link:

Zheng Gu Shui External Analgesic Lotion - 100ml (3.4 Fl. Oz.)

Anyway, then I rubbed on the Arnica Massage Oil, took 2 BCAA’s, Bee Pollen and Energy Herbs… and a glass of water.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking… well, I’m not totally hippy-dippy-homeopathic-naturalistic-remedy-girl… Surprise, I took 2 Advil also!

Got my music, Got my Garmin… and voilà… out the door!

Here’s what happened:

I did a 1/2 mile warm up run, then I did a round of three 1/2-mile sprints (each time trying for a better time).  Then I did a round of four 1/4-mile hill runs (again, trying to get faster each time), then I finished with a slow 1-mile run home.   Totalled only about 4 miles, but it was intense and I was glad I got out there and did it.  Hill work and sprints together challenge your fast-twitch muscles and get your heart-rate up super quick!

Next time, I’ll increase the distance to five 1/2-mile sprints to add in another mile.

Oh, and here was the view from my hill runs.  This is why I live here.  The Space Needle motivates me… I just love it!!!  Peace, K.

I don’t feel like going for a run today.  Technically, it’s “run day”… but here I am blogging instead of putting my shoes on.

I must get motivated!

But my calves still hurt every time I walk down the stairs, my delts are screaming at me from too many pull-ups and push ups, I’ve got a crick in my neck from something… but I must run.  The schedule says it is run day, and so it is.

It’s nearly 6pm and the evening light is beautiful outside…it’s that subdued September light… the sun is low in the sky, there’s a bit of a cool breeze and it’s perfect for a run.

OK, here I go… I’ll let you know what I did to get motivated later and if it worked… ha!


Along with my usual kettlebell swinging… I’ve increased my cross training to point where I’m doing something different every day to shake things up for the Tough Mudder.  In the past 48 hours I’ve done a 9-mile run, 400 sit-ups, I ran 1200 stairs, and did an hour of CrossFit, which included Wendler 5-3-1 powerlifts and a pretty sweaty workout of a 1/2 mile sprint, 50 air squats, 1/2 mile sprint, 25 wall balls, 1/2 mile run, and 100 lunges.  Whew!

Arnica Montana (Wolverlei)

This is when I need to reach for the Arnica Oil.  I’ve blogged about this before, but it’s a good reminder… this stuff really works!  I am feeling little reminders of my workouts in my shoulders, calves, knees… and Arnica Oil is great relief.  Here’s what I use…

Tomorrow is short-run day and more CrossFit…

and don’t forget the kettlebell situps!