Ep #15: Completing Ironmans and not underestimating your capabilities with Kristin Evans

In this episode of the Discomfort Zone Podcast, Kristin Evans, a nurse practitioner and Ironman triathlete, shares how she differentiates between mental versus physical discomfort to navigate the challenges that test the limits of her mind and body.

Kristin emphasizes the value and satisfaction of finishing the race, whether it’s surrounded by a cheering crowd, or in a quiet and low-key manner surrounded by a small group of your most dedicated support crew.

She encourages listeners to never underestimate their capabilities, and shares how she takes her personal wins in triathlon and applies them to other areas of life that test her.

If you’re looking for inspiration on building resilience and completing something you didn’t think was possible, you’ll enjoy listening to Kristin sharing her experience completing the Cheaha Extreme Triathlon where she found herself running in the dark at night!

About Kristin

Kristin Evans is an internal medicine nurse practitioner, certified nutrition coach, and triathlete based in Chattanooga, TN.

Her journey into triathlon began as a preparation for a Himalayan trek to Everest Base Camp in 2019, evolving into a deep-seated passion for pushing her limits and embracing hard challenges.

Over the last four years, she’s conquered multiple Ironman 70.3 races and completed five full Ironman distance races. In 2023, she faced my most significant challenges, completing the 21-hour Cheaha Extreme Triathlon in June and crossing the finish line at the historic first ever all-women’s Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in October.

How to connect with Kristin:

IG: @kdevansrn

FB: Kristin Evans

Anna
My guest, Kristin Evans, is an internal medicine nurse practitioner, certified nutrition coach and triathlete based in Chattanooga. Let me do that over. Chattanooga. Hold on just a second. Okay. Chattanooga. Okay. My guest today, Kristin Evans, is an internal medicine nurse practitioner, certified nutrition coach. and triathlete based in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her journey into triathlon began as a preparation for a Himalayan trek to Everest Base Camp in 2019, evolving into a deep-seated passion for pushing her limits and embracing hard challenges. Over the last four years, she’s conquered multiple triathlon 70.3 races and completed five full Ironman distance races. In 2023, she faced her most significant challenges completing the 21-hour Chiahaw Extreme Triathlon in June and crossing the finish line at the historic first ever all women’s Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in October. Thanks for being here, Kristen. I’m really excited to chat with you about discomfort zone.

Kristin Evans
Yeah, me too. Thank you very much for inviting me on your podcast. I’m excited.

Anna
Yay. So I like to jump right in. And my first question is, when I say discomfort zone, what comes up for you?

Kristin Evans
Um, most of it is, uh, I would say a mental discomfort when I think about being uncomfortable. Um, you know, I think there’s things that are easy to be uncomfortable with, right? And there’s things that are difficult to be uncomfortable with. And, and so difficult for me has mostly been conquering those challenging moments and mentally, um, the physical stuff I find, you know, uncomfortable, but easier to deal with in the mental. So.

I would say the mental side of what I do comes up for me mostly.

Anna
Yeah, thank you for that answer. I don’t think anyone yet has talked so specifically about mental versus physical challenges. And I think that’s really interesting. Can you say more maybe about what the physical challenge feels like and why you feel that is a bit, I don’t know if you said easy, but that’s what’s coming to me easier than a mental challenge.

Kristin Evans
Yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s easy, depending on what it is, but I find it’s less challenging than the mental stuff. You know, so physically uncomfortable or physically difficult, you know, is when I’m out training and my lungs are burning, my legs are on fire, my butt hurts, you know, my back hurts, whatever it is, I’m hot, you know, that kind of stuff I find is easier to acknowledge that it’s happening and then set it aside. And also being able to differentiate between, am I uncomfortable or am I in pain? And there’s a big difference. It’s a lot more tolerable for me to be uncomfortable knowing that in a certain amount of time that’s going to end versus being in true pain and being able to differentiate between those two things, especially during an actual competition. And I think a lot of that starts to come into, like I learned how to have learned how to do that through training and practice.

Right. So having long, you know, training sessions, seven, eight hours, sometimes leading up to some of these races and learning how to deal with what it’s what it feels like just to be physically uncomfortable, but knowing that in four or five, six hours, it’s going to end. Right. Which sounds like a long time, but it’s amazing what you can get used to. You know, and

Anna
That’s awesome. Yeah.

Kristin Evans
Some of that too, learning to get past the physical is, okay, well I did this. So after I did my first half Ironman, for example, it was difficult, it was hot, I was uncomfortable. But when it came time to do that full, it’s like, okay, well I’m hot and I’m uncomfortable and my legs are tired, whatever, I’ve done that. If I’ve done it for this long, I can do it for a little bit longer. So each time I’ve done something that’s physically more difficult, it’s been a little bit easier to push a little bit further because I know where I’ve been and that I can do anything for X amount of time. And also learning to break things down into smaller, more bite-sized chunks and focusing a lot on this is the mile that I’m in, or this is the five minutes chunk of time that I’m in that I just need to get through this and focus on this right now. Does that make sense?

Anna
Mm-hmm. Yeah, it does. And I’m hearing that although it’s a physical challenge that you’re using a lot of mental strategies or mindset strategies to not push through, but to continue to reach your goals, to stay with the discomfort and be able to be there and complete what you wanna complete.

Kristin Evans
Yeah, absolutely. Learning to affect the things that I can affect. There are certain things in a race that I can control. I can control my hydration and my nutrition and my form. But I can’t control the weather, other people, mechanical failures, things like that. So it’s, yeah, I guess you’re right. I think it is a lot. Physical even has a pretty large mental component to it as well.

Anna
Yeah, when you say you discern between discomfort and pain, can you say a little bit more about that? How do you know when you’re in pain or what tells you you’re in pain or what comes up for you versus discomfort?

Kristin Evans
Oh, that’s a hard one.

So.

And I actually kind of got this from my wife’s coach, who her mantra is, am I miserable, but fine? Right, because there’s, so check, I’ve kind of gotten into this habit where I check in with myself periodically throughout a race or even throughout training. It’s like, okay, how am I feeling? How’s my body feeling? It’s like, okay, I have this, for running, for example, I have this niggle in my hip, it’s an ache, I can feel it, but is it truly painful? Is it something that is stopping me from being able to perform? Is it sharp? Is it a, you know, is it a, you know, eight, nine out of 10 painting on a pain scale, right? And I think having learned to pay attention over the past few years of what’s going on with my body physically has been able to tell me, help me to discern between those nuances. So it’s not as I, it’s not really a cut and dry black and white thing, right? Where’s that where’s that line between I’m uncomfortable or I’m miserable, but I’m okay, and I’m like, in pain and need to stop. And I think that also comes with practice. You know, out for long runs, and you get six miles from the car and okay, all of a sudden, my knees start hurting. Well, do I push through because I’m uncomfortable? Or is this something I need to back off on and walk back to the car? And I’ve done that I’ve done both. So Sometimes that’s the right decision to back off and go home and take care of it. And that heads off a bigger injury. And sometimes you walk it out for 10 minutes and you can try again and then it’s okay. So it’s gotta be a fluid thing.

Anna
Yeah, I love what you’re saying about being willing to back off and test it out. And either you’re good with your decision to walk back to the car and you feel good because that’s the choice you made based on the signals your body was giving you. Or you back off and then you get back up to speed to running and then, oh, I’m okay, my body is signaling that I can finish this. It’s, it’s like, you know, of course this podcast is paddling adjacent and you’ve done a lot of whitewater kayaking in your past. You know, you were a class four boater and so it’s the same as or similar to deciding to walk or run a rapid. You know, some people get really down on themselves for walking a rapid or for stepping, quote unquote, stepping back to class two or three for a while when really it can be the different, you know, it’s good care for yourself and your body and your mind to give yourself, you know, when you need it, that ability to step back. And it doesn’t mean that you’re not gonna start running again or that you’re not gonna go back to running whatever class of river you want to run. So I think, I love that you brought that up.

Kristin Evans
Yeah, and I think that’s a bit of a learned skill too, of learning to be okay with the decisions that you make to back off when you need to do that. I can’t say I’ve always been great at that. I’ve had to learn that over the past couple of years. Probably more, yeah, I mean, even since boating, I remember in the early days, beating myself up for not running a rapid, and looking back on those times now, it’s like, you know kind of feel silly to be upset about those things at this point. But I think they were good learning experiences too to give myself some grace.

Anna
Yep. So when it comes to mental challenges, you’re talking about mental discomfort, what can you talk more about those? Tell us about what type of mental discomfort zones you face and your strategies for working with them.

Kristin Evans
Yeah, a lot of that comes into play, especially in the longer distance races, you know, you know, an Ironman for me lasts, you know, 12, 13 hours. And I would say that there are definitely every time points in those races where I feel really low mentally, you know, things hurt, I’m tired. I question my ability to finish, you know, what I’m doing, you know, I worry about, you know, who am I going to disappoint if I don’t finish, you know, all these need negative thoughts to start running through your heads when you’re not feeling well, or if you know haven’t read you your Hydration or your nutrition is off, you know that tends to lead to a lot of mental discomfort for sure and so When I get into those head spaces First off, you know, it’s checking in with myself. Have I been fueling appropriately? Have I been drinking?

You know, my hydration appropriately? Is it something I can have control over, you know, that way? And then I really try to focus on visualization with thinking about that finish line and all those people, right? There is nothing like an Ironman finish line and all those people screaming for you and they don’t even know you. So kind of like visualizing what I want that outcome to be has really helped a lot in the past, especially like, with a long distance triathlon, the running for me is usually the most mentally difficult because I’m tired at that point. It’s not my strong suit. And that has helped plus making friends, right? So you’re all out there together suffering and you find a buddy who’s going the same pace that you are and you just start talking and finding someone outside of myself to kind of help support me and support them.

And there have been multiple races where I have finished because somebody else was with me there at the end, who I didn’t even know and I never saw them again afterwards. And other races I’ve had, I’ve had the Chiaha race in particular, one of my best friends and coach Stephanie Davis actually did the entire run with me. So it was six hours of trekking through the woods because most of it was on trail.

In the dark, just the two of us, there’s only 20 people in the race. And then the last seven miles we’re on pavements in the pitch black because there was no sun, or not, I’m sorry, no moon. And she went with me and she helped me kind of keep it together. So some of it went by myself, as a summary is just how I talk to myself and visualizing the positive outcome that I want. And then…you know, having the support of other racers and my friends has always made a big difference.

Anna
That’s great.

There’s so much I want to, I mean, I love what you just said because it’s so in line with, I mean, I’m a big fan of everything you just said, you know, with when I’m teaching or coaching mental agility and, you know, mostly for paddlers and everyone wants to get to the paddling piece or like they only want to focus on the mind. And when you bring up hydration and nutrition, and I would add in there sleep, you know, all of these things. And this is for anyone, whether you’re a paddler, aspiring triathlete, you know, whatever you’re doing in your life, you know, hydrating yourself, eating, eating while nourishing yourself, getting enough sleep, all and community, you talk so much just now about community and surrounding yourself with people who support you is so important. And then the visualization.

These are all things that you will take care of outside of doing your actual sport, if that makes sense. So things that visualization, scheduling it in off the water or when you’re not actually racing is important when you’re in your safe space and you feel calm. And then, yeah, the nutrition and the hydration and community. And so…

know what I hear you’re saying is that these are habits to be formed outside of doing the sport and then they support you when you’re in it.

Kristin Evans (
Absolutely. I know back in the day when I was a new kayaker and I was doing clinics and trips and stuff with you and talking about doing easy moves or hard moves at easy water, definitely applies to what I’ve been doing. It’s a fairly consistent meditation practice and which has helped me figure, tune into my body and what my body feels like, which helps in the moment of discerning between…

you know, uncomfortable versus pain, learning to be able to not attach to thoughts and follow those down a rabbit hole. When a mental part gets difficult. And then, you know, doing the meditation that you, where you visualize, you know, what you want, I mean, those are all have been mostly regular practices over the past four years. Um, and.

And I was just kind of thinking about this, getting ready for this today is I would not be where I am at today. I would not have gone to the world championships if I didn’t have the communities I have. You know, I’ve from the beginning, I’ve had an amazing coach who’s become one of my closest friends. I’ve had a community of other triathletes and women who are empowering and were willing to teach the newbie. You know, and even as I’ve gotten through four years of this have also taken on mentorship with newer people coming into the sport and learning so much about the sport from a new person’s perspective again has been so useful. But so much of the preparation for all of this definitely happens off the bike, out of the running shoes. It’s out of the water. It’s the daily habits really, I think is what has supported me to get to this point.

Anna
So a big question that I hear folks in the paddling world talk about is community and mentorship and how to, you know, people say I don’t have a lot of paddling friends or I want to find more paddling friends. And you’ve talked a lot about community. So I have a few questions for you when it comes to this. One, what is the, how did you create that community around you?

Kristin Evans
So some of it is already was easy because there’s a triathlon club here in town, right? So a lot of it has come from that, but I have always, for as long as I can remember as an adult, sought out people who are doing the things or have the skills that I want to acquire throughout my adult life. And so specific to triathlon,

how that came about is that my wife wanted to go to the, to Everest, to the base camp. And she was, happened to be swimming with an adult group and somebody there was a triathlon coach. And so I got introduced that way. And so I started, started seeing Stephanie and hanging out with her. And then she introduced me to other people. And so it was just kind of starting to build networks, build friendships and continuing to be open expanding that circle, right? So you know, you go out to the go, you know, there’s a place near here where we most of us will ride our bikes and, you know, you meet people in the parking lot there and you bring them into the circle and you show up. It’s also showing up to the races to volunteer. It’s, you know, it’s being willing to be a mentor through the triathlon club and those connections always seem to lead to more connections.

There’s a kind of a, if I look back in my history, there’s a chain of people that are all connected in one way or another.

Anna
Yeah, what I hear you saying is that if you want to build community, you’ve got to show up and be willing to give, be willing to get involved to, you know, like you said, whether it’s volunteer or mentor, even take a class, right, from someone and you meet people in the class. It’s not about showing up because I think sometimes with community, folks feel or think maybe that community is something that happens. Like you show up and then.

It just happens and sometimes it takes several phone calls before you can actually connect schedules with someone. And so like you’re saying, showing up, not giving up so easily in terms, and taking bold action of if you see someone in the parking lot going up and saying, hi, it won’t always work out for sure. And you won’t know unless you actually, be courageous and do that.

Kristin Evans
Yeah, I think there’s going to be a willingness to put yourself out there and being a little vulnerable, especially if you’re a newer paddler or new to a sporting community. It’s super intimidating to show up to a group or to a class or something like that for the first time. But, you know, everybody has a first time. And I’ve kind of learned with, you know, I’ve tried lots of new things in my life so far, and I’ve kind of learned that to savor those newer early on experiences, because they’re never going to feel the same.

They have a feel to them that’s very different than you feel them when you’re more seasoned.

Anna
Yeah, that’s great. That’s a great awareness and insight for folks because it’s true, you know, to savor those beginner experiences even though they might feel vulnerable, uncomfortable. So why do you keep coming back to your discomfort zone? Because what I hear, you know, you’re racing, you’re signing up for triathlons. It doesn’t sound like you’re gonna, are you gonna keep going, I’m assuming? And…

Kristin Evans
Um, probably I’m taking a recovery year this year, which has its own challenges. Uh, I’m a little on a struggle bus with that this year, cause it’s a little hard to back off, um, but my body needs it. But I do plan to come back to it. Um, I’m not sure if I want to continue to Ironman or not, but I think I’d definitely want to branch out into maybe some smaller, uh, races. I’m getting into some gravel riding, um, which I’ve really been excited about. So I’m going to do some gravel racing and such too.

Anna
Why do you keep coming back to challenging yourself over and over with new experiences, which are vulnerable, as we’ve already said?

Kristin Evans
Yeah, I love learning new things first off. It just it really is, it just it drives me, whether it’s a sport related thing or if it’s something else. I really just like learning like how like where what else can I do right so I remember when I was doing my first triathlon it was a sprint so it was a 250 meters swim in a pool inside and you run outside and get on your bike and you ride 16 miles and come back and do a 5k All right. So to me it was a huge deal I had all kinds of crazy nerves like your stomach was all tore up getting ready to start this race and I finished that race and I was like I was just bursting with tears. I’m like, oh my god I didn’t think I could do that Right, and I remember having experiences like that kayaking, you know running those hard rapids that I didn’t think I had the skills to run

Anna
Like Hammer Factor.

Kristin Evans
And yes, Hammer Factor for sure. That was the one that actually comes up for me every time. And I get this physical mental charge out of accomplishing something I wasn’t completely sure I could do. And it gets me excited to like, OK, this is, I didn’t think I could do this, but I can. So I wonder what else I don’t think I can do that I can do.

Anna
Yes.

Kristin Evans
I don’t know if that answers your question.

Anna
Yeah, what I hear you say is it builds your confidence and your joy and your confidence in yourself. And I hear it like brings an aliveness to you. And it’s wonderful to have an aliveness when we’re alive, you know, to like live life fully.

Kristin Evans
Yes.

Absolutely. And then I think that’s that is that is hits it on the head too there is that you know, I, I fully believe that I you know, I want to live a very full life. And I want to experience all the things that this body and mind can experience that interests me. And so you know, I don’t want to get to the end of my days and have regrets that I didn’t do something because I wasn’t willing to be vulnerable.

And the other piece of that is feeling safe in that vulnerability because of the people that I surround myself with.

Anna
Right. That’s a really great point. You know, when we have the community, when we have support network, that, so we feel safe within the discomfort zone, like within pushing ourselves. It’s the same on the river. That’s why I like to, I’m choosy about who I paddle with because I want to have fun. I’m out there to be social and have fun and connect with nature. I’m not out there like to, you know…

Earlier in my career is more about like, how hard is this? Am I paddling the hardest? Now it’s very much, I want to have fun. And part of the fun is the social aspect and feeling like we’ve all got each other’s back, so to speak. We’re paying attention. We’re there for the, not only to run the river and accomplish the river run, it also to be with each other. So, yeah.

What is the biggest thing or most meaningful thing or something that stands out that you’ve learned about yourself by challenging yourself, putting yourself in your discomfort zone?

Kristin Evans
I am far more resilient than I ever thought I was.

um, my, my ability to face and overcome challenges because they’re challenges that I have chosen, um, you know, not the one is that necessarily life has, has kind of forced upon me, but like chosen those challenges and then overcome those it’s empowering. Um, it’s, it has given me a self-confidence, um, that.

I mean, his is built up over time, his built up through experiences. It wasn’t any one particular thing.

I would say my, my resiliency is rock solid. You know, any doubts I had as a younger person about what I’m capable of has that bar has been elevated so much. I mean, every time I do something difficult and finish that it’s it or even if I don’t finish it, right? So that’s still learning experience, I still toe the line.

Um, it’s, my sense of self is so much more solid now than it was, you know, 10, 15 years ago. Um, and, and I wouldn’t say that it was even entirely sport that has done that for me. I mean, it’s, it’s all life experiences. It’s doing, you know, landmark for it. What’s a huge impact for that. Um, you know,

life experiences and learning how to navigate my relationships better and completing difficult relationships from my past. And all of that, I think, comes together to allow me this space to do these hard physical mental challenges now as an older person with a lot more confidence and a lot more willingness to put myself out there because I am not that fragile.

Right? So I can go out and do an Iron Man because I’m tough. You know, I got this, right? This compared to some of the other things that I have faced in my life. That that’s easy.

Anna
Hmm. Yeah. And when you talk about, well, there’s a couple things. One, I keep hearing the theme of hard moves and easy water also is great preparation. For instance, you taking on the sprint triathlon, which by the way, I did, I took triathlon as a course in college. It was like a PE and I got a B. I don’t know even know why I got a B. Like, how do you get a B in triathlon?

I completed a sprint and it was really cool. You know, it was super fun. And part of the inspiration for this podcast and these interviews is for folks out there listening who think like there’s no way I could do that or do something. I love your story about you started with a sprint triathlon. You didn’t think you could do it and you took it on and you did it. And that’s, you know, part of the process is pick something and go for it. And you don’t have to pick the hardest thing. You know, pick what the next step is and go for it. And then that’s how you build your confidence, right? That hard moves in easy water, so to speak, or, or going one step at a time. What’s the next thing? What’s the next thing? So love that.

Kristin Evans
Yeah, I mean, getting into this, I had to learn how to swim. Right, I could swim to save myself. I could swim, you know, to get my kayak to the side of the water or river or whatever, but to swim for speed with other people, I had no idea. So I had to show up to our master swim training group and flop my way down a 25 meter pool, thinking that I was gonna suffocate by the time I got to the end, drown by the time I got to the end, right? And…

You know, that first sprint triathlon, I was on this like hybrid mountain bike for 16 miles and like what that’s like and learning, you know, yeah. So it’s, I again lost my train of thought, but that step-wise approach, you know, I mean, I have to certainly know people who like, oh, I’ve never done Ironman, I’ve never done triathlon, I’m gonna sign up for an Ironman. And they do it, right?

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that route. But I think anybody can jump into triathlon or any gravel racing or get into some kayaking if they’re just willing to be open to learning and understanding that it’s not gonna go perfectly in the beginning and just see what it’s about.

Anna
Yeah. And I think with learning being willing to fail, quote unquote fail, right, is key for the learning process. And looking at those as learning experiences, right.

Kristin Evans
Absolutely.

Anna
Yeah.

So earlier you mentioned discomfort zone challenges that you’ve chosen and in life we’re all going to experience discomfort zones, things that we don’t choose and we didn’t even see coming. Do you feel like your practice in getting into your discomfort zone by choice helps you in moments where things go sideways and you’re faced with something that you, discomfort you didn’t choose and now there you are in the face of it.

Kristin Evans
I would say most of the time, yeah. I think the things that I do outside of sport probably help me the most with being able to deal with those kind of unexpected challenges, like a meditation practice, a yoga mobility practice, so knowing what my body feels like when it’s under stress.

And it’s an ongoing skill. Like I still am actively working on being able to pay attention to when my body is starting to feel stressed and intervening before it gets, you know, up here. I think it is definitely, especially in like my professional career, allowed me a lot more confidence in, you know, treating my patients and being able to have difficult conversations with them, and but also be able to hold space. So I don’t know that I have a very clear answer on exactly how doing all this the difficult triathlon and the sport stuff has a direct like this thing translate directly to dealing with more unexpected stuff but it does and then I think that goes back to my sense of my resilience and my ability to cope with difficult things.

Anna
What advice would you give our listeners on facing fear and stepping into their discomfort zone and doing something new?

Kristin Evans
Well, I would say that…

take a couple of deep breaths first off, because it’s gonna be okay, right? And…

seek out those people that are going to support you in taking those first steps. And I’m thinking back specifically to the first day I walked into that medatorium to get in the pool. And I was nervous just walking down the deck to get to the water, right?

And, being able to take a second and understand that I was surrounded by people who wanted nothing but the best for me and wanted me to succeed. Even though I mostly had not met those people, right? They were just the other people on the team.

So and then trusting a little bit that I could at least try this, right? So I guess advice I would say, trust yourself more because you can do more than you think you’re capable of doing. And do it with a smile. Right, everything’s better with a smile, right? Your body relaxes, it takes you out of that fight flight mode. And…

look for the fun and the joy and the beauty in it, right? Look around. Like, you know, I was just thinking about, you know, kayaking and getting into the river and remembering and some, you know, trips that I’ve done, being really nervous, you’ve already even gotten a boat. But taking a minute to look around is to appreciate being there. So yeah, so smile, take some deep breaths, know that you that the people around you have your back. And go for it. I mean, at a certain point, you if you want to learn and expose yourself to new things, you’ve just got to take the leap.

Anna
Yeah. One thing that I think is important that you just said is to look around and find the joy and the beauty. I don’t know if you said beauty or that’s my word, because it can be easy to fall into wanting to find evidence to justify why you don’t want to be in the discomfort zone, and then at least for myself, to speak for myself, my mind can go to finding all the evidence of why it’s scary, why I shouldn’t do it, worst case scenario. And I think that for myself, I know that about myself. So there’s that building that self-awareness so that when that starts to happen, I can actually shift and look around and say, let’s find some evidence of fun and joy, like you’re saying, and why I chose to be here in the first place, because there was something inside of me. And so I think what you said about finding like the, I’ll say positive, but I prefer more specific descriptors, whether it’s gratitude, joy, fun, nature, whatever it is.

Kristin Evans
Absolutely. And the gratitude piece that really sticks out to me because I found such a big impact for myself on a daily gratitude practice, you know, and it’s not anything major. It’s, you know, at the end of meditation, I pick three things that I’m grateful for, and I just speak whatever those are. And I have definitely found that can help in the middle, you know, of a really long bike ride, you know, especially about you know, not by myself, it’s 97 degrees in Chattanooga in the middle of July. I’m tired. It’s the, you know, I don’t know how many days in a row of training and I just want to be done and get grumpy, right. And you just want to be finished. And, but it started to be like, okay, look, Hey, my, my legs actually feel pretty good. You know, Hey, it’s, it’s a beautiful day. It’s, uh, my, my bike’s in good working order. Right. And my body can do this. Right. And being grateful for what my body can do. Um,

And I think sometimes it’s easier than others to find those moments of gratitude. It’s a little bit more difficult if you’re out going for a three hour run and it’s pouring down rain and you’re called muddy. Versus I’m in Hawaii and I’m in the middle of this beautiful bike ride in Hawaii and I’ve got all these awesome things to look at and I’m racing with all these fantastic female athletes, right? But being able to, again, practice, sort of looking for things to be grateful for has made an impact too.

Anna
Yeah. Do you have any triathlon stories that you want or a triathlon story that you want to share with us of a time like where you really felt like you were crashing and, you know, talked yourself out of it or whatnot?

Kristin Evans
Um, yeah, I mean, there’s probably several. Um, there’s always a low moment or several in most triathlons, uh, for me. But, um, I guess most recently probably Chiaha. Um, that was a big one. That’s probably the most difficult race I’ve ever done. Um.

Anna (
Tell us about it. What is the course like? You mentioned gravel.

Kristin Evans
So an extreme triathlon, yeah, so extreme triathlon usually has, it’s usually a full distance. So a full Ironman distance is 140.6 miles where you swim 2.4, you bike generally 112 and run a marathon. So somewhere in that vicinity of numbers. And what tends to make them extreme is usually elevation or weather. So a little bit of both with this one. It was down in Talladega, Alabama.

And so it had a normal swim, 2.4 miles in a lake. And so that was pretty typical. And then the bike, it was 108 miles. It had 5, sorry, 10,000 feet of elevation gain. And most of the elevation gain was on the second half. So in the heat of the day. And then you finish with the, it was supposed to be a marathon run, but I’m pretty sure they added a couple of miles, at least according to my watch. And that was largely trail within a road finish. And that had 5,000 feet of gain. So it was a very long day. And yeah, I mean, it was just epic. And I had practiced and I knew the course, you know, I had gone, so I knew what I was getting myself into. And, you know, the first that the swim went fine, the first half of the bike was fine. You know, by the time I got, you know, four or five hours in, I was pretty well warmed up, and then the hills started. And it was incredibly hot, to the point that when I… I had to have my own crew, so my coach and my wife and a couple of friends drove around and stopped so that I could have, you know, beverages and refuel and, you know, repair kits and stuff. And they would hand me just a jar of pickle juice.

And I would just chug the entire jar. And I don’t know how many of those I went through that day. Yeah. And I remember coming up on probably the last 20 miles of the bike and there were three women, the three of us that were in contention coming off the bike. And we kept foot flopping back and forth all the way back 20 miles. I passed one and they passed me back and forth. And we were really neck and neck, you know, and grinding up these hills that would just…

never ending, you know, like 10% grade for like three miles. And then it would get a little steeper and like the finish up to the second transition to get into the run was all uphill and we’re just all side by side, just falling out. Um, and we all just kind of stumbled into T2, um, got my pickle juice, uh, which is magic by the way, I’ve discovered pickle juice is magic.

Anna
Yeah, I want to know more about the pickle juice. Like what, why pickle juice? I feel like I would puke if I had to chug pickle juice. Gotcha.

Kristin Evans
So it’s the salt. So when you’re out with that long and that much heat, it’s really difficult to keep up on your electrolytes. And even though I had electrolytes in my water and I carry loose salt that I use frequently, it’s so depleted by the time I got to that point that I was like, my legs were shaking when I got off the bike. I had to sit down. I was like, this is not good.

Literally 10 minutes after drinking pickle juice, I was like, all right, let’s go run. You know, yeah. And then so this run, you know, it’s in the state park, it’s the highest point in Alabama. And one of the first parts of it is this gnarly couple mile descent that is just like, if you tried to do it in the dark, you probably would lose your way because it’s just not well marked and there’s these drop-offs everywhere. And so I made that part in the daylight, which I was very happy about.

And then there was a cutoff. You had to make it to a certain point by 8 p.m. where they made you take a shorter route. So I made the cutoff, but that’s when my friend and coach joined me and we did 10 miles in the woods. And my crew hiked in partway through, built a fire and made hot dogs. And they were feeding us hot dogs. I remember that was like the best, I don’t normally eat hot dogs. I don’t normally eat hot dogs, but man, that was like the best hot dog ever.

Anna
So that’s a good crew.

Kristin Evans
Because at that point, I’m living all day on liquid things. So liquid electrolytes and gels all day for the most part. So a hot dog, I was like, oh. I’m pretty sure the vegan guy even stopped eating hot dog. Yeah, and then after that, as soon as I got the hot dog, it started getting dark. And we.

We hiked, at that point it was really difficult to run in the dark and I’m just, it’s not my strong suit, so we did some fast hiking in the pitch black dark with nothing but our headlamps and because there were so few people racing, like we were alone the whole time. And it was just, it was funny because so Stephanie is a little skittish about being in the woods at dark and we kept hearing things crashing. And you know how in the woods and the dark squirrels can sound like the sasquatch got them for you.

And I remember just like, you know, it was got kind of low a couple points, we were getting kind of miserable. And so we were trying to cheer each other up. And I was like, Oh, look at all these little pretty sparkles. Look at the pretty dew out in the woods and stuff. It would light up with our headlamps and stop to tie my shoe. And I bent down to look at one of the little sparkles and it was a little spider eyes. And so I realized like all the little sparklies we were seeing were all spider eyes. I’m like, huh. And Steph was like, what? And I’m like, nothing.

I’m not telling you. So I didn’t tell her until we got out that they were spider eyes. She still gives me jokes with me about that one. But yeah, so I had, and then, you know, that was a seven mile finish uphill on road. I ended up walking, so I was having some foot problems at that point. I had some really bad blisters and things. So it was more of a trudge than it was a run. But she and the rest of my crew were right there and walked with me to the finish line at about one o’clock in the morning. And it was the most anticlimactic finish line I’ve ever been to. It was my team and the race director and it was dark. But it was one of the most satisfying, you know, and so very different from like the Ironman races that are always so over the top. This was a very, it was just a, it was a very quiet moment of satisfaction of this epic thing that I’m like, you know, I never, even when I first started triathlon and got into doing my first, I did my first Ironman, doing that particular race was not something I thought I was capable of. And to just move nonstop for that many hours. I was like, wow, you know?

Anna
Wow.

Yeah, amazing. It’s amazing. For sure. And I love, I hear that the satisfaction is yours and your teams. I mean, what I mean by that is.

Yeah, maybe the Iron Man finish lines are there’s more hoopla and you’re taking photos and there’s more people but this one and this one was really Satisfaction for yourself and you did it and I don’t know there’s something about that is so Satisfying I Don’t know. I’m it. It’s like I’ve had those experiences as well when you’re really doing something for yourself which I guess we’re always doing, because we wouldn’t be doing them if we weren’t doing them for ourselves and for the passion of it. But how some of the most satisfying moments can be like finishing in the dark with no one there, but it doesn’t matter if no one’s there or like there’s no video, there’s no whatever. It’s like, and you know, you did that. Like I did that.

Kristin Evans
Mm-hmm. Yeah, I am more proud of that race, that quiet finish, than I am of finishing the Ironman World Championships. Which is, you know, comparing apples to oranges, really. Very different thing, but like the amount of physical and mental fortitude that I had to dig deep for that race. And it got me excited, no.

Anna
Yeah. And no one can take that away from you. That’s, I guess that’s what I’m trying to get at. That’s, that no one can take that away from you. Just like any accomplishment. And I think that’s what builds confidence as well, right? Is you did that and no one can take that away from you.

Kristin Evans
But I didn’t do it alone. I could not have done that race alone. And I don’t know that I would have finished it either. If I had not allowed to have Stephanie there with me in the third leg of it, I’m not sure I would have been able to find the mental fortitude to finish. It would have been too easy to stop.

Anna
Right. Totally. Yeah.

I might be willing to allow people to contribute to you. I struggle with that. I’m getting much better, but I’ve struggled with that. If that’s a growth area for me, allow people to contribute to you.

Kristin Evans
Yeah. Yes. I hear you. I still also struggle with not wanting to accept help and I can do it myself. I think sometimes those physical challenges, especially with the extreme that race was, it breaks you down enough that you’re grateful, so grateful for that help. And it kind of strips away a lot of those hangups about accepting help, I think.

Anna
Do you have any questions for me, Kristen?

Kristin Evans
Oh wow. Um, hmm.

Kristin Evans
I guess I will turn it back to you. What are you doing these days to lean into discomfort? And we talked a little bit about Costa Rica and your experiences there, but some of that was things that happened out of your control. So things that you’re doing these days that are challenged by choice, I guess.

Anna
This podcast, for sure, this podcast feels very much stepping into discomfort zone because I’m putting it out there and I have a lot of respect for everyone I’m interviewing. You know, so there’s you mentioned like in the races not giving up, you know, because you don’t want or you mentioned not wanting to disappoint people. That’s something also, you know, that can feel very vulnerable. And so yeah, this podcast is really challenging me. I’ve worked with a business coach the last four years and really worked on my business and systems. Part of that is honoring my own value and things like taking a stand that outdoor professionals should get paid a good wage and make a good living, which means raising my prices and stuff to do with the business, which I don’t talk about often, but definitely that’s a…

That has been a discomfort zone journey for me. Soin paddling, it’s more adjusting to that class four plus is my discomfort zone now. I’m really not that interested in paddling. I still love paddling the Narrows without the big three. And I’m happy with that and paddling class four and having fun.

And so adjusting to that and there’s still always, you know, the, in anything, whether it’s mountain biking, sup-surfing, I’ve gotten back into standup paddleboard surfing and that’s a, just like the ocean and catching waves. And I went on a trip where I was a client this past January, me and Andrew and I went on a standup paddleboard surf trip and it was awesome. That’s a discomfort zone too, because being contributed to.

You know, and so yeah, lots of stuff, Kristin. Because I seem to, you know, it jazzes me. I feel like I’m, like you mentioned, you love learning new things. I love learning. And so I like, I love growing and challenging myself to grow.

Kristin Evans
Thank you.

Yeah, it’s, I can’t remember exactly what year we met at this point, but it’s been really cool to see the evolution of you and your business from girls at play to what it is now. And this, the depth of it, yes, the depth of what you’re doing and the experience has been really awesome to watch. And to be a part of it.

Anna
Yeah, mind, body, paddle.

Thank you.

Yeah, thank you. I appreciate that.

Kristin Evans
Yeah.

Anna
Okay, my last question before we get into rapid fire. What is the biggest misconception people have about triathlons?

Kristin Evans
I would say that it’s the biggest misconception I would say is probably that people think that it is too expensive to get into because there’s, you know, you have three sports, right? So I think that is a barrier to a lot of people. And I don’t think it has to be that way. There’s certainly ways to do it that doesn’t have to break the bank. And it doesn’t have to be you know, Ironman level prices. You know, so people who are interested in getting into it, I would not let them, let that stop them. You know, I would look into, you know, your local, there’s so many local triathlons going on, the sprints and the Olympic distances. So I’d say that one. I think there’s other, there’s other misconceptions as well. You know, people think we’re all really type A, which is a little bit true, but not all of us.

Anna
Are you putting us as not a type A? That’s awesome. That’s funny.

Kristin Evans
I know, not necessarily, I’m just saying I know some triathletes are not type A, but there’s, you know, in jokes about how regimented we are and everything has to be, you know, super micro-vanished and all that, so we’re not all that way.

Anna
Right. Got it. OK, you ready for rapid fire questions?

Kristin Evans
Alright, sure, let’s go.

Anna
Okay, a morning ritual that sets you up for success.

Kristin Evans
Um, meditation, at least 10 minutes most days. Uh, and that is mostly just focusing on like breath work stuff.

Anna
Non-negotiable self-care practice.

Kristin Evans
my sleep.

Anna
What’s your favorite motivational book or talk?

Kristin Evans
I love Brene Brown, anything she writes.

Anna
I love her too. What do people get wrong about you?

Kristin Evans
uh, that I’m shy, quiet.

Anna
Throughout the course of your life, have you considered yourself the underdog or the favored to win?

Kristin Evans
Oh, underdog for sure.

Anna
hard moves in easy water or flooding.

Kristin Evans
hard moves in easy water, preferably. Ha ha ha.

Anna
Okay, what’s one word that describes your comfort zone?

Kristin Evans
Mmm, what do you mean?

Anna
Like mine would be baked goods. That’s like a comfort. Oh yeah. I said, I would say baked goods like describes my comfort zone.

Kristin Evans
Oh, okay, gotcha. My comfort zone, okay. Cuddles on the couch with my dog.

Anna
freedom through discipline or I do what I want.

Kristin Evans
freedom through discipline.

Anna
In one word, what do you hope your legacy will be?

Kristin Evans
kindness.

Anna
Hmm. Is there anything else you want to say to our listeners, Kristen?

Kristin Evans
Um, I would say don’t underestimate what you’re capable of. Um, if I have learned nothing else in the, in the past several years, it is, uh, where I think my limits are and what I think I can and can’t do, but physically and mentally, I’m surprising myself every day.

Anna
Mm, love it. Where can people find you or connect with you?

Kristin Evans
Um, Facebook and Instagram. So Kristen Evans on Facebook and KD Evans RN on Instagram. I am not an awesome social media person so I don’t follow up frequently but that’s probably the easiest way or email which I think will probably be like show notes and stuff.

Anna
Yeah, I’ll put all this in the show notes for sure. Thank you so much, Kristen, for sharing with us. I really appreciate your time. And it was really fun chatting with you.

Kristin Evans
You too. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.