It's all about fitness, fun

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nick Przybyciel
  • 446th Airlift Wing
Completing a 26-mile marathon, as opposed to just succeeding at the 1.5 mile Air Force fitness evaluation run, can be a lofty goal for some people. 

But not for Kristi Porter, a 1st lieutenant with the 446th Logistics Readiness Flight. For her, competing marathons, such as the Seattle Marathon on Nov. 27, is just a way to maintain her present condition. Since the winter is the off-season for triathlon competitions - where Porter's real passion lies - she stays fit by participating in other endurance events. 

"I do marathons in the winter to stay in shape for triathlon season," said Porter, who has completed five marathons and about 30 triathlons. 

Porter participated in the Florida Ironman Triathlon in2004. Athletes competing in the grueling event had to complete a 2.4-mile open ocean swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26-mile run. 

"I've always been into fitness, but never competitively. I did my first marathon while in logistics school back in 2003. I was just looking for ways to stay in shape and work on my running over the winter. Rather than just doing arbitrary workouts at the gym every day, I thought that giving myself a goal would help keep me on track . even when it was cold and dark and rainy outside. It's really easy to let stuff like that convince you to stay in bed," said the 32-year-old Reservist. 

Although it requires strong determination to compete in events like triathlons and marathons, Porter stresses that it shouldn't be the competition that drives people to enter the races. 

"My take is to go there and make it enjoyable," she said. "You don't have to be super serious and be so competitive. You just have to go there and do it. That's your accomplishment." 

Porter adopted this mind set before participating in her first triathlon. She and a friend camped out on the beach the night before the event, foregoing the usual carb loading most endurance athletes swear by. Their diet that night consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches washed down with cheap beer, she said. 

"I would look around at the people," Porter said, "And many of them got so mad at not finishing first, and I thought it was just too bad."
Porter, a 13-year Air Force veteran (including active-duty time in the enlisted and officer corps) understands that although an Ironman or a marathon may not be in the cards for everyone, the point is getting, and staying, in shape shouldn't just be something you have to do for the Air Force. 

"It should be a part of your life because it's fun and because it's a goal you set for yourself and accomplish. No one can take that away from you, or take credit for any of your hard work. And, darn it, it makes you feel good," said Porter. "Whether it's walking your dog for a half an hour day or riding your bike to work one day a week, or even climbing Mount Everest - whatever your goal is, stick to it. Make it realistic and make it happen. And choose to enjoy it; life is all about choices. 

Porter's flair for fun is obvious to any spectator watching an event that she competes in. She's been known to wear dresses while on the bike leg of triathlons or sport a pink cowboy hat like at this year's Danskin Seattle Women's Triathlon. 

As far as the Seattle Marathon is concerned, Porter expresses a bit of concern with the event. Since joining the 446th Airlift Wing in December 2004, she has been bogged down with work and school and hasn't had much time for training, she said. 

"I always learn something new at every race. At this one, I'll learn what the body is capable of doing with as little training as possible," she said with a laugh. 

While Porter jogs between 20 and 30 miles per week, she hasn't had the opportunity to complete the long distance runs that are crucial for endurance training. This usually includes three 20-mile runs in the weeks leading up to the competition, she said. 

"It normally takes between 12 and 16 weeks to train for a triathlon," Porter said. 

While she hasn't had much time for her own training in the past year, Porter has contributed significantly to help members of the 446th AW remain "fit for fight." Aside from teaching spin classes at the McChord Health and Wellness center, Porter has encouraged other Airmen from the wing to participate in endurance events. She began inspiring others when she started coaching while in North Carolina, privately and through a fitness center. 

Carla Pelster, a major with the 446th Operations Support Flight, planned and competed in her first half-marathon with Porter last May. Porter served as a source of motivation for her fellow Reservists during the 13- mile event. 

"She's just an inspirational person," Pelster said. "I spent six months training for the event and (I) think she decided she was going to enter it six weeks before hand. She's a very motivated, very positive person." 

Porter, who attends night school for massage therapy, plans to compete in the Grand Colombian Iron-distance Triathlon in Eastern Washington next September.