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Kristin Armstrong, Olympian and St. Luke's Team Member

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
August 1, 2013


Those who know me know that I have not been blessed with athletic aptitude or ability. In junior high, I was among the first cuts in tryouts for the baseball and basketball teams. I resigned myself to supporting our teams by playing in the marching band. 

No one would have predicted that I would one day be working with several Olympians. First, I met Anne Audain at the Women’s Fitness Celebration. Then I met Lyle Nelson up in McCall. Finally, I met Kristin Armstrong here in Boise. All three of these Olympians are committed to St. Luke’s and our vision, and have done so much to advance health in Idaho.

Though athletic ability is not one of them, Kristin and I do have some things in common. Both of us are passionate and committed to the cause. Both of us believe we are never going to fix health care in this country without a commitment to health, wellness, and fitness. Both of us love St. Luke’s Health System, our vision, and what St. Luke’s employees and physicians stand for. Oh, yeah, and both of us are tweeters, if that is a word, so I figured I could talk Kristin into being a guest blogger. Her post follows. Welcome aboard, Kristin!

Here’s what my life was like a little more than a year ago:

I was laser-focused on preparing for the biggest U.S. women’s bike race on the calendar.

That race, in Boise, ended with a broken collar-bone and surgery. I was two weeks out from knowing whether I would be selected for my third Olympic games.

 A golden moment last summer.

Nine weeks later, almost exactly a year ago, I found myself on the top step of the podium with my 2-year-old son in my arms and a gold medal around my neck, listening to our national anthem.

Mission accomplished. Dream come true!

What comes after that?

On a daily basis, people ask me, “What are you doing these days? Still riding your bike a lot?”

I think there is an assumption among many that, since I have won two Olympic gold medals, working a “real job” somehow wouldn’t be part of the picture.

I believe that in life, we either have to or get to do things, and that it’s up to us. Here’s how I view my new position as executive director of community health for St. Luke’s Ortho/Neuro group:

I get to work with and be part of the St. Luke’s team, and I get to work toward improving the health of people in our region.

My job pulls together all my life experiences in ways I think are going to benefit others, everything from being a military brat and moving every three years to studying exercise physiology and nutrition at the University of Idaho to directing at the YMCA, one of the strongest non-profit organizations in the Treasure Valley. I’ve also managed accounts at a local advertising agency and fortune 500 company. And I’ve been a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

There are so many parallels between my “real job” and preparing to be on the top step of an Olympic podium, and there are six characteristics that I believe can make any of us a true champion, no matter our goals.

I would like to bring these characteristics – motivation, a positive attitude, teamwork, focus, belief in oneself, and FUN –to life with my St. Luke’s family and to our beautiful community. I believe that together, we can move mountains and become part of one of the healthiest communities around.

On a daily basis, you can find me on the St. Luke’s Boise campus or out and about in the community, working on health projects and initiatives. I am working with the YMCA on additional intervention programs for our community and our patients, and with Bogus Basin to provide YEAH! camps focused on childhood obesity this summer.

FitOne is another priority, creating opportunity for the community to engage in fitness and health education while having fun. I also will participate with committees across St. Luke’s that work on Healthy U wellness, integrative medicine, and childhood obesity initiatives and help to manage Sports Medicine outreach efforts.

I’ll help form alliances and be a liaison with community partners to ensure St. Luke’s Health System’s strategic plans are successful. I am so grateful to work with an amazing team to better the health of the people in our community.

About the bike racing: I retired once in 2009 and again in 2012. No more Brett Favres. I am excited about my new challenge with St. Luke’s and plan to take it to the top step, just as I did in the sport of cycling.


About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.