Oceanside 70.3 Race Report

Race season has officially begun and Oceanside couldn’t have been a better race to kick it off!

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I woke up at 4:20 am prior to my alarm going off. I rarely sleep well the night before a race and this was no exception. I ate my usual peanut butter toast with banana, kissed my sleeping boys and headed out to walk to transition around 5:30am.

We were at the host hotel which is a good 2 miles from the transition area with no shuttle service. Ironman requires you to check your bike in the day before the race, so I had no bike to ride over either. I didn’t want to wake the boys and K obviously couldn’t leave them in the room alone to drive me so I just started walking. I saw buses picking people up in a nearby parking lot which I assumed were for athletes, so hopped on one. I chatted with the driver and turns out they were for volunteers, but he was super sweet and drove me to the transition drop off point anyway.

Most of the races I’ve done had much smaller transition areas. This one was massive which was a little intimidating, but it was awesome to have the buzz in the air from such a large and stacked field of competitors! I quickly set up my area, tried to stay warm (it was freezing), ate a couple Gatorade energy chews, then found two of my amazing Betty Squad teammates, Jilliene and Misty. We headed down to the swim chute together. I read a tip from Katie Hart Morse’s 2014 Oceanside 70.3 report about wearing flip flops to discard before entering the water and wish I hadn’t forgot them. The ground was pretty rough. The swim chute was packed. I heard the gun go off, but couldn’t see the pros who were off and swimming. We made our way to the back of the 40 minute pace group. My target was 50 minutes, but my coach advised me to start with a faster group so I could try to draft. I’m so grateful Misty and Jilliene were there with me in that group. We joked, laughed and gave each other pep talks which really helped to calm my nerves.

Swim:

The swim was a rolling start with athletes self-seeding. The idea is this should help spread out the field and keep the faster swimmers together and slower swimmers out of their way. It’s a good idea in theory, but there were so many people in the water it was still a fight to find open space. I kept lifting my head after a few strokes, treading water until I got my bearings. I could feel my heart-rate rising and I knew I had to get it under control quickly or I was going to burn out fast. After about 800 meters or so I finally started to calm down and got in a decent rhythm, but I was still getting hit left and right. I picked up momentum after the turnaround buoy and started getting more aggressive with my swimming, not stopping if I got whacked. Overall it was a decent swim and if I had started out swimming in the beginning instead of mostly treading water, I know my time would have been a lot faster. Lessons learned. I feel less anxiety about swimming now and got the huge Superfrog swim monkey off my back.

Official Time: 51:45

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T1: 8:34 

There is a long run out of the water back to your bike, so it’s not a fast transition. Even so I was way slow. Need to figure out how to get out of there onto the bike faster for the next one.

Bike:

It felt great to be out of the swim and on the road. The first 15-20 miles were rolling hills. In fact it was a pretty hilly course the whole way with the exception of the last 10 miles back into Oceanside. I love rolling hills, but I also don’t have a lot of practice getting into aero on rollers, so I ended up staying up on my handlebars for most of the 56 miles. I also didn’t have much practice grabbing hydration from volunteers and refilling my bottles while riding prior to this race, so I pulled over to stop and refuel at the first aid station which cost me a few minutes. The second aid station came right after entering Camp Pendleton. I decided to try to roll through without stopping and managed to grab a banana and water! Success! The first big hill (which many people warned me about) came around mile 30. It loomed large in the distance. I’m a decent climber and wasn’t phased. Many people got off their bikes to walk up, but I powered up and over passing a ton of people here.  I was re-passed by a few going down the hill. I’m scared of descending and like to hug the brakes, but didn’t ride the brakes as hard as usual, so that was a win.

After this hill there were a couple more decent sized hills and a no passing zone / speed trap where you would be DQ’d for going over 25 mph. No issues there. The last 10 miles back to Oceanside was mostly flat, but there were pretty brutal headwinds. I had left enough in the tank and was able to power through the wind, again passing a lot of people. It was a fun, beautiful bike course, but I was ready to be done and onto the run.

Official Time: 3:37:02

Nutrition –  Gatorade Endurance, Bard Valley Natural Delights Medjool dates, 2 GU Roctane Energy Gels , BASE salt 

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T2: 4:54 – Much faster than T1!

Run:

The run is my favorite and this course did not disappoint. My watch froze on T2 mode. It was my first time using the triathlon mode. Note: make sure to practice everything in training. I was able to see elapsed time, but not pace or heart rate, so I had to do it all on feel. The first couple miles felt great! Maybe too great because when I was able to retrieve the data later (turns out it was still recording pace and hr info, just wasn’t displaying) discovered I was running in the low 9’s for those first few miles. The game plan from my coach was to run 10:00 min/miles for the first three miles, then pick it up to 9:30’s and hold that pace the rest of the run. I ended up doing the opposite and ran 9-9:30 the first 3 miles and averaged 10:30’s the last 10. I started out in this sport as a runner first and I usually finish strong on the run, but I failed badly on my nutrition and it totally blew up my run. I was mindful enough to take a few licks of salt every mile or two which is definitely what got me through, but I didn’t take in nearly enough water or Gatorade and forgot to pop energy gels until around mile 9. I’m usually good about keeping up with my nutrition while running. I didn’t do more than 5-6 mile run bricks in training, so I think I just didn’t realize how much fuel I would need to finish strong for a half marathon after a long swim and bike. All good lessons to take with me to the next one. Even though I didn’t finish in my goal time, I had so much fun on the run. The energy from the spectators and other participants was amazing! There was a Betty teammate there to give a high five and shouts of encouragement all along the course. I seriously have never had so much fun at a race. I will definitely be back to Oceanside next year!

Official time: 2:16:50

Overall: 6:59:05

Division Rank: 63, Gender Rank: 438, Overall Rank: 1801IMG_6040

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Thank you to Betty Designs and all our amazing Betty Squad sponsors! Couldn’t do it without your support!

Next up are a couple local sprint and Olympic distance races. My next “A” race is USAT Olympic Age Group Nationals in August and then it’s onto Ironman Santa Cruz 70.3 in September for a chance to put everything I learned from this race into a 70.3 PR! 🙂

Happy racing!

XO

Christina

2016 Santa Barbara Triathlon Race Report

On Sunday I competed in the Santa Barbara Triathlon for the first time and got my first age group win! Although Santa Barbara has been my home for the past five years, I always had other things going on (like giving birth!) in August that prevented me from doing this race. Last year I was the runner in a three person long course relay team and had so much fun I knew I had to do the full tri this year. I initially registered for the sprint women only race, but after switching my first half ironman distance race plans from Tempe to Superfrog late last month, I thought it would be a good idea to do the long course instead.

For the past few weeks I have been preparing both physically and mentally to do the long distance course, but those plans got derailed when I came down with the worst flu bug I’ve had in years last week. I got hit so hard I literally thought something very serious was wrong with me and almost had K take me to the ER on Wednesday. Thankfully things started to turn around and I felt better by Friday.

Since the SB Long Course was supposed to just be a training race for Superfrog and not my goal A race, in the end I felt it would be best not to do it. I’ve heard it’s a pretty challenging course and I was worried if I attempted to do it not feeling 100% ready both mentally and physically, I might set myself back in my training for Superfrog. I had already lost almost an entire week of workouts during peak half Ironman training and didn’t want to chance setting my recovery back just as I was starting to feel better, so I opted to do the short course instead. I think I made the right choice and in the process scored my first ever WIN!

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imageRace morning I didn’t get up much earlier than my usual 6:00am wake-up time. I still wasn’t feeling totally back to myself, but since it was a short sprint I thought “What the heck, let’s just do this!” I must have been one of the last to arrive to the transition and some really nice ladies had to move their bikes to open the tiniest spot for me.

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SWIM

I didn’t have enough time to get a warm-up swim in, but I did at least take a quick dip in the ocean so I could adjust to the cold water for a few seconds. I started the swim towards the front all the way to the right like I usually do and entered the water much more aggressively than usual. I did a dolphin dive and started swimming confidently in a good rhythm out to the first buoy. When I made my turn around the buoy from the far inside, my foot got tangled in the buoy rope which put me in a mild panic. It was hard to get my rhythm back after that. I couldn’t seem to calm my racing heart.  I ended up stopping every couple strokes or so to catch my breath. Needless to say it was not my strongest swim, but I still managed to get out of the water ahead of a lot of the other girls in my wave.

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Swim time = 13:41

T2 – 2:34 – need to work on a quicker transition although it was the fastest in my AG.

BIKE

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On the bike I can really make up time and catch people. It was a short 6 mile bike course, but I quickly caught and passed three girls in my age group and finished with the fastest bike split in my age group.

Bike time: 21:04

RUN

I felt good coming out of T2 and with only a 2 mile run I knew I could crush it even though I didn’t start the race with the full energy I usually have. Once again I neglected to drink any water on the bike and so I was pretty thirsty on the run. I stopped at the aid station to guzzle some water and totally missed the turnaround that was just beyond it. I made it to the wharf and noticed there wasn’t anyone really in front or behind me. I looked down at my Garmin watch which showed I had already run over a mile. Oops! I knew I missed the turnaround, so I started sprinting back. I was so mad at myself for not paying attention. I have no idea what I was thinking about that caused me to miss it. I guess I rely too much on volunteers to direct me. Haha. Lesson learned. I had no idea how many girls in my age group were ahead of me, but realized all I could do at this point was finish strong. I caught and passed one girl in my AG in the last half mile, but still thought the mistake had probably cost me a podium spot. I was completely shocked and totally elated when they posted the results and I was in the #1 spot! After a tough week where I missed most all of my training and seriously had doubts about racing, it was beyond sweet and a huge confidence boost to take home that tile!

Run time: 19:07

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Total time 58:37 – 1st Age Group

Win or not, I think I made the right decision switching to the sprint course. In the past I would push myself even if I wasn’t feeling well, but now I try to pay attention to when body signals I need to slow down or back off. I’m not getting any younger and I have two boys who depend on me, so I can’t be as reckless in the way I treat my body as I once was!

Thankfully I’m feeling back to myself and ready to get back into full throttle Ironman 70.3 Superfrog training this week. 25 days and counting!

XO

Christina

14 Weeks to Ironman 70.3 Arizona

It’s hard to believe I have already completed  one month of training for my first half Ironman! Where does the time go? After focusing on running for so many months, it’s been a nice change to add swimming and biking back in my routine. My total weekly hours have gone up and I’m doing Two-A-Days several times per week, but surprisingly doesn’t feel as taxing on my body as the marathon training. I feel like I have more energy than ever! I suspect my body doesn’t feel as fatigued even though my training volume has increased because those hours are shared between three different sports.

In fact, I’ve been feeling so good I took a leap and signed up for a 2nd half, Ironman 70.3 Oceanside in April 2017! I had my eye on that race as my first 70.3, but didn’t pull the trigger fast enough when registration opened last year. Wasn’t going to let it slip away again! It’s amazing how quickly some Ironman events sell out. Nice to know there are a lot of people who are the same kind of crazy as me out there. 😊

Here is a snapshot of my training the past couple weeks:

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As you can see more hours are allocated to the bike training weekly than the other two sports. Although I haven’t been a cyclist for as long as I’ve been a runner, I love cycling and think I’m a decently good cyclist. I do have some fears and challenges to overcome on the bike still. Most of my bike workouts are done on a trainer. Each time I’m able to get out on the road it takes me about 10-20 minutes to start feeling comfortable again with balancing the feel of the road. On the trainer there aren’t any potholes, wind, cars and other factors to contend with. I’d like to spend more time out on the road, but jumping on the trainer while the boys nap is usually the best time to get a ride done. On the weekends when K sends me out while he stays with the boys, I take the opportunity to get my brick sessions in. I always prioritize my training schedule around family time.

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Overall I’m feeling strong, energized and ready to move into the build phase of training.

I’ve also been thinking it’s about time to get some aero bars. Anyone have thoughts on them?

Happy training!

xo

Christina

Ironman 70.3 Arizona Training Kickoff

Training for my first 70.3 distance triathlon officially commenced last week!  After reviewing lots of different plans on Training Peaks, I finally settled on Matt Fitzgerald’s Half-Ironman Training Plan – Level 4. I decided to go with this one because it’s touted as a good fit for you if your half-Ironman goal is more ambitious than just finishing, yet time efficiency is very important to you in your training.

AND just started reading his new book How Bad Do You Want It? which argues the greatest athletic performances take place in the mind, not the body. He raises many interesting and fascinating points including how faith in your training is as important as the training itself, your attitude in daily life is the same one you bring to sports, and the only way to improve performance is by altering how you perceive effort. I have always been a strong believer in “mind over matter” and take this psychology to heart in my training.

Technically it’s a 20 week training plan, but I modified to 18 weeks to give my body two weeks of proper recovery from my marathon. I started at week 3 of the plan which is the base phase. Here is a summary of the week’s workouts:

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As you can see, the workouts in red I completed on different days than what was in the schedule. It’s important to me that I fit my workouts in when it works best for my family and “life” schedule so that means most weeks will require me to reorganize the workouts, still getting them all in, just not always on the days set in this plan.

Total time on the bike was right on target (4:25 all done on the trainer!), run slightly over target for the week (2:09), while my swim was under (1:06). It’s all about prioritizing for me. Pool time is the hardest for me to fit in, but it’s also my weakest link. I plan on doing my best to make all the swim workouts really count and squeezing in more pool time as this training cycle progresses to the build phase.

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Two hour sweat fest on the trainer during the peak of the heat wave in CA on Sunday!

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Nite Moves Wednesdays

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Total hours for the week = 7 hours 41 minutes

It was a great kickoff to a tough training cycle that will build to over 13 hours per week in the peak phase.

Ended the week celebrating Father’s Day on Sunday and riding a Surrey with my family by the beach! So much fun!

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Happy training!

XO

Christina

What’s Next

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Hello friends!

Now that I can put a check next to Mountains 2 Beach Marathon (wahoo!) on my bucket list, thought I’d discuss what’s next.

Up next is my second “A” race of the year, Ironman 70.3 Arizona. Ever since I first took up triathlons in 2011, I have dreamed of doing an Ironman event and I’m so excited that this is the year to make it happen! My training has been focused on building endurance for the marathon, so seems like a natural transition to build upon that solid base to segue into training for my first half Ironman. For those not familiar with this event it consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile (half marathon) run. Fun! Fun!

I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not this is the right time to take on a coach and ultimately decided (to K’s wallet’s relief) that it wasn’t worth the cost right now since my main goal will be to just finish. I’m an ambitious person by nature, so after that, I know I’ll have new time related goals (as I already do for the marathon). Maybe I’ll hate it and never want to do another one again (not likely, haha). After this season I will reassess and think about getting a coach for the 2017 season. In the meantime, I’ve been scouring TrainingPeaks for the best 70.3 training plan.

In terms of running, I’m super excited to join the first ever RADrabbit team! Rabbit is an awesome new running apparel brand started right here in Santa Barbara by two local competitive runners who happen to be women!

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This summer, K, the boys and I are doing the entire Nite Moves series (a weekly 5k race through August). I also plan on doing a couple local 10k races and a sprint and Oly tri as part of 70.3 training.

As far as marathons go, I’ve been considering the California International Marathon (CIM) in December, but not ready to pull the trigger and sign up just yet. I know I want to do another one for sure, but also think my body deserves a break from heavy training after Ironman 70.3 AZ. We’ll see!

A question I get asked frequently.

How do you find the time to train as a working mom to twins?

Family time comes first. I get the majority of my workouts done super early in the morning before everyone else is up, during my lunch break (there is a pool right next to my office) and at T & C’s nap time or after tucking them in bed at night. And runs pushing them in the BOB stroller are my favorite! If I miss a workout because one of the boys is sick or wakes up early from a nap, I don’t stress over it. I’m also fortunate to have a mother-in-law next door who comes to watch them if K is at work or out doing errands. K supports my passions just as I support his and together we make it work. We do our best to balance our individual hobbies and passions so that they do not take away from our family time.

What’s next for you?

Happy training!

XO,

Christina

Superseal Triathlon 2016 Race Report

This was my comeback race to triathlon after a 2 1/2 year hiatus to bring my twins into the world. Superseal was my first triathlon back in 2011, so it was the perfect setting for a truly triumphant return to this sport I love so much!

The week leading up to the race was anything but perfect. Another cold blasted through our household and this time I fell victim too.  We planned to leave for San Diego on Friday morning, but after yet another trip to urgent care on Thursday night we almost cancelled the trip. T & C went on another round of antibiotics and we decided to sleep on it and see how they were in the morning. Both improved after just one dose so we decided it was save to travel to San Diego. We left Santa Barbara around 4:00pm on Friday, arrived at the hotel in San Diego at 9:30pm, checked in and immediately went to bed.

Saturday morning everyone was up early and the boys were doing much better. We headed out to race check-in/packet pickup arriving just as it opened at 10:00am.

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My mom and John met up with us. Aside from K, my mom is my biggest cheerleader. She has never missed any of my races in San Diego. I can never get her to look at the camera for pictures and this time was no different (haha). After collecting my bib we headed over to the San Diego Zoo to meet up with my brother, cousin and their families for a fun filled day.

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Watching the ducks

I was hoping to get in a quick shake out run or ride later that afternoon, but it wasn’t in the cards. I had my usual pre-race pasta dinner and prepared my transition bag with all my race day essentials including: Foher Multisport kit, Nuun Energy and Altra running shoes to name a few.

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Race Day!

Woke up at 4:30am. I ate a bagel with peanut butter and finished up last minute prep. K had the car packed and ready to go, so all we had to do was carry our sleepy boys to the car and set out for the quick drive over to Coronado. We literally got one of the last spots in the parking lot. I quickly set up my transition area and then headed out to the swim start to get a little warm up.

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SWIM:

The swim is my weakest of the three events. I have been diligently working on my technique in the pool and I’m committed to improving my swim times, but since my last open water swim was over two years ago, I wasn’t expecting to set any new PR’s in the swim. I started on the far right in an effort to avoid being kicked in the face at the start. The first 200 meters or so I lifted my head up WAY too many times, like every couple strokes. Like I said it had been over two years since my last open water swim and of course the line on the bottom of the pool was not there. It took a few minutes to get my bearings, but after the turn around the second red buoy I finally started to really swim and passed at least five women and even a couple guys in the wave ahead of mine. I finished in the middle of the pack. Nothing to write home about, but happy I got through it okay.

According to my Garmin the course was longer than expected at 750 meters.

Swim time: (according to my Garmin – official results not posted on ironman.com at the time of this post): 16:02 – 2:01/100yds.

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T1 was pretty smooth and there were still plenty of bikes on the rack. Yay for not having too many girls to chase down on the bike and run!

BIKE:

I only managed to get in a few rides on the road (rather than trainer) during this training cycle, so I was more nervous for the bike than usual. The second I got out of transition and onto my bike all those nerves disappeared. All I thought about was crushing it. The course was one flat loop. Again longer than expected at about 13 miles according to my Garmin. I passed a lot of girls and guys and felt fantastic the whole time! It wasn’t my fastest bike split,  but I managed a 3+ minute improvement over my previous bike split on this course. I probably could have pushed it harder, but I was concerned with not overdoing it and leaving enough in the tank for the run.

Bike time: 43:55

Avg speed: 17.6 mph

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T2 took a little longer than it should have. I didn’t drink enough on the bike (actually I drank nothing), so stopped long enough to make sure I hydrated properly prior to the run.

RUN:

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Spotted my boys. Can you tell I was happy to see them. 🙂

The run is my strongest event, so probably not surprising it’s my favorite part of the race. I spotted my family just after I exited transition up a mini hill to start the run. They had gathered a whole cheering squad for me and it was just the boost I needed to get going. The course is relatively flat, starting on a dirt trail that turns into the silver strand bike path. I was passing runners left and right and felt freaking fantastic. At around mile 2.5 I spotted a girl in my age group and picked up the pace easily passing her. I lost count of the number of people I passed and I was only passed by one other girl ( turns out she was doing the Olympic). When I was close to the finish line someone yelled out “she’s gaining on you” which was the last bit of motivation I needed to kick it into high gear and sprint to the finish. I ran negative splits which is something I’ve been working hard on.

Run time: 27:15

Distance: 3.4 miles

Avg pace: 7:59min/mile

Total time: 1:33:28 – 3rd place AG

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It was a fantastic day and I couldn’t have asked for a better race for my comeback. Placing third in my age group was icing on the cake! It feels amazing to be back in the game. There were times I questioned whether it was possible to be as fit or fast as I was before getting pregnant and giving birth. And while my body has changed in many ways, becoming a mom has only made me stronger. I really hope to set a good example for my boys in this sport by showing them that dedication and putting in the work really does pay off (right here they were just ready to take a nap) :). I’m already looking forward to more triathlon races this summer and going for my first 70.3 in October, but first I have a marathon to crush!

Happy racing!

XO

Christina