USAT Age Group National Championships Race Report

I qualified for the USA Triathlon Nationals about a year ago by placing 1st in my age group at a local sprint. I haven’t raced many Olympic distance triathlons…I prefer sprints for going fast and now the endurance challenge of 70.3’s…however since this was a national championship race and I qualified to race the Olympic, I was stoked for this opportunity. It was only my third Olympic distance race.

The top athletes around the country compete at Nationals for a chance to make Team USA and compete at ITU Worlds. I had no expectations of qualifying for Worlds, but I did have some personal goals: (1) PR the Olympic distance ✔️ (2) PR the swim ✔️ (3) PR the bike (didn’t happen) (4) PR the run (didn’t happen, but close) (5) sub 3 hours (6) don’t come in last ✔️ 3 out of 6 goals achieved isn’t bad. Although I knew the competition would be stiff, I was in no way prepared for just how fast these ladies would be!

I flew in on Thursday and met up with two of my Team Betty teammates, Jennifer and Jill at the airport. Jill drove in so was playing chauffeur all weekend…she’s awesome! We headed to the Betty House shared by 6 of my teammates for the weekend. I had only met one of them previously, but they were all so amazing and I felt instantly at home.

Friday we checked in, picked up my bike from TriBike Transport and did a little shake out swim / run. There was some talk leading up to the race that the lake temps were dropping, but by race day the lake temps were still 80, so any hopes for a wetsuit legal swim were dashed. Glad I was able to get a practice swim in the lake. It felt like bath water and took away any nerves I had about my first non wetsuit swim.

Saturday morning I woke up at 4:00am and had my usual pre-race peanut butter toast with banana. We got to transition right when it opened at 5:00am. I was in wave #2 which went off at about 7:37 after a 30 minute delay to the start of the race.

The swim start was off a dock with all the girls in my wave lined up in a row in the water holding onto the dock. It was the first time I did this kind of start and it wasn’t bad. I didn’t get kicked or punched like I usually do in a beach running start and there were over 100 girls in my AG. It felt like a REALLY long swim. A few of my teammates mentioned they thought the course seemed longer as well. It was a pretty uneventful swim. I felt like I was swimming really slow, but managed to take 6 minutes off the time of my last Oly swim a few months ago without the buoyancy of a wetsuit and salt water.

Swim Time: 40:50

T1 was pretty long. A guy yelled at me I when I was running out with my bike that I still had my swimskin on. Oops 🙊 Lost too much time taking it off and running back to leave it by my rack.

Once I was on the bike I felt like I was flying, hitting 22+ mph no problem until I got to the hill I was warned about on Mile 7. I slowed dramatically. There was a sign that said “Welcome to the Nebraska alps.” Haha. It wasn’t the largest hill I’ve encountered in a race, but tougher than I was anticipating. Once I got over it my pace was right back up, but that didn’t last long. After the turnaround we were hit with strong headwinds. I fought to hold a 16-17mph pace and my legs were screaming the whole 12 miles back. I ended up with a 17.2mph avg which was super disappointing considering I felt so strong in my training on the bike going into this race having raced a sprint 2 weeks prior with a much faster avg. I had also dramatically increased my FTP since my last Oly race. Need to think about riding more hills before Santa Cruz.

Bike time: 1:26:20

T2 took too long at 3+ minutes. Not sure what I was doing? I popped 2 Clif energy gels and off to the run.

The run was on black asphalt with very little shade, but I felt strong. All of my Betty teammates started in later waves that went off hours after mine, so I didn’t experience the energy of seeing them and the cheering I did at Oceanside. I did spot my TriTats teammate Nate during the first loop and got a high-five which was awesome and gave me a huge boost! It’s a two loop course. After the first loop turnaround I was able to push the pace and held an 8:45 pace to the finish.

Although I didn’t PR the run (3 minutes off) I was happy it was a faster split than my last Oly AND I ran negative splits which is something I’ve been working hard on.

Run time: 55:26

Overall time: 3:09:37

I beat my previous best for the Olympic distance by 2 minutes which is great, but I couldn’t help feel disappointed that I didn’t reach my sub 3 goal. I finished 117/129 in my AG which was a blow to the ego, but it was a super fast field and I gave it what I had that day.

The next day I raced the sprint and it was HARD! I’ve never done back-to-back races. My legs felt so heavy and I just didn’t have it in me to push the way I wanted to. Definitely wasn’t a PR day, but the experience was awesome!

The best part of the weekend for sure was hanging with my teammates, especially since my family didn’t travel with me for this one. It reminded me of why I love this sport so much and how being a part of a team is beyond awesome!

Special thanks to the sponsors who make this possible @bettydesigns @rudyprojectna @tritats @irwincycling @jaybirdsport.

Up next: Santa Cruz 70.3 in just over 3 weeks!

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

My First D.N.F.

D.N.F.

Those three letters every triathlete dreads. Did not finish. Not going to lie, it stings, A LOT. I knew it was bound to happen, but for it to be my first Half Ironman makes it all the more painful.

Ironman 70.3 Superfrog just wasn’t my race. Race week started off with a bad cold/flu. I spent Monday and Tuesday in bed. I took my bike out for a test ride on Wednesday and still felt lousy, so at the advice of a fellow triathlete friend, I called my doctor and begged for a z-pack. I started it Thursday before the race and within 24 hours started feeling much better. My spirits and excitement for the race really kicked in by the time we packed up and headed down to San Diego on Friday. I was so ready to DO THIS. Mother Nature had other plans for me.

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Our hotel was 2 blocks from transition and the start/finish. Nice! I picked up my packet and race bib Friday afternoon. Saturday was a fun family day at the new Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego (I highly recommend it if you have kids and are ever in the San Diego area). After we got back and put the boys down for a nap, I headed down to the beach for a quick practice swim. There were warning signs posted everywhere to stay out of the water because it was contaminated. Yuck! Just as I was about to turn around and leave the lifeguards told me the water quality was OK, the advisory was being lifted and it was safe to go in the water. The waves were big and the swim is not my strongest event, so I was definitely beginning to regret that I had not done more open water swimming before the race. I got in a quick 10 minute swim, but didn’t go out very far. Followed it up with a 15 minute shake out run on the sand.

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Afterwards I checked in my bike and despite my extreme nerves about the swim and what conditions would be like the next morning, I felt pretty relaxed and ready to do this. I had my traditional pasta dinner with family, including my mom and grandma, then it was back to the hotel and lights out early. Thankfully the boys went to bed right away and I was asleep soon after.

 

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The next morning my nerves really set in, but it was more a nervous excitement.  I was up at 4am, took my time double checking I had everything and headed out for the short walk  to the transition area around 6:20. Shortly after I got there they announced transition would be closing at 6:45am and everyone needed to be out and at the start. They don’t mess around at Ironman. I quickly set everything out, popped a GU and true to word they had everyone out by 6:45 sharp.

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I headed down to the beach and once I saw how fast and furious the swells were coming, I said a silent prayer. I usually pray that I won’t get eaten by a shark, but that never crossed my mind. The ocean never looked so scary to me. It was a rolling start with athletes seeding themselves based on expected finish time. I lined up with the 45-60 minute group and watched as the people in front of me battled the huge swells. When it was my turn to go I said another prayer and ran into the water ready to do battle.

Imperial Beach is very different from what I’m used to in Santa Barbara. The beach is long, shallow and takes a while to get to deeper water. I tried to dive under the first wave and was violently pushed back. I stood back up and charged towards the next wave and instead of diving under this time I stayed standing and again was knocked back. I repeated this over and over and after 15 minutes hardly made any forward progress. I was using so much energy just fighting the surf and hadn’t even really started swimming yet!

Others around me were having similar trouble. When I saw people getting rescued and brought back in to shore by the lifeguards on jet ski’s I went from scared to petrified. I stood and waited in the water for what seemed like forever hoping there would be a long enough break in the swells for me to make a go for it, but they just kept coming fast and furious, getting bigger and bigger.

I knew time was not on my side at that point so made another attempt to dive under the next wave and got thrashed HARD swallowing tons of water in the process. I asked a lifeguard for advise on what to do. People were getting through the surf, but I was struggling BIG TIME. He told me to swim into the rip current that was near the pier as it would help push me out past the surf to calmer waters quickly. Only in an Ironman event does a lifeguard tell you to swim INTO A RIP CURRENT. I swam toward the pier and got hammered again. At this point it was over 30 minutes in and I was becoming seriously deflated. Even if I made it through the surf, it was a 2 loop course, so I would have to fight the surf again to get back out a second time. There was a group of people in the same boat. At least I wasn’t the only one struggling. Another girl and I made a pact to try a couple more times together, we both continued to struggle and saw more people getting rescued. We both finally decided to through in the towel. We made our way back to shore and with another group of people who were struggling to get out as well, asked the race director if we could continue on the bike/run knowing we would receive a DNF. She gave us a flat no.

Devastated, I picked up my broken heart and bruised ego and made my way to find my family who was in the crowd at the swim finish waiting to cheer me on. As soon as I saw them the tears came and came. I was in serious shock and couldn’t comprehend that it was over and this was how my first 70.3 was going to end. In hindsight, I wish I had continued on to the bike and run despite being stripped of my timing chip and being told I couldn’t by the race director, but at the time I was too distraught to think about that. All I wanted to do was shut the blinds and crawl back into bed.

Bad days happen to every one. Sunday was my turn. It’s easy to say I wish I had fought those waves harder, but I gave it what I had on that day, in that moment. There were more than 250 DNF/DNS’s and for one of the smaller Ironman 70.3 races on the circuit, that’s A LOT. Several veteran Ironmen and Ironwomen later told me it was the toughest swim they have ever experienced. Knowing this softens the blow, just a little. Since becoming a mother my mindset has changed some. I love this sport and thrive on challenging situations, but I discovered when faced with those kind of extreme conditions I’m not as willing to take on the risk anymore. There will be other races. I will bounce back and have another shot at a 70.3 in Oceanside next year. I learned a lot from this experience and although it’s not how I ever envisioned this race would go down, I don’t regret the decisions I made that day.

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On to the next!

XO

Christina

2016 Goleta Beach Triathlon Race Report

I signed up for the Goleta Beach Triathlon literally minutes before online registration closed last Friday. I’ve done this race twice before, in 2011 my first year in this sport and 2013 before getting pregnant. It’s a fast, fun course on my home turf. I didn’t have a “training” race scheduled in my 70.3 training plan until next month. The original plan was to do a scheduled bike/run brick on Sunday. I also had a sick toddler on my hands, so thought it just wasn’t in the cards to do it, but K convinced me I should do it.

When Sunday morning rolled around I was still on the fence even though I had already paid the registration fee. K told me to go and kick some ass since it was a short race and the boys would just be sleeping anyway. He said I’d be home before they even realized I was gone and I would regret it if I didn’t go for it. I’m so grateful to have such a supportive, rational husband 🙂

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I arrived at Goleta Beach around 5:45am and was surprised to see the parking lot was almost full. The race definitely was bigger than the last time I did it in 2013. Check-in was quick and easy. Lots of support and friendly faces. It always amazes me the wonderful community of people that rally together to support local events in Santa Barbara. It was great to see so many familiar faces volunteering and cheering along the course. One of the many reasons I love this town so much.
 I found a spot at the back of the unmarked bike rack for all the people who registered late and quickly set up my transition area. Not where I usually like to be, but I had no choice as transition filled up fast. I squeezed into my old pre-pregnancy wetsuit that thankfully still fit (barely) and those old familiar pre-race jitters started setting in. I called K who assured me all was well at home and that I should just have fun and kill it out there. After he put my mind at ease, I headed down to the water for a quick warm up swim and finally felt the first twinge of excitement to do this race.
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Swim

The race started at 7:00am and I was off in the third wave. I started in the front since it wasn’t a really large group. All my training has been in a pool. The open ocean water is a completely different beast. I went in with the intention of keeping my head down and focusing on pulling hard each stroke. I ended up picking my head up to spot way too many times before reaching the first yellow buoy and definitely lost precious time. Shortly after making the turn back to shore after rounding the second buoy, I finally got into a good rhythm and managed to keep my head down most of the time. Spotting is not a drill I do a lot in the pool. Need to work that in and more open water swims! Another reminder my swim times will never improve to the level I’d like in races unless I practice more in the open water. Despite all the unnecessary spotting, I managed to improve my swim time from Superseal Triathlon in March and my previous time on this course in 2013.

Swim time: 11:45

T1: 2:20 – Took way too much time to get my wetsuit off!

Bike

The 11 mile bike course is on the Goleta Beach bike path where I do most all my rides that are not on the trainer. It’s all flat with one mini hill and a few sharp turns. Heading out of transition I was much more fatigued than I usually am heading onto the bike. I think the lack of the sleep I had the few days leading up to the race had affected me more than I realized. I couldn’t seem to find my groove and holding a 17-18 mph average was more of an effort than in my recent races. Several girls, including one in my age group passed me. I tried to hang on to them, but I just couldn’t muster up the power. Whenever I’m competing in races, I often don’t hydrate well during the bike because I don’t want to slow down at all. I’ve been practicing trying to continue to drink and reach for my water bottle while pedaling at the same time, but because I’m not on the road as often as my trainer this is something I haven’t perfected and need to continue to work on. I didn’t take one sip of water on the bike during this race. NOT GOOD!

I pulled into T-2 not totally confident how the run would go since I felt like I struggled on the bike more than I should have.
Bike time: 39:46
T2: 1:36 – wasted time guzzling water Another reason to work on hydrating during the bike!

Run

Heading out of transition I felt a burst of energy and went out a little too fast. The course is two quick 1.25 mile loops. The run is where I usually pass the most girls and I knew there was at least one girl in my AG ahead of me. I used that as motivation to run strong. Loop one was over before I knew it. My pace slowed a bit after the turnaround and I was passed by a 51 year old woman! I hope I’m still rocking it fast when I’m that age! She motivated me to pick it up again and I stayed on her heels to the finish line, passing a girl in my AG seconds before the finish and snatching 2nd place in my age group!

Run time: 19:10 

Total Time: 1:14:35 (2nd AG)

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I love this race and will definitely be back. It’s a great warm-up race for the Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course in 4 weeks and then it’s on to Ironman 70.3 Superfrog September 25th!

 

Happy racing!

XO

Christina

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Mountains 2 Beach Marathon Race Report

You guys I’m a MARATHONER!! It’s three days post marathon and I’m still on a major endorphin high. It all feels like a dream and the pain is already starting to fade (with the help of Advil).

The weekend started out with a joint 1st birthday party for two friend’s boys. T & C had a blast and being out around friends helped ease the pre-race jitters that had been building all week.

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Later that day we headed down to Ventura, a 30 minute drive from Santa Barbara, to the race expo. Parking was fairly easy and collecting my bib was even easier which was majorly nice with two toddlers in tow.

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After the expo, we headed to Ventura Spaghetti Company for dinner. We arrived at 5:30pm and the place was already jammed packed, mostly with what looked like groups of runners. It took over 45 minutes for our food to arrive. I don’t think they got the memo that a sold out marathon was happening in their town the next day. After quickly scarfing our pasta down, we headed home and put the boys right to bed. I set out everything I needed for the race and it was lights out around 10:00pm. I was surprised by how calm I felt and feel asleep really easily. So easily, I forgot to set my alarm! Thankfully K had the mind to set his. I was up at 4:00am feeling fresh and ready to race!

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My MIL arrived at 4:30am to watch the boys while K dropped me off at the start. The race provided shuttles, but K insisted on driving me so he could be there to send me off on my first marathon. We arrived at the runner drop off which was one block from the start line at 5:30am. That’s when it really hit me that I was doing this thing. I’m so glad K was there to talk me out of the car!

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I rarely ever hit the porta-potties before a race (I usually take care of business at home) but I felt a grumble in my stomach and knew I was in for trouble (or at least one non-planned stop during the race) if I didn’t. The line was long (no surprise), but thankfully I got in and was out right as the national anthem was playing. Less than two minutes later I was off and running!

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There was never any doubt at any point during the race that I would finish. That’s not to say I ran a pain free, perfect race.

I started out in the vicinity of the 3:58 pacer. My main goal was obviously to finish the marathon since it was my first and I did not know what to expect, but I had a loose goal time of 3:59 in mind. I don’t usually like running with pacers, so did my best not to focus on where he was on the course.

The first three miles were uphill which I expected after reviewing the course map. I passed the mile 3 marker feeling great with my pace right on target.

After mile 3 it was downhill back to the start. I picked up the pace a bit to an 8:30/avg. At around mile 6 a nasty side stitch came on. I tried not to panic, backed off the pace a bit, walked through the next water station and took my first gel. This did the trick and within minutes the stitch was gone and I was back on pace.

I crossed the halfway point (13.1 miles) at 1:56:00 according to my Garmin (1:57 officially) which put me right on track. I thought I had a good shot at finishing with a sub 4 at that point since I was feeling great and *thought* the entire rest of the course would be all downhill.

Between miles 14 and 18 there were several rolling hills that I was not expecting (guess I didn’t pay close enough attention to that section of the course map) and my pace slowed significantly. Apparently there was a new course this year and although still net downhill, these rollers surprised a lot of people. I put Eminem’s Lose Yourself on repeat and powered though those baby hills. I started to develop a pain in my upper right hamstring up to my sit bones, but did my best to ignore it. It was also at this point that I saw the 3:58 pacer pass me and that was the last time I would see him.

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Marathon Start and Road shots

Tears welled up in my eyes as I passed the mile 20 marker and realized I was doing this. I was running a MARATHON and felt good while doing it. I couldn’t get my pace back down to a 9:00/min avg, but I didn’t care because I WAS REALLY DOING IT.

The last 10k was hard, like really, really hard, but I kept pushing forward. I passed a ton of people walking at this point and repeated to myself “keep on keeping on.” I knew if I stopped to walk (other than at water stations, I walked through all those) it would be way more difficult to start up again than it was to just keep on running to the end no matter how slow.

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When I hit the 25 mile marker after turning a corner to the final mile stretch along the waterfront to the finish all the emotions bubbled up and I couldn’t hold back the tears. There were so many spectators and people cheering along that final stretch, it gave me all the strength I needed to finish strong. When I rounded the last corner to the home stretch, I was so overcome with emotion the finish line was a total blur.

I found my family after crossing the finish line and collapsed in K’s arms. I bawled for a good couple minutes. A mixture of happiness, pain and relief to be done flooded out.

Official chip time: 4:07:49

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The top question people have been asking since the race is “Will you do another one?” Without hesitation my answer is always “Heck yes!”

XO

Christina

Chardonnay 10-Miler Race Report

Saturday was a beautiful day for the Chardonnay 10-miler, a scenic race along the Santa Barbara waterfront. This race fit perfectly into my marathon training schedule since I had a shorter long run/test race scheduled. I ran this race once before back in 2012. 2012 was a year of breakthroughs and PR’s. There were many highs for me that year (qualifying for the USAT Nationals), but also some lows (struggles with getting pregnant). In 2013, I tapered back from the heavy training and put all my energy into my dreams of starting a family. Since that dream came true in 2014, I have been working hard to get back to the level of fitness I had reached in 2012.

This year, in addition to the new goals I’m chasing of completing my first marathon and 70.3 Ironman, I thought it would be fun to do a few races I ran previously. The first was the Santa Barbara Half Marathon, followed by Superseal Triathlon.  I beat my previous course PR in both races. Next up was this race.

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I started the morning with a Clif bar rather than my usual peanut butter banana toast. I woke up late and didn’t want to eat much so close to race time. The boys being, well, boys don’t sit still for long periods of time in the stroller anymore, so K dropped me off at the start, went home to get T&C and was back in time to watch me cross the finish line.

I was able to get in a quick 1.5 mile warmup which was nice since I usually don’t get to a race early enough to do much of a warmup these days. The race started at 8:00am with the 10 milers and 5k runners starting at the same time. The plan was to start out conservatively, but I hate running in crowds and lets face it, still get overly caught up in the excitement of the start and ended up going out faster than I should have. The first mile was uphill which I didn’t mind. It’s a hill I run weekly with the boys on our stroller run. Easy peasy.

Mile 2 was all downhill after the turnaround. It crossed my mind that I was probably going faster than I should at under 8 min/mile pace, so I eased up a notch and stopped at the mile 3 water station, but no water or volunteers in sight! Okay no big deal I thought, there’s another one at mile 5. It was a warm morning and I don’t carry fluids for most races if it is advertised that there will be water stations and an electrolyte drink of some kind. Mile 5 arrived and all the cups of water at that station were empty! There were two volunteers putting water into the big empty containers, but a lot of people just kept going. I stopped to wait because I was already so thirsty. I must have lost close to a minute waiting for them to fill the water!

Hill #2 was just around the corner and as I started up my beats wireless headphones started blasting a super loud static noise. Nice. I stopped again to fiddle with them, but decided it was best to just take them off and run without music. The funny thing is I was contemplating not wearing them for this race. I have been doing most of my training runs (with the exception of long runs) without them. Although music can really help motivate me, especially a power song in the last mile, I have found I enjoy running without music more and more lately.

At this point I was starting to lose steam. I took the one GU gel I had on me and powered up the hill. Around mile 6 my pace slowed and I was feeling the pain, but I dug deep up the last hill after the turnaround point. It was a huge relief knowing it was downhill and pretty flat from there.

I managed to keep a steady pace from mile 7 to the finish, but not without a hefty amount of pain. I was hot, thirsty and all I could think about was guzzling water at the finish. I crossed the line in 1:27:28 which was 2 minutes off my 2012 time. Although it would have been nice to beat that old time, I’m happy with the result. It was a faster time than the 10 miler I ran back in August and according to the McMillian Running marathon pace predictor I’m within reach of a sub 4 hour marathon.

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Thankfully there was plenty of water (and wine!) at the finish. After I guzzled about a gallon, we headed out for a fun afternoon at the beach. It was the best kind of day!

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6 weeks and counting until Mountains 2 Beach!

Happy training!

XO

Christina