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 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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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

USA Half Marathon Race Report

It was a fun and quick trip to San Diego for half marathon #5 (#3 post pregnancy) the USA Half Marathon Invitational.

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This race was the first half marathon that you had to have a qualifying time for, although the standards were not nearly as tough as Boston. The race director for Boston was one of the organizers of this race, so I thought it would for sure be a well organized, fun race. I was not disappointed

When Friday morning rolled around the usual scramble was on to get all our stuff packed and ready to go.

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We made it out the door around 9:00am (later than planned) and in our haste forgot our phone chargers and the iPad. Yikes! No Mickey Mouse Clubhouse to entertain the boys on the 4 hour drive. Someone please tell me what parents did to keep kids quiet on road trips before all this technology was available?? 🙂

It was pretty smooth sailing (with the exception of the usual 405 backup in LA) down to SD. We arrived around 2pm and stopped by the expo to pick up my race bib first.

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I was expecting it to be bigger, but we got right in and out, then headed to the hotel a few block away to check-in.

We met up with my mom and Papa John (that’s what we all her longtime boyfriend) for my traditional pre-race pasta dinner, then took the boys down the street to Chuck E. Cheese for the first time. What a mad house! The boys loved it though and were not happy when it was time to leave.

Back at the hotel I prepared all my race day essentials: Lululemon Speed Shorts, Nuun Energy for hydration, Garmin Vivoactive, Momentum Motivate Wrap, CEP Compression Socks. Then it was lights off at 8pm.

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With a race start of 6:00 am, it was extra nice that the start line was just a few blocks from the hotel we were staying at, the Westin Gaslamp.

I headed out at 5:40 am careful not to wake any of the boys (K included). It was a quick 5 minute walk, so I had plenty of time to warm-up and stretch before the gun went off.

Everyone was supposed to get into the corral marked with their estimated finish time. There were no real “corrals” so I squeezed in with the group near the 1:45 pacer. Unrealistic (I knew that) but there is power in wishful thinking right? It’s a goal I’m (hopefully) not too far off from achieving, plus it didn’t seem like anyone was really too concerned about being in the correct corral (except of course the super speedy at the very front). There were a modest amount of runners… around 2,500.

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With Adele’s “Hello” blaring through my earbuds I crossed the start line just a couple minutes after 6.

The first mile was easy peasy. Mile 2. Bam! Hit with a monster hill. Actually I was happy that most of the hills on this course were early on in the race. I always go out too fast. Having a few hills to contend with helped to keep my pace in check, and there were plenty of hills on this course.

My splits for the first four hilly miles:

1 – 8:00 (too fast) my watch was acting up so I was running by feel and adrenaline, but I set a new 400m PR!

2 – 9:15

3 – 9:04

4 – 8:59

I checked the elevation map before the race so knew the course would be flattening out soon which helped me mentally get through those tough hills.

I felt really strong the next four miles so picked up the pace. Splits:

5 – 8:32

6- 8:24

7 – 8:25

8 – 8:58

At around the 10k point I noticed Meb Keflezighi was on the sidelines giving runners in front of me high-fives so I scooted over to get one too — definitely the highlight of the day!

Around mile 9 my engine started to falter, but was determined to finish strong. I was gunning for a PR, so told myself to keep pushing.

Splits to the end:

9 – 9:25

10 – 9:22

11 – 9:08

12 – 9:34

13 – 9:46 (this last mile was a real struggle. I had to stop and walk to regroup)

.2 – 9.13  (the course was .1 mile extra, according to my Garmin anyway).

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My official finish time was 1:59:29. Not the PR I was hoping for, but I ran strong and felt like I gave it my all, so I was happy with that.

All three of my half’s this year were 1:59 something. Not sure why the speed work I’ve been incorporating in my training didn’t reflect in my times for these last couple races.Food for thought.

I spotted my mom and grandma immediately, handed them my phone and collapsed to the ground. Okay maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but I did sit down for a good 10 minutes before making my way out of the finishers shoot to find my family.

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I’ve decided my body deserves a little off-season rest from serious training before ramping it up again in January for my triathlon in March and full marathon in May.

I’m going to try to just enjoy my runs  without too much emphasis on pace and focus on building strength for the next few weeks.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Gobble! Gobble!

XOXO

Christina

Santa Barbara Veterans Day Half Marathon Race Report

I ran my second post pregnancy half marathon on Saturday, the Santa Barbara Veterans Day Half Marathon. It didn’t go down quite as I was hoping, but I put my best foot forward and was happy (mostly) with the outcome considering the circumstances.

This was the first half marathon I ever ran back in 2010, so I was feeling very nostalgic last week leading up to race day. The expo and bib pickup were held on Friday at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.  It took less than 5 minutes to collect my bib and race shirt, which was nice since the boys were still getting over a nasty cold and not in the best of moods.

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I started to get a dull headache later that afternoon and knew I was in for it when I had zero appetite that night. I still made my traditional pre-race pasta dinner and tried my best to force what I could down. Luckily the boys went down for bed earlier than usual that night, so I was able to get all my race day gear and essentials laid out nice and early – Hoka One One Clifton 2’s, Momentum Jewelry Motivate Wrap, Osielle Roga Shorts and Verra Bra, and Shower Pill (for staying nice and fresh for the post race festivities).

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I was in bed by 9:00 p.m. Usually I’m restless and antsy the night before a race, but not this time. I set my alarm for 5:00 a.m. and fell asleep almost as soon as I closed my eyes.

When I woke up in the morning the headache was worse and my energy was gone, but I was really looking forward to returning to this race, so maybe against my better judgement, I decided to toe the line and suffer whatever consequences might come as a result.

My MIL lives right next door, so she came over to watch the boys while K dropped me off at the start. He dropped me off in a parking garage as directed. Weirdest drop off point for a race, but it was easy enough to follow the crowd and find the start line.

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This was a point to point course starting at UCSB. It was pretty darn cold considering the high temps we’ve been having all fall in Southern California, but I decided to forgo dealing with bag check and left my jacket at home.

I squeezed in close to the 1:50 pacer since this was my original goal finish time and I was still hoping I’d be semi close to this despite feeling under the weather.

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I was in wave 2 which took off at 7:02 a.m. The first three miles were fantastic and felt like I was flying.

Things took a quick turn for the worse when I reached the first water station just past the mile three marker. I had to stop and walk through it, something I rarely do, especially this early on. It felt hard to breath and I had major phlegm build up in my chest, but I pushed on.

I maintained a decent pace until the next fluid electrolyte station at mile 5. I stopped again to fuel up and took a gel. Within a few minutes I felt a surge of energy which carried me all the way to the dreaded Cliff Dr. hill at mile 10. It took every last ounce of energy to make that .5 mile climb and my only saving grace was knowing it was all downhill once I reached the top. I think I had to stop to walk three times up that hill. Ouch. More stopping than I have ever done in a race before.

The 2 mile downhill to the finish was even a struggle. It was lined with flags in honor of Veterans Day which was a pretty awesome sight and gave me chills! I stopped one more time less than a mile from the finish line and watched the 2:00 pacer fly past me which was the spark I needed to dig deep and finish strong. I thought about all the soldiers in the world and the far worse pain many of them have to endure.

I managed to re-pass the pacer and was totally spent after crossing the finish line. It took me a good 5-10 minutes to collect myself to find K and the boys.

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In the end, as bad as I felt after the race, I’m so happy I did it. I beat my last half marathon time by 3 seconds (hey I’ll take it) and my old time on this course by 7 minutes exactly.

I wouldn’t recommend running a half marathon while sick to anyone, but this is one I didn’t want to miss. It’s such a fun community event. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to partake in the post race festivities after which included a free beer and food trucks, but it looked amazing. Next year!

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Official Finish Time: 1:59:18

Next I have my sights set on a shiny new PR at my A race, the USA Half Marathon in two weeks.

Happy racing!

XOXO

Christina

My Story

I was recently selected to be an ambassador for Sweat Pink and couldn’t be more thrilled! Sweat Pink Ambassadors are part of the Fit Approach community, a place for enthusiastic, positive, inspirational people to connect and support each other in reaching their health and fitness goals.

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As a new ambassador, I’ve been encouraged to share my story. I’m still getting used to the idea of sharing some of the more personal aspects of my life, but when I started this blog I decided I would commit to being as transparent as possible. I’m inspired by the many amazing bloggers I’ve been following the past few months who have open hearts and are not afraid to admit their failures as well as triumphs.  I have a tendency to hold everything in, but my goal with this blog is to be open and share my truth, so here goes.

Before running became an everyday part of my life, I suffered from severe bouts of anxiety. My 20’s were spent working in the Hollywood rat race. I managed to build a successful career as a talent agent in a cut throat industry and definitely put in my dues while climbing the ladder, but not without a price.

I can still recall the sheer terror I felt during my first panic attack. I was 23 and a newbie literary agent’s assistant. The competition for entry level assistant jobs that paid next to nothing (we’re talking Harvard MBA’s fighting to get in) still boggles my mind, so when I landed my dream job (or so I thought at the time) I was ecstatic.

Three months into this job I experienced the first of many panic attacks. It came on while I was watching a movie with K (now my husband). Out of nowhere my heart started beating a million times a minute and it felt like the walls were closing in on me. I literally believed I was having a heart attack and was going to die right then and there. K picked up the phone to call 911 and within 10 minutes it was over, but not before I was shaken to my core.

I lasted in that job another three months before I moved on to another agent’s desk at a competing company. This agent was less verbally abusive, but the nature and competitiveness of the job remained the same.  I had several more “attacks” during this time, but could not comprehend that it had anything to do with my career.

I’m a natural born competitor and was not about to let anyone or anything stand in the way of my dreams of being an agent, so I learned to live with being in a perpetual state of anxiety (with the help of Xanax) and a couple years later was promoted to a full fledged talent agent. I got caught up in the game and lost sight of what I really wanted in life. Did I really want to be in this soul-deflating business for the rest of my life?

Finally, after five years, I came out of my cloud of denial and asked myself that very question. Around this same time I took up running.

RUNNING SAVED ME.

At first it was just a mile before work each morning. Within a few months the anxiety and panic attacks stopped. Then I found the courage to leave the career I thought defined who I was. K and I got back together after being a part for over 2 years. We moved to Santa Barbara. I signed up for my first half marathon and never looked back. Training and racing replaced Hollywood as a source for fulfilling my ambitions and competitive spirit.

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About to head out for my first half marathon rocking the wristbands!

Since then I have done eight triathlons, three half marathons, gave birth to twins and have not had one panic attack. I will do my first full marathon this spring, followed by a Half Ironman triathlon in the late summer/fall. Training is not always easy and there are some days that take more motivation than others to lace up my running shoes, but I truly love this sport and will forever be grateful for how it changed my life.

Run Happy!

XOXO

Mitja Marato Sabadell 14k Race Report

This weekend I ran my first international race in the city of Sabadell, Spain just north of Barcelona.  I had no specific goal for this race other than being present and enjoying the experience.

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The race featured three distances: a mitja marato (half marathon) 14k and 7k. There were over 2,000 participants total between the three distances. I chose the 14k because it’s a race distance I had never run before and K (who was watching the boys) had a business meeting to get to after, so unless I planned to run a blistering fast half, he wouldn’t make it on time. More on my amazingly supportive husband without whom my racing would not be possible in a future post.

The race started at 9:00am and was about a 20 minute cab ride from our hotel in Barcelona. I set the alarm for 7:30am figuring that would give me enough time to get ready without disturbing the twins too much. After this race I have come to accept that 30 minutes to get ready with 2 toddlers is not going to cut it anymore. After feeding, changing and dressing them we were in the cab and on our way at 8:15am.

I grabbed a piece of pretzel bread from the hotel breakfast buffet on our way out and ate it during the cab ride to the race. My go to pre-race meal is always a banana and peanut butter, but the hotel did not have any (maybe these are not so popular in Spain). I knew I had to eat something or run the risk of hitting a wall since I had also neglected to pack my energy gels and chews.

Our cab driver didn’t seem to know the area of Sabadell were the race start was located. He dropped us off on a corner where the road was blocked and a police officer was directing traffic. We saw runners with bibs so figured we were close enough to the start location.  It turned out to be a 2 mile walk to the start line.

It was only 5 minutes to race start when we arrived and I still had to get my race bib from registration. There was a long line of people waiting to get their bibs so I thought I would for sure be late to start. The organizers started yelling something out in Spanish. I wish the two years of Spanish I took in high school had stuck, but sadly I didn’t understand a word. I saw them handing out race numbers and jotting down names on a piece of paper, so quickly collected one (#3541), gave all my boys a kiss and ran to the start line.

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I was in the back of the pack which normally I hate, but didn’t mind because I was not in my typical racing mode.  I decided to run this one without headphones on (a rare thing for me if they are allowed on the course) and focused on being totally in the moment.

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The 14k route consisted of 2 loops. The first loop was really crowded and by mile 3 the streets got very narrow which made passing pretty difficult, but I managed to pass a lot. I wasn’t running for a specific goal time, but it was still a race and I love passing people!

By loop two the crowd had totally thinned out. I think about 1,500 of the 2,000 runners did only the first loop (the 7k race). The second loop around was mentally challenging. The energy of the previous crowd of runners was gone and I had already seen the sights during loop one so there was nothing new and unexpected to see.

I was losing my mojo fast, posting positive splits and desperately wished I had a gel or music to pump me up. I managed to power through to the end with the help of some much needed cheers and encouragements from local spectators and finished with a time of 1:19:11.

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I placed 13 out of 47 total women who ran the 14k which I was happy with. For some reason unknown to me I did not appear in the official results posted on the race website. I suspect it had something to do with my name not being recorded with the mass handout of bibs prior to the race.

After crossing the finish line and collecting the bag they were handing out, I was so happy to find K and the boys right away. There was no time to hang out for the post-race festivities. K took a couple quick photos, then we trekked a bit to find a cab and back to Barcelona we went.

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The rest of the day was spent being tourists around Barcelona and a lovely bike tour on the beach. Keep your eye out for a post about the trip and traveling with babies.

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This race was a great experience and I can’t wait to add more international races to my bucket list soon. I have my eye on the Stockholm Half Marathon or Copenhagen Half Marathon for my 2016 schedule since we plan on traveling to Denmark and Sweden this time next year.

Up next though are two half marathons much closer to home, Santa Barbara Marathon & Half on November 7th and US Half Marathon San Diego Invitational two weeks later.

Happy racing!

XO

Christina

Santa Barbara Triathlon Relay Race Report

I  had no idea how this race was going to go down. It was my first ever relay (well besides track & field in middle school). I really wanted to do the full triathlon, but figured it probably wasn’t the best idea since I had not properly trained to do all three events. I’m a solid biker and could have probably pulled out a decent ride, but the swim is always pretty challenging and I hadn’t been in the ocean for any kind of training in almost two years. I heard about a new age-graded relay division the race was introducing this year called the Tri The Lab relay. It sounded like a great way to get back into the triathlon scene while keeping my training focused on running.

I arrived at the transition area at 6:45am to meet my teammates (by random draw) Pam and Sarah. Our wave went off at 7:16am with Sarah doing the swim.  She killed the 1 mile swim with a time of 27:01. Transition times didn’t count towards our overall time which was awesome.

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Pam collected the timer from Sarah and set out on her 34 mile ride. The most challenging aspect of doing the relay was the wait. I really didn’t have a clue how long the ride was going to take Pam. She mentioned she was a strong cyclist, but had only rode the course once and stopped a few times. This bike course is not for the faint of heart. There are a few gnarly climbs, so I estimated she would finish in around 2-2:15:00. For someone who is a little impatient (okay more than a little) two hours feels like an eternity.

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I killed some time talking to and observing the other runners who were part of a relay team. One guy decided he was going to wear his headphones and was adamant he could never run without them even though he would get a 4 minute penalty according to USAT rules. There was a big group of women all in the same tri kits from a group called Moms in Motion. They were super enthusiastic and fun. I need to look into this group. And then there were a few hard core looking runners with poker faces on.

One by one the runners left transition and the numbers began to dwindle. This was mentally the most challenging part of the race. When Pam came in I wanted to hug her I was so happy. I gave her a high five instead, grabbed the timer and off I went!

I started out with a strong first two miles. My splits were 8:33 and 8:27 and I felt good. I thought I could hold that pace forever or at least the next 8 miles.

Here are my splits

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Out of nowhere I got hit with a major side stitch right as I started up the beginning of a hill at mile 3. I had to stop. Something I never do. For a minute I thought I was done. How would I be able to run another 7 miles with this thing? Not sure how this happened. I had held a 8:30 min/mile pace during longer training runs with no problem. It must have been the second gel I ingested right before I left transition. I made a classic rookie mistake by doing something new with my nutrition on race day. Boy did I learn my lesson.

One thing I’m not is a quitter. I have never recorded a DNF and wasn’t about to let a cramp be the reason to get one. I tried a few tricks that helped and was able to (sort of) get my groove back. I had to stop one more time when the cramp made a reappearance at the mile 5 turnaround. After this I knew my hopes of a PR were over, but I was still determined to finish strong.

The last five miles were pretty smooth sailing to the finish. The cramp finally disappeared for good and I felt like myself again. I managed to finish only two minutes off from my previous best 10 miler.

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Although I didn’t set any new records, I’m so glad I did this race and gave the relay a try. I learned a lot from the experience and best of all met two awesome new racing buddies.

Total Miles – 10

Finish Time – 1:28:06

Age-graded Time – 1:26:29

Average pace – 8:59min/mile

Team Age-graded Finish Time – 4:02:21

Next up is my first international race, Mitja Marato Sabadell 14k in Spain on September 6th! No idea what to expect. Just planning to have fun taking in the sights and sounds of Sabadell.

Happy racing!

Racing feliç!