Ironman 70.3 World Championship Race Report

It has been a while since I’ve shared a race report here, but considering this was my biggest race yet it needs to be documented. It’s taken me over a week to actually process and reflect on this race. In a nutshell it was my worst race in terms of finishing time and yet the best experience I’ve had in my 7 years in the sport and 4th 70.3. I didn’t come close to any of my “A” or even “B” goals, but I finished despite some hurdles (particularly on the bike) and I’m pretty darn proud of that.

I arrived to Port Elizabeth after 30 hours of travel on Thursday, less than 48 hours before the start of the race. Unfortunately there was a backlog of bikes stuck in Johannesburg and my bike didn’t arrive until the next afternoon. By the time I picked it up from the airport on Friday and returned to my hotel, I had only a couple hours to put it together and get it checked in. I wasn’t able to take it out for a test ride, which may have contributed to the issues I would have on the bike during the race.

After arriving on Thursday, I met up with some of my Betty Squad teammates for photos, athlete check in and the opening ceremony dinner.

It was pretty awesome to find my name on the wall with all the other competitors. There were 4,500 total from over 40 different countries. Pretty amazing to be among the best in the world. Friday we checked in bikes and our run bags. I had a pizza/pasta carb load dinner with my Betty sister Melissa and her daughter and the hugest brownie ever! Then it was off to bed. I was surprised how well I slept that night.

RACE DAY:

Alarm went off at 5am. Had my usual pre-race breakfast, peanut butter toast with banana. I FaceTimed with my husband and twin boys who were getting ready for bed with the 9 hour time difference and was surprised how calm I felt. My roommate for the trip, Raya, who I met through Instagram (love how I’ve made so many friendships through social media) and I headed out to catch a shuttle to the start. I did a quick tire pressure check in T1, snapped a few pics with friends and before I knew it, it was time to head to the swim start.

THE SWIM: current PR 46 minutes / goal: sub 45 / actual ~ 50 minutes. The ocean temperature was 58 race morning, a pretty big dip from 62 degrees the day before. There was no warm up allowed race morning, so it took me a little longer to get warmed up after entering the water. They sent us off in age group waves of about 10 at a time. I was stoked to find my Trek Bikes teammate Meredith in my wave. We had planned to start together. We were in the 2nd to last group to enter the water within our 35-39 (the larges) age group (wave 4). I managed to hang with the pack in front of me for the first 400 or so meters, but by the time I reached the first turn buoy at 800m I lost Meredith and the pack had thinned way out. I felt like I was swimming all alone which freaked me out. I let panic set it. For the next 300m to the next turn back to shore I stopped way too many times. It took a pack of green caps catching up to me from the next wave to calm me enough to get my rhythm back. I knew a PR wasn’t going to happen and was just happy to get out of the water before the cutoff time which is shortened to 1 hr for Worlds. The best part was the wetsuit stippers who took my wetsuit off for me in seconds.

THE BIKE: current PR = 3:04, goal: sub 3, actual ~ 3:58. There was a decent climb right out of T1 and a strong headwind that lasted for the first 25 miles. I tried not to worry about all the girls passing me. I told myself that although I usually pass more people on the bike, this was Worlds. I was racing myself. But I was struggling big time and going way slow (10-11mph) which is wayyyy slower than I usually avg even riding into headwind. I knew something was up when I heard a strange noise. I pulled over to inspect at the mile 15 aid station and sure enough my front brake was rubbing. I’m not sure how long it had been rubbing, but pretty sure it was for most of those first 15 miles. I fixed it as quickly as I could and got back out on the course. As we reached the coastline there were some scary descents I took more cautiously than I would have liked. Then on the way up a decent sized hill just before the turnaround my chain dropped. Off the bike I went once again. I tried to get it back on quickly, but still cost me a good few minutes. A couple miles later just as I made the u-turn to head back my back break got stuck and I couldn’t peddle. I jumped off the bike once again and this time I couldn’t hold in the tears. At this point I was so frustrating with all the mechanicals I was shaking. A nice volunteer noticed and came over to help. He wasn’t sur if the rules allowed him to physically assist, so he talked me through what to do to fix the issue. I seriously might have never finished that bike course if it wasn’t for him. I wish I had gotten his name. Thankfully there were no more issues after this point and we now how a nice tailwind, so I was able to make up a chunk of lost time. I decided to just take in the views and enjoy the rest of the course as much as possible, while making sure I made it to T2 well before the cutoff.

THE RUN: current PR = 2:08, goal: sub 2, actual ~ 2:15. The run was mostly flat with a moderate hill at both ends of the two loop course. I had been out on the bike course longer than anticipated (1 hour longer!) so I didn’t have enough nutrition to set myself up for a strong run. I try to take in about 300 calories per hour. I drank coke at every aid station which worked for me at Santa Rosa (my current run PR). At that point my stomach couldn’t handle gels or food. The energy from spectators, Betty Squad and instagram friends was all I needed. I just tried to take it in as much as possible and get to that finish.

The last 5k was a struggle, but thankfully my friend Conrad (who was racing in the men’s race the following day) appeared with 2 miles to go and ran with me a bit which was just what I needed to finish strong. As I rounded the corner to the red carpet I was overcome with a huge swell of emotion. I gave high fives to the line of spectators cheering, my eyes filled with tears. Crossing that finish was truly the most amazing feeling I’ve ever experienced. I did it! I was a World Championship Finisher!

Total time: 7:14:09.

This was the slowest 70.3 finish out of the 4 I have done, but without a doubt the most memorable and special.

It was amazing to have so many friends and teammates there to celebrate with after since my family didn’t travel with me.

The next day a few Betty Squad teammates and I headed out for a full day Safari. It was incredible! Bucket list item checked off!

The following day it was time to say goodbye to South Africa. I made sure to pack plenty of my favorite Stryve Biltong protein snacks for the 30 hour plane ride back home. Biltong is a favorite in South Africa and packed with protein to aide in recovery.

It was truly an amazing trip and experience that will live in my heart forever!

Special thanks to the sponsors whose support helped make this journey possible:

Stryve Biltong for fueling me with the best protein.

Scicon for the only bike bag I trust transporting my bike in.

Betty Designs for making me look badass and beautiful in my Worlds race kit!

Wahoo Fitness for the amazing KICKR that prepared me for those tough hills during long training rides conveniently at home.

Jaybird Sport for providing me with the best wireless headphones to power me through long training runs.

Rudy Project for protecting my head with the best helmet out there.

Women for Tri for the opportunity to race my first and definitely not last World Championship.

Molo XO

Christina

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Ironman 70.3 Santa Cruz Race Report

Santa Cruz was my “A” race for the season. The one I was building up to for months and months. It turned out to be everything I was hoping for and more. It was also my anniversary weekend. Before the race K told me it would be a great race because it was our anniversary. He was right! We originally planned to make the trip to Santa Cruz just the two of us. Those plans didn’t work out when our childcare fell through, so we decided to make it a fun family race-cation instead!

Our hotel was right across the street from the boardwalk about 1/4 mile to the swim start. Being within walking distance to everything and having plenty of entertainment for the boys was key to making it a smoother trip with two toddlers. I rolled out of bed Saturday morning and walked down to the pier to get in a little open water swim practice. There were a bunch of other people there too. The water was cold, but not too bad like I had been warned. Many people advised I wear booties and a thermal swim cap…but I’m from California and used to cold water so decided not to get them. The water ended up being 68 degrees and it was announced booties would not be legal. Glad I didn’t waste the money!

After a short swim I headed over to transition to check-in and listen to the athlete briefing. There was talk that the swim course would be altered due to bacteria in the water from the recent heat wave. They confirmed this at the meeting. We would be starting about 100 yards south of the pier from the original swim start and swimming in a triangular course rather than rectangular.  After the talk I found a few of my Betty teammates and did a little shopping in the Ironman store 🙂

When I racked my bike in transition later that day I met Cathy, an amazing woman wearing the same Betty Designs Fuck Cancer jersey I had on. She was diagnosed with breast cancer just five weeks prior, but didn’t let that stop her from doing this race. She was so positive and upbeat. It was very inspiring. I ran into her again at the swim start the next day and seeing her smile helped calm my nerves. She truly is a special lady and meeting people like this is one of the many reasons I love this sport and being on Team Betty so much!

Race morning I woke up at 4:15am and called Uber to take me to transition. It wasn’t a far walk, but didn’t think it was a great idea to walk alone in the dark. After I got to transition, I realized I forgot my timing chip! I tried not to stress about it and was told I could get a new one down at the swim start. They closed transition around 6:30 and we headed down to the beach for the swim.

Swim

There was an extremely thick layer of fog and it was impossible to make out even the first buoy, but people were already out warming up in the water. I thought I was the only one worried that we couldn’t see ANYTHING out there.  Shortly after an announcement was made that the swim start would be delayed due to the fog. I felt a little relieved they were giving it time to clear, but it also gave me more time to get in my head which is never a good thing.

They kept pushing the start back until they no longer could because of permit limitations. Finally they announced they were shortening the swim and moving the start down to the other side of the pier. I was disappointed since I had been working hard on improving my swim and really wanted a shot at a true 1.2 mile swim PR. At the same time, I was just happy they let us swim at all. I know they could have easily cancelled the swim like several other races have this year.

I never heard an official announcement on what the new distance was, but a few people said it was half a mile. The pros finally went off around 8am. I was still in the water warming up. I wasn’t in a hurry since I thought it was still a rolling start with athletes self-seeding by expected finish time. WRONG. Everyone just gathered together in a herd and since I was taking my time in the water, I ended up in the back of the pack for the start. I was literally one of the last people in the water and didn’t start the race until 8:45am!

It was crowded in the water and I’m still working on getting over my fear of being hit and swam over so I stayed to the outside near the kayaks. It felt like I got to that first turn buoy fast! It was a pretty uneventful swim for me. I have a bad habit of stopping when I sight which I did way too much. Need to work on that. Other than that, it was a quick swim and I made it out of the water in less than 18 minutes according to my watch. A lot faster than I was expecting obviously, but I had no idea what my true pace or distance was. My Suunto watch clocked it at 1150 meters in 17:50 for a 1:33 avg pace, which I know is off.

Official swim time: 18:23 ( I still don’t know what the actual distance was)

T1: 6:10

We ran a half mile up the beach and on asphalt to depot field. A lot of people brought old shoes or flip flops to run in. I went barefoot and was just fine.  Ended up 2 minutes faster than Oceanside with a much longer run so I was happy with that.

Bike

I’ve been making the most gains in cycling recently, so I was excited to see what I could do. It was also my first race with my new Irwin Cycling race wheels. It was the perfect course for me to fly and gun for that PR. It had just the right amount of challenge. Lots of rolling hills for about 2,500 ft of gain. My favorite! The course is literally all along the ocean…beautiful views the entire ride. The first 3 miles were a little technical with some wide turns to get out to Hwy 1. Once we were out on the 1 though it was straight out and back for the next 50 miles.

My watch was set to triathlon mode, but when switched to the bike they display was stuck on time elapsed. I couldn’t get it to switch over to display speed and HR so I did the bike completely on feel. I decided I would just go hard, but not all out so I could save a little energy for the run.  At the mile 28 turnaround I felt great so tried to push it even more. Still no idea how fast I was going, but I was passing a lot of people. It was an open course and super crowded since the swim was cut short. There were a few sketchy moments when I had to pass groups of riders who were not moving closer to the shoulder even when I yelled “on your left.”  Just after the turnaround traffic was at a standstill and I saw a bike completely crushed under a car. A man was laying on ground not moving on the shoulder with a group of people around him. It looked pretty bad and really shook me up. I said a silent prayer for him. I later found out he escaped with only minor injuries. Such a scary moment and reminder to appreciate every moment.

Around mile 35 I passed a girl in my age group wearing a Team Coeur kit. She re-passed me on a downhill and then it was on! We played a fun game of cat and mouse most of the ride back on Hwy 1. She would kill it on the downhills and pass me (I’m getting better at laying off the brakes when descending, but not 100% there yet with hammering the pedals all the way down). I would re-pass her on the climbs. This went on for about 15 miles until I passed her for the last time with 3 miles to go and never saw her again. At the last aid station I grabbed a bottle of Gatorade Endurance from a volunteer and made a (weak) attempt to empty it into my aero bottle. I decided it was better to play it safe and pulled over to fill it. A goal for next race is to do this without stopping.

My goal time for the bike was 3:15 which was my predicted time according to TriDot’s RaceX. I ended up beating this by over 10 minutes and beat my Oceanside 70.3 bike split by over 30 minutes!!!

Bike time: 3:04:27

T2: 3:08

I took too much time applying sunscreen in T2. Not sure what I was thinking? I had already applied it before the race, but a girl offered it to me and I was too nice to say “no, thanks.” Good strategy on her part. Total inner race bitch fail on mine. haha

Run

The run used to be my favorite event, but the bike has recently replaced it. That said, I still love to run and felt strong coming off the bike. I nailed my nutrition on the bike and took Osmo hyper hydration the night before, which helped set me up for a strong, steady 13.1 miles. Similar to Oceanside, the majority of the run is along the coast, but there was less spectator support. Seeing all the Betty’s on the course and getting high fives really helped push me, especially up through the trail portion of the race in Wilder Ranch. My Oceanside time was 2:16. I was determined to beat that and end with a negative split. I stopped for coke the last 2 aid stations and gave those last couple miles everything I had. Rounding the last turn onto the beach to the finish I felt chills knowing I had crushed my Oceanside time by over an hour! Crossed that line with fists in the air feeling better than I ever have at the end of race.

Run Time: 2:12:41

Total Time: 5:44:49

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I couldn’t have asked for a better race to end the season. Seeing my boys’ faces and getting huge hugs from them at the finish was the cherry to top a season of hard work and determination. I plan on doing one more sprint race for fun in November, but I’m most excited for the possibilities of what lies ahead next season and beyond. I’m really starting to believe the big epic goals I once thought were distant dreams are much closer than I thought possible.

I have already signed up for two 70.3 races in 2018 and I’m considering one or two more. This is without a doubt my new favorite distance. I’ve come a long way from my DNF at Superfrog 70.3 a year ago which I did not let derail me. Looking forward to continuing the journey and seeing where it takes me in another year!

Special thanks to the sponsors that helped me get here. So grateful for the support!

Betty Designs, Badass racing kit

Irwin Cycling, Smokin’ fast wheels

Rudy Project NA, Super comfortable and stylish AF aero helmet

Jaybird Sport, Headphones to keep me pumped while running and those loooong trainer sessions.

COOLA Suncare, Keeping my skin safe and flawless during those long hours sweating in the sun.

TriTats, #looklikeapro while racing

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

Looking Back and Moving Forward

2016 has been a remarkable comeback season. I crushed some pretty epic goals; kicking off the season with a 3rd place age group finish in my first triathlon after giving birth, then completing my first marathon, going on to take a 2nd place age group finish at my next sprint tri, followed by my first age group win, earning me a spot at USAT Nationals in 2017 and completing at least one race every month in 2016. This year was not all highs though. I also recorded a disappointing DNF at my first 70.3 attempt.

What really is more meaningful than all the accomplishments and failures though, is the gratitude I have deep in my heart for these experiences and the friendships and connections I have made through this sport. I had the opportunity to represent some great companies, but what I found more valuable than the products themselves is the people I met through these ambassadorships. I joined two new awesome teams for 2017: The Betty Squad and TriTats and super excited for what new adventures, friendships and opportunities 2017 will bring!

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I have solidified my 2017 race schedule and personal goals, of course, but the most important thing I reflect on every year when I get too caught up in the planning and goal setting, is to remember at the end of the day it’s about collecting moments, not medals and PR’s.

With that said, here is my schedule for 2017:

January

  • Resolution Run 5k/10k

 February

  • Super Bowl 4 Miler

March

  • Desert Triathlon – Olympic Distance
  • Solvang Metric Century (this is a maybe)

April

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 May

  • Belgium Waffle Ride (Wafer)bwr
  • Alcatraz Challenge

June

  • Santa Barbara Half Marathon
  • Breath of Life Ventura Tri

July

  • Goleta Beach Tri

August

  • USAT Olympic Age Group Nationals

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  • Santa Barbara Triathlon

September

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October

  • IM 70.3 Arizona (maybe) or possibly a fall marathon

If you will be at any of these races, please let me know! I’d love to connect!

XO,

Christina

Off-Season Thoughts

If you are a goal-oriented type “A” personality like me, you probably have a hard time slowing down. Taking a break these past couple weeks hasn’t been exactly easy, but I know a few months of reduced training and giving my body the rest it deserves is the best thing I can do right now. I achieved many of the goals I set out to accomplish in my comeback season, from completing my first marathon to scoring my first triathlon age group win and qualifying for the USAT National Age Group Championships, but it didn’t come easy. I put my body through the wringer. Even for the most seasoned athletes a break or shift in training is necessary. The off-season is also a great time to learn a new skill or pick up an old one, spend time with family and friends (and thank them for all their support, babysitting, and cooking when you were too tired), and understand that it is natural to go through a period of post-race apathy.

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Being on a break from heavy endurance training doesn’t mean I am stopping my training completely. I’ve just shifted my focus away from a regimented schedule to “whatever I feel like” on any given day. Last Sunday I took a yoga class at my favorite studio, Power of You OM and it was OMazing! I’m a certified RYT 200 yoga instructor though this studio, yet my yoga practice has taken a serious backseat this year. I plan to add more yoga back in my life during the off-season and into 2017. It seriously has so many wonderful benefits for athletes! I miss teaching too, but my “me time” is more limited now that I’m a mama, so that’s taken a backseat too.

Another focus for the off-season is strength training. I’ve been doing Katie Hart Morse’s daily 10 minute strength workout the past week and it’s been so easy to incorporate in my routine. Strength training is that thing I know is important, but can never manage to stay consistent at. There really is no excuse though. Finding 10 minutes really isn’t hard to do. I have even squeezed a few of these workouts in while watching the boys at the playground. You just have to get creative. J

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The off-season is a good time to experiment with new products and nutrition. If I’m being totally honest, my nutrition this season wasn’t great. My calorie counting days are long gone, but I definitely could be making healthier choices and refueling properly after every workout. That should come easier now that I’m stocked up on Designer Protein (Get 20% off Designer Protein with my referral link here). I have a goal to lose 5-10 pounds before Ironman Oceanside 70.3 training revs up in January. With the holidays coming up it will be hard to lay off the treats (I have a serious sweet tooth!). The extra temptation along with a reduced training volume will make it all the more challenging to meet my goal. Here are some tips and strategies I plan to follow:

(1) Stay Hydrated – Being hydrated curbs sugar cravings and can prevent overeating. If you notice a craving for junk food use that feeling as a trigger to first drink a full glass of water.

(2) Stop Eating When you are Full (or right before you feel full). Makes sense right? Why do we insist on putting ourselves in a food coma on Thanksgiving?

(3) Create Healthy Versions of Your Holiday Favorites – most holiday favorites can be reinvented into a healthy version. My friend Jen just posted a recipe on Instagram for “Peanut Butter Be Special” dipped apples that I plan to try out this weekend: Organic apples dipped in a mixture of melted peanut butter (or almond butter), coconut oil, maple syrup, & vanilla, then sprinkled in sea salt. Yum!

(4) 80/20 Rule – This is a rule that inspires eating 80% nourishing, healthy food, and allowing 20% of food intake to be indulgent or less optimal. It’s okay to indulge every once in a while. For my family that’s Friday night  🙂

(5) Say no to food pushers. This is a big one for me. My mother-in-law lives next door and is constantly stopping by with yummy treats. I don’t want to hurt her feelings so I always graciously accept. I need to learn its OK to say “No, thank you.”

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Hopefully sticking to these strategies will help me stay on track this off-season. Speaking of indulging, SUPER excited about my new Cervelo tri bike, Rochelle! The cards lined up and I scored an awesome deal. Can’t wait for all the great things we’ll do together in 2017, but until then it’s all about enjoying this time off and the holidays with my family.

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What are your off-season plans? How do you stay healthy during the holidays?

XO

Christina

The Legends Triathlon Race Report

I wasn’t planning to do any fall triathlons after Superfrog 70.3 this season, but after that race ended in a disappointing DNF, I HAD to do one more. After riding such a high in my triathlon comeback season landing on the podium in each of my races leading up to Superfrog, I didn’t want to end the year on such a sour note and let months of training go down the drain. I needed a redemption race.

I searched online and there wasn’t another 70.3 distance race on the west coast (that I could find), so an Olympic distance was the next best thing. I almost settled on Morro Bay Triathon until a fellow triathlete and mama I met through Instagram, Diana, suggested I do the Legends Triathlon with her. Calm lake swim. I was in!

I honestly didn’t pay much attention to the bike and run course terrain, I was just happy there would be no threat of large swells in the swim. The race took place at Bonelli Park in San Dimas, just outside Los Angeles.

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K and I drove down from Santa Barbara at 5am and arrived with plenty of time to spare. The race started at 8:00am. My wave was 3rd with all women racing the Olympic distance (around 20 total). It was a pretty small group and the start was smooth sailing. After the swim start I had just experienced at Superfrog, it was such a relief. I got in a nice rhythm and just swam, no panic at all, in my zone. I might have zoned out too much because I slacked on the sighting and ended up drifting too far to the right after passing the first turn Buoy. I felt totally calm the whole time though. I didn’t go too fast. I wanted to save my energy. I was actually enjoying this swim and for once wasn’t just wishing for it to be over. It wasn’t my fastest swim and the course was a little longer than 1500 meters, but I consider it a victory.

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There was a small, but steep hill up to T1. I forgot to pack my body glide and struggled with geting my wet suit off around my ankles. I usually never sit down, but it was the only way I could get it off.

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I guzzled water and on to the bike. Just before the start Diana informed me that what we had thought was a flat course was actually hilly with two very steep descents. Since Superfrog was a flat course, I hadn’t done much training on hills. I’m a scared descender. I’m that girl  barely hitting 20 mph while everyone else flies by at 40-50 mph.  The first hill was right out of the gate and the decent was long. I hugged the brakes most of the way down. It’s a three loop course, so I had to do this descent two more times. Great. After the initial deep descent it’s all rolling hills. There was very little flat straightway. I never got into a good groove. I went a little faster the second loop down the hills, but I was still getting passed a lot. It was getting hot and by the last loop there were a lot less people on the course. I thought I was for sure dead last. I was never so happy to finish the bike. My legs just didn’t have the strength.

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I tried to keep up with my nutrition on the bike, but I was seriously suffering as I entered T2.

The run was a cross country style course with terrain consisting of trails, asphalt and dirt. I haven’t done a lot of trail running this year and there were a couple sneaky hills mixed in. It wasn’t my best run by a long shot. I had to walk portions of the hills and water stations. The heat was getting to me with temps pushing 90 and my legs were shot from all the climbs on the bike. I just kept shuffling forward telling myself quitting was not an option. Around mile 4 I realized I had seriously missed staying on top of my nutrition and although my stomach didn’t want it, I forced down a GU. It gave me just the little boost I needed to take it home those last couple miles to the finish line. I was so relieved and so happy to cross that line.

I passed one girl in my AG on the run, but I definitely wasn’t thinking there was any chance of a podium spot let alone 1st place.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one suffering and the course was challenging enough to others (in my age group at least) that even with my less than speedy time, I managed to snag 1st in my AG. Turns out there were only 3 of us and 1 was a DNF, so that girl I passed on the run was the only one I had to beat out. 🙂

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Although it wasn’t my best race, I’m so glad I did it and ended the season on a high. My mind is already thinking about 2017, but my body needs a break. I’m looking forward to lots of yoga, working on building strength and  improving my swim technique during the off-season. Then 2017 look out, I’m coming for you!

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

Summer Favorites + a Giveaway!

Hope everyone had an amazing 4th of July! Summer is my favorite season (although in Santa Barbara it pretty much feels like summer all year round). There is something about the longer days and warmer nights that I absolutely love. Maybe because more daylight = more time for outside fun?!

The start of summer is a great time to pick up new essentials to supplement all those outdoor activities, so thought I’d put together a list of a few of my summer favorites right now. Continue reading