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 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

Ironman 70.3 Arizona Training Kickoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nite Moves Wednesdays

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Total hours for the week = 7 hours 41 minutes

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

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

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Happy training!

XO

Christina

Marathon Training: Week 14

It’s marathon month! May came so fast! Seriously, these 14 weeks since I officially began training  really have flown by. Cliche to say maybe, but true! I feel prepared and ready, but the butterflies are starting to set in as I enter my final peak week of training before starting to taper for the race. I ran a total of 183 miles in April. My highest mileage month ever, by a lot.

This last week was a “step back” week, meaning a reduction in mileage, but not intensity. I focused on making every run count and added speed work to my long run. The highlight of the week was watching T & C run in their school’s Jog-A-Thon. They are already such good little runners!

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Here is a recap of the week:

Monday – 500 meter swim, 3.6 mile stroller run. Although the plan I’ve been following called for complete rest, I was feeling good after Saturday’s 20 miler and was jonesing to get in a swim so decided an easy 500 meters was in order. It felt so amazing to get back it the water. Later that afternoon I took T&C out for an easy stroller run, but the hurricane strength winds (at least it felt that way pushing with the double BOB) made it more of a test of my strength.

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Tuesday – 8 mile track speed session. Started with the usual 3 mile warm up, followed by (1×400 + 1×1200 meters) x4 and a 1 mile cool down. This one was tough, but felt great!

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Wednesday – Another stroller run battling the winds. I almost turned around after a mile. Pushing 80 lbs+ in the wind is no joke! The boys seemed to enjoy it so I pressed on for what seemed like the longest 4 miles of my life. 😊

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Thursday – HRT Run – 7 miles. I love this group run in my neighborhood. It’s hilly and challenging.

Friday – Scheduled rest day. Had a blast at T & C’s school Jog-A-Thon! T ran 17 laps and C did 15. They both ran/walked the entire time, even when some of the other kids in their class stopped to take breaks. At one point, we stopped to get water and T wasn’t having it. He got right back in the loop and kept going! I try to be conscious about not forcing my passions on them, but I think they just may be natural runners. 😉 Later that day we headed to the Santa Barbara Fair for some fun rides and funnel cake!

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Saturday – 12 mile long run. Instead of slow and steady, I decided to add some speed work to my long run this week. 2 mile warmup, 7 miles @ tempo (7:58, 7:49, 7:49, 7:52, 8:08, 8:12, 8:17) and 4 miles 30-45 seconds slower for an 8:24 avg pace. Completing this workout gave me more confidence that I can actually “race” the marathon.

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SundayEasy 4 mile stroller run. Best way to end a great week of training!

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This week is peak week. Mileage goes back up to 50+ with one last 20 miler before taper time! Let’s do this!

Happy training!

XO

Christina