The Coast Ride 2015

Posted by on Jan 28, 2015 in Christine's Blog, Uncategorized |

Most cyclists would jump at the chance to spend 3 days riding down the coast of California... so I did! A little over a week ago, my training partner Amy and I joined a group of cyclists for The Coast Ride 2015. We started in San Francisco on Saturday morning and ended in Santa Barbara on Monday afternoon. That's 375 miles over 3 days, for those of you who are counting (I sure was).Amy and I before leaving the Golden Gate Bridge 375 miles behind usOn Day 1, we met at Sports Basement in the Presidio. We took care of all the last minute prep (filling water bottles, pumping up tires, signing waivers, etc.) before rolling out. While there were over 200 cyclists doing the ride, we started in smaller groups so it would be safer and more manageable. We quickly left the Golden Gate bridge behind, and made our way through San Francisco to the coast. Some highlights of the day included riding with some really fun cyclists from the Bay Area (including fellow Team Freeplay athlete Caroline), a long lunch stop in Davenport (where I devoured a club sandwich and fries), and watching the surfers at the famous Santa Cruz breaks. Because we stopped a little longer for lunch (and got lost once or twice), we didn't finish riding until dusk. When we pulled into the parking lot of the host hotel after 8+ hours in the saddle, we were handed slices of pizza before we could even get off our bikes. Don't tell my husband, but I think I may have told the guy with the pizza that I loved him.The second day's route was undoubtedly the most scenic of the trip. Highway 1 in Big Sur is beautiful by car, but even more breathtaking from a bicycle. You will have to either trust me on that one, or go see for yourself (I highly recommend the latter).The second day was filled with views better than this (this photo doesn't do it justice).Highlights from Day 2 included stopping at the Big Sur Bakery for coffee, having pretzels and mini donuts for lunch, joining a paceline from Ragged Point to Cambria, and most of all enjoying the incredible scenery. At the beginning of the day, Amy and I had decided that we would continue past that day's official stopping point (Morro Bay) and ride the whole way into San Luis Obispo (where we would stay the night at her house). Since our bags would still be in Morro Bay, we were planning to drive back out to get them... but during the ride, we met a guy who offered to bring our bags with him when he took a taxi to SLO to get his rental car. What a nice guy... he definitely made our day.Perfect way to start Day 3While the third day greeted us with...

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Wonder Woman for a Day

Posted by on Oct 16, 2014 in Christine's Blog, Uncategorized |

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to be one of the official pacers for the City to the Sea Half Marathon in my hometown of SLO. This was my first time running as a pacer, and I was excited that my number one job was to help others meet their goals.At City to the Sea, the pacers traditionally dress in fun, colorful costumes. This year was no different, and I enjoyed being Wonder Woman for a day. I don't think I have ever had so many people ask to take photos with me. It was also fun hearing spectators cheer, "Go Wonder Woman!" throughout the race. One of the ladies in my pace group said that she kept telling herself they were cheering for her every time she heard that. :-)The 2014 pacers... what a fun group!(photo by Kaori Photo)The race itself was really fun. I loved encouraging others and helping them meet their goals. One of my favorite parts of the day was hanging out by the finish line afterwards. A lot of people made a point to find me to say thanks for helping them through the race. Each one of those conversations made me smile a little bigger.My husband and I pose with Richard, CEO of Fluid, and all-around awesome guy!Being a pacer was even more fun and fulfilling than I thought it would be. Hopefully I'll have the chance to do it again...

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O Canada!

Posted by on Sep 15, 2014 in Christine's Blog, Uncategorized |

About a year ago, I decided that one of my goals for 2014 would be to qualify for and compete in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Since none of the qualifying races in California fit my schedule, I traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina in June to race for my slot. The race in Raleigh was awesome - I got to stay with an amazing family (Tony and Lee), the course was beautiful, I had one of the fastest 70.3 races of my life, and I qualified for Worlds!So, at the beginning of September I found myself in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. I had never been to Quebec before, and I absolutely loved it. Mont Tremblant is a ski resort town in the winter, so it's the perfect site for a triathlon in the summer. Pretty much everything is within walking distance, and we barely drove the car once we were there.PRE-RACEThe days leading up to the race were filled with lots of relaxing, enjoying the race atmosphere and taking in the beauty of the area:  On Thursday, we drove the bike course and found an awesome farm stand where we picked up a bunch of fresh veggies. On Friday morning, my husband (Greg) and father-in-law (Ed) participated in the 5K Family Fun Run. That evening, there was a concert by a U2 tribute band followed by a fireworks show.Ed and Greg after their 5K run on Friday morning. They got to run across the finish line before I did!Concert followed by fireworks on Friday nightSaturday involved the usual pre-race prep:  standing in a lot of lines to check in my bike and gear, trying to stay off my feet as much as possible, and eating a delicious pre-race meal in the evening. Since my in-laws were staying with us, my husband and I were able to add a new activity to the pre-race evening:  a game of Bridge. I can't remember many details, but I'm sure Ann and I won ;-)Before I knew it, race day morning had arrived. My age group wave didn't start until 8:32 am, so it was nice to be able to sleep in a little longer than usual. Since we were staying so close, I was able to walk over and check on my bike/gear bags before coming back to the condo to put on my wetsuit and relax a bit before heading to the swim start.After a little more waiting, it was finally time for the Pros to start. This was my first time racing outside the United States, so it was the first time I've ever heard a national anthem other than The Star Spangled Banner sung at the beginning of a race. After hearing "Oh Canada," everyone looked to the sky to see (and hear!) a Canadian fighter jet flyover. Seconds later, fireworks exploded in the air, and the pro men were...

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Wildflower 2014

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Christine's Blog, Uncategorized |

I have a great deal of respect for the Wildflower Long Course Triathlon. It's one of the most challenging 70.3 races I've ever done, and I know I'm not alone in saying that.Wildflower is hilly.Wildflower can be really hot.And those two things make a very challenging course where things can get really ugly really fast... which is exactly what happened to me the past two years.But coming into this year's race, several things were different:1)  I was in much better physical shape (thanks to my coach Alisa Benson!)2)  I had a wealth of race day nutrition knowledge (thanks to training for an Ironman last year).3)  I had a specific list of mistakes I did not want to repeat this year (thanks to making a lot of mistakes the past two years!)Since there was barely any water in Lake San Antonio, this year's course was slightly different than in the past...Dried up Lake San Antonio... so very sad :-(There was literally no water in the area of the lake where we normally swim. So this year, the swim took place about 2 miles down the shore from the normal start. Before we got in the water, I heard a girl say something about wondering if we were going to get "lake beard"... I had never heard of such a thing. But, trust me friends, "lake beard" is a very real thing...Lake Beard! Ahhahahahaha!After the swim, we ran up the never-ending boat ramp, and over to the normal transition area via a road that was literally plowed in the dry lake bed.Extremely low water levels = extremely long boat ramps!Little 2-mile run to the "normal" transition areaAfter changing out of my sandy/wet running shoes, it was off on the bike. One thing I have learned in past years at Wildflower is that it's really easy to go too hard on the bike. It's also easy to skimp on nutrition. Both of these mistakes can have great consequences later on in the race. So this year, I made it a point not to go too hard, and to make sure I ate and drank enough (over the course of the bike, I had 600 calories of Fluid Performance and a 250-calorie Bonk Breaker). I also ended up dumping quite a bit of water over myself every aid station, which really helped cool me down.Heading out on the bikeKaw!Even though I made a conscious effort to conserve energy and not go too hard on the bike, I still managed to have my fastest bike split ever on the Wildflower course... that was an encouraging thought as I made my way on to the run! :-)Starting the run...Now let's talk about the run. For me, this is where the real tough part begins at Wildflower. Since we had already run 2 miles earlier, we only had 11 miles to run at the end of...

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Mental Games and Lessons Learned – CIM 2013

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Christine's Blog, Uncategorized |

I signed up for the California International Marathon because I wanted something to train for this fall, but I also wanted a break from triathlon. Let me say that again:  I signed up for a marathon because I wanted a break. I think there is something wrong with me. ;-) I have definitely enjoyed focusing on running for the last few months. And it has been a nice break from triathlon training ("just" running takes so much less time!)Before yesterday, the only marathon I had ever run in my life was at the end of an Ironman. I was interested to see how "just a marathon" compared to a marathon after 7 hours of swimming and biking. Everyone I've talked to who has done both says that the stand-alone marathon is harder. That didn't seem to make sense, but after yesterday I am going to agree with them. (So, all you marathon runners out there, you have no excuse not to do an Ironman!)The day before the race, I drove to Sacramento with my fiance and some friends. One of the main topics of conversation during the trip was race day weather. The air temperature was predicted to be in the mid- to high-20s at the start, and only warm up to the 30s by the time we were done. That is COLD for us Coastal Californians. So, after hitting the expo to check in (and buy some last minute necessities - like a new pair of tights for me), we went back to the hotel and spent the rest of the day debating the specifics of our race day wardrobes. OK, so that's not all we talked about, but it was definitely a dominant topic of conversation. (The air temp never got above freezing the entire race. About halfway through the marathon, I saw a guy running with no shirt. When another runner commented that he was brave, he replied with, "no, just stupid")CIM is a point-to-point marathon. Our hotel was near the finish, so on race morning we took a bus to the start line. It seemed like that bus ride took forever... but at least we didn't have to run the whole way back... oh, wait... :-) I won't bore you with many details from race morning, but I am thankful for the following:  300 port-a-potties, a school bus with a heater, and warm sweats.Jason, Kevin, Paul, Greg and I... trying to keep warm before the start!My race plan for the marathon was to go out slightly slower than my goal pace, and gradually speed up the rest of the race. At the start, I found the 3:15 pace group, and decided to hang with them for a little bit. They were running faster than I had planned, but it felt SO easy!For the first half, I enjoyed everything. The 3:15 pace group leader was awesome (he even pointed...

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Santa Cruz Triathlon

Posted by on Sep 30, 2013 in Christine's Blog, Uncategorized |

The last time I raced in Santa Cruz (Big Kahuna 2011), I had one of the most enjoyable races of my life. That's probably the main reason why I signed up to race the Santa Cruz Triathlon as my last triathlon in 2013.On race morning this year, we were greeted with clear sunny skies (no fog!), minimal winds, and perfect temps. What a treat!The swim course goes around the Santa Cruz Wharf. I love ocean swims with beach starts, and swimming around the Wharf is one of my favorites. During the swim, I managed to find a girl who was right around my same speed. It was really nice having some feet to follow for most of the swim.Beach starts are the best!Swimming around the wharf!T1 at the Santa Cruz Tri is pretty unique. After exiting the water, you have to run somewhere around 1/3 mile to the transition area at Depot Park. I don't mind the run, but when your feet are numb from cold ocean water, you have to be extra careful when running over train tracks, curbs, and sidewalks. :-)The bike course was mostly rolling hills: up and back Highway 1. For the first 20 miles, I was mostly riding by myself. I was passed by a few guys, but no girls. Then, around mile 20 (or maybe a little after), a girl passed me. A quick glance at her left calf told me that she was in my age group... and it was on! We went back and forth a few times for the remainder of the bike.Starting the  bikeAfter dismounting our bikes, we had to run down a short hill into transition. I still haven't mastered the art of dismounting while leaving your shoes on the bike (I need to add that to my list of things to practice this winter), so she was able to get about a 30-second lead on me in T2.By this point, I was pretty certain that the two of us were racing for the overall win, but I had no idea what kind of runner she was. In light of that, I decided to stick with my original plan for the race:  start out just under 7:00 mile pace, and speed up from there. The run course at Santa Cruz goes along a bike path, and it's pretty easy to see who is ahead of you. The gap was a constant 30 seconds for the first half of the run.At the turnaround, I started to pick up the pace. I saw a guy on a bike who appeared to be giving her updates on how far back I was... so I knew she would be running hard. As we raced to the finish, I felt strong and smooth, and I could tell I was gaining on her. I didn't want to go too hard and blow up, so...

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