Christine Anderson

06:09
:16

Ironman Texas

Posted in Racing by

I headed into Ironman Texas with relatively low expectations. Leading into the race my training had gone well. My run splits were faster than I’ve ever run, but I still wasn’t sure how my body would react to racing an Ironman, specifically since I was still nursing my 9 month son Anders.

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We started the race a little earlier than usual at 6:30am. I lined myself up accordingly in the front row, noticing many were positioning themselves directly behind me. I knew there were some fast swimmers in the field so this surprised me. As the gun went off, I shot in front to some clean water. I noticed some other women to my right out-swimming me as they began to create a gap. I continued on with my pace, feeling the hand taps on my feet of the girls behind me. I was now leading the chase pack, I pushed through several surges in an effort to catch the front swimmers unsuccessfully. After we rounded a few more buoys a girl came around and passed me, I tried to stick with her, but after a few minutes I was unable to hold her pace. This was a new experience for me, typically if there are feet in my field of vision I can easily catch up to latch on. I surged several more times remaining the same distance back before we hit the halfway mark. I decided to settle into my own pace, forgoing the surges. This proved successful as I stayed equidistant from the ladies ahead and I even caught 1 towards the end of the swim rounding the last buoy. Turns out I still swam my standard 55.0 minute IM swim which I saw as I exited the water. As I ran through transition I heard the announcement that Lauren Brandon had the fastest swim even compared to the men, she was already 6 minutes up the road. Now this clicked of why everyone was swimming so hard trying to catch her and potentially burning too much fuel during the first discipline.

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…Meanwhile Anders and Owen played in the nearby park

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I hopped on my bike and immediately settled into my pace, per my coach’s instructions I maintain lower average watts during the first hour of an Ironman. This prevents an upset tummy on the run and burning my legs too early. After the first hour I started picking up the pace slowly raising my overall average watts by about 1 watt per hour. The course was flat, but oh the turns. There were over 90 turns throughout the 95 miles, we weaved under highways and along country roads, it seemed we zigzagged all over theWoodlands as the heat began to rise. Per usual, the faster amateur men began catching me at the halfway mark. I was very careful to ease up, stop pedaling and even brake in some cases as they passed following the rules to a T. I was setting myself up for a solid race and was unwilling to jeopardize it due to different draft rules between pros and amateurs. There were several position changes throughout the bike, I caught a few ladies along the way. Although not as many as expected, most of the big names were still behind me, I had a feeling some were over-biking up front.

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This was a PR for IM watt average for me, although after reviewing the file my coach thinks I could have gone about 5 minutes faster because my watts continued to increase even at the end. Something to shoot for next go-around. I was also being cautious due to the heat, it was close to 100° as I entered transition 2 in 9th place.

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I quickly changed with help from the wonderful volunteers in the change tent. I began my run seeing some familiar faces from Boulder cheering me on. My first of three loops went well. I was holding under my goal pace of 7 min/miles and caught a few more of the girls in front. I rounded the first loop in 6th place feeling good, it was super hot but I was managing well with help from the fully prepared aid stations with cold water, sponges and ice. (the 1st loop is always the best with few out on the course)

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At the first out-and-back during loop 2 I saw the fast little runner girls coming up behind me; Robertson, Roberts (my teammate!) and Williamson. They came up on me pretty quick and as much as I tried, their pace was simply much faster than mine, so I watched them go by. This was discouraging dropping back to 9th again but I pressed on.Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.21.13 PM

The final loop I was reminded of the IM pain, it was hot, my legs were tired, aid stations were packed and we still had 8 miles to go. My pace slowed, as expected, but my goal was to slow less than others. To my surprise I continued to catch more of the pro women who were struggling more than me. I tried during the last several miles to close the gap on Alicia Kaye who was just several minutes up on me, I was making up time but simply ran out of course. I finished off in 6th place in a competitive field which I’m proud of, it was the North American Championships after all. But not before making a fool of myself. During the last mile we wind around the downtown area and as I made the final turn I saw a finishers arch and sprinted towards it, thinking it arose quicker than expected. After passing under I stopped, leaned against the barrier, satisfied with my race. After about 30 seconds I looked up to see my husband on the sidelines yelling at me to keep going. I still had another 100 yards or so to the finish line around the corner. I quickly ran again to the real finish line where I met up with my family and celebrated my first Ironman post-birth.

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On days like this it pays to be towards the front of the race. While the temperatures exceeded triple digits during my run, about an hour after I finished one of the nastiest storms rolled in. We were in the Pro finish line tent when it began down pouring, hailing, thundering, and lightning with crazy gusts of wind. We ended up making a run for it to our hotel soaked to the bone and shivering.

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I later found out they “paused” the race, which was a wise decision because we saw many barriers (including the finish line turns I almost missed) all blown in disarray. Soon enough the storm let up and per tradition we came back to watch the final finishers as a family.

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Anders enjoyed his 2nd podium with mom

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Sidenote for nursing mom’s out there;  I was particularly happy how my body adapted throughout the day. I missed 3 feedings in a row which would usually leave me over-full. Fortunately during an Ironman my body shuts down enough that I must have stopped producing milk somewhere along the run. I had no issues with pain during the race or production post race. The human body is quite amazing!


12:30
:15

Challenge Ixtapa- 1st race back

Posted in Racing by

I went into the Challenge half distance race with little to no expectations. Training post-birth went far better than expected although after the recovery from my emergency C-section I was left with only about 2 months to train. My coach, Curt Chesney, was apprehensive about beginning hard training under his guidance only 4 weeks post surgery. Typically mothers are to avoid any physical activity until at least 6 weeks have passed. I discussed training with my doctor and with a little persuasion, I was cleared to run and swim only 2 weeks after birth and at this point I had already resumed biking. I attribute my speedy recovery to my health entering into pregnancy and my ability to maintain exercise throughout. Even still, I was nervous I would embarrass myself in the race. Although I was comforted that I had a great excuse for coming in last should my race fitness not be up to par.

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Traveling to Ixtapa-Zihuatenejo was logistically challenging. Anders needed a passport and our itinerary included 2 flights with an overnight layover in LA. This was Ander’s first time flying, so we were apprehensive, but he ended up loving the flights and behaving well. The most disappointing part of our trip was having my diaper bag pick=pocketed during our flight losing some cash and credit cards. Who does that???

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Once arrived we were greeted by the race director Fabian and his wife Angie at the airport. We immediately bonded as they were expecting their first child. We were treated with class all the way; they picked us up from the airport, took us on a tour of the bike course and even ran an errand to the grocery store for me. We were also put up in an all inclusive resort near the finish line and right on the ocean.

Race morning I pumped as much milk as possible in our room while eating breakfast. I was able to pump enough milk in Mexico leading up to the race for Owen to feed Anders while I raced. After setting up my transition I pumped a little more just to ensure I was starting as empty as possible.

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I couldn’t very well race full, looking like this…

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I began the swim with little pressure on myself, I just wanted to execute my ocean swim with no panic and stay with the pack. My swim training leading up to this race included lower volume than usual. I was swimming only 3 days per week compared to my usual 5. This was recommended by my coach to focus more on my weaknesses and to spend more time with Anders.

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I had a decent start; I lead the girls on the left while Carrie took off on the right. Carrie and Robin bridged a small gap on me which I closed before the first turn buoy. I was now swimming easy drafting off these two.

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Unfortunately the women did not have a lead paddle boarder and the high waves created difficulty sighting the buoys. We started drifting off course. I saw a lifeguard pointing us back. Even though Carrie and Robin continued ahead, I made the conscious decision to follow the guard’s direction. I dropped from their feet knowing this was my chance to get ahead without them drafting. Unfortunately my plan backfired as the girls still reached the next turn buoy before me. While I could still see them I could no longer bridge the gap and now I was swimming alone with little view of where to go. I was lost in the ocean! I used the hotels to sight from but still found myself stopping to take a breaststroke stroke here and there to gain my bearings. I finally came out of the water about a minute behind, certainly not swimming to my potential but onto the bike.

Having not raced in a triathlon for over a year I was out of practice. I slid through transition (literally) taking a fall when arriving at my bike after the long run up the beach. I grabbed my bike only to realize my swimskin was still halfway on. I stopped, leaning my bike up against a fence to tear off my swinskin and continued on. I felt strong beginning the first of the 3 loop super hilly course. I immediately felt the heat and humidity and adjusted my salt and nutrition plan. I had already increased my caloric intake to account for my milk-making by about 80 calories/hour. I grabbed an extra water bottle at the first aid station to dump over my body, I soon realized it was gatorade rather than water. So much for staying clean on the bike.

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I closely watched my watts on the ascents and maintained my targeted average power which was slightly lower than pre-birth but accounting for the hilly course my average was right on. It was difficult to stay on my power track since Carrie and Robin were putting time in on me and Brooke was slowly catching me. I knew this would turn into a race of attrition due to the severe heat and humidity. While riding on my base bars up hill my hands were slipping from all the moisture and sweat, and I’m a low sweater. So I knew the other girls must be suffering. On the first loop I took some of the descents too cautiously since they had speed bumps. This improved on the 2nd and 3rd loops, but the time was already lost. On one of the 9 180° turn arounds an amateur racer crashed in front of me (he was fine), I didn’t have to wait long for him to clear the course but I was forced to unclip and maneuver around him.

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Overall my bike leg was decent for me. I’m a terrible climber so I held my own for my ability, but Brooke did catch me on the 3rd loop. Riding into transition in 4th place my confidence was shot, I remember thinking; “well, maybe I did need more than 2 training months to prepare”.

I popped into transition grabbing my run gear much more gracefully than T1. Heading out on the 1st loop of the 3 loop course I felt super strong and really went for it pushing beyond my comfort level. I quickly passed Brook and Robin. They were both suffering in the heat, therefore they didn’t react to my pass. I was on a mission but Carrie was still 7 minutes up the road. Although I was told I looked the strongest out there, the gap was just too large to close.

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After the first loop I mentally pulled back to a comfortable pace. I knew I had locked in 2nd place and didn’t want to blow up in the heat. If I started walking I was sure to get caught. This was a safe strategy and I was definitely tired during the final miles but had I pushed my limits on the run Carrie and I could have had a battle for the win. I finished with the fastest run split of the day, but had I pushed her Carrie may have had more in her as well. I guess we’ll never know.

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This was by far the hottest race I’ve ever done and I’ve raced IM Kona, Boulder, Florida, and Texas. Everyone was sweltering in the heat. Times for the day reflected the difficult course. The best part was seeing Owen and Anders on course cheering and greeting me at the finish line.

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I’m proud to place 2nd in my first race back as a professional and hope I’ve motivated other women to give it a go. Most of all I was able to prove to myself that I’m still the competitive athlete I once was. I wasn’t able to control everything through pregnancy and birth. Racing allowed me to gain back some control and restore confidence in myself plus some pretty awesome bragging rights. Anders was able to join me to our first podium.

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Post-race we stayed an additional 4 days for a family vacation. We had an amazing time exploring Zihautanejo. Anders learned to enjoy swimming, swam in the ocean for the 1st time and even swam with the dolphins (compliments of the race).

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Here is my race review video prepared for the Challenge family races;

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02:14
:15

Baby on Board

Posted in Fun by

As those closest to me in the triathlon world know, the 2014 season was more challenging than any previous year. I struggled with motivation as I never have before. Not necessarily in training; when i’m in training mode i’m like a robot I just do it. (pretty woman reference) Although in races, I struggled. Sure I had a handful of solid performances, some of my best in fact. But I also had some of my worst; Boulder 70.3 I started, knowing I was going in fatigued. My confidence was so low I pulled the plug at the first disruption (less than 1 minute into the swim). Ironman Chattanooga I had literally everything that can go wrong happen and I pushed through strong until I hit the 2nd half of the run. At which point I completely gave up and just ran it in easy. I finished the season with an injury not able to complete IM Cozumel; severe shin splints. My coach, Curt emphasized that many times the body follows the mind. I needed a break and my body made sure I took it. (no running for 11 weeks) The struggle with motivation got me thinking, perhaps there’s more to life than triathlon???? NAH :) But really, maybe it’s time I take a break; mentally and physically.

Owen and I planned to be married for two years prior to having kids to allow time for “Just us”. As we approached our 1 year anniversary we started talking more and more about starting a family. The scale was tipped with my dad and step-mom’s visit in October. We were on a long hike in the mountains discussing the topic. I mentioned my instinct that conceiving would take longer than most for me. My sister-in-law lovingly recommended we start trying as soon as possible (biological clock and all). She and Gavin had my eldest niece at age 25 and loved their transformation to parenthood. After that weekend, Owen and I discussed and decided to start trying. No ovulation tracking, just see what happens. I predicted this would be a one year process at minimum, Owen knew it would happen right away. He was right as usual, we conceived the first month and perhaps the first time trying. As it turns out the way doctors calculate pregnancy (you’re already 2 weeks pregnant once you conceive) that would put us at 1-2 weeks pregnant during the weekend spent with my family, unbenounced to us.

We decided to take our planned trip to Mexico to celebrate our 1 year anniversary even though I was unable to race IM Cozumel. We adjusted our accommodation plans, no longer centered around the race and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly on a relaxing beach vacation. The whole time not realizing we were 4-6 weeks pregnant. There were several signs looking back on the vacation, which I subconsciously ignored. These included mood swings, heightened sense of smell, and a swollen chest. A skipped cycle is common if not expected for my body so that didn’t tip me off. The day we returned home I bought a home pregnancy test, both tests taken were clear as day. This is happening!

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What’s interesting is if I could have run at all I would have raced that Ironman, but with each try running my body refused. I feel so lucky not to have pushed my body beyond it’s limits and possibly endangering my unborn child.

This is not the perfect time for us as we’re in the midst of a huge home renovation, plus Owen started a new job in October, but i’m a firm believer there is never a perfect time. We’re trilled we had no trouble conceiving and I couldn’t be happier to give up a year of racing to become a mother. So far I have still been able to train/exercise 20 hours per week (cut down from 30 previously). This includes little intensity and I’m enjoying more time in the yoga studio (yes Curt it counts!). I don’t know how long this higher volume exercise will last but for now it feels right with my body. Us professional triathletes are certainly not immune to the pregnancy symptoms, as much as I fight it I am gaining weight and slowing down swim/bike/run alike. Luckily I didn’t struggle with morning sickness during my first trimester, but I have felt the fatigue and insomnia which are common during pregnancy. I’m optimistic my body will return post-birth stronger than ever and I may even try to jump back in shape for a December Ironman this year. I am blessed with amazing sponsors that are supporting me through pregnancy.  Timex is like family to me, they continue to exceed my expectations as a loyal partner in sport and in life.

I’ve continued swimming most days, therefore my lane mates have noticed the changes in my body. Some of the best comments include;

“I know you’re pregnant because you don’t give a $hit anymore”

  • Jane Scott

“Are you baking?”

  • Billy Edwards

“I just thought you got a boob job”

  • Mike Bader

“But you’re not really a take it easy kind of girl”

* Dave Scott

Bump Progress;

5 weeks- Mexico

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8 weeks- heading to yoga

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11 weeks- post trainer ride

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15 weeks- pre group ride

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We’re now approaching our 16th week, baby is growing and progressing healthily.


10:01
:14

When an Ironman turns into a HOT MESS, Ironman Chattanooga

Posted in Racing by

Following my trend for 2014 of only doing races I’ve never done; Ironman Chattanooga was an easy choice. It was expected to be a non-wetsuit swim and a hot, humid race with a rolling bike course (no major climbs). The course looked to fall in line with my strengths but I was greatly mistaken.

When driving the bike course pre-race I realized this course was far from flat. There were no long climbs but there were also no flat sections. It included many short punchy climbs, I knew a hilly course would be challenging for me as I’m a terrible climber. The bike course was also 4 miles long which would make for my first 144.6 mile race. When pre-riding the run course I found miles 8-12 and 21-25 included some steep climbs. Our homestay lives right in the middle of these hills so we were perfectly situated to test them out.

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After miscalculating my nutrition and hydration leading up to Ironman Boulder I was determined to properly load for this race. I worked with my coach to calculate exactly what I needed to consume the days leading into the race.

After a restless night’s sleep I rose ready to take in the day and put my best foot forward. Unfortunately my body was not as Aunt Flo came to town race morning, caused by taper leading into the race. I thought this would be a minor issue which may require 1-2 bathroom stops but nothing to fret over.

We headed down to the race venue and upon arrival at my bike I found my back tubular tire was completely flat. As usual I had glued a new tubular on prior to shipping through TriBike Transport and the tire was fine during my pre-ride so I must have ridden over something causing a slow leak. Luckily my husband, Owen, packed a spare tubie and glue so he quickly glued another tire. Stressful; YES but better before than during the race. Now it just had to dry before I took my first corner. We quickly hopped on the bus transporting us to the swim start. I ran into a friend and training partner, Lucas, who was spetating. Told him about my tire issue, he generously took it upon himself to check the tire when he returned to transition while we were swimming.

The swim was called non-wetsuit due to the 77° water temperature, YAY! Although the damn was open, therefore we would be swimming with a strong current, BOO! Our swim start was delayed a few minutes while we waited for the sun to rise. Our start gun eventually shot at 7:25am. The women took off in a pack, staying together longer than usual due to the strong current. Anna was able to break away, as I tried to stay on her feet we rounded the 1st turn buoy and somehow my ankle chip got stuck on the buoy rope. I was able to break it free quickly but lost a few important seconds and now Anna was ahead in the distance. I settled back into the chase pack and found myself right in the middle. We were moving at a quick pace but I was getting a nice draft off Malaika. I trusted her endurance and sighting skills so was content with my draft. I had to fight some others off as those around us changed positions, veering off course, etc. I was able to cruise through the swim while exerting little to no energy. As we neared the last turn buoy Kaitlin next to me tried to push and take over the lead, Malaika reacted and they were sprinting for the exit. Had they not noticed Anna was already ahead and would be first out of the water? I’m still unsure, but I sat behind them both and ended up passing them both as we ran up the stairs since I hadn’t burned a match sprinting towards the line.

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I kept my heart rate low running through transition, I ran past my bike by a few steps having to go back losing a few seconds but ended up exiting transition with a few of the ladies I swam with. Mailaka was within sight and Laurel Wassner was between us. We began riding together, legal distance apart as we began our 116 mile ride. At mile 2-3 I rode over the 1st set of railroad tracks and my front bottle ejected from it’s cage. I made a quick decision not to retrieve it, wanting to stay with the girls. Riding this long solo can get very lonely as I found in Boulder. Losing this bottle usually wouldn’t be that big a deal but I was trying a new nutrition plan; to avoid special needs I start with 2 x 500 calorie bottles which I need to take with water and 1 x 250 calorie bottle to take during the 1st hour. I lost my 250 calorie bottle so now I had nothing to drink until I hit the first aid station. I figured this was only 10 miles and shouldn’t be detrimental to my race. I rode along just concentrating on form, the miles ticked by and soon we were past mile 10, no aid station.

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UHOH, Now I was getting really thirsty, I tried a taste of my heavily concentrated bottle twice but knew it would screw with my stomach if I took it without water so I waited. I asked the camera guys if they knew where the next aid station was, they didn’t. At mile 15 I approached the 1st aid station and grabbed the 1st bottled put in front of me. I was so happy to quench my thirst and more importantly start getting down calories. Now I was way behind in my hourly nutrition plan so I made some mental adjustments and began taking gels and my heavy mixture down with the new found water. I was back on track.

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We were popping up and down short, punchy climbs which was actually nice because it gave me a chance to get out of the saddle for a few seconds saving my lower back from exhaustion. My legs felt surprisingly good, I was 3 watts over my 1st hour target average which felt easy and I was not struggling to keep up over the climbs which is usually the case for me. Angela caught and passed us around mile 25-30, she was pushing much higher watts than us but Laurel tried to stay with her. As I was contemplating what to do I shifted too quickly to my small ring up a hill and my chain dropped, I was left hopping off my bike readjusting it while my small group rode away. I hopped back on but they were gone and I was left riding alone. I continued on, sticking to my updated nutrition plan and target watts. I knew I was still in the race because every 10 miles or so the race spotters would be waiting on the side of the road for me and would take off after I passed letting me know I was in 6th place. My legs were feeling strong and my tire seemed to be holding but I still took the sharp corners slow just to be sure.

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A few amateur men caught and passed me as well as many pro men who we’d passed in the swim. At mile 75 Jennie passed, she was riding strong and at this point I couldn’t stay with her. I began to fall into the Ironman lull, my lower back began to ache, my watts were dropping and my motivation was lacking. At mile 85, I heard, “Hey Gorgeous” it was none other than Timex teammate Bruce Gennari coming by. Bruce I can ride with, so I decided to latch on riding the legal distance behind him. This pulled me out of my funk. I was careful to stay my distance behind him as I know how this could look to officials, us riding together in the same kit. I boomeranged with him back and forth whenever he would eat I’d take the lead, but majority of the time I was steadily riding behind him. Each time we entered zones with dashed center lines I realized I was riding too far from Bruce. I closed the gap to get the maximum legal draft I could. We had a motorcycle riding with us, keeping us honest. We were now lapping first loopers and there were also cars sprinkled in on the roads. Many of the cars were sitting behind the slower riders so we had to pass cars on the left causing Bruce and I to bunch up some climbs. As we finished the 2nd loop and back in on the final stick we had a tail wind and were flying. I was being extra cautious not to get too close to Bruce so I left a larger gap then needed, just in case he slowed down. Somehow Ruth came flying by even faster because she passed me and dropped between Bruce and I. I sat up and slowed down to allow a gap open when I was handed a red card by the official. I immediately made the decision not to run. I would be done when I returned to transition, but now I had 5 miles to think about it. Here’s what went through my head;

On one hand I don’t want to destroy my legs for nothing. I’m already in 8th place, it’s cold, these girls will run fast.

On the other I would gain fitness by running the marathon, even if I don’t run fast.

I’d regret it if I quit now

I’m already here, I may as well finish

There’s a chance I could break 3:15 after a 4 minute rest

Teammate Kelly Fillnow couldn’t race due to injury, I’m healthy. I owe it to her

I would disappoint my homestay if I quit, they have bets with their neighbors of who’s pro will win

It would be really cold spectating

AHHHH, fine I’ll do it.

I rode up to the penalty tent and served my time, noting my bike split was 5:20 for the 116 prior to the penalty. Not so bad on this hilly course for me. Afterwards I ran through transition with a new goal in mind. I would attempt to catch Bruce during the 1st run loop.

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The run out of transition was up a slight incline which is a dirty trick to play on us after that long of a bike, but it soon flattened out and I came into my stride feeling good. I was still completely alone, to the point where I wondered numerous times if I was still on course. I received a split from a spectator which I immediately knew was wrong because he said I was only 3 minutes from 3rd place. This was the only split I received all day, there were also no out and backs so I was literally running against the clock in the hopes that I’d catch up to someone. I ran past my team manager, Tristan, and laughed telling him this was just not my day.

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I passed back each amateur man who had passed me on the bike which showed some progress.

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As I entered the hilly section I concentrated on short quick steps and not letting my heart rate spike too much. I made it through keeping my mile splits in check. As I rounded the 1st loop I realized I had passed Bruce back in transition. Somehow my penalty+transition was still quicker than his transition alone. During my 2nd loop my pace decreased as it usually does in an Ironman, but the difference here was I didn’t have the motivation to push past a reasonable comfort zone. I didn’t make this conscious decision but looking back, I wasn’t willing to put myself into a dark place to hold onto 8th place. I regret this. I would like to work on pushing to my limit no matter where I stand. Around mile 18 Kaitlin passed me running at a much faster clip. At this point I just wanted to finish, I thought there was no way I could keep up with her.

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I entered the hilly section again and kept to my short steps, my legs were now fatigued as they always are during the last 10K in an Ironman, but they felt much better than in Boulder. I had taken all my planned calories down which made all the difference. At mile 22 Kathryn passed me and again I didn’t care. I stuck to my slower pace just waiting for this race to be over. A few miles later I caught her back, she was walking up a hill. As I passed she began running again, she really wanted to stay ahead of me. I had no problem with that and stuck with my own pace. This happened several more times until she settled into running just slightly ahead. As we crossed the final bridge the crowd started cheering us on for the finish. I really didn’t want a sprint finish for what I thought was for 9th place (later I found out someone dropped so it was actually for 8th place) but either way. I did have some punch left in my legs so on the final turn I picked up the pace and passed Kathryn, bumping into her, I apologized but she wouldn’t have it. She looked forward and started sprinting as I ran into the finish shoot behind her.

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Owen finished only 2 minutes after me (starting way later) and as soon as I saw him I started crying. I held it together all day but it finally caught up to me. I never thought so much could go wrong in one day. Admittedly, most was self inflicted, but I’ve never experienced anything like this race. I am proud of myself for finishing when many pro’s would have pulled the plug. This course was not well suited for me but I’d like to think if all went well, I could have still been in the mix. I learned a lot about myself during Ironman Chattanooga and I look forward to applying my fitness and knowledge towards Ironman Cozumel after another training block.

Thank you to our generous homestay Jamie and Beryl. Congratulations to Jamie on his finish!

Thanks to my sponsors; Timex, Trek, Shimano, Blue Seventy, Castelli, Powerbar, Lululemon, and Rudy Project

To my Coach Curt Chesney, my fitness was there, I just need to get my head in the game.

And to my husband for always being my number #1 fan

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08:06
:14

Respect the Distance; Ironman Boulder

Posted in Racing by

I came into this race the fittest I’ve ever been. I posted my highest watts and fastest run in Racine 70.3 two weeks leading up to the Boulder Ironman. The week before the race I was able to get my heart rate up proving I was fully recovered from the half. I got my weight down to my ideal race weight just days before and I took two months off drinking in preparation. I was pumped to have a break through day in my home town.

After racing 5 Ironman’s last year I felt I had the distance dialed in and came into Boulder over confident. I didn’t have expectations to win, my goal was to place top 3. My confidence was in the hydration, nutrition and pacing aspect. I got lazy and did not properly hydrate or load my glycogen stores the days leading up to the race.

My day started with a relaxed wait for the swim start. The majority of the field were local friends so we chatted until the start gun shot.

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As we started I broke free of the field on the left and Laura on the right.

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We met together and I quickly hopped on her feet and Kerri on mine. Laura led us off course inside the 2nd buoy, I followed hoping I could stay with her. Soon enough she surged and dropped us. I was now in charge of pulling Kerri, which I did around the entire reservoir. I maintained a consistent pace without wasting too much energy. We passed 3 pro men who began 3 minutes ahead. As we exited, Kerri tried to surge around me to exit first and we ended up running out together. I wasn’t too worried and ran through transition in control knowing we had a long day ahead. She made a few small mistakes and I wound up leaving transition slightly in front but 1 minute behind Laura. I swam my standard 55 minute IM time, but posting this time at altitude and pulling the whole way was an improvement for me.

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Kerri caught and passed as we exited the reservoir entrance. I settled into my pace, sticking to my race plan. As I did I noticed my target watts weren’t coming to me as easily as usual. Typically I have to hold way back the first hour of the ride to keep from over biking. My glutes felt stiff; they weren’t firing. I’ve never felt this bad so early on in any Ironman. I feared this could be a very long day but I pushed those thoughts aside and concentrated on riding smooth and steady. At the St. Vrain turn around just 10 miles in I was able to spot the field. Kerri had already caught and passed Laura, both were putting time on me. I rode on slow and steady by myself for miles and miles, still unable to hit my watts. I finally decided to stop checking my average and go by feel, to work with what I had on the day.

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Around 50 miles in my coach, Curt came by. I shared how I was feeling and wished him well on his day. At special needs I had to slow way down as a volunteer happily ran after me with my bag. A few more familiar local amateur men came by offering words of encouragement. It was great to see so many friends having awesome days. I didn’t feel terrible the entire ride I had highs and lows but mostly just felt flat.

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Mile 70 came as Uli and Daniel rode up to me with two amateur men and the head race official. I was jealous to see they’d been working together legally and latched on. I rode with them for about 15 minutes as we all changed positions numerous times. The men were dropping into the legal draft zones which made me nervous of penalties. I was struggling to hold their pace so eventually they pulled away and I was left riding alone again.

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As I made the turn from highway 52 just past 100 miles I got a second wind and pushed up the three short steep climbs which were lined with fans.

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As I made the turn onto 75th I saw my brother and niece cheering me on which put a smile on my face. I pushed through the last few miles only to be greeted by my husband Owen who caught me around 110 miles. He tried to chat but I urged him on; scared he would receive a penalty for exceeding the 25 seconds allowed to pass. I followed him the last two miles and entered T2 just after him. The run into T2 was long and the ground was hot, I ran slowly trying to keep my heart rate down.

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I was now in 6th place, Owen came up behind me taking slightly longer in transition. I finally urinated for the first time during the race a clear sign I wasn’t taking in enough water and was dehydrated. After some words of encouragement Owen ran away from me. I was so happy he was having such a great day.

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My legs were feeling stiff and my lower back was tight from the ride but it started to loosen. I waited a few miles hoping to feel better and get into a groove. It was difficult to get my calories down but I choked them in anyhow.


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The course made a large Y which we covered twice to make up the marathon. The first out and back I was able to spot the competition. I was surprised to see how badly the pro women’s field looked. Kerri was in the lead and walking, and everyone else just looked hot and tired. I put my head down and trudged through hearing cheers from so many spectators encouraging me to catch those ahead. As I hit mile four I saw Kerri lying in a ditch with medical attending to her. This is when I knew we were in for a challenging run and a war of attrition.

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At the 2nd turn around I caught and passed Morgan making my way into 4th place. I was still choking down my calories and struggled to get enough water through aid stations. Heading down the creek path we entered the shady part of the course which was lined with fans at least 10 deep. They were cheering so loudly it felt like a bike race in Europe, I couldn’t help but pick up the pace as I ran through so many familiar faces calling out my name. It was a party atmosphere; many tubing down the creek and I desired so badly to join them rather than running the remainder of the race. I was even cheered on by some homeless hippies and it wouldn’t be the creek path if it didn’t smell like weed.

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Running in the shade cooled my core temperature down and I began to feel better and pick up the pace (slightly). As I began loop two fans shared that Uli and Laura were beginning to fade, somehow my slow pace was catching them. Uli put up a good fight for miles, spectators and fellow racers continued to tell me she was walking but each time we crossed paths she was head down running. It took me until mile 22 to finally make the pass which gave me a surge of adrenaline as I entered the tunnel of fans. Everyone likes watching the underdog come from behind, so seeing me come through in 3rd got even louder cheers. I now had my friend Shelby as my lead biker pulling me in through the final four miles.

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At mile 20 I had thrown my last bottle away only half consumed, not able to hold anymore down. At mile 24 I felt the missing calories. I had nothing left in the tank. At this point I’d run out of course to catch Laura, Morgan and Uli were too far behind to catch me back so all I had to do was run it in. I ran those last two miles at a snails pace but finally made it there. I collapsed over the line and was so happy to see Owen’s smiling face after finally standing up.

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Overall I’m happy with placing third, and achieving my goal. It was a tough day out there which was made apparent by so many going down on the run course. I don’t believe a single amateur man passed me on the run. Meanwhile I ran the slowest marathon of my career after biking my lowest average watts in over a year (11% lower than races last year). I haven’t been able to pin point exactly what I did wrong, my only estimation is hydration and nutrition leading up to the race left me starting depleted rather than loaded. This was a painful reminder to always respect the distance no matter who you are and how much experience you have it’s always a difficult and challenging race. Anything can happen out there which is why we all love it and crave the ability to master it. I already have Ironman amnesia because I’m planning my next chance to prove I have a better performance in me.

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Huge congrats go to Owen, having the race of his life out there taking 2nd overall amateur only behind my coach Curt Chesney killing the field with his sub 9 performance.

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Massive props to Danielle Kehoe and Justin Daerr for taking the wins, they were in a class of their own destroying the men’s and women’s pro fields. Teammates Richie Cunningham for 2nd pro male, Wendy Mader for 1st amateur female and Luis Alveraz for his 109th Ironman finish. Training partner Amy Becker for taking 2nd amateur female in her 1st Ironman. You are all amazing, enjoy your recovery.

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