Christine Hammond

10:07
:16

Ironman Wisconsin

Posted in Racing by

Leading into my last race of the season I allowed time to fully recover from my previous races and get in a nice training block ~ 9 weeks. Training was going well, I was putting up my highest watts on the bike and my fastest run intervals consistently. As race week approached I tapered down my volume with a healthy body. Unfortunately on Wednesday of race week I hurt my foot on the track. I wore race flats (typical) for a few 800’s. Afterwards I had sharp pain in my previously injured foot. It looked and felt like a stressy, but I saw my PT, Bob Cranny, and after examination we determined it was worth giving it a go. The pain was in the joint which is rare to get a stress fracture, so we were optimistic.

30143624775_f425c02f1a_z

I traveled to Wisconsin the following day. I walked Wednesday through Saturday in a boot in an effort to save my foot for the race. To be honest I felt pain while I swam and biked, especially while climbing. This was very concerning. I had no idea how I would run a marathon on this busted foot. Come race morning the pampering paid off, the swelling was down and it felt the best it had all week.

Per usual I started by pumping in transition to begin as empty as possible. Yes, my son is 14 months and I’m still nursing, get over it :)

 img_2418screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-9-18-45-pm

Meanwhile,

 img_2420

We started the swim as the sun began to rise. I lined up next to Amanda Stevens and quickly grabbed her feet, unfortunately she was swimming too fast and after a few hundred meters she dropped me. I had Katie Thomas on my feet. After a few more buoys she came up on my side. I thought she’d want to make the pass, but instead she swam up to the halfway point by my side. At first we weren’t touching at all, but towards the middle she was pushing into me constantly. It seemed like she wanted to swim directly into each buoy, rather than next to them. We had Leslie Miller on our feet throughout this front half. At the halfway point I got fed up trying to pull away and simply stopped, letting Katie lead. At first she struggled sighting buoys without me, but she got the hang of it quickly. I enjoyed the back half of the swim drafting on her feet. Somehow through this we dropped Leslie and came out of the water together. I felt great about the swim, I almost always end up swimming alone or pulling a group, so this was a nice change of pace getting a draft to save some energy. I’m glad I didn’t see the clock as we exited the water because I would have been very disappointed coming at 59:34 even with no wetsuit. I ALWAYS swim a 55 in IM swims, so my guess is the swim was long based on everyone’s times. Regardless, I ran up the helix through tons of cheering fans and was pleased my foot held up through the barefoot run which was nearly a mile. I later found out I had the fastest split of the day for T1.

14241509_10210816703553210_2373493932676072595_o

I hopped on my bike and rode down the helix. The air was crisp and swimming nearly an hour in 72° water didn’t help warming up my body. I was cold the first hour on the bike, luckily this numbed my feet up a bit and I felt no foot pain, even on the climbs. I started out that first hour a little higher than my typical average watts, but I was feeling good and we had some nice climbs so I went with it. Katie passed me, she was pushing way too hard for me to hold her. That would risk ruining my race, so I let her go. The new hill added to the course this year was tough, it was a long climb I would compare to the back side of Old Stage in Boulder, maybe even a little longer.

14344683_10154634742028319_7675487192759316284_n

Somewhere within the first two hours I felt my saddle move slightly. I played around with re-distributing my weight. Nothing seemed to move, I assumed it was just a bump in the road. The roads were super rough, which is typical in the midwest from the harsh weather.

14322425_10154620129478319_9202180611621352978_n

I enjoyed open roads on my first loop. I was only passed by a handful of amateur men and Liz Lyles at the beginning of loop two. My legs were working well, holding my all time high watt average especially for such a hilly course. Climbing is not my strength because I’m heavy. I typically choose hot, flat courses, but figured I don’t want to only race courses that suit me. Have to give it a go on a cold hilly course once in a while to test myself.

14333629_10154623150843319_1585629268106919472_n

I started lapping some amateurs during loop two. We merged loops at mile 70 which is when the course became over crowded. I was forced to brake descending several times as I’m not going to risk an accident just to get around another rider. I even ran into three instances where cars cut me off and I had to brake or completely stop to avoid collision. The new course was interesting, but I think the race director has some kinks to work out to avoid these bottlenecks.

14291853_10210772715220740_8052226967416819063_n

I stayed on top of my nutrition plan throughout the ride. Everything was going well, until I felt my saddle tilt again about 20 miles from T2. All the bumpy roads took a toll on my bike. At 10 miles from T2 a bolt fell out and my saddle would hardly stay beneath me. As I focused on this issue I missed a turn, somehow I ended up in a hotel parking lot. An amateur guy followed me, after back tracking a bit we figured out how to get back on course. I was now clenching the saddle between my legs. I looked down and my SRM had also rattled loose. To avoid having it fly off, I unclipped it, placing it in my bento box, only to have it fly out on the next bump, FAIL. I made a mental note of where we were and rode on. After going under the highway I could now see Monona Terrace where T2 was. I just rode slowly trying to keep upright on a tilting saddle. I finally made it there, handing off my bike. I’m sure the bike catcher thought I was crazy because he placed all pieces in my bento box and saddle in my gear bag.

Now the tough part, how would my foot hold up? I took my time in T2, usually I rush through, but I put on socks and got situated before heading out for the marathon. Although my foot didn’t feel that bad, I just didn’t have any spring in my step. I was hoping to run under 3:15 here based on my training which means I need to start off running 6:30 min/miles. Right off the bat I was only holding 7:10’s. I knew this was a bad sign, you’re only going to slow down during an Ironman run. My foot felt similar to the year after my 1st surgery while the hardware was still in. I had no choice to heel strike, I just couldn’t get on the ball of my foot.

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-9-23-36-pm

A few miles in I was passed by Leslie, she was running well and there’s no way I could have held onto her. I kept trying to pick up the pace unsuccessfully. I was happy to be running, but disappointed an injury prevented me from running to my fitness level. Especially a non-overtraining related injury!

Towards the end of loop one I got Ironman cranky. Everything people around me did annoyed me. A new rule requires lead bikes to ride behind runners. This was frustrating as it was difficult to navigate through so many cone lines on an empty course. I found myself asking multiple times which direction to turn.

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-9-22-16-pm

I was next passed by Alyssa who was also running well, but on a decent day shouldn’t have caught me. A few miles into the second loop I decided to just enjoy the rest of my race. I eased up on my effort level, and ran at a comfortable pace. There was nobody close behind and nobody close in front now, so I just ran it in.

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-9-22-27-pm

Some friends said they’d never seen me smiling like that beyond 20 miles of an Ironman run. Usually these last few miles are severely painful, but in easing up 20-30 seconds/mile it was much more enjoyable. I later found out I was actually making time up on Amanda, perhaps I could have caught her had I known this but…shoulda, woulda, coulda always follows an Ironman. I still took 6th place on an off day which I can’t complain of.

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-9-25-15-pm14322204_536752719852107_8637134052728342219_n

(I did go back the following day and found my SRM on the side of road. Score!)

img_2424img_2422

My foot injury definitely restricted my run performance, but I also think this being the 2nd Ironman of the year I may not have had the run speed in the end anyhow. Who knows? I am glad I was able to complete my 12th Ironman back where I raced my very first one in 2009.

The positive side of Ironman Wisconsin is I got to visit with my family before and after the race in St. Charles. We stayed with Jackie Hering in Wisconsin. Anders and Hunter met for the first time, we hope they’ll be lifelong friends. I also got to see many familiar faces from Chicago cheering out on course.

30059329221_0f06f6fcc8_z

I finally got an X-ray on my foot (3.5 weeks post race) and my fourth metatarsal is in fact broken and has been for some time. I most likely broke it on the track that Wednesday leading up to the race. Luckily I haven’t done any further damage by racing on it or running casually since. I guess that foot has been through so much I don’t feel the pain anymore.

screen-shot-2016-10-06-at-9-36-52-pm

I was planning for this to be the last pro race of my career, in hopes of expanding our family in 2017. However, since it didn’t go as I’d hoped I’m re-assessing. There’s no such thing as a perfect Ironman, but I may still have a few more in me. Maybe I’ll be racing amateur, maybe pro. I don’t know if I’ll have time with 2 or 3 kids to train but time will tell. For now I’m enjoying some down time spent with my family.

leaf-peeping

(Leaf Peeping in Boulder)


07:27
:16

Vineman 70.3

Posted in Racing by

Vineman has been a bucket list race for me over the past several years, but it’s never worked out with my schedule. This year it was the perfect fit falling 4 weeks after Boulder 70.3. Leading up I was fully recovered from races and training, feeling flat in Boulder limited my ability to go hard. Therefore I was ready to get back at training shortly afterwards. Of course, my coach held me back the first week, but I got a solid training block in between the halves.

Race morning started out fairly cold and dark for a July race. As predicted the water temperature was measured and recorded around 72°, therefore no wetsuits for pros. Usually I’m pleased at this call, but with my hat and gloves on I was actually chilled thinking of jumping in the water. But into the water we went, not before a kiss and good luck hug from Owen and Anders.

27962218773_1e0a327579_o 27960433084_28246f72d7_o

I lined up closest to the shore, Caroline Stefan staged herself next to me. I did my best to fall in her wake after the gun which I easily did but she was going hard and I only stayed with her to the first buoy.

28293396960_95514c7510_o

Instead of burying my head and holding her feet I was sighting and swimming my own race. I really need to get over doing this in order to stay with the lead pack. Caroline and several others slowly swam away from me. I was left swimming alone, later to find I was pulling Jessica Smith and Rachel McBride. At this point there was no catching the lead women, so I settled into my pace.

As we neared the turn around I caught a glimpse of Lauren Brandon and Holly Lawrence way ahead of the field (turns out they swam the same split as the lead men). At the far end of the swim the river was so shallow I was scraping my hands on rocks from the bottom. I tried standing to dolphin dive but that didn’t seem any faster so I settled back into swimming. As the water grew deeper I caught a few of the pro men, but my goal swim pack was nowhere to be seen. I exited the water in ~ 28 minutes. Overall it seemed to be a slow swim, but the 2nd pack of women were just 1 minute up the road. At this rate I could have pushed harder in the beginning, drafted and ultimately swam faster with the same amount of effort. Oh well, next time. I’m not sure if I’m getting slower or the pro women are just getting faster. I’ve drafted off Rachel and Jessica in previous races with the lead pack, so this could be an indication that the field is just improving while I remain stagnant. Or it’s tougher for me to stick with the group without a wetsuit, or it’s my bigger boobs slowing me down. I’m guessing the latter.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.24.19 PM

Starting the bike was a disaster. We had our bikes closest to the swim exit meaning no time to strip off swim skins. Also, having to run with my bike up the hill and all through transition. This was not a good day to forget my rubber bands (to hold bike shoes in place). My shoes slammed against the ground as I ran through the racks of amateur bikes. Luckily they never unclipped.

28293389110_9324c24069_o

My mount was downright embarrassing. I hadn’t checked out the bike mount area pre-race, instead I just looked at the gearing most of the guys chose to start their bikes in and assumed it was a flat start. So I was in my big ring and the mount line was literally in the middle of a steep hill. As I struggled to start pedaling on a hill without shoes on, Jessica ran by choosing to mount at the top of the hill. I hopped off and followed suit (stick with the California girls, they know the course).

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.26.33 PM

The beginning of the bike was super technical, winding up hills, tight corners and even one acute turn heading straight down which I nearly stopped at, I rode so cautiously. (Anders doesn’t need a mom with a broken clavicle) The first 20 miles or so were also in the shade. After a cold swim with no wetsuit my feet were completely numb, they didn’t warm up the whole ride.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.25.41 PM

Once the course evened out through the country roads of vineyards I was able to push some watts and drop some ladies from my wheel. I thoroughly enjoyed the course, we had everything; hills, sun, shade, headwind, tailwind, crosswind, turns and bumps. The course was marked nicely, although some turns were marked a little too early in which case I wasn’t sure which road to follow the arrow to. Ultimately I figured it all out, not seeing a soul most of the course. I was really just racing myself, doing my best to execute an aggressive race plan. Calories down, watts up.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 1.56.05 PM

Rachel passed me early on in the bike. Annah passed me on the back half, I kept her in sight but couldn’t close the gap. We came up to a left turn that was incorrectly marked, I went past the marshall who quickly pointed me to turn left, although wide, I made the turn. (I found out later Annah missed this turn and went out of her way to get back on course.) At mile 51 after a quick turn I dropped my chain (amateur hour!) Instead of trying to jump it back on and risk jamming it between the chain ring and frame I hopped off and threw the chain back on. I cruised back into transition, removing my shoes a little too early as we weaved around cones behind the high school.

Overall I’m happy where my bike fitness is. I averaged my pre-baby half IM goal watts on a hilly technical course. I was 10 watts higher at Vineman than I was at my last hilly course, Ixtapa. Biking has been the hardest training to get in while being a parent since it takes the most time and I prefer to do it outside.

28293387810_18a71a50de_o

Onto the run. My feet were still numb to start, but they quickly warmed up as the temperatures rose. It was in the mid to upper 80’s which is a mild day for Vineman. The run course was one loop and we were all lined up coming off the bike with several minutes separating 2nd through 14th. The course was hillier than I expected, no monster climbs, but rolling ups and downs throughout. I had Annah just 40 seconds ahead of me and I made it my mission to close that gap, but she put up quite a fight.

28544850596_b464e8a423_o

I stuck to my race plan hitting my minute/mile average goals, but wasn’t closing the gap. I thought for sure we would catch a few of the girls up front at our quick pace, but almost everyone held their position. At the halfway mark I had my calories down, was feeling good and tried to speed up just 10-15 seconds per mile. This wasn’t enough, and at this point Roberston was closing in on me. She made the pass while we were on the only out and back of the course. I was now in 10th place, sigh, but still determined to catch Annah. She was my rabbit so I kept on my pace.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.27.37 PM

Nearing mile 10 a girl from behind caught and passed me, but she must have spent all her energy to make the pass because I passed her right back and ended up putting over a minute gap between us by the end. I didn’t change my pace, but simply kept moving forward in search of the finish line. I never did catch Annah, we stayed equidistant the entire run as with many of the other pro women who all ran the same split. This was a great run time for me on a hilly course, I even kept pushing hard while outside of the podium spots which I’ve never managed to do before.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.28.09 PM

Although I made some silly mistakes, this was actually one of my best races fitness and effort wise. I say it every time I come out west, those California girls are fast, what I had on the day just wasn’t as good as what they brought. My bike and run are stronger than they’ve ever been. As with most improvements, somethings gotta give, which is my swim. So I’ll continue to work to bridge back up to the lead pack for my next race which is IM Wisconsin.

28293380250_4de43bc50b_o

Since we didn’t need to attend awards, we headed straight out to the vineyards and enjoyed our afternoon with some of Owen’s family who came to support me. I was thinking all day, “I’m going to drink all of you” while riding through the vineyards, so that’s what I did with my two biggest fans.

28544836336_7414a63a07_o 28471309062_36faaaca3a_o 28577187985_6e7f2fc1a3_o

What a weekend! We also had the coolest AirBnb around. Just by the finish line we stayed in a coach house on a farm complete with chickens (fresh eggs) a full garden, friendly owners and sweet puppy’s to play with. If ever in Sonoma County I would highly recommend Gery and Mark’s farm.


07:13
:16

Boulder 70.3

Posted in Racing by

Well, blogging has fallen to the back of the priority list with our busy lives these days. But now that I’m headed to Vineman 70.3 with Owen holding Anders on our flight, so it’s time to write my Boulder 70.3 blog.

I headed into the race still feeling a little fatigued from IM Texas. It was 4 weeks afterwards which is typically the perfect amount of time for an IM recovery, but I hit my nutrition and pacing at Texas therefore was able to completely bury myself. This resulted in feeling overall flat in Boulder. I did a light amount of training between both races. 10 days before Boulder I did a monster hill workout which I was unexpectedly sore from for four days. I attribute this to my new restriction on lifting. Coach (Curt Chesney) and I have decided to remove lifting from my training regiment this year. The goal is to hit my key workouts on fresher legs throughout the week. I still continue maintenance strength which includes core and hip strengthening to avoid injury. But now I end up sore from strength work on the bike and run as I am ectomorphic.

AV8Y6365 AV8Y6350

Swim

I started the swim VERY cautious this year. My last time racing at altitude in Boulder 2 years ago I freaked out in the swim and pulled out of the race. So I prepared to begin with a calm start and just see where I ended up. Better to have a slower swim time then panic and have a DNF. Well, as expected, the cautious start caused me to lose the leaders, Ellie and Kelly, which I wouldn’t be able to hold onto anyways, but also the chase pack, Katie and Jeanie, which is where I’d usually find myself. A training partner, Leslie, has been working on her swim, her plan was to try and stick with me which she did. Leslie took a side draft off me and we ended up swimming nearly the entire course together. (Good for her!) Although coming around one of the final buoy’s an amateur, teammate Tim Hola, came by (They were allowed to wear wetsuits and I later found out only started 2 minutes behind us rather than the planned 10). I left Leslie and latched onto Tim’s feet as she was pushing me off course and I was getting sick of pulling her :) I exited the water just behind Tim hearing I was 7th out, with a slow 28 minute swim. But the point to point course was set up nicely allowing us to see, never directing us into the sun and the water temperature was perfect without a wetsuit ~ 73°.

A23U6361 A23U6365

Bike

I hopped on my bike heading out on the new course. I immediately realized it was difficult to hit my target average watts but I decided to push through and try to hit them anyways. I quickly passed one girl and had several more in my sight including Christen and Katie. I rode most of the course with Christen switching back and forth on taking the lead. I didn’t care for the section on Diagonal road. While there were cops at each busy intersection directing traffic, they didn’t seem to realize how fast we were riding (30+mph heading East) so cars were crossing very close to us. Once we headed up Jay I felt much safer, but was passed by another girl who I predicted was over-biking. As we turned to head up Nelson I saw Owen and Anders, Yeah! Climbing up Nelson I started to lose steam, I’m a terrible climber anyways, but this is where my watts began to plummet. Christen and Leslie rode past me and I just continued on to the best of my ability. My lower back began to hurt as we headed down 36 and 66. On 75th I decided not to check my average watts anymore. I came into transition just behind Katie.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 1.56.05 PM

Run

As I changed into my shoes I was less aggressive in my transition, I even dropped a gel and went back to pick it up. My heart was just not into it after such a disappointing bike.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 1.57.47 PM

I ran onto the course with lots of familiar faces cheering me on. I was now in 8th. I struggled a little on the new “off road” section by the Rez entrance with my noodle-like ankles resulting from years of swimming.
Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 1.58.43 PMOnce we were on the dirt roads I passed the over-biker and was just behind Christen again. My mind was not in it’s usual attack mode heading out on the run. I just kept telling myself I would catch Katie and Christen on the 2nd loop. Well that was a big mistake. By the end of the 1st loop at the only out and back on course I spotted Uli catching me. She’s a faster runner than me, so this was disappointing. I thought, “Hey 8th isn’t too bad for today”. This inspired me to start pushing again to try and hold her off. With success, I never saw Uli again but as usual the 2nd loop was much more crowded and now I couldn’t find Christen, much less Katie. I kept trying to pick up my pace but it was too late, i’d lost too much time to them already. I was trying to dig deep and run faster, I wasn’t that tired, I just couldn’t go any faster. I finished in 7th place, which is fine. I believe my ability would have allowed for a 5th place finish in this field, but this is what I had on the day. Luckily they paid 8 deep, so Anders and I got to appear on another podium together.

Mom 121 IMG_2222 IMG_2234


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.

IMG_2031 (1)

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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.22.34 PM

…Meanwhile Anders and Owen played in the nearby park

IMG_2052

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.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.20.25 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 1.51.28 PM

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)

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 9.17.21 PM

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.

IMG_2097 IMG_2101

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.

IMG_2104

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.

IMG_5283

Anders enjoyed his 2nd podium with mom

IMG_2121

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.

IMG_1136

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???

IMG_4256

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.

IMG_1182

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

IMG_1167

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.

12189789_991167017608887_7670087893636374925_n

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.

IMG_1138

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.

IMG_1210

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.

12208667_991182900940632_1484266889058665485_n

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.

IMG_1227

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.

IMG_4379

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.

12193491_991197484272507_7119411753437942911_n

IMG_1235 IMG_4301

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.

IMG_1246

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).

IMG_1274

IMG_1301

IMG_1313

DSC_0003

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

IMG_4399



Blog Design By ContentRobot