Christine Anderson

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.

photo-6a little pre-race fun in the Chocolate Milk tent

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.

swim exit

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.

Tristan run smile

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.

Tristan run

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.

back finishScreen Shot 2014-10-01 at 1.33.25 PMScreen Shot 2014-10-01 at 1.32.30 PM

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

photo-6 copy


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.

pre-swim

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

swim start PMswim 2

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.

swim exit

swim exit 2photo 4

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.

bike tri juice

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.

photo 1

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.

Stevens hill climb Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 8.51.46 AM

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. photo 2 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. Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 8.52.30 AM 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. 10583064_10203145463250594_2449407579773580453_o 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. Hammond_Christine_IMBOULDER300 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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[youtube]http://youtu.be/fvJ5IPSPliQ[/youtube]

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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. 10550083_10203145463810608_6286400565126010563_o 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.

owen

  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.

CTC small pro podium small


07:28
:14

Racine 70.3

Posted in Racing by
Believe it or not this is my first time racing in Racine, WI. Owen and I missed a visit to Chicago last month due to my work schedule, we rescheduled for this weekend allowing us to race in Racine and visit my family all in one shot. We arrived in Chicago late Thursday night, after a few short tune up workouts we headed north towards Racine. We stopped for a visit with my best friend, Jill in Barrington. We were treated to a boat ride up the Fox river, our mode of transportation to lunch. jill We arrived in Racine to our homestay, and what a homestay it turned out to be. We were lucky enough to stay with Mike and Susan Arts, the caretakers of the historical lighthouse landmark. Their home is over 100 years old (I love old houses), complete with a private tour up the lighthouse tower.

lighthouse

Mike and Susan were more than accommodating to Owen, Tamara (ex-Timex teammate) and I. They cooked delicious food, offered any assistance we needed and Mike even rode us down to the race start Sunday morning. Saturday morning was another treat, Mike; ex-Navy nuclear engineer, took us up flying in a two seater plane! We got the bird's eye view of Racince harbor and race course.

plane

In addition to all the tourist activities we got our meetings and race preparation workouts in with plenty of time to relax before the big day.

swim warm up

Sunday's weather turned out to be perfect. We rode in comfortable temperatures to the race venue. (after re-tightening my base bars knocked loose by the bumpy roads of the Midwest.) After a long walk to the swim start we were nearing start time. After watching the men, I realized the lake stayed shallow through the start and a smart strategy was to walk/dolphin dive rather than swim. I followed this strategy but not for long enough. As the women's wave began I quickly lost the feet of Helle and Malaika. I was swimming even with the chase pack which slowly diminished to three; me and Valentina swimming side by side and Melissa on our feet. As hard as I tried I couldn't shake them, so I settled in and swam my race. Unfortunately Valentina wasn't giving up either, she swam in my space attempting to push me off course. As we approached the swim exit we both picked up the pace and ran out together. I outran Valentina up the long trip to transition but Melissa passed us both.

SWIM EXIT

I struggled with my new wetsuit around my ankles for a few seconds allowing Valentina to mount her bike first. We all settled into our paces (Melissa much faster than the rest). I kept Valentina in sight but didn't push above my target watts to catch her too early. We rode along the torn up roads, I found it hard to get into a rhythm and keep my watts up between the numerous turns, potholes and gaps jostling me around. At times it was so bad I feared my bike would fall apart!

BIKE

Around the halfway point Lauren passed me. I watched as Valentina grabbed her wheel and tried to ride at Lauren's faster pace for some time. Shortly after this Valentina began to slow and drop back. She had now caught and passed Malaika. I was waiting for the perfect time to make my pass. Valentina was riding towards the center line which made it more difficult but I completed the pass by both of them with an official riding by our side. This earned Valentina a yellow card for blocking.

BIKE 2

I continued on with my target watts separating myself from the women behind me. I was riding completely alone, no one to be seen either way, at times I worried I'd ridden off course. By the end of the bike I was really worried I'd passed my turn into transition, seeing the lake on my left. But fans kept cheering me on so I figured it must still be ahead. I finally rounded the last turn and hopped off my bike. Happy hitting my highest average watts for a half to date.

Bike 4

As always I took a few extra seconds slipping the left shoe over my bad foot but I was out on the run fast enough. I settled into a quick pace, remembering I took too long in Hawaii 70.3 waiting to feel good. As I saw some pro men, friends informed me I was in 4th or 5th place. As I approached the turn around I was able to spot the competition; those women ahead of me where fairly spread out. The closest being over two minutes ahead. Valentina was only a minute or so back with Tamara on her heels. Knowing both these girls are runners put an extra pep in my step. I concentrated on my form and cadence.

RUN

As I headed back to town I was being chased down by the lead pro men. Starkowitz passed me followed by Sanders and I got to witness Sanders complete the pass for the win as they lapped me. I rounded the lollipop cheered on by former teammates of Well-Fit my old training group from Chicago. I climbed up the only two hills on course, continuing to push the pace. Now the course was crowded with amateurs but I had no problem getting through.

Run Begin

Spotting my competition again; now first through third had put time into me and I'd stayed equidistant from fourth. As I rounded the last turn around I noticed that i'd put time into Valentina and Tamara. This boosted my confidence knowing I could hold onto fifth place.

Run finish

As I hit the final mile I pushed with everything I had left really leaving it all on the course. I was happy with my run split, my fastest post foot injury.

Finish

Overall this was a great race for me and i'm feeling confident in my fitness leading into Ironman Boulder.

owen awardpro women podium

On our way home I got to visit with Paula and Jeanie some of my dear friends from Chicago. Owen and I spent the next three days visiting with my family in St. Charles while recovering in preparation for Ironman in two weeks.

boat ride

Owen even got to take a boat ride, our family business in St. Charles.


06:11
:14

Hawaii 70.3

Posted in Racing by

I arrived in Hawaii 6 days prior to the race attempting to acclimate to the heat and humidity. It's not such a bad rule to follow when traveling to destination races. I rented a cute house with an ocean view along the bike course. I set up to work remotely for the week, staying on mountain time. I ran into one snag when my bike didn't arrive on time, but luckily a friend loaned me his bike on Tuesday and Wednesday to get some easy spins in. By the time the weekend arrived I was relaxed and ready to go. Owen arrived on Thursday to support me for the weekend, he was able to join me for race prep on the beach.

swim warm up

Just before the swim start the co-ed pro pack was drifting away from shore, the lifeguards moved us back within the start area as the gun went off.

pre swim

I ended up in a good position and was able to drop most of the ladies right off the bat. I hung onto the lead pack of men's feet for awhile but they started drifting off course, I decided to continue on straight with a few others following on my feet.

swim start

Unfortunately the lead guys still made it to the 1st turn buoy before me so I was left pulling the rest of the way. I had a woman on each hip and 2 men trailing behind us. Thanks to my Foggle I had clear vision and could sight each buoy continuing to lead the way. As we rounded the last buoy I picked up the pace going for first out of the water. Maggie obviously wanted it too, we came in together stroke for stroke. As we reached the shore we began sprinting to the line. All of a sudden Maggie disappeared and I realized she face planted in the sand.

swim exit sprint

I ran into transition slowing after reaching the swim finish line, Maggie came up running next to me only to fall again as we made a sharp turn up the hill. After asking if she was ok, I grabbed my helmet, clipping it on while I ran which enabled me to pass the others back heading out on the bike first.

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I stuck to my plan on the bike, holding back for the first few miles. I was passed fairly quickly by some of the uber bikers but my avgerage power was right on target at the first turn around. Heading towards Hawi we had a slight head wind climbing up and down the rollers. I haven't had the opportunity to get my new bike completely dialed in yet so I was shifting around in the saddle and my back began to ache.

bike 1

I toggled between a few of the other women in places but came up short up the last climb into Hawi. I made the turn in 6th place, as we descended down with a tail wind the others disappeared. I stuck to my target watts and fueling plan to finish off the bike course.

bike 2

We were unable to see T2 prior to the race, luckily I found my number quickly. While putting on my shoes I had some trouble with fans leaning over the guardrail which inhibited my space. After asking they quickly got out of the way and I slipped my shoes on. I was now ~ 2 minutes behind 5th place.

My first two miles felt sluggish, but then I started to get into a groove. I found a run buddy on course and we began pacing one another. My goal was to catch at least one girl to reach the podium.

run 1

As I was warned, the course was technical with many short punchy climbs and sharp corners. I took my coaches advice to charge the climbs and recover on the descents. As we approached the long out and back at mile 9-11 I had closed the gap to 15 seconds. During these two miles I pushed and pushed but just couldn't complete the pass. Karen was putting up a good fight, but I was determined.

run 2

As we headed back onto the golf course I turned up the heat and completed the pass by mile 12. The last mile I continued putting time into her. Little did I know I was gaining on 3rd and 4th place as well, but unfortunately my bike split being off took me out of that race.

finish

Overall i'm very pleased with my Hawaii 70.3 performance. I handled the heat and winds well. This was a great indicator of my fitness level coming of my spring training block. I've been working on improving my open water swimming; check and my run speed; getting there, but it seems I need a bike training block in preparation for my Ironman's planned for August and November.

Owen and I were able to enjoy our 2 days post race enjoying Hawaii to the fullest. We went out on a chartered snorkel boat, cliff jumping and hiked the Z trail in Waipio which turned out to be the best hike we've ever been on.

boatwaipio horse wading owen walk tree top of world ocean beach couple beach black sand granola


05:25
:14

HITS Grand Junction Half

Posted in Racing by

I decided to take a longer break from racing this year after ending my season in 2013 with an Ironman in November and getting hitched two weeks later. This enabled me to enjoy off season more than in year's past (2013 racing IM Cabo in March). I rarely felt guilty heading to the mountains to ski or taking an entire two weeks off from all exercise for our honeymoon to Bora Bora this winter. I got in some solid months of training with no races interfering. This proved to be harder than I thought, not realizing how much rest those races awarded me in between tough training blocks. The week leading into Grand Junction I found myself in a hole, overtrained and fatigued.

My race plan for 2014 starts in Hawaii on March 31st for Honu 70.3 but I require a warm-up race to shake the winter cob webs out. After racing HITS last year my husband Owen suggested I join him, therefore we headed out to Grand Junction for our summer opener. I backed off heavy training for only a few days leading up to the race.

Race weekend was warm but in keeping with May race tradition the water was frigid. HITS measured the reservoir at 62 but I felt it was no warmer than 59. Teammate Tim Hola joined Owen and I in the “fun” of acclimating to the water pre-race.

 HITS swim start

After only a few minutes my body was used to the water and I was ready to race. Shortly after the start gun shot, from waist deep water I pushed hard off the ground into a dolphin dive. After sitting in the cold water my muscles contracted and caused my calf to seize with a huge charlie horse. I slowed to what felt like a snails pace. My foot flexed and I bit my lower lip (a trick an age group swim coach taught me which is really just taking your mind off the cramp).

swim start

Eventually my calf loosened, now I was mid-pack so I had to pick up the pace to catch the leaders. I climbed my way from one swimmer to the next until I could recognize Tim out front. I grabbed the feet of the swimmer drafting off Tim and there I sat through the first 2 buoys. I didn't know this guy between Tim and I, he kept veering off Tim's feet. I tried numerous times to get around him with no success. Finally we reached the first large turn buoy. Tim and trailer slowed to each take a breaststroke pull allowing to navigate where the next buoy was. I took this opportunity to bury my head, nailed a few hard strokes and took Tim's feet. I trusted Tim to sight completely, I followed his bubbles sighting only half what I usually would. We coasted around the remaining turns of the course.

Exiting the water proved more difficult than expected, as I first stood I realized my legs were completely numb. Thank goodness for muscle memory allowing me to run out of the water because I felt I could face plant at any time.

swim exit

I chased Tim into a long run into transition. The one benefit of numb feet is I had no problem running barefoot up the beach and through the grass. Finally arriving in T1 I grabbed my bike and headed out leaving Tim still fumbling with his helmet (his fingers were too numb to clip it).

T1

I hopped on my bike following the lead motorcycle embracing the cheers from spectators surprised to have a woman leading the race. At the 2nd turn I noticed the HITS sign pointing left but the motorcycle headed straight, I followed him, knowing right away it was wrong. I turned my head saw Tim approach and flagged him to make the turn I missed. From here he slowly pulled away from me. After 5 miles or so the lead moto found me and began leading again. He was unaware that Tim was now in front. Miles down the road Brian passed me very confused that I wasn't Tim and still had the moto. When we made the first turn around the moto saw and caught up with Tim to provide his lead. Even further down the road Owen caught me, we rode side by side chatting for awhile before I urged him to keep going to catch the leaders.

At the last turn around I noticed a blond pony tail only a few minutes back. This came as a surprise, I put my head down and hammered the remainder of the bike not knowing if she was bridging the gap. I later found out she was an ex-pro racing the aqua-bike.

bike

Temperatures were rising as I approached T2. I made my change a little slower than normal before heading out on the run.

T2

run start

The course began with some steep punchy climbs which got my heart rate right up. It was a straight out and back down unshaded dirt roads. On my way back every racer cheered me on. I made sure to respond each time with similar encouraging words. I soaked in the cheers as I crossed the finish line. I absolutely love the feel of local races, this is how I got into the sport and fell in love with triathlon. I recommend HITS Grand Junction to anyone, it offers a single loop for each segment with a challenging run course to test your fitness in a May race.

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hammonds 2

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