Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The City

I'm not sure where my off season went, but it somehow flew by and I found myself slogging through a masters session this morning much earlier than I got used to waking up over my break.

It's been a while since I was in Chicago, but these are a few photos I took while I was there that I really liked, so I figured I would share them.

There are about 45 things I love about this photo. The light. The lines. The lamps. The "OUT" sign. I could go on and on...

This is where I raced my first triathlon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Good Things

It's been a while since I posted some good things. I had a great long week up in Santa Cruz and most of my list comes from that....Thankfulness-giving time of year.

  • Starry nights camping
  • Long exploring trail runs
  • Giant redwoods
  • Hugs
  • Biking! In beautiful places!!
  • Rainy walks
  • An abundance of good food

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving if you live in America. If you live somewhere else hope you are enjoying the 23 days left until Christmas!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Oddly, I find the shorter fall days comforting. Life seems to slow down a bit in the winter and for someone who has trouble slowing down at all, somehow I seem to fall into it this time of year. I'm not sure if it's because the darkness forces me indoors or because the cold weather makes me seek out a warm drink and a book, but whatever the reason, it's nice.

San Clemente Pier
Hope you're enjoying the shorter days, even if they are a bit darker and colder.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Midwest

I grew up outside Chicago. The weather is brutal in the winter by California standards, but I still love to go back home, no matter what time of year. A few of the things I really love...

pizza | wind whipping off the lake | grandma's cookies | crunching leaves (or snow) under my feet when i run | thunderstorms | the river | the smell of popcorn when you get off the plane | grandma's cookies | hot cider | Janie's amazing home cooked meals | driving past the house my parents built | listening to my grandma tell stories about her & my grandpa | running around the very small michigan town my grandma lives in | enjoying the view of grandma's garden | taking the train everywhere | forgetting my grandma is 100

wind off the lake
the river

grandma's cookies

forgetting grandma is 100

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Childhood Friends

There are some friends that you have known forever and although you may not see them often, they are never more than a text away to make you laugh or back you up when any self-doubt arises. This type of friend will also offer at any point in time to kick so-and-so's ass for you (co-worker, boyfriend, anyone you may not agree with, etc.).

I love Kirsten because we laugh (A LOT) anytime we are together.

We recently met for dinner while she was on her whirlwind San Diego Tour of taking her family to (insert any/every San Diego destination here). We discovered we are both incredibly photogenic. And her daughter should definitely be a photographer when she grows up.

iPhone flash fail.

And again.

I think we were moving too much from laughing.

Annnnnnd, nope, still no luck.

The last photo is my favorite. Kirsten is poking me in the back saying "StopIT! Stop making me laugh!" Thanks for all the laughs - let's do it again soon.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Climbing Mountains

It's off season - the time of year when I frantically do house projects that I never have time for because I'm working and training a lot. I also love off season adventures. So when Marit suggested a hike from Idyllwild to the peak of Mt. San Jacinto and back I jumped at the opportunity. I've done the Cactus to the Clouds hike (which is the other side of the mountain), so I thought it would be nice to conquer a different trail.

Perfect weather for hiking!
Jen, Marit and I set off from Idyllwild and the miles flew by as we chatted. It was a bit harder to breathe above 9000 ft, but nothing terrible. At one point we passed a man on the trail and he asked what we were training for. I told him "Life."

On top!
The peak was as beautiful as I remember - 360° views of desert, other peaks, pine trees, etc. It was quiet and peaceful and we sat on a rock and ate peanut butter pretzels, which may be the best hiking snack I have ever consumed.

Descending seemed much faster except for miles 14-16 where I was very over hiking. My legs got tired and I had a slight headache. I did my best not to ask Marit (who had our GPS) every 2 minutes "How much longer?!"

We arrived at the car, stopped hiking and instantly I had the world's worst headache and was certain I was going to puke all over Marit's lovely car. Jen followed suit with a splitting headache and nauseousness. Poor Marit became our babysitter! As we drove down the mountain I alternated between laughing about how funny it was that the two Ironman athletes were about to puke all over Marit's car and what a funny story this would be (and literally thinking I might just hang my head out the window like a dog the entire way home so as not to mess up her car!). Thankfully I never lost any cookies. As soon as we returned to sea level all was well with the world again.

Thanks girls for a great adventure I will remember for years!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Challenge Rancho Cordova Race Report

Challenge Rancho Cordova was my final race of the season. It capped off four races that took place in six weekends (3 halves & a full). Sometimes I just enjoy the challenge of seeing what I can pull off.

The water was 68.2°F, which is 0.2°F above the wetsuit cutoff for pros by USAT. I spent the swim chasing solo (ugh, what's new?!) and honestly freezing. Toward the end of the swim everything seemed to be tightening up and my stroke felt forced. I exited the water in 31 to very few bikes left in transition. I think I was in 13th.

 Yay for no more freezing swimming!
The bike course was beautiful and challenging and I set to work on moving into the top 10 after my sub-par swim. Around mile 30 the motorcycle ref rode up next to me and told me to stand down for a penalty. As a pro, in USAT sanctioned races when we get a penalty it's a stop and go and the timer doesn't start until both feet are on the ground. I was confused because I knew I wasn't drafting and I was staggered off the person up the road from me (another pro USAT rule - we must never be lined up directly behind the person directly in front of us - even if they are a mile up the road). I didn't argue and got my feet on the road to start the stopwatch.

The ref told me my penalty was because my bike number had come off my bike. He said it was unfortunate he had to give me this penalty because he had passed me earlier and had seen that the number was there. So I stood there as the girls I had worked hard to pass rode by. I'm sorry, but this seems like quite possibly the dumbest penalty on the planet. I wasn't cheating and I had not knowingly littered. But apparently because I did not have a race number on my bike (even though it was plastered on my arm and there was also a sticker on my helmet!!) I had the privilege of standing on the side of the road as the race went by.

Once my time had been served I jumped back on my bike and tried not to let the time lost bother me. I passed a bike crash (heal quick Bailey!) and told myself to be grateful I was not injured. I came off the bike after 2:34. I started the run frustrated, kind of gave up on running fast, yogged for a bit, had a small pity party for myself, was angry and just wanted my off season to start. Except not so much that I was willing to stop running or DNF.

I saw my coach Elliot on the course and he basically told me "Yes Charisa, it sucks you got a penalty! But you're in a race and you are a runner and this race isn't over and it's hot and you run well in heat. You can catch girls in front of you." It was true. So I got over myself and started running more like it was my job. I wasn't happy, but at least now I wasn't giving up anymore or acting like a four year old.

I ran a lonely first loop, caught a girl, and started on my second. It was nearly 100°. And then on my second lap an amateur guy I'd never met before in a Zoot kit caught me. He was running fast and told me to run with him. So I picked up the pace and we pushed each other for the entire final lap. All of a sudden the race was fun again and I was just enjoying running fast stride by stride with someone. It didn't matter that I was way off the back of the race. (Thanks Shane!) My run time was 1:28.

I finished 13th after racing for 4:36. Nothing impressive and not how I wanted to end my season, but sometimes we learn more about ourselves on the hard days. I'm proud of my season, I raced hard this year and had some great results, mixed with some incredibly frustrating races - a lot like life - it's still good.

Post race I got to spend a few days in Santa Cruz with Eric, which was perfect. It's time to enjoy the off season, holidays and figure out what I am excited to race next year.  Thanks for following my journey...

Elliot – It's been a great season - thank you.
Zoot - fast shoes that drain, flexible wetsuits, awesome training and racing apparel.  
Microscope World - a great company.
Profile Design - Thank you for the incredibly support!! I love the Aero HC system.
Powerbar - gels, hydration and recovery for ultimate performance.
Nytro - awesome local bike shop!
Extreme Endurance - thanks for helping me race, recover and repeat!
Rudy Project - great helmets and sunglasses, awesome colors!
Bont - best cycling shoes around.
Kenda Tires - great tires for fast racing and less punctures.