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...

THANK YOU:
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.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ali'i Training Video

This is a bit of a "Day in the life..." of my training. A video I helped Zoot and Boa make.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Superfrog Triathlon Race Report

Superfrog is a great local race that although it is flat, was not fast this year. We started off with our two loop swim by diving through a lot of waves. To be honest for about two minutes I wasn't sure I was going to get out past the breakers.

David Dalstrom captured these awesome aerial photos of the swim start. It's hard to tell how big the waves are, but coming in on the first loop I was fairly certain I was going to get pummeled. (I did).

Photo: David Dalstrom

Photo: David Dalstrom

Photo: David Dalstrom
Somehow on the second loop I managed to make it out past the breakers a bit better and I was happy to finish the swim after what felt like 37 very LONG minutes, as first female out of the water.

Other than hitting some massive bumps on the way out of transition and deciding to turn around to retrieve my lost nutrition bottle, the bike consisted of putting my head down and riding as hard as my legs would allow.

It was windy this year and therefore heading north was a screaming fast, fun and fantastic time! The U-turn at the north end of the course led to a massive headwind-slog back toward Mexico. This was repeated four times. I felt fairly good considering I raced an Ironman two weeks ago. I think mostly I was just excited to not be sick for this race and go hard on the bike. I came off the bike first female after 2:28.

The run course was slightly different this year with about 6-7 miles of it in the sand. It was high tide so I was either running right where the waves broke, or in deep sand. I chose the breaking waves area most of the time and about every five minutes I miscalculated where the wave would break and I'd be running through several inches of water. It's a good thing my Zoot shoes have holes in the bottom for draining water. I don't wear socks and I was happy to come away with no blisters after 1:36 of running.

Charisa Wernick Superfrog Win

I finished first female in 4:44, a full 22 minutes slower than last year, but happy to repeat the win! It was a fun day of racing with my friends Karl and Jesse, who both landed on the podium as well.

1-2-3!

Should I decide to take up canoeing after my triathlon career, I now have two of these awesome paddles! Seriously though - this award is one of the nicest I have ever received, it won't go anywhere near water.

Next Up: Challenge Rancho Cordova Half this Sunday.

THANK YOU:
Moki – You put on an amazing race!
Zoot - fast shoes that drain, flexible wetsuits, awesome training and racing apparel.  
Microscope World - my other great job.
Profile Design - I love racing my disc!! 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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Challenge Weymouth Race Report

Weymouth is located in Dorcester County on the coast in the southwest of England. The course is both beautiful and challenging. I trained hard for this Ironman and was excited to race with some fast girls. A few days before the race I got sick with a fever, sore throat, congestion, blah blah - nothing good a few days before my big "A-race" of the year. I figured who knows, stay positive and anything is possible, maybe a bit of "race-day-magic" would come through and I could still do well.

The sea had been calm leading into race day. On race morning the winds were whipping, there was a strong current, and waves were breaking. Race organizers quickly changed the course (so waves wouldn't be breaking on top of athletes during the entire swim) and shortened the course for the full.

Photo: 220 Triathlon / David Pearce
The swim was a bit crazy, but so is Ironman and I rather enjoyed it. Swim out through multiple breakers, swim across to another yellow buoy (once you could actually locate it between waves), swim into shore, run across the beach back to the start and repeat. I came out of the water 4th female after 36 minutes.

Photo: 220 Triathlon / David Pearce
Onto the bike I was happy to be right in the mix of the girls, only to find very quickly I could not go with any of them. I hoped perhaps my legs just needed a few minutes to warm up.

Photo: 220 Triathlon / David Pearce
This photo isn't me - but it shows the climb about 10 miles into the ride where I discovered I was in for a very, very, VERY long day of racing. It was about this point in the race where I knew my sickness was not gone, and it was in fact making me feel absolutely horrible.

My Godson Alex - cheering for me. Or playing with a leaf.
I passed my small crew of supporters (thank you ADC, Alex, Rosa & Marena!!) around mile 30 while contemplating if I should just pull out after the first lap of the bike. Except I'm stubborn and I didn't think I was making myself more sick because I was riding so slowly, so I did another loop. 

On the bike the single thing that kept me going several times were my host's neighbors - they knew nothing about triathlon until a random girl from America showed up next door. During my very long 5 hours and 38 minutes out on the bike course, I must have seen these neighbors 15 times. They were in their car cheering for me, I would come around a corner and there they were, smiling, cheering, asking how I felt. It was quite possibly one of the nicest and most fun parts of the ride for me.

I tried to wrap my head around running a marathon and couldn't, so I convinced myself to run a single loop - just to "experience" the course. I'll be honest - I had multiple thoughts of pulling out completely so I could save my legs for another race. But Weymouth was the race I was most excited about this season, and I wanted to finish what I started - even if at this point I was more of a "participant" than a competitor who was in the mix of the pro race.

Photo: Gordon Spencer
I ran one loop. I drank a lot of Coke. I high-fived the little kids. And then I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I cried part way through the third loop because I really didn't want to be "yogging" and I was mad about my untimeliness of getting sick. But then I told myself to get over it because as Jesse V told me during IM Wisconsin on a day when I had a fantastic race and he didn't, "It is a lovely day for a run." And it was.

Photo: Rosa Goddard
I did in fact finish the day after running for 3:25 (the course was a bit short) and 9:46 after it all began, 6th place pro female. I was happy I could finish, and even happier to be greeted by friends when done.

Next up I'm finishing the season with back-to-back halves, Superfrog Sept 28 and Challenge Rancho Cordova Oct 5.

A big THANK YOU:
Rosa & David – You were AMAZING hosts - thank you for great company, meals and friendship. 
Zoot - fast shoes, flexible wetsuits, awesome training and racing apparel.  
Microscope World - my other great job.
Profile Design - fast TwentyFour wheels, aero bars and hydration. I love the Aero HC system.
Powerbar - gels, hydration and recovery for ultimate performance.
Nytro - my local (but they sell all over the world!) bike shop with all things racing/training.
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.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why do we Race?

The answer to this question has changed over the years for me. In the beginning I wanted to see how fast I could go. I wanted to prove I belonged in the pro ranks, and I wanted (maybe needed at times) to believe I was good enough. At anything - sport, life, gritty downright hard work.

I honestly feel I have grown up in the sport of triathlon. I learned to believe in myself. I survived getting divorced and feeling simultaneously completely alone and surrounded by some of the most amazing friends that I made through sport. During some tough times I raced because it was the only thing I felt I was good at. Riding my bike or running was the only thing that made me smile for a while.


Through racing I've learned we are all WAY stronger than we think. Today I race for different reasons that I did five years ago when I first turned pro. I race because I love the thrill of putting myself on the edge, at the limit, and seeing how long I can hold it there before the wheels fall off. I want to win. But I also know racing is about way more than winning. It's about the people we meet along the way, the long days spent with friends on the bike as we solve the world's problems, and being satisfied at the end of the day that we gave our best effort. Racing brings a lot of crazy and wonderful people together and I love that about triathlon. Whether I'm racing in my back yard or halfway around the world, without fail post-race I will be able to find someone to laugh with me about our own personal race day spots-of-bother stories.


Sunday will be my 18th Ironman. I am racing to win. But I'm also racing to enjoy an entire day that celebrates the culmination of a ton of hard training. I know I will want the pain to subside and the day to go quickly, but at the same time I want to savor every minute of it - because it is not every day I get the opportunity to race in a foreign country.

My family will be celebrating my grandma's 100th birthday in the states while I race around Weymouth - this one's for you Grandma! Thank you for showing me that being stubborn and incredibly independent isn't always a bad thing. You inspire me more than you will probably ever realize.
Happy 100th Grandma!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Weymouth

Weymouth is a quaint, old town on the sea where I will race in Sunday's Challenge Weymouth. I love how old the buildings are. All of these photos were taken on the run course.


The really huge, old boat is my favorite.
Coffee #1 makes a fantastic flat white. And Welsh Cakes!


Alan is the Challenge Weymouth race director. He took me out for a swim yesterday and promised the water was warm and I didn't need a wetsuit for our short 30 minute jaunt. My advice: If you're from California the water is (not!) warm for 5 minutes (but it is bearable), then it's freezing and you will spend the next hour shivering! Alan is also used to cold water - he's attempted the English Channel crossing (open water swim rules won't allow use of a wetsuit!) and made it within four miles of France. He's attempting it again next summer. I think this is awesome. I will be cheering Alan from the warmth of my hooded sweatshirt on dry land!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Innsbruck Austria

While I was in Austria my Dad and I visited Innsbruck one afternoon. He had traveled there in college to ski what at the time he thought was an incredibly steep mountain. He wanted to return and see if it really was as steep as he remembered. It was.

Cograil we took up mountain.

Lots of mountain biking trails.
Amazing views from the top!
It was steep.
On the top.
This is where my dad skied.
It was a great day on top of a mountain with my Dad.