Monday, May 7, 2012

Wildflower Race Report

Ten years ago I raced my very first 1/2 Ironman at Wildflower. My parents flew in to camp/support my race and I showed up ready to race what I considered to be the hardest half around. I survived the bike on my Dad's old Softride (no it did not fit me), and remember loving every minute of the hard trail run. I finished in 6:01.

Several years ago I decided one of my big goals was to podium (top 3) at Wildflower. Maybe a large goal coming from a pro girl with best previous finishes here of 16th (2010) and 13th (2011), but I have honestly always believed this is possible. I knew it would take time and a HUGE amount of hard work, but I still believed. On to the race...

The swim start was aggressive (I know, they always are...) and before I reached the first turn I had completely imploded. I couldn't breathe and I couldn't pull water, I felt I was going backwards. I made the turn and finally caught my breath while the pack had swum away. (DOH!!!!!) I worked hard to catch some lone feet and stuck on them. The rest of the swim was uneventful - my Zoot Prophet wetsuit was comfortable, my Sable goggles let me see, the rest was just trying to swim as fast as possible.

© Timothy Carlson (Slowtwitch)

I came out of the swim in 27:09, about :30 back of a large pack. I managed to make it up the evil steep boat ramp to transition without tripping and falling on my face (success!)

 © Kevin Koresky (Tri Lounge)

Onto the bike my only goal was to NOT ride like a 12-year-old girl. Wildflower is always a tough course and I feel I have never had a good ride there. I have only been on my new Cannondale a few weeks, but I will tell you I absolutely love it. It climbs well, I'm comfortable, and it is fast.

© Kurt Hoy (Triathlete)

In the early section of the bike I felt I lost the most time to other girls. There was a slight headwind and I had a bit of trouble holding my watts up. I chose to ride my Profile Altair 80s (tubular) and I was happy with this decision.

© Kevin Koresky (Tri Lounge)

By the time I reached the top of nasty grade I had passed seven girls and I knew if I didn't implode I had a chance to finish well. Not imploding is usually key - especially for a girl who does not come out of the water at the front - and on the Wildflower run course racing right on the edge would be necessary if I wanted to feel I had raced what I knew I was capable of.

 © Kevin Koresky (Tri Lounge)

I spent the first seven miles of the run trying to run hard, but feeling like I was in no-man's land, as I wasn't catching any girls and had nobody around me. I tried not to let my mind wander to la-la land and reminded myself that my races always tend to come down to the final miles and I often run out of real estate. Just because I couldn't see anyone early on, I still might be gaining on other girls.

At mile seven I finally got a split that I was in 9th and could probably move up to 6th (thanks Kevin!) Finally - some solid data to work with and I was off on a mission to chase some girls. And once I caught one, I could see another, then another. This is my favorite part - chasing, racing on the edge, trying to catch one more, trying not to combust while killing myself running up the final steep hill. I absolutely love the scenarios and conditions that racing create.

© Kevin Koresky (Tri Lounge)

I had moved into 6th by the top of the long descent back to transition. But there was one more girl I could see in front of me and I knew if I wanted 5th it was going to be an all out race down the hill to transition. There's nothing like running down a steep hill nearly out of control trying to turn your feet over faster without face planting. I somehow managed to stay upright. All that chasing earned me the 2nd fastest run split of 1:25. I finished 5th in 4:38 - 16 minutes faster than last year.

I am extremely proud of this race result. I may have surprised a lot of people with my finish, but I have believed for a long time that I have the ability to race with the best girls in the sport. To finally do so and finish "in the mix" makes me smile.

I have one of the best jobs in the world - it is hard and trust me - there would be many WAY easier ways to make a living, but finishing a race and being completely satisfied with hard work, in a beautiful setting with my friends - it really doesn't get much better than that. And I'm getting closer to that podium goal!

  • Coach Elliot - from day 1 when we started working together you never once doubted some of my lofty goals. It's been fun working toward them. Thanks for killing me in workouts and telling me when to rest.
  • Zoot - thanks for making shoes that I love, everything tri I could ever need and keeping me color coordinated and looking good.
  • Profile - From my bars, to wheels to aero hydration - you make great products.
  • Cannondale - I love my bike. It is fast and comfortable. Looking forward to many more great rides on it!
  • Extreme Endurance - thanks for keeping lactic acid at bay so I can train, race, recover, repeat!
  • Tribe Multisport - It is great to have a supportive bike shop on my team!
  • Powerbar - no bonking or stomach distress - thank you!
  • Rudy Project - Love my helmet & sunglasses. Especially the green ones!
  • SableWater Optics - It's awesome being able to see when I swim.
  • - thank you for being flexible with my work schedule so I can chase dreams.
  • I have some friends & family that have done more than pick me up and make me smile in a rough past six months. I am grateful. So. VERY. Much.
I will post the Zoot contest results later this week. Next up is Ironman Texas!


Michelle Simmons said...

So stoked for you! I got home from my ride on Saturday and saw a twitter post with top 5 females and your name was right in there with all those top pros and was like YES RIGHT ON CHARISA!!!!!!! Huge congrats and well earned I am sure! :)

cheryl said...

fantastic!!!!!! congrats.

The Suffer Seeker said...

Nicely done, CBB! Nothing compares to the misery of that last mile of the run.

Beth said...

CONGRATS! Was so excited to see you finish so well (right where you belong!). You are such an inspiration to me in many different ways. Happy taper!!


Sweet! Great performance. Rest up for TX

J. L. said...


Steve said...

Good job Charisa. :)

Kiet said...

BTW, I'm your biggest fan.

Teresa said...

No I am your biggest fan, Kiet's always trying to move in...ha!

So incredibly happy for you!!

Katie said...

Congratulations, an awesome race result and very well deserved! I was very excited to you got 5th!

Angela and David said...

You beast! Congrats onan amazing, well deserved result!

Mark said...

Awesome performance this weekend! I was munching on a big sandwich at about mile 7.5 on the run course when you ran by me. You were flying out there!

Ryan Pearson said...

Charisa you rock! Love the race report. The thought of chasing somone down like that in that last decent of the run course gives me the tingles! I cant wait to see how you do in Texas.

ADC said...

You ROCK!!!! :))))

Damie said...

So, so awesome!!!!!!!! I love how this has been a journey for you. It didn't come over night- it came with lots and lots of hard work and patience. Could you be any more inspirational? ;) Love it!!!

elizabeth said...

You CAN do it, Charisa!!! Your patience and determination is only just beginning to pay off. :)

Jason said...

flat out awesome.

What is that on your aero bars? Is that your bike computer on there in the green between the green bar tape?

And I would be frightened when I first got out of the water and that huge picture of some dude in swim goggles was staring at me.

rr said...

Yeah! Massive improvement - what a great feeling! Congratulations. You rocked it.

Alison said...

Congrats - what a fantastic race!

Caroline said...

Ahhhhh Charisa!!! Congrats on an awesome race and TOP FIVE FINISH! You are inspiring with your persistence, grit, and hard work! Great things will happen in Texas! I'm so excited for you!

Alili said...

Awesome! Congratulations!!!

mtanner said...

Stoked for you when I saw your name come up!! Way to persevere and believe :) Enjoying your journey- Best you you!