More than One 5K

So one of my goals for this year was to do more than 1 5k during the year (I only did one last year). I happen to like 5Ks, but I hate spending $25+ on a race that won’t take me any more than 30 minutes (usually) so I try to choose races that are fundraising for a non-profit (or a corporate shield event, which are just cheap).

I signed up for the Doodle Trail 5k, which was raising money for a rail-to-trail project in Easley – don’t ask me why they picked a ridiculous name.  But on the morning of the race, I woke up, got ready to go….then put my PJs back on and went back to sleep. Apparently I had a serious case of the unmotivated that day, but whatever.

Not quite two weeks ago was the Leftovers Prediction 5K. I knew I would drag myself to this evening race since I’d been wanted to run it for the last few years and it just didn’t fit into my schedule for one reason or another.  This is a fun little event with the Greenville Track Club where they use leftover bibs and t-shirts from other races over the last year and you predict the time you’ll run.  No watches allowed, and they use a different course every year so there’s no practicing before the race! This was also my first trail race because it is so not my thing, but the trails were well kept and pretty flat so it was a nice change of scenery.  It was 90 degrees that evening (even at 7 pm!) so running in the shade was definitely welcome. I didn’t have a great run, nor was I very close to the time that I predicted, but it was a good time – and there was a FroYo truck post run =)


This past weekend was the Michelin 5K, which I do pretty much every year since it’s free for me.  They changed the course a tiny bit this year to move the start/finish line closer to Lost Swamp Rd., but other than that, same old stuff. I didn’t have a great run again and had to stop and tie my shoe < a half mile from the finish, but I felt pretty strong the whole time, so it seems like I’m still headed in the right direction. Slow, but getting better. After the race, a few of us changed and headed out for an easy 30 mile ride.

Some other stuff that’s been going on…last week I took a few days off running because side of my lower left leg was really hurting. It was probably a case of too much/too fast but it felt fine by Saturday and it feels fine today, so that’s good news.

The last few Saturdays, Greenville Splash has been doing open water swim out at Lake Jocassee. I haven’t been able to go, but this weekend they went up to Lake Wylie in Rock Hill for a swim with another group and they dragged me along.  It ended up being pretty fun – apparently this group swims every Sunday morning in the summer with kayak support and everything so it’s pretty well organized.  I did a 5k swim – a few others who are training for a 10k swim did a full 4 miles.  Did you know there are leeches in Lake Wylie. Gross. #ewewewwwww


I also ended up buying one of these buoy things from the “coach”.  She had them for all of us to borrow, but I liked the idea of having the extra safety feature (will especially be good for Hartwell swims when we can’t find kayakers).  Plus you can store stuff in there, like water or a Garmin (I put my Forerunner in it and it actually worked pretty well). They’re a little expensive at $40 but it’s probably a smart thing to have for OWS.


So what’s next?  It’s about an month and a half out from Rev3 Anderson. Next weekend is the Flight of the Dove – a metric century down in Clinton, SC. It’s really just a supported training ride, but it’s for charity so that’s cool by me.  Langely Pond Intl tri is the next weekend, followed by some vacationing with my family! I also signed up for an Intl distance Aquabike race in September for funsies. Then it’s Chattanooga weekend – I’ll be volunteering in the women’s changing tent! I’m really looking forward to the next few months, but hate to see tri season wrap up so soon. I feel like it always goes by so quickly – and it’s definitely longer here in SC!

That’s it for me. Anything exciting to share?

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Asheville Marathon – March 15th!


Ok, so I’ve been selected to be an ambassador for the Asheville Marathon (or half) at Biltmore Estate. This was totally unexpected, but I’m still pretty excited about it since I was pretty seriously considering doing this race anyways based on some rave reviews from a friend who did it last year. The timing is good, Biltmore is BEAUTIFUL, and it’s not too hilly.

Seriously, this is good stuff

Seriously, this is good stuff

This event has sold out the last 2 years since it’s limited to 1300 participants. The good news is, I can give you a discount code good through September 15th for $20 off the full/$10 off the half!


In an effort of full disclosure, I do get a free race entry for this (though I had to get one referral to claim it – so I bugged my running buddies first). If I get 10, I’ll be able to give away another entry which would be pretty exciting for someone.

So, if you do decide to use the discount code, do me a huge favor and let me know that you did since I have to track them myself – the code is not unique to me. =)

For $20 off the full marathon: AMAFULLMARATHON
For $10 off the half marathon: AMAHALFMARATHON

The codes go in at the end of the check out process – registration is from the race site here.

I hope you come run with me!

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Betty’s 5K Fundraiser

So, I have a favor to ask of my (small audience of) readers/commenters/lurkers/whatever. It’s always awkward to ask people to donate money, but this is a cause that is near and dear to one of my close friends and therefore dear to me.

My friend/running buddy Lynn lost her mother to Scleroderma last year – there is no known cause or cure for this disease. Lynn has been working very hard with the help of the Scleroderma Foundation to host Betty’s 5K to honor her mother and raise money for the foundation for research. Here’s an article in the Greenville News about it, if you’re interested.

For local folks, the race it at Furman University on September 14th (race info in the the link), but if the race is not an option you can donate to the fundraiser as a non-participant. Right now, they are about halfway to a goal of $10,000 and with a little over a month to go, I would love to see them reach their goal. I don’t have anything to give away, but it would definitely mean a lot to Lynn if you were able and willing to donate to the cause, so please consider it.

Thanks for reading

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Lake Logan Intl Recap

Didn’t I just race? I feel like I did. I signed up for this race before I signed up for Muncie 70.3 since it’s very popular and tends to sell out – plus I was planning to do TryCharleston at that point. I wanted to PR at Lake Logan since it’s the only Oly race I’ve done twice (and Over the Mountain was 5K long on the bike), but after I finished Muncie and realized it was 3 weeks away I realized that was not very reasonable. So I took a full week off after Munice and decided not to worry about it too much and do what I could to prepare in the two weeks leading up to it.

My main focus was the run because it defeated me so badly last year (compounded by the miserable run at Muncie), so I decided to cut a swim workout and add a run.  I talked a friend into joining me so for the past two Wednesdays we headed out to ICAR to do hill repeats. This was exactly zero fun but I’m glad we did it and we’ll probably continue doing it (if anyone local wants to come out and be miserable with us).

Onto the race.  This year Setup decided to add a Half distance race to the weekend and it was on the same day as the international race.  Both sold out – so that says something about the popularity of the race. Unfortunately…the race venue is not well suited for 1000+ people all at once. There is only one way into the area and it’s a single lane, windy, narrow road so you could imagine there was a GIANT backup of cars trying to get in on race morning. I drove in with a friend and it probably took us at least 30 mins to travel the last mile into the race site and just barely had enough time to grab packets and get set up before the race started. Leaving the race site afterwards was a mess as well. There is only one entrance/exit for the parking area and…it crosses through the run course. So next year they will 100% have to do something different if they want to do the half distance race again, but it sounds like the race itself went very well. My suggestion to Setup would be to move the international race to Sunday – the half needs to be on it’s own day.

Also, some general comments on the half distance (based on comments from others since I didn’t race it obviously) – the bike course is short. It was advertised at 52 miles, but for some reason people seemed surprised by this? It’s only 52 miles. It starts on the olympic course, then continues north when the olympic course turns to head back to transition. It sounded like it was pretty challenging with a big hill out near mile 40, then the big hill during the last mile that everyone has to climb. There were some complaints that the swim course was long, but I’m guessing this was GPS error/non-straight swimming that caused this. Some also said the run course was short, but I’m not sure where they went wrong.  Overall, I’m going to say this was a really good (challenging) half distance race.

The olympic race was unchanged from last year, so I won’t re-hash the course (it’s over here if that’s what you’re looking for).

SWIM (1500 m):
The swim at Lake Logan is traditionally wet-suit legal and this year was no different. Lake temp was 68.5 with the creek dropping down into the frigid range. I really didn’t have any issues swimming and the men were spread out enough by the time I started catching them that there was no #wallofdudes. Good swim – just a little bit faster than last year.

Time: 21:17 (5/138 Overall, 1/9 AG)

Swim - PaulChristopher - Mozilla Firefox 852014 113543 AM

T1: 4:59. I absolutely could not get my wetsuit off. I’ve been practicing taking it off in-water, but this was not really an option at Lake Logan so I waited, then couldn’t get it over my feet. Very annoying.

BIKE (40K):
While I didn’t have a bad bike…I feel like I kind of wimped out on the second half. I could have gone faster but I intentionally slowed down on the second half because??? No good reason at all. What’s done is done, but next time I need to suck it up a little and go hard to the finish. I mean, seriously, it’s only 25 miles. Still, 3 mins faster than last year.

Time: 1:17:17 (52/138 Overall, 4/9 AG)

Bike - PaulChristopher - Mozilla Firefox 852014 114303 AM

T2: 2:33
Nothing to see here, just fartin’ around in T2.

RUN (10K):
I’m really disappointed in this run. I really thought I was doing better than I did and I felt really good at the finish. So I guess this means I could have run faster and just didn’t. The good news is that I think the hill repeat workouts were definitely beneficial.  Since the first 3 miles are uphill (the entire way), I set my run/walk interval at a half mile/1 min since the distance of the ICAR hill is about 0.5 miles. I certainly walked far less than I did last year and felt much stronger.  On the last 3 miles, I tried to power through, walking at the aid station because I was feeling very thirsty but apparently I was not running very fast because I was a full minute slower than last year.  So that was very irritating since last year I felt like death during the run and walked a whole lot more.  The only good news was that I felt like I could have kept running…like I could have gone and done the second loop with the 70.3-ers.  So maybe I felt strong but slacked off?  It’s not clear but I felt good about finishing well and sticking to my chosen intervals.

Time: 1:06:18 (7/9 AG ARG)

Total Time: 2:52:22 (63/138 Overall, 4/9 AG)

Finish - PaulChristopher - Mozilla Firefox 852014 123535 PM

Just off the podium, but the girl in 3rd was like 20 minutes faster, so really not close at all =).  Still, it is a 3 minute PR from last year and I feel like my training is headed in the right direction. This is definitely a favorite race!

PS. One of my friends/co-workers qualified for Kona at IM Canada last weekend…then did this race and got 2nd! He is an absolute nut! But awesome.

PPS: This shirt is awesome.20140802_120801

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Muncie 70.3 Race Report

It’s cool; I’ve only been waiting a few weeks to do a report for Muncie 70.3. I’d say that I’ve been OMGSUPERBUSY in but reality I’m just lazy. But I think it’s worth getting around to because when I researched this event I couldn’t find much good information on the course.

SO. The race is in Indiana (duh). Kind of out in the middle of nowhere. Since I stayed with my parents I didn’t have to worry about a hotel or finding something to eat in Muncie (though if you’re going, I highly recommend Scotty’s Brewhouse – they have the best loaded french fries ever). It was still a solid hour from my parent’s place to the race site. I think the set-up of the sit was pretty good though. There was plenty of space for parking nearby and it was pretty spectator friendly. Packet pick-up was hassle-free and I even bought something from the official store (which I never do, but I really like visors). The only complaint I have on that side was that they gave me the wrong number wristband in my packet and I didn’t notice until the next morning because I am clearly super observant. But they were pretty understanding about it post-race when I was picking up my gear, so no big deal.

We cut it a little close on race morning so I was hustling to get set up in transition and warm-up before the race. The lines for the bathrooms were HUGE. Like worse than anything I’ve seen at races. There were a lot of spectators in line. A note for spectating races: if you can wait until the race starts, PLEASE, please do. That would really help out.

Getting hugs from mom

Getting hugs from mom

My last 70.3 I was so, so, so nervous before the swim start. Luckily, that was not the case this time – I think because I knew it was going to hurt a lot, so oh well!  I got lucky on the weather again, too – not too hot and overcast.

The swim is a big triangle Prairie Creek Reservoir and the water was pretty calm that morning. The wind picked up later that day and it looked really choppy, so I’m guessing on windy days that’s a tough swim but it was nice for us! Of all things….it was wetsuit legal. Guess what I left in South Carolina? My wetsuit. I never would have imagined having a wetsuit legal race in July but the water temp was 74.5 that morning – so I guess you should always come prepared! It certainly wasn’t a race-killer but it would have been nice to have.


The “young” women were in wave 5, which, while better than our usual place of dead last, still put us behind a whole bunch of slow-poking men.  This was a big problem for the last ~700 m or so. We started out pretty crowded (as expected), but were pretty well spread out by the time we hit the 2nd turn buoy…then ran into the masses of men.  They were all over the place swimming willy-nilly all  over the lake. It was crazy. I’m pretty sure I ran over at least 3 or 4 dudes swimming perpendicular to the swim course. It’s like they weren’t even trying. My parents said they could see it from the shore. I was definitely feeling impatient that day because I just ran them over rather than try to avoid them.

Time: 34:09 (44th Female Overall, 3/58 AG)

My dad has one of those fancy-pants cameras so many photos were taken

My dad has one of those fancy-pants cameras so many photos were taken

T1: 4:42

This includes the run up to T1 and I didn’t wear a watch to check my actual time in the water, but I’m guessing 32-33? This was the first time I swam in my tri suit with no wetsuit and it sure drags a lot of water! Still, a good swim, but I could have been better if I weren’t foolish and brought my wetsuit with me.

WOW this is the flattest bike course ever. There are probably flatter courses somewhere but compared to what I’m used to, it was amazing. I think my Garmin showed just under 1000 ft of elevation total. I do think my lack of ability to train in aero much around Greenville hurt me during the back half of the ride, though.

Couldn't get clipped in...

Couldn’t get clipped in…

Also, it sounds like the changes that were made to the bike course from years past were really good. I thought it was a good course.  It starts out of transition on a few country roads with a few turns. Some bumps to watch out for too. The race director said at the pre-race meeting that they had used 30 bags of cold seal to try and patch up the roads for the race when they might normally only use 5. After about 7 miles, the course makes a turn onto a nice, smooth, flat highway for a double 10 mile out and back before heading back to transition. There were two aid stations on that stretch of road so you hit each one twice – more than usual for 70.3.

Anyways, my race: I knew the run was going to suck no matter what I did on the bike, so I went out hard and fast.  Once I hit the highway, I stayed in aero and tried to keep the pace at “comfortable hard”, and when I glanced at my average speed after the first loop I was at 19.3 mph.

Ok, one illegal pic.

Ok, one illegal pic.

Things degraded a little bit after that, though not too bad. I was a little bit tired (probably from riding a lot faster than usual) and was probably not eating enough. When I made the last turn around at the far end of the loop I started to feel some pain in my left hip/groin every time I pushed down with that leg on the pedal. All the tiny inclines that were nothing on the first loop were really painful coming back and it only got worse as I kept going.  I think this was mainly due to my lack of experience riding in aero for a prolonged amount of time (I tend to sit up a lot because of freaking mountains) because I’ve never had pain in that spot before. Still, I finished as hard as I could.

Time: 2:59:38 (131 Female Overall, 13/58 AG)

Even though I was in some serious pain at this point, I was super happy with this bike since I was right at my goal of 3 hours. Definitely a totally different riding experience from my first 70.3.

T2: 4:33 – I’m going to be totally honest: I sat down in transition and contemplated not continuing for a moment because my left leg hurt so much. Then I figured I could walk to the finish if I had to, so I put my shoes on, took a couple salt pills and walked on.

Oh boy. I knew I wasn’t ready to run a half-marathon in the best of circumstances.  I started out walking, hoping that my hip would loosen up a bit. I saw my parents not far from the run start so I let them know that I was not great but would probably be fine. I walked for about a half mile (and watched all the pros come flying by) before I decided to try running and it wasn’t too bad.

Takin a sunday stroll

Takin a sunday stroll

The course was out and back and hilly. Where did they find those hills? I didn’t know they had those in Indiana. There wasn’t anything very steep but the whole course was rolling and never really leveled out at all. I’m not sure which is worse.

Once I started running, I thought I could do 4:1 intervals…then 3:1 intervals…then I just stopped pretending and ran to random crap I could see in the distance. I’m not even going to say that I ran half of the course – though apparently when I did run it was pretty fast because my overall time was not nearly as bad as I anticipated. Once I got going, though, I never thought about quitting again. I just kept hacking away at each mile until it was over. I grabbed ice to stuff in my hat at every aid station and kept getting water/gatorade/coke so I would get dehydrated. Since I was walking so much, I wasn’t overly concerned with stomach issues (though I still didn’t touch the GU), so I went ahead and grabbed food too.

FINALLY the last mile came and it started raining. It didn’t matter much since I was totally soaked anyways, but it definitely was nice and cool. Then there was a big-ass hill to the finish so I made myself run to the end (also, my parents were at the top and I didn’t want to walk by them again).

Big hill...

Big hill…

Time: 2:36:32 (235 Female Overall, 26/58 AG)
It was misery and a half but I got it done in not too much worse than I could have hoped.

Overall: 6:19:34 (235 Female Overall, 26/58 AG)

It’s a PR, so I’m going with it. I’m really, really pleased with my bike split and the run was not…as bad as it could have been. I definitely enjoyed the race overall! It’s a nice course and Ironman puts on a good race. I was even able to enjoy the post-race food a little (unlike last time, when I thought I was going to die or something). I’m glad since it was some awesome roast chicken.

Face stuffing post-race

Face stuffing post-race

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Muncie 70.3 Pre-Race

And just like that, we’re less than one week away from my second 70.3. Crap.  I think I’m less nervous about the race distance (now that I know I can do it, at least) but still having some minor freakouts about the weather and the fact that I spent two weeks in France basically doing nothing – except eating.

I picked this race because of it’s proximity to my parent’s house. I haven’t seen them since Christmas so I’m really, really excited to go visit. So even if everything else goes wrong, this will be a successful trip. For now, I have to focus on packing (ALL THE THINGS) and mentally preparing myself for a nine hour drive home.

So, let’s talk about the race.  I do have some goals this time since I would certainly like to be faster than my last race (6:36).

The swim will probably not be wetsuit legal. For me this is NBD since I don’t much like wearing it and it’s pretty unclear how much it actually helps me out. I’m planning to pack it just in case because the forecast for the next few days is pretty chilly overnight, but I’m not planning for it.  My swim training hasn’t been anything special so I’m not expecting anything amazing, but I think somewhere between 29-33 mins is reasonable. If I’m slower than 35, I’ll probably be irritated. I guess it depends on how well I manage the start with a big group (since this is my first “big” triathlon). This should be fine, though.

The bike is where I’m hoping to really show my training. I’ve been training hard on the bike – lots of intervals, lots of sprints, lots and lots of climing and lots of miles. The course will be really, really (really, really) flat.  The official course map shows around 500 ft and I know it’s not usually very accurate so I searched the internet, but still couldn’t find anything more than 700 ft. Considering we hit 900 ft on a 15 mile ride last night….I would consider this “pancake-flat”.  I read some race reports that said there were hills, but I don’t believe it. There are no hills in central Indiana ;).

Do you even hill train, bro?

Do you even hill train, bro?

Anyways, based on the ride I did at Safe Harbor a little over a month ago, I know I can hold 17+ mph for the distance. I think I can probably go even faster than that on this flat course. I think a goal of 3 hours (18.7 mph) is doable for me. I’m going to shoot for it because I’m pretty sure the run is going to be really rough matter what – so I should at least have good bike split.

Then the run. Oh boy.  I am not at all comfortable with my distance running right now. It’s been pretty pitiful, especially since I returned from France. I tried to do 10 miles the weekend I returned, but my hamstrings were so sore and tight from BodyPump the day before (BIG MISTAKE) that I could barely walk and just managed to get through 6.5 super slow miles.  I tried for 10 again last weekend and was utterly unmotivated. I dragged a friend with me and we managed to get through 8, but it was slow going.  I’ve got some pretty good speed on my weekday runs but no endurance at all. The only thing I have going for me is that it has been hella hot here in SC and it will be slightly less hella hot in Indiana. This probably won’t help all that much, but….it’s too late now to do anything about it. So I’m going to do my best and get across the finish line standing up.  If I can do it in 2:30, I’ll just be tickled. Frustrating, because I thought I would be better than this after training, but again, too late now.

So, hoping for the best! Just crossing my fingers for some reasonable weather (and no thunderstorms!!).

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At least I trained a little…

Well, now it’s been 2 weeks since I returned from a 2 week work trip to France where I basically failed at training for my soon to be here 70.3 race. Obviously since this was a business trip, I spent most of my time at work, but I tried to split my free time between eating/training/sight-seeing.  I’m pretty sure eating won out most of the time because the food was amazing.

It's cool to eat 3 desserts a day, right??

It’s cool to eat 3 desserts a day, right??

The good news is, I was able to fit in at least one session of each sport while I was there.  Running is easy because you can run anywhere, though I managed to get myself lost enough that a few of those run weren’t really productive. I did get 1 “long” run of 7 miles in, at least.  There was a tram line that ran through the city that run right past the hotel I stayed in so I followed the tram to the end and back which was pretty safe and kept me from getting super lost.


I also polled my triathlon friends at work for a place to swim. There is a nice 50 m pool in the downtown area – not far from the hotel either and it wasn’t too expensive (less than 4 euros). The French are super serious about their hygiene though. Caps are absolutely 100% required in the pool and you had better take a full shower before you get in. No shoes on the pool deck either! The pool was kind of a mess of people swimming breastroke randomly everywhere, but I still managed to get in a short swim before a big thunderstorm blew in.


The most fun part was the biking. I met up with an American ex-pat working there who happened to have an extra bike in the right frame size for me to ride. So I brought my pedals, shoes and helmet so I would have no excuse not to get on a bike. We went for a crazy fast ride out in the country and I also spent some time putzing around the city on the bike just to do something.

The highlight was getting the opportunity to ride up the Puy de Dome over the weekend.  This volcano/mountain used to be a part of the Tour de France route way back when, but it’s now generally closed to bicycle traffic.  So once a year the local cycle club hosts an event for people to come ride the course and it just happened to be the weekend I was there.  Definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity for me, so even though I suck at climbing I decided to give it a shot.

Before and After

Before and After

The ride started from a little village nearby called Orcines and we did a short warmup before heading to the climb. Let’s just say it was hard. I think the average grade is like 10%. The distance is not far – maybe only 3 miles, but 3 miles at 7-15% grade is pretty brutal.  I started out ok, but once we started hitting 12-13% I was pretty miserable. I took a breather around the halfway point, then kept going until I had about a half a mile left to go and could not pedal any more. The last bit is where the grade goes up to 15+% and so I got off that bike and pushed that sucker up to the top. Unfortunately, someone totally got it on video camera. There was a guy (probably from a local news station) who rode by on a motorcycle and asked me if it was too hard (in english, thankfully). YES IT WAS.


Still, I made it to the top, and descending is always way more fun.  We had to wait until a set time to come back down so everyone would come down together, but there was food and wine (this is France, after all) at the top while we waited. It was freezing up there, but luckily I had been smart enough to bring a jacket.

Descending was incredible.  It was really neat to see ~300 cyclists coming down this mountain all at once.  We all gathered again at the bottom for awards. They gave out awards for the fastest climbers obviously, but I got a little gift for traveling the farthest for the event!


After that, we rode back to the car to drop off the extra junk, then took off for a little more riding (on my poor jello legs, ow)to make it about 29 miles for the day. Really a lot of fun.

Of course, coming back, I had to face the reality of getting back in training gear and not eating dessert for every meal. Good to be home!

PicMonkey Collage4

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