Race Recap: California International Triathlon

I abruptly welcomed the 2016 triathlon season by jumping in on registering for USA Productions’ California International Triathlon. I’d been training pretty consistently, and figured I might as well try the International (or Olympic, if you prefer) distance.

Race day was early on Sunday, June 26, 2016. The day’s events took place at Shadow Cliffs Regional Park in Pleasanton, California. Along with the International distance, USA Productions offered a Sprint distance. The morning had a nice chill, but for those who’ve previously raced in Pleasanton, you know that it heats up quickly.

Pre-Race
My mom and I were in for the International distance, my dad on the Sprint. We racked our bikes in the same area in transition, and we set everything up. I had my usual pre-race jitters and felt them creeping up as I watched all of these athletes ready to go for the kill. I had plans to have fun. I had no intention of gunning for a PR at all. I just wanted to survive.

Swim – 1.5k – 00:38:43
The swim felt like the longest swim of my life, ever. I felt like I was going nowhere, and going nowhere fast. The buoys seemed so far away, and I was feeling discouraged. Strike one, Lianna. That small moment of defeat in the swim really held me back. The funny thing, this swim is in a calm lake, with a comfortable water temperature. I really just couldn’t find my niche. I did what I could, and actually ended up with a personal best on my swim for this particular distance. 

Transition 1 – 00:05:08
I struggled to get out of my wetsuit following the swim. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve raced a triathlon, so all of this seemed “brand new” when it really wasn’t. (Note to self: Practice transitions!) Chugged some water, dried off what I could, and then got ready for the bike. I saw our friend, Isa, out by the mounting line. And I was off.

Bike – 40k – 1:47:30
This was the discipline that I’ve always been weak at. But I knew there was going to be improvement here because this is what I’d been training and working on the most lately. The bike ride was mainly flat, but then it had a long, gradual climb into the valley. That’s where I struggled, and where I think I exerted way too much energy. It was a weird feeling. I was excited because I knew I was doing better than I’d done on this distance previously, but also struggling. If that even makes sense. I didn’t drink enough liquids, and I don’t think I ate enough. I think the race adrenaline got me feeling some type of way. I did, however, set another personal best on the bike…. I typically finish a 40k in a little over two hours. This was a solid sub-2 and while I am happy with it, I knew I didn’t race smart. And ultimately, the bike got the best of me, which left me hurting on the run….

Transition 2 – 00:03:59
I saw my dad at the entrance to the transition and I was about ready to cry.I had a flood of emotions filling my body, and the bike had depleted me. My legs were heavy and I was fighting to get out of transition. I drank more water and ate a gel before making my way out.

Run – 10k – 01:39:58
By the time the run came around, it was hot. And the moment I stepped out onto the trail, I knew the run was going to be a long one. I also remembered how much I hated running at this particular park because it lacks shade pretty much everywhere. Luckily, there were aid stations at every mile. I dumped water on my head at every chance I had. I walked practically the whole thing. I tried to run when I could, but the heat was just eating me up. You could feel the heat radiating from the ground up. At the start of my second loop, I decided to just walk. I felt like the last person on the course. Surprisingly, I wasn’t. I ran the last quarter mile into the finish, where I saw my parents and felt relief.

Overall race time: 04:15:20

Post race, I felt like crap. I  started feeling lightheaded and dizzy. I think I hit the point of dehydration, but I also figured it was because I scarfed down half a burrito immediately after my finish. My body probably didn’t know what was happening between the heat and solid foods going into my system.

Despite the feelings of defeat multiple times throughout this race, I am decently proud of the personal bests I set in the swim and the bike. I know now that I need to race smarter, not harder. My body had been exhausted of nearly all energy when the run came around, and that should not have happened had I been smarter about my bike.

Lessons learned.

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Race Recap: The Disneyland Half Marathon

Bangarang Runners // 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend

I was given the chance to run this race again, thanks to Team Up! with Autism Speaks. I surpassed my $1250 fundraising goal by an additional $200 hundred dollars. Not bad for my first time fundraising for a race! I also dedicated my run (and will be giving my medal) to my cousin, Kyle, who has Autism.

I figured this year, the Disneyland Half Marathon was either going to redeem itself into a weekend that I would enjoy, or further my conclusion that I hate this race. Last year was just “meh,” but this year, I was traveling to Anaheim with my team, the Bangarang Runners. I thought that maybe, just maybe this would be a great weekend.

Long story short: It WAS a great weekend!

Saturday, August 30 – Day before Race
I actually skipped out on all the crazy expo festivities. (Which I was very lucky for, because I hate crowded expos.) My teammates were nice enough to pick up my race stuff, as I still had to work from 9a to 12p the day before the race.

Once I was done with work, I made my way to the airport for my 2:35p flight. The flight down wasn’t so bad; the guy sitting in my row really enjoyed talking. I honestly wanted to sleep but didn’t want to be rude. lol Nice gentleman though. He was older, and he was explaining how he lived in both the Bay and LA. Nice.

I got to LA around 4p and hopped on my shuttle to Anaheim. I met up with my team (including me, there were 5 of us total!) and was able to drop my stuff off at the room before we went to the GardenWalk for dinner. We decided on California Pizza Kitchen, and we all ordered pasta. We brought our food back to the hotel grounds, and had dinner at the pool. It was really chill.

It also dawned on me that I had a race the next day. 😛 The last few years when I went down for the Disneyland Half, I would arrive around Friday afternoon and have time to gallivant before the race. Not this year! I chose to work as late as possible before heading down…..

After our poolside pasta dinner, we all went back up to the room and got our stuff ready. I think we were all in bed by 10p.

Sunday, August 31 – Race Day
As with all runDisney races, the alarm went off really early in the morning. I forgot what time we were up, probably around 3:30a or something. Since we didn’t have a car, we walked to our starting corrals.

My ultimate goal was to try and PR the course. I didn’t need an overall half marathon PR, just PR the course. I knew that goal was decently attainable because I’d been busting my butt off the last month with Nike Women’s Half Marathon training.

Anyway, so the race starts. I went out really fast, somewhere at a 10:30-pace. Luckily, the pace was enough to get me through the first mile and hoards of people. I slowed it down to about an 11:20-pace once the course took runners back into the Disney parks.

I was feeling really good, and kept up a pace somewhere between 10:45 and 11:30. It was a nice range of pace to be in. I have a really bad habit of looking at my watch, it’s something I need to break eventually, but it helped me see what kind of pace I was holding as I was getting those miles in.

The weather was overcast, and not really as hot as I thought it would be. But I still needed to beat the sun, because once that sun comes out, I would’ve been done. I do not do well in heat, despite doing my training runs in the middle of the day. (Thank you, work schedule!)

By mile 8, I knew I was going to hit not only a course PR, but an overall half marathon PR. With 5 miles left in the game, I tried not to get too cocky about it. I simply kept on running. The only time I walked was during the water stops, and yes, I hit every single water stop on the course. 😛 I’m the kind of runner that will feel every ache and pain if I stop running to walk for a long period of time. So with that in mind, I kept the walking to only the water stops.

I finished strong, and when I looked at my watch, I saw my (unofficial) time: 2 hours and 25 minutes! HOLY MOLY! That was a whole 21 minutes off of my previous half marathon PR of 2:46. Not only did I hit my goal of a course PR, I hit an overall half marathon PR, at the Disneyland Half Marathon, nonetheless!

In terms of my half marathon goals overall, I originally was aiming for a sub-2:45. And once I had hit that, my goal was to hit a sub-2:30. I killed both of those goals in one day.

It goes to show that consistent training along with speedwork really does pay off. I’m lucky to finally have a big group of friends who share the same passion for running (and triing) as I do. The Bangarang Runners have helped keep me grounded and accountable for the training. I’m looking forward to our next race, which will be the Nike Women’s Half Marathon next month in San Francisco. Woot!

With the redemption of the Disneyland Half Marathon this year, it’s hard to say if I’ll be back next year. If my team decides on it, I think I’ll go back. I had a lot more fun this year than last year!

Again, thanks to Team Up! with Autism Speaks for giving me the chance to fundraise and run this race. It was an awesome experience!

Race Recap: Triathlon at Pacific Grove

I registered for this race two weeks prior. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get this day off from work, since Saturdays are still considered work days for me. But regardless of whether I was going to get the day off to race or not, I’d been decently training.

This was my first time racing in the Triathlon at Pacific Grove, but my second with Tri-California events. I knew that I would not be disappointed; Wildflower was a blast and Pacific Grove was sure to follow up! This was also my second ever Olympic distance, I was pretty stoked!

Saturday, September 13 :: Race Morning & Pre-Race
It’d been a long time since I did a race on a Saturday! It tripped me out; usually we race on Sundays. 😛 With Pacific Grove only about an hour or so away from my house, I was able to sleep in the comfort of my own bed the night before. (The two previous triathlons, I was either sleeping in a tent or a hotel bed.) For those who aren’t familiar with Pacific Grove, it’s literally next door to Monterey. In fact, our race course (the run portion) touches base at the borderline of both cities!

I made some steel cut oats for breakfast, and gathered all my stuff to throw into the car. We drove my Escape (aka Zeus) since we weren’t sure what the parking situation would be like down in Pacific Grove.

One of my fellow teammates, Kelvin, was already at the race venue as I was getting ready. He let me know where he had parked, so that my parents and I could park in the same vicinity.

We arrived just as the sun started to creep out. The morning was overcast, actually. And a bit chilly. I went to pick up my race packet, which was a breeze, then made my way to transition.

Once my transition area was set-up, I grabbed my swimming gear (wetsuit, earplugs, cap, etc) and headed down to the beach/start line. Over the loud speaker, I was told that transition would be closed to athletes starting at 7:30, which was when the first wave was going off. So I took what I needed and went to find my family and friends on the beach.

I definitely had some pre-race jitters; it didn’t help that my wave went off nearly an hour and fifteen minutes after that first wave was to go off. It was pretty cool to see all the male athletes go off, and it gave me a chance to see how the swim course was going to be. I mean obviously, you can see by connecting the buoys, but this was my first ever race where each discipline required athletes to do laps to complete the distance.

About 10 minutes before my wave took off, I went into the water to get acclimated. Holy moly, that Pacific Ocean was SO COLD. The announcer said the water was about 61 degrees, which was surprising because it felt way colder than that. I think it was just the initial shock of getting in. (The water in San Francisco’s Aquatic Park is a lot colder than Pacific Grove; it ranges somewhere in the 50s.) I knew I needed to get water into my suit, so I dunked myself under and pulled the neck of my suit open to let it all flow in. Oh man, I really wanted to scream. haha It was just so cold! My teeth were chattering!

Anyway, I needed to get out of the water, since the start was actually on the beach. Athletes were to cross over the timing mat and then run into the water. I prefer these kinds of starts over the floating starts. Right before my wave took off, I looked at my parents and I knew this was going to be one hell of a race.

Swim – 1.5k – 2 laps – 39:15
As usual, the shock of my warm-up helped me ease into my swim. I wasn’t sure about swimming in the ocean, this was my first race doing so. This swim is known as the “kelp crawl,” and yes, that’s exactly as it sounds. The kelp really wasn’t that bad, and sometimes I would just grab onto it and propel myself through the water. (Is that considered cheating? lol)

The first lap was good. I was really good at sighting, and I let my body ease into the stroke and breathing. As I was swimming, I was trying to look below me to see if there were any interesting creatures. I was only able to see the sea floor, up until I got to the first buoy. Then it just turned dark. And of course I psyched myself out by thinking of Jaws. LOL I ended up singing the theme to myself and thought that my reverse psychology would help. It kinda did, but then I figured if a shark wanted to eat me, it probably would’ve done so already!

So before athletes could continue their second lap of the swim, they actually had to exit the water, and run around a beached anchor and then enter the water again. I think I was a bit disoriented when I exited the water, and I think I ran a little too fast because I was catching my breath as I entered…. But interesting experience anyway!

The second lap, my sighting was horrible. I noticed myself going off towards the right and had to keep sighting to see the buoy. I think it had something to do with my body going from horizontal to vertical then back to horizontal in such a short amount of time. (My brain was dizzy!) That, and there might have been a current in the ocean. Oh, this was the lap that I saw a starfish under me!! I was so amazed! I really wish I could’ve swam down in and touched it. But hey, race day, so I had to keep going. haha

I saw my parents coming out of the swim, and I was slightly delirious. I dropped my goggles going up towards transition, which probably cost me 2 seconds. I waved to my parents, and heard my mom yell, “FOCUS!”

Transition 1 – 5:23
I ran into transition and tried to get a cup of water at the water table. I couldn’t, because my hands were stuck in my wetsuit! I was struggling to get it off; I think it’s time to buy some more TriGlide. Eek! But once I got it off, I grabbed a cup and ran towards my area.

I didn’t really dry myself off, just my feet and legs. That probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, since I struggled trying to get my bike jersey on while wet. lol! But once I had everything on, I grabbed my bike and headed out

Bike – 40k – 4 laps – 1:51:20
There really isn’t much to say about the bike. Being that I had 4 laps to do, it was all mental than it was physical. I’d ridden the bike course previously, but as a leisurely ride and not a training ride. I had an idea of what it would be like.

The bike portion featured the most BEAUTIFUL views of the coast. I tried to soak it all in during my 4 laps while trying to maintain a consistent race pace. I wondered if the volunteers got bored of seeing the athletes 8 times, because you’d see everyone when you went out, then came back in, then back out and back in again. haha

My parents were out on the course, but more towards the turn-around point. It was nice to hear them cheering.

I started getting my typical biking aches (due to my bike not being properly fitted. NTS: Do that in off-season) around the end of lap 3 and it held on until I was done with my bike. Luckily, this time, my nerves weren’t pinched so hard, and I had feeling in all ten fingers. Woot!

Kelvin was already done with the race, and as I was getting into transition, I saw him, his fiancee Kathy and my parents cheering for me!

Transition 2 – 3:34
Man, I gotta get faster at this bike-to-run transition. I took off my cycling jersey and threw on my Bangarang jersey, then put my shoes on. I had to also reset my watch so that I could track my run. I grabbed my gel and some water and made my way out…

Run – 10k – 3 laps – 1:17:31
I started out way too fast on the run, and it eventually caused me to slow down for the rest of the run. But that’s okay. I don’t think I ever mentioned that I went hiking at Yosemite the weekend before. Yea, that gnarly 8-10 mile hike we did was causing trouble to me on race day! haha It sucked big time.

I thought the first lap was HORRIBLE. By mile 2, my calves were cramping and spasming so bad. The course itself was decently flat with only slight rolling hills. Nothing impossible. But my calves were not having it.

I consumed my gel around the halfway point, and that made the last two laps a little more bearable. My mom ran with me towards the turn around point on my second lap. As usual, she was giving me tips. I managed a slight negative split from my second lap to my last lap, and even though I was a bit disappointed in my time, I was happy that I was able to get through the 10k okay!

Finish – 3:57:03
When I came into the finish from my last lap, I tried to sprint in as fast as I could. There was a lady in front of me, but I didn’t have it in me to pass her up. So I let her finish before me (you never cross the line at the same time as someone else!) and I felt okay with that!

I saw my parents and Kathy and Kelvin at the finish. Then I made a bee-line to get some food!! I found out that my mom wanted me to come in at sub-4, a goal that she told everyone BUT me. lol As always, I just wanted to finish. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do, because even though I had been training, my training was still focused on running, not so much the swimming and biking.

Overall, a great experience at Pacific Grove. This course is flat, fast, and fantastic! It’s great to do time trials on. I will definitely be returning next year.

Special thanks to my family and to the Bangarang Runners for the support! My tri season is done for 2014. Time to step up to the plate, and finish off 2014 with some running events. 🙂

Race Recap: The Folsom Sprint Triathlon

Fil-Am Tri NorCal @ Folsom Triathlons

The family and I were back in Folsom this past weekend to participate in the Folsom Triathlons. I love coming to Folsom. It’s not too far from home, but far away to make it a weekend getaway. The parents and baby brother were out to race the Olympic and I was out to kick butt on the Sprint.

Coming back to the Folsom Sprint Triathlon was on my list the moment I crossed the finish at last year‘s event. I knew I wanted to redeem myself on this course, and I knew I could do so much better than that 2:55:33 time I’d gotten. (You can check out the photo recap from last year’s event here.)

And yes, I did come back with a PR!!

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Race Recap: Bay to Breakers

This was my first time running the San Francisco Bay to Breakers 12k event. My friend Karla wanted to run it with someone, and I was just looking for a race to do after Wildflower, so I registered as well.

We decided to right BART up to San Francisco to avoid all the congested traffic that this race was going to cause. Karla and her boyfriend, Jason, met up with me at the Fremont BART station so we can catch an early train. We missed the first train, at 6:10, but were lucky to get onto the 6:30 train.

The ride up was pretty chill, and at every stop, we managed to pick up a group of people in wacky costumes. I had no intention of dressing up in a costume; I wanted to see how fast I could run this race while weaving through all those party people. I originally wanted it to be a training run, but in the end, that never happens anyway.

We got off at the Embarcadero station and went to go find our corral entrances. Karla and I were in different corrals; she was in D, and I was in B. The corral entrances were on opposite sites, so we ended up splitting up way early, and didn’t get to run together. 😦

On the way to my corral, I found some of my FilAm Tri teammates, Rolly and Kat. Kat was starting in corral B as well, and even though Rolly had a corral A bib, he bumped down to ours.

I was definitely not aware of the flying tortillas. The entire time I passed a group of people, I assumed they were frisbees! But they were tortillas, and while waiting for our corral to start, we were all unfortunate targets of said tortillas, and even little puffy marshmallows.

The race started off super late, like 20 minutes late. I thought they had forgotten about our corral. But around 8:30, we took off.

I walked the first 1.5-2 miles with Kat and Rolly. I felt bad about leaving them but when they said it was okay for me to run, I went ahead and took off!

I got into my groove right as we got to the Hayes Hill challenge, which wasn’t much of a challenge, really. (The hills at Wildflower were so much worse.) This one was an easy, gradual climb, and it took me 7 minutes to get up because there were SO MANY people! I definitely got stuck in the party zone going up Hayes Hill.

But once I hit the top, the course opened up a lot and I was able to pick up speed.  I was feeling pretty good following the long climb up Hayes Hill. I took my gel around mile 4, and it kept me going. I tried to stop at the water stops, but unfortunately, I was always there at the wrong time- volunteers would be frantically trying to put out cups and fill them with water. It got to the point where I just skipped them all together.

Honestly, from mile 3 onward to the finish isn’t really that exciting. I got my groove around mile 3 and hit negative splits all the way to the finish:

Splits and unofficial time per my Garmin. Close enough. lol

Around mile 6, Rolly had caught up to me! 😛 He came out of nowhere and then he left me behind. Kat was somewhere behind also- she didn’t get a chance to get some running done before the race, so she was taking it nice and easy.

Rolly probably finished moments before I did. I managed to cross the line at about the same time as a hundred or so other people, and boy was the finish crowded! But I got my paperweight and then went on to wait for Karla.

First Bay to Breakers in the books! Bangarang!

2014 Bay to Breakers Finishers!

My official time was 1:39:11. Not a bad time- I did have to zig zag through a lot of people. And I walked the first 2 miles or so! But, I had a fun time, overall. I mean, I think I saw a little more nudity than I wanted to, but everyone looked like they were enjoying themselves. I am considering coming back next year, but with a costume! (At least a costume that I can still run fast in…hehe)

Thanks San Francisco and Bay to Breakers for a great race!

Race Recap: #OperationWildflower

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been about two weeks since I raced at the Wildflower Triathlon Festival. Not going to lie, two weeks later, and I’m still savoring my sweet finish. Lake San Antonio and TriCalifornia Events did not do me dirty that weekend. 🙂

First Olympic Triathlon Done!

The long awaited race recap is finally here. I still tear up whenever I think about this race. In one word: EPIC. To date, it is now my most memorable race. (Though redemption at Folsom might be coming soon to replace that.) ANYWAY. Here’s how the race went down:

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