Chula Vista Challenge: Sprint Triathlon Recap… MY FIRST TRI!

Good morning friends! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend swimming, biking, running, and spending time with friends and family. The day is finally here… I CAN FINALLY CALL MYSELF A TRIATHLETE! It has been a long time coming with a lot of bumps and bruises along the way, but happy to bring you all my first triathlon race recap. Spoiler alert: I am pretty hooked. IMG_1167Saturday morning started with a course preview with Jason. Before we started our ride, I got hopelessly lost three times until I found our meeting spot, and we also ran into another triathlete wearing some pretty cool pajamas…

Seeing the course ahead of time definitely made me more excited to race on Sunday. I knew what to expect and what to avoid (lots of cracked roads and potholes). On our way back, Jason had to get in some speed work, so we split up. I had one job only: to turn left onto a street to get back to where we parked. Turns out I missed that street, ended up on another bike path headed to National City, and if not a text from Jason checking to see if I was alive, could have taken a lot longer to get back. Oh, the joys of learning how to cycle!IMG_1178We got our race packets, and I rushed home to get ready for my first bridal shower!! One of my teammates, Talia, is getting married in 3 weeks and we were so excited to celebrate with all of her family and girlfriends. It was awesome seeing everyone out of spandex and running clothes. The BT girls clean up nice :) I attribute a lot of my Sunday racing to all the great food at the shower and advice from these kickass women!! IMG_1188Rest of Saturday was filled with Elle cuddle time and dog park fun. IMG_1185Plus carbo loading with the roommates. Pesto pasta- you really hit the spot. IMG_1190The big day! I was kind of freaking out the day before because I had heard some rumors that the race would not be wetsuit legal. I really like having that extra protection and buoyancy from the wetsuit and didn’t know what to expect with swimming in just my tri kit. Jackie gave me a lot of advice the night before on how to navigate the waters and my coach said that the salt water should add more than enough buoyancy to survive 500 yards. Despite their reassuring words, I was pretty stoked when I arrived Sunday morning and HALLELUJAH! It was wetsuit legal! Thank you water, for being 76 degrees instead of 78! By the way. I feel like I look like a Teletubbie in the above picture.

I got caught up with talking to Anthony and Elle before the start and didn’t realize all the orange swim caps (the wave I was suppose to start with) had all headed out to the starting buoy that was about 100 yards out. Got a little bit of a sprint in before the race started and when I arrived, the woman had already started counting down from 10 and BOOM. We were off! I had my goggles knocked out of my head the first 2 minutes into the swim and after that I worked pretty hard to just keep to myself. My only fear was that my Nemo fin (what I call my bad arm) would get knocked my someone in the water and would make the rest of the swim more painful than it needed to be. Swim goal: to not be the last orange cap out of the water. Goal accomplished! IMG_1223Out of the water embarrassingly slow but tried not to think too much about it since swimming has still been tough since I broke my collarbone. I quickly got out of my wetsuit, got my bike gear together, and it was time to start the bike leg! The first part of the course consisted of extremely narrow bike lanes that I was not prepared for. A bunch of speedy cyclists were yelling and trying to get past anyone that was in the way. I told myself to breathe and prayed the course would widen up. People who put the cones together: I have some complaints! Once we got onto the main road, I was able to breathe again and settled into a pretty good rhythm to crank out the rest of the 14 mile bike ride. It was pretty great seeing other friends and teammates on the course- thanks Tony for the shoutout and encouragement while you were working on the Half Aquabike.
IMG_122214 miles later and started the run leg with my helmet on my head. Thank you kind volunteer for chasing me down so I didn’t look dumb the last 5K. I was finally in my happy place: onto the run and having both feet planted firmly on the ground. I didn’t know how the length of the bike course was going to affect my running since the last duathlon I did, the bike course was a lot shorter. I started counting my “kills” and seeing how many people I could pass on my run, a habit I picked up after doing SoCal Ragnar 2 years ago. I cheered on Bernardo as he started the second lap in the international triathlon run, and focused on making sure I didn’t get passed by anyone. I felt like a turtle moving through peanut butter for the majority of the 5K. Heat and I do not get along. Towards the mile 2 marker, I noticed a girl that looked like she could be doing the sprint triathlon too and from the back, it looked like we could also be in the same age group. Even though it was hot and my legs were on fire, I had to get closer to see. Slowly, started gaining on her and yup. 20 years old was clearly written on her left calve and I made it my goal to catch up to her, if not pass her for that podium spot. Caught up to her the last quarter mile in the race and it was a hardcore sprint to the end, but she passed me the last 5 seconds with a nice elbow to the face. We hugged it out at the finish and just like that, my first triathlon is in the books! 1 hour and 34 minutes- DONE! IMG_1191Some cute faces I was excited to see after the race! IMG_1212I was pretty convinced the girl that passed me in the finisher chute booted me out of a podium spot in my age group but was happily surprised when Jason called me to the results table to see that I squeezed myself into third place for my first triathlon! All three of us finished with 5-6 seconds between all of our times so it was definitely a close one. Maybe one day, I’ll be on the podium where all three spots are filled? IMG_1211Special thanks and shout outs to the original tri family :) So thankful for all the Karavidas for supporting me at various races and for being there for my first tri! Happy that Striker and Elle also have each other now so they aren’t bored out of their minds during a race. Jason killed the international duathlon with a first place overall finish, despite a hot and long day! Thanks for letting me bug you everyday at work about triathlon related things. I’ll try aero bars eventually.

I really could not do any of this without the best coach in the world, Felipe. Even though this is my first tri, I’ve noticed major improvements in my fitness and mental strength since I started training under his guidance and with our team. Not only does he tailor my workouts to work on my weaknesses and strengthen my strengths, he is there for every physical, mental, emotional rollercoaster we all have for him! Seriously. Need a coach? I guess I’ll share- check out Breakaway Training! IMG_1206I think Elle had a great time at the race too. She got an award for digging the most holes at the beach. It was really impressive to hear all about it from Anthony. And of course, what would I do with the greatest boyfriend in the world? Thanks for supporting me on this journey and telling it like it is- CAN’T WAIT TIL OUR FIRST TRIATHLON TOGETHER! IMG_1220Celebrated the best way I knew how: food and beer. Starting with trying Tacos El Gordo for the first time post race since we are not down in Chula Vista.. ever. IMG_1227To burgers and beer for dinner. IMG_1229Followed by more beer. Don’t worry. Salads and kale start again today! Also, this IPA and Coffee Stout from Rip Current Brewery in North Park are both delicious!

Why I Started Blogging About Running and Fitness

Recently I was asked why I started blogging and after a long-winded explanation full of passion, excitement, and enthusiasm about how RunMileswithSmiles was born, I realized I wanted to put the condensed version on the blog itself. Blogging is one of my favorite ways to express my creativity while reading other people’s blogs offers motivation, inspiration, and support that is hard to find in other written pieces in my opinion. There is something organic and authentic that I really love about blogging. I truly love the blogging and fitness community and was very excited to join it with my own.

4 years ago (holy cow, has it already been 4 years?!), I realized I was in a very unhealthy place in my life. I had gained beyond the freshman 15 after my first year of college, I was staying up way too late, eating too much junk food, and it would honestly take me some time to try to remember the last time I ate a vegetable. While dorm food wasn’t the healthiest, I bypassed the salad bar way too often for one too many meatball subs with a side of curly fries.It also didn’t help that Anthony is a string bean and when we first started dating in college, I tried to keep up with everything he ate and drank. Needless to say, it was not a very good idea. I was feeling lethargic and struggled to walk from one side of campus to another (in my defense, our campus is HUGE). Don’t even get me started on how often I exercised because I didn’t want to walk to the gym. I was also going through a tough time emotionally. My father passed away unexpectedly from stage 4 cancer the first quarter I was in San Diego and it’s true. Everyone copes with grief differently and I coped with food and unhealthy habits that kept me from thinking about just how sad I was.481319_10150905793213213_1579529643_n.jpg

Sometime that summer after my first year of college, I decided I needed to make a change. My initial goal was just to lose some weight and start eating healthier. I started the Insanity 60 Day fitness challenge with Anthony and I was instantly hooked to the challenge and hardships of the fitness program. I don’t know what it was but something about how the physical pain of each 45-60 minute workout was greater than anything I was feeling about missing my dad or how everyday, it gave me a new obstacle to focus on, really drove me to push myself. No matter how hard the workout was, I was also having a ton of fun and also  made it a little competition with Anthony to see how far we could get without taking a break in between each interval. I guess I was always competitive!

When the challenge ended, I started to look for new ways to stay active and thought I would try running. I ran track briefly (like for a hot second) in middle and high school but for a long time, hated it because who wants to run in a 100 degrees with a 110% humidity in Florida?! Not this girl. In the very beginning, I had no idea how to get started. Do I run a mile? Half a mile? Go as long as I could until I passed out? Clearly all of the thoughts of a noob runner. I decided to start reading articles on Women’s Running Magazine, Competitor, and Runner’s World to get advice on how to get started. Then I started reading blogs and boom! Everyday I was inspired by the women in the fitness community with similar stories as mine and how now they have qualified for the Olympic trials or BQed or PRed their latest race. I loved reading their stories and it would constantly push me on my runs. I started to love running and pretty soon in that year, won my first local 5K and went on to run my first half marathon, the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll 1/2 in 2012.10689900_10152927000578213_1429947822932830115_n.jpgDistance races really hooked me from the start and since then, I’ve completed three marathons, multiple halves (including the San Diego Triple Crown Challenge), a Ragnar Relay (favorite running memory to this day), a duathlon, and joined a triathlon team to start making the transitions from just running to cycling and swimming as well. I wanted to start tracking my fitness journey and the improvements I made along the way, plus inspire and help others starting their fitness journey. It created RunMilesWithSmiles and opened up amazing windows of opportunity- hello blogging for Chobani and freelance writing for Women’s Running Magazine. I’m so happy I started this blog and hope to continue to grow and connect with more people through this amazing community. :)11150210_10153136017808213_1573105609976430211_n

Belated Donut Celebrations and Back to the Long Runs!

Happy Monday! Ready to start a great week? I am so excited to get through Monday-Thursday because from Friday- Sunday, I am going up to San Francisco! I am going up for a work event and Anthony is coming. When I’m not working, I’ll be visiting all of my friends that moved to San Francisco after graduation. Favorite city with my favorite friends- it’s going to be a good time!! FullSizeRender (11)The lines for all donut shops on National Donut Day were crazy!!! I postponed the celebration until Saturday morning. After an hour and twenty minutes on the trainer, this coconut chocolate donut sure hit the spot. IMG_0157The rest of Saturday consisted a lot of relaxing, time on the couch, and with my good friend, Netflix. Bo Burnham just came out with a new comedy piece that Anthony and I found hilarious. Near tears at some of his jokes!! IMG_0160This Snapchat was pretty accurate with a cute snoozing pup next to us:) IMAG0851Sunday ended up being a lot more of a productive day, starting with an early puppy training class, then acai bowls in Pacific Beach. Does anyone else have problems with their name being spelled correctly? Happens to me all the time no matter where I go. IMAG0859Post acai bowls was time to go up to Encinitas for a new bike helmet at my favorite bike shop, Nytro Multisport, and then a visit to the best dog park I’ve ever been to. Anyone in San Diego with a pooch, I highly recommend the Encinitas Community Park. It is family and kids friendly with baseball and football fields, play areas, and a skate park!IMAG0862Does anyone know how we can get a puppy to look at the camera? IMAG0867Since we don’t end up in Encinitas very often, we wanted to take advantage of local hot spots and of course, had to cross of a brewery on our list, the Lost Abbey. IMG_0162And finished off the day with 7 treadmill miles. Great way to end the day and I’m so happy to be incorporating long distance running back into my schedule 5 weeks after surgery. I was feeling pretty bummed when I woke up this morning because it was the first time in 4 years I wasn’t doing some version of the Rock n Roll 1/2 Marathon or Full Marathon. Excited to get back out there soon stronger than ever. IMG_0165Had to sit on the ground for awhile after that one. Thank goodness for a cold bottle of water and Miss USA playing at the gym to keep me entertained during my stretch and cool down period.