What do you do when you reach a major goal? After a week travelling around Arizona with my family after Ironman I still wasn’t sure. That was odd for me. Last year, the day after I raced Ironman Florida, on the drive back home, I knew exactly what I had to do. I was going to race a triathlon being an able body for someone who couldn’t do it themselves. ThumbsUp was born. I raced the South Beach triathlon with my severely disabled friend Kerry Gruson and that experience continues to be one of the highlights of my life. ThumbsUp continues to grow, Kerry has been racing with many others, and soon other adaptive athletes will be competing as part of the team.
Another goal after Florida was to get a six pack. I was afraid that without a commitment all my hard work of getting fit would go to the wayside during the holiday season. That goal was never reached. I realized in the process that though it helped me to make better choices during the holidays, it wasn’t something I wanted enough to make the changes in how my family and I ate. Food continues to be my final frontier …
The final goal was to embrace running, and I ran the Miami Marathon.
I realized I don’t love running; I endure running. But Miami is now in running season with perfect weather and our marathon coming up in January. Every morning I see people run past my house, and I lose Joe every Saturday morning as he heads out with his running group training for the Miami Half Marathon. It’s tempting because I do like some running but …
I don’t want to run a marathon next month.
The “off-season” to me is about doing the things I love and taking a break from the rigor of swim, bike run.
Soon I understood …. there is a little bug in my head. There is a race that completely baffles and intrigues me. I’ll drive anyone who has done it crazy with loads of questions. It’s a bucket list item … somewhat unrealistic cost wise right now but who knows? I’ve learned to stop thinking some things are too big for anyone.
It’s RAAM. The Race Across America.
This is a relay bike race from Ocean Side, California to Annapolis, Maryland. Though some complete nuts attempt it alone, the relay is a pipe dream for me right now.
To compete you need to be a cyclist, and I want to be a cyclist. And cyclists that think of doing RAAM someday do 12-hour bike races. In essence, you see how many miles you can ride in a twelve hour period. That is what I am going to do.
During this off-season, I am going to focus on my cycling skills and compete at the Sebring 12 Hour Race on Valentines Day. Two things make this possible. First there is this guy:
My husband Joe whom I love, is patient, and supports me because he believes in going after your dreams.
And this guy:
My bike guru Andreas, who is also patient, has been my sponsor for over two years and has been a part of every adventure I’ve had thus far.
First I carefully ran the idea by Joe. Training for Ironman Arizona took a lot out of us. He switched jobs and had been travelling often. He got home and I said “you are in charge of kids, I’m going out to train.” I felt that wasn’t fair as he barely got any weekend downtime; therefore Bike Sebring couldn’t be the same way. We discussed logistics: I will do the bulk of my training during the week, and a good amount on a trainer. Deal.
With Joe on board I went to Andreas.
While trying to convince him to race Sebring himself, I told Andreas I wanted to be a cyclist. He understood. Yes, I am a cyclist in that I cycle but I am a triathlete more than a cyclist. I don’t have to be the fastest person in his studio, but I want to be a rider that when someone asks anything he can say: “yes, Cristina is a strong cyclist.”
That includes being good at changing a tire (which I am not as Arizona taught me), knowing my bike, understanding components and how they affect my riding. I want to be able to “talk shop” where today I talk “damsel in distress.”
Andreas agreed for Ultrabikex Studio to once again sponsor me (thank you thank you) and much to my horror Andreas took off the reflectors on my wheels. Most people get them off the day they get their bikes. It’s like a newbie thing, like the visor on your helmet. The reflector is somewhat useless and shows everyone you are a newbie. Makes no sense, it’s just a thing with cyclists.
I kept mine on for the past 2.5 years. It became a conversation piece on group rides as to why I still had them on. And then they became my good luck charm.
The real reason he took them off was because the back wheel was making a noise, not as an induction ceremony. But Andreas said “you want to be a real cyclist? You take out these reflectors.”
Then he killed me on a 20-mile strength workout on the Computrainer.
Just like that, my training for the 12 hour Bike Sebring has officially begun.