Shaping Up!

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When I was on the track and cross country teams in high school, my best 1-mile personal record was 6:06 and my 5k PR was 21:21. Not fast enough to win races, but fast enough to compete in the early heats. I was eating a diet loaded with sugars and simple carbs at the time, and I wish I’d known then what I know about my body's strong preference for vegetables and high fat meats over grains, dairy and fruits. I can only imagine I would have been competing at a higher level. 

Exercise routines in my twenties were irregular, but I probably ran on average 1-2 times per week in the 3-5k distance region. And I competed in an annual 5k race with my family in Great Falls, with a time of 27:05 at age 26, and 25:38 at age 27. When I lived in South Africa from 2014 - 2016, I couldn’t legally work (a long story, yet to be written), so I had a lot of time on my hands to train and cook really healthy AIP (Autoimmune Protocol) meals. I also had a very affordable gym membership, with access to a pool. In October 2015, I ran a 5k time trial on my own in our neighborhood for a time of 23:58 - so excited to just break 24:00. By the time we left South Africa, I was fit enough to compete in a Sprint Distance triathlon, which Wiehan and I simulated in February 2016 by swimming laps at our gym for a distance of 750m; and then biking a 20k loop from the gym and running a 5k loop. My times were 17:58 (swim), 46:49 (bike), 27:12 (run). Not exactly competitive, but still pretty descent for my first time exercising competitively for just under 90 minutes. The only reason I didn’t compete in a triathlon before moving to the U.S.? I’m terrified of swimming in open water - especially in murky waters like those in Johannesburg's Germiston Lake! hah! But despite that fear, I was in the best shape of my life and felt great.

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Fast forward to the beginning of 2017 - I’d been living in the U.S. for a year, working like crazy through substitute teaching and wedding & portrait photography, to bring in income after being unemployed for 3 years. I was eating mostly gluten free, but otherwise not following the AIP diet at all and regularly giving in to sugary temptations. I gained roughly 20 pounds and my running paces on a given training day fell to the 10-minute mile range. I was tired and felt terrible. All throughout 2017, I wanted to eat better, but couldn't muster up the discipline. I ran a 5k race on July 4th with my family - my dad and I huffed and puffed our way through it together and came in around 32:00. Oi. I walked during a race for the first time in my life. It was a fun experience with him, but I wasn’t happy with my shape. I started following my diet better toward the end of 2017 and my times began to improve. In November, I came in first place for the ladies at a small neighborhood 5k, at 25:43. 

Since then, Wiehan and I have been implementing weekly track workouts, when the weather allows. This, along with a better diet, has been helping my speeds tremendously. I participated in an indoor 1-mile race in February, with a time of 7:12. And now, over the weekend, Wiehan and I participated in the Potomac River Running Lucky Leprechaun 5k. I was really happy with my race performance, with a completion time of 24:31. It was tough and painful, especially with an uphill finish. But it was fun! And if I keep up with AIP and the training, who knows? Maybe I could shave another minute off my 5k time to get back to my shape in 2015. But what I’d really love to do? Break 7-minutes in the mile and inch closer to my high school PR. And maybe one day I’ll conquer my fear of open waters. Let’s see! 

- Christin

What are your dietary and race goals this year? And anyone else staying away from triathlons for fear of open water??