By Whitley Wirkkala
Working full time, having a social life and spending time with our families, most of us find it difficult to make it to the gym. For Christina, Occupational Therapist at Penrose Hospital, waking up at 4:30 in the morning to run 15 miles is a routine.
With a career focused on wellness, Christina knows the importance of staying active and living a healthy lifestyle. While talking with Christina you could tell how humbled she was by this experience. “To work with patients every day that can’t move the way you do makes you grateful,” said Christina “the body is an amazing thing.”
So what motivates a young gal with a full schedule to compete in an Ironman triathlon? I asked Christina and she told me it was because, “she was intrigued by endurance sports.” She was a gymnast, played tennis and ran track in high school. Once she got to college she didn’t have the time to continue those sports so she just started running. And, with a triathlon on her bucket list it only made sense.
Christina competed in her first Ironman in Arizona on November 17th, 2013.
For Christina everything went so smoothly. However, the swim was the hardest part.
“The water was cold and 3,000 athletes are trying to swim, fighting with other swimmers. I was being kicked in the face, elbowed in the head, kicked in the stomach and my feet were being pulled under,” she said.
Then the 112 miles of biking came where the flat terrain felt good compared to Colorado’s hills/mountains. She felt strong until the winds picked up. Not having the body mass that most of the athletes had made it difficult for Christina to maintain downhill speed.
To get through the walls that most athletes experience Christina made small goals. One of her goals was getting to mile 16 during the marathon so that she could drink a coke. Then, at mile 22, she was able to run alongside her dad. She told him, “isn’t it amazing what our bodies can do, especially when we think we have hit rock bottom.”
She was still running after going non-stop since 7:00 am and realized at her current pace she could break the 12 hour mark. With three miles left she could feel the adrenaline. One more hill and around the corner, Christina saw the Ironman banner and heard “Christy Thompson, you are an Ironman!”
Christina finished 13th in her division in 11 hours and 45 minutes.
“A triathlon can be a selfish sport. You make your own goals and you do what you want to do,” she said.
Christina made a commitment in finding a higher purpose in her triathlon and found an organization called More Than Sport. This organization inspires athletes around the world to DO MORE for the causes that motivate and inspire them individually. “Outward focus versus inward focus is the key to happiness,” she said.
Christina had a lot of support from her family, friends and coworkers. The whole experience was above and beyond her expectations and will be a memorable weekend to cherish the rest of her life.
Want to know what it takes to train for an Ironman Triathlon? Here is a brief look into Christina’s schedule.
Monday/Wednesday - Bike 60-90 min and/or swim 2000 yards, yoga
Tuesday/Thursday - Wake up at 4:30 AM and run -10 miles
Fridays – Hike the Incline, strength train
Saturday/Sunday – A long run between 18 and 22 miles, long bikes 60-100 miles and swim 4000-5000 yards