Christie Agtarap – Comfortable In Water, On Bike And On Her Feet

 

By Tom Rohrer

Endurance races, whether on foot, by pedal or through water, all present a physical challenge to those who participate in them.

But when you combine all three into one event, only the world’s toughest and physically fit individuals can complete the course.

Olympia area citizen Christie Agtarap is one of those individuals.

In August, Agtarap took home 7th place in the women’s 45-49 age group at the Ironman race in Penticton, Canada.

It was Agtarap’s third Ironman ever, with the first coming in 2008 at Coeur D’alene, Idaho, and Agtarap improved her personal completion record by over two hours.

“It was a great feeling, and I could tell I had performed at a much higher level and it showed in my time,” Agtarap said. “I still feel very proud and you think about how much work and training you put into something like this when it’s over.”

While Agtarap had positive feelings following her latest triathlon event, the same emotions were not present following her initial race.

“2008 was my very first and I didn’t know what to expect.  When I finished, I said to myself I would never do one again,” Agtarap said. “I was blaming everyone for signing me up for the race.  But two days later, I wanted to do another one.”

At age 40, Agtarap decided she wanted to begin training for a triathlon event.  She did not rush her training or enter into more advanced events initially, something she recommends to others looking to make a similar transition.

“I did smaller races, then bigger distances and finally a full Ironman,” Agtarap said. “People who do too much too soon get injured. It’s a gradual process to prepare yourself physically and mentally.  The key is to start gradually, build confidence and get a handle on it.”

Agtarap in part credits a balanced and efficient training schedule, along with her smaller stature, to her success in Ironman events, particularly those with higher temperatures.

“Most of the (training) is spent on the bike, and is really going to account for 55 percent of training,” Agtarap said.  “The goal of it is to become efficient so when you come to the marathon you can run a fast section.”

“I’m smaller, so for someone my size, it’s easier to not get affected by heat,” Agtarap said.  “I pray for races to be hot and if they are, I have a much higher advantage.”

Like athletes in other sports, Agtarap prefers to remain calm prior to the start of the race, while keeping a balanced pace throughout the event.

“On race day, you’ve got to keep yourself calm,” Agtarap said.  “The most nerve racking part is the mass start swim when all 2,900 or so people all start together.  You don’t want to give energy to anyone else, and don’t want to get intimidated.  I play a song in my head, and a few minutes before I finish the swim, I began thinking to the transition and the bike ride.  I just try to keep noise out of my head.”

Thanks to strong coaching, and a supportive family and race unit, Agtarap can maximize her full potential for each Ironman.

“Coaching is key.  It helps to have a coach to keep you accountable and push you along throughout the whole process,” Agtarap said. “Clark Halverson has been my coach since I started and has been terrific.”

“My husband (Tony) is my support team,” Agtarap said. “My family has to be on board for the eight months to train and support my goals.”

Agtarap lost her father in 2011, and found training for an Ironman to have a therapeutic affect that propelled her to an 8th place finish in her age group.

“My father had just passed away, and I found the training to be a great way to deal with loss and grief,” Agtarap said. “I trained more consistently, 20 hours per week, and shaved two hours off ironman.  It was a great feeling.”

Missing the qualification time for the 2012 Ironman in Kona, HI., Agtarap will take a break from Ironman events for at least one year to spend more time with her family and son who graduates from high school in the summer of 2013.  However, the time off will be brief, not good news for her competition.

“I will be doing smaller races this year and I’m looking at Ironman events for 2014,” Agtarap noted. “I want to qualify for the world championship in Las Vegas.

For those looking to complete an Ironman event, Agtarap says go for it.

“I think that completing a triathlon is one of the most fulfilling things in the world. It gives you a huge sense of accomplishment, none greater than the first one you complete.”

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