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Friday, July 26, 2013

Omaha Triathlon- Room for Improvement

Omaha Triathlon USAT Paratriathon Midwest Championship

"It's not your finishing time that's important, it is the time you have finishing."-Art Castellaro. Director New Jersey Marathon

I competed in the Omaha Triathlon on July 21st. I drove nine hours to Omaha because the race was the Midwest Regional Paratriathlon Championship. It was supposed to be a qualifier for the 2014 National Championship. The USAT did not get all the regional competitions in place so placement at a regional will not be required this year.  This race was well worth the nine hour drive. Not only did I post a good finish time at 1 hr 41 minutes and 8 seconds, I had so much fun.

Swim
I got to the race venue at 5 am and the race director announced the water temperature was high enough it was not wet suit legal. When we cleared to do our warm up swim, I felt the water was cold enough to  be wet suit legal for me. I appealed to the USAT Head Official and was allowed to wear a wet suit.

I also had two volunteers serving as my handlers. There were there for whatever I needed. I asked for assistance getting out of the water and with my wet suit.

The paratriathlon wave only had 3 athletes and we took off first. The collegiate women were only 3 minutes behind. The race director said he would tell them to watch out for me, but I literally had one of the collegiate woman swim right over me. I can see how it can happen and I was glad I had on my wet suit for a little extra buoyancy.  I got a little confused  coming in to the swim exit because the ramp I needed to go up was the same as the one used by swimmer to enter the water. I was the first swimmer in because the college woman were swimming the longer Olympic distance.  I actually stopped and asked one of the kayak guards twice if I was right about the swim exit. That cost me some time.

My handler helped me get out of the water and then jogged beside me to transition where she helped me with my wet suit. Dana also handed me my bike items. Her help was great and much appreciated. As a paratriathlete I am allowed a handler at all races, just don't have someone to fill that role for me yet.

Bike
Again the male paratriathlete and I were the first athletes out on the course. I had a police motorcycle escort the whole way. Pretty cool, he was with me most of the time and when he wasn't  if I asked a volunteer which way to go on the course they all knew.  The course was really hilly, but I was prepared with all the hill riding I have been doing this season.

Run
Once I get to the run, I feel good, because I know nothing is going to go wrong. I again had a police escort, talk about feeling like a rock star.  The rest of the athletes had a trail run and the para triathletes had a very hilly road course. I remember coming up on a massive hill and a right turn into a sub division.  I pointed to the turn and the police officers volunteering pointed up the hill and smiled.  As I went up the hill I saw para athlete Zack Young coming down.  I yelled out " See you at the finish"  and he let out a yell of pure joy and he blazed down the hill. I hear he clocked in at 46 mph. Here we are after the race.
Chris Wodke and Zachary Young of Jackson Missouri

At the top of the hill there were cones and thought there might be a turn around, but my escort turned into the park. I jogged in place not wanting to make a wrong turn. I lost a bit of time as I waited for my escort. I followed him into the park and at the turn around of the out and back course I joked and asked if he could give me a ride. He joked I could if I had a helmet.  His good humor was so typical of the volunteers for the day. All  were so friendly and helpful.  The race was over before I knew it. I really like the sprint distance, it is just enough to be a challenge and just short enough to be fun.

Receiving my Championship award from Race Director Alan Kohl

I was the only female in the paratriathlon group, but my time would have earned me first place in my age group.  So I guess it was well earned.  I got my award from Alan Kohl. I had talked with Alan a number of times before the race. He wanted to know what he needed to do to make this a successful race for us. He is also trying to grow the sport of triathlon in Nebraska. Although it is not huge yet, with more races like this I think it will grow.

Doug Bolton and Chris Wodke

One of the other fun things about this race was meeting fellow athletes. When I was in transition a woman came up to me and said my husband has CMT and I was so glad to see another athlete with CMT. Her husband Doug Bolton was racing and was classified and raced at Nationals. He and I talked about our feelings about the current classification process. In fact Zach also had heard about what happened to me and some other CMT athletes at Nationals. He said he felt bad about the current classification system. I do too because my time on a hilly course is better than what the current National Champion posted at Nationals in Austin.  I am ready if and when the system changes.

I also met three athletes from Wisconsin at this race. There were athletes from 26 states since many do this race and then participate in the week long ride across Iowa. So while I had some room for improvement in my performance, the race directors and volunteers in Omaha put on a near perfect race. Thanks for a great and fun experience.

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Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 127 members in 27 states. We also have members in Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.



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