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Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Perfect Race Made in Wisconsin

Today I had the perfect race. It reminded me of why I race and I thought about the Olympic Creed written by Pierre de Coubertin; " The most important thing in the Olympic games is not to win, but take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

Perfect races really are made in Wisconsin. I had my first mistake free race today. I swam, biked, and ran as fast as I could. I felt a National level race deserved my best effort.  I did not win anything, in fact I finished 32 out of 44 women in the 55 -59 age group. Most people would consider that  a poor showing considering the top 18 became USA team members.  I finished in 1 hr 41 minutes.  To me just being out there and competing in an event like this was so much fun. For me every race is a gift and I realize how lucky I am to compete as an athlete. With CMT every race is a victory.  If fighting well and racing well is important then I was successful today. Here is just a quick re-cap of my race.

I took advantage of doing the practice swim on Friday and I am glad I did. I took a wrong turn trying to find the exit dock. The pontoon boat with the life guards announced to me the dock was on the other side of the bridge and then they asked me if I was OK. I must look like I am drowning when I am swimming because that is not the first time I have been asked that. Better to make a dumb mistake in practice than on race day.. I got a chance to get used to the water temperature and the narrow bridge that was part of the course.

I lined up with the 96 women in my wave. They started all the 55 + women in the same wave.  We were off and I decided not to hang back like I usually do, but take my chances in the scrum. It was like a brawl out there. You can see when you swim, we have on goggles. So many women ran into me and there is no excuse for it.. I got squeezed between multiple swimmers. Putting my elbows out gave me some space.  We ran into the stragglers of the men's wave right before us and the men's wave right behind us caught up. Some guy twice my size swam on top of me and parked there. I had to push him off of me. It really was like swimming with the sharks and I held my own. I was really proud I did not panic.

The swim course is shallow so it got choppy. I had water go into my mouth on several occasions.  None of it phased me. I just used my swim mantra to concentrate.  In no time I got to the very steep exit ramp. Volunteers in orange shirts were there to help us out.  It just happens that the two volunteers to help me out were fellow Team CMT member Kevin Klein and Ski Patrol buddy Bill Weiss. How cool to see them out there. Kevin and Bill are triathletes and want to race next year.  My swim was a minute faster than my average swim. I guess getting in there and fighting the crowd was worth it. It was a really long run to transition so my T1 time is longer than usual.

I decided I was going to open it up on the bike course and see what I could do. I had ridden the accessible parts of the course several times in the past week so I knew how to pace myself.  The road conditions on the Hoan Bridge were dicey.  The steep part of the bridge was not too bad. I got a surprise when several of my Tri Newbie friends were working as volunteers on the course. I loved seeing them out there. Thanks guys for cheering me on!  Before I knew it the bike course was done. It was so much fun and I did it in 43 minutes!
Friends Anne Peters, Mary Nekich, John Schneider, Del Lynn Cheron

Once I get to the run, I know I am home free. After training for marathons, 3 miles is cinchy.  I tried to push it a bit.  I love triathlons runs because no one is allowed to wear headphones and I can talk to runners. The athletes also have their age written on their calves.  I always check if someone is in my age group. The woman I was passing was 62 and looked years younger. I told her not only did she look strong but she looked way younger than 62. She shared with me she was a cancer survivor and that her radiation treatment had made her slower. I told her cancer was a race worth winning. We triathletes always seem to apologize for being slow.  See that Olympic creed.  The victory is in the struggle. I think she has nothing to apologize for. Many athletes today told me how slow they were. One woman told me her swim was 17 minutes. I shared mine was 21 minutes. No one knows that I am an athlete with challenges. I look like I perfectly fine and I also always seem to apologize for being slow.
Finisher Medal USAT Age Group National Championship
 I had a good run for me at right around 30 minutes. Because I had run the course several times I knew when I was close to the finish line. It always feels good to get the finisher medal especially when I feel like I've run a good race.  It was a great finisher medal.

I am still on an event high. Not only did I compete today, but I volunteered for the last two days at chip pick up and as a timer at bike in. It is so fun to be on the other side and watch as great athletes compete.
It was so much fun to be asked questions from athletes and be able to help them with answers.It was great to hear from athlete after athlete how impressed they were with the event and our beautiful city. I am so proud of the way the community turned out to volunteer for this event!

  It really was a perfect weekend from beginning to end. A mistake free race was a perfect way to end race weekend. Cannot wait until next year.  More about the whole volunteer experience in my next blog.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

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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