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Saturday, November 16, 2013

USAT 2013 National Duathlon Sprint Championship- Race Report

Chris Wodke at USAT 2013 National Duathlon Sprint Championship

" What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"
Robert Schueller American Pastor and Inspirational Speaker

The race was a last minute addition to my race schedule. It was really just an excuse to visit a college friend. I was way over due for a visit to my friend Cindy who lives in Phoenix.

The race was scheduled for Oro Valley near Tucson so it was a good excuse for a girls weekend. It is just a couple hour drive from Phoenix. It was nice to have a spectator, most of my races this season I went to alone. So it was nice to have someone taking pictures and cheering.

This would be my third National Championship of the season:

  • National Paratriathlon Sprint Championship
  • Age Group National Sprint Triathlon Championship
  • Duathlon National Sprint Championship

The race was located at Ventura Medical Systems just 1 1/2 miles from my hotel. The resort headquarters was also just a couple of miles away.

Everything about this race was easy and convenient for me as a athlete.

The expo was a really low key affair. The volunteers were wearing the same orange volunteer tee shirts we wore as volunteers here in Milwaukee. The whole expo fit into one small room. It was really just two vendors.  I got my packet, bought a souvenir pint glass and we were on our way.

A friend of mine has a house in Oro Valley, less than five miles from the race site. His house is right next to state land. He said there was a dry wash leading to the area. We went to check it out. I guess I assumed there would be a hiking trail.  There was none, but we hiked around. The bad part was I was in socks and sandals and these things called jumping choyas kept getting on my socks. They look like a round ball covered in spines. I was so afraid I would get spines in my feet and have to race with spines embedded in my feet.  Getting back to his house was not easy, We thought we found a path but it was all brush. A nice senior citizen let us climb down into his back yard.

Race Day
One of the things I love about this race was my wave did not start until 12:00. Now that is civilized. Not 3 am wake up call, no setting up transition in the dark. The Standard distance races were first. We had nothing else to do so we came and watched.  My friend sat in the shade and worked on a baby afghan she is making for a gift. I hung out and tried to relax. I knew with only 13 women in my age group, if I finished I would gain a spot on Team USA and be eligible to compete at the Duathlon World Championship in Spain.
Transition opened up an hour before my race and I was ready to get started.

My distance was really easy. A 2.5 K run, 20 K bike, and all ending with a 2.5 K run.  The USAT says in their Triathlon Training book that Duathlon is considered more grueling than triathlon because of the second run. I can say I did not miss the swim and it was nice not to be wet through the whole race.

Run -1
The course was absolutely flat. I was tired at the start and I felt my blood sugar dropping. It does not happen often, but when it does it is never good. I get shaky and weak. I was lucky that the first aid station at 1 mile was stocked with GU. One packet and I was good to go, with no problems the rest of the race.

When I looked at the race course video on line, the course looked flat.  The video was deceiving. It was lots of really long gradually hills. Not much flat. It was hot and windy. Guessing about 20 mph.  It gets windy in the afternoon in Arizona and our race must have just hit that time. I knew I was on the U.S. team if  I finished, but as an athlete I wanted to do my best to really earn my spot.  Even though I was on a rented bike with no computer, I put everything thing I had into both the bike and run portions.  It was a short course and even with the wind was one of the easier bike legs of my season. I passed lots of other athletes.  I traded places several time with one woman and finally put her away in the last couple of miles.

I always like finishing with a run. I started my competitive life as a runner.  I have lots of miles on my legs, I know when I get to the last leg, it is all over but the celebration.  The swim and bike always seem like they are risky. In the swim I fight fear and jockey for position with other swimmers. The swim is so technique dependent and I feel it is a weak area for me. No swim in this race. On the bike I am always so worried about a flat ending my race. Well when I get to the run, I just have to put one foot in front of the other and before I know it I am crossing the finish line.

One of the things I like about these races is every athlete has their age written on the back of their calf.  I passed lots of 20 and thirty somethings in the second run leg.   Thirty yards before the finish I spotted a women in my age group and burned past her. Silly I know, but I thought what if she is in third place and I did not pass her. This is where being a runner pays off. Most of the athletes are dragging through the 2nd run leg and I was able to finish strong.

Well I ended up 8th out of 13 with a time of 1 hr 14 minutes. Not bad for only my second duathlon. I will do much better on my own bike and if I don' t run past my bike in transition.

I got my finisher medal which looks exactly like the medal I got for Age Group Nationals here in Milwaukee. It was a good experience.

When I signed up I had no idea I would be earning a spot on Team USA.  I am so excited to be going to the World Championship in Spain in May.  It is all the sweeter because it was all such a surprise. After working so hard for two years to make the US team as a para triathlete, I literally walk into a spot as an age group athlete.  So for the accomplishment it was one of the most stress free races I have ever done. That feels nice for a change. No pressure and a great result.

I won't win anything in Spain, but it is going to be the experience of a lifetime.

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 137 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, 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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