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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Days Like This- PATCO Report

PATCO Race Dallas 
"Mama said There'll be days like this."- Song Mama Said by Luther Dixon and Willie Denson

This race started to go bad the night before. There was supposed to be a pre-race meeting at 6 pm the night before the race. I thought that was late since most athletes want to turn in early to get a good night’s sleep.
I got to the meeting 30 minutes early only to find a U.S. team meeting going on that I knew nothing about. I had asked the team managers to send all e-mail to my outside email account, since I would be out of the office the week prior to the race. They forgot and I found the email in my work in-box when I got back to work.  I got my uniform and participated in the team picture. 

We waited and waited for the ITU officials running the race to show up. When they arrived we had to check in and present ID. The meeting finally started at 7:30 p.m. over 1.5 hours late.  They went over the course and some of the basic rules.  One of the Brazilian team members was confused by the bike course and was asking about it over and over. I hear athletes mumbling about needing to get to bed.  The meeting let out at 9 pm and then we had to stand in a line again to get our race packet.

My family had brought me to the meeting and had been sitting and waiting for hours. None of us had eaten dinner so we stopped at a local wing place on the way home. It was now 10 pm.  I was tired and hungry.  As soon as I ate my stomach felt un-well. I would be up all night from food poisoning.

I seriously thought about not going to the race. I emailed my coach to discuss what to do, but she did not answer back. I emailed the two team managers to let them know I was sick in case I had to drop out of the race at any point.  I could barely function I was so nauseous. I put one of my tri tats on upside down. Not a good start. Another I could not get to work.

The uniforms are so tiny and do not stretch much. I had to lie on the floor so I could pull it up over my hips. Taking if off and putting it back on to go to the bathroom was a major project. I heard one of the other women athletes say she did the same thing and had to use body glide.

We left early so we could stop and get some medicine. I threw up in the car trying to take it.
Once I got to the race site, it was another hour of standing in line to check-in. The officials decided all hand cycles should go first. I was in the first wave, but no problem since I had plenty of time. I saw one of the team managers and she asked how I was doing. I said “Not good”, but I was going to give it my best shot.
Once I got checked in I went to transition to set up. Transition was in an underground parking garage.  I had some trouble finding my rack number. There was a nice sign with my last name and number.

It was already hot and humid in Dallas and I went up to the swim start to sit in the shade. My brother, niece and sister-in-law found me. They had been out to breakfast while I was standing in the checkout line.  I sat just trying to conserve energy.  I did not do the pre-race swim. I put on my wet suit just 5 minutes before the start.
I got in just briefly to stay cool and take a few swim strokes.  My sister-in law asked about the race course since you could barely see the turn buoy. It was so far away. Not many markers either, but an easy course to swim.  It was 300 meters straight out, a right turn with 100 meters and back to shore and the exit.

The swim was an in water start, one hand on the concrete wall behind us.  Both men and women in two of the six paratriathlon categories would start together.  I’ve only once started with men and women in a really small triathlon. This was the biggest wave since I did age group nationals. We were off with the sound of the air horn and I forgot to start my watch.
Lots of churning, but no aggressive behavior. Glad I had the experience of swimming in a big group at age group Nationals.

Sometimes if I don’t sleep the night before a race, I just hope the training kicks in. That happened in Boston, my legs just remembered the training and took over.  That was not going to happen in this race. The swim was a physical struggle the entire time. I was so tired I had to tread water to rest. I did the side stroke several times and even did a couple of back strokes. Quitting was not an option. It seemed like it was taking me forever. I just kept repeating my swim mantra to keep myself mentally focused.
I made it to the steps, but my legs did not want to hold me up. I had volunteer help climbing every step.

I had trouble getting my wetsuit off over my timing chip and fumbled getting on my bike shoes. I sat on the garage floor to put on my shoes; I noticed my knees were black from the garage floor.

It was a two loop course. The volunteers all along the course were great in pointing out where I needed to turn.  It was really windy and I could feel I had no energy in my thighs. Near the end I checked my average speed and it was 15.4 mph, well below my normal 17 mph for a race.   My bike computer said the course was 13.6 miles. I saw my niece Courtney and gave her a smile so at least the picture will look good. I remember lots of riders passing me.

This went smoother, but I noticed as I ran out I had forgot to remove my bike gloves.  I took them off and was not looking forward to carrying them for the next 3 miles. I saw my brother in the crowd and flipped them to him, hoping I would not be penalized.

When I get to this point I always know I am going to finish the race. This was two loops.  The end of the first loop was near the finish. I hate having to go out and do one more loop when the finish is in sight.
I was struggling but if I kept a moderate pace I could hold on. I saw the team manager and she was cheering for all of the U.S. team members. As I passed I said I felt horrible. She said something about personal victory. That is what it was going to be. It would be a victory to just hold on and finish. Again saw my niece snapping lots of pictures. She got some great shots and I will not need to buy the pro pictures.

Again great volunteers on the run course. One aid station served both sides of the looped course. Volunteers would ask if I wanted water and meet me with it. One woman had seen me douse myself with water and volunteered to pour it over me.  At every station it was two cups on me and one in me. It was so hot and humid. I heard one male athlete collapsed right before the finish and another out on the course.  I crossed the finish line in 1 hr 52, my worst time ever, but I finished.  Too bad they ran out of finisher medals and I did not get one. They looked nice.

I had a really bad race at a time when every race counts. I wanted to race well and I did not do that. It was not about where I finished but about putting out my best possible effort and having a good time. I was not able to do either. But I did do the race and I finished.  There was a time when I would have stayed in bed or bailed out on the swim.  On a day when I was sick I was able to gut it out and finish. There is a personal victory in that. Now on to ITU Chicago and I hope I will be able to represent Team USA there as well.


Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Chris is a triathlete and long distance runner. She is a two time participant of the Boston Marathon.  She was the 2012 National Champion Paratriathlon Open Division. In 2013 she qualified as a member of the Team USA Duathlon Team. And was eligible to compete in 2014 at the Age Group World Duathlon Sprint Championship in Pontevedre Spain.  She chose instead to represent the U.S. at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas whre she finished 4th.

She is the author of the book, “Running for My Life” that details her experience as a CMT affected athlete.

You may visit her author page at:

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 150 members in 29 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site; or

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.

Additional Link
Follow CMT affected Paratriathlete Timmy Dixon

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1 comment:

  1. Yoda would be proud...
    "Try not. Do or do not. There is no try."
    You captured the essence, even if you didn't see it in the JUST DID!