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Monday, April 6, 2015

Road to the World Championships- A New Attitude

Author at Aquathlon National Championship, El Reno Oklahoma 2014

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”-Mary Engelbreit

I was struggling a few weeks ago with my workout motivation.  When I struggle with my training my coach always tells me to remember the why I'm doing triathlon. 

Well last year at this time I was getting ready to compete in a National Championship. I know it seems crazy, but I saw myself as having a shot for the paralympics in Rio in 2016. My race times were competitive.  It wasn't hard to be motivated to do every workout. Every session was all part of my preparation to compete.

Then I learned in Chicago at my ITU assessment the new standards had basically eliminated any chance of anyone with a neuro-muscular condition competing as an elite athlete in para-triathlon. This was one of the first races needed to accumulate points for selection to the US team for Rio. For the athletes accepted it was the beginning. My journey was over, just as theirs was starting.

I also once again did not medically qualify, which meant para competition for duathlon and aquathlon was also out. Every door at the elite level closed.  So after months and months of planing and workouts, I was on the outside looking in. 

On a personal level Chicago was tough too. Someone that started a rival team of CMT affected athletes raced in Chicago. The CMTA is headquartered there and as I left my classification appointment I saw the CMTA CEO in the lobby of the hotel.  It was tough to see those that have done their best to interfere with my work.  

So at least in my mind, I went from having big goals, to being an ordinary athlete.I can finish in about the middle of the pack in a triathlon with able bodied athletes. But that is not much of a reward for how hard I've worked.  I know I should be grateful I can compete at all when so many with CMT struggle to walk. They would never dream of being able to swim, bike and run.  So as I swam, biked and ran I constantly thought about what I'd lost.

Then I remembered I did qualify for the World Championship in Aquathlon as an age group athlete.  Although I will finish mid pack at best, I'll still be doing something most athletes will never get to do. I'll be a member of Team USA.  It won't be as an elite paratriathlete like I planned, but I'll still be there. I'll be at Worlds, just in a little different race. It gives me some satisfaction, because this in one race no one can keep me out of.

Then something happened which made even more of a difference.  The International Triathlon Union (ITU) announced there would be an age group race open to all athletes on the last day of the World Championships.  There would be a Physically Challenged Open division.  

So now I had my chance to compete as a challenged athlete. Now I had something to get excited. Finally a venue where I just might have a chance to be competitive. Now I had a reason to work hard.  I had a race to train for. All my hard work might just make a difference.  Plus once again I'll be representing Team CMT, raising awareness.

 My aquathlon race will be on Wednesday and racing again on Sunday is going to be a bit of a stretch, but I'll make it happen.

There has been some talk that the ITU will review the classification system again after Rio in 2016. So I have to keep showing up to make my case for the system to be more inclusive for those of us with CMT and other neuro muscular conditions.  It may not matter for me. If I can't see my goals come true for elite competition, maybe I can help make that happen for other CMT affected athletes.

My circumstances haven't changed and may not change any time soon, but I've found a new way to get motivated again. I've kept working hard the whole time, now I've got my motivation back as well.

I can't wait for September in Chicago.  


Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Chris is a triathlete and long distance runner. She is a three time participant of the Boston Marathon.  In 2012 she finished 2nd at Boston in the Mobility Impaired Division. She was on the course in 2013 when the bombs exploded.

She has appeared three times at the Paratriathlon National Triathlon Sprint Championship. She was the 2012 and 2014 National Champion Paratriathlon Open Division Champion.

In 2014 she was the PC Open Champion at the Duathlon National Championship. She has qualified to represent Team USA at the Aquathon ITU World Championship in Chicago in 2015.  

 In 2014 she represented  the U.S. as a paratriathlete at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas.

She travels around the country raising awareness of CMT.

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 160 members in 32 states. We also have members in Australia, Scotland, 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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