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Sunday, July 26, 2015

World Championship Prep Week 13 & 14, New York Triathlon

"Let me win, and if I cannot win, let me be great in the attempt".  Special Olympics Motto

7/12  Sun     2 hr. brick workout
7/13  Mon   Open water swim 1600 meters
7/14  Tue     Bike 45 minutes
7/15  Wed    Swim 25 minutes, run 35 minutes
7/16  Thur    Fly to New York City
7/17  Fri       Bike 1 hour, run 20 minutes
7/18  Sat      Swim 35 minutes

7/19/ Sun    NY Tri  3 hr 24 minutes,  1st Female Physically Challenged Open
7/20  Mon   Swim 40 minutes
7/21  Tue     Travel Day
7/22  Wed    40 minute bike
7/23  Thur    Bike 1 hr 10 minutes, run 20 minutes
7/24   Fri      Swim 75 minutes, run 55 minutes
7/25   Sat      1 hr 15 min bike, Swim 30 minutes

I was given a $1000 travel grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to participate in the New York Triathlon.

I all happened kind of last minute.  I had applied for the grant months ago and then I did not hear anything. A couple of weeks ago, I got an email asking me to register for the race and a special code to register for the Panasonic Challenged Athletes International Championship.

There would be prize money for the top five male and female athletes. Because I was not a classified athlete I would not be eligible for that.

This would be my first Olympic distance race. I am really more of a sprint specialist.  I'd put doing an Olympic on my list of goals for this year, but just could not find the right race. I had not really trained for it, but I was heading to New York in any case.

I decided to arrive on Thursday so I could acclimate before the race and do a bit of sightseeing. It was my first trip to New York.

I stayed at the West Side YMCA so I could have access to their two pools and workout center.
It was pretty much like many of the youth hostels I've stayed at in Europe, except I had a private room.

Time Square
My first afternoon I headed to Central Park and did a loop all around the park before heading to Time Square.
Central Park

The next day I did the one thing I wanted to do in New York and that was seen the Statue of Liberty.
I also visited Ellis Island. It was really emotional to think of my relatives coming to this country and seeing Lady Liberty and being processed through Ellis Island.

I walked all the way back from Battery Park back to Central Park. I got to see the 911 Memorial, Wall Street, Harold Square and Radio City Music hall.

Saturday it was time to attend to race business.  Accenture one of the race sponsors held a breakfast for all the para-triathletes and their guests. I sat with a visually impaired physical therapist and her tandem partner from Tennessee. It was great that she knew about CMT, in fact she has three CMT patients. She and I talked about the fact we both get questions about being impaired. She shared she is not always accepted in the para-triathlon community.  That has been my experience as well.

To illustrate the point, during the breakfast on of the female wheel chair athletes was passing our table.  She was very friendly with several other athletes.  She had a really beautiful and friendly smile. As she passed I smiled and said "Hi, I'm Chris."  She visibly checked my legs, I am guessing for an impairment, and then rolled on.

The rest of the day was filled with the usual race business, athlete/handler briefing, para triathlon race briefing, packet pickup and set up in transition.

On race day I was up at 3 am and was the first one allowed in transition at 4 am.
We had to be out of transition at 5:40 a.m.  The swim start for the 38 para-athletes was at 7:40 a.m.
So here is a brief summary of how things went on race day.

We were the first group in the 2nd transition wave. Wave yellow went first and was mostly women. Red was the para-triathletes and mostly men. I remember standing at the dock and looking at the shore. It was a mile walk to the swim and the entire wave was lined up for 3/4 of a mile waiting to start.
The swim was in the Hudson river with a really strong current.  The swim was a mile and I could not see the dock where we would finish. The next wave came through before I finished and I got run over by one of the male swimmers.  I decided to do a slow steady swim and I was out of the water in 23 minutes.  There were suit strippers on the dock and then a 800 meter run. The run was on asphalt with stones and it was really painful. Transition was on a softball field and the grass area was covered with tarp and was really uneven. I do not know how the wheelchair athletes managed it.

The bike was on the West Side Highway along the Hudson.  I have never been in a race where there were so many riders so close together. I was on a rented bike I found on Spinlister and I had no bike computer. Even though I decided to take it really easy, my legs were strong and had a will of their own.  I passed a lot of racers and a lot passed me. Many would pass with no notice which I hate. I remember one man speed up when I announced I was passing. I passed him anyway. The bike leg was finished in 1 hr 37, way better than I expected.  The course was hilly, with long, long inclines.

The run would be the real challenge. I have not run much long distance since I have been concentrating on sprint triathlons.  The weather was warm at 4 am when I got to transition. With the sun up it was brutally hot and humid.  It was at least 92F and very humid. The 10 K run entered Central Park at the one mile mark.  There were huge hills. I actually thought it was a 5 mile run so I was deflated at the five mile water stop when the volunteers told us there was another 1.2 miles left.
Lots and lots of athletes were walking and I gave in three times on some of the bigger hills. It was so hot I was dumping water on myself at every water stop. I took a water bottle on the run and would re-fill at each stop and pour it on myself.  I finished the run in 71 minutes.

My total time for the race was 3 hr 24 minutes, well under my secret goal of 3 hr 30 and not bad for my first Olympic on a tough bike and run course. It was good enough for 1st place in the female Physically Challenged Open division. It would have been good for 20th in my age group. Not bad for a big time race that I did not train for. It was not a perfect race, I made some mistakes, but I'll take it.

I ended my week with a little more sightseeing and a visit with my niece Brittany. It was a great trip to New York. The only snag was the 24 hours it took me to get home due to cancelled and delayed flights.

I'll get a few weeks break until my next race; Age Group Nationals here in Milwaukee, the second week of August.


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 165 members in 32 states. We also have members in Australia, Scotland, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland, England 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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