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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Race Report-Two Steps Forward, One Step Back, Aquathlon #2

"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." -Dali Lama

 Triathlon is a three sport discipline; swim, bike and run.  The open water swim has always been the most challenging for me and where I have had the most things go wrong, sometimes horribly wrong.

I had a bit of anxiety in my first triathlon this season,but since then I have felt calm and confident in the water.

Every week I go to open water practice at Pewaukee Lake here in Wisconsin, sponsored by local training group Peak Performance Professionals. Many of the athletes are training for Ironman Wisconsin in September.

Many of the local triathletes show up for the practice. A 500 meter course is set up and open for 2 hours.  There are lifeguards and kayaks for safety. I had been swimming week after week and really enjoying not only the swim but hanging out with other triathletes.

Since we were in mid-July I decided to wear my shortie wet suit.  I have honestly gained a few pounds since I bought it four years ago and it has always been tight in the chest and neck.

I have often been short of breath when starting swim practice or a race. This night as I swam around the course, I could not catch my breath.  I did not feel anxious at all. I tried side stroking and things got worse.  I was having more and more trouble breathing. I knew I was in trouble and called over a guard on a stand up paddle board. I paused to rest and a few minutes later pushed off to resume my swim. It was not much longer before I was in trouble again. There was no kayak anywhere near and I struggled to breath. I could see the kayak but they had not noticed me. I waved my arms and shouted to call them over.

By this time I was wheezing.  If you know someone with asthma or if you have it yourself you know what wheezing sounds like.  Every time you exhale when you wheeze you make a high pitched sound. It means the air ways are constricting. It is not a good sign. Because I was close to shore I decided to swim for it. I did not want the humiliation of a kayak ride to the beach.  I struggled and struggled to get to shore. I was so close and yet seemed to far away. I understand now how people drown even with others close. With a wet suit on I was not going to sink or drown. I stayed calm and finally I touched bottom. Practise was over for me.

Just two days later I had Aquathlon Race #2 in the three race series I am doing. I signed up for the 800 meter swim and 5K run in a county park because I knew it would be good practise for the World Championship race I will be doing in September in Cozumel.

I could have bailed after my bad practice, but I decided to get right back up on the horse.  I used a different wet suit. I will not be using the other suit again.

This race is small with about 70 racers and is a mass start. That is a challenge because it is like swimming in a washing machine. It can be easy to get thrown by that.  I was going to take it at a reasonable pace.  The swim also is a two lap course. It can be tempting to get out after one lap since there is a 400 meter division of the race.

The swim went just fine. I felt calm and strong. I am one of the slower swimmers but there were still 3 or 4 others in the water.  As I started on the run, I pulled up along side the President for the Wisconsin Senior Olympics. We had a nice chat, but he was a bit slow for my pace.

I had a nice race and was expecting 3rd, but when I checked the results I had finished 1st in my age group 50-59, with a time of 56:30. It was slower due to my chat, but overall a nice race.

So even though I had a set back at practice, I was able to come back just a few days later and have a good swim. I felt proud of bouncing back so well. After this race I would have a couple of weeks off  for vacation. When I returned I would start training for my A race of the year, the Aqua Bike National Championship in Miami on November 13th.


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 represented Team USA at the Aquathon ITU World Championship in Chicago in 2015 and will represent the US at the World championship in Cozumel in 2016.

 In 2014 she represented  the U.S. as a paratriathlete at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas.  She has won state championships in cycling and triathlon.

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 196 members in 37 states. We also have members in Australia, England,Scotland, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland, Scotland, France, Poland 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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