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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Miami Man National Championship-Getting by with a Little Help from My Friends



"Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardship and decide not to surrender, that is strength."- Arnold Schwarzenegger

I had a full weekend of racing in Miami the weekend of November 11 & 12th. I had done the aquathlon race on Saturday and it could not have gone better. I had raced as a physically challenged athlete finishing 1st. I had fun and felt strong.

The real challenge would come with the Sunday race. It was the National Championship for aqua bike (1.2 mile swim & 56 mile bike) and Long Distance Triathlon (add a 13. 1 mile run).

Last year, I won the national championship for aqua bike. I knew this year I would not repeat. A visually impaired athlete would be racing on a tandem.  It is just not possible for me to beat a tandem.

So this year I signed up for the double. I would race the long distance triathlon, but pay for and be scored in both races.  Spots for Team USA and the ITU World Championship in Fyn Denmark were on the line.

I was excited to find out that teammate Joy DeCaro Perry would be racing. Joy coached me for almost two years. She got me through my first two Boston Marathons and the start of my triathlon career. She patiently answered all my newbie questions. She also went to bat for me with USAT when there were problems with scoring at my first para-triathlon National Championship. An athlete had been scored 1st in the division but had raced with the age group athletes. That same athlete would be racing in Miami. Joy would be doing the aqua bike.

I found Joy right before the race. I got to meet her husband Mike and talk for a bit. We lined up together at the start, that was the last I saw of her. Joy is an Ironman finisher and a really great swimmer.  She would go on to take 1st in the aqua bike, beating a tandem in the Physically Challenged Division. Congrats to Joy on her national championship.  So proud of you! I would finish 3rd.

I had a solid swim. It was not wet suit legal. The 1.2 mile swim was the longest I had ever done without a wet suit. I was calm although not fast. It took me 58 minutes. I think Joy beat me by 10 minutes.

The bike did not go so well. I had rented a bike and I could tell as soon as I started riding the bike did not fit.  I think the seat was too low. My thighs hurt from the start. It was a long 56 miles.  I could not  even be sure of my speed since I had no bike computer. It was not fast judging by everyone passing me. Plus it was 88 F with 20 mph winds.  Just a tough tough day on the bike. I rented a bike last year and had problems.

By the time the bike was done, my legs were shot. I seriously thought about not going out on the run. There had been four athletes signed up for the aqua bike. I did not want to race and not get a medal. I did not know I had placed 3rd in the aqua bike. I think the 4th athlete did not start.

I also knew I might not make the US Team in aqua bike since this year so many athletes had signed up. The top 18 rolling down to 25 get an invite. Plus I had paid for the race,  It would go through the zoo, so I wanted to at least take a look at the course. It took me 4 hr 5 minutes to do the bike course. That is 30 minutes slower than I usually do it.

I put on compression socks in transition which took some time.  My legs felt like lead. I started by walking. Then I started alternating running and walking. It was hot and I struggled.  I was not sure I was going to finish. My feet were really hurting.  The course was two loops around the lake where we swam, with a loop through the zoo.  Almost everyone around me was walking.

The first loop finished with a turn off to the finish.  I saw athletes peeling off to finish and I had 6 more  miles to go.  I was thinking about quitting when I saw a guy just ahead of me. I asked if he was on lap 1 or 2. He said one and I asked to join him.

We talked or rather I mostly talked and he listened. I was able to walk fast, but running was just not possible, my legs and feet hurt so much.  He told me about doing Ironman Louisville and just missing the cut off. His name was Mark and he was from New Jersey. We both agree we would not have finished if not for each other.  I vowed never to do another 70.3 race. He said I would.  As we got to the last 1.4 mile we both started running to cross the finish line strong. My run time was 3 hrs 19 minutes. That is about an hour longer than it would normally take me. It took me 8 hrs 34 minutes to finish.  About an hour longer than my goal time.

When I checked my feet after the race, I had 5 blisters on each foot and the skin was completely worn off of my left little toe.

It was a day full of struggle but I got through it with a little help from my friend Joy and my new friend Mark. I qualified for Team USA and the ITU World Championship in July. I got my finisher medal and a 1st place medal for the triathlon.


So I guess I will do one more.  I felt I wanted to do at least one more to have a good experience.  So in March I will start the training for Denmark and be ready to race.  Racing is allot like life. Life with CMT is not easy, but I get buy with a little help from my friends.

*******************************
Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT
www.run4cmt.com

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 and at the Aqua bike National Championship in 2016. She represented Team USA at the Aquathon ITU World Championship in Chicago in 2015 and 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 as a senior Olympian. In 2017 she placed 2nd in her age group at the Winter Triathlon National Championship, earning a spot on Team USA for the World Championship.

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:
http://www.amazon.com/Christine-Wodke/e/B00IJ02HX6

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 212 members in 38 states. We also have members in Australia, England, Scotland, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland, Scotland, France, Poland, Iran, Norway and Sweden. If you wish to join us visit our web site; www.run4cmt.com or www.hnf-cure.org

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
http://cmtamputee.wordpress.com/

Follow CMT Author Chris Steinke
https://cmtandmesite.wordpress.com/2017/01/30/what-is-charcot-marie-tooth-disease/


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