Saturday, October 31, 2015

Aquathlon World Championship, Chicago

"When we reconnect ourselves with the pleasure of the means as opposed only to focusing on the end we adopt a mindset more conducive not only to enjoyment, but to better results."- Author Shawn Achor

When I was diagnosed with CMT, I set the goal of running the Boston Marathon. At the time I had no idea of how I was going to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon. Yet as I set that goal and prepared, things fell into place for me. I've run the Boston Marathon three times, even finishing 2nd in my division.

I transitioned into triathlon from long distance running to give my body a bit of a break from the pounding of running.

I thought I would be able to qualify for the Triathlon World Championships as a para-triathlete. So far I have been not been allowed to compete at the elite level. The ITU keeps denying me.

So I set my sights to make it to the World Championships as an age group athlete.  I decided to qualify in Aquathon.  The 1600 meter swim was a challenge and it felt like a victory to just finish the swim at the National Championship.

I qualified for Team USA and a spot at the World Championship this September 16th in Chicago.
I live just 90 miles north of Chicago and have raced twice at the Chicago Triathlon. This would feel like a home course.  Triathlon and Aquathlon races would be contested in Chicago. It proximity to home was the very reason I chose the race.

No long and expensive flight, no strange city, no problems with food or water, no packing the bike to put on a plane. This would be a no stress race.

I worked half a day on Tuesday, the day before the race. I checked into my hotel and headed to the race expo and packet pick up at Butler Fields.  Not much was even set up in the expo. The fields were muddy from recent rains.

I got out of packet pickup and changed into my Team USA gear just in time for the team picture in front of Buckingham fountain. I saw several of the ladies from my age group that were at the National Championship in El Reno.

Team CMT race briefing

The fun of an event like this is wearing your own Team USA uniform and seeing others on the team. It was also pretty cool to see athletes from around the world wearing their uniform. I saw athletes from the U.K,. Australia, Canada, Mexico, Columbia, New Zealand, France, Spain, and Germany

Race day was warm.  The race started at 10 am. So no sunrise start like when I am racing PC open.
It was expected to get to 85 F with Lake Michigan water temperature at about 57 F.

The transition area was north near the museum complexes.  Security was tight. Bags were checked and our uniforms were checked to make sure we were wearing our national kit.

ITU rules are strict and officials were strict. I was told I could not have a transition mat.  No towels were allowed for mats either. Officials took them if the athlete was not there. After the race, the table outside of transition was filled with goods the officials had taken.  The only items allowed in transition were those needed for the race. All bags had to be removed and checked.

I would be using my full wetsuit for the first time. My wave of women 50 and over would be the last wave to go off at 12:00. So we had two hours to wait, try to stay cool and stay hydrated.

There was about 5 minutes between waves. Were were allowed to use the time to get in and get acclimated to the water. It really helped because it took a bit to get used to the cold.

When I read the rules I found that if you held back at the swim start you could be penalized. I lined up at the back to give the faster athletes room, but knew I would start when everyone else started. The wave was smaller than waves I have been in at age group nationals. Maybe because the athletes at this level are very skilled, there was no chaos at the start.

We were swimming into the wind and I felt like I had a good swim. It was slower than normal because of the wind. At 750 meters it seemed short compared to the National Championship.

Then it was on to the 5 K run.  I felt strong and even passed a few ladies. It was a flat fun course. There were two laps and we finished right at the iconic Bucking ham fountain in Grant Park. There was not much in the way of crowds since the race was run on a Wednesday morning and many of the athletes in the other races probably had not arrived.

I can say I did the absolute best I could. I finished two or three from the bottom, but hey this is the World Championship.

I felt so honored to compete and to represent the USA. It was great to meet some of the ladies  I made friends with at the National Championship.  As I rounded the last turn in the run, the Team USA manager was there handing out flags.  I have that flag in my office.  It reminds me every day of the race and my experience in Chicago/

Never in my life would I have ever guessed I would be on Team USA or have the privilege of competing at a World Championship. It is indeed an honor even if I am one of the slowest athletes in my age group.  I was still there. I trained hard and give it everything I had. I wore the finisher medal proudly.  At first I was disappointed that I finished so close to the bottom of my age group. Then I though what difference does it make. Only three athletes make it to the podium. If you are not in top three, does it really matter where you finish?  What matters is I had fun, felt good and had a good clean race.

Finisher Medal World Championship Aquathlon

The reason I do these races is to raise awareness of CMT. This race was no different. Even though I wore the US uniform, the USAT did an athlete profile of me that was on their web site.  I told the writer who interviewed me that someday I am going to be a World Champion.  I don't know yet how I will make that happen, but I did not know how I would get to Boston, be a member of Team USA or compete in a World Championship.  So I have no idea how I will make that happen or when. I just know that I will.

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 175 members in 31 states. We also have members in Australia, Scotland, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland,Scotland, France 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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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Women's Indoor Cycling Program


7 Week Women’s Only Cycling Class

P3 is teaming up with “Wisconsin Women Cycling” to bring the same professional coaching to a women’s only class!
This unique indoor cycling program is designed for the beginner as well as those who have already been cycling.
If you’re looking to learn more how to bike better and to maximize the off season so you’re ready for the next spring, this is the class for you. We’ll be working on those skills every cyclist can improve upon, proper pedaling technique, shifting, body position on the bike and more. Each woman trains based on her own fitness level so everyone is at the same effort during exercise. A certified coach will be off the bike teaching the class. We take the time to be available to answer any questions and be sure you’re enjoying this fun class.
With years of experience and knowledge, the coaches at P3 have developed a program that works for women.
Program includes: 1 coached class for 7 weeks plus 2 open ride to be used 1x in November and 1x in December
Cost: $165.00
minimum of 10 and maximum of 24 cyclists
Go to the P3 website to register and get information on their other programs.