If I cannot do great things, I can go small things in a great way/" - Martin Luther King, Jr.
You just never know what is going to happen on race day. Every race and every venue has challenges and events that reveal themselves during the race. The Tri Flake Winter Triathlon 2023 race in Anchorage, Alaska was no different.
I've done the Winter Triathlon National three times when it was in St. Paul. So this was not my first rodeo. This would be my first time racing the event as a Physically Challenged (PC) athlete. I qualify to be a PC athlete because I have CMT, a genetic neurological condition that is much like MS.
I raced as an age group athlete in the past because the rule at the time was you had to compete as an age group athlete to qualify for the World Championship. This is not the case any longer and I am hoping to also compete as a PC athlete at the World Championship in March in Norway.
Because I've done this event before I had certain concerns and expectations. The funny thing is the things I worried about were non-issues and some things happened I did not expect.
First off let me say what a great event this was. All three courses were so well marked. For someone that has taken multiple wrong turns on courses, this was so appreciated. There was no way to get lost on this course. I appreciate the effort and care it took to do this. Bravo to the race organizers.
I cannot say one negative thing about this race. The venue was beautiful It was held in the Kincaid part. There was no entrance. Although I did not see any, the resident moose population often shows up on the trail. There were beautiful mountains in the background.
Going into the race, I was worried about the fat time bike course being too difficult and I was worried about staying warm. I was not concerned about running since I have been running for years. It is the one discipline that I do consistently all year. My skate skiing has gotten good enough to handle pretty much anything.
I was concerned about the cold because I was cold when in my hotel room. I wondered how I would stay warm on race day. Also, the last time I did Winter Triathlon in St. Paul, my feet got so cold they were numb for a week.
Well, my concerns were unfounded. I figured out the right amount of layers to stay warm. The bike and ski loops were pretty protected from the wind which helped. Plus we had sun and a race start temperature of 21 F.
The run was not what I expected and the biggest surprise about this race. The 6K run was an out-and-back course. We went down very several hills and got to go up the same set of hills on the way up. I remember one that did not seem to end. Hills are not usually a problem for me since I am really strong on hills. The problem was the entire course had ankle-deep snow. I was like running on deep sand. One part early in the course had a dip where the snow came up to mid-calf.
I had three falls during the race. Two on the mid-calf deep dip. One was in a random hole on the course that I did not see.
The deep snow was really tiring. I was not winded but could not make very fast progress. I was also concerned about the uneven surface. Since my ankles do not flex like a normal person they sometimes collapse side to side. The soft surface was not something I anticipated.
I was really worried about turning an ankle and ending my race. I made it through with a time of 58:18. I usually cover a 5K course in about 31 minutes. Not only was a slow but now my legs were super tired.
I should not have been worried about the bike. The course was changed away from having any single-track sections. A single track is just wide enough for a bike to get through. Fat tire bikes are used because the course is on snow. The route was run on the multi-use trail. I was on a rental bike and was not sure how it would perform. The course was pretty hard-packed with rolling hills. It was in the woods and was a fun course. I actually got too warm on the bike and had to take off my top layer.
My legs were shredded from the run. My quads were burning on hills that normally would not have been a problem. I ended up walking up a couple of hills. I think it was just faster and I was trying to save my legs a bit for the ski portion. I finished in 1 hr 27 minutes. I had hoped for a 1 hr 30 time.
There has been very little snow in Southeaster Wisconsin this year. The only skiing available has been on an icy man-made loop in a local State park. I was glad I had some time on snow in Colorado at a ski camp in December.
I was expecting this course to be so hilly. It was a beautiful course. But hills are not my strong suit on skis. I have to herringbone up steep hills. My legs and current technique don't allow me to get up anything too steep by skate skiing. Still, I can get down even the steepest slopes now without falling. My skin really has improved since the first time I did my first Winter Triathlon race.
My legs were so tired I was worried about being able to hold a snowplow to get down the hills.
I got the two loops done in 1:09. I typically do a 5 K loop in about 20 minutes here in Wisconsin. So that is how tired my legs really were. I am glad I got through it.
I finished the race at 3:35:32. I know that is not fast. I was hoping for around 3:30. On an easier run course my time would have been better.
Since I was the only PC athlete I won a National Championship. I would have been second in my age group. I qualified for the World Championship in Norway.
Better yet, I met so many great people including four that had only been on skis once. They all did just fine and I look forward to seeing them in Norway. The venue was beautiful There were plenty of helpful and friendly volunteers. Such a great event!
Thank you to the race organizers. You put on a great event. It was a physically challenging race, but it is a National Championship. I feel confident going to Worlds after doing this event. I do belong there!
Founder & Manager Team CMT
Chris is a triathlete Nordic skier and long-distance runner. She is a three-time participant in 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 Para triathlon National
Triathlon Sprint Championship. She was the 2012 and 2014 National Champion Para
triathlon 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 2015i, Cozumel in 2016, and Denmark in 2018. In 2018 finishing 5th in the 60 to 64 age group.
In 2014 she represented the U.S. as a Para triathlete 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.
In 2020 she was named a National Ski Patrol Subaru Ambassador and a USA Triathlon Foundation Ambassador.
She travels around the country raising awareness of CMT.
She is the author of the book, “Running for My Life” which details her experience as a CMT-affected athlete, and the book “Soup Sundays, A Journey Toward Healthy Eating”.
You may visit her author page at:
Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and find a cure for CMT. We currently have 250 athletes in 42 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Vietnam, Iran, Scotland, France, Turkey, Poland, Norway, Mexico, Wales, Ireland, and Sweden! If you wish to join us visit our website; 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.
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