Saturday, October 3, 2009

Triathlons and lobsters

I'm way overdue for an update. I say that every time so I guess it's no surprise but thanks HALEY for the friendly reminder.

If you read my last blog, you read that I was gearing up for the Chicago triathlon. That is almost a month ago now so instead of remembering back to the race, I am going to copy and paste my blog from another website I blog on. This other blog is that of Carmichael Training Systems and as one of their athletes, I write something after my races. So below is my race update from a few days after the race...

For those that didn't read my last post, let me start by saying this was my first Olympic distance tri (1 mile swim, 26m bike, 6.2 mile run). I went into it wanting to just finish and would have been thrilled with a 4 hour time. I am in what's called the PC (Physically Challenged) division and in Chicago there were about 20 others in my category. I compete in the severe leg impairment division against other above the knee amputees. Of those, it was myself and two others. Doesn't seem like many but these were a big 'two others'. One of my competitors was Sarah Reinertsen who was the first Above knee amputee to complete the Hawaii Ironman. She was conquering her Ironman feat as I was at Walter Reed learning to walk again and she became my role-model. I looked to her for complete inspiration in imagining all the things I someday hoped to do. I had met her a few other times and she is such a genuinely nice person which made me look up to her even more. She went on to compete on the Amazing Race and is a key spokesperson of the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Needless to say, as a very seasoned triathlete, I was going to to my best to keep up with her.

I got to transition around 4:30am for a 7:30am start. As the PC division we are spoiled and get to start right after the elite level athletes. A smaller wave, less people in the lake... it really is nice. At 7:32 we were off. The water temp was warmer than the air temp and it felt awesome. I had a great swim and jumped out of the water in about 24 min, well ahead of most of the PC pack. I had help getting my wetsuit off and made the 1/4 run to transition getting there in about 28 min.Our bike rack was positioned close to the swim in and run out, but as far as possible from the bike out. This didn't bode well for us amputees because walking in our biking legs is never easy. So I switched to my biking gear, put my biking leg on and slowly made my way to the bike out. 6 min later, with a quick delay to find my lost chapstick, I was on the bike.

My goal for the bike was under 2 hours as I am not a fast biker. As we started there was this enormous headwind and for the first 10 miles I don't think I got above 10 mph which I was not happy about at all. Then we turned around and I shot back at over 20mph and absolutely loved it. We had to 2 two loops which meant that damned headwind again but I also got to see my competition. I could see that Sarah was behind me by a few miles and I really booked it on the way back to try and keep it that way. I got back to T2 in about 1:40 with a 15mph average and I was pumped. I looked at my watch and saw I had a full 1:40 to finish the 10K and was feeling good about it.

Again, the slow transition but I was finally out on the run. Before this race my longest run was 4 miles without the bike, so a 10K after the bike was a bit worrisome. I started to plug along at my snail like pace and told myself to just keep moving regardless of how slow I was going. The first 2 miles were OK and then I started to get a bit tired. I had made the rookie mistake of eating a total of 4 sport beans and 2 sips of gatorade up to that point and started to think how dumb I was. I did my best to stop at the water stops but I was a bit too late on that decision. I made it to the turn around and things were going downhill fast. My snail like pace became even slower (if that was possible), multiple times I had to walk but would get all dizzy so would start up with a jog like shuffle. The passing runners and crowds did their best to keep me motivated and I tried hard to make it work. I had seen Sarah at the turn around and she was about 1/2 mile behind me. With my pitiful attempt at running I kept expecting her to be the next one to pass me. But apparently, Sunday was my day and I made my way to the finish line 2 min ahead of her. It wasn't this glorious fist pump as I crossed the finish line as I was frantically trying to make my way to the side thinking I had to puke. I waited a good few minutes, drank some water and realized that not only did my final time of 3:44 exceed my what I thought to be a lofty 4 hr goal, but I had won my division! I couldn't believe it. Especially knowing how bad my run sucked. I was so unbelievably pumped. I kept imagining what I could do with the proper training and a better run.

We stayed around for awards as the ParaTrathlon sponsor, Accenture, graciously gave out these large silver platters to the winners. See the picture of myself with Sarah and Scout. You'll notice that I tower over them and I am a measly 5 '4'.

So, my first Olympic tri was a huge success. I still can't believe it. My next challenge is the Challenged Athletes Foundation half- ironman in San Diego in Oct. I'm doing the swim and the run. 13 miles of running will be the challenge there but I'm still on my winner's high so I'm up for anything.

So there you go. And a month after the race, I still can't believe it.

So lets see, since then, Ive gotten in many days of work which has been nice. It's always busy but I enjoy it especially when I get out of there in time for an evening workout and to make it home by 7:30 for dinner with Dick.

The half- ironman run is fast approaching and I have been running much more. I have done an hour or more twice now. That doesn't compare too well to the 3 hours it will take me for 13 hours but I know I'll finish. How long it takes me and how bad it will hurt is to be determined.

Dick finished his first 12 week rotation of his 3rd year and had a week off. We took advantage of it and went to Maine as we've both always wanted to go and it was a great opportunity. We ate lots and lots of lobster, saw the gorgeous leaves changing colors,went sailing, hiking and loved every minute of it. We stayed in B&B's in Acadia National Park, Portland and the White Mountains. I could definitely see us living there someday. Every town we drove through just seemed so nice. It was a great time.

We came back home in time to be here for the big 2016 announcement on Friday. I have been a part of the Chicago 2016 team for a few months and have gone to a few events to show my support for having the Olympics and Paralympics here. Leading up to yesterday, I was so convinced that we were a shoe- in. I mean, why wouldn't we get it right? I was even more excited because with all the talk leading up, there had been mention of both the Olympics and the Paralympics. The Paralympics was finally getting some recognition and I truly believed that having it in Chicago would have moved the Paralympic movement forward giving the Paralympic athletes the recognition they deserve. So along with the 10,000 other people at Daley Plaza yesterday, you can imagine the stunned faces and shock when we were out on the first round. I don't get it and at that moment nobody did. I still think we would be the best city for it but unfortunately it's not up to me. But as a good sport, congrats to Rio. Having it for the first time in the southern hemisphere is exciting. I guess.

Lastly, the documentary Warrior Champions is being premiered at the Austin film festival at the end of the month. I am so excited to see it. After the premier, it will be shown in a number of cities, Chicago, Colorado, DC to name a few. To learn more about it go to You can wait and see if it comes near you or you can order a DVD. I think after the premier and showing it may be shown on TV as well. I'll keep you posted.

That's all for now. Until next time, Peace Out.