Swim, Bike, Done!
by Matt B.
About 16 years ago I tore my ACL, had it surgically repaired and proceeded to spend the next 12 or so years doing whatever I wanted physically. Fast forward to my orthopedic surgeon’s office in 2007 as he showed me an x-ray of my left knee pretty much devoid of cartilage and explained I should stop running in order to defer the need for the inevitable knee replacement. Until then, I had done a couple of sprint triathlons, but then resorted to swimming and cycling for fitness.
Still, swimming and cycling with the Experience Triathlon group left me wanting to race triathlons again. So, this spring I raced in Galena and stopped after the bike. My knee felt fine but my ego wanted to race the entire Triathlon. In early summer I raced again in Batavia and struggled through the run, but looking at my swollen knee the next several days I finally faced reality: if I wanted to be able to continue to cycle and put off a knee replacement as long as possible, then I needed to accept that my running days were over (although I am still holding out hope for a medical breakthrough!).
Coach Sue has been bugging me since last year to do the aquabike at Bang’s Lake. I signed up last year and had a conflict and didn’t race. But this year I signed up again and raced last Sunday. The race is an Olympic distance with the aquabike participants starting in the triathlon waves and finishing at the end of the bike course. The race is relatively small, with 340 entries in the Olympic, 99 in the duathalon, and 40 in the aquabike. I ended up having a great race – I was first in my age group and 5th overall. Best of all, I had time after I finished to grab some food and water, walk to the car and back to get the camera and make it back to the run finish in plenty of time to see Coach Sue and Amanda finish their races!
Needless to say, I’m glad I did the race. As we all know, training with the ET group is fun but the races give us a way to measure our progress and are just plain fun. And what about the aquabike event itself? Well, here is what I learned: (1) you can pass a lot of people the last few miles on the bike pushing toward your finish as the other racers save something for the run; (2) the triathletes look at you funny as you slowly saunter through T2 in no apparent hurry; (3) it feels great to change into crocs instead of running shoes in T2; and (4) you always get to see your triathlete friends finish their races. So, if you ever find yourself with an injury that prevents you from running, as long as you can still swim and ride I recommend giving the aquabike a try.