Is Triathlon a Team Sport? My Journey to Ironman Racine
Racine was a stop on the map heading towards Ironman Wisconsin. Leading up to the race a vast amount of training and discussions took place to build a solid foundation to meet the physical and mental challenge endurance races pose. With a support system of coaching, training partners, and family the hard work was about to pay off. Heading into Ironman Racine 70.3, I had a slight advantage in the event that is either despised by current triathletes or keeps athletes from engaging in this wonderful sport, the swim.
However, let’s back up to prior to me starting this journey. After college, I wanted nothing to do with swimming. I was water logged and tired. The sport had burned me out. I left swimming and established a 50 lbs weight gain complemented by massive headaches. It took a doctor to tell me, “You’re a former Division I athlete and you let yourself go. What did you expect to happen? However, I know you of all people can reverse this.” Ultimately, I needed to get back into my athletic state of mind (can Weird Al also do a parody utilizing that instead of New York State of Mind, just sayin…), but what could I do that brought me back into my competitive nature. Thus, I found triathlon.
I stumbled upon triathlon the way most people my age have (it was not a huge sport when I was in college or racing). I searched for something that was challenging, strategic, and built upon a couple of the athletic foundations I already had. I am also competitive and needed a group that would not only build upon my athleticism, but provide a team oriented atmosphere. I found Coach Joe who provided great insight and coaching into the sport; Experience Triathlon athletes Jim R and Kevin M really helped me during times I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong; and teammates Amanda M, Nate D, Damon G, and Mike B who rounded out the competitive training, camaraderie, and a plethora of laughs.
I took everything I learned and gained from everyone and put forth a time 30 minutes faster than I had anticipated. The swim was not up to my swimming standards as it was 8 minutes slower than I wanted. There was a southern wind which provided resistance while swimming south and a deep lake which does not always provide an ideal situation for a PR (If anyone wants to talk about shallow versus deep in a swim situation I can bore you to tears). The swim is the strongest portion of my race, which makes me sad it does not account for more time wise during triathlons (Sad Panda). However, a strong swim can dictate having a strong race.
I kept the thought in mind that I had a strong swim. It was still fast and I needed to utilize that momentum onto the bike. As I went to my bike I realized I really love strippers. No, not those kind, the kind that help you out of the wetsuit without providing them money. Well, I guess I did indirectly by paying for the race; although I guess if they are volunteers it is ok. Anyway, I digress. The bumpy bike course did not slow me down, I ended up faster the second half which was probably from one of the bumps taking a water bottle and knocking my right arm rest out of place.
As I came into transition I felt strong and pumped. I ran by the world famous ET Cheer Crew and felt like a pro with all the cheering. My run was solid. It was 30 seconds slower per mile than I wanted, but given I made up some of that time on the bike I figured I could take it. As I came to the final mile the burst of energy I have in all my races kicked it. It was then intensified by the ET cheer crew and Coach Cathy (Chilly Pepper) at the finish line. I heard my name stated by the announcer and crossed in 5:37, faster than I had anticipated.
Racine was a victory for me because it turned a natural sprinter into an endurance athlete. I have always competed in individual types of sports, but I have always found my success in the sports training with a team. Without the teachings and advice from Coach Joe, Jim, and Kevin I wouldn’t have had a strategy. Without the competition and good times with Amanda, Nate, Damon, and Mike I would not have been as competitive in the swim, bike, and run. And without the support of my wife, Meghann, this all would have probably been unbearable. My personal success was because of the Experience Triathlon family. Triathlon is not always an individual sport.
Enjoy all the photos from our amazing day at Ironman Racine on the ET Photo Gallery!