We were on the road at 4:30a.m. so driving was smooth and easy. We reached the race site shortly after 5 o'clock and we made our way to the Dare2Tri Chicago tent. As I walked towards the tent, I took in a deep breath and found myself nervous and excited to be back on the grounds of another race. Todd lead me over to transition after a quick stop in the Dare2Tri tent. We found our tandem bike and Todd adjusted the seat for me. he put on my bib number which on this day was 8. As the race start neared, we left transition and returned to the tent. We waited as the first wave of athletes took their mark. The triathlon began at 6:30a.m., but our duathlon wave did not start until 7:16a.m. so it was tough getting swept away by hearing songs like eye Of The Tiger blasting out of speakers yet I could not go just yet. So I had to relax. We walked over to the start as we were ten minutes away from our wave start. I was nervous and anxious to get going. This was the first time todd would be a sighted guide in a race so I was attempting to figure out ways to put him at ease. It seemed as though he was anxious while relaxed so I did not have to say or do much other than give him some instructions on how to call out pending changes in the course. The time neared for our start. As part of the duathlon we would run 2.5 miles then bike 12.6 miles before closing the last leg with a 3.1 mile run.
It was time to go. Todd lead the way as our wave took off. I started off very slowly as I do in almost every race. I wanted to give Todd a chance to get into the groove while ensuring I was comfortable with my surroundings. It took almost three quarters of a mile before I started moving with a purpose. By the time we crossed the first mile, I was beginning to feel comfortable. It was a steady run which ended quickly and we jogged into transition. I took of my tether which I use for the run and put on my bike helmet. I grabbed some water as Keri Schindler of Great lakes Adaptive Sports Association and Dare2Tri Chicago suggested we not mount the bike until we walked it out of transition and on to the course. We did just that. After leaving transition, we mounted and began to roll. The couple of times I have done olympic distance triathlons, which include a twenty-five mile bike ride, I found that about halfway through is when my butt starts to hurt on the bike so I figured if I could get through the first ten miles of the bike, maybe I will only have to be concerned with my butt hurting for the final two miles as oppose to the longer rides. the moment we began to move, I was swept up by emotions wanting the bike portion to end quickly. Suddenly, I pedaled hard and fast. todd was taken by surprise and was thrilled at how strong my legs were kicking. He was laughing and kept encouraging me to keep kicking so I kept driving. Up the hills. Down the hills. I was charging. Every few minutes todd would laugh and say we were killing it. We were also hitting stretches where we rolling by groups of ten or fifteen cyclist at a time. the more excited todd became, the more I digged down deep to increase the speed. At one point Todd said we were moving at speeds greater than twenty, then twenty-five, and even thirty miles per hour on the bike. I could not sustain that speed, but we did crank it out steadily and before I knew it, todd said he could see us nearing transition. It could not have been much more than thirty minutes yet we were nearing the end of the 12.6 mile ride. We reached transition and jumped off. Keri Schindler met us and she walked with me as Todd put the bike away and grabbed my tether for the second run of the day. I grabbed an energy bar and some water and made my way to the run.
We started slow as I was in shock at what we had just achieved on the bike. Were we really pushing twenty-five and thirty miles per hour in stretches? that is incredible! It took almost a mile for me to fully get my legs under me, but I did, I found my comfort level and we cruised. Before long, we had reached the two mile mark and we were down to the final 1.1 mile of the race. todd pushed me to dig deep. I started to cramp, but I pressed along. I was fading. My ability to hear his instructions and react was becoming difficult, but I kept telling myself to stay focus. I could hear the public address announcer and music at the finish line. todd informed me that we were crossing the three mile mark. .1 miles to go. It was time to take flight. Putting aside any cramps and pain, I burst out ahead and took off. Todd struggled to keep up and he began to scream "To your left. to your right." I zigged and zagged my way through a large group of people as I pumped my arms and began to open up my stride and kick. I exploded towards the finish. the crowd grew louder and I grew stronger and truly took flight. Todd put his arms around me and we flew across the finish line to a loud ovation!
My first duathlon was in the books. We walked around getting hydrated and talking to others. Todd was so thrilled at successfully guiding and it was a joy to hear his excitement as he shared his thoughts with others on what the experience was like for him. I enjoyed hearing how nervous he became as I took off unexpectedly and he attempted to get me across without injuring myself or others. My first attempt at the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon with the Dare2Tri Chicago people was a joyous success. The next race for them will be July 30 in Chicago. The week before I will be in Denver for the Denver Triathlon. I hope the pictures from this event are great and I will be able to share them here, on Twitter, and Facebook for all to see.
Thank you again to Todd Smith for escorting me through the course in such splendid fashion. His reactions throughout the day served as the motivation for me to keep striving.