Sunday, October 21, 2012

T3 Fall Finale

As the weather begins to cool, races option become fewer and farther between. This year T3 offered a new race, the T3 Fall Finale, with a duathlon or 5k race option. T3 puts together an excellent triathlon every June, the Tremont Sprint Triathlon; therefore, you know the race was going to be put together well.
Race Director, Chris Kinsey
Add in a Race Director who I call Mr. Triathlon Encyclopedia and you know it will be a great event. Chris' attention to detail means the race will be safe and efficient.

Water Girls
Of course, we also have a great team of volunteers who help make sure everything runs smoothly.

Waiting to race
The turn out for a first time race was pretty good. Unfortunately, the weather this week may have scared off some last minute entries, but overall we probably had about 80-90 competitors, many of whom were racing in their first major race.
Nick - back in action after missing most of the tri season
The gun went off and the race began. Many racers were anxious about testing their abilities in a multi-sport event. Others, like Nick, were happy to finally compete in their first race of the season after allowing racing to take a back seat to other things, such as, oh, a job.

One of the most positive people I know
I was excited to see some of my favorite people get out and race. When I managed the fitness center in town, I had the honor of meeting one of the most positive people around, Mr. Dick Flier. In his early 60s, he always has a smile on his face and a greeting for everyone he meets. Of course, the fact that he loves to talk about fitness, yoga and running only makes him more endearing to me.

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I did have to take a little bit of harassment this morning from my hubby and T3 teammates. At all of my races, Jeff's always there making sure my tires are ready, my bike is properly racked and my gear is in order. Today was all about Jeff. After taking the last 9 months and making it my Ironman season, today was a day for me to volunteer at the event and cheer him on instead. However, because I was also bringing Annelise up to the event to volunteer, I didn't get there in time to help him get all set up. Poor Jeff had to prepare for the race without his road crew, but I think he survived ok without me. Cue the teasing remarks.

Jen is ready to battle
My friend, Jen, who went to the Les Mills Quarterly with me last weekend, was fired up and ready to tackle the duathlon. With each race she completed this year, she felt stronger and stronger as she re-claims her healthy lifestyle. She's been an inspiration to watch this year.

Mike Dillard - the best man to lead transition
My volunteer assignment was to work the transition...and to take a lot of pictures. Fortunately, I got to work with someone who always puts a smile on my face, Mr. Mike Dillard. Mike always finds a way to inspire and motivate every person as they come through the transition. As the day grows later and some racers may be feeling slightly discouraged, Mike is the right person to help lift their spirits. As the bike racks cleared and the final runners came into T1, Mike told one racer pointing to her bike, "You have a rocket there. Go get them." I'm sure his faith in her abilities helped her fly through the first few miles of the bike route.

Do you need water? Annelise is your girl. 
As a part of graduating from Tremont High School, all students must complete 40 hours of community service work. Annelise and her friends used their Ninja super powers to hand out a few hundred cups of water to the racers and mark off a some community service hours all at the same time.

Preston - amazing on the bike
As the racers took off on the bike, I noted the positions of the first few runners. Knowing how strong T3 member, Preston, is on the bike I knew the return to transition would be different. As expected, Preston came back into transition in the 2nd slot. Preston had the fastest bike split covering the 14.4 mile bike course in 00:37:02.7, an average of 23.3 miles per hour. His bike skills are amazing and someday when I grow up I want to be just like him.

Batman and Captain America
The bike route is similar to the Tremont Triathlon bike portion. However, this fall T3 brought some of the IMLOU spirit home and provided some inspiring characters as they raced up Superhero Hill. IMLOU finishers, Ed & James, dressed up as Batman and Captain America to help motivate some of our racers. Even though Ed said he did feel slightly silly, I think it had to be a great thing for all of our new racers who were feeling challenged heading up the hill on the bike route. Who wouldn't want to be distracted from their discomfort into thinking about these goofy characters who were yelling and running next to you? It worked for me at IMLOU. Why not here in Tremont?

One more transition for Jeff
As the bikers returned from the bike course, I worked the final turn into the transition area which gave me a great opportunity to get many pictures of the racers. Due to traveling the first 15 days of October, Jeff was not looking forward to the duathlon. Cold and rainy Northern Ireland didn't provide many opportunities to train and while Florida may have been great for running, his bike did not make the trip. As a matter of fact, I think the last time he was on the bike was BEFORE IMLOU. Uh oh. That adds up to a less than joyful behind at the end of the day. 

Cheering on their mom in her first race

One of the things I enjoy most about racing is seeing all of support racers get from their family members. I put together a training plan for my friend, Renee. According to her, my Ironman inspired her to try the duathlon. However, if you ask me, it's the new racers like Renee who are inspiring. They are stepping out of their comfort zone and trying something completely new. Watching her push through the race rejuvenated me making me ready to set some off season goals.

First big race for Sandy
Sandy was inspired by watching her husband, Glen aka Mr. Muscle, at IMLOU as well. Glen, like me, had a fabulous race. When everything comes together at any race level, you find inspiration. I'm not sure Sandy will ever sign up for another multi-sport race, but at least she gave it a try. And who knows? A couple of days rest and she may decide this form of torture wasn't so bad after all.

Jeff crosses the finish line
While other members of T3 were posting their finish time goals, Jeff admitted he just wanted to finish.  In my book, a finish is a win. It does not matter how fast or slow. You just have to GO!

Renee and her entourage 

You don't have to be speedy. You just have to step outside of your comfort zone and give it a try. Get off the couch and enjoy being outside on a beautiful fall day.

Monica placed in the 5k race

Many of our T3 members placed as an age group finisher in both the 5k and duathlon races.

Preston and Dick
Preston and Dick each took home first place finishes in their age groups for the duathlon.

The Nieukirks kicking it
And sometimes winning runs in the family. Tom finished first in his age group in the duathlon while his daughter, Olivia, took first place in her age group for the 5k run and 3rd place overall. Quite impressive for such a young little lady.

An amazing woman
However, the most inspiring runner of the day was 58-year old Bonnie. I watched Bonnie all day long. She had multiple friends & family members participating in the race and many more standing on the sidelines waiting to cheer her on. As she took off on the bike, she told Mike Dillard, "Don't hold the awards up for me." and as much as you hate to hold the awards ceremony without all of the participants across the finish line, sometimes that's just not feasible. As we waited for Bonnie to come back in from the bike, I heard her story from some of the volunteers. Bonnie contacted RD Chris earlier this week to let him know he really didn't have to wait for her to hold the awards ceremony. She was not sure how the day was going to go since she had just started chemo treatments earlier this week. How inspiring! She did not want to give up her goal of participating in the duathlon. Not cancer could deter her.

While we did not hold up the awards ceremony, no runner crosses the finish line alone. Everyone poured out of the facility to cheer her on. With her family and friends running beside her, Bonnie crossed the finish line to the cheers of T3 rooting her on. While her journey with cancer may not be complete, she has the satisfaction of knowing she is not going to let life just happen. She is taking control of her health with every single step.

Thanks, Bonnie, for providing inspiration to everyone who watched you cross the line. 

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