Tri Latta, as mentioned before is the first TnT event I did. 2 years ago, after 5+ months of training, going from not being able to swim 1/5th the required distance, I completed the event with my TnT teammates, many of whom I am still friends with today and my wife Sheila. While there were other events along the way that inspired me to take on and create the 40 in 40 challenge, this clearly was the starting point.
This too was a weekend full of events, so get comfy...
Saturday June 13 Inspiration dinner
While I was busy training for Tahoe, my 34 other teammates and I raised nearly $80,000 for the LLS for this event.
Our honored speaker was Matt Torkildsen. Matt recounted his story about his battle with Leukemia, being diagnosed at 18, a few months before he was to graduate high school and go to college on a basketball scholarship. His life, as so many others, changed drastically that day. Went to the Hutchinson center in WA. Like TnT, Leukemia can create families out of strangers due to the bond that exists and grows stronger with each passing day. When Matt checked into Hutchinson, there were 8 other families there. While there he received a bone marrow transplant, from his brother, and after 100 days "post-transplant", he was able to leave. His family and one other left. The rest had lost their battle with Leukemia. Matt's story is a positive one. One that got better, as when he left, he returned home and married his high school sweetheart.
After the inspiration dinner, Sheila and I went to the Man and Woman of the year fundraising grand finale for the LLS. This is a fundraising competition amongst candidates designated by the LLS and / or nominated by friends and families. While I do not have all the specifics, this year, while a difficult one, had 8 stellar candidates who raised substantial funds to help the fight against blood cancers. I will post more details on this, once I get them.
Sunday June 14 RACE DAY
The race officially stars at 6:30 AM. Sheila and I - as well as Maggie and Dobhen, were up at 4 AM, to get things together and get to the race course. I finished by multiple bag checks the night before. Now, the race course is only 12 miles from our house, but, Sheila offered to volunteer for the event, and I still had to pick up my timing chip (they don't give you those until race day in case you lose it...like THAT would ever happen), get set up in transition, get body marked and chill out a bit.
We arrive in darkness. Not a little darkness, but it is just plain dark. The stars are out, and yet there are a lot of people milling around. I run into John McLean, fellow TnT'er who is also doing Latta today, and is training for a Full IronMan in the fall. John and I did Latta together 2 years ago as well. We set up our stuff in transition, actually John's is already set up, four spaces down from me, apparently he got there REALLY early, and go pick up our chips and go get body marked. Sheila has been assigned body marking as one of her volunteer duties, so I not only got to have her write my numbers on my arms and legs, but I also got a good luck kiss...the volunteer coordinator raised an eyebrow at that one as she was standing right next to us at the time. Sheila limited the good luck kisses to me (I think - either that or she had the most popular body marking line EVER! kidding). Also - was pleasantly surprised to see my Tahoe cycle-mate Cheryl Ryan there - she came up to watch - even though she had to be there by 6 AM..wow. Also saw Laurie Pryor, who did Latta with us 2 years ago as well. It's like a reunion tour :-)
Anywho, so it's all of 5:30 now. An hour + to go.
Break out the iPod, drink some more water, stretch a bit...pass the time. Sun comes up. The day is turning into a spectacular day to go for a swim, a bike ride and a run...with some wardrobe changes in between.
I decide it is time to go check out the lake....
As I approach the lake, there are several young kids who will be doing the race, seemingly a bit anxious about the swim "you can't see the bottom", " wait, there are fish in there"...I calmly reassure them that the sharks sleep in on Sundays..nice of me - no?
So - unlike the previous Tri - which was a pool swim - they send the swimmers off in waves. On this day, it is men, in two groups alphabetically (A-L then M-Z) , then women in two groups, alphabetically, then the mens and womens "master" categories, which are racers 40 years and older, then relay teams.
Wave one goes off at 6:30 AM, wearing white swim caps...they're the white caps and they're churning up the water, appropriate. I missed this little tid bit but heard about it from another blog, apparently there was a water snake sliding through the water - right behind the first wave of swimmers. Nice.
I am in wave two - John is right there beside me - always friendly and making jokes, nervous energy or just who he is? It's just who he is..he's not nervous.
So at 6:34 - the horn sounds and off we go.
So - my impromptu, self designed open water swim (OWS)the other day was a good idea. The water is murky, warm, and I probably would have had a harder time settling in if I hadn't done it - and yet...I still have this dysfunction about OWS...I swear my legs are dragging behind me, not kicking...I didn't try and breathe with my face in the water this time, but still...sheesh.
So we head outwards, out towards the turn buoy (regular marker buoys are usually orange cylinders, turn buoys are usually a different shape, such as a triangle/cone, or a different color) and I notice - guys from the first wave are headed right towards me.
See when you swim in open water, there are no lane markers to tell you your going straight-ish...so you're supposed to "sight" every couple of strokes to make sure you're headed in the right direction. Sighting is when you pop your head up and look forward to find the next buoy and adjust accordingly.
It appeared that the first few guys in the first wave were sighting off the wrong buoy and headed back the way we came, or were going - depending on where you were in the swim. And - one wrong turn, and a little follow the leader, and you have a half dozen guys off course.
I try to wave them in the right direction but they blow past me...someone will get them turned around as there are course marshalls on the swim - in kayaks and motor boats in the event of a missed turn, or swimmer in trouble...
I make it to the turn and head back in towards shore - five words I love to say to myself as I am swimming...head back in towards shore... pass one buoy, then the next, then the last one. I almost get run over by some guy going hell bent for leather directly across my "bow" headed out towards the open lake - parallel towards shore - try to tell him "You're going the wrong way"...but a face full of foot and some lake water and it's lost...All I can think of at this point is of course, Planes, Trains and Automobiles...maybe his response was "How does he know where I'm going, yeah, right - ahh he's drunk"...but in fact I did know where he wanted to go...
Make it out of the swim - to the cheers of our coaches, friends, other spectators and head up the hill to transition quick smile for the camera and I get to the bike.
Now - one adage we are told time and again, and one I live by is "nothing new on race day" that means, don't wear brand new shoes, don't eat food you haven't eaten while training, don't decide to not wear socks while riding...and don't try to use different gadgets on your watch that you've not used previously on race day..
I violated this rule and fidgeted with my watch...for probably 30 - 40 seconds. Waste of time - but I came to my senses eventually and hit the road.
Clean mount (you have to get on the bike at or just past the "mount" line) and away we go. Knowing the bike course is always very helpful - so one can make sure they are in the right gears and pushing it appropriately for hills, flats, downhills, sharp turns etc. It helped knowing the course Sunday - I had a great ride and was really enjoying it - then as I shifted around mile 12...dropped my chain (I KNOW Cat - can you believe it?). The chain popped off the small ring, and while I can usually pick it back up in mid pedal stroke...it was too far off. So - I dismount and put it back on...grumble, grumble, grumble...and get going again. 5 more miles
Make the final turn into Latta and head for the transition and a 5K run.
As I near the dismount line, I recall the race 2 years ago...I had fun then - and am having just as much fun this year. Knowing that I will have completed 10 races out of the 40. Knowing I am making a difference - and hearing the coaches, friends, Sheila cheering...gave me goosebumps.
Dismount, I do not fall over, or trip over myself, or crash into anyone...which is good. Jog into transition, presto change-o into my running shoes, put on my running number (it's the same as the rest of the numbers, just more visible for ID when you cross the finish line, and if you don't have it - it is a two minute penalty...and one more thing to worry about in transition) ditch the bike helmet and gloves and I'm off.
I head towards the woods along the trail...I see Coach Steve AKA Scuba Steve, Kevin and Cheryl as I leave transition, then Sandra, Sheila, Stacey as I make the turn into the woods. Nice trail run - although a bit harder course than a couple years ago. There is this one kid, a young boy of probably 9 or 10...maybe older but its hard to tell because he is running so fast and getting FURTHER and FURTHER away from me...holy cow. How does he run that fast? His legs are half the length of mine. He looks like Speedy Gonzales...eepah, eepah, andale, andale...
Anywho - back to the run - we make our way out and back, and I come back to where I saw Sheila and company...climb the last little hill and turn towards the finish.
Make the last turn and pick it up a bit. I know my run was slower than I would have liked, but in reality - the competition is to raise awareness of blood cancers, the ongoing research and much needed support, not my overall time in an event, or segment of an event....but I am competitive by nature. So - note to self.
At the end of the day - all 35 TnT'ers finished all with smiles on their faces. We accomplished something pretty great that day - and will continue to work towards even greater things. Setup Events as always - did an awesome job with this race. The TnT coaches did an amazing job training us all for the event. The TnT Team - did and continues to do amazing things, raising awareness, funds and support for the battle the LLS takes on each day.
Thank you all for your support thus far. Keep the comments coming. I look forward to hearing from you.
10 down 30 to go, with over $7,000 raised and recorded thus far