Thursday, September 12, 2013

London Day 3 - Team Meeting and Paratriathlon Preparation


The day started at 9 am with a Team USA meeting. I should have taken a photo but my brain was not fully functioning. The coffee-to-go I picked up pre-meeting was teeny tiny and was highly ineffective.

Tim Yount and Kris Swarthout do a great job and we go through everything at this meeting - check-in, transition setup, how to move through transition (a bit complicated), the courses, and things like penalty boxes (new to me) and "Clean Zones' for throwing cups. Every race has a slightly different course and a different number of laps. I do two bike and three run; the sprint does three bike and two run. In some places we will have four lanes of bike traffic with a turnaround in the middle. I will just go where people tell me to go and hope for the best. They give us a great pep talk and send us on our way!

At noon I met Sarah Reinertsen at the Paratriathlon Team's hotel one block over. We had lunch which was an unexpectedly brothy non-vegetable vegetable soup with a small piece of bread. We started talking and pretty much did not stop the entire rest of the day. She is sharp, detail oriented, astute, and honest. I was pretty blown away! She handed me my credentials that would give me access to the paratriathlon events and venue. I was official!

At 1 pm we attended the Team USA Paratriathlon meeting and went over schedules. The room was lined with gorgeous bikes, three deep, all the way around, including tandems for the blind athletes. Coach Mark talked about maybe never having this chance again and to give the race everything they had. I took that message to heart for my own race!

We left this meeting to head to the venue for the ITU Paratriathlon briefing for all athletes and handlers. I was really beginning to see how much more complicated racing is for paratriathletes. We may think we have a lot to worry about, but they have even more, and the procedure can change slightly from venue to venue. The sport is still developing so there seems to be a few grey areas.  

Sarah and I talked through how it should go but we both understand some things may happen on the fly and I am just prepared to listen and act! Next time you are struggling to put on a biking or running shoe, imagine putting on a biking or running LEG! And figuring out how to get from the water to transition. Sarah is an above the knee amputee and I asked how hard it was to clip in and out on the bike and she replied, "yeah, once I'm on, I am kind of committed." So it's not that easy!

Sarah has such an easy charisma and it's clear she's highly respected. It was fun to see her say hi to so many international athletes and launch into fluent Spanish or a few words of French.

Mid-day I ran into Parker Spencer from the Virginia Triathlon Series again. His mom let it slip that Parker is leading the VTS series for the men, so I got curious and went online to find I am in second for the women! Anyway, kind of cool that we keep running into each other. VTS has quite a few athletes here!

Me with Parker Spencer

After I returned from the ITU briefing I stopped by the Team doc and got some antihistamines for sinuses that are not feeling great. I'm not sure if it's the air, the water from the Serpentine or what, but I wanted to be sure I was taking something race-legal.

At 5:30 I met up with Sarah again for the 25 minute walk to the race venue and her swim familiarization. Again....if you think YOUR wetsuit is hard to put on, try doing it balanced on ONE foot!

Team USA Paratriathlon Coaches John Murray and Mark Sortino
(of Multisport Performance Institute)

Around 7:30 pm it was back to the hotel for lazy room service dinner and some quiet time to get ready for tomorrow. I'll do some morning training then beginning at 1:30 the afternoon will focus on Sarah.