Monday, August 4, 2014

Northern Ohio Team in Training Team Takes on the Greater Cleveland Triathlon

GCT Team in Training Team and Me on the end
One of the best things that happened to me this year was having the opportunity to coach a team for Northern Ohio Team in Training. A special thanks to my Rev3 teammate Heather Oravec for the suggestion. This amazing group that I've had the joy of coaching has renewed my love for triathlon. Week after week they showed up on Friday nights to swim at the Twinsburg Rec. Then for the last month as weather would allow they drove to Mentor Headlands on weekends to practice the Greater Cleveland Triathlon course. These folks didn't sign up to win the race. They signed up to make a difference in the lives of people suffering from cancer. Triathlon (or duathlon for some of the team members) was simply the means to make that difference. And the staff at Northern Ohio Team in Training are amazing too...probably the most caring people you'd ever meet.

This weekend it was time for this group to race. All these months of training had led up to that one moment when they would swim, bike and run (or run, bike, run) to the finish line of either a sprint or olympic distance race. For many on the team it would be only their first or second multisport event. Imagine if you will the excitement (both good and bad) that comes with such a task.

Mariah, Kelly, Ellen, Rebecca and I after the dinner
Saturday we planned to have a group open water swim at Mentor Headlands but we ended up having a storm with heavy rains and as a result I cancelled the swim practice. Team in Training hosted a lovely inspiration dinner for the team. Their speaker for the evening had been diagnosed with Mantel Cell Lymphoma and he shared his story with us. We also had an honored guest who had been diagnosed with childhood leukemia. So many stories of people just like you and me who had been diagnosed with blood cancer. At the dinner I got to say a few words to the athletes and their families. What I mostly wanted to say to them was thank you. Thank you for caring about and helping the patients and their families for reminding me what's important in life. After the dinner Steve and I had a chance to hangout with the team and enjoy a drink before heading back home.

Kelly & Mariah prerace
Sunday morning we were up at 5 to eat a quick breakfast and I needed to be at Mentor Headlands around 6am to meet the team. From 6-7 we gathered at the Team in Training tent and shared some laughs and advice. Mickey (the race director) started the athlete meeting at 7:15. Following the meeting it was time for the triathletes and the swimmers from our two relay teams to walk down the beach to the swim start. Even though I know some of the team were anxious there was a good vibe. They were ready!

Kelly and Rebecca before the swim
The olympic athletes would start first so I headed down the beach to see off Kelly, Rebecca and Ellen. They were able to get in the water for a few minutes to warm up and get used to it and then they were off. I shouted goodluck as each of them ran in to start their first leg of the race and then headed down the beach toward the sprint start watching over the swimmers to make sure all looked well.

Anita, Mariah, Jess and some other folks doing the sprint and sprint
Jess looking ready to go!
relays were also getting warmed up and ready to go. Again we had a few different waves and this group would not have to swim as far as the first group. I tried to keep everyone calm and shouted goodluck to each person, gave some hugs and they were off!

First out of the water was Kelly. Holly from Team in Training and I stood near the swim exit and cheered for all the team members until the last one came through. They all looked so happy to be done with the swim in Lake Erie!

Kelly finishing the bike!
Next up was the bike. My hope was just that the weather would hold out and that everyone would ride safely on both courses. Most of the athletes had road bikes but not all. In fact one of our team athletes Rebecca actually won a new road bike from Bike Authority as part of the annual raffle! Everyone made it in safely from the bike and the last thing remaining was the run (my personal favorite).

The run was either a 5K or 10K run depending on the race and
Rebecca finishing the olympic tri!
again we had athletes doing both race distances so it would be a little while before some of the folks finished and we headed over by the Team in Training tent and finish to cheer on the finishing team members. Everyone did well on the run as well! It was fun being able to scream and ring the cowbell for each one as they hit the finish.

Anita getting her award
After the race we had coffee, water and lots of good snacks at the team tent as well as some yummy post race food from Northcoast Multisport. Once most of the finishers were done they started the awards for each race. Our team did really well with a number of athletes placing in their age groups! In the olympic we had Ellen win her age group and in the sprint we had Anita win her age group, Jess placed 3rd in her age group and had a 5-minute PR and one of our relay teams won as well!

It was a great day and I am so proud of the work that the team did! They all pushed themselves to do their best and most of all helped Team in Training raise the money needed to save lives. Thank you to Mickey and Northcoast Multisport for putting on this event each year, to the volunteers on the course including my husband Steve and stepkids Evan and Grace as well as the Team in Training staff who came out to help and cheer. And an extra special thanks to Steve for all his help this season as I couldn't have done it without him!

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