I competed in the Philadelphia Triathlon to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society this past weekend and I would like to keep in touch with you and share news about what I’ve been up to for the past four/five months in my personal life. I hope you like my impromptu race report below.
My Philly Tri Team in Training experience was special this year compared to my 2009 Nation’s Tri experience. I joined the Philly Tri team as a mentor and took on responsibilities to set up weekly group “buddy” workouts and actively help participants manage stress, reduce anxiety and accomplish their personal goals in Philly.
Training for a triathlon requires determination and maybe a slight bit of crazy – It took a while for me to recall memories that our training regimen started during the unexpected Snowmageddon and the once in a lifetime snowfall for the Washington D.C. area. There is a reason why no one took pictures back then – who wants to remember the cold.
Our training team persevered and I will always remember one of my team’s first Saturday practices where people digging out their cars cheered us on as we ran through Arlington and played hopscotch between the road and the sidewalk to dodge slippery ice.
Good weather, sunshine and a quick pace at work made the weeks fly by and soon race weekend was here. I drove up with my friend, Omid, and dozens of bike-laden cars that snaked up and down I-95 during our trip to Philly.
Our arrival in Philly was as I expected – we were the best-looking, most well prepared athletes in town (I can afford some embellishment; it is my story after all).
My packet picked up, my race numbers affixed to my bike, helmet and race belt, I spent Saturday night at our hotel nervously awaiting my fate on Sunday. I was prepared; however, there is always room for stress before any endurance event. There were excessive heat warnings and rumors of water temperatures exceeding 84 degrees (the temperature at which wetsuits are not allowed) for the race.
Race morning was a blur – I woke up at 4:15 a.m. to dress and prep for the race. It was a treat and I’m sure you’re wishing you could have been there too right? By 5:00 a.m. approximately 160 Team in Training participants from across the U.S. were outside of the hotel, bikes in hand, ready to ride toward the transition zone to rack our bikes and prepare for the race ahead.
This is where things get a little interesting…
The man on the loud speakers welcoming athletes to transition broke the bad news shortly after our arrival that race directors had called off our swim and our triathlon must sadly turn into a duathalon consisting of a 5k run, 40k bike and a 10k run. A 40-year-old man sadly went missing during the sprint distance triathlon on Saturday and the Coast Guard’s search was still underway in the river.
While running is not my forte and the discipline I spent the least amount of time training for, I rolled with the punches. I had control over my attitude after all and I remembered why I was in Philly (more on that later).
The race started and my goodness the rumors about excessive heat were true – the local newspaper reported temperatures hovering around 90 degrees by 8:45 a.m. I was starting the second half of my bike around this time and the sun’s wattage amplified with every passing minute.
When I finished the bike course and left transition to run the last leg of the race I knew I was in for a rough time. I sweat a lot under normal conditions anyway and I knew I was having a hard time staying hydrated – I decided to forego any decent 10k time and walked most of the 10k.
While my final time was slower than I wanted at 3 hours 32 minutes, I was proud of a 30 minute 5k run and 90 minute 40k on the bike and two transition times that beat my times from last year.
I had a lot of fun cheering for my friends whether they were in front of me, about to pass me or behind me. This made an unbearable heat acceptable and a fun challenge. After all, if it isn’t enjoyable, why do it?
Everyone on my team achieved a tremendous amount this season and I’m so happy that I got to train with them throughout this year. Non-swimmers became sharks in the water and non-runners conquered the pavement during practices – some even entered into 5k races in Arlington to get in extra practice after a full week of training! That is dedication.
Personally, I am proud of everything that I achieved during the past five months. At a high level, I supported the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society inch closer to a cure for blood cancers; continued to live a more active and healthy lifestyle and meet new friends and amazing people in the area.
A small victory for me this season was my focus on swimming and building the endurance necessary to swim a mile or more using only freestyle. I depended on my breaststroke last year. I earned this achievement with the dedication of our coaching staff during team practices and my swimming partner in crime, Mindy, during our 5:30 a.m. buddy workouts at Washington & Lee HS.
For me, Team in Training means a lot because everything affects the mission to find a cure for blood cancer. The Philly Tri team from Washington D.C. raised more than $160,000 and all TNT participants from across the U.S. participating in the Philly Tri raised more than $600,000 for cancer research and patient services! This money means that patients will live longer, healthier lives and researchers can continue their projects to find a cure.
One person can accomplish a lot; however, this race experience proved again that a TEAM always accomplishes more!
If you participate in any sort of event in the near future – consider doing it for a charitable cause such as Team in Training. I believe you’ll find a lot of satisfaction and value in helping a charity make a difference.
Where to Next
I do have one more race this year, The Nation’s Triathlon, in Washington D.C. on September 12. I’m training for this race with friends and always need more training partners. If you’re interested in joining – please e-mail me and let me know!
Personally, a successful career and a healthy lifestyle are important to me and I’m fortunately surrounded by great friends and colleagues that keep me going and encourage me to do my best. I offer a special thanks to my project bosses, Jennifer and Jim for their support, advice and encouragement.
Thank you to my team for making this a wonderful experience! Thank you to my mentees in particular – Way to Rock the Purple and Green! I know many participants signed up for Nation’s too and I’ll look forward to our workouts this summer. Thank you to Ohana, my closest group of friends that always support my efforts and are there through everything.
Most importantly, I want to thank my family for your support and somehow ingraining into my stubborn head, the importance of confidence and doing the right thing.
Matt Ingram aka “Mentor Matt”