Editor's note: over the winter two Tarrytown friends bundled up outside local venues, . In April, Tara Chillemi and Kelly Brown finally went south to Florida for the Anthony's Olympic Triathlon they had been training for. They were able to raise $7,600 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Almost 200 Team in Training participants from around the country were able to raise nearly $900,000 for blood cancers.
Chillemi shared her account of the race itself with her friends, family and Patch. Here is her "Race report."
My alarm went off at 3:30, a dreadful time to wake up. I packed my bag and laid out my tri suit the night before in order to sleep as much as possible. I hopped out of bed, got dressed, and went down to the lobby to wait for the rest of the team. While waiting, I had half a whole wheat bagel with crunchy peanut butter and water.
The next two hours went by fast. I set up my transition area with ease and went and checked on the rest of the team. It was calming running around the transition area; it provided a nice distraction from nerves. I walked through the transition a few times and memorized and strategized how to find my bike and gear.
On the walk to the swim, my nerves started coming back again. The fear that I didn't train enough, that I wouldn't do well, that my shoulder would not hold out, that I would continue my streak of bad runs. I couldn't eat anymore. I stared at the other half of my bagel and my banana and my stomach churned.
I had a LONG wait until my wave. 4,000 people apparently takes quite a long time to spread out in the water. I woke up at 3:30 and wouldn't be racing until 8:44... Wave after wave went.
I marched up to the water controlling my breathing and fiddling with my goggles. I looked around at my competition, sizing them up, seeing who I could take in the water. I lined up in the front off to the left. I wanted to be up front, but didn't feel like getting kicked in the face to fight for the prime location.
The five minutes of treading water felt longer than the four hours of waiting to get in the water.
My nerves turned to annoyance with the fifteen year olds obnoxiously pushing to the front line.
But if I'm going to be honest, I'm just as bad, if not worse.
The gun went off and I tried to move. I had someone in front of me not going fast enough to allow me to really get moving. I rode the bubbles for a few minutes before I found an opening. It's a fight at this point. We are all hungry to get moving; we are all craving the adrenaline and speed. I'm trapped by a girl who cannot swim straight. I could tell there was no one to her left, but we continued to knock arms and heads for five minutes, both trying to shake the other or get ahead. This battle locked up my shoulder. I tried to ignore and push through the pain, eventually it went away and I was able to get a boost to shake off the girl. The swim was good. First half mile with the current, second half was a little rocky for most. I had an advantage with the waves after the first turn. I started seeing white, dark blue and light blue caps scattered about. They were caught in the waves. I push through and move with the waves. My favorite moment in the swim was seeing my mentee Paula, just bobbing along at one of the buoys. I screamed her name, we cheered for a second, and then I was off. After the last turn, it was straight home. Buoys seemed to fly by and I was at the steps.
A little uneasy at first, I ran up the steps. I didn't notice anyone in the crowd. I only remembered row 25. Run down row 25 and go to the very back, near the second tree. I found my bike. I took a drink of water and a shot block. I put on my helmet and attempted to dry my feet. I found it pointless because they were covered in mud and I figured it was futile. With my sea legs, I hopped while putting on my socks and bike shoes. I almost forgot to velcro my left shoe until I started walking and realized my foot kept flying out. I breathed for a second and then started running with my bike.
The bike was by far the most enjoyable ride I have ever had. I love my aero bars and I would marry my aero bars if I could. Eric from Bicycle World worked magic in fitting and tweaking my bike. I took off and slid comfortably into the bars. They took all the stress and pressure off of my shoulder that was aggravated from the start of the swim. I felt like I was moving. I maintained 20 mph the entire ride, except for the turns. I played cat and mouse with another TNT rider for about 20 of the 25 miles. I am still convinced that men hate being passed by a woman on the bike! I felt good and I got to see most of my team! After mile 15, I started to push a little more. I was thankful that this course was flat, and I mean FLAT. I like hills, but I enjoyed the break from them on this course. I got to see houses that I could only dream of living in, but also saw some houses that I was glad I was racing away on my bike. I hydrated and had about 4-5 shot blocks on the bike. I felt good about my nutrition.
I had a little less pep getting off the bike. I attempted to run back to the my transition, but actually power walked slash hobbled in my bike shoes. I put my running shoes on, threw a shot block in my mouth, and started running. I started off strong. My legs felt good, but I was ambitious...I was under two hours getting off the bike. It was too good to be true.
My pace was too fast to start. I was running 8:25 minute miles, a pace that I cannot hold for more than four miles, but I was high on the adrenaline and couldn't slow down my legs or my determination. I knew my heart rate was too high for this early in the race. The shot blocks started making me nauseated, so I tossed them away. The fast miles started to give me a stitch in my side. I was so proud of my hydration on the bike, but that began to backfire...I had to pee and there was no way that I was stopping. Now, a real triathlete would have peed their pants. It wouldn't have stopped them and they wouldn't have cared. This haunted me. The entire run I was trying to convince myself to pee my pants. You can do this, Tara. It's not that big of a deal. Don't worry about your new shoes...This failed and I continued to be uncomfortable the entire run.
It is hot in Florida. I was warned of the heat and knew it would be hot, but I did not know it was going to be that HOT. I thought I was going to die. My legs were fine, but the combination of the cramp, need to pee, and the heat killed my adrenaline high and reality and pessimism sunk in. It was a mental battle the entire time. I ripped my socks off at mile three, hoping to relieve the burning and swelling heat of my feet. Unfortunately, my shoes and socks were wet. Running in wet shoes without socks leads to about thirty blisters.
I walked. I tried to lower my heart rate by walking, and when I felt comfortable or reasonable, running again. The heat was becoming unbearable. I was running out of layers to rip off with my socks and now tri top folded down. I ran through every hose and dumped two cups of water on me at every water station. I looked like a crazed woman, as Kelly would tell you when she saw me.
But I kept moving. Even though I was miserable, I never stopped. I couldn't stop. It wasn't just the competitor in me, but the reason why we came to St. Anthony's in the first place. There were over 200 Team In Training participants from all over the country at this race, and together we raised over $900,000 for Blood cancers. This pushed me to the finish. While I was walking, it was the TNT racers who came by me and pushed me keep running. It was the TNT supporters on the sideline encouraging to to keep going, that it was only a short way to the finish.
It was seeing my teammates and coach on the sideline and during the race pushing me.
Once I saw that six mile mark, something came back that had ran away at mile 3. I pushed and pushed to sprint to the finish. I crossed that finish line, wanting to throw up and rip my shoes off, but knowing that I had succeeded. I had finished.
It took time to reflect and be happy with my race. I focused too much on the horrible and dreadful run that I didn't realize what I had accomplished in the first two legs of the event. But my disappointment went out the window as I watched my teammates cross the finish and complete their first triathlon. The most rewarding feeling was seeing their accomplishments, their pride, and their success when their name was called by the announcer. It was an amazing trip and I am slowly learning to appreciate more of my successes than focusing on what went "wrong."
After checking my final time, I learned that I shaved six minutes off my personal record and placed fifth in my age group, qualifying for the Hy Vee championship race in Iowa.