Together we are stronger than on our own. As a team of triathletes, the “Two Dudes and a Dudette” were each able to compete at our best in the sport we were most qualified to perform on race day. Ed had been clocking laps in the swimming pool throughout the year in preparation for tri-season and sent us an invite to join his team for the Long Sprint distance at the Barron Lake Triathlon in Niles, Michigan. The individual events combined with a team mentality made the 2019 BLT one of the most rewarding race experiences we have had all year.
Our roles were easily decided with Ed as the committed swimmer of the group, Derek the natural runner, and myself the cycling enthusiast. With only a month out to race day, I took the opportunity to begin training as a cyclist first, supplemented by my strength training and running days. While I had a little prior experience with racing on the “Two Dudes and a Dudette” team at Barron Lake last year, I hadn’t done much serious training on my bike since. What followed was not only a faster leg of the race but a renewed energy for my training as a well-rounded athlete.
…It’s race day and the team is back! Personal anxieties and race-day nerves are replaced with anticipation and the pure joy of racing with my best friends. Our former teammate, Frank, from the 2018 “Two Dudes and a Dudette” team gives Ed pointers on the swim course as we look out upon the orange “pumpkins” bobbing in the water from the shore. The swim waves (heats) assemble by cap color after course instructions and I ready my bike in the transition area. After a speedy 500 yard-swim in just nine minutes, twenty-one seconds, Ed comes charging up the hill to tag me on the bike.
I run with my bike at my side to the mount line and swing into the saddle for the 15-mile sprint. Out on the road, I find my cadence and push to a challenging speed that I can maintain for the hour. The pedals fly as I go all out because I trained for this and my need for speed has no fear. I feel stronger than last year, but the hills are jaw-dropping as I climb each one with the team waiting for me to finish well. As I close in on the final miles on my leg of the race, I target the cyclists ahead to chase down just as I would as a runner to elevate my competitive mindset. The team effort outweighs my burning quads as I rush to the dismount line at 54:39 minutes and tag my husband for the 3.2-mile run. My lungs are breathless and my adrenaline soaring as I celebrate with Ed and reunite with my parents supporting our race. The enthusiasm of the race atmosphere is contagious as we join the fans and volunteers on the sidelines encouraging the other runners completing their events. Derek looks good at the finish and I’m proud to cheer his name as he pushes to the finish line with an impressive 26:24 minutes that is all heart.
The “Two Dudes and a Dudette” placed 3rd overall in the relay division but our team pride was the greatest reward. I will save my race bib to mark this date at the Barron Lake Triathlon as the beginning of my cycling journey. It was an honor to compete in such a wonderful event that not only fosters a positive experience for its triathletes but also fuels the Racing for Steve-O Foundation that provides scholarships for Michiana’s athletes with special needs to attend summer camps for active and healthy living. We truly are stronger together.