In 2018 when I broke six hours in a half iron distance triathlon at Door County in what I would call “the perfect conditions” I had no desire to return to Door County any time soon. The water conditions would never be as wonderfully glass calm, the wind would never again be minimal, and the run….well it’s always a struggle but somehow last year was perfection. I had no unfinished business at Door County.
John on the other hand had unfinished business. He missed breaking five hours by a few seconds in 2018. In January it was already decided that we were returning. It was around that time when Christian Jensen of myTeam Triumph joined one of our Ironworx Multisport indoor team rides and presented the idea of doing this race as an angel.
Participating in a race as an angel for myTeam Triumph means assisting a differently abled athlete through the race, in this case it meant pulling them in a raft during the swim, pulling them in “the chariot” during the bike, and then pushing them in “the chariot” during the run. This is something I have witnessed at many Madison races and haven’t given much thought to. The morning Christian presented this idea, my friend Nick committed on the spot, “I’ll swim!” Minutes after that Chelsea declared that she would bike, and then I shrugged, “I’ll run”. Within minutes we had a team, and had no idea what that really meant.
Training for this, for me, was doing a lot of upper body strength because there are some hefty hills on the Door County run course. I wanted to ensure I would be strong enough to hold the chariot on the steep descents. Nick swam with a raft strapped to himself and his wife Angie rode along in the back drinking coffee and taking video of the wonderful memories. Chelsea biked with the chariot and 90 lb weights in it all spring through race day. She is truly a warrior. To draw you a picture, Chelsea is a small human! She challenged the impossible just by committing to this. See the pictures below.
The most challenging part about training for this was the selfish training verses selfless training. There were opportunities to train with the chariot and extra weight, or continue on with my own training and speed work for Ironman Wisconsin. Both types of training can help with both goals, but I would recommend getting more chariot time!
Race day turned out to be perfection. It came with those ideal conditions I mentioned above that I thought couldn’t be replicated. Glass calm water again? I was really happy to see that the water conditions for John, who had an ambitious goal of breaking five hours.
We met our Captain, Jacob, who was sassy and sweet. He likes Oreos and causing trouble as we soon learned on the bike and run portions. If he was causing trouble during the swim, we didn’t notice because our faces were in the water. The three of us, Nick, Chelsea and I swam together as possible. I attempted to make a draft for Nick, but without the ability to communicate (faces in the water) I struggled to find a perfect distance ahead of him. He didn’t need the draft as a strong swimmer anyway!
The bike portion was fun because we were able to talk with each other. It was such a beautiful day too! Is it possible to have this weather for all races going forward? I enjoyed the day as I assist-pushed the chariot from behind. My strategy was to spin the legs fast gaining speed, and then sort of “ram” into the chariot but with a giant push from my hand onto the handle. It worked really well. There were a couple of larger hills that required me to get off my bike, push on the seat post with my left hand and push the chariot with my right hand. This took agility and endurance. Having all three of us working together made this bike ride possible and enjoyable.
The run is my playground. We started strong and got uplifting cheers from our Ironworx teammates. Cheering came from basically everyone on the course! At every aid station we stuffed ice down our shorts and made sure Jacob was hydrated as well. When we got to the big bluff at mile ten one of the myTeam Triumph support staff was there to help us push the chariot up. What an awesome relief for us, and amazing sense of what their community is about. Non-stop support!
The miles flew by and we arrived to the loudest finish line cheers I’ve ever experienced. Honestly, I don’t remember Ironman Wisconsin being as loud! We laughed, we bonded, we walked, we ran, we were in this together.
It was a memorable 70.3 miles for Jacob.
Oh, and John BROKE FIVE HOURS!!!!
Now, we might be done with Door County!
- Coeur Sports for stylish, high-quality triathlon clothing for women
- Ironworx Multisport for team support
- myTeam Triumph for this opportunity for inclusion
- Roka for high-quality goggles & a sleek, fast wetsuit