Soggy Socks Don’t Slow Down Team OAM Now at Grand Rapids Tri
June 26th, 2015 by Team OAM NOW / Athletic Mentors
By Elaine Sheikh, Team OAM Now, Triathlete
The morning of the Grand Rapids Triathlon started out at 4 am for many members of the Team OAM Now. Like last year, it was raining steadily as athletes set up the transition area. For those of you who have never had the distinct pleasure of setting up transition in the rain, it really is an experience. Forget about using electrical tape to attach gels to your top tube – nothing sticks. Your towel and shoes will be soaked if you don’t have a trash bag to cover them. If your helmet has an eyeshield, anticipate it being wet and impossible to see out of. I’ll admit, after my sub-par performance at Big Fish Triathlon in Ortonville two weeks prior, where I did the Olympic aquabike in 45 degrees and pouring rain, I was less than thrilled for another rainy day aquabike. At least my hands weren’t numb as I got into my wetsuit this time!
The Grand Rapids Triathlon is one of the biggest tris in the state. Team OAM Now/Athletic Mentors is one of the sponsors of this race. As such, we had a tent at the expo the day before the race. It was great to catch up with teammates before race day. As we handed out hot/cold packs, granola bars, and fliers, I learned that most of the multisport team racing would be doing the half-iron distance. The more the merrier, right? Plus, that meant that I would probably see some friendly faces as I entered the water in the first wave at 7 am. However, as I lined up in the corral to get in the water, I didn’t see any of my teammates. No worries though – I hung out with some friends from Grand Valley State University, where I did my undergrad, and hoped everyone from Team OAM Now was in place and ready to race!
The swim was uneventful and I hoped that, like last year, it would no longer be raining when I hit the road on the bike. To my minor disappointment, it was still sprinkling. The roads were, for the most part, decently drained and I only had to weave around several large puddles. I felt good on the bike though and, with the exception of needing to wipe off my eyeshield every mile or so, I wasn’t hampered by the rain.
I didn’t see any Team OAM Now members until just before the turnaround. I saw one man coming towards me and I racked my brain to remember who it could be. I settled on Brian Reynolds. As I rounded the turnaround, a volunteer told me I was the second female. I saw Raquel Torres less than half a mile back. She had started two waves after me, so had made up ten minutes on me at that point. She passed me within the next mile and we exchanged a few words of encouragement. Next thing I knew, Kaitlyn Patterson, who started in the same wave as Raquel, flew past me. I was going a bit over 21 mph at the time, so knew she had to be going at least 24. I made a mental note to attempt to mountain bike more and see if it turned me into a beast on the bike like her! Kaitlyn hasn’t been doing a lot of triathlon training as she has spent the year racing mountain bikes, and yet, there she was, dominating a half-iron tri on the road! Not long after Kaitlyn passed me, I was passed by another Team OAM Now male, who I decided was probably Todd Anthes. At that point, I was out of water, my hip was completely cramped, and I was in too much pain to pay attention to people coming up on the other side. I missed a few teammates, but all I could think about was finishing at that point! I was passed by another woman in the aquabike, Kim Albin. She’s a strong cyclist and I tried to stay with her, but it wasn’t happening for me. (My heart said go, go, go, but my body said no, no, no – although I think the actual song has those two things in reverse…) My focus was then to just hold off the women behind me to preserve a podium place in the half aquabike. The finish line couldn’t come fast enough!
After the race, I immediately found an icepack for my hip and tried to waddle around awkwardly to find my friends and teammates. Overall, I had a decent race, although I would have liked to have been able to finish the bike as hard as I started. Regardless, Team OAM Now had a lot of podium places, and I was proud to be one of them despite my injury. Most notably, Team OAM Now had the top 2 females in the half iron distance! Kaitlyn, who remember, has been focusing on mountain bike training, won the half iron with a stellar time of 4:30! Raquel was second, pulling the awesome time of 4:38 in her first ever half. Brian went 4:10 in his first half, which was good for fourth overall and first in his age group. I think I’ll keep hanging out with these fast folks in the hope that some of their speed rubs off on me!
SprintChuck Grzanka- 1st AG
Paul Raynes- 2nd AGSprint RelayMike Steele- 1st OA
Michelle Olson (Elite Club) 1st OAHalf AquabikeElaine Sheikh-3rd OAHalfKaitlyn Patterson- 1st OA
Raquel Torres- 2nd OA
Brian Reynolds- 1st AG, 4th OA
Todd Anthes- 3rd AG
Michelle Dalton- 9th AG
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