Danskin Triathlon experience offers more than just a race
Editor’s Note: The Roaring Fork Women’s Triathlon Team recently competed in the Danskin Triathlon in Denver. Sonya Hemmen, an area resident and member of the team, shares her thoughts on training for, competing in, and finishing the event.
It seems like a very long time ago but it was just this past April, 2002. I scribbled down the date, time and place of the orientation meeting. I felt intimidated to even consider training for a triathlon. But I found myself rushing into the room to listen to coaches Judy Haynes and Nancy Reinisch discuss the details of the upcoming summer training program to a diverse group of women.
The Tri-Umphs or veterans of last year’s group were laughing and joking. While the rest of us, the Tri-Babies or newbies were anxious and pensive.
The Danskin Race series is hosted at several race locations throughout the United States from June 9th through September 15th. This women-only race is a sprint triathlon consisting of a 1/2-mile open-water swim, a 12-mile bike ride, and a 5-kilometer run. The Colorado race took place on Sunday, August 4th at Cherry Creek State Park in Denver.
Nancy Reinisch says, “It takes a leap of faith for most women to return to the group following the orientation. They must leap into three months of training to prepare for their first triathlon and have faith that their bodies, coaches, teammates, and their spirit will carry them across the finish line.”
I took that leap of faith along with fifteen other hearty souls.
Our group met twice weekly since May 1, to learn the “how to’s” of tri-sport training. We learned a little bit about a lot: helmets, wetsuits, heart rate monitors, heart zones, hill repeats, bricks, open-water swimming, long slow distance runs, positive thinking, transitions, and rest days.
Along with all the important triathlon details, we picked up something even more valuable: We became part of a team.
On Sunday, August 4th, I stood at my transition area with 2,500 nervous women ready to begin my first triathlon. I thought about my teammates and about our hopes and dreams for the day. Some of us had goals of placing in our age groups, some wanted to improve our times from last year, while others simply wanted to cross the finish line.
My thoughts raced back to our initial meeting. I recalled my hesitation, self-doubts and fears. Then, I remembered all the hours we spent preparing and conditioning. I looked around and I knew we were strong and capable of accomplishing this feat. We put our butterflies in formation and did the race – and we all finished the race.
What we gained in the end was far greater than any trophy or medal. We became aware of the strength in numbers theory. We gained shoulders to lean on. We became aware of strong women in our community. We gained new friendships.
We learned that finishing a triathlon is just the beginning of lots of life’s lessons.
We discovered – along with all our other titles in life of mother, wife, sister, friend, employee – we now hold the title of triathlete!
As Judy Haynes said, “The Roaring Fork Triathlon Training Group is more than just training for a race – it’s a chance to become part of a support system to create a healthier lifestyle.” I had an incredible summer with my “support system.”
So if you see a group of women running or biking with neon flamingo socks, shout hello. We are training for the next event . and the next one . and the next one.
Our 2002 Roaring Fork Women’s Triathlon Team consisted of Linda Austin-Martin, Cindy Davis, Kathy Hert, Sonya Hemmen, Kathy Kopf, Susan Kurk, Miriam Leone, Carol McCurry, Maureen Nuckols, Marianne O’Carroll, Julie Olson, Katie Reinisch, Lise Sansom, and Thelma Zabel.
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The 40th annual Demon Invitational track and field meet takes place Saturday, May 15 at Stubler Memorial Field.