Training Camp Story, Thank You to Multisport Madness

Dear Multisport Madness,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to participate in the Dare2Tri Triathlon Camp last weekend! I am a right hand congenital amputee, have a background in sports, but am new to triathlon. I competed as a NCAA Division III Cross Country and Track Athlete 2008 to 2012, and in high school 2005 to 2008. Competitive athletics is one of the few things in my life where input is directly proportional to output. Knowing that I can improve drastically so long as I put in the hard work gives me something to look forward to each day. Last year I became curious about triathlon, but this year I am trying to get started in entering the competitive world. In this camp, I learned essential skills, developed confidence in triathlon, and felt inspired to advance.

Friday we spent a large portion of the day acquiring skills. During the bike portion, I learned how to feel comfortable coming to an abrupt stop, how to ride safely in a group, and how to corner. During the swim portion, I learned drills to become a more efficient kicker, how to improve my catch, and how to rotate with both my hips and my shoulders. The running coach reminded me the importance of pawing the ground and how lifting my knees when running can extend my stride significantly. Having amazing exuberant coaches with exceptional knowledge taught me so much about the sport. 

Saturday I developed more confidence. I was timid to swim 500 yards, but the coaches and volunteers reassured me that I was safe. Having done the “collision drills” the day before, I did not feel the need to apologize if I got close to another swimmer, and did not feel offended if a fellow swimmer accidentally bumped into me. I felt safe, in control, and sans panic. When we went for our group ride, I learned that I could bike much faster than I thought I could. Years ago I barely went faster than a few miles per hour, afraid to fly over the handlebars if I applied too much pressure to the only brakes I had access to: my front wheel brakes. The mechanic was able to alter my bike so that I could control both my brakes, my gears, and move much more swiftly on my bike. The running portion reassured me that led legs during the race were nothing to fight or fear, but to expect and embrace. 

Sunday I was able to apply my new knowledge. During the open water swim, I knew that if I had been able to swim the course the day before plus drills, I knew I could swim the entire portion of the race. I finished the swim surprisingly faster than I had anticipated which made me feel so much more confident. During the bike portion, I mistook my brake for one of my gear shifters. Knowing I needed to apply a bit of force, I slammed on my brakes (thinking I was shifting gears), but having done the practice Friday I did not panic. I realized my mistake, laughed it off and continued. At one point I was going 18 MPH, faster than I think I’ve ever gone before. During the run portion I focused on my form and felt strong.

Realizing my abilities inspired me. The past few months, I spent most days of the week training in the pool trying to become more confident in water. I am trying hard to make improvement and become a competitive triathlete. It will take me a lot of time and a lot of hard work, but I aspire to become an athlete that Dare2Tri can be proud of. Thank you for sponsoring me and enabling me to have an opportunity to learn skills that could have taken me years to find on my own, for giving me the chance to realize I can swim 500 yards in open water, and much more. Without your help, I could not have participated. 

Thank you so very much,

Sara Koehnke