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New York City Chapter Triathlon Team - Participants Speak

Head Coaches: Scott Willett, Ross Galitsky

Dear Scott and Ross

Thank you thank you thank you for your excellent coaching start to finish.

In April 2001 I decided to try a triathlon. I remember going out one Sunday morning for a run and barely doing 2 miles in almost 30 minutes. I finished two sprints last year but felt I had to do one more. A good cause and some great coaches were the right inspiration.

The workout schedule was great - I saved them all. The running drills were so helpful and I finally got the glide thing on the swim.

I finished in a bit under 3:18 (according to my watch). My stretch goal was 3:15, a reasonable time for a recovering nerd. Surpisingingly my swim leg was a bit slow. Someone was literally grabbing hold of my feet for about 0.1 miles and I could not get out of her way - the women in the 40-44 age group are a bit aggressive. Bike was 17mph. Ross - you gave me just what I needed ("keep those knees going forward") at 4.5 miles and Scott, my legs were about to stop before I heard you say only "100 yards left". In fact I was sick for the last 2 weeks of July and never thought I would do better than an 11:30 mile pace, but hit 10:30 (I know this is barely a jog for some people but for someone whose best ever 4 mile race was at 8:37 pace, this is a huge deal). Of course hearing Lauren cheering at about mile 5 (just after Barb Lindquist zipped by me) was incredibly inspiring.

At his point in my career I am usually the one managing and coaching. So it is a treat to be coached. Working with you guys definitely reminded me of how important this role is, and give me some tools for my own managing toolkit. Next year, 3:10.

Best, Nan

Christine, Ross, and Scott:

Yesterday was not my best Triathlon Day! I had the worst swim ever. My chain fell off half way through the bike ride. I had a lung collapsing stitch for most of the run. And, somewhere, I don't where, one of my contacts fell out.

But I finished and you folks were there at every point along the course. Reminding me of what Scott had said the night before, albeit silently, that we are all going to face tests during the race and what we did with those tests, is what really mattered (excuse the paraphrase Scott!)

Thank you for your support and guidance and patience. I could not of and would not have finished without your help.

On to Disney...

Well, we did it. What an amazing race. For me, there were angels all over the place just waiting to take care of me. I would not give up my wetsuit, so, I was the last wave to go out into the ominous water. I just prayed to be at one with the waves and water, and really, it felt pretty great... I rode my 56 miles and could not wait to transition to the run. About a mile in, I was spent, the sun was beating down and it was high noon or so. Well, I saw my buddies coming in as I was on my way out. I had to keep my head straight and see the finish line. I was beginning to fantasize turning around when I saw Ginger and she completely cheered me on and despite myself, I continued. At about the 6 mile mark I began to walk, not a good idea. As I got near the end of the park, not knowing how I was gonna make it, there stood before me my biggest angel of all, Ross. Well, he iced me, buffed my, coached me, told jokes to me, hydrated me, encouraged me, believed in me, and outta his stern effort and committment to me, I kept my mouth shut and just took the coaching. He ran me to the finish line, and I completed with dignity. This made my very first triathlon nothing less that astounding. Thanx Ross and all my friends and everyone who yelled my name out with encouragement. Isn't that what it is all about. Gotta go, great job everyone, I am so impressed with you all. Judy

Hi, you three-of-the-greatest-people-I-know: I'm sure you're being flooded with messages, but I feel compelled to THANK YOU in case I can't make the V-dinner... (This is TOBY writing - the best way to identify me is by my little kid Lulu I bring along with me sometimes!) I'm still so high from yesterday, and I gotta say it was one of the best days of my life! About a year ago, I set out to find some kind of walk or race for which I could raise $$$ that would go toward Hodgkins Disease research. My husband, John, is a Hodgkins lymphoma survivor - he hates that word - he's a Hodgkins soldier. I seriously love the guy, and my gratitude towards medicine, his strong will, whatever, demanded action... I had no computer, but kept my eye out for anything I could do. Then leaving my bank one day I saw this flyer for TNT, and I practically danced home and signed up right away for the meeting... Long story short: This organization has literally been an answer to my prayers, and I am forever grateful to you and the hardworking staff for helping me accomplish a very personal, meaningful mission while also getting my ass in shape and building up my own self-esteem. I can't sing enough praises about how seamless and well-balanced this program is in its physical, mental and inspirational benefits. I'm a better, bigger person for it, and I know from my man's eyes yesterday that so is he. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!!!!

By the way, I've raised almost $8,000 so far and growing. After I hit my minimum, I opened an account for the spring, so chances are good that you haven't seen the last of me yet... Maybe when my daughter is in school I can fill more of the training demands - I'd like to really see how far I can push myself next time. But for now, as a working mom, I'm pretty psyched about that race yesterday - YEAH! And it all happened right here in NYC!!!

So thanks again - you are each such cool, fun people - and lots of my big fat love, TOBY

Hello Ross: I wanted to send you a quick personal note of thanks. I appreciated your post-race email, particularly your analogy about racing being a shortened version of life. I think it's an appropriate metaphor - and I, too, wish you could have been out on the course with each of us, witnessing those highs and lows! Believe me, I had some of each; the bike course struck me as challenging - the hills in the Bronx seemed tough, even after all the training. The run was not as hard mentally, I think because you had trained and coached us so well, in terms of preparing for it. Like I said to you after the race, the idea of breaking it down into the component, smaller parts was a great thing - the run just kept melting away, mile by mile - and we knew those miles quite well! Again, thanks for your overall support and advice to the team all during the training, and to the individual encouragement and advice I picked up from you along the way. I hope to be able to do some more events with Team in Training, and look forward to your insights again. Keep up the great work! Richard

Scott, Ross,

Thanks for a fantastic TNT experience. Having done two previous Tri's with TNT I have to say the Tri program has come a long way with you guys. You've done a great job.

Thanks again for being out there yesterday. I never seem to dig deep enough in a race, and having you both out there - everywhere - really helped me keep on it.

Thanks again, Russ

Hey Ross,

I wanted to tell you yesterday, but I missed you after the race, thank you for all your help and encouragement. Your knowledge helped me strive to become a better athlete in this challenge I laid in front of myself. I will remember never completely understanding the run workouts you described on Tuesdays and usually just following someone else's lead, and your help with me when my feet hurt after I bought a new pair of shoes.

Some of us came from very athletic backgrounds and others not so much (I like to think of myself as somewhere in the middle), and without the help of you, Scott and Christine, the goal I had of training and completing a triathlon are now behind me and the future of me in this sport is within my reach thanks to your undivided support.

I gained know how to hopefully complete in bigger and longer races as I grow into the sport. Hopefully I will see you at some of the races and we can run, swim or bike, along side each other.

Thanks again, Tom

Hi, It's Robin from NYC tri. I wanted to thank you for all of your hard work and support. I saw you on mile 4 of the run... I was dying (I think I had a touch of heat exhaustion... chills, feverish... very dehydrated). Well, I was shuffling my feet... barely moving forward and I saw you. You cheered me on at such an important time! There was no water at the 4 mile mark... and I was really struggling. I saw you and I felt like I could suck it up and pick up the pace to the end... and I did. What you said at the pasta party... is in fact my mantra for life.

Yard by is hard.
Inch by's a cinch!

It really works! And I believe in it.

Again, thanks, Robin

Scott and Ross,

It's just a few days after the race and I want to personally thank the both of you for making this one of the most rewarding accomplishments I have experienced so far. (And not the last either!) You both were a big part of my success with the event. You taught me how to swim (besides the breast stroke), you challenged me to push my physically capabilities further and during the event you both were there to motivate me at times when I needed it the most. I surprised myself on race day as to how prepared I actually was from your training program. All of your work and support really made all of the difference!!! It's an experience I will never forget!

Thank you for that, Shana

Dear Scott, Christine and Ross,

Thanks so, so much for a great training season! I can't believe how much fun I had all this time, and especially this weekend, and what great shape I am in... Nothing hurts! I followed every single instruction... and it paid off! I would have never dreamed of doing the time I did (2:55:35)... I beat my goal by at least 35 minutes! Thanks!!!

See you, hopefully, next season, Carolina

Dear Ross,

Hey! I just want to thank you so much for a fantastic coaching job you did on me (and us too)! I had a super-great race on Sunday, a marvelous time. I finished feeling like on top of the world - I almost passed out; I could not contain the high. My final time was 2 hours 31 minutes and 46 seconds!!! (And guess what! I was 284 out of 1334!!! According to

I really really wish you could have been there - I missed your funky-down-to-earth-kick-ass fun attitude! But it's okay, because your counsels I took to heart and I did great because of that! Thanks, one more time.

I drank water during the bike and took a good gulp at the transition to the run. I did not take any gels - I was so not feeling like eating. The swim was relaxing but it was full of contact - kicks and whaps and hits, but I overcame that. In the water you don't feel it as much. The bike ride was pretty scenic and anti-disneyesque, which made me feel sublime. Then the run, that was the toughest part. It was so hot - every time I saw a waterstop, I would grab a water-cup and splash myself with it, and I kept on going.

This was the most challenging physical experience that my little 155lb body ever took!! And I have to thank you so much for your wisdom and training tutelage - I would not have made it without you!

Thanks for your immense support, and hopefully we shall cross paths again, Victor

Hey Coach,

I'll miss seeing you this weekend, but I'll be thinking about you, that's for sure. Thanks so much for a great season. I wanted to tell you that the other night at the swim my TT mile was 35 minutes - now I know I'm not breaking any records there, but that's 11 minutes off my first TT mile so I'm feeling pretty confident about such a marked improvement. I think the subtraction of my dancing wiggle is partly responsible for this increase in efficiency. Thank you. It's really been a great time. Thank you again for all your great help and humor.

Sincerely, Melissa

Hi Ross,

I just wanted to thank you for all your help and advice over the last 3 months. I'm sorry that you weren't in Florida to cheer us on, but I did try to channel your coaching during the race, though. I'm moving to Canada,so I won't be able to continue with TNT but I had a great experience and I plan to keep training for future triathlons.

Thanks again. Kerstin

Race Stories
October 10, 2003, letter from Connie, participant.

Well the triathlon is completed and I am happy to report that I actually crossed the finish line! More important, the TNT participants raised $1.7 million dollars, $210,000 came from the New York Chapter and $4,417.50 came from you all Ė my fabulous supporters. I thank each and every one of you for fantastic show of support Ė I really couldnít have done it without you cheering me on. Please note that you were an integral part of this experience for me. I had the best supporters and you should know that you did more than just write a check Ė your faith in me gave me the courage to finish this event. There are many people who will have a chance to experience a long and healthy life due to your generosity.

The following contains the event details, feel free to skip if you are not interested, but read on if you want to know the gory details. Itís long because you know I canít write anything short! (I will not be insulted if you donít get through it!)

I have to admit that once I arrived in Florida my first reaction was "what the heck do I think I am doing?" We arrived on Friday and right after taking our bikes off the truck we went for an easy 1 mile jog to acclimate to the weather. Not so easy! I couldnít breath it was so humid and my legs wouldnít move. I was convinced I had contracted asthma. To totally convince me of that fact, we had a practice swim on Saturday where we had to practice our entrance and exit to the water Ė I couldnít do that either. I was hyperventilating and freaking out with all the people racing into the water, I was trying to go to fast, I couldnít breathe and I couldnít swim. All of my confidence in New York about my swimming was gone. We sat through meetings of last minute details - every minute making me sicker and sicker, realizing I was totally in over my head. I remember saying to myself "my friends will understand if I just get back on the plane and leave town, I mean they donít want me to die or anything."

So in the morning I got dressed and brought my stuff down at 6 a.m. to transition 1 (T1 is where you transition from swim to bike, you have all of your stuff laid out so you run out of the water, throw on your bike shoes, helmet, etc. and take off on your bike.) If I was freaked out the night before I was really freaked out now! 1,500 athletes parading around (not walking Ė parading for everyone to examine) in their tri-suits getting pumped up is quite intimidating. Pump music was blaring from speakers and all kinds of announcements going on Ė it was a jolt!! I found my coaches and they sent me over to get body marked (where they write your number on your arms and legs) and then to get my champion chip (a little chip that gets strapped around your ankle and times everything you do during the race Ė oy!) If I wasnít nervous before, now I was really starting to freak out. What the heck am I doing here? These people are all SERIOUS athletes. They are going swim right over me and Iím going to be squashed like a bug or worse, drown!

Then, the worst moment of all, the sun came up and we could now see the swim course. Four buoys out, take a left, swim forever, take another left and a short leg home. Only problem was the 4th buoy was so far out I couldnít even see it. OK, now, I was really ready to get sick. There were 100 people in my wave (they send people into the water in groups of 100+ people). I am going to have get into that water and plow through 100 people and try to get out to that buoy without drowning. "OK, Iím screwed", I thought to myself. I walked up to my swim coach and said "Iím nervous." He told me to "go swim some laps and run on the beach." So I run into Helena and Katrina (two people from my team) and we walk down to the beach and do a little 15 minute run to get ready. Then we got into the pool and started doing some laps. I was surprised that there were only a handful of people in the pool so we were able to stretch out and really swim. I felt better. We talked and practiced our sighting technique and I felt a little better.

Finally, the energy before the start was so intense I thought somebody would have a heart attack. There thousands of people standing around trying to see the waves of swimmers run in. The announcer was doing the count down before each wave and the thousands of people were screaming 10, 9, 8... I almost fainted, it was totally surreal Ė "what the heck am I doing????" I was trapped in the middle of all these swimmers Ė I couldnít get out if I wanted to. And then the gun or whatever made that big bang noise went off and everyone in my wave started running into the water. I couldnít get past them so I just walked in. It took a whole minute before I could even find a place to take off and I couldnít even go very fast. And then the next thing I know I have a spot Ė my only place to swim and I just started to swim, slowly and after a couple of strokes waiting for my heart attack to arrive (as it had on the previous day). I was aware that I was strangely calm. Oh my God? Iím actually ok? I can swim again? Itís a miracle! I started to swim very slowly and now the swimmers were really dispersing in the water and I saw I had a really clear run for it. But then, the worst thing of the entire event happened, I heard someone yelling for help. I looked over and it was one of the women from my team in New York Ė sheís a good swimmer too. Her face was red and she was flailing her arms and screaming for help. One of the kayakers was with her in a second. I was calling out to her that I was right there, trying to remind her to breath. But I saw she was in desperate shape and the kayaker was not going to let her go on. I found out later that this happened to several people. I turned around realized that I had to keep going. But I was pretty shaken up by this event Ė there but for you go I...

Then the swim became even more surreal. The water was deep, dark and really beautiful. I was reminded of the day when I raced in the Hudson. Gentle rolling waves (caused by the swimmers and the boats because it was a lake) lulling you into a rhythm. I was swimming a little too far out to the right and a kayaker came up and told me to go to the left. I thanked him and asked him how far to that fourth buoy? I can only see that one in front of me. He laughed and said, "That is the fourth buoy honey, time to make to your turn, go for it." I couldnít believe it. How did that happen? How did I get all the way out to the 4th buoy that I couldnít even see from the shore? It was a miracle Iím telling you. I thanked the Divine, God, the particles of water and just kept counting my strokes and looking up every 20. And then I realized that I was enjoying myself. This was cool. You could really stretch out your arms and swim, swim, swim never even worrying about hitting the end of the pool. I had plenty of room and nobody was bothering me. It was a divine moment, I was totally aware of each breath, each stroke, every particle of water as it was gliding over me. I could have gone on forever, I was in forever. The next thing I know I was making the last turn and there was the finish line with the crowds roaring it was so close. And I just kept swimming, swimming, swimming and then I was on the shore ready to run through the swim finish gate. My swim coach Earl was standing right there yelling "go Connie, go!" I started running up the ramp. This was the same run we had done on Friday that I couldnít run. My feet just flew Ė I donít know who was carrying me but they had might strong arms because my feet didnít even touch the ground!!! 0.9 mile swim completed!

The next thing I know I was in the transition area, trying to scramble and get my helmet on, socks shoes, gloves, I was a little stunned Ė dazed in fact. What just happened, what I am doing now? Iím still alive? I was in disbelief. Then I saw everyone running toward the bike course and they looked mean! They sounded and looked like warriors stomping with their bike shoes, helmets and running with their bikes in one hand like a shield. They were running into battle, running to attack. I thought I had better do something quick Ė but I didnít set up my transition station correctly and I was fumbling for everything. Finally, I got everything together and joined the warriors heading into battle. As we passed through the bike start gate, hundreds more spectators were there screaming Ė a roar I was stunned. I heard someone yell ďgo, Connie, goĒ and I saw Vanessa our team coordinator waving me on. I stumbled trying to get on my bike but then I heard the click, click of my shoes into the pedals. I was locked in and I took off.

Soon the crowds were gone and I found myself on long stretch of country road with fields and cows and friendly cyclists racing by. Plenty of room, relatively flat, my bike was humming and weather was just right. Not too hot and the sun was sleeping behind the clouds. I was well aware that this was another divine moment. My legs felt great. The swim had totally loosened them up and I was cranking at a great cadence and speed. I couldnít have been happier. I was surprised as these elite athletes would sail by me almost every one of them said an encouraging word "youíre doing great," "go girl." And then they would speed off into the horizon and there was no evidence that they had ever been there at all. Soon, the fast cyclists were long past me and I was traveling with just few people on the course in front of me. I didnít look behind because it really didnít matter to me.

As I came across one stretch of road I saw a cop on the other side of the road with a radar gun trying to catch speeding cars (only one side of the road was closed for the cyclists). I turned and yelled to him, thinking myself oh so very funny, "hey, how fast am I going?" He shrugged and I turned back to find to my horror that I was riding right into the gutter and it was too late to do anything about it. I was catapulted into the air. My shoes were still attached to the pedals and my hands to the handlebars so the bike went with me. As I was suspended in the air for one second I remember saying to myself "Man, this is going to hurt!" And then thud, I landed on a patch of grass and the bike fell on top of me. My race must be over; because I am sure I am dead. But thank God for endorphins. I jumped up, realized nothing was broken. Everyone was yelling "are you okay? Are you okay?" Even the cop was calling out to me. I realized that I was fine and embarrassment quickly settled in. I couldnít even look up at anyone. "Yeah, yeah, Iím fine." I yelled back as I climbed back on my bike. The chain was knocked off and I had to stop again and put it back on, but then we were off again. I was muttering to myself about how stupid I was as I was picking grass and mud out of my hand brakes. To top it all off as I sped off I realized that my computer was knocked off and now I didnít know my rpm or my speed. Great, Iím just going to go as fast as I can and hope for the best. Soon I started passing people and before I knew it I was in transition 2 (where you switch from bike to run.) 24.6 miles on the bike done! At this point I realized that only heat stroke would stop me from finishing, but heat stroke was a distinct possibility!

Transition 2 went much better than transition 1. I put my bike on the rack grabbed my sneakers and took off. Not the hundreds of people here. Just a few loyal people like my swim coach Earl standing there ready to cheer me on. As I rounded the corner to my horror I see the first mile is through the parking lot!!! Oh my God, how excruciatingly boring! The lactic acid in my legs was numbing them so I could even feel them. The sun was out and it was hot, hot, hot!!! I just started my slow run and noticed that quite a few people were walking (it is very hard to start running after a long bike). I just kept jogging. Soon I found myself at the first water spot (there was one at every mile.) "Gatorade or water" they asked. "Both" I said. They handed me the water and I promptly dumped it on my head. They handed me the Gatorade and I took off.

Ultimately I knew my goal was to get into Epcot center. Once I was in Epcot center I had to run twice around the lake and then I was home free. After you circled the lake the first time they would give me a green band to put around my wrist to prove that I had done the first loop. I kept plodding along the back lot just waiting and waiting to get to Epcot center. Second water station, third water station, a couple of more feet and then I was there. I was both elated and exhausted. I looked at the lake. I was immediately reminded of my first run around the reservoir in Central Park. It seemed so huge the first time I had to run around it. Now I looked at this lake at Epcot and said to myself I have to run around this twice? I donít even think I can make it once. But I kept plodding along. Now fast runners were coming up behind me. They were on their second loop. I looked at their green bands with envy. I didnít think I could make it. All I wanted was that stupid green band. People were great though, cheering us on.

Another water station and then finally, water station 5. That is where I would get my green band and yes, there she was standing with a green band holding it out to me. I thought I would die. I held out my arms running toward her. Stretching, trying to reach the band and then I had it in my hand. That was it! I knew there was nothing that would stop me from completing it now. I had enough time to crawl the last mile if I had to, but I kept shuffling along, the air getting hotter and thicker. I was praying for rain, but the few promising rain clouds that had been there at the beginning of my run were chased off but the bright shining Florida sun that was so proud to regain its dominant position that burned even hotter.

I prayed to the Divine for wings. My feet are so heavy, Iím not really running, Iím plodding. Then a small cool breeze swept by me and I felt myself lift up a little and float to the final water stop. Now I am taking two cups of water on my head and pouring ice down my shirt. "Youíre almost there" everyone keeps telling me. I hereby promise to NEVER say that to any athlete in a race. Their idea of almost there and my idea of almost there were two very different things. I kept turning the corners looking for finish line but it wasnít appearing. Almost there? Almost there? Iím nowhere near there! And then, I hear the rumble, the low rising roar. I turned the corner and saw a straight line to a gate. The race official standing there said "the finish line is right through that gate." I started to run a little faster. The closer I got the louder the cheers. Then I ran through the gate rounded the corner and roar was deafening. Hundreds of people yelling. My head coach Scott was jumping up and down "Yes, Yes, Yes" he was yelling. I started running faster. There was my entire NY team. They were screaming and yelling "go, Connie, go." Then I saw my friend Stephanie smiling and waving. Then I hear the announcer calling out the names (he called me Cindy, but who cares). Then my mentor Ed is running on the sidelines, yelling "go, Carp, go" and I am running as hard and fast as I possible can remembering our Coach Ross saying "donít leave anything on the course. Give it your all." So for the last 200 yards I am sprinting as fast as I can and I cross the finish line.

They put a medal around my neck and handed me a huge bottle of water to drink. I walked out and Stephanie and Ed and all my teammates came up and congratulated me. All I wanted to do was dump that bottle of water on my head because my body temperature had to be at least 1,000 degrees. Once I cooled down it slowly began to dawn on me that not only did I finish, I didnít finish last. Some people got pulled out of the water, some people broke down on the bike, at least one man was pulled out from the run on a stretcher and I passed many man retching in the bushes on the run. But I was standing, feeling fine and I had finished. 1,500 athletes participated in the event. I finished 1,268. But, I finished healthy, happy and ahead of 232 other people. I was happy.

It was truly Divine. Connie


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