Four Art Students Became Triathletes Yesterday!

>> Monday, July 27, 2009

About 3 months ago, I started “coaching” anyone interested in attempting a triathlon at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul. I use the word “coaching” lightly, because I all did was answer questions, put together a training program, arrange a few group workouts, and point everyone in the right direction. They did ALL the work THEMSELVES.

The College of Visual Arts is a superb fully-accredited 4 year art and design school. It’s a fantastic school in a great part of St. Paul. They do not have any sort of athletics program (it is an “art school” after all...). CVA has no budget for the “CVA Triathlon Club.” These students did everything themselves. Their training and this race was “all them.”

Yesterday, 2 recent CVA graduates (Sarah and Evan) and 2 current CVA students (Trent and Hannah) finished their first sprint triathlon at the Chisago Lakes Triathlon.

Yesterday was their day.

Here’s their story:

Pharmie and I got to the race and tracked down the 4 “CVA Tri Club” students. We all met at the water just before the start:

Me, Sarah, Trent, Evan, Hannah, and Pharmie before the race

I’ll start with Evan. Here are photos of him at work:

Starting the swim

Evan exiting the water

Headed back towards T2

Starting the final 5K

A few hundred meters from finishing!!

I asked if anyone wanted to send me a race report - they all sent me one. Here’s a note that Evan sent:

thanks so much steve. I have to say that was pretty amazing and everyone did such a great job and it was so much fun. I am so greatful for your support and organization! Thank you! I can't wait for more in the future.

Id love to say a few words.

My goal for the race was to hold a fairly strong pace throughout, but not over do it so I could feel good finishing. The swim was definitely longer than it looked once you got out there. I went out slow but was able to pick it up at the turn around and didn't stop until I was out of the water. I did not have contacts, so when I put my glasses back on in transition for the bike I almost fell over from the swim. A bit dizzy! The bike felt pretty great, and I took steve's advice and waited until about half-way into the bike to pick it up. I was riding behind a girl named Maria, who accidently dropped her water bottle (which I almost ran over), She was riding at a really good pace! (after a quick chat, found out it was her first race as well). I offered her some of my gatorade, and she gladly accepted. I ran into her later and she told me that the gatorade I gave her saved her race! I was happy.

My legs were pretty spent after the bike, so the first mile was pretty rough, but loosened up for a strong finish. The race was an amazing experience and it was great to be able to train with friends and see them finish strong too. Sarah, Hannah, Trent, Steve, you are all awesome!

Evan totally killed it. He finished just 8 minutes behind me! Yeah. In his FIRST triathlon. Next year, he could give me a run for my money!! He held a 20 mph average on the bike, and then ran sub-8s on the run! I think my first 20 mph race was like my 8th triathlon!! Nice job Evan!!

Next, I’ll show you Sarah’s race. Sarah was the one who got hit by a car 2 weeks ago, and that halted her training for about a week as she was SUPER sore. But she got back on the horse, signed up for this race, and did great!

Sarah finishing the swim

Finishing the bike

Starting the 5K, raising the roof!

Nearing the finish line!!

Here are Sarah’s race thoughts:

Thanks Steve. This was BY FAR the best first experience I've ever had with anything. It was so much fun!!!!!

I'm going to write a lot so sit down for this one:

Sarah's Race (the long version):

I was in the second to last wave (wave 26) which did me some good because I didn't have that many people coming up behind me on the swim. Perfect for my pre-race anxiety. I talked with a girl named Jackie (who was also 23), an older man named Dan and a really older man. We talked about how the swim was something to just get through and most everything could be made up for on other parts of the race. I asked Jackie how many triathlons she had done and she laughed and said "I don't even know! I've been doing them for five years!" My mouth dropped in amazement; she was the one I had picked out of the race that I wanted to beat but I quickly let that one go after the swim had started and I saw her bright orange cap getting farther and farther ahead of me.

The swim was truly just something to get through. I knew my time would be nothing compared to what I'm capable of and have been pushing in the pool, even at a "regular" pace. Swimming is my most loved sport, but open water race swimming, not so much. I did beat the really older man who was in my wave, so I was happy about that.

I wasn't as disorientated as I thought I'd be running up the hill after the swim but my legs already felt tired. What the hell? I got into T1 and realized I had forgotten to pee while I was swimming like I told myself I was going to and had to run to bathroom. I came back and threw on my bike shorts (because Run N Fun only sells tri shorts for tiny people) and bike shoes, and ran my bike over to the mount area. I hopped on hoping for the best and I was off.

The bike was my favorite part of the race. It was a beautiful day and the scenery was amazing. If there wasn't a smile on my face it was because there were some big bugs I was hoping to doge, but every other part of my body was smiling. I was passed by 2 men at the beginning, but I passed them later in the race along with many others. The few hard bike rides I had done with my friend Evan during training had paid off because nothing could stop me. There was a really bad patch of road towards the end but other than that the course was amazing. I did end up getting passed by David Thompson right at the end. I was ok with that because he's a stud.

Steve cheered me on coming into T2 (because he does most of his sprint races in 1 hour or less) and I dismounted and felt like falling over but knew I had a 5k left in me.

The run sucked. I didn't know it was possible, but I felt like my body was rejecting my own body. My calves were seriously cramping and I had to stop and stretch them out before continuing on. The first mile was pure pain. The second mile got a lot better and all of my muscles loosened up. The last mile was the best and the fastest. I sprinted up that stupid hill they decided to have right before the finish line and the closer I got the more I wanted to throw up. There was no time left to do math in my head because my body felt like it was on fire so when I saw 3:03:something I couldn't feel anything but happiness that I had hit my goal of doing my first tri in 3 some hours.

Within the many degrees and shades of tiredness and dimming pain that I was feeling I asked one question, "That was it?!" I ate some great food, hung out with all of my friends and my mom who has supported me all the way through my training and large amounts of money spent that has gotten me to this day. As I was leaving I was lucky enough to see Sarah, Steve's wife, starting on her run for the half iron man; it was the icing on the cake. I briefly thought of having to run a half marathon after what I had just been through and the urge to vomit returned but I shook it off and wished her luck as she passed with Steve running by her side. For all I know, Steve probably ran the whole half marathon with her because the sprint he had done in 1 hour wasn't enough.

I drove home, ate more food, took a 7 hour nap because I had only 3 hours of sleep pre-race and woke up with the same feeling I went to sleep with: I want so much more and I can't wait to do the next one.


My notes for Sarah:
1. Yes, David Thompson is a stud. (3:47 Half IM!!)
2. “I felt like my body was rejecting my own body” is probably the best quote ever. Shakespearian, really.
3. Sarah, the CLOCK read 3:03, but because you started in such a late wave, your finishing time is really 1:59! You know that, right?
4. Seven hour nap? Sweet.

Way to go, Sarah!

Trent is up next. Trent and Hannah started in the same wave. Here they are ready to start:

Getting ready to swim

Swimming in the middle of a pack

Looking “beast-like” as he exits the water!

Sprinting up to T2

Starting the 5K

Nearing the finish!

Here’s what Trent had to say post-race:

Steve you are the coolest!! I just wanted to thank you for everything that you've done for us the past couple of months it really means a lot to all of us. we couldn't have done it without you! Sarah, Evan and Hannah I had such a good time with you guys out there, it really helps having friends by your side for something as nerve racking and crazy as a triathlon. You guys rock!

As for the race...Holy Crap! That was by far the most challenging yet awesome thing that i have ever done. I was so nervous! You cant really put into words how your feeling as they call your wave on deck for the swim. All i can say is that your nerves are going crazy and your staring at the last buoy praying that you will make it. As you get in the water you realize that its a lot farther than it looked 5 minutes ago. Have no fear, I made it! It only took 15 minutes...what that isn't a good time? Its ok though because its my personal best... for now anyway. The bike was by far my favorite part of the race. Beautiful country scenery, not too hilly and every couple mile or so there would be just one random family sitting at the end of their driveway cheering us on. That was awesome. They made the bike ride good for me. By the time the 22 miles was coming to an end i was ready to be done with the bike, my legs were numb, my butt was extremely sore and unfortunately I had to poop like no other! The cheers of the people as i neared transition made me forget all about it and it didn't hit me again until 1 mile into the run (which felt like an eternity by the way) Don't worry i made it to the finish without making a mess of myself, it was pretty close though. The day before the race I had told the guys that i bet i would cry as i crossed the finish line, and as a matter of fact I did cry, only for different reasons than I had previously predicted.

Overall I had an amazing experience. My goal before the race was to finish under 2.5 hours and i finished right around 2:05 so I'm extremely happy with my finish and there will definetly be more triathlons in my future.

Once again thank you so much Steve! and thank you to all of you that left us kind words and encouraging advice, i honestly memorized a lot of it and it really did help during the most discouraging parts of the race. Thanks guys.


Great job out there, Trent! And you didn’t finish “right around 2:05.” You finished SUB-2:05! Get it right! Ha! GREAT work!!

Finally, here are Hannah’s photos. Hannah got sidelined with a bad sinus infection for the past 2 weeks. So she’s been achy, beat-up, and unable to train the way she wanted to. Her goal was to get to the finish. And she didn’t disappoint!!

Starting the swim

Exiting the swim with a smile!

Finishing the bike

Starting the 5K

Up the last hill, under the Swedish flag,
and 100 feet from the finishline!!

Crossing the line of her first sprint triathlon!
(Actual chip time: 2:22:13)

Hannah’s race report:

Steve- I had so much fun today! And Trent, Sarah, and Evan- it was great to do the race with all of you guys too. What a wonderful first experience to share!

My goal for the triathlon was first and foremost to finish, which I knew I would do no matter what. I wasn't thinking a whole lot about time, but was hoping to finish the race within 3 hours for sure. I was pretty nervous because I've been sick for the past two weeks and my training has been slim to none. My 2 mile bike rides to work have even been a challenge as of lately- which was so lame!

I was lucky enough to be in wave 24 with Trent and right next to him in transition. It was great to have a friend nearby to shake some nervousness off. Rudy, a fellow tri-club member, was there to cheer us on and take plenty of photos. His support was so encouraging.

The swim was what I was most scared of because I am not a swimmer (something I hope to change)! I was glad the swim was first because I was so pumped up. My goal was to finish the swim in under 20 minutes, which I did. I also didn't have to stop at all, which I was so happy about. When I ran up to transition Trent was still hanging around by his bike- maybe waiting for me? So we got to head out on the bike together. I am a biker above all, so it surprised me that the bike was the biggest challenge of the race. I was nauseous and had a horrible headache for the whole ride. I could feel how weak my body was from being sick the past couple of weeks. I remembered all the friendly comments and kept smiling. I even got a bug in my mouth- eew. I passed quite a few mountain bikes but overall felt pretty slow in the bike. Transitioning to the run was so weird. I felt like my legs were bricks and I wasn't even moving! My goal for the run was to not stop and walk at all which I accomplished! My run time was a little slower than I had hoped, but by the last mile I didn't care- I just wanted to cross the finish line. Finishing was such a great feeling I've never had before. I was so happy, kind of wanted to throw up, and couldn't speak for a few minutes. Did I just have my first triathlon orgasm? First of many I hope!

Hannah mentioned Rudy, who is another CVA Tri Club member. He wasn’t ready to race yet, but he came to cheer, and he took all the photos of these guys entering and exiting the water. Thanks Rudy!! And “triathlon orgasm?” GREAT phrase, Hannah!! Ha! Congrats on a great finish, and on smiling the WHOLE WAY!!!

As all of you can see, these 4 REALLY enjoyed your comments and words of encouragement that you left on my blog on Friday. Trent and Hannah mentioned it above in their mini-race-reports, and they both told me that they re-read all the comments after our pasta dinner the night before the race. As they say, it takes a village...

Trent took off with his family pretty quick after the race, but the rest of us grabbed one last shot as we started picking up our stuff in transition:

Congrats to all of you!! You guys did GREAT and made me so proud!!

I’ll be back in the next day or 2 with my race report and a few more photos. In the meantime, let’s just revel in the amazing finish of these newly dubbed triathletes!!


Jenny Davidson 8:13 AM, July 27, 2009  

Many congratulations!

Tri short tip: there is not as much of a difference in cut/style between men's and women's tri shorts as one might expect. I often have a hard time finding women's tri gear that fits, both tops and shorts are TRULY sized much smaller than other athletic gear; but a men's small or medium tri short will often fit very well if there is no suitable women's large! Worth a try, anyway... go to a big store and just take a huge heap of different brands and see what fits, I am positive you can find some that will work for you (and it is nice not to be trying to pull on bike shorts over wet legs!).

trimybest 8:29 AM, July 27, 2009  

great job everyone! im super glad to read you all had such a great time. you all did much better than i did! i will be looking for you at races in the future and say hi.


Lindsay 9:04 AM, July 27, 2009  

congrats to them all, again! enjoyed each of their race reports - they all need to take up triathlete-blogging now too. surely you can talk them into that steve. :)

i am very impressed with each of them, and laughed at many of their comments throughout their reports.

way to go cva-ers!

Christi 9:09 AM, July 27, 2009  

Congratulations guys!!!

Jen Feeny 9:24 AM, July 27, 2009  

CONGRATS!!!! What a great post/day/race for them all! Thanks for sharing each person's race recap... what a great group!

Jennifer 9:28 AM, July 27, 2009  

YAY!!! Congratulations Evan, Sarah, Trent and Hannah! It was pure pleasure to read your race reports. So positive and happy even with the pain and poop-urge thrown in - priceless. Steve ~ thank you for sharing this great sport with so many people in a very real way. We are all lucky to be able to do this thing. So lucky.

Velma 9:29 AM, July 27, 2009  

This is just fantastic. Kudos to you steve for providing all the inspiration!!

Gabriel Losa 9:33 AM, July 27, 2009  

Amazing chronicles! They were funny and emotional. I super enjoyed them!
We motivating you? I feel super motivated right now reading your stories! Win-win!

Congratulations to all of you!

Carolina John 9:39 AM, July 27, 2009  

Way to go, CVA tri club! they all did fantastic. i can't believe trent was pushing sub-8 miles in his first tri! that's amazing. good job, coach.

Kris 10:47 AM, July 27, 2009  

Congratulations to you and your group! You must be a fantabulous coach :) Great to catch up with you yesterday and probably next see you at the Splash and Dash!

Ms. R 10:47 AM, July 27, 2009  

Congratulations Triathletes! I'm so excited for you all and can't wait to see you at the start line of another race. Your race reports were fun to read. Tri on!

Steve - great job "coaching". You're such a good mentor for your team.

Mike 10:56 AM, July 27, 2009  

Again, great job to all the racers and Steve and Pharmie for the encouragement and support!!!

Eric 10:58 AM, July 27, 2009  

Great job to Steve and Pharmie for getting these new triathletes to the start and finish lines.

Congrats CVA Triathletes...great first race reports. Looks liek there will be many more in the future.

A "body rejecting my own body" and a "triathlon orgasm" totally rocks.

Check out how the EvoKids did yesterday...

Brent Buckner 11:29 AM, July 27, 2009  

Congratulations to all - thanks for the reports!

SM 2:06 PM, July 27, 2009  

Awesome job guys!!! And Thanks for sharing their race reports!

RoadBunner 2:31 PM, July 27, 2009  

Super congratulations to all four!!! Awesome job! And what a great idea of yours to get them started and guide them in the right direction. It looks like everyone had a fun time which is the most important thing!

M 3:28 PM, July 27, 2009  

Hands down one of the best race report(s) ever written! I don't even know these four triathletes, but I feel like I do, having read about all their training up to race day - even reading this post I got a little teary thinking about their excitement and their accomplishment.

Again, many many congrats to all the finishers, and a huge YOU ROCK!!! to Steve for all his hard work!

Chic Runner 3:36 PM, July 27, 2009  

That is seriously amazing steve but mostly congrats to those new tribabies! :) Nice job to all!

KodaFit 3:42 PM, July 27, 2009  


Congrats guys, that was truly inspirational! Gonna have to read through this again and Saturday morning before my next race.

Sounds like you all caught the tri-bug too!

X-Country2 4:03 PM, July 27, 2009  

CONGRATS! I'm doing my first tri on Saturday, and this was SOOO helpful. (Mostly what to wear.)

Hopefully my story is just as great.

monica 5:24 PM, July 27, 2009  

artistic triathletes...MY FAVORITE!!!! if you would have told me when i was in art school that i'd be running marathons or worse, doing triathlons, or worse, AN IRONMAN??? i'd a exhaled my cigarette in your face and told you to f off. so here's to 4 new artistic triathletes!!! congratulations on your first tri and so glad for you that you're finding this crazy world of triathlon sooner than i did!! careful now, it's addictive AND can earn you certain, um, tattoos....

The Boring Runner 5:27 PM, July 27, 2009  

I never get tired of hearing stories of first time anything running / tri related. Tell them to enjoy it. Just like everything else, you never forget your first time.

Regina 6:37 PM, July 27, 2009  

Congrats to all your students!!! And to you for guiding them along, that is the making of a fine teacher!

Everyone looked like they had a great time on top of it, so important!

great work!

bigmike600 8:12 PM, July 27, 2009  

You have just changed 4 peoples lives forever. You inspired and helped them to do something that they will never forget. Kudos to you man. You are one unselfish and very incredible human being.
And totally awesome CVA tri club. You guys freaking rock.

Sarah 8:56 PM, July 27, 2009  

These reports made my day. Awesome to see new people excited about tri!

Kevin 9:13 PM, July 27, 2009  

Congrats to all the newest triathletes.

Steve, dont sell yourself short. You definitely did an awesome job coaching then through their first tris

Irish Cream 10:20 PM, July 27, 2009  

Awesome job, you guys (and you too, Coach Steve!). That was one of my favorite race reports ever . . . it was just SO cool to get to read different perspectives on the same event! Congrats to all of you CVA tri-ers on kicking some major arse (just like I predicted you would)! :) And p.s., I agree that y'all need to take after your coach and take up tri-blogging!! CONGRATS!

Runner Susan 6:25 AM, July 28, 2009  

artists and athletes. doesn't get better than that! Congrats to all.

walchka 11:00 AM, July 28, 2009  

Congrats to the CVA tri club! It looked like everyone had a great day. Congrats Steve on getting your team across the finish line. You did a great job!

Badgergirl 6:43 PM, July 28, 2009  

Congrats CVA tri club-ers! Loved the race reports.

Beth 8:34 PM, July 28, 2009  

I love that one of the highlights of Evan's race was helping someone else. The tri community is just so fantastic. Congrats to everyone on a fantastic job! Everyone was smiling and it's truly inspiring. Yeah!

Missy 10:19 AM, July 29, 2009  

That is some rock solid stuff right there! How fun. First timers are the best. Congrats to all of them. I remember those nerves...

Alisa 4:51 PM, July 31, 2009  

I love this post! I have my first Tri tomorrow-YIKES! Reading your students race reports was definitely a boost since they all had such positive things to say about the experience. I'm not going in with any expectations except to enjoy myself and finish!

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