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At this time last week, I could barely get out of bed. I had completed a half-ironman triathlon in Middlebury on Sunday. That's a 1.2 mile swim, a 56- mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run. It was the third one I had completed, but this was by far the toughest one. I was sore, tight and in serious pain. I felt like I had been a tackling dummy for Vince Wilfork and the New England Patriots.
My training for the Rev3 triathlon at Lake Quassapaug had been sporadic at best. Life happens and you sometimes don't get to be as dedicated as you'd like for an event like this. I bumped into , my former football coach at , and I told him I was getting ready for a triathlon. He asked jokingly, "Aren't you too old for that stuff?" I'm a month shy of my 48th birthday and I feel like I'm in decent shape, but when I was climbing one of the many steep hills on the course, I must admit, I was thinking the same thing. Just then, an older woman blew past me on the bike. Everybody gets marked on their right calf before the race indicating their age. I was shocked when I saw the number "70" on this triathlete. I memorized her race number, 2132, because I had to find out more about this woman and what she's all about.
I discovered her name and a whole lot more. Number 2132 is Beatrice Burns from Hamden and she is a true endurance athlete and one of my new heroes. Last year, she completed the Florida Ironman, which is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, followed by a full marathon (26.2 miles). Burns is also a star in the Senior Olympic circuit around the country. She is 70-years old and proved to me that one is never too old to challenge themselves and keep doing what they love. Burns finished in a time of 7:23:03.
During the pain and agony that often comes with a 70.3 mile race that's loaded with malicious and challenging hills, I learned that youth is always served. Erin Begg of Newtown was one of the youngest athletes in the event at 17 years old. Begg was recently named salutatorian at and will attend the University of Pennsylvania in the fall. Erin ran a 2:03:99 half-marathon and finished with a time of 6:27:22. She had great support in the event as her mother, Leah, and father, Bill, also competed in the race. Leah finished ahead of Erin with a time of 6:22:52, but behind her husband, who had a great showing with a finish of 5:46:09.
Hannah Baldino, 19, of East Haven, finished in a time of 7:13:20. Jared Masarek of Milford, who is 18-years old and completed the Florida Ironman last fall, had a strong showing with a time of 6:27.34. Stephen Perotti II, 19, of Branford, posted a time of 6:31:22.
During the course of an endurance event, I learned a lot about myself and other people. Will, dedication and commitment are wonderful things and no matter how difficult things get, if you put your mind to it, you can overcome pain and agony to complete a goal. certainly has been able to do that rather well over the years. The Southport resident and elite triathlete won her age group (50-54) with an excellent time of 5:37:23.
I learned that professional triathletes are an entirely different breed. They have the lungs of a thoroughbred and the pain threshold that is off the charts. A pair of Australians left Connecticut with the top prizes. Richie Cunningham (4:00:32) and Miriminda Carfrae (4:27:42) took first place in the men's and women's pro division, respectively.
Most of all, I learned that a need to drop about 40 pounds if I want to really improve my times. I'm 6'3", 240lbs and that is a lot of mass to haul around, especially on a 56-mile bike ride. Guys my size get put in their own special category called "Clydesdales." I'm more like a Rhino: big, but not very fast over distance. But I love competing in triathlons and after watching 70-year Beatrice Burns blow by me on the bike, and I'll sign up for them until I can no longer pedal.
I finished in a time of 6:52:27, which was about 35 minutes off my personal best. The Rev3 Quassy was the most difficult course I've competed on and last Sunday's race was the most pain I've experienced in a long, long time. But there's nothing like crossing that finish line knowing that you just went 70.3 miles.
To see the results of all the participants from Connecticut, check out rev3tri.com