Post by Rodney Jenkins, a Group Exercise Instructor at the Rex Wellness Center of Garner. He is also a business teacher, a soccer coach and an athletic trainer with the Wake County Public School system.
When October 17th rolled around, the Rex Garner B2B team was ready to tackle the fitness challenge of their lives and we could not have asked for better weather. Temperatures were in the low 50’s at race start and winds were relatively low. We already knew from Friday’s pre-race dinner that there would be a very strong tide which meant we were in for a fast swim and we were ecstatic about that.
While we waited for the swim start, butterflies and all, we were able to calm our nerves a bit by cheering for the full iron distance athletes as they swam by. They always start 30 minutes before the 70.3 group and start a mile or so up channel from our starting point. We could tell by watching the swimmers go by that the tide really was fast so we were anxious to get started. Rex Members Liz Jackson and Jason Pannkuk were in that group so that added to our excitement.
Shortly after the 140.6 group went by, it was our turn. Unlike the 140.6 group that had a mass start, the 70.3 group start would be in waves by gender and age. Our first team member to go was Trey Jolly, and we all cheered at the top of our lungs for him. Next was Mary Miller, Kristey Evans, Jenny Beazley, Theresa Pearce and me. Last was Tina Manning, Lu White and Angie Caporiccio. At the end of the day, I discovered that we all had the same swim experience. There was certainly a strong tide but the water was extremely choppy and you really had to struggle to raise your head above the water to breathe above the waves. We all managed to get through the swim, ran to T1 (swim to bicycle transition area) and were off on our 56 mile bike ride.
During our bike ride, we had low winds, which was extremely helpful. That meant we were in for a fast bike ride and our legs would be in pretty good shape for the run. I was fortunate to see Mary and Kristey on the bike course and caught glimpses of everyone else during the 13.1 mile run. Seeing the team during the run was a huge relief because I was assured that everyone survived the bike course without a crash or flat tire.
One thing that I came to admire about this group of athletes was their undying commitment to their training. There was absolutely no quitting in this group; even before the race started, I knew they were all destined to be 70.3 Iron Distance Athletes. During the course of training, you always experience some doubt in your abilities, but at some point during our 22 weeks of training, they overcame those negative thoughts.
As I watched each of them cross the finish line, I met them with a hug and the words, “Welcome to the Club!” When we were all done, we huddled together to share laughter, stories and tears. What a wonderful moment in time that was for all of us. They did it and I am so proud of each and every one of them. What a privilege it was for me and Angie to share this journey with them. Great job Team! Great Job!