Blog 3 in a Series of 3 of How I do a Triathlon.
By Erica Daivs
We have already covered swimming and biking and now, to close off this 3 part blog series (see part 1 and part 2), I’ll enlighten you all with the wonder that is finishing a tri with my racing chair. It might be hard to imagine by just reading this or even by just seeing the picture, so I’ll try my best to explain it to you.
You saw how I ride and how my body position is in the handcycle. Well, the racing chair is a different ball game entirely. Essentially, my legs are tucked up and under a strap of sorts. This helps my legs up and above my ankles and is a cushion for my butt to sit on.
When getting into the racing chair, it’s a pretty tight squeeze to say the least, so you have to wear pants/shorts that are, you guessed it, tight as well. You have to get one hip in first and then work to shimmy the other side down into the opposite side of the bucket.
Once you’re in there, there’s a strap that you put around your waist. Your feet are secured already. In fact, you should be able to look beneath your racing chair and see your toes barely poking out. You can stretch your arms and your back pretty well in this position as well.
Next, you want to put your glasses on because the last step is your gloves, which are like mittens with a lot of padding. Once you’re suited up, you ball your hands up as much as possible and because of the position you’re in, you have no choice but to lean forward with your chest on your knees and arms back. Basically, you’re making a punching motion on the rims of the chair. Lather, rinse, repeat and keep on trucking until you cross that finish line.
How I do Triathlons and The Equipment Involved: Part 2
By Erica Davis
Hand-cycling for me is the equivalent to most people riding a bike. People either see someone riding a racing chair or a handcycle. The racing chair is what we use for the run portion in a triathlon. There are different body positions for both of these types of equipment.
On the handcycle, most riders are low to the ground and extend their legs straight out front of them while their backs are leaned back. Sometimes people make comments at us about taking a nap, which is definitely possible. :) We also get a lot of stares and comments from kids who say how cool our bikes look or tell their parents that they want one. If they only knew…
So unlike when you’re riding a bike and your legs turning in two motions, our arms go together. You won’t be able to see that in the picture, but you will be able to see the position I am in. Because the muscle you have to put into powering a handcycle requires your arm muscles, which are much smaller than leg muscles, we typically do not go as fast. The only time we really kick it into high gear- speed wise- is, you guessed it, on a downhill.
Speaking of hills, uphill is definitely not our strong suit. And please people, if you see us out riding, the smart ones of us will use a flag but there’s not a whole lot more we can do. I know that I always look out for all cars in case they are not looking out for us but you never can be too careful.
My mission is to get to get out there and ride and have fun. If this is how it is of how we get to be out and ride, then we take the risk just like any other cyclist. But we do what we can just like we all do in order to have fun, train, and race.
Enjoy the ride people, Enjoy the ride.
How I Do Triathlons. By Erica Davis
By Erica Davis
This is the first blog of a three-part series to explain to you, my dear readers, and to give you a mental image of how I, as a challenged athlete, do triathlons. So, since the first leg of a triathlon is swimming, here goes…
If you don’t do this already, try swimming with a pool buoy in between your legs so you are only swimming with your arms while the pool buoy holds your legs up. Then, try to avoid using your abs on top of not using your legs! Swim with your arms and your arms only.
I have a two piece wetsuit that, while in the pool, I wear just the wetsuit bottom. In the ocean I will wear a full wetsuit. Then, I put on braces that go from the back of my thighs down to my calves, keeping my legs straight. Next, I put on a strap that goes around both legs - binding them together.
As mentioned, try to swim without using your abs. I have very limited control of my abs- so if I roll over too far, I could throw off my swim stroke. Despite my limited abdominal control, swimming is a great workout for both my arms and my abs, for they help in any way they can.
All in all, we can get our swim technique looking pretty good just like anyone else even though we don’t have as much power without our ability to kick. So, knowing that, it definitely feels good when I pass someone in a race! Its just all about adaptions and figuring out what works for you, no matter your situation.
My next blog will be on handcycling which is the bike portion of my triathlon. Thanks for reading!
Green Machine Recipe
By Erica Davis
For this blog I wanted to share a recipe with you all. My mom and I were at Costco and she came up to me and handed me this
little sample cup with this green smoothie looking stuff. I asked her what was in it and she told me I had to drink it first and then she would tell me. Hesitantly, I drank it and to my surprise, I actually liked it!
So here’s to all you athletes who wish you were drinking a margarita but want it to actually be healthly. So give this a try and hopefully you will then want make some extra for a pool party this summer or even as a cool, post workout treat. It’s also a great way to get some extra greens for the day. Enjoy!
1/2 a can of white grape juice
1/4 of a lime
1, 2 or 3 handfuls of Spinach
Blend on high for about 30 seconds
Add 2 cups of ice and blend again
I Am A Trail Blazer…
By Erica Davis
This year, my college is starting the first ever “Young Alumnist of the Year” award and I am very honored to be very first recipient. They are honoring me because I never gave up and kept both competing and doing my best to inspire people after my injury. I’m also proud to report that I am the 1st female in a wheelchair to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro as well as many regular first place finishes in a multitude of different sports including triathlons, handcycling or in running events with my racing chair.
I graduated with my B.S. in Exercise Science in 2004 and got my teaching credentials in 2005. Then my injury took place at the end of that year, which was caused what is called Cavernous Hemangioma. This paralyzed me from the chest down. Even though I am not teaching right now, I am mentoring other girls through the Challenged Athlete Foundation who are in wheelchairs and also do volunteer work at a food kitchen weekly.
This weekend I am heading up to the Pacific Union College campus in Angwin, CA. A few days before the awards, I will be teaching the WSI (water-safety instructor) class to PE majors to show them how to teach someone with challenges like mine or others how important it is for them to learn the different ways we have to adapt. After all, haha, we all have to learn how to swim in a straight line!
I am so excited to both be going back up to my alma mater and teaching these PE majors so that maybe one day if they have a student or see someone with another physical challenge, they could say, “hey, I can teach you how to swim if you’d like” instead of looking the other way. I’m also, of course, so honored to receive this award and am proud to be the trail blazer I strive to be.