As she rode her bike through the streets of Rotterdam, Netherlands with the other members of Team USA, all of Alisa Wise’s fears and doubts drifted away.
The Camas resident, high school math teacher and former track and field coach trained hard all summer to compete in the World Triathlon Grand Final. She earned this opportunity to represent her country. This is where she belonged.
“I went from being really nervous to really excited,” Wise said. “How many times in life do you get to have the word ‘USA’ across your chest? My mantra was to enjoy the race with a smile on my face.”
The Age Group Sprint World Triathlon took place Sept. 17. Wise, 50, finished in 38th place out of the 56 athletes competing in the 50 to 54 age group. She crossed the finish line in one hour, 34 minutes, 46 seconds. She completed the 750-meter swim in 19:50, the 20-kilometer bike ride in 40:37 and the 5K run in 25:10.
“I remember thinking, ‘Wow! These people are so fast. Here I go again,'” Wise said. “I just had to focus on my race and keep going.”
That was tough to do when the water was so cold. She ended up swallowing a huge gulp and getting sick after she returned home.
“When I got out of the water, I told myself, ‘Now the fun starts. Let the fun begin,'” Wise said.
Before getting on her bike, Wise spotted her husband, Jim, in the crowd. That gave her the reassurance she needed.
“It’s such a calming effect to see a loved one there supporting you,” she said.
The bike ride turned out to be one of her favorite parts of the race. About halfway through, Wise joined up with three members from Team USA, a rider from Great Britain and another from Australia. Together, they attacked the rest of the course.
“We were just hauling, and I was smiling from ear to ear,” Wise said.
The run took everything Wise had left. The people in the crowd chanting “USA” kept her going. Before she knew it, she was down to her last mile.
“One mile left. It’s almost over,” Wise said to herself. And then, she stopped that train of thought.
“Wait a minute, I only have one mile left to embrace this experience,” she added. “Don’t try to fast- forward the last 1,600 meters. Enjoy this right now.”
Wise crossed the finish line with a huge smile on her face, looked up to the sky and thanked her mother who died of cancer when Wise was only 18.
“I have missed her every day of my life. She loved watching me high jump,” Wise said. “So, I kept in mind — I race because I can.”
After the race, Wise re-connected with the athletes she rode with on the bike course. They have all become fast friends through this experience.
“I just want to soak this all in,” Wise said. “Riding around Rotterdam with my husband, seeing some great architecture and meeting some great people.”