October 11, 2008

Aloha, Ironman Lewiston Doctor Among Elite Competing in Kona Triathlon

By Judith Meyer

LEWISTON - Balance. Baby. Balance.

Welcome to the structure and philosophy of the Sedgwick family.

The Sedgwicks - Amy and Peter - are both triathletes who compete in Ironman competitions. They're both doctors at Central Maine Medical Center and are the delighted parents of a 16-month-old. There is no such thing as a typical day in their lives.

Every day is a balance of training, family, personal time and work, in varying lengths of time and shifting order, says Peter.Flexibility is key

"We're always redefining the line as to what's OK and what's not," with flexibility being the family's key, he said. Also key is that both Sedgwicks are competitive triathletes who support each other's efforts and respect the time it takes each to train in the pool, on the bike and on the road as elite athletes.

"We don't define ourselves as the triathlon couple,'" Peter said. "It's not the center of what we have in common."

It is the focus today, however.Earned spot in Lake Placid

Peter, 38, is in Hawaii, one of a select few Mainers competing with 1,800 others in the 30th annual Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, having earned his spot by finishing among the top in his age group at Ironman USA Lake Placid in July.

Peter was one of 80 athletes from around the world competing in Lake Placid who qualified - based on finish time - to compete at Kona. He didn't enter the New York race to earn a spot in Hawaii, but finished the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle leg and 26.2-mile run in 10 hours, five minutes and 17 seconds.

Amy is an accomplished marathoner who finished 64th of 2,619 competitors in Vermont in 2006 and is sponsored by Brooks Sports. She had hoped to qualify for Hawaii through her own efforts at Lake Placid, and finished the challenging Adirondack course in 11 hours, 30 minutes and 32 seconds, a bit under the qualifying time.'Can I survive this?'

Peter remembers his performance at Lake Placid clearly, including the panic that hit him as soon as he entered the water at Mirror Lake. Although wearing a wet suit, the water is cold and swimmers enter from many directions. In the water, Peter remembered thinking, "Can I survive this?" Not, "Can I finish this?"

Of the three events in a triathlon, swimming is Peter's weakest event, so he was glad to be out of the water in an hour and 15 minutes. As race volunteers peeled off his wet suit, Peter said his watch - which he would not compete without - flew off his wrist. He spent a precious 90 seconds hunting for it before finding it and heading off to his bike. Several minutes into the bike portion of the race, he realized that the magnet that provides the computer readout for his bike speed, time and distance had come off, so he rode the five hours and 25 minutes without knowing how fast he was going or how long he'd been pedaling.

As it turned out, Peter said, not having the computer probably made him compete a little faster and he gained unexpected time on the bike. It hit him, he said, about halfway through the ride that he might have a chance to qualify for Kona.

After finishing a 3-hour, 15-minute marathon, he had qualified by a safe margin.

Peter said he knows that Hawaii - the world's showcase for triathletes - will be the most challenging event he's participated in, but he's looking forward to competing among the world's elite. "The athletes are so great," he said. "They're so inspiring."

Amy is one of the hospital's ER doctors, and Peter has partnered with Dr. John Hatzenbuehler in CMMC's relatively new Central Maine Sports Medicine practice. The practice helps sponsor Peter for competition, and Hatzenbuehler - not a triathlete - volunteers to work the medical tent at Lake Placid.

Staying competitive around his demanding medical schedule means that Peter often rides his bike the 50 miles round-trip to work from his home in North Yarmouth. He's often in the pool swimming laps at 5 a.m. and routinely hoofs 20-plus-mile runs on weekends.

Amy's schedule is similarly hectic which means, for both Sedgwicks, giving up time for a lot of other things - like television.

The Sedgwicks will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary in Hawaii before returning to Maine.

When they return, Peter said he would likely hang up his Ironman pursuits - at least temporarily - and compete in shorter races.

It's all about the balance. And, now, the baby.

Originally published by Managing Editor/days.

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