Friday, February 5, 2016

Concussions, Bike Crashes, Are You Next? Maybe.


Superbowl's this Sunday.  Super Sunday is important to me, not only for the game (Go Broncos!) but it's also the anniversary of my worst-ever bike crash. The day I was unconscious, spreadeagled on the asphalt, out in the country not even close to something like cell service. 

It was a quiet 2006 Sunday morning in VA. I was helmeted, riding with my Kona veteran lawyer friend Mike when we tangled handle bars on a gentle downhill at about 20 mph. Without warning, splat! In one second, totally by surprise, it was face plant into the asphalt, glasses driven into my face, log rolling  and spinning until coming to a stop in the roadside weeds out like a light.

Making a long story short, I came to in couple minutes but with no cell service or houses nearby, calling for help can be a challenge.  After about 15 minutes, with no broken bones or major joint injuries other than generous road rash, we decided to ride slowly back to cell range and call for help.  Mike told me I must have asked him ten times, "So, did I crash back there or something?"
One week post crash
As you'd suspect, it can take a good while to begin to think clearly. Don't be making any big changes to your will or major life decisions until absolutely sure your head is clear. This can take a couple days in some, weeks in a few.  Some may even have small permanent deficits.  I guess the best advice would be to not crash in the first place.  Few who've been in this sport for any length of time can make that claim, however.  Read on to "Concussions Off the Bike" later in this blog.

             Substitute Swimmer for your Triathlon Relay?




Kimo the dog. I wear glasses, but my eyesight's not all that bad.  While treading water at the Coffees of Hawaii barge (every year during IM race week in Kona, the good folks at Coffees of Hawaii set up a large sailing craft about 700 m off shore, where anybody who swims up to it is offered a small paper cup of Kona's finest.  It's a pretty darn cool thing to do. I'll bet  they serve over 1000 "customers" some mornings, there are that many people in the water.  And the coffee's hot, too!)

So, while sipping my excellent brew one fine morning, goggled, without glasses, I noted a group of three swimmers approaching, one with a very odd mask on, but hey, it's Hawaii, home of the underpants run and Live Aloha spirit.  And I'm in the middle of the Pacific ocean at a coffee barge for gosh sakes.  I thought the mask had ears on it. Like maybe a Batman mask.  But, once they were closer, I could see that the third swimmer was a German Shepherd...with a life vest on!  Now there's something you don't see every day back home. When the dog's owners had their fill of coffee, all it took was a simple, "Come Kimo," and off they went, continuing their swim.  Yep, just another day on the Big Island.
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Concussions Off the Bike

Who among us hasn't been on a group bike ride where there hasn't been a crash of some sort?  If you were lucky, it was just a little road rash. If not, a portion of the injury could be a head injury. This is true for helmeted cyclists as well as the non-helmeted.  Not infrequently a concussion will occur which has the potential for being a more serious injury than previously thought.  If you've paid any attention to the news in the past year, the NHL and NFL have reversed course for the most part and are giving very serious attention to this issue.

Of note was Wes Welker, a reciever on the Denver Broncos, who suffered 3 concussions in 10 months last season.  Kevin Van Valkenburg wrote recently:


"Wes Welker says he's going to be fine.
Sometimes he forgets stuff -- Where did I put my keys? What's the name of that restaurant? -- but who doesn't?
"My wife will be like 'How can you not remember that? Is it the concussions?'" he says. "I'm like 'No, babe, I just forgot!'"
There are days when it's hard to convince his wife, Anna, that those little lapses aren't a harbinger of something more. Two months ago, they went out to dinner with another couple, and the friends asked Welker how old he was. "I'm 33," he said, and Anna shot him a horrified glance. "Wes, what are you talking about?"
"She was adamant," Welker says. "I'm sitting here looking at her like she's crazy. Then I start to think: 'Jeez, did I forget how old I am?'"
He added up the years. He was born on May 1, 1981. He was right, and she was wrong. Thirty-three years old. "We laughed," he says. "But I'm like "Babe, I'm the one with the concussions here!"

But hasn't triathlon had the culture of endurance over safety?  Haven't we seen the films of the last 400 meters of 1995 IM Hawaii where Paula Newby-Fraser, the Queen of Kona is weaving down Hualalai Street like some kind of drunken mad woman, and Karen Smyers sprints by to take the win?  Or Chris Legh, or Wendy Ingraham and Sian Welch, as they careen uncontrollably, staggering toward the Kona finish line?  Maybe they've crossed a line of a different sort!  

In one Big Island race in the mid 2000's, I had the slowest bike time of all 1700 competitors in Hawaii.   I had stopped to help a biker on the down hill from Hawi whose front wheel had hit one of the plastic highway road reflectors at just the wrong angle.  POW!  Instantaneous crash, broken helmet, closed head injury, you can guess the rest as we waited for rescue help together. In short, once a concussion is recognized, that athlete's day is done - they should not be allowed to resume their sport, triathlon included.

Research is showing that healing of injured brain tissue requires sufficient nutrients and rest.  If this isn't allowed to occur, then the potential for recurrent injury increases. Previously, injury severity scales left a great deal of interpretation to the examiner when deciding how serious the concussion really was. Now, especially in NCAA sports, if a player suffers a concussion of any magnitude, he or she is out of the game. No questions asked.



So, as an athlete, how do you determine if your bike mate's had a concussion after that crash? Well, you're probably not a neurologist, but starting with an "index of suspicion," at least considering that it's possible helps. Was there a loss of consciousness, confusion, head or neck ache, blurred vision or anxiety? In an athletic contest like football, the athlete would be asked, "Who scored last?" or "Where are we playing today?" Finally if the suspicion continues, the player would be checked for balance and coordination. Now, I'm not saying that every time somebody in your bike group goes down that you start this cascade.  But what I am saying is, that as a friend of somebody who's had an accident and may not realize that they've suffered a head injury - a rider who not making the best of decisions - you need to take charge. Nice the injured rider into calling it a day, just because.  Give them a ride home. Likely, a trip to the local ER just to be on the safe side would also work. Then, maybe after all that, it gets to be Miller Time.

There can be long term issues if you don't protect your riding mates.  "Just do it" as the slogan goes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Funny Looking Feet? You Can Still Win Your Age Group



Triathlon is a sport in which a great deal of effort is expended by those who participate.  But it's those who construct, and follow, a goal-directed plan - even if if they may not be the most talented athlete around - who'll cross the finish line first.  Even JFK would agree to that.


Toes - most of us have ten of 'em



These toes look like some kind of sailor's knot!
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I took these pictures in Kona in October.  It was pretty easy finding them, I saw them every day.  They were two of my condomates, gents I'd ever met before.  But they were both Ironman age group champions.  Yep, all four of these feet ran the World Championship October 10, 2015.  Two of them even stood on the podium at the post-race awards banquet, top 5 in the world in the age group.

It gets worse.  These are the running shoes post-race from one of them.  You'll note that your shoes don't look like this after an event.  It might be said that crushing abnormal feet into normal running shoes without some kind of adaptation doesn't work.

I post this short blog to show the many athletes out there with bunions, hammer toes, bunionetttes, plantar faciitis, etc. that the appearance of one's foot has remarkably little to do with it's function or success.  You, too, can have funny looking feet and walk on them all the way to your race's podium one day.  You can.




Monday, February 1, 2016

Why 2016 Triathletes Should Know About Vitamin D: Are Homeopathic Drugs Safe?






Homeopathic Drugs - According to The Medical Letter On Drugs and Therapeuticsa biweekly publication that provides evidence-based, peer-reviewed evaluations of new FDA-approved drugs with conclusions reached by a consensus of experts, "There is no convincing evidence that any homeopathic drug is more effective than placebo for the treatment of any disease.  The FDA regulates the manufacturing, marketing and sales of homeopathic drugs and requires that those indicated for treatment of 'conditions not amenable to over-the-counter use' be made available only by prescription; it does not, however evaluate their efficacy or safety."


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Our local VA hospitals offer vitamin D testing for a reason.  A good number of folks fall below normal values.  It's an assay for 25-hydroxyvitamin D (VD25).  Vitamin D is a fat soluble steroid precursor that's produced predominantly by your skin by being exposed to sun light.  This being winter, we probably get less sun light now than at any other time of the year.

We repeatedly see random studies of athletes tested where their vitamin D levels are low.  Although extensive research on this vitamin and it's role in cancer, heart disease, etc. is still in it's infancy, from a 2013 study in Nutrients, we do know that More pre-exercise vitaminD
meant less post-exercise muscle weakness and better recovery through the entire recovery process. Less pre-exercise vitamin D meant more weakness and worse recovery.  And if there's one thing triathletes need to be good at it's recovery, right?
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The piece below first appeared in the American Journal of Sports Medicine but is well written so that even the tri crowd can understand it (just kidding!)


The Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency in Athletes 
The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 02/01/2013  Clinical Article

Angeline ME et al. – Vitamin D acts to maintain calcium and phosphate homeostasis within the body. It is now estimated that 1 billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient. This problem is particularly important to athletes of all ages, as vitamin D plays a significant role in bone health, immune function, and physical performance. In the deficient state, the athlete may be at an increased risk for potential problems such as stress fractures, respiratory infections, and muscle injuries. The purpose of this article is to examine vitamin D deficiency and review its relationship to the athlete.


Vitamin D for Good Bone Health
Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and muscles. Without Vitamin D, our bodies cannot effectively absorb calcium, which is essential to good bone health.
Children who lack Vitamin D develop the condition called rickets, which causes bone weakness, bowed legs, and other skeletal deformities, such as stooped posture.
Today, doctors are seeing an increase in the number of children with rickets. This article focuses on the reasons for the increase and things parents can do to improve their children's bone health — as well as their own.
What is Vitamin D all about?
Vitamin D is really not a vitamin. Vitamins are special nutrients that the body needs but cannot make, so they must be obtained from what we eat or by supplements. Because our bodies can make Vitamin D in our skin when it is exposed to good sunlight, Vitamin D is considered a hormone.

How did we learn about Vitamin D and its importance?

When our ancestors stopped working in the fields and entered factories or schools, rickets began to be a problem—in fact, it was commonly seen during winter months, especially in northern locations.
In about 1920, people noticed that children who took cod liver oil rarely got rickets. This led to the discovery of Vitamin D and the beginning of Vitamin D supplementation of the diet.

Why Is There a New Focus on Vitamin D Today?

Recent research has stressed the importance of Vitamin D — not just for good bone health, but also for possibly preventing chronic disease when we are older. Yet, many children today are not getting enough Vitamin D. In light of the new research, both the Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics have doubled the recommended daily requirements of Vitamin D for children.
There are several reasons children today do not get enough Vitamin D. An important one is that very few foods contain substantial levels of the vitamin. Even the healthiest of diets will probably not provide a child with adequate Vitamin D.
Changes in lifestyle have also played a part. Several aspects of modern-day childhood impact Vitamin D intake:
  • Children today spend hours in front of a computer or a television, rather than playing outdoors.
  • Few children walk to school on a regular basis.
  • Many popular sports, such as basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics, are indoor sports.
  • Milk intake by children has steadily decreased in favor of soda or juice.
Children today spend a lot of time being indoors and inactive. It is well-documented that fitness levels among children are on the decline and obesity levels are rising. Children should have at least 35 to 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Without it, they cannot build healthy bodies (or healthy bones!).
In addition to affecting kids' fitness levels, spending so much time indoors has affected the amount of Vitamin D their bodies make. Our skin makes a lot of Vitamin D when we spend time in the sun. However, the American Academy of Dermatology cautions against overexposure from the sun or indoor tanning because ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and tanning beds can lead to the development of skin cancer.
It is very important to protect our skin by using sunscreen when we are outdoors, and parents should apply sunscreen to their children when they play outside. Sunscreen does, however, block our skin's ability to make Vitamin D.
If a healthy diet and playing outside will not provide children with enough Vitamin D, then how do we make sure they get it?
The best way for today's children to safely get the Vitamin D their bodies need is to take Vitamin D supplements.
How much Vitamin D do we need?
Vitamin D is measured in units called "International Units," or IUs. The government's recommendation from 1997 until 2008 was that 200 IU of Vitamin D would prevent rickets in most children. New research resulted in doubling that recommendation in 2008, from 200 to 400 IU of Vitamin D. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently increased the daily recommended dose of Vitamin D in children to 400 IU, as well. This is the amount that seems to prevent rickets, not the amount that will result in the healthiest bones.
Recent research supports that the body needs at least 1000 IU per day for good health — depending on age, weight, and growth. Indeed, many people need much more than 1000 IU to keep Vitamin D levels in a good range.
In general, babies (especially those who are breastfeeding) and small children should intake at least 400 IU of Vitamin D daily. Children over age 5, adolescents, and adults should get a minimum of 1000 IU of Vitamin D each day.
What are food sources of Vitamin D?
Not many foods naturally contain Vitamin D — it is found in substantial levels only in fish.
Some foods have Vitamin D added to them ("fortification"). For example, milk is fortified, but an 8-ounce glass of milk provides only 100 IU of Vitamin D. Some other foods, like breakfast cereal, are fortified, but at very low levels. Eggs can have small amounts of Vitamin D if the chicken was fed the vitamin.
Other dairy products — such as yogurt and cheese — are typically not fortified with Vitamin D.
How do I make sure my child gets enough Vitamin D?
Taking a Vitamin D supplement is the most effective way for your child to get 1000 IU of Vitamin D every day. To get Vitamin D from food, your child would need to eat fish every day and drink 10 glasses of Vitamin D fortified milk each day. Most children do not do this, so the most practical way for children to get enough Vitamin D is to take a supplement, at least in the winter time.

What supplements should I give my children?

Children's multivitamins contain between 60 and 400 IU of Vitamin D. Taking several multivitamins each day to get more Vitamin D is not a good idea, because too much of other vitamins (such as Vitamin A) can be bad for bone.
Vitamin D is now readily available by itself in child-friendly forms, such as gummy vitamins or liquid. Unlike calcium supplements, which are not absorbed if taken in doses greater than 500 mg at one time, Vitamin D can be taken all at once, so it need be given only once daily.

Do some children have special Vitamin D requirements?

Some children need extra Vitamin D to maintain good bone health. These children should have their Vitamin D levels regularly checked, if possible. Low Vitamin D levels can be easily treated by your pediatrician.
Obese children. Heavier children require extra Vitamin D. This is because Vitamin D goes straight to body fat and accumulates there. The more fat tissue the body has, the less Vitamin D there is in the bloodstream where it is needed. So, obese children are prone to low Vitamin D levels and need extra Vitamin D intake.
Children who are prone to seizures. Medicines that are taken to prevent or treat seizures increase the body's need for Vitamin D, so children who take anti-seizure medicines must increase their daily Vitamin D intake.
Children with disabilities. Children who use wheelchairs or have chronic illnesses often do not play outside in the sun and should take Vitamin D.
How do doctors test Vitamin D levels?
The best way to know a person's Vitamin D status is to have a blood test which checks the level in the blood. It is important that the correct blood test is done: the "25 hydroxy Vitamin D test" shows the level in the blood from both diet and sunlight.
When your doctor knows the exact level of Vitamin D in your bloodstream, he or she can make a more accurate recommendation of how much Vitamin D to take.
A blood level less than 20 ng/mL can result in rickets, and more than 150 ng/mL can be harmful. Most experts suggest that blood levels between 40 and 70 ng/mL would not only prevent rickets, but result in good absorption of calcium for healthy bones.
Can we overdo Vitamin D?
Our skin cannot make too much Vitamin D — it stops when there is enough in the blood -but it is possible to overdose on Vitamin D supplements.
Because too much Vitamin D can be harmful, doses greater than 2000 IU/day should be taken cautiously, as advised by your doctor and based upon the results of blood tests.
Does Vitamin D do more than help us absorb calcium?
Vitamin D is important for good muscle health. People with very low Vitamin D blood levels may be more likely to experience muscle cramps, bone, or joint pain.
Studies suggest that older people who take Vitamin D seem to fall less often, probably due to better muscle function.
Vitamin D is very important in many aspects of our health. Children and adults alike should eat Vitamin D-rich foods, such as milk and fish, and take Vitamin D supplements to enjoy good bone health!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Am I Seeing Double? Married Couple Tackles the Big Island Race

When I was in Chicago for the holidays, I swam at the local "Y."  I met up with a group of guys with whom I blended perfectly.  One was a teacher, one a trucker, one retired and I don't know about the 4th but he was a very funny gent.  It was a great workout.  I told them that, just by chance, my swim group at home is a little different.  We have two mathematics Phd candidates, a JD who works in life insurance, a Computational Geneticist, the CFO of a branch of The University as well as a few others.  But you know what? Upon pool exit, despite some career differences, both groups are exactly alike in two ways:

They both smell like chlorine and both complain that "The pool is too damn hot!!"  I love it!

So if this happens to be the situation where you live, it's obvious that regardless of background, occupation, or outside the pool interests, you have lots company across the nation!  (And it was too damn hot!)
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Just because you know something, don't expect others to.  I "learned" from our 22 year daughter that, of the transmission options in her 11 year old little Volvo, P-R-N-D-4-3-2-1 that "the four is 4 wheel drive, Dad."  Uh, really?  Wonder of Volvo knows that.
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                                                           Double Dog Dare   

Just a minute, something's wrong with this picture?  This husband and wife couple both have on World Championship wrist bands for the 10/10/15 Kona race as they stand outside race registration in the ballroom of King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Resort.  That can't be, can it?  Both are in the event?  Really?  You bet!

I took this picture as the couple was sorting all the goodies they got during athlete check in

I've been a part of this sport for a good while now but I must say that this is a first for me. This is especially true since one of the themes of my writing has been that your triathlon training is anything but "invisible" to friends and family if you do it right (Does it Suck to be Your Triathlon Spouse? Probably.  http://bit.ly/1EMVp7c)  

So when I met 60 year old Bob Price, racer #320 with 67 other athletes in his age group and his 54 year old wife Cathie Price, racer #793 with 71 in her age group, I just had to ask.  They love triathlon and have been racing for about 20 years.  In fact, they've done so many iron distance events that they qualified for Kona through the legacy program this year.  Earlier I was asked by Ironman to do a dozen or so athlete profiles for Ironman.com for the race this past year.  I have a feeling after spending hours on the phone with these Kona-bound athletes that the legacy men and women might be just a tad more thrilled that they'd "made the cut" so to speak.  It's way more than simply paying dues, they were unbelievably grateful for the opportunity.

One of the bigger advantages the Prices felt they had over the average single Ironman athlete family was accountability.  Being from Canada, more often than they would like the weather is not always hospitable for outdoor exercise. Knowing both bikes are waiting in the garage often gets them out the door when others might "roll back over and go to sleep."

It also makes for an understanding such that they never need to make an excuse for training.  Along with work, they both feel that swim-bike-run is priority number one and would easily take precedence over the opening night at a new restaurant down the street or seeing the new Star Wars film at the local video palace.  They even race together most of the time which seems to make sense.  One thing I didn't ask in our short time together was how they handle injury.  I wonder what the psychology is when she is headed our the door for a run but he stays home battling plantar faciitis?  I'll bet they're way ahead of me and have encountered that situation plenty of times.

Now, looking back on the Hawaii race I wish I could report great results and orchid lei finishes for both of the Prices.  But as many of you know - including this author - some days things don't go your way and your desired goal just isn't met.  Plus, the tough Kona course is no walk in the park.  Bob was able to tame the rigorous Kona landscape finishing in 16:23 but after reasonable swim and bike legs with two solid transitions Cathie had to drop out on the run.  Never-the-less, I'll bet that her disappointment was short lived as triathletes are used to adversity and have internal mechanisms for fighting back.  Plus could you have any more understanding spouse on the planet than Bob Price?  I certainly doubt it.  I wouldn't be surprised if they're already planning their next husband and wife Ironman.  Together.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

What to do With No Longer Needed Pills


"You may unwittingly be a big source of prescription drugs your teen is using. And more often than not, medicine cabinets are their go-to spot of choice."




It wasn't that long ago that the medical community was accused of not being sensitive enough to patients complaints of pain.  This criticism was directed squarely at the primary care community, the largest prescribers of opioids.  This class of medications would include morphine, hydrocodone, methadone, oxycodone, various cough syrups, dilaudid, codeine containing compounds etc.

Fast forward to 2016 and abuse of prescription opioids is now at an all-time high.  The docs di basically what they were asked to do but an abuse situation arose.  Let's see what we can do to fix it.

Triathletes not only have the same medical problems as the general population, injuries from tendonitis to migraines as well as bike crashes occur in our segment of the population leading us to our practitioners for everything from tetanus boosters following dog bites to narcotic pain meds after accidents.  We may have short term reactive airway disease, some type of arthritic pain, etc. and be given a prescription which helps at the time of use but leads to a half filled bottle in our medicine cabinet later on.  At some point we're going to want to get rid of these no longer wanted capsules but may not know exactly how.  In our community, both hospitals have occasional days each year where they take drugs of any sort back, no questions asked.  You're not asked for any explanation, ID or anything.  You simply drop you unwanted medication into a box and leave.  Many believe that this absolutely eliminates any possibility of abuse, either from an offspring invading your medications to someone who might go though your trash looking for just such a treasure.  Yes, these people do exist. 

The Mayo clinic expounded on this recently, especially if you don't have the above option or don't want to wait.  It's fairly short, may even be worthy of printing off and saving should
questions arise in your future.  

Your actions with extra or unused medicines may end up keeping them out of the wrong hands in your neighborhood.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Every Athlete Should Strength Train and Here's Why


Strength doesn't come from what you can do.  It comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't.



Believe me, there's more than meets the eye when considering strength training.
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Most triathletes are well aware that a complete training program involves considerably more than swim-bike-run.  Nutrition, strength, rest, etc. balance the athlete giving him/her the greatest chance for success come race day.  Some use CrossFit or it's local equivalent, barbells and free weights, stretch cords, weight machines, Ergs, mat exercises, etc.  The obvious benefit is a higher level of physical strength where the hidden benefit of weight laden exercise is improved bone health.  With that comes a lower level of so-called pathologic fractures due to weakened bone or osteoporosis.  Exactly what is that?  Well, the easy answer is weak or brittle bones often accompanying age, inactivity, vitamin D or calcium deficiency as well as hormonal changes.  In other words bones that break more easily.

Ask any orthopedic surgeon.  As we age, most of us have a lower activity level, some with sub optimal nutrition, and slowly we lose total bone mass, particularly after the age of 40.  That's right, 40!  It surprised me too.  Although not likely in the tri crowd, bones can fracture with a minimal fall or simple misstep.  The ortho doc sees hip and wrist fractures, breaks in the humerus and low back, you name it.  Many of these two million or so fractures annually  will require surgery and a substantial percentage of those people never really get back to their pre-injury state.  So if there's something that as a triathlete you want to do - get faster - and the pathway there gives you this bonus effect, woowee!  Joe Friel, in Fast after 50, writes "high-load year round strength training has been shown to improve performance in experienced athletes, both male and female, in a variety of endurance sports."

Basically what you're looking for is to put stress across the bone.  A quick review of the literature shows that strength training slows the process of bone loss and some authors have suggested that it can even reverse it.  The end result is a stronger bone now and into the future.  So, whether you are a coached athlete or one who follows one of the published or on-line training regimens, most likely there is a strength training section to it. Or how about Pilates or yoga?  As always, I direct athletes to the entities that support out sport.  Dave Scott is known for imaginative and effective strength programs, Mark Allen as well, and a quick visit to their web sites may be "just what the doctor ordered." You just might start right here http://bit.ly/1nGMucR .


Monday, January 11, 2016

Time to Move on From Tri






Maybe it's time to think that you may have packed your last special needs bag.  Put a different spin on your future.  But then, to one degree or another, don't we all think about the future?  Some of us more than others?

 There comes a time when we need to move on.  Triathlon becomes a less significant factor in life, less of a priority, and training becomes more an obligation than a challenge.  That early morning swim is a burden, not an opportunity to work on a race limiter. Drudgery sneaks in to your lexicon.  We don't intend to give up sport altogether but perhaps revert to predominantly being a cyclist or runner.  Get more sleep.  Spend more quality time with the family, the work mates.  Not be afraid tonight to watch the 4th quarter as Clemson and Alabama play for the National Football Championship because you're supposed to be at the pool at 5:30 am tomorrow. 
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 The sword of time will piece our skin,

It doesn't hurt when it begins,


But as it works its way on in,


The pain grows stronger, watch it grin.   

                                           Suicide is Painless, Johnny Mandel. M*A*S*H, the movie
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 I know a number of people who were in triathlon for a short while and out.  On to something else.  It was a fling, an accomplishment, but not a lifestyle.  They didn't own a power meter, never found out the answer to a question on Slowtwitch. They weren't certain of the date of the World Championship in Hawaii. (It is in Honolulu, right?)  In fact, they had more on their plates than triathlon. Work, family, hobbies, other passions, etc. were all part of the game and while important, tri didn't take front and center stage.

 Not so for the woman I met in Kona this year on Friday,16 hours before race start in Kona last year. This was bike check-in, on the pier, for what would be her 40th, that's right, fortieth Ironman distance race.  I'm no Psychiatrist but in discussing the importance of triathlon in her life, the word addiction would have to have entered the conversation somewhere. I got a very pleasant note today from an athlete who just did her 91st IM.


 However, eventually the luster grows dull for most of us and we want to, or have to in many cases, secondary to chronic or recurrent injury, pass the torch.  And you know what, it's OK when that day comes.  Really, it is.


 "Cal" is one of the best triathletes in our area.  Like a fool, I let him talk me into a workout at the pool a couple years ago, something different he said, just for fun (Cal's kind of fun obviously.) We'd swim 100 yards, jump out on to the pool deck and do ten push ups, and be back in our lane to push off for the next 100.  Can we do it on 2:00? Yes.   Can we do it 1:55?  And the 1:50?  Etc., you get my drift.  Yes, Cal we can.  I think we needed a funeral home consult after that work out.


 But, Cal's life has gotten more complex lately as his kids have gotten older and entered wrestling, travel wrestling, you name it.  Cal's moved away from tri despite having the ability to run a half IM sub 4:30 in the very competitive 45-49 year old age group.  (I'm certain that some of you read this as discarding a gift that you, or I for that matter, will never have.  I feel your pain!) In short, your day to step back from the sport will come.  When it does, it'll be just fine.  Honestly. I saw that day a while back, and it's just fine.






The race is run, how did you fair? How about those other pesky people in your age group?

Image 1, Google Images