Wednesday, July 29, 2015

You Might Kill Someone, Like Me!


This was first on the net about two years ago from Albert McWilliams and has been reblogged.  Since the topic is important, and it's cleverly written, I'll present it to you in his original form.

You’re Going to Kill Someone

If you keep driving like that, you’re going to kill a cyclist. When you do, it’s going to suck as much for you as it does for them. When you drive by my head at 50 mph I can’t have this conversation with you, so I’m going to do you a favor and talk you through all of your arguments as to why you’re driving wrong (you are) and then you won’t end up killing a human. So read on; you’re welcome.

 It’s not if it’s when. You are going to kill or seriously injure someone. You are.Someone’s father, brother, mother, daughter - you are going to end their life, forever, like permanently dead. You’ll be a murderer.

 You can save those lives. You need to do two things:

      1. Slow down
      2. Move over

A few facts you might not be aware of:
  • When you pass a cyclist without crossing the yellow line you are breaking the law.

  • When you pass a cyclist while oncoming traffic is present you are breaking the law.

  • When you pass a cyclist in a no-passing zone you are breaking the law (this should be obvious yes? Because it’s called a “no passing zone.”)
This law wasn’t made up because the state hates you, or cars, or getting places quickly. This law was enacted because squeezing by a cyclist in the same lane is incredibly dangerous – to the cyclist. It’s not dangerous to you, unless you don’t like jail, or fines, or being a murderer.

 NOW YOU MIGHT SAY:
“But, I have places to go and people to do! You’re in my way! Too slow!”
Okay, great, I appreciate your sacrifice. Let’s look at the math. This is math mind you and not subject to opinion. I’ll be generous and assume you’re on a 45mph speed limit road (most cycling takes place on much slower roads, but I’m in a giving mood, because I care about you). When I ride I’m traveling around 20mph. So you’re going 25mph faster than me, or about 55% faster. Again, being generous, you might be stuck behind a cyclist for 8 seconds. Usually much, much less. I know it seems like a long time, but it’s not. It’s 8 seconds. That’s with heavy oncoming traffic. However, you’re not stopped for that time, you’re traveling at 20mph. This means that slowing down, waiting for traffic to clear and passing the cyclist safely costs you about four seconds… max. Do you want to risk my life (permanently) and you being a murderer (forever) for four seconds? Really?

 “But, you ride too far out in the lane, you’re supposed to ride single file, all the way to the right. You’re an asshole!”
Legally, you’re wrong (in Michigan at least). Let’s leave the law out of this though. Go ahead and see above and know that I’d rather you be annoyed than me be dead. You’d rather that too, because this way you don’t have to go home and tell your kids they can’t have a swimming pool because you paralyzed a cyclist from the waist down. Riding further out in the lane forcesyou to slow down and wait for traffic to clear to pass me. You’re less likely to hit me on purpose than because you drive like an inconsiderate fool.

 “But, I pay taxes/registration fees/gas tax.”
This one is really dumb. See, you pay usage fees because your heavy-ass car destroys the road. Guess what, bikes don’t wear out roads like cars do. And guess what else (this is going to blow your mind) nearly everyone you’ve ever passed on a bike also has a car, and registration fees, and gas taxes (crazy huh!). However, I use my car less and cause less than my share of wear on said road than I pay for. You see where I’m going with this? You should take this argument and hope no one ever hears it because it works against you.

 “But, Cyclists disobey laws all the time, they run red lights and stuff, so screw them!”
Yes, I do. I ride my bike safely. The rules say I’m supposed to pretend that I’m a car, but see, that’s dangerous if I’m the only one obeying that rule. I’m pretending I’m a car, and you think I’m a bike, and you run over me and kill me with your car. This is bad for both of us. So, the minute you treat me like a car, I’ll start acting like one. In the meantime the difference between when you break the law and when I do is that you’re endangering my life, and I’m endangering your … wiper blades? Maybe? Probably not even that
 “But, I live in Ann Arbor and Bike Lanes! Fix our roads first! Uppity Cyclists! I pay for this stuff and I hate you! Bikes slow my commute! Get them off the road!”
Here’s the thing. You’re being shortsighted. Imagine if all those people on bikes that you hate commuted downtown one-per-car. What would that do to your commute? What would that do to your parking availability downtown? What would those additional heavy cars do the pavement condition (remember that my bike doesn’t wear the road at all) ? I’ll give you a hint … you’re a lot better off with the cyclists. They’re doing you a favor. They’re saving you money. They’re paying the same as you for that road, but using it less. You should be thanking them. You should be handing me a cupcake through the window.
 “But you’re wrong!”
Nope. I’m not. Who do you think knows more about cycling, the guy on the bike or the guy in the car?

 So to wrap it up:

Slow down.

Move over.

And stop texting.

This way, I won’t be dead, and you won’t be a murderer.

You’re Welcome.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Supplements, Who Needs Needs Them? My 500,000th Blog View

First Off, many thanks to those of you who've read this blog over the past couple years.  It's a labor of love (most of the time) with the pleasure of passing along my 33 years triathlon experience to the new kids on the block.  And to some of you not so new.  From such simple things as teaching how one can shave a great deal of time off a transition with just a little practice to gaining open water swim confidence, it's been a treat.

I would also thank my boss at Ironman, Jennifer Ward Barber, a woman with an overabundance of patience as she translates my writing from that ready for an audience of goats to the breezy, informative, educational style found on Ironman.com.  Many thanks, Jen.

My 500,000th view of this blog will happen this week.  Thank you! 
___________________________________________

                So, Do  You Need Supplements or Not?



Not surprisingly, this issue comes up all the time.  We are bombarded by a host of companies promising that if you use their gel, pill, vitamin, recovery agent, you name it that we can meet our full potential as athletes.  Cost be damned (and this is already an expensive sport, right?) we're told that we need to use these agents as our competition probably already does.  Other more sneaky companies will try to sell you a substance that's the precursor of a prescription product or naturally secreted substance like Hgh, which if used in prescription form could get you dq'd but in their special "proprietary formula" you won't.  They intimate that their little pills will be transformed by the body into Hgh, EPO, etc. But that's pretty unlikely to happen.

Here's the thing.  If you already have a reasonable diet, like the agnostic healthy eater that fitness writer Matt Fitzgerald talks about in Racing Weight, chances are not only will some type of supplement not help you, it'll just give you expensive urine.  You see in this country supplements are not regulated by the FDA.  They can put whatever they want on the label, make any claim they wish, "Take our zebra oil supplement and you'll be able to fly."  If you had some time, there's a great book by a physician from Philadelphia, Paul Offit, called Do You Believe in Magic (as little as $2.58 used on Amazon, I just looked) which details the history of this decision and why it's important to you.  It's a good read. I own two copies.

One other negative here is that your supplement can have a list of ingredients on it, but that which is inside the envelope or capsule could be wildly different.  If you're like me, knowing that I can get everything I need from a balanced diet I would much rather my dollars go to the local farming community than the multibillion dollar supplement industry. That which I don't spend on potions I can use for race entries or that all-important post race beer industry!

According to the Mayo Clinic, "whole food is not to be replaced by supplements, as supplements cannot replicate all the benefits of whole food."  They also note three benefits to whole food including greater nutrition through the complexity of whole foods, essential dietary fiber, as well as protective entities like phytochemicals shown to help protect against cancer, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. 

When are supplements useful?  In certain cases like pregnancy or heavy menses, the individual who consumes less than 1600 calories/day, or has a very restrictive diet like some forms of vegan or vegetarian, fruitarian, etc. where Columbia University reported that "the fruitarian diet can cause deficiencies in calcium, protein, iron, zinc, etc."  Others who have a disease process which leads to malabsorption, chronic diarrhea or other gut issues are also on the list.

But for the rest of us, since triathlon is such a time consuming sport and most of us are borderline in the dog house with the spouse much of the time anyway, I'd suggest that rather than giving money to the supplement company you use it to something nice for your spouse.  Like supper.  Home is where the heart is.  And it doesn't need supplements. 

This bike passes inspection easily



Monday, July 20, 2015

Bees in Your Bike Jersey, A Stinging Experience


Have you read about the IronCowboy? 50 Ironmans in 50 Days in 50 States?  Today is number 45 in Sioux Falls, SD.  He's heading toward Utah.  Join him if you can.  http://www.ironcowboy.co/#home




This piece will be short but it can be important for several reasons.  We're in the warmest part of the year and bees are noted to be the most active this time of year.  Just ask Paul, the senior statesman of our bike group.  It was over 90 degrees yesterday and all of us had our jerseys unzipped.  While coasting, on a mild downhill, maybe thinking maybe he was Peter Sagan waiting to pounce at the relatively flat Tour de France finish in Valence, the bees appeared.  (Alas, it wasn't to be for Sagan. Andre Greipel had the timing, and the legs, to get it done and took yesterday's Stage 15.)

In any event, while coming around a gentle curve at a pretty good clip, 3 bees came through the wide open zipper  into Paul's jersey, blown around to his back by the oncoming wind, and in no time at all he had three bee stings to show for his day's two wheeled efforts.  As the song goes, "this could happen to you!"  Paul is neither allergic to bees nor does he have any type of untoward reaction when stung.  As part of the contents of my fanny pack, I always carry Benadryl, Advil, various antiseptic ointments and alcohol wipes, band aids and dressings, etc.  I just like to be prepared for a host of issues.  I offered him this buffet while trying to pull out the stingers I could see, but he deferred.  We finished the ride without difficulty. 

After a sting, athletes can have a wide range of responses from temporary mild pain all the way to a severe allergic reaction.  The majority of us just get a little pain and redness, oftentimes the stinger will be visible.  The other end of the spectrum will be those with a serious, even life threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.  They can notice a problem simply breathing, hives at or near the sting site, nausea or even vomiting.  A select few can even lose consciousness.  If you're one of these folks who have an obvious reaction, you have 50-50 chance of having this anaphylaxis next time you are stung and may need to be ultra prepared. That said, either after a single sting, or like Paul's multiple stings, you don't always need to seek emergency care.  Those with the severe reactions obviously do.  This can be auto-inject syringes from EpiPen or Twinject, Benadryl, etc.  Happily, only 54 deaths were attributable to bee stings last year.  Compare that to 90 deaths from lightning, 20,000 from the flu or 15,517 murders.  So there's a much greater chance you'll be murdered by a fellow human being than die of a bee sting.

For those who've been stung and wonder about the possibility of an allergy, blood work and /or a series of skin tests can be done to determine this. 

So what does the ordinary biker do?  First, try an get the stinger out - quickly if possible. Then wash the area with (soap if you have it) and your water bottle.*  If it itches you can apply some hydrocortisone cream or try 25 mg of oral Benadryl. Should an emergency situation develop, epinephrine (adrenaline) and antihistamines administered by medical personnel may be in order.  Afterwards, evaluation by an Allergy doc may be appropriate for an allergy shot series. 

Since prevention is said to be the best cure, try to stay away from bees.  But if you find them flying around you, cover your nose and mouth while walking/riding away from them.  Don't try to swat them as it may only serve as an irritation and lead to a sting.

You can be sure that from now on, regardless of the temperature, Paul will be riding with his zipper zipped.  Me too!

*Note - the single most important reason I carry a water bottle is medical.  If you've ridden long enough, using the water bottle to wash dog saliva out a dog bite is a great idea.  You can get the big pieces of gravel and dirt out of road rash when you crash and you are a good ways from home.  This prevents it from becoming a permanent tattoo, etc.

Noted bike fitter John Cobb checks a masters athletes position

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Treadmill Desks; Are You Really Training?



From NPR: Donald Trump has had a busy week.  NASCAR has cut ties with him, he's united Mexico against him, his Miss USA pageant needs to find a new home, etc.  When asked why the lead Republican presidential candidates haven't come out more strongly against Trump, the speaker said, "well, it's like wrestling a pig.  You both get dirty, and the pig likes it!"

"The Don" was here in Charlottesville yesterday for the opening of a new bed and breakfast the Trumps created from an older historic home. We already have the Trump winery but I have yet to visit.
___________________________________________________

Is There a Best Anti-Inflammatory Drug (NSAID)?


There are at least a dozen non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs on the market today. The question is would there generally be one that's best for you?  These meds are likely among the most often utilized by triathletes with tendonitis, bursitis and arthritis. They do a fine job at pain relief as well as reduction of swelling.  You get them OTC, over-the-counter, or by prescription from your care giver. There are differences for sure between the two but the potential for symptom relief or the NSAID's actual strength would be the same.  While many  athletes achieve excellent results from the OTC meds, the side effects or complications may make one of the prescription choices more attractive.  If you're going to put something in your body, read the label and understand both the good and not so good of the product.  Your doc can help you make this choice.
__________________________________________________


Look Mom, no chair!


A local athlete recently switched out the desk she's had for 20 years to a standing model. She uses it in the standing mode mostly but it can be lowered at the touch of a button back to sitting height when the use of a chair is desired.  Her partner Mark is the real jock in the office.  Runs, bikes to work, swims while his kids swim, has a pole vault set up in his back yard. He thinks like you do.  Well, sort of.  He has a standing desk and is considering a treadmill desk.  "I can do desk work and walk a couple miles.  The summer all comers track meet is right around the corner and I'll be ready!"

In our part of the country, the standing desk seems really popular but will the addition of a treadmill be the next rage?  Should it be?  A recent article in the NY Times by Gretchen Reynolds asked just this question and the results surprised me.  That there'd be any downside what-so-ever was intriguing given that the sales of Fitbits and Jawbones seem to be through the roof.  She presented a research study from the American College of Sports Medicine where previously sedentary employees who used the treadmill desk for as little as two hours a day demonstrated improved sleep quality as well as reduction in blood pressures.  Sounds like a winner so far.

Another research study looked at whether or not the slight motion of a treadmill desk (1.5 mph)got in the way of  accomplishing the employee's actual work. They devised a test where walking volunteers were asked to simply type words that were flashed onto their computer screen at first.  Then to up the ante, tests were constructed to test cognition, memory and recall.

Interestingly, the sitters won hands down.  Or should I say won sitting down?  The walkers had lower scores in almost all areas and were significantly worse in the typing challenge. But while the walking volunteers came in behind the sitters, it should be noted that the walkers test scores "remained within what would be considered normal on all of the tests. They didn't forget how to add.  They just weren't as adept as people who sat."

So if you might be thinking about how to fit a treadmill desk in your office, just remember that there may be a little break-in period where your manual dexterity for chores like typing could take some getting used to.  I thought it a positive sign that the researcher who presented these findings, even in light of the few negatives, plans to get a treadmill desk of his own.


Yes sir!  The desired result.


Image 1, Goggle Images  

Monday, July 13, 2015

Her First Successful Ironman at Age 50


"Of course I drive with my knees.  How else am I going to put on my lipstick while I'm on the phone!"       Unknown Movie Star



A veritable buffet planned for the upcoming 112 miles on the bike

____________________________________

I suspect many athletes, if they start training at age 30, could do an iron distance race if they have an  athletic background, a little motivation and the right workouts.  I doubt that many women on the cusp of entering their sixth decade of life could do so with such ease and grace as one Virginia woman.  Or is it just nose to the grindstone dedication? 

Local athlete Emily, mother of four and very active in her kids lives did just that.  You talk about your role models!  Think her brood won't be braggin' on their Mom at the school yard?

She leads an active lifestyle, teaching anything involving a swimming pool, and has always wondered about the possible of taking on "the big one," that 140.6 mile day, but it never seemed possible.  But over the last couple years however, bike rides have slowly gotten longer, local swims entered have increased in size and distance, and she started to itch.  I see you've been there.

Her first experience, or should I say learning experience at the long distance triathlon, was Ironman Louisville last year where, after a good swim and bike, she "made a wrong turn on the run."  I wonder if dehydration may have contributed to this first timer mental error. Bouncing right back, she entered the Challenge Atlantic City race run recently and had a much different go of things.  Yep a sub 13 hour finish line crossing and first in the age group on the bike.  You talk about your ways to turn these things around.  Wow!  Plus she left the race with two additional benefits.  First, room for improvement with relatively slow transitions, as well as an eye on the future.  She uncovered an inner curiosity about what limits she can test next. "I find this distance fascinating,  there's so much to learn."

She's returned to normal life now, teaching in the pool, helping her kids get ready for that college search, grabbing an age group podium finish in the local 2 mile cable swim this past weekend, etc. but I suspect that there's another Ironman out there somewhere with her name on it. And maybe a sub 12:30 finish.  Who knows?  It's like IM race inventor Navy Captain John Collins said, " Swim 2.4 miles! ride 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!"*





* registered trademark of WTC

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Think You'll be Racing in Ten Years? Think Again


"Get It While You Can"
                                                Janis Joplin 1943-70

Get it while you can, yeah!
Honey, get it while you can, yeah!
Honey, get it while you can.

_________________________________________________



Think you'll be Racing in Ten Years? Think Again

We had a great time at Ironman Eagleman 70.3 a decade ago.  There were four of us.  Two hotel rooms, huge pasta supper, the teenage waitress flirting with the old men, a couple beers which we never would have done in our younger days the night before a triathlon. (Seriously?  Drink the night before a 70.3?  You're kidding.)  It was just a fun, guys weekend.  All of us had raced Kona and one had the age group record spanning over 3 age groups!  Two of us qualified for Hawaii the next day.  We’d be in triathlon forever, right?

No would be the answer kids. 

If you fast forward the ten years since that race, one of us has had three bike crashes including a surgically repaired hip fracture with post operative blood clot, crash #2 resulting in a Lefort 3 (you don't want to know) fracture of his face, broken jaw with his mouth wired closed....oh, and another clot.

The second gent had big time back trouble and a both bones forearm fracture....that's right, after a bike crash, in the mountains of Colorado which required surgical plating. He fly fishes for fun now.

#3, the only one still "attempting" Iron distance events, has just had such bad luck he's been a DNF in the last three IMs including two in Kona.  He's signed up for IMAZ and several 70.3's in 2015.

As for me, while I really had fun during my tri career, after awhile it's time for a change. I haven't done a tri in two years.  Now I find CrossFit, obstacle course racing like Rugged Maniac and Tough Mudder, that kind of thing, entertaining these days.

All I'm trying to say is that today, you may be totally immersed in triathlon.  It may occupy every cell in your brain at the moment.  But it may not in a decade.  Just make sure that family and friends are not ignored over that decade. They'll still be family and friends in ten years.  You may tire of the sport or, sadly, have enough injury that it's just not worth it.  As you can imagine, this is a hard realization. 

Now, about you being on our team for the next Tough Mudder which would be just great. They have this insane obstacle called Arctic Enema which makes you jump into an industrial sized dumpster filled with ice water and about a foot of ice cubes on the surface. It shrinks your you-know-what to the size of raisins........... but it's way fun.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Iron Cowboy, 50 Ironmans, 50 States, 50 Days; A Must See


Go To His Web Site www.ironcowboy.co . Hit the Calendar tab.  Immediately you're struck with the enormity, the total insanity of this effort.



James Lawrence is one tough dude that's for sure.  His initial goal was to do 50 IM distance  "races" in 50 states in 50 days.  Not only is it borderline impossible, it's proving more difficult than even he imagined.  Part of the problem involves a "bad patch" one day where he went over 17 hrs.  A second was the day after a hard bike crash when he could hardly walk and elected to do the marathon indoors on an elliptical machine.  Thus if you're a purist, you may find these events troubling.  It's the obvious reaction reaction of a black and white society that is used to instant replay and touchdowns made or not made by millimeters seen in stop-action from 4 different projections.

But not everyone thinks that way.  Take the commissaires, the referees of the Tour de France, for example. Think back to the 2003 (I think) TdF where Lance and Yosihba Beloki were flying down the mountain.  Beloki brakes too hard, the bike's rear wheel breaks loose in the hot, nearly liquid asphalt melted by the sun, and he crashed.  Crashed hard on to his hip.  Lance makes a split decision to pass him on the left instead of into traffic on the right, does a cross country route through a field full of pot holes.  He's just lucky to not run over Beloki or discover the quicksand pit by surprise.  He rode maybe 100 yards less than the others.  In the US, they would have asked the anonymous haters on the bike or tri web site and the recommendation would have been disqualification, maybe make him ride the stage over again in his underwear, or return Armstrong's passport, take him out and shoot him.  The French judges?  They merely said, "He had no choice," and went on to something of real importance.  I know Americans who, to this day, feel he cut the course.  In the absolute enormity of this endeavor, I'm willing to cut James a little slack.  I've never met him but I'm sure he'd do the same for me.

The above aside, today will be his 30th consecutive Iron distance day, this time in Narragansett, RI.  Tomorrow is Worcester, MA. However you look at this it's a monumental effort.  Something the rest of us couldn't accomplish on our best day...or best 50 days!

So he has 19 left and would love your company.  One poster on the tri website Slowtwitch had this to say yesterday:

"Seabright, NJ was finished yesterday with a PB on the swim for IC. Not bad on your 29th in a row.... I posted some comments in the other thread, but it looks like they should have been here so I am copying them over.

I joined IC for part of the run yesterday, to offer encouragement and help him on his way. The group was small, probably about about 6 or 7 of us for the 11 miles before the 5k.

I asked him about the new direct JOFF donations, he said that he felt that there was no need for him to re-invent the charitable wheel and was aware that it eliminated many accounting/ tax issues that he might have to deal with otherwise.

As for general progress, he is upbeat and confident that he will finish the challenge, though he is very aware that the wheels can come off quickly. He paces his run on speed and HR, and says he is thinking 10 runs ahead in his approach. He monitors nutrition religiously, reporting everything he eats each day for calorie analysis, and his current weight is exactly where it was when he started (having dropped 8lb early on, but then recovering this by modifying his daily intake). He mentioned that the first 10 marathons crushed him, but feels his body is now adapting much better to the daily strain. On injuries, he said that every day something new seems to come up but the older niggles and pains are going away, and that this is better than having one big persistent problem.

When I went past his convoy the family was preparing for a photo shoot and looked fantastic. His girls seemed really happy and were enjoying the journey. I wish him well and stand in awe of what he is doing."
 

So check your schedule.  He's heading to MA, NH, ME, VT, NY, PA...you can see his path as he heads back to Utah.  He's racing for charity and a contribution to the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation at http://www.ironcowboy.co/donate/ would be a nice touch.