"You don't tug on Superman's cape.
You don't spit into the wind.
You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger,
and you don't mess around with Tim.
When I flew to Kona in 2001 it was just 19 days after the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy in New York. There were less than 30 passengers in our plane designed to carry 150. Everyone was nervous. And, as hard as this may be to believe, there were a number of no shows for the race. Tim DeBoom gave the American triathlon world a big boost of national pride by wresting the Ironman Triathlon World Championship from Peter Reid. He repeated in 2002.
DeBoom had had a good 2003 and was the Hawaii pre-race favorite going in. Living up to his pre-race hype, Tim was 4th out of the water on race day. He had an even better bike and departed T2 firmly in second place. With 2:45 IM marathon speed it looked as if championship #3 was just over the horizon...or, just up the Queen "K" Highway as the locals might say.
Tim began to have trouble in the mid third of the run. By mile 12 he'd consulted with the roving medical van about back pain. Within two miles he was walking, weaving and dizzy. As the medical team approached, he passed out and was quickly carried into the medical vehicle. He passed in and out of consciousness as they made their way back to the pier and race medical facilities. Later, after a good bit of testing, he was diagnosed as having passed a kidney stone during the run.
A kidney stone is exactly that, a crystalline "rock" in the kidney or ureter (tube connecting kidney and bladder.) They form when the urine has an excess of certain metabolic by products which can crystallize and become a stone. These stones come in all sizes from microscopic to as big as a marble. People liken the pain that they generate to that of childbirth...only worse! And, unfortunately, if you've ever had a stone you're relatively likely to have another. Actually, they're pretty common. The reason that this is especially important to triathletes is that a major precipitating factor is dehydration.
As shown by Tim DeBoom, the presenting symptom is usually pain, and lots of it. It's often felt in the low back and groin, and in male triathletes, the testicles. They can color the urine, even give it a bloody appearance on occasion. In addition to testing the urine, diagnosis can be aided by a good history and physical exam. Occasionally an abdominal x-ray will reveal the stone, but frequently a more involved study is required.
Treatment is initially pain based from anti-inflammatory drugs and oral narcotics all the way to hospital admission. We usually strain the urine to try and catch the stone, first for analysis and later for patient counselling and treatment. Those stones that don't spontaneously pass may require some type of surgical procedure. As noted above, if you've had one, you're at risk for another. One of the best things you can do is to stay well hydrated. Ever heard that before?
Thanks, Tim, you've done a lot for the sport.
Finally this quote: "Desire. Some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, and the successful make it happen."