Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Athlete Deletes WTC Offer of Kona Slot Thinking a Hoax!

Think it couldn't happen to you?  

Think your first thought wouldn't be someone from your bike group just trying to be funny?  Maybe getting back at you for a previous prank?

All 2500+ Kona racers names are on this wall out side race headquarters

You must have been there.  Maybe just daydreaming.  One day you'd flip on your laptop and there it would be, "Welcome to the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii."  But crikey, would simply hit delete thinking it bogus as one Utah based athlete did without at least researching it?

While taking a respite from the sun under the shade of a Banyan tree at the 2017 Ironman Expo, my Kona condo roomie Steve began chatting with the young man relaxing likewise in the grass while waiting for his wife.  Also a triathlete, she had a few more booths to hit in the Athlete Village.  Apparently there was a program at this year's Boulder Ironman race called "The Road to Kona Goes through Boulder" where ten slots would be given away to what appears to be ten random entrants. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXJfH-RxVeo.  Perhaps this athlete was, on one plane aware of it, but quickly thoughts turned to the job at hand, 140.6 miles in Colorado can be a tough job.

Race day comes and goes, he does well, and then gets back to normal life.  Until some time later he receives what he thinks is a prank email congratulating him on being selected as one of the ten winners of a slot on the starting line October 14 on the Big Island.  Delete.  Probably just a buddy toying with him.  They've done that kind of thing to each other before.  Not getting the expected "Yeah boy, I'm going to Hawaii" response, WTC attempts to contact him at work but that proves less than successful. Then they get up with his wife, who, on his race entry, was listed as his emergency contact.  

Whew, that worked.  She passed on the true "dream come true news" and here he is, lying in the grass, 25 feet from the the World Championship course, "living the dream."

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Kona Reveal; It's Ironman Time

The Queen Ka'ahumanu Highway, Hawaii

Come October, in Kona, more than any other race throughout the vast Ironman collection, the emotional lives of the racers, in good seasons and most especially in bad ones, are on display.  There’s Julie Moss and “the spectacle” which put Ironman on the map in 1982.  How about Paula Newby Fraser, the “Queen of Kona” who in 1995 suffered a melt down on Hualalai Road muttering “I’m going to die.” She showed that no matter how many wins you have in your sachel, and Paula has the most, repeating here is one tough act.  Although as they say in the Sound of Music, “When the Lord closes a door he opens a window some place,” the smile of Karen Smyers who was ferociously gaining on Paula that day and ultimately passed her, still illuminates the streets of downtown Kailua-Kona and the hearts of those fortunate enough to witness the day. 

The pros we’ve come to know wear their hearts on their sleeves where after a day in the heat and the lava fields, they know there will be nowhere to hide their success, failure or emotions.  Kona is simply the best.  In so many ways.  Last night we had the first meeting of the Transition team, people I haven’t seen in 51 weeks, and the attitude among all was “get it right.  For the athletes.”  These are unpaid volunteers, many of whom have paid their own way, airfare, hotel, the works, to simply help.  Many of them are also Ironman finishers themselves, who got so much from their race, and it's volunteers, that it's their best way to show their gratitude. They understand that despite multiple changes over the years, race course is alive.  Leads are always in doubt.  But should the stars align in your favor and you are the first to "cross that (finish) line", treasures are yours that cannot be bought.  Your name is in the same sentence with Dave and Mark and Scott and Paula.  You’re on Bob Babbitt and Mike Reilly’s speed dial for life.  Should you choose to do so, you reap a lifetime of spoils.

Welcome to the Big Island.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

10 Things To Do Ten Days Before an Ironman, Kona Too

The IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii is in ten days.  But you need to know what to do ten days  before any Ironman distance event, not just Kona, right?  This also applies to 70.3 races, races that are important to you!

Not a great bike mechanic?  Me neither. Have your local guys check out your steed.  What is the cost of this compared to the mental cost of a broken chain at mile 20 on the bike course? I've never had a bike related issue in any triathlon, ever, following this recommendation. 

Practice your transitions.  This always baffles me when guys in my age group spend double, even triple the amount of time I do in transition and wonder why their times don't go down.

Review the swim, bike and run courses of your event.  If the race site isn't too far away, drive over there and go over the course, maybe even run a couple miles on the run route and bike a few on the bike course.

Plan your nutrition strategy.  Purchase everything you'll need from the minute you wake up on race day.  Yes everything for breakfast too if you can.

Hydration.  Are you a drink to thirst athlete or one who goes on more of a schedule?  How will you keep track of what you consume on the bike.  Have you ever peed on a moving bike?  Is that a skill you need to master?

What about after the race?  What will you eat?  What clothes/flip flops will you change into?  If you do well in your age group, will you wait around for the awards ceremony?  It could be quite some time after you finish.

Do have any idea what would happen if you got injured? Do you know where the med tent is?

Do you know where the timing table is should you lose your chip?  It happens.

This is just an outline of the things you do today to make race day go as smoothly as possible.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Things I Wish I Knew About Triathlon When I Started

In that I'm packing to leave for Hawaii, but I did want to get something educational in here, this is a piece I had published by Ironman 2 years ago that is as relevant today as it was then. Happy reading.

13 Things I Wish I Knew About Triathlon When I Started

2015 Getty Images

Wise words from a veteran of the sport on roadblocks, road rash, and perspective.

by John Post, MD

think it was Einstein who said, "I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work." Early triathlete for sure. Contrary to popular opinion, Albert and I are not in the same age group, just close. We've both been around triathlon for a long time.

I got into this sport a good while ago, and I have learned a lot along the way, sometimes the hard way. There were times I was much too hard on myself, and times that I could’ve used a dose of common sense. Words from one who'd walked this path before me.

As in any new adventure, early in triathlon you get many things right, blundering now and then naturally. Just like in other aspects of life, lessons learned the hard way are often the best teachers. 

Below I offer my advice—things that, if I’d known them earlier on, might have made life easier for me. Hopefully it'll help smooth your trail through this sport.

All triathletes were neophytes once 

As good witch Glynda points out in The Wizard of Oz, "it’s always best to start at the beginning." You may be a recreational runner/biker with only summer camp swimming qualifications, but you’ll get there.  Everyone does. It may not come easily or quickly, but with a little patience and good old fashioned dedication, it will.

It gets easier

Anything new can be difficult. Your knowledge base is sparse, and your experience nonexistent, but your spirit unstoppable. Talk to anyone and everyone you can, filtering out irrelevant information. Triathletes love to talk about the sport. All you have to do is put the quarter in.

You don’t have to look like a super athlete to be a triathlete

This is absolutely true. Tall, short, skinny … successful triathletes come in all sizes and types. Just because you don't possess what you consider the jock bod, don’t let it slow you down in the least.

Sometimes you fall off your bike
Bike crashes don’t happen to everyone, but they do happen. For the most part, you get back up, dust yourself off, and finish the ride. Occasionally you learn how to care for road rash, or have an unscheduled roadside bike maintenance clinic thrown in for good measure.
Racing is addictive

All it takes is a little success and you’re hooked. For only the very few, is the word "win" part of the definition of success. Success comes in little packets, to make you think and plan, and to make you eager for your next chance. Sometimes it even gives you the chills.

Swimming in open water makes you a better open water swimmer 

For many, mastering the swim is the hardest part. One way to conquer your fear of lake or ocean swimming is to follow the Nike's mantra and "Just Do It." In time it might just become your favorite part of the sport, as it has for me.

Time in the gym matters 

Hitting the weights makes you a stronger, more confident athlete. Others list injury prevention and enhanced endurance as benefits from time spent pumping iron. I also happen to think it’s a nice way to meet people.

Remember to smile at the race photographers

They’re pretty easy to spot. After your race, when you’re reliving the event, smiling photos, even crazy shots make for terrific memories. Did I mention they also make convenient Christmas card photos?
You don’t PR every time

Just like the Dow Jones goes up and down, so does everyone’s athletic performance. This is actually a good thing. It makes you appreciate those really good days rather than expecting to be a Kentucky Derby winner every time you leave the gate.

Most of your friends—especially non-triathletesdon’t really care all that much about your racing and training

As with any new endeavor, new car or new job, you’re excited. You want to share your joy, your improvement, and your love of the sport. But it might be best to keep a lid on it unless your buddies are truly curious.

You’ll make friends with the weatherman

Your workouts are scheduled way before the weather forecast is known. Some days it will be lovely to train. Some won’t. (Unless you live in Southern California.) One triathlete I know says, "check the conditions before I go out? Why? I’m going out anyway."  It's the same thing for races. Whatever the conditions, however, your job is to stay safe.

You will never be the fastest triathlete you know

And you will never be the slowest, either. New triathletes are often worried that they'll be embarrassed by their lack of speed. But one of the coolest things about this sport is the number of "fast guys" who'll be shouting at you to "keep up the good work," or congratulating you for the "awesome effort" in your first race. For a sport that rewards individual effort, it’s strangely quite sociable that way.

You’ll never forget crossing the finish line at your first race 

In the last half-mile of your race, remember this fact, and don't forget to relish every second. And remember, regardless whether you’re first or last there will be people cheering for you. Moreover, you might be surprised when someone who finished long before you wants to exchange high fives.

John Post is a six-time IRONMAN World Championship finisher and serves as the medical advisor for Training Bible Coaching.

Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2015/09/13-things-i-wish-i-knew-about-triathlon-when-i-started.aspx#ixzz4uTV7vPgS

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

It's Not A Sin To Walk During a Triathlon / PRP, Platelet Rich Plasma II

PRP, Platelet Rich Plasma, An Update

A couple months ago I did a blog on PRP http://bit.ly/2wVgiUn to try and give the athlete some way to judge for him or herself whether the hype that follows any new product or procedure.  Newer websites will promise you the moon for this not inexpensive injection but the more we perform it in a variety of circumstances, the more we learn that it's mostly ineffective except in certain narrow applications.  For example, the below quote from Wang et al. shows PRP ineffective for patellar tendinitis, ACL repair, rotator cuff repair to name a couple.   But we don't know everything yet so stay tuned as we continue to look for high quality studies that increase our knowledge base and your chances of success if choosing this therapy.

Platelet-rich plasma has shown great promise and potential to stimulate biologic activity in difficult-to-heal musculoskeletal tissue. However, the optimal formulation, method of administration, and dosing for different tissues have yet to be determined.
Within a given platelet-rich plasma preparation technique, there is a high degree of inter-subject and intra-subject variability in the composition of platelet-rich plasma produced. This likely contributes to the inconsistent results reported in the current platelet-rich plasma literature.
Current evidence best supports the use of platelet-rich plasma as a treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee. Evidence on the use of platelet-rich plasma as a treatment or adjunct for rotator cuff repair, lateral epicondylitis, hamstring injuries, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction, patellar tendinopathy, Achilles tendinopathy, and fractures is inconsistent or only available from low-powered studies. To our knowledge, no comparative studies examining platelet-rich plasma treatment for partial ulnar collateral ligament tears in the elbow currently exist.
Current evidence suggests that different platelet-rich plasma formulations are needed for different tissues and pathologies. Ultimately, improved understanding of the underlying structural and compositional deficiencies of the injured tissue will help to identify the biologic needs that can potentially be targeted with platelet-rich plasma.
Wang, Dean MD; Rodeo, Scott A. MD

Walk in a Triathlon? Sure You Can

"Superman where are you now? Phil Collins, Land of Confusion

30 years ago I ran my first Boston with two friends from Miami.  We vowed to do it 25 years later.  And 25 years older!  Second time around, when the gun started the field of 25,000 in Hopkinton at noon, it was 87 degrees.  It was hot!  Especially for marathon running. 

I've written before that when I got to 20 miles, overheating and way behind on fluids, I made one of the worst decisions of my racing career.  I got on the bus, a yellow school bus, and was driven to the finish. In a vehicle! I was transported like a helpless person to the finish. I was a DNF (a DNF for gosh sakes!) in the famed Boston marathon.  What a dip!

At a lecture by noted Triathlon Coach Joe Friel, he once compared the running boom of the 70's and 80's to the growth of triathlon today. (If you'd been told 20 years ago that someone would pay $40,000.00 or more to get a slot at Ironman Hawaii, you'd thought them clearly insane. Yet, we find ourselves clearly there. The annual Ironman Foundation auction, puts up 4 entries to the race to the highest bidder/donator, the profits going to the Ironman Foundation Charities. This branch of IM donates a significant sum each year to a host of deserving Kona organizations like the rescue squad, various help agencies, etc.

Friel's story went something like this. In the 70's, folks would have a friend convince them to go jogging, like it, and progress to running.  And then strange things would happen. It might start out with a local 5K race, they'd get hooked, and after smoking too much Runners World Magazine, they'd be convinced they could begin marathon training.  And some could. Their lives became consumed with running and a myriad of details until they found themselves running the first 10 miles of a 26.2 mile experience. All went well until mile 18, when they found themselves with shot quads, over heated, and out of ideas. (Oh, I see you've have been there.)

Compare the above scenario to triathlon where it seems easy to tackle the local sprint tri, maybe even an Olympic distance race...and then you start to dream...and a friend of a friend is doing IM Lake Placid...and, "With just a little more training, I could be an Ironman." Well, maybe.

But what happens when you get to mile 95 on the bike, are beat, rethinking how you might have hve been overly aggressive for the first 56 miles and would like to call it a day.  But you're not even off the bike - and there's some running to do shortly.  As Joe Friel says, "You have to have a plan B; you need alternative alternatives."  And simply get on the bus isn't one of them.

In other words, it's OK to stop at a bike aid station and sit in a real chair while taking on fluids for 5-10-15 even 30 minutes.  No one will penalize you or draw a red slash through your race number. It's OK to ask the medical people for a little help, they're not going to take you out of the race unless you're a danger to yourself or others. It's OK to walk. Well, it's ALWAYS OK TO WALK. Or to sit at a run aid station to collect your wits. Then you can proceed at your pace if that's what it takes.  It matters little down the road what your time was, only that you had a plan B and you finished.

You have a full 17 hours to finish this thing. No harm in using all seventeen of them.  If you've thought these potential problems through ahead of time, then during the press of the event where folks don't always make the best of decisions, you'll not decide something in haste that you'll come to regret.

Just think about it. It's been a decade since I DNF'd and I still feel stupid.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

In the Days of Iron Men and Wooden Ships

What's the Best Diet for Triathletes?

High fat? Low fat?  High carbs?  Low carbs? What's the best diet?  Who knows? 
Dave Scott recently came out supporting a new study in the NY Times on the side of fat over carbs. http://nyti.ms/2wOSrT2.  Supporting the carb side was noted multisport author Matt Fitzgerald in The Endurance Diet, a carefully crafted and well documented volume.  Maybe it's like so many "facts," you pick the studies that support your beliefs.  Once again, the take home point here is that nothing in triathlon is one size fits all, and we don't make major changes in our work outs, nutrition, anything, based on a single study or single expert. Perhaps, for some of us, both positions are correct.

Stay tuned.

Skid lids ruled the helmet wars not that long ago. Seen yours lately?


In the Days of Iron Men and Wooden Ships

Over 100 years ago, Pulitzer Prize winning author Stephen Vincent Benet, reflecting on the impact of Captains and Clipper Ships, wrote about those men who served in the Naval Service at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries.  He observed that of these men, who lived and died at the helm, there was “salt music in their blood.”  Perhaps, without knowing what the future held, he was subtly referring to the Ironman athlete of today.

“There was a time before our time,
It will not come again,
When the best ships were wooden ships,
But the men were iron men.”

The fledgling years of Ironman Triathlon were the late 70’s and early 80’s, when no one knew if this Ironman thing would make it or go the way of chariot racing, jousting or the pentathlon.

Let Me Take You Back to 1981

"Start off slow...and taper back."    Walt Stack

Triathlon has become a highly regulated sport.  There are governing organizations, certifications on many levels, and ever-changing rules and regulations.  We occasionally need to fall back to the pioneers of our sport, those adventurous souls who, when presented with the idea of swim long, bike long, then run a marathon thought, “Peachy, that sounds like fun!”  Mostly they did this on faith alone. 

“Cowman” Ken Shirk, one of these early pace setters, and one who was able to complete the entire original Kona course wearing a cow head complete with horns.  Why would he want to do that you ask?  (I must admit,the answer doesn't come to me immediately either.)  He's completed many more since. A strong individualist, he fit right in to the then prevalent mindset of people at the far end of the endurance sport bell curve.  Ken’s pedigree includes being the second man to finish the Western States 100 mile race. Or, more accurately, the second human to finish the event not horse bound! 

His Ironman swim required a modified breast stroke which Ken labeled the “cow stroke.”  Well, of course.  Wouldn’t you?  'Course you would.  I don’t know how many times he’s finished the event, both as a legal registrant, and I’m told, as a bandit, but it seems the event has gotten too big, gone in another direction, for the Cowmans of life.  Sad.

Many of you were not born in February 1981. The race was still in February back then and this would the first time for the Big Island course having been recently moved from Oahu.  T1 was on the pier, T2 down south in Keauhou.  There was no Energy Lab (NELH) section.  The race had been run in Honolulu from 1978 – 80 but had just gotten too big to be contested in the populous state capitol.

Enter San Francisco's Walt Stack ,a part of Ironman before everyone and his brother was labeled hero, a real larger than life guy. He’d done countless races before coming to the Big Island and had established himself as a legendary figure in our young sport.  Not fast, but steady, he could always be counted on to be one of those still standing at any race’s end. (Seven years later he would do a very cute Nike commercial.)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_xozTo6wrU

From a piece about Walt in Sports Illustrated: "Stack was out running the hills near his home. It should be called climbing. He was with a group of young women from his running club, the Dolphin South End Runners, when suddenly, one of them recalls, "I heard a sharp crack. I looked back, and Walt was stretched out on the sidewalk, bleeding from a cut on the head. 'Walt, what happened?' I yelled. " 'That's what comes from being a dirty old man,' he said. 'I dropped back to look at your legs, and I ran into an overhanging branch.' "

Walt's first, and only, Ironman was in 1981 when there was only one Ironman race anywhere, no WTC and no separation of pro’s and age groupers.  Everybody was an age grouper!  You need to remember that these were the early developing days of the sport and we didn’t know a great deal about aerodynamics on the bike, refueling or nutrition, and if you mentioned compression it was assumed you were speaking about the compression ratio of your car’s engine.  Ironman had no swim or bike time cut offs, and only a rudimentary course.  Like the Outback, “No rules, just right.”

The swim had no buoys, no course, and according current Swim Director Jan War, “You just swam out to a canoe and back.”  When asked about turn-around help for any competitor not from Kailua-Kona, or perhaps the directionally challenged in ocean swimming navigation, to aid even finding the turn-around boat, he laughs loudly as one who knows the punch line of a joke before you do.  According to Jan, his predecessor, the crusty Mo Matthews, was fond of reporting, “If they can’t find the turn-around boat, they shouldn’t be doing the race.”  Uh, OK Mo. (I have since talked many times with Mo before he passed away and found him a delightful grandfather type.)

 Stack was ready for the event and at 73, the oldest competitor ever to attempt the distances.  After a 4:11 swim and leisurely bike, history has it that he was pretty tired on the run.  Really? So, he just eased off the course, lay down in someone’s yard, and took a nap.  Once refreshed, he set off on the remainder of his 26 mile jaunt, and near its conclusion got hungry.  So what do you do when your stomach starts talking, head for the restaurant naturally.  In this case, the Kona Ranch House (Joe Friel's Favorite) which used to be on Palani Road but is no more.  The way I heard it, he was eating his waffle breakfast, reading the morning paper, with the results of “yesterday’s” Ironman race in it. The race in which he was still competing!

 Once breakfast was finished, he got back out on the course, finished the event in a speedy 26 hours and 20 minutes, and still holds the record for longest race time in Kona*.

 On one hand, it’s a shame that the sterility of present day doesn’t seem to have a place for Cowman, the Amazing Walt Stack and countless other characters who put this event into the national spot light.  But they are the rocks on which this sport is built.  If you happen to be walking around Kona one day and spy a guy with cow horns on, don’t simply assume him an asylum escapee but walk over, shake his hand and say “thanks, Ken.”  Maybe, if you’re really lucky, he'll share some of the finer points on the cow stroke with you!

*Surprisingly, in researching this piece, I found that 20 hour race times were not all that unusual in the early years.

Monday, September 11, 2017

One Month Till Kona: What You Should See & Do

Joe Friel: My Mentor, My Friend, One month Till Kona

This is my 663rd blog post.  I'd like to dedicate it to Joe Friel, my mentor, my friend, my patient.  None of what I have achieved in triathlon would be possible without him.  From coaching me for many years and meeting me at the finish line in Kona with an ice cold beer (or two!), to being my roommate and putting up with my endless questions about human performance.  We come at this sport from different angles and often agree to disagree on various topics.  Joe has about the strongest will power of anyone I know, absolute control over what goes into his mouth or the exercise he does and it's quite contagious.  When he's designed a work out for you and the goal is not met, you feel as bad that you let him down as you do in not meeting the preset parameters.

In short, Joe Friel sets the pace the rest of us might aspire to, lives life with honor and hard work, is true to his athletes, true to his family, true his team.

So, to Joe Friel I dedicate this 663rd blog.

Super coach Joe Friel (L) encouraging course record holder Bob Scott in Kona

"It's going to be a Hard Day's Night."   The Beatles

We're one month till the cannon blast signals the start of the Ironman World Championship. The athletes who are racing this year are beginning to struggle with the upcoming need to think about tapering, opposing that intense internal drive to get every bit of training they can out of every day. It can be as much as 20, 25, even 30 or more hours per week. Age groupers too! For the first timers on the Hawaii course there are so many questions involving bike transportation, accommodations, training on the island, heat acclimation, and learning as absolutely much as possible about the race and it's conditions.  This event, where the best of the best race, still has enough DNFs that athletes want to ensure they're in the annually expected 93% who finish the event instead of the handful who don't.

I think the biggest mistake that newcomers make is that in spite of spending 7, 8, 10 or more days on the Big Island, they don't get it. They are so focused on the race that although they finish well on Saturday, and it's "mission accomplished," so to speak, they've totally missed the Hawaiian feeling of Ohana (family) or the spirit of Aloha. And, for those who've brought family and friends, they've learned little to nothing about this wonderful place as they become consumed with Ironman.

To be fair, it's this goal oriented behavior that got them here, but with actual pre-race training at a minimum now, there are frequent opportunities to learn and entertain while in Kona. Having been there 20 times, here are ten suggestions to ensure both the best race and the best experience for racer and family alike.  Some for you, some for the family...and some for the family to give them something to do other than watch you obsess over the race.

1.  On Sunday, a week before the race, are the light hearted PATH 5K and 10K runs.  They benefit the Peoples Advocacy For Trails Hawaii.  It's a non-profit in West Hawaii that teaches elementary kids safe cycling.  Could there be a better use of you tax deductible entry?  And it gets the family in the Big Island mood.

2. Eat at some place different every day. Splashers, Kona Inn, Fish Hopper, Jackie Rey's, Lulu's, Lava Java, they all have something good to offer.  If you really like raw fish, Da Poke Shack on Alii Drive gets rave reviews.

3.  Most peoples training plans are in full taper mode with which I agree.  But I'd suggest you start most days with a short swim on the race course.  And I'd do it at 6:55 a.m. if I were an age group male, 7:10 am if I were an age group female since that's when you'll start on Saturday given the time changes for 2016.  You can judge the position of the sun, estimate the surf, pick distant objects upon which to sight off, etc.  You don't have to swim a lot but it's fun, it's social, and where else can you swim out to a floating coffee bar Tuesday through Friday?  The family can swim out there too.  Got a water proof camera for that Christmas card photo?

4. Everyone, and I mean everyone, runs the Underpants Run on Thursday, 7:30 am, King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel. http://www.underpantsrun.org/  Register on line through 10/9 or at the Ironman Expo Tuesday or Wednesday...and bring a camera. It's about 2K at about a 10-12 min/mile pace...when you can stop laughing. Bring a special hat or mask. One guy was Elvis a couple years ago and it worked. 

5. When thinking about gifts for those back home, particularly kids, both Longs Drugs and the ABC stores have a wide variety of items for not a lot of money. You will spend more money in the Ironman store than you think. ("Well, I'll never be back here again and I do need 10 more triathlon oriented shirts in the dresser.")  Consider mailing things from Kona so you won't be overweight when your luggage is weighed at the airport.  It can get expensive.  Maybe even bring a mailing tube to mail IM posters for the gang at the pool.

6. Say hello to some one you don't know every day. And, if they're having a little trouble since English isn't their first language, take a breath and see if you can work it out. It onlytakes a little patience to be a good ambassador. And besides, it's fun.

7. Get with someone who has a rent-a-car and view every inch of the race course.  You might have to omit the two mile out and back in the energy lab, NELH (Or if you're really compulsive you could take the tour and see parts of it.)  I think you want no surprises on Saturday.  You can have lunch in Hawi.  It's really nice.

8. Be patient and kind to the people of Kona - this is their home we're invading.

9. On Saturday, say THANK YOU to every race volunteer you encounter. And every policeman.

10.  And finally, when you get to the post-race area, don't be in a hurry to leave.  Lots to see and do from finisher's medals, food of many types, pictures, etc.  Since many of you will leave Hawaii in the next 24 hours or so, and because of the stress your legs have endured and overall dehydration, understand that you are at risk for developing blood clots in your legs.  The best thing is prevention where your efforts at hydration begin now and continue until you reach your destination by air.  When on the plane, don't just sit or sleep please. Get up every couple hours, walk around, use those leg muscles - especially the calves - till you arrive home.  It'll pay off.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Can Both a Father and Son Qualify for 70.3 Worlds in TN? Yep!

Do You Feel Guilty If You (think) You Train Too Much?

As a triathlete and parent, you always wonder if you let the sport get in the way of your family.  "Do I short change the kids when I'm out on that long bike?"  Over the course of 11 years, with 3 kids growing up, I did enough training to run Kona 5 times.  As any of you know, that's a lot of swim-bike-run.  I don't know how it came up in conversation, but I was talking with my now 27 year old son about it a couple weeks ago.  I asked him point blank if he thought I was always gone, always somewhere else training?  He answered very quickly, "No, you always had time for us growing up!"

Great to hear that coming from your offspring.  So I guess the key is worrying about it, paying attention to it.  Add in a modicum of guilt and even though as a surgeon I had a full time job, it seemed to all work out.  From the kids perspective anyway, and the perspective that counts.  I suspect that you are exactly the same.

Snorkel boating with the family in Cancun
Hey Dad, Wanna Do the Chattanooga 70.3 Worlds Together?

June 18th, 2018 will be Father’s Day.  So what do say we call the old man up, see if we can tear him away from the Orioles game on the big screen, or maybe get him before he heads out to the lake to see if the catfish are biting.  Then we’d say “How about a brick workout today Pops?  50 bike and 10 mile run?” 

I don’t know about your dad but mine would tilt his head up from the Sunday paper, look at me over top of his glasses, shake his head a couple times, and just say “Uh huh.”  He would then disappear back into the news.

But not all families would find this folly.  Take Boulder’s 23 year old Rudy von Berg, part-time grad student, part-time pro triathlete and full time fierce competitor.  Rudy is one of those quick studies in the classroom as well as the sport, now a two-time USAT Collegiate National Champion.  He has two professional 70.3 runner-up finishes including Miami ’16 by only two minutes to Terenzo Bozzone and Buenos Aires ’17 to Lionel Sanders.

Let’s say that if Rudy showed up at his Dad’s house on Father’s Day, there’s a good chance he’d find Dad, Rudy senior actually, not cleaning out the cat box or dusting the hall fan, but just as likely he’d find senior out on the road doing a 50 bike and 10 mile run.  Surprised?  Well, Dad, believe it or not, is the reigning 70.3 Ironman Age Group World Champion.  Not impressed?  Ten months ago in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Dad took the Ironman World Championship age group crown there as well!  He won by an other-worldly thirty plus minutes over the best age groupers in the world.

Hard to say which of these two fast movers is the better athlete, right?  Well come September 10th in Chattanooga, TN and the 11th running of the 70.3 World Championship, senior will don racer #333 and Rudy Jr. will wear bib #10 as they go up against the best athletes world-wide at the distance.  Toeing the line for family fastest perhaps?

 I can tell you that I’m not much of a gambler. I didn’t have a Powerball ticket for the recent 758 million dollar lottery won by a Massachusetts woman .  But if betting were legal for this race it would be pretty hard to bet against either of these Rapid Roys.  I’m supremely glad that I don’t have to race against either one of them.

I can imagine being a flower on the wall when the following conversation occurs in the von Berg household - ”OK Dad, flip you for who buys the post-race beer.” Then without missing a beat, senior fires back “fugetaboutit!  He who has the hottest race is the recipient of that beer.”

Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Clasp of Kona - A Sport Where the People Win

Note in physician's log, men's changing tent 2016 Ironman Kona - "Athlete reports earplug stuck in ear.  Forceps extraction." 

Just like that, the racer is on his way with hardly any time lost at all. Thanks for being there Dr. Charles Johnson!

Kona start/finish line on Alii Drive. 

The Clasp of Kona

    At Kona, more than any other race throughout the vast Ironman collection, the emotional lives of the racers, in good seasons and most especially in bad, are on display.  Unlike many other sports, the professional athletes are still part of the crowd, visible in the daily landscape, and for the most part quite approachable.  There’s Julie Moss and “the Spectacle” in 1982, which for many athletes who walk the streets of Kailua-Kona today, put Ironman in their cross hairs of possibilities.  And Paula Newby-Fraser, the “Queen of Kona” whose 1995 meltdown so close to the finish showed the triathlon world, no matter your pedigree or number of previous wins (7) in your satchel, each of us can eventually run out of gas and be unable to take one more step.

But, as they say in the Sound of Music, “When the Lord closes a door, he opens a window somewhere,” the brilliance of the smile of the 1995 winner Karen Smyers still illuminates the final 400 meter stretch down Alii Drive to the Ironman World Championship finish line.  The pros we’ve come to know, and respect, wear their hearts on their sleeves while racing, much as we fans also do cheering.

Kona is simply the best.  There was talk not that long ago of rotating the location of the World Championship.  Kona one year, then Germany, Australia, maybe Canada, but the backlash was loud and clear.  It’s Kona!  Got it?  Despite small course changes over the years, addition of buoys to the swim, bringing T2 from Keauhou to the pier, adding NELH – the energy lab – the course is alive, leads are always in doubt.   Should you be so fortunate as to win here, treasures are yours that cannot be bought.  Your name is in the same sentence with Dave, and Mark, and Rinny, for life.  You’re on Bob Babbitt and Mike Reilly’s speed dial for gosh sakes.  You reap a lifetime of spoils.

Multivitamins, beneficial to the triathlete?

"Most people take multivitamins because they are concerned they aren't getting what they need in their diets.  The multivitamin serves as an insurance policy.  In November 2013, a review of 26 studies found that otherwise healthy men and women didn't have a lesser risk of cancer or heart diseases after taking a daily multivitamin.  They wrongly assume that vitamins taken in concentrated pill form are processed and presented to the body in the same way that they would be if you got them in fruits and vegetables.  Probably the smartest (and least expensive) way to get what we need is just by paying a little more attention to our diet."

                                                     Paul Offit, MD Do You Believe in Magic?, 2013

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Why Training With Other Triathletes Makes You Better

"I need help," she posted.

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                                                              Credit @linda_alread

As you might suspect, I get a lot of e-mail traffic with various musculoskeletal and medical questions for which athletes seek an independent opinion. “I broke my collar bone on a recent ride, they’re saying I should have surgery, what do you think?”  Or, “It’s been a couple weeks since my complex knee surgery, when do you think I can run again?”  Like most Sundays, there was one waiting for me recently.  It was from a woman in NC named Georgia, a veteran of many marathons and triathlons, who, very unfortunately, had suffered a small cerebral hemorrhage.  This is a type of stroke that occurs when a tiny artery inside the brain bursts leading to the death of some surrounding brain tissue.  They comprise about 10% of strokes.  In those with significant bleeding, permanent injury or even loss of life can result. 

Fortunately for Georgia, she had a complete recovery.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that an underlying reason for the hemorrhage was never determined and her doctor “refuses to clear me for competitions.” 

What she was seeking in her e-mail to me was a doc familiar with endurance athletics who could approach her as an athlete, not just the next stroke victim waiting in line.  “But the trouble I am running into is that most non-endurance athletes believe that triathlon and certainly Ironman are grueling competitions where all athletes crawl across the finish line on death’s door.  As an athlete yourself, I am sure you can appreciate that I did not enjoy hearing that.”  I’ll bet many of you reading this now understand her emotion 100%.

What she needed was someone who understood both Neurology and triathlon so she contacted me.  While I’m not that person, I know how to find that right person.  The  triathlon web site.  Sensing her urgency and bewilderment, I made it my priority for the day.  I put up a “Neurologist needed” thread on the forum, and it didn’t take 2 hours to get a response.  Wow!  We’d found a doc in WI.  And then shortly thereafter one in CT who were ready to take her on.  I e-mailed the good news and she was excited.  

But wait, there’s more.  In another two hours, a doc from her part of NC chimed in ready to offer assistance.  Georgia was ecstatic.  “Dr. Post, you are a champion. Thank you thank you thank you!!!” Here in the space of 4 hours, she’d gone from adrift in triathlon, not sure if she’d ever race again, to having someone in her own neighborhood offering to be of assistance.

I thought we were done….until…in another two hours the cherry arrived. The cherry on top of the ice cream Sunday that is.  The following note arrived, “Hey John, I am a neurosurgeon in Long Island, NY.  This stuff is my “bread and butter” so to speak.”  Does life get any better?  Nope, not if you’re Georgia.

When I passed this last morsel on, it went something like this.  “Are you sitting down?  It gets better,” she answered immediately.  “Woo hoo!!!!! I am from Long Island!!! We have a winner!”  It turns out that this gent even knew the NC coaches she trains within NC and plans to speak to them.

What a day; my what a day.

Even the support team needs help sometimes.

So what are triathletes for?  To help other triathletes of course.  That’s what Georgia would say if you asked her.  Why not do that when she’s setting up her transition area next to you at an upcoming event.  She’ll be easy to recognize, the one with the permanent grin on her face.