Monday, June 30, 2008

The Amazing Wheel, Better than Zipps

Did I mention that the wheel I raced on yesteday is also the same wheele (and tube, and tire) that I ran over? After replacing the skewer, things seemed relatively OK. It's a good thing I didn't cry over it!

I Love the Tavern Race Report

Yesterday was a good day. I had a great time at the I Love the Tavern race. Results were slow in coming and were just posted, but here they are. Get this, I PR'd by ONE second!

This year
Swim 15:29 last year 18:43
T1 2:44 last year 2:53
Bike 18.89 miles 1:05:24 last year 104:10
T2 1:57 last year 1:04 (this year forgot to put my Yanks in)
Run 42:06 last year 40:52
Total 2:07:39 last year 2:07:40

Last year, in my race report, I can see the current was stronger. I remember it being a bit of a tougher swim than this year. This year, I definitely could have pushed harder on the run. To be honest, I set one goal for this race -- to get up that friggin' hill without walking. And, I did that. My second goal was to PR. Did that too.

My only complaint: They tried to mark the inside of our arms at the top of the giant hill bike turnaround. This was totally crazy. The space for turning was incredibly small, a narrow 2-laner with no shoulder. Needless to say, it was thrilling and a bad idea! The girl behind me fell. I likely would have too, but decided to take the catch me if you can approach.

The most rewarding part of the day: The TRIgirls got the Great Ball of Fire Spirit Award, which I got to accept on behalf of the team! We had fun. We rocked the course. We cheered for our teamates. We cheered for others. We thanked the volunteers. We had a great race.

Monday, June 23, 2008

It is all a Balancing Act

I'm looking forward to my first triathlon of the season, I Love the Tavern Triathlon, on Saturday. I've afraid to say I've been feeling a little burned out and I'm hoping that doing one of my favorite races will bring me back from feeling that way.

Regardless, I've made some decisions. I've decided against the Richmond Marathon this year. And, I've decided against the Patriot Half. I'm not sure how this will affect my 2009 season if I decide to do Ironman Florida, which doesn't seem likely.

I kept thinking, Ironman Florida or go back to work. Now, I'm thinking maybe going back to work is best for my family. Ironman Florida can wait.

I feel like while I started training to add balance to my life and my family (which was way to focused on just my 2-year-old) I'm at the other end of the spectrum. The one week I followed the Patriot Half schedule when I was not away from the kids training, I was too tired to give them much or be there for them. A 6 mile run that would take most folks less than an hour, takes me an hour and a half. And then the biking and swiming on top of that was too much. With Mr. Preschool working on his PhD. with night classes, I just feel like I really need to be there more for my family. Stay tuned....maybe things will change after Saturday.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Believe it or not, it was not the Worst Workout Ever

I was emailing my lil' sis today. She made the mistake of asking how my workout this morning was, now that I've decided I actually have to do them ALL and can't use the Bay Swim as an excuse.
Big Mistake.
Her: How was your workout??? Sorry I missed you!
Me: hhm great except i ran over my tire with my car.
i am not kidding.
Me: Both
Need I say more? I've been meaning to get out of the habit of leaning my front wheel against the back of the car while I put the bike on my roof. Now, I'll stop doing that for sure.

Then, I proceded to put the smooshed wheel in my back seat and run 5 miles of hills. I did not even....cry!

Monday, June 09, 2008

The 4.4 Mile Great Chesapeake Bay Swim Race Report

I guess I should start in telling this story be telling you where my journey began. I'm not sure what year it was, perhaps it was 1983 when I was 10, or perhaps it was several years later. I read an article in The Washington Post. It was a first person account of swimming across the Chesapeake Bay -- some kind of officially organized event.....The author described hearing this kayaker blow a lifeguard whistle repeatedly. The author/swimmer couldn't figure out what he was doing wrong, was he breaking some rule? Going off course? Later he found out that the man swimming beside him was blind and was following the sound of the whistle to get across the Bay.

I'm not exactly sure why, but I found this incredibly moving. My dad is blind and I have watched him year after year as his sight has diminished. Bit by bit, it seems my dad was swallowed whole by his vision loss. And with each year there was less and less that he could do. In contrast, here was someone who was accomplishing something great, doing something that many many sighted people wouldn't dream of attempting, and he was doing it in spite of his blindness. The blind swimmer had found a way to strip the power from his blindness. And while I watched my father take one path, I knew that when I grew up, whatever hardships I was dealt in my life, I wanted to be like the blind swimmer, not my dad. I guess to help you understand this I should mention, that I have no idea what it would be like to go blind. I can't imagine the pain that my father has endured at having his sight taken away from him bit by bit over all of those years of my childhood. But before you question me for judging him, I should also tell you that the blindness he has is heredetary. And while I am not a high risk to be blind myself, I could. Growing up, I had doctors visit after doctors visit where they were always testing me for it. And, I was always on the lookout for it come up behind me like a shadow over my shoulder. And more than one time in my life, I was convinced that I was going to lose my sight too. Mentally, I spent many years preparing myself to suffer the same fate, and many years I tried to push myself on the path of the blind swimmer, so if fate dealt me that card I would handle it better than my father, who allowed himself to be defined by his illness, growing more bitter and frustrated each day.
Simply stated, I was amazed -- that there could be someone who responded to his fate so differntly than my dad. At that time, I was not inspired to swim the bay myself, but just inspired by the will of that man. The passion, the desire for life. By the iron will that he found and the strength and courage he displayed, to try something great in the face of adversity.

Years later, in my 30's after doing triathons for a while, on some race calendar or on some blog, somehow I was reminded again of the The Great Chesapeake Bay Swim. Instantly, I remembered being so moved by that article when I was so much younger. I searched for several hours trying to locate it in the Washington Post archives, but with no luck. I did learn the history of the Bay Swim though, and read a newer article about open water swimming by Caroline Kettlewell, who I actually got to meet at the swim.

Then, the thought crossed me. I could swim. Triathlons had served as a vehicle for me to realize that I could swim across the Chesapeake Bay if I put my mind to it. Last year, at this same time, I had conquered many fears and obstacles to complete my first half-iron distance race, Eagleman. That took me over 7 and a half hours and over 6 months of intense training. I could certainly swim the 4.4 miles of the bay. I'd done the 1.2 miles in the VERY choppy waters at Eagleman in 39 minutes. I guess this is what made me think I might actually complete the Bay Swim in 2 and a half hours or so.

After researching the history of the bay swim, I realized that maybe I was getting in a little over my head. Not only did I have to qualify for the swim, but also, I had to enter a lottery to be selected to participate.

Then I read this information on the Great Bay Swim website:

Is it dangerous?Among the difficulties that may be encountered during the
average 2 hour 25 minute swim are flailing arms and legs during the "Cuisinart
start," cross currents, swells, chop, hypothermia if the water is cold, nettle
stings if the water is warm, and collisions with the bridge supports or rocks
surrounding the jetties, islands and causeways.The National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has measured tidal, current and weather
conditions prior to the event and compared the results with predicted
conditions to determine the optimum starting time for the event. How does
it affect the race?As a result, 79-97 % of the starters finished the race in the
last 5 years. Prior to this, in 1991 and 1992, a strong ebb current of about 2
knots in the main channel beneath the 200-feet high spans (one and a half miles
from the start) precluded all but the strongest and most determined
swimmers from finishing the event (only 15-19 % finished the swim).

And, for some reason, I still signed up.
As I talked to other swimmers who'd done the race, I realized that the swim was a spiritual experience for many, not just me. Atheletes would travel from Japan, Canada, and from the West Coast. I envisioned a peaceful swim -- floating in the middle of the Bay, looking up at the giant spans. I imagined swimming and thinking about that blind swimmmer. And, I imagined remembering the last right of passage I'd taken almost exactly 15 years ago to the day, when I made a symbolic break from my parents and went out on my own. In a sort of a passage to adulthood, I took my first long motorcycle trip overnight and by myself and crossed this very same bridge on the way to Rehobeth Beach. I would think about my Grandma Jane, the only grandparent I ever knew, and the stories of how she was so scared to cross the Bay Bridge that she would take valium and then and drive her carfull of young children across. I would reflect on my own journey. My fear of sharks. My fear of drowning. My fear of dying. The incredible respect that I have for the open water, and mother nature. I imagined reflecting on my decision to finally sign up for an Ironman. I imagined feeling victorious when I finished the swim across.

But, The Great Chesapeake Bay Swim was not at all what I thought it would be. The places that I imagined struggling, I did not struggle. The places that I envisioned enjoying, and being in awe of were not what I imagined either. And, no matter how much you might not think it will affect you, being a little fish in a big pond certainly changed the race for me.

I started off feeling strong because I'd made it through the rough kicking of the brutal open water start. I still had my goggles. No one had swam over me. (I didn't get kicked very hard in the chest by a huge guy until much later in the swim, and thankfully, he turned around and said he was sorry). I had planned to stay with TRIgirl 40 for the first quarter mile, but lost her in the frantic start.
"I am actually doing it," is all I could keep thinking. "Take it easy, don't kick, save your legs for the end. "
I should mention here that I decided not to wear my wetsuit. Since it is a long story, and you are already getting way more detail than you expected, I'll just leave it at that. Fate had decided that no wetsuit would be worn. It was warm enough, and I wasn't going to win or anything. I figured that not wearing it would slow me down a bit, but not keep me from finishing or anything. It seemed like a fine decision.
As I was swimming along, finally under the bridge, and feeling comfortable, I let doubt creep in. My left foot was falling asleep. Hmm. Maybe my anklechip strap was on too tight? I better stop and loosen it. Bad idea. I had visions of it sinking to the bottom of the bay. But worse, I noticed that as soon as I stopped to adjust, I started floating off to the side under the bridge. OMG, I'd hit the current. Folks swam by me quickly. I adjusted it and then swam a few strokes. Hmm. No that isn't right, it's too loose, it's going to fall off. Stopped and adjusted it tighter. Really loosing ground now, I kicked it into high gear, swimming at a higher speed and actually kicking, but going nowhere. The current was incredibly strong. I'd lost my rhythm. I'd lost my mojo. I swam at an angle directly for the other span of the bridge thinking -- now or never. I looked up and noticed I was starting to go under the span. If I did go any farther, they could disqualify me and pull me from the water. What was I going to do? I hadn't even hit the first mile marker? or had I? I always knew there was a chance this could happen, but I never expected it to be so soon, I wasn't tired, I just got distracted. I didn't feel any exhertion at all, just panicky because no matter how hard I stroked, I was still not making any progress forward. The taste and smell of diesel fuel and oil from the boats was potent and I could not seem to get away from it.

I knew from other open water swims that the current would affect the slowest swimmers most. And I worried for the first time that I would fail completely. What if it was like this the entire rest of the swim? How long would I fight, not knowing if I would ever go anywhere or if it would ever get easier?

I kept at it. I lost all track of time. I focused just on pulling each hand through the water. I focused on rocking from side to side. I thought about my form and tried to remember to breath on both sides. Then, all of a sudden, people were swimming over me. Pink and green caps from the fast heat (that left 15 minutes later than us) were passing me like I was standing still. It reminded me of when you are on the highway, going the speed limit and someone comes flying past in the fast lane going 90 mph. I felt like I was stuck in place. I felt defeated. I never thought of myself as fast, but also, never had been passed like I was standing still. I tried to sight ahead. Nothing. I looked around and no one was around. No red caps from my heat. But I'd managed to make it away from the left span. I wasn't being taken upstream anymore. I was solidly in the center.

I thought about my family coming across the bridge to see me at the finish. We'd planned it that way, so they would drive across while I was swimming across. My awesome Aunt Sally and Uncle Wendell who had not only put us up at their river house, but also stood in the 110 degree heat while I swam. For hours. I looked at my watch. I'd been swimming for 1 hour and 22 minutes. I still couldn't see the 2nd mile marker buoy. I started to think about how the time cutoffs seemed so generous. Now, I wondered if I was going to make them. I tried to draft off a pink or a green cap that came now in a slower fashion. I couldn't hang on. Everyone around me was wearing wetsuits. I could feel pockets of cold come across me so quickly, it made me shiver. And then suddenly a freezing blast of water. I kid you not, I got a brain freeze from the cold water current. Then, I thought about hypothermia and wondered if I should even be out here with no wetsuit. Despite my layer of insulation, I was freezing, my body was fine. But my face, and my head hurt from the cold water. I thought of Lynne Cox swimming across Antartica, and found some comfort there. I knew, I would be OK if I could keep moving. If she could swim through ice, i could certainly swim through this! I found another red cap, and found that if I drafted off him at his feet, that he stirred up the warm surface water enought to make it not seem quite so cold on my face. I noticed he was wearing just the smallest Speedo and no goggles. I was about to ask him if he lost them and then realized that was ridiculous.

And then, like a mirage in a desert I saw it: the big red 2 mile marker and better yet -- a "feed boat" right behind. (I know it sounds like animals feeding...but that is what it felt like too). I knew from TRIgirl Allison to expect a Dixie cup of water, banana and wet Vanilla Wafers. I knew from the rules that unlike Lynne Cox's swims, I could hang onto the boat while I ate and drank. I didn't want to, but at this point it seemed ridiculous not to hang on while I did. I had two Vanilla wafers, and about 2 oz of warm, almost hot water -- remember the heat index was 110 degrees! Then i had 2 saltines. Then I had 2 more ounces of hot water. Then i had an inch of banana. Then i had a tiny part of a gel that i'd stuck down the back of my suit. I couldn't swallow it. I gave it to them to throw away. I had one more wet Vanilla wafer. Did I mention that swimming across the Bay makes you hungry? I swear these were the best Vanilla wafers i've ever had in my life. I don't even like them. My last 'nilla wafer had a wet thumbprint on top, it was very wet. I can't believe I almost thought to ask for a new one, because that sounded so disgusting to me....but I ate in anyway. The last one got all stuck in my teeth and as I pushed off the boat. I remember telling the volunteers that I was worried that they were going to hurt their backs. It seemed so hard that they were all hunched over feeding the athletes in the waitresses in the sky to the most demanding and yet grateful customers. I decided I was spending to long at the boat. Time to move on.

I'd started the race with a headache, the brainfreeze had made it worse, and now I was starting to feel just not so great. I don't know why, but started thinking I wasn't cut out for this. I started thinking I am crazy to ever think I could do an Ironman. I decided I definately was stupid for even considering it next year.

Then, between spots of incredible cold, I allowed myself to get distracted from the pain. I notice that I was moving faster than a U-haul truck on the right bridge span. Apparently traffic was almost stopped on the bridge? I noticed a woman had gotten out of her car and she was looking down at all the swimmers. I waved, happy to not feel quite so alone -- almost all of the swimmers had passed me now. And I was sure that TRIgirl 40 had to. She was wearing a wetsuit, which I was sure would make her faster than me, typically we are about the same pace. Then I quickly pulled my hand down when she did not wave back and a realized that the kayak support might think that I needed assistance. I kept my head down for a long while after that. I started noticing the numbers on the pilings. 36...37....38....And then a charlie horse hit my right calf. I stopped kicking and flexed it. Luckily it was not a full on contraction that would keep me from staying afloat, but still, I was scared to kick at all anymore, for fear that it would come back. I kept flexing my foot, with the hope that I could fight it off, then I'd find my muscle starting to tighten again. I tried to relax, keep my head down, and focus on what I could use, my arms..... then I saw another bouy, and the shore behind it. Could it be that I missed the 3 mile marker? That would be a good thing if it was number 4 in the distance. My guessed that I would have to swim to the piling that said 56 before I would be at the shore. And if that was the 4 mile marker at the end ahead, then I still had another 700 meters after that. The current picked up again this time taking us to the right. But more than the current was chop, like at Eagleman. Big swells, like waves, and more pull to the right, which thankfully was where we were going. I could see the grassy shore, and tons of people. For the first time ever, I realized I was going to finish the swim. I was going to cross the Chesapeake Bay on my own. Not only that, but I looked to my left and there was a girl with a read cap standing next to me. STANDING! I did not know it was shallow enough that I could stand, and when I did, my legs felt whole again. I expected to be so ever greatful for reaching the land, but never did I expect to happen while I was still in the water. I dolphined in to shore. Perhaps I don't need to explain it, but at that point I just had no desire to go back to freestyle. Me doing the dolphin:

My amazing Uncle Wendell, who had woken up early to drive me to the race and had dropped me off in the morning was there. My mom was there. My Aunt Sally, Mr. Preschool and of course the kids. It wasn't at all what I had imagined. My eyes hurt. My head hurt. I wasn't really happy or proud. Just happy to be done. I certainly didn't feel victorious. Just dazed. It was rather anticlimatic. I needed to find some glasses, my goggles had cut circles around my eyes. I wanted a towel, but strangely no one had one for me. I was too iffy to get one out of my bag. I was so happy to take my cap off (which we were forbidden from doing during the race). I felt wobbly. Faint. and terribly hot. I was worried about my kids standing in the heat for so long. Redfish had no shirt on. I drank a Pepsi of all things (I never drink soda) and that seemed to bring me back a bit. I ate something salty, that helped. I leaned over to get my coverup out of my bag. (Silly family kept taking pictures of me half-naked). Thought I was going to faint again. The fire trucks had showers. I decided to rinse off until I realized the water was HOT.

All of a sudden, I remembered that I still hadn't seen TRIgirl 40. Where was she? I looked up and there she was, still dripping wet, standing beside me. I was so certain that she'd come out of the water before me that I hadn't even thought to look for her to finish after me. At this point there were very few swimmers still left in the bay. But, after comparing notes, we realized that we finished just 4 minutes apart. She was right behind me the whole time, but I never saw her once, the whole swim. We'd trained together (sortof) and swam the Bay together (sortof as well). I never thought that I would say I was proud to finish in the very bottom of the pack. I was 549 of 602 swimmers. She was number 564. Both of us, solidly on the very last page of the results. To be honest, I had no idea that there was such a range of swimmers out there in the world. The winner of the race completed the entire 4.4 mile swim in an easy hour and a half, more than twice as fast as me. I am simply in awe. Here are my results: 3:11:29 43:32 per mile ave. I was 29 out of 33 in age group.

Looking back at all that training in the pool for endless hours in the cholorine. Looking at the black line, perfecting my flip turn. I would definitely say that I'm glad I did it. I'm not sure that I'll do it again. I was struggling so hard, I never got to flip on my back and just be. I never go to take the time to stop and just feel alive and appreciate the simple task at hand. I was too busy struggling to stay alive. To stay in this race. So, if I do it again, that would be my goal -- to swim fast enough to be able to stop in midstream and float and enjoy it. And I would like to finish my swim with enough energy to actually feel good when I am finished.
After sitting in a VERY hot school bus for a ride back to the car, I again almost passed out. Why am I leaving the medical area? I kept thinking! It is so hot I'm going to faint!

Unfortunately, in the swing of things, and deciding no wetsuit I forgot to put on ANY sunscreen on my back. The cresent moon shape on my forehead created by the sunburn is a dead giveaway for a capline, but looks incredibly dorky. As I mentioned before, I guess I thought that the murky Bay water would protect me from the sun. Needless to say, I believe I got some sort of sun poisoning. My burn is bad. I felt so bad on Sunday night, that after showing up at my dad's 70th birthday party a few hours after the swim, I had to leave after just an hour, because I felt so ill. Which reminds me....I think this is why I'm doubting going for an Ironman afterall. Would I be strong enough to finish the race and still enjoy the victory? Missing my dad's 70th birthday party was not in the plans. My sister, who flew in from Seattle, had planned it around me being able to come. I was planning to tell my dad that night, that I would do an Ironman in his honor to raise money for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. That was my plan anyway, and I didn't do it. Now, I need to take some time, regroup and figure out if I still have it in me.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

We Finished the Bay Swim -- all 4.4 miles

We finished the bay swim! I am extremely sunburnt. Didn't think the sun would get me through the water how silly! Wait until you see the photos. Current was like endless pool details later.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Times-Dispatch Covers the TRIgirls

This is a shout out to TRIgirl Amy Godkin, who was able to get some local coverage for TRIgirl Training! There are some really spiffy photos (click on slidshow), and a very short article in today's Times-Dispatch.
I am so proud of the whole team, but especially the 25 girls who were doing their first race! You ladies are so inspiring!

Here ya go:

It's not as if traditional chores (cooking, cleaning and laundering) have been
cast aside.
Only now, a sizable contingent of area women are wedging
swimming, cycling and foot racing into their already hectic to-do lists.
time to introduce the TRIgirls, easily spotted at triathlon competitions in
their hot-pink gear.
"We're serious athletes but also very feminine and
well-rounded," said Grandison Burnside, TRIgirls founder/coach. "That's why we
chose pink -- to show our diversity."
Come one, come all: There are 120
TRIgirls, ages 25 to 60-something. They vary from trail-toughened veterans just
back from Ironman Brazil to beginners like Amy Godkin.
A mother of two and
fundraiser for an area pediatric group, Godkin debuted as a triathlete at the
Shady Grove YMCA PowerSprint on Sunday.
"When I started, I couldn't swim 50
meters without gasping for breath or run a mile . . . and I didn't own a bike,"
Godkin said.
For her 40th birthday, husband Todd Godkin presented his
adventurous wife with the gift of pedal power -- a racing bike.
Godkin was
among a group of 32 TRIgirls (25 first-timers) swimming 300 meters, cycling 20
kilometers and running five kilometers at the Shady Grove "sprint."
Next up
on the 12-event, TRIgirls schedule is the Tavern Sprint on June 29 along the
James River downtown.
Working women: To gain perspective on just who these
"pink ladies" are, here's a peek at recent TRIgirl of the month
Diane Schnupp, IT consultant; Jackie Rice, computer programmer;
Kathleen Martin, lawyer; Susie Fazzio, customer service manager; Carrie
Mayrhofer, pediatric occupational therapist; Kate Bott, fourth-grade
"We've got it all, from women who've never been athletes their
entire lives, to former collegiate athletes, marathoners and Ironman veterans,"
said Burnside, a mother of three and a former English teacher at Salem Middle
Let's sweat: The TRIgirls, based out of Maramarc Fitness, train three
nights a week, with swimming at University of Richmond, running at UR and Byrd
Park and cycling all over on roadways.
Then there are what Burnside calls
"philanthropic/fun things," like raising funds for Safe Harbor Women's
Burnside suspects there is a competitive athlete somewhere in every
woman, longing to be released.
"Most just need someone to get them started .
. . to motivate them," she said.
To learn more, go to

Thursday, June 05, 2008

3 More Days

Just a couple more days until the 4.4 Mile Bay Swim. Tonight, my last masters. Tomorrow I'll try to resolve my wetsuit chaffing issue at the Richmond Tri Club open water swim.
Saturday travel -- and Sunday race.
Feeling good in general about my preparations, but packing is stressing me out.
Hey, thanks to all my teamates and friends who remembered my race and wished me luck. I really appreciate it! So sweet of you to remember!
Shoot, Redfish is up from nap....gotta run.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The New York Times Explores Endurance Sports

Robert Mackey, over at the New York Times, wrote a facinating article, titled, "Are Endurance Sports Good for You?" A facinating topic if you ask me! But the best part of all was reading the blog he linked to, V-Tach, by Craig Cook, who is experiencing Acquired Arrhythmia, "a condition that seems to be prevalent in endurance athletes." Here's a clip from the NY Times story, which carefully reminds the reader, not to go all "Chicken Little" with this thing:

.... But being in touch with Craig led me
to read the whole story of his battle with Acquired Arrhythmia on his blog. In Craig’s latest post, he wrote
about a study in 2003 by a cardiologist named Hein Heidbüchel, which raised the
possibility that, as Dr. Heidbüchel told Agence
France Presse
, “Lifelong endurance training may lead to heart disturbances,
particularly in young male athletes.”
Craig also links to an
editorial that same year in the European Heart Journal
, titled “Endurance
athletes: exploring the limits and beyond,” that considers the implications of
the Heidbüchel study. The authors of the editorial write that the possibility
that endurance training may, in some circumstances, for some people, cause
damage to the heart raises “a fundamental question to medical practitioners:
what are the reasonable limits for the practice of sport?” The editorial expands
on that question as follows:
Humans have always tried to push back the limits
imposed by their physical characteristics. Competitive sports are in themselves
a continuous struggle to surpass these established limits. As physicians, we are
frequently asked not only to identify and treat diseases, but to define what is
and what is not healthy behaviour. …
The general population has the
perception that athletes are the healthiest members of society, since they are
capable of such impressive physical performance. However, the cardiological
community has been interested in the inherent risk of sport for many years.

Up until now, sudden death in athletes has been attributed to underlying,
pre-existing cardiovascular diseases such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or
right ventricular dysplasia. In this issue of the journal, Heidbüchel and
co-workers go a step further, and hypothesize that long-lasting, competitive
endurance activities may, in some individuals, induce structural changes in the
right ventricle. This can lead to a kind of ‘acquired right ventricular
dysplasia’ that may finally produce ventricular arrhythmias and sudden death.
Although the published paper does not prove this hypothesis, the high mortality
observed in this series of patients is quite worrisome. …
New data
suggesting that excessive endurance training may have deleterious consequences
for the heart need to be confirmed by case-control studies of non-selected
As Craig says on his blog, it is important not to extrapolate
too many conclusions from the results of one study of only several dozen
endurance athletes. He writes:
Some media outlets have taken this to Chicken
Little extremes. A widely disseminated article by Agence France Presse (here
carried on the Discovery Channel of all places) almost seems to be telling us to
retreat to our couches and TV sets, or else… “Most athletes pay a physical price
for their love of the sport, but the ones who engage in endurance sports may be
pushing their bodies to the brink of heart failure, according to a new study”,
we are told. This is alarmist.
I’d suggest anyone interested in this issue
read the whole of Craig’s blog, and follow all the links, but the idea that very
fit endurance athletes could be doing damage to their hearts, even while
succeeding at a very high level, is kind of surprising. As Craig points out, the
hugely successful, American cyclist Bobby
was diagnosed, and successfully treated for, the very same condition
a few years ago.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

TRIway to the Pain Cave with Troy Jacobson

My mom grew up in a little itty bitty part of Baltimore County called Sparks. There was one bank there, and her family's close friends, the Prices, owned a tiny 2 isle store, called Price's Store of course. Pretty much nothing happened in Sparks except for farming. That is until Troy Jacobson arrived. Troy Jacobson is probably most famous for his Spinervals DVD's and is Ironman accomplishments. Now, he's started his own Triathlon Camp. The New York Times wrote a great article on it this week.
Sounds like a pretty wicked vacation. Not only did reading this make me feel lazy for my beach plans this summer, but it also somehow inspired me. Check it out? Here are some of the best parts:

Not halfway through the bike portion of my first brick since 2005, the year
I (barely) completed my last triathlon, I couldn’t decide which would give out
first, my legs or my enthusiasm. I was wondering why I wanted to return to a
sport that is actually three sports and requires the sort of fanatical training
regimen that destroys schedules and frightens young offspring. Actually, I knew
why. The only way I can calm my mind is by exhausting my body. There’s nothing
quite like triathlon training to shorten the mental to-do list.


If triathlon camp is your idea of a vacation, there are plenty of tour guides. Here are three of the best.
TRIATHLON ACADEMY: Besides the Tucson camp, Troy Jacobson runs shorter Ironman-focused camps in Louisville, Ky., and Lake Placid, N.Y.; a beginner-friendly Tri 101 Workshop in Sparks, MD.; and clinics on swimming. The seven-day Tucson camp costs $1,095; the others start at $295.
LIFESPORT: The official coaches for the Ironman series. LifeSport holds three-day-long, race-specific camps in places like Kona, Hawaii, offering everything from hydration tricks to course secrets. On race weekend, its free clinics are great for last-minute tweaks. The camps start at $295.
MULTISPORTS: In addition to Ironman-centric camps, this company, co-founded by former Ironman champion Paula Newby-Fraser, offers custom weekend camps—from Idaho to Lake Placid to Hawaii—that include bike setup and videotaped swimming analysis. Ironman camps start at $795; custom ones start at $3,500. D.M.
Don’t cup your hands and glue your fingers together. Instead, relax your hands to create a half-inch space between each finger. “That way, your fingers are creating a web, and you’re pushing as much water as possible,” says Emily Mastin of the Triathlon Academy.
On an uphill climb, your quads are your main motor. Tap into their potential by keeping your heels pushed down and thinking about your pedal stoke as a triangle: the upper point is at 12 o’clock, and the two bottom points are at 5 and 8 o’clock. “Push through a 5, back to 8 then unweight the pedal to get back to 12.” Troy Jacobson explains. “Pulling up with your hamstrings—the 8-to-12 part—isn’t very efficient on a hill.”
Don’t land on you heel, which is the equivalent of putting on the brakes—you don’t get much momentum. Instead, try to land on a flat foot, then roll forward through your toes to maximize speed. “Pretend as if you’re running on eggshells,” Jacobson says.