Monday, June 20, 2016

Why Would You Wear a Camelback in a Race?

At the 20 mile mark of this weekend's local marathon

I don't get it. Why, with aid stations every two miles, would you wear a supplemental drinking device that adds weight?

I went to the local marathon Saturday. I really felt for the athletes.  Watching the start (at 67 degrees unfortunately) and people clad in any number of different attires.  Many had some form of long sleeve garment, even a sweatshirt or two, based on the weather prediction of 60 at the start and a high of 74.  "Good thing they're calling for 74 today 'cause it'll be 85 tomorrow."

Ah, but the weatherman was wrong, and tomorrow came a day early.  It heated up quickly such that the race course looked like one big Good Will shop, just spread out a bit.  There were hundreds, maybe thousands of discarded clothing items on the side of the road starting bout mile 3, and among them, many supplemental drinking systems.  I imagine the racer remembered where he/she left it and planned to return and get it after the event. 

But there's an unneeded step in an already very long day for many.  My point here is that although many racers were first timers, and correctly they did what worked for them in training, this was one of those instances when simply asking a veteran who'd run this type of event before what they recommended, and would have saved them this step.  A marathon is hard enough already.  Now sunburned, exhausted, and maybe even coming from the opposite side of town, these racers have to go back out and retrieve something valuable.

This brings me to the larger issue of homework.  Race homework.  So many events have huge expos these days that the newer to the sport can find someone, maybe even one of the sales people in the expo with years of running under his/her belt.  Preferably, lessons like this have been learned in that local 5k or sprint tri.  Go to any book store for reading advice.  Joe Friel's Training Bible series or his very popular Your First Triathlon can ready even the most recalcitrant of us.  In short, do your best to have race questions answered before you leave home on race day.

Monday, June 6, 2016

1 in 2 of You Will Crash Some Day; Over 40% Kona Racers Needed Med Attn/Surgery At Some Point in Their Career

George Patton and I share the same birthday.

 "A man must know his destiny. if he does not recognize it, then he is lost. By this I mean, once, twice, or at the very most, three times, fate will reach out and tap a man on the shoulder. If he has the imagination, he will turn around and fate will point out to him what fork in the road he should take.  If he has the guts, he will take it."   George Patton

 Maybe something to think about right before the gun in your next race.  Put it on a scrap of paper. Make it a quick read at the start line, then get out there and, like Patton, KICK BUTT!
Before summer open water training in a local lake, river or ocean, make sure you line up a swim buddy first.

Road Rash

"Ain't no doubt about it we were doubly blessed, 'cause we were barely 17 and barely dressed." Meat Loaf, Bat out of Hell

 Possibly without intending, Meat Loaf was describing the amount of protection one gets from cycling clothing when you hit the asphalt. Barely dressed. But, you look good doing it. Right?


This image was sent to me by a follower.  Glad it's not my elbow.  Bet you are too!  This is several days old, dry, quiet looking, but that hole on the right side could still be, as they say on TV, "A heap of trouble!"

This injury is the result of a bike crash on to asphalt and I'll bet it hurt.   This repair was not done at the local Urgent Care but the local hospital operating room.  If, for no other reason, than to get the debris vigorously washed out of the wound.  The potential for infection is significant.

Following your bike crash, you visit your friendly local emergency room where cultures are taken from the wound (put in a cotton tip, send it to the lab to see what unexpected bacteria can be found in what should be a sterile environment). Then you're introduced to the orthopedic surgeon on call, told that your next stop is the operating room...NO, you cannot go home to let the cat out or turn off the sprinkler because you're being prepped for immediate I&D, irrigation and debridement. You meet the holding area team, the anesthesiologist, the circulating nurse for the OR as she seats you in the center of the operating table, etc. You're surprised how cold the operating table is against your naked behind! Just the first of many unfamiliar sensations.

This is all a true story. This triathlete suffered a fairly involved injury, without broken bones, to her arm above the elbow and the above sequence occurred. This picture is her arm about a week out.  She's also under the care of an Infectious Disease specialist to help manage the antibiotics as appropriate to the organisms cultured at surgery. So what are the lessons that we take away from this? Well, it's hard for many of us to get through a full season without dumping our bikes at least once - or more.  I surveyed 1600 KONA ATHLETES in 2015 and one of the questions was "Have you had a bike crash serious enough to require medical attention?  Surgery?" Almost half of the men (48%) and nearly as many women (42%) said yes.  

If we're lucky it's just a skinned knee or lateral ankle that, with a minimum of local care, heals uneventfully assuming an intact immune system. What about that dog bite? Or that more significant skin embarrassment with depth and significant bleeding?

On the road, as soon as possible following your crash (or animal bite), I'd suggest beginning by lavage (thorough wash out) of the area as best you can with the contents of your water bottle(s). I know a number of athletes who drink very little from their water bottles, particularly in cooler weather, and carry them for just such an emergency. You're prepared for a flat, loose spoke, broken chain, etc., why not be prepared for this is their motto. While you probably wouldn't use water from the creek, tap water from the nearest source, gas station, etc. to irrigate out any debris while still fresh helps a great deal. If there's any doubt, seek medical care. If the wound is over a joint or sizable, if it's at all deep, if you see a tendon, bone or joint, these are all reasons to proceed to the local medical facility right away. The longer you wait, the more time any foreign matter has to set up shop. You can also update your tetanus at that time. In fact, I know one athlete who called his docs office within minutes of an unprovoked dog bite, was told to "come now", which he did...still on his bike of course, and had the wound cleaned, tetanus administered, etc., all done in about an hour allowing him to finish his ride. Can't leave that calendar space white, even for a trip to the doctor, now can we? (See "Once a Runner,"  John L. Parker, Jr.)

For home care of road rash, shower, and although it may not be pleasant, use of a mild soap and wash cloth to get all dirt and debris out of the skin or it will be a permanent tattoo.  Try to avoid any type of strong antiseptic as they frequently do more harm than good.  After you get the wound as dry as possible, apply a very light coating of antibiotic ointment and a sterile dry gauze type dressing.  If you use the non-stick type you will be rewarded for it later.  Keep the area clean and dry until it starts to show good signs of healing and change the dressing every couple of days.  If you have doubts anywhere in the process, get medical attention. Otherwise, happy riding.