Sunday, October 22, 2017

Sunrise and Sunset in Kona; Poor Race Day Decisions Can Haunt You For Decades

At 4:30 AM : no applause, accolades, crowds, or autograph seekers. Champions are forged by monastic solitude in the temple of discipline. E. Creagan, MD

Sunrise  as seen from the transition area, Kailua-Kona, HI during Ironman 2017

Last month, I wrote in a blog discussing the fact that it's very OK to walk when racing the run section of triathlon.  I even recalled a DNF I had at Boston a good number years ago, temp in the high 80's for this April event, when I went up there with two other friends from Florida, but I never really talked much about it with them.  Even though they were close friends, I never discussed how much like a dope I've felt for these many years.  We'd previously run Boston together in 1979.

I had no idea that one of the other "finishers" also had serious misgivings about that day, and felt that I was the one who'd made the right choice.  This is verbatim from this runner named Steve for whom I've had nothing but admiration for over 30 years.

Regarding your blog of Sept. 27......I was there that day in 2004, and I recall a very pleasant wait prior to the start (compared to our first one in 1979: cold and rainy, 42 degrees, black plastic bags from a friendly cleaner’s establishment) that subsequently degenerated into a hot and humid death march for most participants. Apparently, you’ve been self-flagellating all these years (ie. dip, stupid) over your decision to DNF. Interesting. It says here, you probably made the correct decision.......saving yourself from that may have protected you from extended medical and/or physical grief. I, it could be argued, may have made the incorrect decision. I slogged/limped along for six hours, thirty-four minutes (and change), and paid heavily for it:
    1) physically, for months and months after the event, and
    2) with a wife waiting at the finish, who
        a) was frantic with worry, until she
        b) became grateful with relief, when I finally appeared at the finish line, and then
        c) angrily berated me for my foolishness.
So all these years later we both carry with us, to some degree, the angst of making a decision and acting on it, over exactly the same happenstance. Interesting. Who’s to say who made the correct decision? 


So when racing, and you come up upon a situation for which you have no plan B, maybe the best solution is to pause for a minute, maybe walk for a few more minutes, and review what your ultimate goal is for that day.  If you just slow down, approach your event just a little differently, rather than being a DNF, or having a wife frantic with worry, by slowing down just a little you'll reach the goal you had when the sun came up that morning.

Sunset as seen from the transition area, Kailua-Kona, HI during Ironman 2017

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.  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: