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Race for Sanity

Super Über Motivated

I have a dear friend who is a marathon nut.  She’s completed more marathons than I can count… even with both of my shoes off! The interesting thing is that you’re not going to find her at the top of any race results and that’s why I want to blog about her today.  She’s one motivated age grouper.

Janice and I competed in the Chicago Triathlon in 2009

I first met Janice around 1998.  I was hitching a ride from Lincoln, NE to Roanoke VA for a professional meeting with my graduate adviser, the great Dale Van Vleck.   Janice was one of Dale’s new students at the time and was along for the ride.  Actually, I think I was the one along for the ride.  Back then, neither of us had any interest in running farther than someone would chase us.

Years later, I found out that Janice had entered a marathon as a joke or family dare.  Ever since, she’s been hitting every major marathon and half marathon that sounds even remotely interesting.  She posts all the gory details on Facebook.  I’ve watched her marathon times come down from over seven hours to just over five.   She’ll be breaking five hours soon, I’m sure.

There are two reasons I find her marathon habit so interesting:

  1. She does these events for her own pleasure and betterment.  This is something that TriRiot constantly talks about: the age groupers who push themselves for no other reason than for the experience.
  2. She will sacrifice a lot to participate in a marathon.

It’s this second point that I want to talk about here.  Janice has been out of work for a while.  She’s no slacker and doesn’t want a free ride from anyone.   She puts a lot of skill, emotion and sweat equity into her work,  so when she’s not working, she needs something to do.   Sitting around all day is not her thing.

Even out of work, Janice flies to various locations for a good race. People close to her have questioned her wisdom of spending money on races when she has little or no income.  If you ask her why she would do that, she’ll tell you that the races are for her mental health. Mental health?   That’s  a pretty expensive medicine for mental health.  Or is it?

I’m not going to do any math with numbers.  I guess that means I’m not going to do any math at all, but let’s break this down a bit.   Suppose you’re out of work and applying for jobs.  Most jobs within driving distance have turned you down because you are way over qualified.  Relocating is an option, but those job applications are either pending or have expired with no new openings.   After a while, this process begins to wear on your mental condition.   You question your own worth as an employee and as a person.  But the only thing that’s going to get you a good professional job is maintaining a good  mental condition.  Also, if most of your social relationships have been built around races, you are probably not very happy just sitting in your house applying for jobs.  If racing is what it takes to maintain sanity, then racing is what must be done.

I just pulled the following from my head (yes, it was my HEAD).  Sure, I’m biased, but you get the point.

Pros and Cons of Racing

Physical fitnessCosts money
Social networking
Other networking (employers race too, ya'know)
Seeing friends
Maintaining sanity



So, What’s My Point?

I’ve got two three points here:

  1. I want to use Janice as an example of how dedicated some people are to endurance sports.
  2. That dedication is more than just an obsession or crazy dream of winning the Olympics.  It’s a very real and important part of some peoples’ lives.  Basically, I’m justifying my obsession… I mean passion for triathlon. 🙂
  3. If you are looking to hire a quantitative geneticist ( and who isn’t these days?), let me know and I’ll pass on the message to Janice.



Janice and I worked together at the Red Angus Association of America
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Will Rogers Remembered

80 years ago today, Will Rogers died near Point Barrow Alaska.

Ask someone if they’ve ever heard of Will Rogers and they will probably fire off his most famous quote, “I never met a man I didn’t like.”  But I believe that there are very few people alive today who truly understand that what he did that was so important.

Will Rogers was a cowboy, a humorist, a political commentator, an entertainer, an unofficial diplomat, a syndicated newspaper columnist and the number one box office draw in the years before his death.  His skill with twirling a lariat opened the door to the world of entertainment.  One day during his act, his rope trick failed and he made some off hand comment.  The audience laughed at that comment, whatever it was, so he began talking in his act.  Before long, he was performing in the famous Zigfield Follies.   His fame escalated from there.

For me, one of the things that made Will Rogers such an important figure, was that he spoke to the common person.  I can still hear the recordings of FDR saying, “…the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”  And he said it in that lofty tone that orators of the day used.   Will never spoke in lofty tones.  He used common words and talked about things that mattered to most Americans.  During the great depression, he made several radio speeches that struck a chord with so many listeners.   And his humor was never mean spirited.

Here’s one of his more famous speeches:

How I met Will Rogers

Of course I never actually met Will Rogers, because he died 29 years before I was born.  I grew up in a town on the California coast called Pacific Palisades where Will had a small ranch and a home for when he was making movies in Hollywood.  That ranch became a state park and I remember going there many times as a child.  I was amazed by the movies of his rope tricks and I knew I had to grow up to be like him.

Through the years since, I have studied his life and his work.  I’ve read books and watched many of his movies.  I’ve collected pictures, and memorabilia.

We Lost A Lot

When we lost Will Rogers, we lost an icon.  We lost a little bit of hope during very turbulent and uncertain times.  We lost the one person who represented this country and its ideals better than anyone else.  As I read the writings of Will Rogers, it’s easy for me to understand why americans everywhere turned to his columns for a bit of humor during a depressing era.  When I watch his movies, I realize why he was the number one box office draw.  He showed americans and the world what it meant to be an american.  He not only lived the american dream, but he embodied it.  And he didn’t do it on the back of cheap labor like the great barons of the 19th century.    He was the cheap labor.  Even when he made so much money, he was never more than the cowboy he started out to be.   He didn’t have much of an education, but he was not uneducated.

Today, the 80th anniversary of his death, I will remember Will Rogers and everything he means to me.

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Medical Technology

The Miracle of Modern Medical Technology

 Who’s Your Doctor?

As an amateur endurance athlete, I get my share of injuries. But I rarely run to my doctor unless something has been bothering me for a long time: several months or more. After Ironman Augusta last year, I thought I broke something in my right foot. You should have seen me hobbling across the finish line. I was in bad shape. I didn’t run for almost 6 months after that. I don’t really have a point with that story, because what I really want to talk about is the importance of patient doctor relationships.

I did see my doctor about my foot. I’m one of the lucky ones. My GP is a great guy. He spends time talking to me when I visit him. He looks me in the eye and asks the hard questions. On the other hand, I’ve been to specialists who are very different.  I’ve had conversations with the backs of doctors’ heads.  They mumble questions at me while they type into their computers.  That’s just so annoying.  And I’ve heard from friends that that’s quite typical.

No Expensive Acronyms

I got lucky with my foot.  I saw a podiatrist who has great patient skills.  We didn’t waste time or money with X-rays, PET scans, MRI’s and other expensive acronyms.  We talked.  He examined and we both agreed on what to do.  Total cost: $25 copay and $5 worth of cushions for my shoes.  That was over a month ago and I have no complaints.  I’ve been running regularly since.   Of course, I could get a bit more fancy with a custom orthotic inserts for the shoes.  Maybe later.  By the way.  The podiatrists name is Edwin Martin.  That’s right: Doc Martin.  He’s in Wilmington, NC and if you need a podiatrist, look him up.

The Value of Listening

I’ve been reading more and more about how our medical system is so overpriced.  I’ve also been reading about how so few doctors actually know their patients.  And, how many patients actually get to see a doctor?  Most visits nowadays seem to be with PA’s or nurses.  I got scoped up the exit a few months ago (colonoscopy).  The place seemed like a factory with timetables, schedules and deadlines.  People were friendly, but I didn’t get the sense that anyone really cared about who I was.   Maybe I’m being insecure about this.  Maybe I just want to be loved and appreciated for who I am and not treated like a number.  Or maybe I just want to know who’s poking me in the a$$.  It’s all so cold (literally and figuratively) and systematic.  I guess that’s the way it has to be for some medical services.

On the other hand, Malcom Gladwell wrote about the incidences of malpractice law suits.  After looking at some data (I don’t remember how much or what quality) he concluded that patients were NOT likely to sue a doctor if the doctor had treated the patient with dignity and respect.  In other words, the patients who didn’t bring suit against their doctors felt like they had been heard.  It didn’t matter the severity of the problem that might have brought on the law suit.

Modern Medicine

If a medical practice has to be like an assembly line, so be it.  But a general practitioner should know his patients and they should know their doctor in return.  They don’t have to train and race together as I do with mine.  But they should have a relationship.  And the better the relationship, the healthier everyone will be.

Now, let’s hold hands and sing cumbya.  No not really.  But I do believe that a good balance of people skills with theory is much better than sending everyone off for more tests just because of law suit fears.

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No Excuses

I haven’t been putting out much lately… content, that is. 
I could blame my job for keeping me so busy, but I’m thankful just to have a job.
I could blame my family for pulling me in several directions at once, but without them life would be awful
I could blame my friends without whom I would be very lonely
I could blame our politicians, but… I can’t think of a good reason not to blame them.
So there you have it. I haven’t put out any content lately because of our politicians. 🙂

And why shouldn’t I blame them? They blame everyone else!

I really have no one to blame. I have to take responsibility here.  Which means that even though I love making videos and writing blog entries, I love my family and friends even more. 

Having done all that whining, I do want to say that another episode is in the works. 

Posted by LG on the run

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Socks or No Socks. Transition Tip #3

I’d Go Barefoot If I Could!

In a triathlon transition, the two slowest activities are pulling off the wetsuit and putting on socks.  I’ll talk about the wetsuit in a later blog post and video.   Actually, sleeping is a pretty big time killer too.  I know someone who dozed off in in an Ironman transition for about 45 minutes.

In this video, I only cover my rules for socks on the bike…I NEVER WEAR SOCKS on the bike.  You can imagine how much time I save by not messing with socks.

My list of sock rules for the run is a bit longer and I’ll have a Speed Tip video about that later.  But here’s my run sock rule list:

  1. Never wear socks for 10k and shorter runs.
  2. Carry socks on number belt for long course runs (13.1 mi.).  Start out barefoot and change into socks at a rest stop.  I do this because I’m going to stop anyway around mile 6 to stretch and refocus my mind.
  3. For ultra course runs (26.2mi.), just skip the socks and shoes altogether.  Just kidding.  I slap on a pair of socks in transition and carry a pair with me on the number belt.  I also have a pair of socks stashed away in my special needs bag at mile 13.1.  Dry socks feel so good on wet, tired, sore feet.

My feet are kind of tough, so this works for me.  It might not work so well for people with sensitive or blister prone feet.

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Sport Nutrition

I’m thinking about doing an episode on nutrition. Because I’m not an expert on nutrition (or anything else for that matter), I thought it might be fun to talk about what I do for energy, hydration and electrolytes.  Also, I want to find out what other athletes think.

Remember that song, Sugar Sugar, by the Archies?  Another idea i have is to make a video of triathletes sucking down gels and sports drinks and talking about their nutrition rituals.  And the music for the video would be Sugar Sugar.  That may be the only good use for that song. 🙂

Posted by LG on the run

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Up close and personal.


Small town America still exists!  There are still places where you can park on the curb in front of the place you’re going (FOR FREE).  That’s my red car. And I’m inside the Brown Dog working on the computer and drinking a cup of decaf.   This place is down to earth too.  Their small cup of coffee is called “small”  not “grande”  or “venti”

As I write this,I can see the set of Under The Dome.  That’s right. They film that here in Burgaw, NC.  Pretty cool, huh?

Posted by LG on the run

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On Being Sick

It sucks to be sick.

Not completely, but mostly.  Sure I get an excuse to have some rest, but the stuffiness and chest thing are no fun.

So there you have it.  My deep thoughts being sick… which I’m not anymore.

I’m trying to edit an interview with Sami Winter.  She’s the one I talked about in an earlier episode.  She qualified for the big World Championship race in Kona, HI.  I’ll be following her as she trains for this dream-come-true.

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Fun Stuff

It’s hard to stay serious for too long.

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Measuring Performance

I often wonder if my training is doing any good.  Let me rephrase that. I often wonder if my training is working. Is that clearer? 
I didn’t think so.

Of the many reasons I compete, one is to improve my performance.  Any rational person would assume that I could accomplish such a goal through rigorous training.

This brings up two questions:
1. How do I define performance?
2. How do I measure changes in performance?

The first question is easy to answer.  I’ll measure performance using race times.  The second question is not so easy to answer.  There are so many factors affecting performance that comparing one race time to another is like comparing apples to oranges. And whoever came up with that cliche of a simile should be shot. Apples can, in fact be compared to oranges. 
But you know what I mean and that’s the important thing.
I’m working on an episode that addresses this very problem.  It involves a little math and a little faith.  Some fairy dust couldn’t hurt either.  It won’t be out next week, but maybe the week after.

Posted by LG on the run

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