2017 IRONMAN World Championships Kona – Bill Plock’s Tri Hearter Recap

BEN HOFFMAN

By Bill Plock

I’m struggling to know what to share with you. There is so much. So much. Joy. Triumph. Sadness. Perseverance. Grit. Guts. Tenacity. The list is super long!

The results of the Ironman World Championships are not measured by a clock, or a place on a podium or by a Garmin. They are measured by smiles, tears and hugs. By racing and watching this race, we make huge deposits in the experience bank of our souls that serve us later in life.

Colorado’s Vicki Derrick and Jamie Twedt

It’s hard to share an epic event like this without using a cliche. I need to remember that to “narrow your focus broadens your appeal” and as one of the eyes and ears of 303triathlon, my “job” is to share with you and try to find relativity in this ocean of stories. Imagine you are on the pier and 2,400 boats appear on the horizon intending to land. Each one from a different place, maybe a different continent, maybe even from a country you didn’t know existed. Each boat carries stories and dreams and some are captained alone but most come with a crew. But they all have one goal. To finish.

Being in Kona for race week is like being on a captive island of history and tradition drawing these boats in like a compass faces north. The triathlon world focuses here for the week. Even if the Ironman distance is not your race of choice, the challenge of the sport clearly radiates here. Experts and those in the industry greet all of these boats, and in our case meeting legends like Bob Babbitt and Mike Reilly to share the history and meaning of this race just make the landing that much richer.

D3 Multisport’s Simon Butterworth, on his way to winning his age group

I encourage you to listen to those interviews to gain a true perspective on what happens here and what HAS happened here. What I have learned, and continue to learn each time I am here, is that to know the history, and to respect the race is essential to understand its epic nature.

With the focus on Colorado and our saturation of this race with 54 athletes toeing the line we have a lot share—and a lot to be thankful for. It feels like family. With all those boats landing and people scurrying everywhere, to latch on to a familiar smile, to know just a few stories is like finding a life preserver in rough unknown waters.

303 Ambassador Todd Plymale-Mallory encourages Andy Potts

We at 303 see ourselves as a bridge to you. A place where you can see what happens when your friends and loved ones landed here with 2,346 other athletes. Yes some came here to win it all, and our local pro, Andy Potts, was the first American across the line. We in Colorado have a lot to be proud of.

The other 53 athletes persevered. We tried to share moments of each of their journeys and for any we may have missed, it wasn’t for lack of trying. And you made Colorado proud and it was such an honor to share your journey with our readers and subscribers a few thousand miles away. Even with technology of instant connectivity, it’s the intangible flow of like-minded energy and a love of this sport and a love of every journey we encountered, that hopefully rushed at the speed of light into your hearts. We hope you felt what we did, and sharing that and feeling such a wonderful community in Colorado at the “Super Bowl” of triathlon is what makes being at this race epic.

Be proud 303 Nation. We have the most amazing triathlon community in the world.

Study: Heart attacks killing triathletes during race

From 9News

New study from the Annals of Internal Medicine shows hearts attacks are killing triathletes during the race.

Author: Erica Tinsley
Published: 09/21/17

A new study is highlighting the dangers of competing in triathlons.

The Annals of Internal Medicine study shows 135 people have died from sudden heart attacks during triathlons in U.S. from 1985 to 2016.

Researchers say 67 percent of the deaths happened during the swim, which is the first part of triathlons.
85 percent of the deaths were men.

We spoke with emergency room doctor, Comilla Sasson and the President and coach of the Rocky Mountain Triathlon Club, Charles Perez.

Both say simply not warming up properly is putting extra strain on competitors hearts.
“It’s very easy to get anaerobic without even having done any kind of warm up and that’s going to be a big issue right there because your heart starts racing,” said Perez.

Dr. Sasson added, “When you’re in the aerobic zone your heart is the most efficient that it will be. You’re pumping blood just to make sure you’re getting enough blood to your muscles and vital organs. When you go into that anaerobic threshold, your heart is on overdrive, right, you’re trying to get blood the most vital organs at that point so you’re just kind of hitting the ground running really, really hard and if you don’t do a proper warm up that really puts a huge strain on that heart.”

Read the full story

Women’s Wednesday: The Aquatic Wisdom of Sarah Thomas

By Lisa Ingarfield

Photo by Ken Classen

Sarah Thomas was born to swim. She picked up the sport at age seven and has been swimming pretty much ever since. This past July, she broke her own world record, swimming 104 miles in Lake Champlain, from Rouses Point, New York, to Vermont and back again. Her solo swim was unassisted, non-wetsuit, and current neutral. The water was also full of lampreys. I wasn’t sure what a lamprey was, so I looked them up. Yeah, they are the stuff of nightmares. I recently wrote about my fears of swimming in open water without a wetsuit because of the perils of lake or ocean creatures; Sarah clearly does not have those same concerns.

As I was swimming laps this morning, I was mentally tracking how long I would have to be in the pool to cover 104 miles. The answer? A really long time. It took Sarah 67 hours, 16 minutes, and 12 seconds. Five hours faster than she expected. Three nights, two sunrises. Not only was this a phenomenal physical feat, it was also a mental one. While Sarah has a crew on her long, nay, mammoth swim challenges, she is swimming alone. The mental resilience needed to conquer the mind games that occur is mighty.

Photo by Ken Classen

Her epic 104 mile swim sits on the shoulders of the many other awe-inspiring open water marathon swim challenges she has completed over her thirty-five years. After her first marathon open water swim in Horsetooth Reservoir (a 10K), her swimming world expanded. She met some Catalina Channel swimmers and decided she would give that race a try in 2010. Catalina is an island off the coast of Los Angeles and the channel from the island to the mainland is about 21 miles. Although she finished the swim, she reflected on what a tough experience it was for her. The swim began around midnight, and she hadn’t done a good job of prepping, and then executing, her nutrition plan leading to her ‘crashing’ in the last four hours. There was a significant cross wind and she just couldn’t find her rhythm. Sarah finished the race in just over nine hours, which is still a pretty fast pace. She described to me the aftermath with a chuckle. It included an inability to lift her arms over her head for a week, a swollen tongue from all the salt water, and chafing in places she didn’t even know you could chafe. And so she decreed: “This is it, I’m done.” Famous last words.

Photo by Ken Classen

For any non-endurance athletes reading this, what usually happens is we routinely declare that we are one and done on these mammoth athletic exploits. And then the amnesia sets in. Sometimes it takes a few days, or perhaps a couple of weeks. But before long, the narrative changes and the race that was so horrific morphs into something not so bad. This softening of our feelings towards an endurance event inevitably leads us to sign up for another one. And that is what Sarah did. She signed up to swim across the English Channel.

In preparation for her English Channel swim, Sarah completed a 28.5 mile swim around Manhattan Island (2nd woman/5th overall) and the Tampa Bay Marathon swim (she won this race, although swimmers were pulled early because of a storm). Then, on a clear, sunny day in 2012, Sarah swam from England to France in just over 11 hours. “I swam with joy the entire way,” she said. When she got to the shore in France, the clientele from a local restaurant had come to the beach to cheer her on. The restaurateur handed her a glass of champagne as she walked from the water. It was a “magical moment” she reminisces. On finishing the English Channel swim, Sarah was now a proud member of the Triple Crown club — swimmers who’ve successfully completed the English Channel, Catalina Channel, and Manhattan Island swims.

Photo by Ken Classen

Sarah’s other open water accomplishments include swimming the length of Loch Ness in Scotland (no monster sightings, I am afraid), an out and back across Lake Tahoe (she was the first swimmer and woman to do this) and swimming across Lake Memphremagog in Newport, VT. Originally, this was a 25 mile race but the race director called her to see if she wanted to do 50 miles–an out and back. “I’m never one to back down from a challenge” she declared confidently. This was her first 50 mile swim, and a tough one mentally: “I had to really dig deep.” And, her resilience paid off; she was the first ever swimmer to complete the 50 mile swim. Sarah has accrued an impressive litany of firsts. And her next challenge, because yes, you can top a 104 mile world record breaking swim, could be another. In September 2019, she will attempt to swim the English Channel crossing four times—England-France-England-France-England. Swimmers have tried, but no one yet has been triumphant.

Photo by Ken Classen

Sarah Thomas is a formidable force in open water marathon swimming and one of the top competitors in the country from right here in land-locked Colorado. One of the insights she shared, and one that has stuck with me since we met, is that in every race, experience, or adventure, there is always something to learn. So often we close our minds, and doom ourselves to repeat the same missteps over and over. We have to allow for those moments to teach us. Humility is how we become better at what we do.

If you’d like to learn more, you can follow Sarah’s swimming adventures and progress on her official Facebook page.

Friday Fun: The Ten Different Types of Open Water Swimmers

By Patricia Dixon

The Ten Different Types of Open Water Swimmers

1. Flamingos – The athletes just trying to get ready for their swim, whether wearing a wetsuit or not, they are the ones you see standing out in the water, hands clasped in front of them, bending over while having one leg lifted and standing on the other

2. Turtles – Those of us who do not have a mission, we have one speed – slow and steady. Our only mission is to swim as far as we can within the allotted time.

3. Seal pups – Beginner Open Water swimmers, they like to hang out near the shore line, go back and forth up and down the shoreline. You will also see the seal pups get out of the water a lot and jump on shore and then jump back in.

4. Jelly Fish – These types of swimmers will swim to the buoys and then float around them, sometimes just hang out by them for long period of time until you go to swim past the buoy and they jump out right at you. Like trying to sting you, then they will continue on to the next buoy.

5. The Seals – these types of swimmers are normally wearing a wetsuit, they may or may not see you, but they will swim right up on top of you as if you were a rock or iceberg.

6. The Sharks – Yep, they are out there. They are aggressive swimmers, they don’t care who is out there, if you are in their way, they will ram right into you.

7. Otters – This group of swimmers, they are cute to watch, they love to just have fun, they hang out with their friends, and they are very supportive of each other and will wait for each other to hit their meeting spot. They will laugh and giggle together and enjoy the morning swim.

8. Minnows – Otherwise known as the toe ticklers. These swimmers will swim up to you, and then tickle your toes non-stop until you move out of their path.

9. School of Fish – These swimmers will swim in a group, much like a school of fish. The one problem with this group, they all rely on the front swimmer to lead them, so if the front swimmer takes a wrong turn, they all follow.

10. Dolphin (Want to be) – Yep, I said want to be… These groups of swimmers are built of amazing athletes (Pros and Elites.) They are fast and they are strong. Watching them swim is just amazing; it’s like watching a pod of Dolphins. The one thing they are missing that Dolphins do well is being agile. The group of swimmers does not know how to change directions quickly to miss obstacles in their path, but instead, they just freight train whoever/whatever is in their path. You really don’t know what hit you until the Pod has completely swam over you and you are able to catch your breath and get your vision back.

Alison Freeman: What Do Body Glide and Anti-Fog Gel Have in Common?

By Alison Freeman

BODY GLIDE: “The original anti chafing, anti blister balm.”

A few weeks ago I was heading out for an 8-mile run, so I threw on my jog bra that provides a consistent chafe and a running skort that had recently yielded some inner thigh rub. Sound like a totally illogical clothing choice? Normally, I’d say yes – except that I had recently received some new Body Glide. So I threw that on, crossed my fingers, pondered what I was willing to risk to effectively test a product, and laced up.

Thankfully, my run went well! Of course, the ultimate test occurs when you hop in the shower afterwards, and I was rewarded with no surprise stinging anywhere. Yay! I did notice a small zone of slight redness in the normal jog bra chafe region, but far less than the defined strip of raw skin that I usually experience. And the glide worked so well on my inner thighs that they were even a little slick post-shower.

Beyond that, I really like the fact that the product is packaged and applied similar to deodorant. Having mostly used gel-like anti-chafe products previously, I found that I prefer the less-mess solution of the balm. I don’t have to worry about wiping off excess gel from my fingers after application, and my skin feels less greasy – and therefore less likely to make my clothing look greasy.

And for all you chicas out there, they do offer a pink version of the product. Yes, it is more expensive (don’t get me started) but is formulated to be more moisturizing than the blue version. Based on some use a while back, I do believe it worked a little better on the jog bra chafe region, so I think there’s a good reason to go pink in this instance.

Body Glide is available direct from www.bodyglide.com – free shipping! – and can also be found at most local triathlon and running shops as well as sporting goods stores such as Dick’s and Big 5. Save yourself some pain and pick up some product before your next long run or ride (they actually have a cycle-specific product on their website!).

SVEN CAN SEE ANTI-FOG SPRAY GEL: “Spray, Wipe n’ Go!”

If you thought going for an 8-mile run in chafe-prone clothing was risky, you’re going to love to hear about how I tested the anti-fog spray. I did truly mean to test it at the pool, because it’s less risky and also because my goggles fog like crazy. But – possibly because I’m always running late to master’s swim – I forgot to either bring or use the darn spray Every. Single. Time.

So, that’s how I happened to test the anti-fog spray at Boulder 70.3 because, you know: Nothing New on Race Day. Somehow Nothing New was superseded by My Goggles Fog Like Crazy as well as by I Have a Looming Article Deadline. Thankfully I remember to bring the spray, and the wipe, and the instructions race morning (instructions because apparently the tagline isn’t instruction enough?). So I sprayed down the goggles after I put on my wetsuit, wondering a little bit about why the goggles looked streaky and whether the stuff was going to get in my eye and cause some issues, and then never thought about it again.

Never thinking about the product again is, in fact, a ringing endorsement. Here’s why: had the goggles fogged up, I would clearly have thought about the spray in a WTF kind of way. Had the spray caused eye irritation, there would have been a lot more F’s than WT’s. Never thinking about the product means it worked perfectly. Woohoo! Now I just have to remember to bring it to the pool.

Sven Can See Anti-Fog Spray is available direct from www.svencansee.com – free shipping! – as well as from Amazon. You will never have to spit in your goggles again!

Life beyond the wetsuit

By Lisa Ingarfield

I am one of those open water swimmers who clings to her wetsuit like a safety vest. The very first wetsuit I owned was purchased with zero research or understanding. I think it created more drag than it did anything else. The next two, I spent a little more time thinking about, but my fourth wetsuit has been a gem. I can breathe, it doesn’t chafe, and I don’t feel like my arm movements are constricted. A few seasons ago, I left my wetsuit hanging on the bathroom door and headed out to Boulder for a race. I only realized my error as I started to unpack in transition. After a minor panic, and several calls home to wake up my partner, he graciously agreed to drive it to me from Denver so I could compete comfortably in my first race of that season without worry of drowning. Rationally, I am fairly sure I would not have drowned without the wetsuit but in the moment, swimming “naked” was too much change and I wasn’t ready for it in early June. I now double, triple check that I have my wetsuit before every race.

The thing is, I rely on my wetsuit because I have never had to swim without it. All the open water swimming I have done has either given me the choice to wear the suit, or has been a wetsuit legal race. Wearing a wetsuit is a standard thing in most triathlons, it has therefore, always been a part of my routine. Until that is, this year. Early in 2017, I decided to accept my spot in the USAT Nationals and head to Omaha in mid-August to race with the best. At the time of registration, I didn’t give the midwest summer heat a second thought. I was just excited for the opportunity. As the race approached and the temperatures rose, the reality that the swim was unlikely to be wetsuit legal dawned on me. In mid-July, the water temperature in Carter Lake was 86F. It dropped to 78.6F a few days before the race and then jumped back up to over 80F on race day. Under USAT rules, no wetsuits are allowed for any athlete when water temperatures are over 78.1F.

Cue hyperventilation…To say I had immense trepidation at this prospect is an understatement. Several weeks out, when it seemed likely it would be a non-wetsuit swim, it was clear I needed to get in a lake and swim without my best and buoyant pal. And I needed to do it more than once. Here’s the thing–my need for the wetsuit is entirely mental. I know how to swim and I am not a horrible swimmer. I swim in the pool all the time without a wetsuit. While the wetsuit itself does give you buoyancy, it doesn’t create walls to hold on to and it won’t necessarily save you from drowning (a common fear among triathletes). The human body is already naturally buoyant so we can float on our backs for a breather fairly easily without the added layer of neoprene. In the summer months, the warmth gained from the wetsuit is also unnecessary especially when the water temperatures are in the 70s and 80s. So what is it that makes open water swimming so terrifying without one? Speaking for myself, I don’t have a good answer. I am just fearful and I can’t fully explain why.

The first time I ventured out sans wetsuit, I did so after a wetsuit swim. I had warmed up and the water no longer felt chilly. I swam a measly 200 yards because I felt completely naked and unprotected. I got out promising that on my next attempt, I would swim for longer. I understand myself well enough to know I had to conquer a mile before the race to feel confident. Next time, I did swim for longer. In fact, I swam 800 yards and then on my third try, I made it to the mile. On my 800, as I ventured further and further away from the shore, all those irrational thoughts about lake monsters (Colorado’s version of the Loch Ness monster perhaps?) came flooding into my head. I kept telling myself those same “threats” exist regardless of my wetsuit wearing status and that I swim without a wetsuit all the time. Ultimately, wetsuit or no wetsuit, if something grabs us from the deep dark beyond, we are likely going down. I am not sure that the wetsuit provides us with any additional defense against the creatures that occupy our imaginations.

Race day in Omaha came around quickly and it was, as predicted, a non-wetsuit swim. Each age group got a chance to warm up for a few minutes before the swim, and then dropped down into the water to hang onto the jetty for several minutes. As I bobbed there with 115 of my triathlete peers, that same mantra rattled in my head: I know how to swim and swim without a wetsuit all the time. Prior to every starting horn, race officials played this loud, and I would argue fairly ominous, reverberating bass drum sound. Duh-duhmmm, duh-duhmmm, duh-duhmmm….It certainly added to the drama and mounting tension of the impending swim for a lot of athletes around me. No turning back now. There I was, bobbing and waiting. My safety vest was in the hotel; my old friend and constant swim companion abandoned. Three, two, one….

I am sure you can guess how this story ends. Swimming without a wetsuit turned out to be no big deal. Lisa-1; Imaginary Water Threats-0. Other than the lack of buoyancy forcing me to think more precisely about form and drag from my sinking legs, it didn’t feel a whole lot different. I didn’t get bumped around any more than usual, nor did I feel unsafe surrounded by all the other swimmers. I still got left in the dust by all the speedsters and I still took in a good amount of lake water. But most importantly (clearly), I didn’t get attacked or chewed on by some ugly lake monster. Pretty much a regular open water swim race for me.

Now, will I make a habit of swimming without a wetsuit in open water as the season draws to a close? I don’t know. I am tempted to try because I actually think it could make a better swimmer given I really have to think about form. But my safety vest, still hanging in my bathroom, might really want to get back out there for another round or two – is it really fair to deprive it of that chance?


Lisa Ingarfield, PhD is a runner, triathlete, USAT and RRCA certified coach. She owns Tri to Defi Coaching and Consulting and provides one on one coaching for runners and triathletes and organizational communication consulting for businesses. She is a freelance writer specializing in issues affecting women in sport and in life.

Woman from Conifer breaks her own record by completing 104-mile, nonstop swim

Screenshot of video shot by Scott Olson

From 9News

KUSA – She did it.

In 67 hours and 16 minutes, Sarah Thomas, from Conifer, finished a 104-mile swim and broke her own record.

Thomas slowly hobbled out of Lake Champlain, which is between New York and Vermont, around 1:30 a.m. local time, and 3:30 a.m. in Denver – about five hours ahead of schedule.

She promptly sat down for the first time since Monday, when she began her nonstop swim.

“That’s a really long way to swim,” Thomas says in a video, posted by her family, adding that all she needed after getting out of the water was to “not move for a minute.”

Thomas says the last three hours of the swim were hardest, as she went through weeds and see grass in dark, shallow water.

Read the full story

Aquaman Series

Swim Beach at Cherry Creek State Park, Aurora

 

Denver’s favorite Summer Series is ready to roll for 2017! The AQUAMAN Open Water Swim and Aquathlon Series is the perfect opportunity for swimmers and triathletes of all ages and abilities to practice their open water swimming in a fun, competitive environment and at distances not previously offered at other venues. It’s also the perfect opportunity for triathletes to practice their open water pacing and swimming in a mass start format with the bonus of an added 5K run. After each race you’ll have a chance to relax, kick back with friends, and enjoy the post race food and drinks.

The race package allows you to show up for any date you like until all races in your package have been used.Your race numbers will always be waiting for you at the pre-registered check-in. It is the most affordable and flexible way to race!

There are seven events every week. Four swim only events half mile, mile, mile and a half and two mile, There are two swim/run events half mile swim and 5K, one mile swim and 5K, and there is also a stand alone 5K run. The races are sent off in waves the first wave at 6:30 has the 2 mile swimmers and the one mile swim 5K runners, the second wave is the half mile swim and 5 K and the final wave has all the swim only races that is also when the 5K run will begin.

Event details and registration here

 

Tuesdays June 20- August 1, excluding July 4

August 8, rain date

Aquaman Series

Swim Beach at Cherry Creek State Park, Aurora

 

Denver’s favorite Summer Series is ready to roll for 2017! The AQUAMAN Open Water Swim and Aquathlon Series is the perfect opportunity for swimmers and triathletes of all ages and abilities to practice their open water swimming in a fun, competitive environment and at distances not previously offered at other venues. It’s also the perfect opportunity for triathletes to practice their open water pacing and swimming in a mass start format with the bonus of an added 5K run. After each race you’ll have a chance to relax, kick back with friends, and enjoy the post race food and drinks.

The race package allows you to show up for any date you like until all races in your package have been used.Your race numbers will always be waiting for you at the pre-registered check-in. It is the most affordable and flexible way to race!

There are seven events every week. Four swim only events half mile, mile, mile and a half and two mile, There are two swim/run events half mile swim and 5K, one mile swim and 5K, and there is also a stand alone 5K run. The races are sent off in waves the first wave at 6:30 has the 2 mile swimmers and the one mile swim 5K runners, the second wave is the half mile swim and 5 K and the final wave has all the swim only races that is also when the 5K run will begin.

Event details and registration here

 

Tuesdays June 20- August 1, excluding July 4

August 8, rain date