Why train for a cause?

Team in Training Athlete Dr. Brett Kessler at the turnaround in Hawi

By Bill Plock

Dr. James DeGregori PhD
(Photo by Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado)

Those reasons often transition into causes and those causes are often taken on by a group of people working to help the same cause and obviously most of those causes involve medical conditions, awareness and advocacy.

Clearly many things motivate people to exercise, train and perhaps ultimately compete. We all know of someone inspired by unfortunate circumstances that might have impacted their life or of those they care about. The reasons are countless and often tear jerking and deeply personal.

This past week, 303radio sat down with Dr. James DeGregori PhD and Brett Kessler, DDS to talk about the community of like minded people they train with–Team and Training.

Team in Training is the largest charity endurance training program in the world. They have over 650,000 athletes that have raised over $1 billion to fight cancer, Leukemia and Lymphoma more specifically. Like many teams the connections and friends that are made ultimately make cause the greatest memories.

In this interview James and Brett talk about those connections, their own personal reasons and why’s, but more, they both know Leukemia and Lymphoma first hand as medical professionals that work directly with those effected and by doing research to help find a cure.

Not only will you learn how Team in Training helped them compete in century rides, marathons and even the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona, but you will learn a little about the disease from people on the front lines and extremely driven advocates that will likely offer you some inspiration into your own why.

303 Media Group Announces New Leadership Through Acquisition by 303 Endurance Network

Dana Willett handing the “keys to the kingdom” to 303 Endurance Network’s Bill Plock

New Leadership at 303 Media Group

April 18th, 2018
Colorado’s 303 media group continues to grow, as long time contributor and business development manager, Bill Plock, today took the leadership role of 303Cycling and 303Triathlon. Bill recently formed the 303 Endurance Network and will add in 303Cycling and 303Triathlon with a vision of expanding the 303 brand to help build and connect even larger endurance communities.

“Our mission has always been, and will always be, about enriching the lives of people who participate in endurance sports. For now, that focus will still be on cycling and multi-sport where there are so many opportunities to grow. I want to make a slight, but possibly very impactful change, and that is to focus on the lifestyle of those passions and also to always remember that the camaraderie and community we play and work in, is what really matters. Everyone is the news, and in Colorado, one of the key endurance markets nationally, our local news is national news,” says Bill Plock.

303Cycling was started in 2007 by Kris Thompson and David Kutcipal. In 2012 Dana Willett joined the leadership team, launching 303Triathlon and eventually taking over both sites as majority partner and Editor in Chief in 2014. Today the network sees over 300,000 annual visitors. Dana will continue in the role of associate editor and key advisor.

The majority of the existing 303 team will remain in place, with Jen Findley, Khem Suthiwan and Cheri Felix all contributing and helping bring the endurance community the best local news, event coverage, education and entertainment possible.

“We have some additional key staff members, ambassadors and partners lined up to help us expand our current offerings and grow our network, so stay tuned for those announcements soon,” says Bill. “I’m beyond excited, and I love Colorado and this lifestyle and I think there is so much opportunity to reach more people and give them a fun and informative experience every single day!”

For more information, please email Bill Plock (Bill@303Colorado.com), or visit the 303 web sites, 303cycling.com and 303Triathlon.com, and visit 303 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

303’s Bill Plock: his triathlon journey, and his lens for reporting on Kona IRONMAN World Championships

Kona was his excuse, now it’s part of is story telling passion

With my hand clasped around the door handle to the gym, I pulled it off and walked away. Inside the other players were warming up for tryouts for a high school basketball team that would eventually be nationally ranked. A team I would’ve made, not played much necessarily, but still it would’ve been a helluva journey. By our senior year, every player was offered some type of scholarship. Instead, I walked the opposite way down the long shiny tiled hall decorated with pictures of all the all-star athletes that had played sports at Wheat Ridge high school. I felt a bit defeated, maybe embarrassed and definitely unsure if I made the right decision. I kept convincing myself I would focus on soccer, a sport I loved too, but not as much as basketball. But at 5’10 I weighed the potential, maybe of playing in college, and chose “my sport.”  I never formally competed in basketball again. I was 16. I had given up my driveway dream of playing for a living, and living my dream – and I had barely learned to drive.

I followed logic, not my heart or my passion, and at some point I discovered this life-changing decision. To this day I believe I would’ve probably ended up at some small junior college trying to “make it” on the court. The butterfly effect of that decision is enormous. What major I chose, what woman I would marry, what child I would have, and on and on. And relative to you, the audience of 303triathlon, you probably would never be reading my thoughts as I travel to cover my third IRONMAN World Championships. The consequences of THAT decision also determined what friends I made, what jobs I chose, and ultimately what sport I would choose to try. It was friends who introduced me to triathlons, and ultimately one friend in particular (who is competing in Kona this year by the way), who in 2010 made me curious enough to try my first IRONMAN, and to understand its madness.

The “decision,” as I refer to my teenage forked path away from basketball, for a while weighed on me as a regret; but as experiences often transform into wisdom, I began to dissect “the decision.” I have concluded that the real regret was being afraid to try. I did make the sophomore team, so there was no reason to think I wouldn’t make the junior team. It wasn’t the failure of not making the team, but maybe it was the failure of not making my dream of the NBA. I probably knew that was almost impossible but was afraid to try. Wisdom also tells me I simply let myself down, and I defied my passion, and my heart. I think from that day forward any time I have ever made a decision that makes me feel like I did that day, it has not worked out for me. I have come to learn that feeling, and it is my compass and has been for over 35 years.

It was that moment in the school hallway, pondering my basketball future, that I have come to appreciate as a moment that has driven my overachieving nature. My never can’t-do attitude. My “chip on my shoulder,” so speak. As years passed and I continued to play hours and hours of pickup basketball and organized soccer until my early 40’s, I began to focus more on cycling as I liked the adventure of it and chance to challenge my strength in new ways. I was always a decent runner, and I learned to swim, and eventually I did my first triathlon in 2008 in Steamboat Springs—an Olympic distance race. In 2010 I did IRONMAN Arizona followed by Cozumel, Canada, Arizona and Boulder three times.

I wrestle with IRONMAN all the time, and that feeling of logic-versus-passion constantly eats at me. Of the seven IRONMANs I have finished, in five of them I had results that left me feeling like I had done well—at least in comparison to others. Two years ago I stepped onto the podium in 5th place in my age group, missing Kona by one spot. I almost made it to Kona as an athlete and I relished the thought of Kona in 2016, but that never happened. I have mixed feelings as to wanting to compete again to try and qualify. I raced an Olympic distance this year for fun, and as I get further from the fitness needed to be at the top in IRONMAN distance, it gets easier and easier to let go of the dream of Kona.

Bill Plock

If I’m really honest with myself, I suppose, I don’t dream of competing in Kona enough right now to endure the effort to get there. I’m fortunate to have the athletic ability to make a few mistakes and still do well with triathlon, but let’s face it, to qualify for Kona takes an almost perfect race and a perfect season of training to go with it. It is tough to qualify— we all know that. But the mental edge needed to push through the pressures of discipline and enduring the time and often the pain that goes with it, separates the contenders from the pretenders, as they say.

Honestly, I think Kona was an excuse more than a goal, at least at first. The journey of my why, my why for even signing up for IRONMAN Arizona in 2009 and ultimately pushing my limits to where I actually had a shot at Kona span a spectrum of motives and reasons.

It began as a curiosity wondering if indeed I could do what my friend had been doing to finish a full distance race.  Training then morphed into a lifestyle that allowed me use training as a partial excuse to hide from other life challenges. But, because I was showing promise, to myself I suppose, I let it rule my life. I think I over-hyped my need to train to avoid some responsibilities and obligations, and I often both ends of the candle. In the wake of my transition from wanna-be-triathlete to age group contender, my marriage blew up and my life took a different course. One of major discovery.  But, I gained perspective and a true appreciation of the sport and once I began to resolve some personal issues, I realized the constant of IRONMAN training, when properly balanced and executed, opened up other doors. I made many friends, and rather than dedicating my existence to “using triathlon” to run away, I embraced it. I reached a new plateau of speed and enjoyment. I loved it so much that I wanted to make my career line up with my passion for training and competition and help inspire others to reach for their dreams and potential.

I had my two best seasons in 2014 and 2015 and came to Kona with a semi-sweet attitude in 2015, feeling like I could so easily be competing and not taking pictures and writing stories. I wasn’t upset, just pulled emotionally in many directions. But I landed at home ready to tear up 2016 and come back to toe the start line. It wasn’t meant to be and my race in Boulder didn’t go as planned. But, I came back to Kona to be a journalist in 2016, and it was in that trip I came to grips to with my dream to race here.

While this race collects the best athletes in the world, it still is just a race. It still hurts; it’s still a lot to prepare for, it’s not cheap and I’m not convinced competing in it, for me anyways, is that much more exciting than celebrating it as a part of the triathlon community.  I love part of the fabric that matters, and my heart is in telling the stories and applying my “why” to the lens I report through.

My hand is firmly gripped on the camera and keyboard and I am opening the door to the gym of possibilities that is my life. I have conquered IRONMAN, I have proved to myself I can compete. Competing here doesn’t make me a better person or even a better athlete. Being here lets me share my wisdom with you. I get the race. I get what the athletes endure. Not racing here doesn’t take away from my ability to see beyond surface of this race.

Someday I may return to racing full distance IRONMANs but only if I want to qualify to be here. For me there is no other reason to try. But right now Kona calls my mind, my eye for photos, and my use of the English language. I’m cool with that. My dream is to be a story teller. That’s what my heart wants to do. Remember, I learned to listen to my heart when I was 16, I’m not gonna stop now.

I offer you this window into my perspective, my journey so that as you read my accounts of this race experience over the next few days you will know where I am coming from!

Tri Hearter: Science In Your Life?

By Bill Plock

Culturally, we seem to pick and choose what parts of science are okay in our lives and what parts aren’t. A botox shot here, an implant there, a laser beam on this and a tanning bed on that seems perfectly fine, but where the line of science in our athletic lives is drawn seems to vary greatly and comes with way more than 50 shades of grey. It’s downright blurry and seems to have as many opinions as those on how to tackle the upcoming Boulder Ironman.

As I sat with a perfectly legal IV delivering vitamins and electrolytes into my blood prior to a big training weekend, I felt like I was on the cutting edge of endurance sports and maybe even feeling a little too much like Lance and the boys back in the day—especially sitting in a van down by a river in a parking lot with more weeds than cars surrounded by a chain link fence keeping exactly what in or out remains a mystery to me. But there I was, wondering if Chris Farley was about to pop out and try to motivate me, or worse, some USADA enforcement agent might blast through the door and confiscate my USAT membership. But why? All I was doing was injecting an expensive trip to Whole Foods into my arm letting my body organically absorb critical nutrients so I can have a better training day. What’s wrong with that right? It simply felt a little weird.

But, I had a great training weekend. There isn’t any way to know for certain if the IV drip from Onus , a local Denver company who offers mobile concierge services, worked, but I must say I felt pretty darn good. Here’s the thing, I didn’t go faster or further I just felt better while doing it which I suppose means I could’ve gone faster or further, or maybe I just had a good day, it’s hard to know—and that’s the crux of the dilemma—did it work? I think it did.

I believe the extra B vitamins, magnesium and calcium in my blood simply kept me better hydrated and “the fuel” had been directly absorbed and readily available to supply my muscles. In other words, I sort of shortcut a natural process and bought some extra fuel. We talk about buying speed with helmets and wheels, what’s the difference?

I guess we as triathletes are supposed to grit it out and despite using pro level coaches and training devices there remains a stigma about using pro level medical technology, especially if it involves a needle and blood. Yet for years people will belly up to an IV drip in Vegas to shake off hangovers, such a funny world we live in.

Kristy Anderson of Onus understands the double standard perception and she is determined to change it by taking only the highest of roads in safely and conscientiously administering nutrients intravenously.

Kristy offered, Responses vary, but providing your body with boosted energy levels through B vitamins and preventing muscle fatigue are especially beneficial. Particularly at high altitude or in severe heat, you are just providing yourself with a good offense against the elements.

I feel the medical testing world is exploding on the age group triathlon scene. For years, VO2 max and Lactate threshold tests seemed to benchmark training plans but now we are seeing more and more tests that tell us about the fuel we have in our bodies and how we burn it and what fuel we need to add and of course ways to add it.

Colorado Multisport in Boulder is now offering a sweat composition test that will help athletes determine the exact amount of sodium and other electrolytes they need to replenish. Owner Michael Stone says, we are very excited to offer this simple test that can make such a huge impact. Training has always been about balancing art and science, this test just gives us more science.

 

Karen Weatherby

Here, Colorado Multisport’s Ryan Ignatz tests Boulder triathlon coach Karen Weatherby and outlines a hydration plan to make sure she replenishes adequate sodium in the right amount of liquids to keep her body in balance as much as possible. This test keeps athletes from guessing, as our sodium loss rates vary greatly from athlete to athlete.

Matt Smith of MuscleSound

Add to this, is Matt Smith who works for MuscleSound . MuscleSound utilizes ultra sound technology and scans your muscles to determine how much glycogen (fuel) resides ready to burn. This is a real time test and he recently came to my indoor cycling class at the Denver Athletic Club and measured my stores of energy before and after my class. It was fascinating to know how much I burned and even more interesting to note some slight imbalances of how much my right leg burned compared to my left. I would love to have this test on a training day and measure glycogen throughout a long day and see how certain foods and liquids effect my energy stores and burn rate. This test taken over a period of time in various training stages can provide the athlete or their nutritionist’s with information vital to helping create a more effective day to day nutrition plan.

So our quiver of tests, technology and coaching are overflowing with choices and determining what is most valuable and worth the expense can be overwhelming. But with each test we should be able to minimize variables and if nothing else build more and more confidence.

A friend of mine asked me “what do I think Ironman Boulder will teach me?” My first reaction was what won’t it teach me. We have every resource imaginable to help us learn, I say take advantage of everything.