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Archive for November, 2007

The Great Indoors

Well, the snow flurries have started to fly and next weekend’s temperatures aren’t expected to climb out of the 20s, so that means it’s officially time to kick off the Becoming an Ironman indoor cycling season!

The Endurance House staff has procured the use of space in Greenway Station that we will be turning into our indoor cycling studio. We will have at least 5 scheduled team workouts per month at this facility. Generally, this will consist of 2 or 3 Saturday morning long rides (2-4 hours) and 3 weekday rides of 60-90 minutes. Endurance House will provide music and eventually videos (although potentially not until January). All you need to bring is your bicycle and trainer. To help mitigate the cost of renting this facility, the Team Captains also ask that each Team Member interested in taking advantage of this opportunity pay a monthly fee of $5. That’s just $1 per session!

Check the Team Events page and the Team Training Calendar for more information about specific training sessions during December.

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Team Events Reminders

Just a reminder that there will be three Team Events taking place between November 15-18. 

Tonight (November 15) at 6:00 pm at Endurance House, we will have our second clinic — this one will focus on the equipment used in training for and competing in long-course triathlons.  We’ll discuss some of the gear and gadgets that you might find useful both during training and on race day, as well as equipment that really isn’t necessary.  There will be plenty of time for questions regarding specific equipment, information on purchasing and pricing information, and guidance on when and where to buy particular items.

On Saturday (November 17) at 7:00 am, we have a 90-minute Team run on the trails in the Pheasant Branch Conservancy.  The Team will meet at Endurance House, where we’ll divide up into pace groups.  The forecast is for cold and wet conditions, so dress appropriately.

On Sunday (November 18) from 8:00 – 9:30 am at the Middleton High School pool, we have our first Team swim clinic, led by Coach Justin.  This will be a great chance to learn proper stroke technique and become more comfortable and efficient in the water.  Cost is $15 for Team Members – please drop off your payment at tonight’s Clinic at Endurance House, if you haven’t already done so.

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Congratulations to our very own Justin Pernitz, who finished the Nevada Silverman in 11:57! SilverMan is one of the few independent iron distance races out there, and is generally considered the toughest Ironman-length course in North America and one of the most difficult courses in the world – thanks in large part to a sadistic bike course that features 10,000 feet of climbing over the 112 miles. To put things in perspective, that’s almost exactly the same amount of climbing as the first 112 miles of the Horribly Hilly 200K route, which is generally considered the toughest 1-day cycling event in the Midwest.

So if Justin can break 12 hours at SilverMan, just think of what he’ll be able to do at Ironman Wisconsin next September! Hopefully he will post his race report shortly after he returns, at least if he still remembers any of it after spending the next few nights on the Vegas strip . . .

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Triumph and Tragedy

This past Saturday, just before the New York City Marathon, the U.S. Olympic Trials for the men’s marathon took place in Central Park. The race was widely hyped as one of the best American distance races in a generation, largely because the quality of American distance running – in terms of the number of world-class athletes who wear the stars and stripes – is probably as high as anytime during the last 30 years. That was evident by the fact that neither the defending Olympic silver medalist (Meb Keflezhigi) nor a former world record holder (Khalid Khannouchi) placed high enough to make the team.

The conditions (cold and windy) and the terrain (hilly) weren’t particularly conducive to a fast race, but the race was still the fastest-ever Olympic trials marathons and produced a signature race for one of the brightest new stars in the sport: 25-year-old Ryan Hall. It also produced a tragic death of one his peers: 28-year-old Ryan Shay, a former U.S. national champion in the marathon and half-marathon, collapsed and died on the course less than 30 minutes into the race. By all accounts, he was one of the most promising, well-liked, and universally-respected distance runners in the country. The cause of death is still being investigated, but reports have indicated that Shay had an enlarged heart, and that the condition may have contributed to his death.

In fact, many endurance athletes have enlarged hearts. The heart is a muscle, and like other muscles, it can grow larger as it becomes stronger through endurance training. Generally, that is not a medically-dangerous condition. However, Shay’s enlarged heart (which was diagnosed when he was 14 years old) was a congenital defect – its walls were abnormally thick for its size, forcing the heart to work harder to pump blood than an enlarged heart with proportionally-sized walls.

Is there anything positive we can take away from this tragedy? One small thing might be that it forces us to step back and appreciate just how lucky we are to be able to participate in this sport and all the health benefits – both mental and physical – that participation brings with it. But maybe the most important lesson is the understanding that none of us is immortal, and none of our lives will suddenly become meaningless if it turns out that a diagnosed medical condition should curtail our pursuit of Becoming an Ironman. No one can say right now whether Shay’s death was preventable, but it should serve as a reminder that no matter how healthy we feel, it’s never a bad time to get a thorough medical check-up just to make sure that our systems are working as well as we think they are.

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