Saturday, March 28, 2009

15 in 1 Million

If I tri'd right now, I suspect I'd be one of these 15:

Study: Triathlons can pose deadly heart risks

By Marilynn Marchione, AP Medical Writer | March 28, 2009

ORLANDO, Fla. --Warning to weekend warriors: Swim-bike-run triathlons pose at least twice the risk of sudden death as marathons do, the first study of these competitions has found.

The risk is mostly from heart problems during the swimming part. And while that risk is low -- about 15 out of a million participants -- it's not inconsequential, the study's author says.

Triathlons are soaring in popularity, especially as charity fundraisers. They are drawing many people who are not used to such demanding exercise. Each year, about 1,000 of these events are held and several hundred thousand Americans try one.

"It's something someone just signs up to do," often without a medical checkup to rule out heart problems, said Dr. Kevin Harris, a cardiologist at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital. "They might prepare for a triathlon by swimming laps in their pool. That's a lot different than swimming in a lake or a river."

He led the study and presented results Saturday at an American College of Cardiology conference in Florida. The Minneapolis institute's foundation sponsored the work and tracks athlete-related sudden deaths in a national registry.

Marathon-related deaths made headlines in November 2007 when 28-year-old Ryan Shay died while competing in New York in the men's marathon Olympic trials. Statistics show that for every million participants in these 26.2-mile running races, there will be four to eight deaths.

The rate for triathletes is far higher -- 15 out of a million, the new study shows. Almost all occurred during the swim portion, usually the first event.

"Anyone that jumps into freezing cold water knows the stress on the heart," said Dr. Lori Mosca, preventive cardiology chief at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and an American Heart Association spokeswoman. She had no role in the study but has competed in more than 100 triathlons, including the granddaddy -- Hawaii's Ironman competition.

Cold water constricts blood vessels, making the heart work harder and aggravating any pre-existing problems. It also can trigger an irregular heartbeat. On top of this temperature shock is the stress of competition.

"It's quite frightening -- there are hundreds of people thrashing around. You have to keep going or you're going to drown," Mosca said.

Swimmers can't easily signal for help or slow down to rest during swimming as they can in the biking or running parts of a triathlon, said Harris, who also has competed in these events. Rescuers may have trouble spotting someone in danger in a crowd of competitors in the lakes, rivers and oceans where these events typically are held, he added.

For the study, researchers used records on 922,810 triathletes competing in 2,846 USA Triathlon-sanctioned events between January 2006 and September 2008.

Of the 14 deaths identified, 13 occurred during swimming; the other was a bike crash. Autopsies on six of the victims showed that four had underlying heart problems. Two others had normal-looking hearts, but they may have suffered a fatal heart rhythm problem, Harris said.

A search of the Minneapolis registry and the Internet found four other triathlon-related deaths from 2006 through 2008 beyond those that occurred in the officially sanctioned events.

"While not a large risk, this is not an inconsequential number," Harris said.

Fundraising triathlons have enticed many runners to try to expand into areas like swimming, which they may not have learned to do very efficiently, to benefit particular charities, Mosca said.

"They're really recruiting people to do these events," she said. "It can be a recipe for disaster."

Doctors offer these tips to anyone considering a triathlon:

--Get a checkup to make sure you don't have hidden heart problems.

--Train adequately long before the event, including open-water swims -- not just in pools.

--Acclimate yourself to the water temperature shortly before a race, and wear a wetsuit if it's too cold.

--Make sure the race has medical staff and defibrillators on site.


On the Net:

Heart meeting:

American Heart Association:


Monday, March 23, 2009

Clanking Along

It was a pretty rough week -- ran five miles a week ago on Monday, then slacked off all week. Felt MS-y as hell all week, with sore muscles, dizziness, spasms, exhaustion, the whole deal. Primary doc is sending me to a neurologist for more workups.

At least the eye doctor didn't turn up anything.

But I digress. A bit of a busy week on the home front, harvesting chickens. We only had one Headless Flopper out of a couple dozen. The kids were appropriately horrified by the whole process.

Got out and ran a 5-K tonight. Felt a bit like the Tin Man, rumbling and clanking along Raponda Lake Road. It's a bit cold, wind chill dropping down to zero tonight. It'll be spring here one of these days.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Running Fool

I'm getting there. Slowly, but getting there. A dozen miles here, a dozen there ... and pretty soon, you're at 30-40 per week. It's slow, and it's frustrating, but I feel a bit better every time I run (although after a four-mile run early this morning, I'm pretty wasted. Still getting a bit of energy back, and a ton of of work done at the day job).

And here's my personal moment of Zen. It's epic viewing, if you haven't seen it:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sue Me, I'm Sad

Stuck in Town Meeting for most of the day. Sigh. Trying to get some work done. So far, it's two big and good votes (keep a penny tax for economic development in the Valley, much needed, and throw some money to the non-profit day care center by the library, also much needed).

Lot to do today. Lisa is basically half-handed after the second hand surgery, so I'm running amok. Lots of day job things to do, animals to feed, fires to keep going, meetings to endure, miles to run.

On a sad note: If you've ever driven across Texas for hours and hours and hours, you listened to Paul Harvey. And while you might not have agreed with everything he said, the man had a voice. Calming, even while you disagreed violently with him -- something you can't really can't say about most other talkers. Here's the top half of the NYTimes obituary:

Paul Harvey, who captivated millions of American listeners for nearly six decades with his homespun radio news reports and conservative commentaries, delivered nationally on weekdays in a stentorian staccato, died on Saturday at the Mayo Clinic Hospital near his winter home in Phoenix. He was 90.

Mr. Harvey, who lived in the Chicago suburb of River Forest, died with his family at his side, Louis Adams, an ABC Radio Networks spokesman, told The Associated Press. No cause was given.

Mr. Harvey, who joined ABC in 1951, was forced to suspend his broadcasts for several months in 2001 by a virus that weakened a vocal cord, but he returned to his Chicago studio and remained on the air until recently.

In his heyday, which lasted from the 1950s through the 1990s, Mr. Harvey’s twice-daily soapbox-on-the-air was one of the most popular programs on radio. Audiences of as many as 22 million people tuned in on 1,300 stations to a voice that had been an American institution for as long as most of them could remember.

Like Walter Winchell and Gabriel Heatter before him, he personalized the radio news with his right-wing opinions, but laced them with his own trademarks: a hypnotic timbre, extended pauses for effect, heart-warming tales of average Americans and folksy observations that evoked the heartland, family values and the old-fashioned plain talk one heard around the dinner table on Sunday.

“Hello, Americans,” he barked. “This is Paul Harvey! Stand byyy for Newwws!”

He railed against welfare cheats and defended the death penalty. He worried about the national debt, big government, bureaucrats who lacked common sense, permissive parents, leftist radicals and America succumbing to moral decay. He championed rugged individualism, love of God and country, and the fundamental decency of ordinary people.

“You can almost hear the amber waves of grain,” the comedian Danny Thomas told him.

Mr. Harvey was unapologetic. “I have never pretended to objectivity,” he once said. “I have a strong point of view, and I share it with my listeners. I have no illusions about changing the world, but to the extent that I can I’d like to shelter your and my little corner of it.”

He loved human-interest stories, and the one-liners he tacked on to them. “Nudists in Lakeland, Florida, are upset that outsiders are sneaking a peek through a hole in their fence,” he intoned. “The police promise to look into it.”

Or: “A man called the I.R.S. and asked if birth control pills could be deducted. The I.R.S. worker, not missing a beat, came back and said, ‘Only if they don’t work.’ ”

Or: “White House occupants come and go. They are just like diapers. They should be changed often, and for the same reasons.”

In a format virtually unchanged over the years, his style was stop-and-go, with superb pacing and silences that rivaled Jack Benny’s. He spoke directly to the listener, with punchy sentences, occasional exclamations of “Good heavens!” or “Oh, my goodness!” and pauses that squeezed out the last drop of suspense: the radio broadcaster’s equivalent of the raised eyebrow or the knowing grin.

He was a wordsmith, too, banging scripts out on a typewriter, and rightly or wrongly was credited with inventing the terms “Reaganomics,” “skyjackers,” and “guesstimate.” Listeners came to expect stock cues: “Stay tuned for the rest of the story,” and “May I have your undivided attention for just a moment.”

Monday, March 2, 2009

More Snow. And Ice.

Took Lisa down to the hospital for her second hand surgery today. Enjoyed my first ice-slip of the entire year -- right down on the elbow. Ouch. Hurt like hell. 

Thinking today is maybe not such a good running day, after all.

Here's my fun thought du jour, courtesy of Ben Sargent:

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Skating Rink

Went for another 5-K tonight. I'm dragging in the mornings, so it seems to make sense. At least, it usually makes sense, but not so much tonight. It warmed up something wild today, temperature in the low 50s, then started raining late afternoon. It had cooled off quite a bit by 8p when I dropped 10 dozen eggs off at the market and started out running on Raponda Road. This limited my choices; I could run on an icy road, I could run in snowdrifts, or I could run in ankle-deep, muddy water.

The good news is, I only fell down once.

Based on tonight's run, I'd say mud season is coming early. I know better, though. We haven't had a single nor'easter this winter -- at least, I don't think we've had one -- which means it's going to be a rough March. Still, it feels really good to run, and it even feels really good to run in the rain. For some odd reason, running in the rain makes me feel like I'm going to be a runner again.

In other news, we're adjusting to the new chickens. We got 65 of them -- 25 production Reds, 35 Aruacanas, and five Buff Orpingtons. The first few nights were rough; the peep-peep-peep coming from the brooder in the bathroom doesn't make for great sleeping. But I'm getting used to them again.

Other animal news. The kids in the dairy goats are starting to kick. We've lost one Nigerian doe; poor girl hung herself in a hay net. My lead milk goat, North Star, miscarried. But we've still got three does in the family way, and you can feel the little kids occasionally. For some reason, they get a little more active when Stink, the famous border collie, wanders into the goat barn.

(Why is Stink famous? Check this out.)

Busy week ahead. Lisa and I went into Brattleboro today to find a jeweler who could cut her wedding ring off her finger. She hasn't taken it off forever, so it had to be cut off before her carpal tunnel surgery on Monday -- the second of two. Anyway, the jeweler directed us to the fire department, and we had a trio of firefighters snip the ring. Because this is her second surgery in the last month, she'll be dealing with roughly half of one hand. So it's going to be a busy week or two while she gets her hands back.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Running at Night

A long time since I had a night run. Seems like I've run in the early morning forever. But I tried it on Wednesday, and it worked out OK. A bit slow, but still OK. Lots of stars, not so much ice.

Trying to keep pace to do 12 miles this week.
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