Race director celebrates 3 years cancer-clear

I’m sharing this story because it’s good news (and we could all use more of that these days) and because it’s good advice for staying all-around healthy.

Gary Westlund, a coach, race director, and founder of Charities Challenge, a nonprofit that puts on a host of running and walking programs in Minnesota, is celebrating three years clear of melanoma.

Fortunately, Gary caught the cancer early. A mole on his left knee looked suspicious. He immediately visited his doctor, who performed a biopsy and confirmed his suspicions.

Gary’s story is a good reminder to:

Wear sunscreen.

Check your skin monthly for possible melanoma. (If it’s oddly shaped, has an uneven color, or if it gets bigger or changes over a period of weeks or months, get it checked.)

Visit a dermatologist annually for a “mole check.”

Gary also reminds us that even though we stay fit with running and cycling (and more running), we may not be overall, full-spectrum healthy. Proper nutrition doesn’t just fuel your training and races, it also helps keep your blood pressure and cholesterol in check. If you have a family history of heart disease, keep an eye on your numbers.

And remember to have fun and enjoy life, even when you’re off the bike and not on a run.

See you soon!

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New Duathlon Training Camp…in the Pyrenees!

When I heard that Embrace Sports was hosting a duathlon training camp, I got very excited. I haven’t heard of any duathlon-specific training camps anywhere, ever, so this seems like a rare opportunity. When I found out where Embrace Sports was hosting the camp, my daydreams distracted me from other work for a while. A long while.

Ride up and up and down epic Tour de France climbs. Sail through a scenic valley as you work on your aero position. Run through forests and along scenic trails…all in the Pyrenees. In between, the Embrace coaches give training advice and feed you very well. Bliss!

The duathlon “holiday” takes place May 20-27, 2017. Visit the Embrace Sports website to find out more.

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ITU Worlds Penticton adds Aquabike

The 2017 ITU Multisport World Championships in Penticton, BC, has added Aquabike to its event roster. In addition to sprint and standard duathlon, cross triathlon, long distance triathlon, and aquathon (swim + run), the 10-day event now has a swim + bike. Here’s a link to the release with all the details.

The aquathon and aquabike don’t exactly get the fields that triathlon or even duathlon see, but they are great events for people new to multisport that a) like to swim, and either b) don’t want to mess with the bike or c) don’t want to mess with the run. It’s also another option for folks that want to compete in multiple events in Penticton. I know at least one person that’s planning to compete in the standard duathlon, long course triathlon, and aquathon in the same week!

To compete in multiple world events, you have to qualify for those events. USAT’s duathlon nationals took place last month in lovely Bend, Oregon. But if you like to swim (unlike me!), there’s still time to compete in the long course tri, aquathon, and aquabike national championships! Why not? You could be the next aquabike world champion!

In the U.S., the aquathon nationals are October 8 in Santa Cruz, Calif; the aquabike is November 13 in sunny Miami…the same day as the long course tri. Here’s the link to the full list of national qualifiers.

Canadian athletes have the home field advantage. Their primary long course tri, aquathon, and aquabike event will be held on August 28. There are other ways to qualify. Click here for details. They also have some qualifying spots left for duathlon. Click here for info.

Some of Great Britain’s qualifying races are TBD. This is the best link I could find.

As for me, I will be competing in one event only—the standard distance duathlon (10K run, 40K bike, 5K run). It would be fun to plan a racing vacation, but ugh! So much swimming! I’d much rather run more. That’s why I’m in the perfect sport!

Are you planning to attend the ITU World Multisport Championships in Penticton next year? Will you do a double? Or even a triple?  Let us know in the comments!

More on the USAT Duathlon Nationals

I’m back home from the Duathlon National Championships and have a full day of work behind me. My head is no longer pounding, but I’m still a little stiff-legged after Saturday’s race and Sunday’s 8-plus hour drive from Bend, Oregon to Oakland, California.

All in all, USAT put on a fantastic event for us duathletes. During the rules briefing the day before the race, many athletes (especially the sprint competitors) were concerned about potentially crowded conditions at the beginning of the run and on the bike. The first run started in a narrow chute (kinda like cattle), and took two immediate hard rights onto a narrow bike path.The bike course went out and back (times two for the standard distance) on a road that was mostly moderately uphill on the way out, downhill on the way back. We only had one side of the road to do all of this, which made those screaming descents seem pretty sketchy.

I can only speak for the standard distance, but neither of these course curiosities presented a serious issue in my race (Women 17-49). It was crowded through the bike path, but nothing worse than any other large race. It forced me to not go out too fast, which is easy to do in these events.

The bike course was fine. The fields broke up pretty fast thanks to the long climb, and there was enough room for people to fly down the hill at 40+ mph while others stayed to the right and either hammered the downhill or clung for dear life, depending on his or her comfort level.

Both the bike and run course had hills to contend with, but nothing compared to what I’m used to in the East Bay hills! The 40K bike course had a little under 1600 feet of climbing; the 10K run, about 430 feet; the 5K run, about 210. We felt every inch of hill on that second run, that’s for sure! At the crest of one of the climbs, on the second run, I saw the photographer snapping away. “How mean!” I said, smiling. A little joke took my mind off the pain. He laughed…after he took God knows about many shots of me and the other athletes when they look like death warmed over.

The transitions were short (no running 400 meters with the bike, no mud, no grass) and straightforward. The volunteer support was excellent. The course marshall at the bike turnaround had a booming voice that she used very well to tell us to either turn around or head left to transition. I heard that a few others missed the turnaround altogether and kept right on going! But they didn’t get far.

Crowd support was pretty good too. I saw a couple friends cheering us on, which was much appreciated, and Elvis gave words of encouragement at multiple spots on the course.

USAT Duathlon Bend
The sea of bikes.

My race was not my best, but I met my very revised goal: finish without embarrassing myself. I also managed a miracle. Because of an injury this spring that derailed my running, I told myself if I finished in the top ten of my age group it would be a miracle. I finished 8th. Viola! Friends of mine had great days, podium days, while others had worse experiences than mine — a dropped chain, cramps, nausea.

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The awards ceremony. Sorry I was too lazy (or tired) to take podium pictures.

Bend made a great host for the Du Nats this year. And lucky us, we get to go back in 2017!

PS, if you decide to compete in next year’s nationals, consider staying at Shilo Inn. The rooms are large (I had a kitchen!), reasonably priced (before all the prices go up in advance of the race), and the staff is super nice. They serve a pretty good free breakfast too…I discovered…the morning I drove home.

Did you race in Bend this past weekend? Tell me about your experience in the comments below!