Tri Talk Triathlon Podcast, Episode 60

Rethinking lactic acid and the cause of muscle soreness, the most under-rated muscle in endurance runners, and an on-site report from a first duathlon. From lactate threshold to calcium threshold. Today on Tri Talk.

Welcome to Tri Talk your podcast source for triathlon tips, training, news and more. I want to say hello to listeners from Reno, Nevada and Newfoundland and Labrador. Reno is home to one of my favorite Tri Talk forums users, Nate, and congratulations to Newfoundland and Labrador for a successful inaugural 70.3 Ironman series event. I hope it is the first of many more. My goal at Tri Talk is to help you swim, bike, and run faster, to meet your personal triathlon goals. Whether you are an elite or amateur triathlete, we cover sprint distance to Ironman distance. I’m your host, David Warden, and this is Tri Talk Episode 60.

Today on Tri Talk it is a physiological cornucopia. We’ll discuss just how important the gluteus medius really is to an endurance runner, why you should care and how you can strengthen this muscle group. Also lactic acid. The very name sounds ominous and evil to an athelte, like something a super-villain would use on the innocent citizens of Gothem city. Oh no, Batman! He’s using lactic acid! But, is it really so bad after all? Let’s talk about current research on this subject. Finally, after 5 years of triathlon racing I finally decided to try a duathlon, and I mic’d myself up for the event so that you could get a play-by-play of how it went down, plus how you can use my experience to help in your next duathlon.

Let’s get onto the good stuff!

Before we begin this section on the gluteus medius, let’s go back to an audio clip from Tri Talk episode 36. In this clip, I am having a mobility and strength assessment by Marc Evans, the former head coach of USA Triathlon, where I learn an unpleasant truth about my gluteus medius.

(audio clip)

That was back in March of 2007. After receiving that assessment, I completely changed my attitude toward flexibility, and made it a priority in my training routine, and can honestly saw I have seen good results. However, for some reason, I did not adopt the recommendation from Marc to strengthen my gluteus medius, and it has not been in my strength or flexibility regimen since.

A recent IT band injury I sustained started me on the track to research causes and treatment for IT band syndrome. The IT band is a thick ligament that runs from the hip to the knee, which when tight can begin to pull on or inflame the knee where the tendon connects. What I discovered was a consistent link between the gluteus medius and IT band problems, which was finally confirmed by a study done at Stanford University, which I’ll share with you in a moment.

Sometimes it is hard for a triathlete to accept that one muscle group more than 2 feet away from another muscle or tendon could have such an impact. This research for me has been a reminder that almost all our muscle groups and tendons are connected and dependant on each other, and that the pain an IT sufferer feels in the knee when they run does not necessarily start in the knee, or even at the hip at the top of the IT band tendon, but rather even further back in the gluteus medius. But, there are even more reasons to focus on the gluteus medius than just IT avoidance.

Let me give more specifics on the gluteus medius. The gluteus medius runs from your greater trochanter, or your big hip joint ball and socket, to the back of your butt cheek. It typically is just a mover muscle. However, during running the normal role of gluteus medius as a mover muscle is reversed, causing it to act as a pelvic stabilizer. So, for instance, during right stance phase, the muscle contracts to slow the downward motion of the pelvis so that the pelvis doesn’t tilt more than seven to eight degrees from parallel to the ground.

The consequences of that pelvic tilt can be significant. That pelvic tilt can cause a chain reaction that reaches all the way down to the feet. That pelvic tilt can cause your body to “cheat” in ways to compensate for that tilt. For example, your knee may have to rotate inward or outward to balance and compensate for a dipping pelvis. Anytime that knee goes outside its normal plane of movement, all kinds of things can happen. That inward knee tilt toward the other leg causes the IT band to stretch and can inflame the knee. That inward knee bend can put more pressure on the gastroc and soleus muscles of the lower leg. Other reported issues from a weak gluteus medius are the femur rotating excessively, the tibia to rotate internally relative to the foot, and an increase in weight transfer to the medial aspect of the foot, introducing several more potential foot problems.

In fact, one of the articles I used to gather this information was written by physical therapist Sean Fyfe who states that “The gluteus medius should be considered in every running injury. So many athletes with running overuse injuries of the lower limb present with poor gluteus medius function that I have come to the view that the strength and function of this muscle is probably the most important active component in the achievement of a biomechanically efficient running technique.”

That is a pretty strong statement on the importance of the gluteus medius, and frankly Marc Evans gave me a similar lecture on the muscle back in 2007.

To support this, Stanford University did a study on a group of 54 distance runners, of which 24 were suffering from IT band syndrome. The researchers measured the strength of that gluteus medius muscle in all 54 runners, using a formula that factored in their body weights and height. In the males, they found that they were able to resist only 6.86% of their body height/weight ratio (BWh) on their injured side, versus 8.62%BWh for their noninjured limb, while males without the problem could resist 9.73%BWh. That means that the non-injured males had 30% more strength in their gluteus medius than the injured side of the other males. Remember, we aren’t even talking about an injury to the gluteus medius, we are talking about IT band injury and the gluteus medius strength on that injured side. Even the non-injured side of the injured runners had a gluteus medius 11% weaker than the non-injured runners. These injured runners just had weak gluteus medius on both sides, but particularly on the injured side.

To put that into perspective, that is the difference of being able to dead squat 300 pounds vs. 210 pounds. Can you imagine the difference in your cycling strength if you could squat 30% more? That is similar to what was happening with those injured runners.

Now, the researchers did not just stop there. The injured runners were then enrolled in a 6-week program to strengthening the gluteus medius. After those 6 weeks, the injured male runners had 51.4% increase in their gluteus medius strength and 22 of 24 athletes were pain free with all exercises and able to return to running, and at 6-months follow-up there were no reports of recurrence among any of the 24 runners.

Let me quickly go over a second study I found linking gluteus medius muscle to performance. 36 endurance athletes had a biopsy taken of the gluteus medius muscle. 20 of those athletes were considered excellent performers, and 16 were considered average performers. The researchers found that by looking at the enzymes and muscle fibers of those gluteus medius muscles, they could determine the aerobic capacity of those muscles. They found that the aerobic capacity of gluteus medius muscle in the excellent endurance athletes was significantly higher than in the moderate performers. This study is great, but there is just one catch. It was published by the British Veterinary Association, and the endurance athletes in this case were horses. I know I’m stretching this a bit, but it’s all I could find. If you bet on race horses, can I suggest that you quickly go and feel the firmness of the horse’s gluteus medius before placing your bet.

Don’t make the same mistake I did! If you are like me you are probably already disregarding this advice on the gluteus medius, because you probably don’t have an issue with your run form or an injury currently. My appeal to you is to consider adding a few more minutes to your strength training session and add a few gluteus medius exercises as a proactive way to avoid injury and to possibly improve your running form at the same time. Triathletes tend to do all of their movement in straight lines, with very little lateral motion, and as a result the gluteus medius becomes very weak, and can become even weaker over time until before you know it, you have an injury out of no where, like me. I’ve been running for 17 years, have never had IT band when running, and it came out of no where, and has kept me from running more than 40 minutes at a time for 4 weeks now. I was warned a year ago about my weak butt and did not incorporate the exercises, and I can’t help but feel I am paying the price now.

My hope is that your focus on the gluteus medius will help you bike and run faster in the sense that it will both reduce the chance of injury, allowing your to train longer and harder, as well as possible improving your running economy.

The best site I found that give good descriptions of gluteus medius exercises was at http://www.bodyresults.com/E2gluteusMedius.asp These are very simple exercises that can be done without weights that take just a few extra minutes.

Moving on! What images are conjured up in your mind when you hear “lactic acid”? It has a fairly negative connotation. Most of us, including me, have been taught that a buildup of lactic acid is a bad thing, and that it is the primary cause of having to slow down at high intensities. That lactic acid builds up, the body can’t clear it, and is makes our muscles fatigued. It is even blamed for the soreness of muscles after exercise.

The currently thinking on lactic acid began almost 100 years ago by a Nobel scientist, Otto Meyerhof. Meyerhof cut a frog in half and put its bottom half in a jar. He then gave the frog’s leg electric shocks to make the muscles contract, but after a few twitches, the muscles stopped moving. Later, when he examined the muscles, he discovered that they were bathed in lactic acid, and the current theory on lactic acid was born. The frog’s legs became so saturated in lactic acid, that the muscles stopped moving.

To further understand this, let’s take a quick review of the two primary energy systems: aerobic and anaerobic. Both systems burn carbohydrate in the form of glucose (blood sugar) and glycogen (muscle sugar). The main difference between the two systems is the presence of oxygen–and the end product. Moderate exercise is mostly aerobic, with oxygen; it’s clean burning, so there is no end product. When exercise becomes more intense and the aerobic system can’t provide enough oxygen, the anaerobic system kicks in to provide energy, without oxygen. The end product of anaerobic exercise is lactic acid.

However, over the last year, while the cause of lactic acid has not come into the question, the body’s use of lactic acid, the advantages of lactic acid, and the link between lactic acid and muscle fatigue and soreness have been significantly challenged.

You may remember this story from May of last year, when George A. Brooks, a professor in the department of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley gave an interview with the New York Times. Over more than 30 years, he has been promoting the theory that lactic acid is actually a fuel source for muscles, not just toxic waste from intense exercise. The current understanding by many physiologists, as first proposed by Dr. Brooks, is that muscle cells convert glucose or glycogen to lactic acid, and that the lactic acid is taken up and used as a fuel by mitochondria, the energy factories in muscle cells.

Dr. Brooks even found that mitochondria even have a special transporter protein to move the lactic acid into them. In other words, the muscles want to take in that lactic acid as a fuel source, and have evolved with special receptors to do so. Intense training makes a difference because it can make double the mitochondrial mass, therefore increasing the amount of lactic acid that can be absorbed.

So let’s compare the classic lactate theory to the current theory. The classic theory states that as carbohydrate is broken down for fuel, the byproduct is lactic acid. Lactic acid is believed to be a major contributor to muscle fatigue. This lactic acid is cleared from your blood until you reach a certain intensity, usually around Zone 5, and that lactic acid then interferes with muscles and causes muscle fatigue, and you then must slow down. You become faster as lactate is reduced in your body at high intensities by one of 3 reasons:

One, your body through training becomes more efficient at burning fat for fuel instead of carbohydrate, therefore less lactic acid is present.

Two, your body becomes more efficient at clearing the lactate away, therefore less lactic acid in the system.

And three, more slowtwitch muscle fibers. Slowtwitch muscle fibers produce less lactic acid than fastwitch muscle fibers.

All three of those factors, which are a result of endurance training, are reasons under the classic system how we think lactate behaves and is removed from the system.

Let’s fast forward. The current new theory is that while lactic acid is still a byproduct of carbohydrate, it is cleared away not in the blood, but absorbed by the mitochondria in the muscles. This still explains why elite athletes are able to have very little lactate in their blood at high intensities. It’s not being cleared away in the blood, it’s been sucked up by the muscles.

This theory has been accepted by many physiologists, and is growing rapidly. One of the problems in accepting this theory is that it left a gaping hole. If lactic acid is not the cause of muscle fatigue, what is? Before we can accept this new lactic acid and muscle fatigue theory, we should have something to replace it.

Well, also recently reported in the New York Times, is a new theory to explain muscle fatigue. Dr. Andrew Marks, principal investigator of the new study from Columbia University, suggests that muscle fatigue comes from calcium leaking from the muscles. That calcium is a critical mineral required for muscle contraction. Less calcium means less muscle contraction, and more muscle fatigue.

To help confirm this, the researches gave an experimental drug to mice that inhibited the leaking of calcium from the muscles. The mice were able to run 10 to 20 percent longer when using this drug.

Let’s extrapolate that to potential implications to humans. Let’s say that you are a pretty good runner, and you are able to run a 30-minute time trial at 6-minute miles, and that is your exhaustion point. That means you are running 5 miles in that 30 minutes. If you could run 20% longer at the same speed, that would allow you to run 6 minutes longer at that pace before exhaustion, letting you run almost a full 10K at a 6-minute pace. This gives you an idea of the significance of the ability to increase your exhaustion point by 10-20%.

This drug is still too risky for trial on humans, and even if it were approved by the US Federal Drug Administration, it would certainly immediately be made a banned substance by any given athletic body. The purpose in telling you about all this is not to say “hey, there is a potentially cool new drug that you can use” but rather to share with you the evidence behind the new theory that calcium loss is behind muscle fatigue as opposed to lactic acid.

To further support this calcium theory, the researchers then worked with other scientists at Appalachian State University. They had several cyclists ride hard for 3 days in a row. For a control group, they had another group of trained cyclists sit in the same room for those 3 days.

Muscle samples were then sent them back to Columbia, without telling the Columbia scientists which samples were from the cyclists who rode hard, and which ones were form the ones who sat. The findings showed that calcium had in fact leaked in the muscle samples from the cyclists who rode hard.

That might help to settle one piece of the latic-acid puzzle, but what about muscle soreness? If lactic acid does not cause it, what does?

There are two types of muscle soreness. The type that occurs during and immediately after intense exercise. This type usually is gone a few minutes to a few hours after exercise. This is called acute muscle soreness.

But the type of soreness that is linked to lactic acid is the kind that lingers for up to several days, and usually takes a day or two before it peaks. Because the soreness occurs about a day or two after the exercise, it is referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. Yes, it even has its own acronym. It is believed to be caused primarily due to the introduction of new eccentric muscle contractions, where the muscle lengthens, as opposed to concentric muscle action, where the muscle shortens. Anytime you engage in a workout or exercise where you introduce lots of new eccentric muscle contractions, such as running downhill, riding uphill, strength training, running on uneven surfaces, or even introducing high intensities where stride length might increase slightly, all are examples of increasing your chances of suffering from DOMS.

One study that helped to confirm that lactic acid had no relationship to muscle soreness was done with a group of runners. They ran for 45 minutes on two separate days, one day on a level surface and another day on a 10% downhill grade. That downhill running introduced more eccentric muscle action to the runners. Blood lactate levels were taken during and after both running tests. The amount of lactate was higher in the runners during the level run than during the downhill run, and yet the runners reported DOMS after the downhill run. Again, more lactate in the system during the level run, but no muscle soreness was reported compared to less lactate in the downhill run and lots of soreness reported.

One of the most fascinating things in studying for this episode is that I came across a 1984 theory on DOMS which stated that is was a result of eccentric muscle contractions, which was universally accepted, but that this researcher also suggested that it was a result of a loss of calcium from the muscles, which led to cell death over the course of 48 hours. Fast forward to 2007, where new research shows that calcium begins to leak like crazy at high intensities, and over 20 years earlier it was suggested that leaking calcium was the cause of muscle soreness as well.

In conclusion, there is lots of evidence that it is not lactate in our blood that is our nemesis, but rather calcium in our blood leaking from the muscles. I am speculating that within the next 5 years that we won’t be performing lactate threshold blood tests, but rather calcium threshold blood tests to find the point at which we begin to leak a significant level of calcium.

All right, this is all very interesting. I just spent the last 15 minutes telling about current lactate and calcium physiology theory. But how the heck are you going to apply that to swim bike and run faster, as is the commitment from each Tri Talk episode? I don’t exactly know. The research on calcium leakage is nice, but the research does not suggest ways to reduce that leakage other than experimental drugs. It is really unknown how the heck we can reduce that leakage, and it is debatable whether we even want to, as that leakage may be a protective mechanism to prevent several and long-term muscle damage.

Here is how I think we can apply it. First, for Sprint and Olympic distance training, the thought of spending even more time in Zone 5, or the point at which more and more lactate is accumulating in my blood, does not seem so bad anymore. Can we take the idea that lactate is our friend, not our enemy and apply it to training? As long as my muscles and soft tissue can handle the increased load, I think that this changes the thought of the amount of time we can spend in Zone 5 training for short events. Perhaps from the rule of 30% to as high as 50% of your total training time in Zone 4 and 5. This will increase the mitochondrial level in your muscles, and then you can begin to consume more and more lactate.

But, for marathon, half and full Ironman racing, I don’t think anything has changed with this new theory. The ability to burn fat as fuel becomes critical, not in terms of lactate production, but rather in terms of available energy. After 2.5 hours of exercise, we just can’t take in as many carbohydrates as we will burn, and we have to turn to fat as the almost unlimited fuel source. Also, I want to have lots and lots of slowtwitch muscle fibers as a distance triathlete in terms of reduced muscle fatigue, as those slow twitch fibers can go longer than the fasttwitch fibers. Training too much at high intensities puts long distance triathletes at risk losing these advantages.

Maybe this is stretching this a bit far, but I found myself training differently after I read this research. During my intense intervals, I no longer felt a feeling of dread that lactate was building up, hurting my muscles, a toxic substances running freely through my blood. Rather, I let myself imagine that I was opening up a new fuel source for intense racing, developing mitochondria to suck up even more lactate. Perhaps if anything this information can help us psychologically as we train.

Moving on. I hope you will indulge me for the next section of the podcast. This is only the second time on 60 episodes I have taken the liberty of forcing you to listen to one of my race reports. There are plenty of other websites, blogs, and podcasts that only focus on the athlete and their racing and training, and so you certainly don’t need one more. But, I hope you’ll find this duathlon report exciting, entertaining, and informative. In this report I’ll cover duathlon strategy, pre-race side stitches, and even manage to work in some Star Wars. Listen in.

This is the second time I have began an on-site report whining about my swim. The fact is, I am a decent swimmer, but if one were to look at the return on my swim investment, I’m sure they would conclude that for all the time I have put into it, I should be much better. There have been many mornings where the alarm went off at 5:00am, where I spent an extra 30 seconds in bed deciding whether or not swim training was worth it, and if I should just pick up duathlon instead. With my bike and run consistently at the top of my age group, duathlon is a tempting option. Yet every morning there is something that gets me to the pool. Something inside that wants to conquer the swim and make it one of my strengths. As a result, I have viewed duathlon as an unnecessary and tempting distraction. That is, until Eric Schwartz, the former national duathlon champion hosted Tri Talk and discussed how duathlon could make me a better triathlete. At that point, I decided to give it a try.

I’ll be participating in the Castle Rock Duathlon, my first duathlon, in the scenic backdrop of Southern Utah. A small event in only its second year, it will only draw about 70 participants, of which only 25 will be competing at the Olympic duathlon distance. A classic duathlon, the format will be a 5K run, with a shorter bike of only about 20 miles, followed by a final 5K run. I’m treating the event as a workout, with no taper and coming at the end of a 12-hour training week.

 

I’ll also be bringing my 3 children with me, while my wife takes a well-earned break at the house all by herself for 36 hours. No problem. How hard could it be?

The morning of the race is cold but clear. My pre-race protocol includes 200mg of caffeine an hour before the event starts, and a 30-minute warmup with several brief bursts at race pace. I’m also in week 3 of an 8-week creatine phase. My strategy is to stay in high Zone 3 for the first 5K, building into Zone 4 for the second half of the bike, and finishing hard at the second 5K. My goal is to have my second 10K be within 1 minute of my first 10K, per Eric Schwartz suggestion. I am committed to not racing this event. I have another 12-hour workout week the next week I need to be recovered for.

After some brief instructions, the runners line up at the starting line, and we’re off.

The first thing I realize about a duathlon, which should have been obvious to me before, is that your placement in the race is very easy to determine without outside assistance. In a triathlon, when you come out of the water, you have no idea what place you are in until you start to see cyclists come back from the turnaround, and if it is a looped course, you have no idea at all. Within 1 minute of the duathlon, I can see that I am in 2nd place, with just one runner cruising ahead.

At 9 minutes into the run, we hit the turnaround, and I am passed by another runner. I congratulate us on our splits, but in turn he reminds me that the second half of the run is all uphill.

That runner takes off like a bolt up the hill, leaving me in the dust. I’m now in third place, watching the other two runners get further and further ahead, and it’s temping to drop the plan and play catch-up.

I come into transition feeling very strong with a sub 19:00 5K and take off on the bike. I parked my car directly next to the transition area so that I could check on my kids every time I came through transition. They said it was too cold to get out of the car, and since I only plan on racing for an hour and a half, they agreed just to stay in the car. I check out the car as I leave transition, and they are alive. Does this make me the ultimate white-trash triathlete? That I leave my kids in the car while I race? Did I remember to crack the windows?

My heart monitor is going crazy, saying I am way over my pre-programmed zones. But my perceived effort is very good, and I’m going to stick with that hoping my heart rate will settle down.

By now, you know two of my weaknesses. A weak gluteus medius and a weak swim. But there is a third weakness I have that is more damaging than any of my weaknesses, and that is pride.

Yes, I committed to myself to treat the race as a workout, yes I didn’t taper for it, but dang it, even then I came in expecting to win. With only 25 participants, there is no reason I shouldn’t win. I know, I know, you can never tell who will show up to a race, and there is always someone faster than you, but after 40 minutes of seeing the same two guys ahead of me on the bike, and getting further and further ahead, I’m ready to ditch the plan and start to race. All that talk about sticking to the plan is out the window. This goes against everything I know, and against everything I tell my athletes, but that damn pride just rears it’s ugly head, and before I know it, I’m racing.

The other problem with this deviation from the plan, in addition to jeopardizing my carefully constructed annual training plan over a 25-man event, is that I completely forget that I am also getting material for the podcast, and pretty much stop giving commentary for the rest of the race.

At 50 minutes into the event, I finally pass both riders, and at this point I feel I have it pretty much wrapped up. During a steep descent I go hard, and turn around to find that both are well in the distance, and I drop back the pace just a little bit confident that the win is wrapped up.

At this point I’m having just as much fun as I would at a triathlon. Those 5:00am swims are starting to look less and less appealing as the race continues and my duathlon hubris increases.

However, 5 minutes later, I turn around and it is clear that one of the two riders has broken free and has made significant ground on me. I decide that I need to put psychological clearance between the two of us, and pour on just a bit more to create some distance. One more glance and he is further back again, and I’m feeling confident again.

One of my favorite movies is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. As part of the Wild Bunch gang of outlaws, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had a hide out, the Robber’s Roost, ironically located in southern Utah not far from where I am racing.

In the movie, after several brazen robbery attempts, Butch and Sundance are finally chased by a relentless posse of lawmen, over rivers and sandstone, on foot on horses, nothing seems to be able to shed the marshals who seem to possess super-human tracking abilities. The frequent exchange between Butch and Sundance as they stare incredulously at the oncoming and never-ending pursuit is, “who are these guys?”

After looking over my shoulder again, I can’t help but feel some sympathy for Butch and Sundance, because despite my best efforts at shaking this cyclist, he is right there behind me as we make the final turnaround on a steep hill, and head in for the transition area and the final run. Who is this guy?

I hit the gas and pour it on going into the last section of the bike, flying into transition. I put on my race belt and I’m off, holding onto first place.

As I pass the car, there is no sign of my kids. They are not in the car, I don’t see them near the car, I have no idea where they are. I can either fulfill my parental duties, or I can win this stupid race. I think I remember hearing that Utah is has one of the lowest crime rates in the nation, and so I make the logical decision to keep racing and let the kids fend for themselves.

I look behind me and there is no sign of the mystery super-human cyclist behind me. Yet.

I hurting, but feeling pretty good. You might recall a Tri Talk episode where I talked about the performance advantages of entrainment, or having your breathing fall into some rhythm with your cadence. A few minutes into the second 5K run and you can hear a good example of this taking place.

But then, at just 8 minutes into the run, it happens. About every 4th or 5th race, I get side stitches. I can follow the exact same pre-race meal in terms of timing, calories, food content, warmup intensity, and out of the blue I’ll get these darn side stitches which slow me way down. One method that works fairly well is to breath out hard on the opposite foot strike from the side of the stitch, as you can hear here.

The side stitches subside a bit, and I turn around and don’t see anyone behind me, but the course is curvy here, and it is hard to tell how much of a lead I have. I take a chance and slow way down to see if I can get rid of them altogether. At the turnaround point, to my dismay, I find myself facing the same athlete who has managed to catch up again, he is right there, less tan 20 seconds behind me by my estimate. As we pass each other, we exchange the required pleasantries, and I try to look as strong as possible.

Inside, I’m dying, and he just keeps gaining. Who is this guy! The last 1.5 miles is all uphill, and on the same section of the course where the first two runners put serious distance between us. At this point, I am positive I am going to fade. Every glance behind me shows that the runner is getting closer, and every glance I make only confirms for him that I am worried. I go from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to Star Wars, where Luke flying into the trench of the Death Star yells “I can’t shake him”. 200 meters before the finish, I can literally hear his footsteps behind me, I give it everything I have and manage to cross the line winning by 8 seconds.

Despite the side stitches and slowing down, I ran the second 5K in 19:30 which placed me right within Eric Schwartz’s guidelines. I mingle with the other athletes eating snacks, and track down the mystery super-human chase vehicle that stayed on my tail for the entire event.

About 20 minutes later I remember I have kids. I find them safe and playing near the race venue. My 5-year-old has found a wonderful place to play, and is not happy about leaving. Forgetting I am still recording, the moment is captured forever.

Late that night I as I crawl into bed, again I wonder if I should forget the swim altogether and just do duathlon. I’m a strong runner and a strong cyclist. I won’t ever be good enough to turn pro, but maybe it just isn’t worth my time to keep swimming and I can make some noise in the duathlon circuit, and get more sleep at the same time? I sit and think for a few more minutes, remembering how far I have come this year with my swim, then the roll over and set the alarm for 5:00am. This is David Warden, for Tri Talk.

I want to congratulate Brian Jeppson who did such a good job of pushing me on that race and making it exciting enough to make a good story. Had the run been 100 meters longer, he would have had me.

Before you go and report me to the Division of Child and Family Services, my two oldest are 13 and 11, and are more than enough of a match to watch the 5-year old. I don’t want you thinking I had 3 kids under the age of 5 wandering all over the place. Also, the IT band problem I told you about earlier occurred just days after that race, which I am confident was a result of not only a weak gluteus medius, but also due to my silly pride and pushing it too hard with no recovery the following week.