YMCA Spring Sprint Triathlon


The Spring Sprint Triathlon has been on the horizon for sometime now as my first triathlon of the year.  After many disciplined winter months of training I’ve been looking forward to this; first to see if I can break 7:30 in the 750 pool swim and second to see a big improvement in my 3.1 mile run time over last years (18:37). 

I had a hard training week leading up to the event.  On Thursday, a 9 mile track workout, took a lot out of me.  In fact, it definitely added a few seconds to my 750 swim the next day.  I felt fast warming up, partly because I wasn’t wearing a drag suit and had clipped my legs for the first time all year.  When it came time for the swim (start in the water) I felt good going out and was out fast, at 300 I was at a 2:55, however, that’s when I got a flat tire and started feeling some tired legs.  I am so dependent on my legs for speed when swimming that I had to struggle to keep my 100’s under minute pace the rest of the way.  I was pleased to finish at exactly 7:30 as tired and warn out as I felt for the last 450 yards. 

The next day we did the 12.5 mile bike and 3.1 mile run.  They start the clock and when it gets to your swim time your off to T1, and compete the rest of the event like a normal triathlon.  I felt awesome going out on the ride (in hind-sight, in large part due to a tail wind).  Then came the turn-around point where I just didn’t seem to have the energy to keep a strong pace.  I was getting leg burn and fatigue that kept me from powering over the rolling terrain.  I began to worry that a PR for the run might not be so manageable.  The last minute of the bike I geared down and spun in an effort to get my legs ready for the run. 

Starting the bike legrun finishRun finish2

The way I felt biking back to T2 I should have expected Kelly to be right behind me, but I was surprised to see him in the transition area.  I got out a few seconds in front of him and focused on a quick turnover with correct form.  Surprisingly, I felt pretty good while running and kept a pace that was just out of reach.  Wow, that is a first for me… a run that felt good.  And I finished with a time that was over a minute faster than last year with a 17:33. 

Spring Sprint Results


Globalizing Health

Other countries are beginning to eat like us, live like us, and die like us.  It’s time to start exporting healthier ways of living.

By Dean Ornish
Special to Newsweek
Updated: 7:21 p.m. ET March 8, 2006
March 7, 2006 – The United States spends considerably more on health care (actually, disease care) than any other country in the world.  So, is all this money buying us the best health in the world?

Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report showing that recent immigrants reported significantly better physical and mental health (such as lower rates of obesity and high blood pressure) than their U.S.-born counterparts, despite having limited access to health care and little or no health insurance.  The study found that people from other countries (African-American, Asian and Hispanic) who move to the United States become progressively less healthy the longer they stay in the country.  Those who were U.S. residents for five years or more were 54 percent more likely to have high blood pressure and 25 percent more likely to have cardiovascular diseases, for example, than those who lived here less than five years. 

In other words, moving to the United States can make you sick.

Why?  The diets and lifestyles in many other countries are much healthier than in the United States.  In our research, my colleagues and I found that an Asian way of eating (predominantly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and soy products) and living (moderate exercise, stress management and strong communities) may stop and even reverse the progression of coronary heart disease as well as prostate cancer. These lifestyle changes may also help to prevent or reverse diabetes, hypertension and obesity, as well as reduce the risks of the most common forms of cancer.

Unfortunately, the trend is moving the other way.  Other countries are beginning to eat like us, live like us and die like us.  They are rapidly forgoing their own healthier diet and lifestyle and copying ours.  As a result, a globalization of illness is occurring that is almost completely preventable. 
In only one generation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases have gone from being among the least common to the most frequent causes of premature death and disease in most of the developing world.  Cardiovascular deaths now equal HIV/AIDS deaths in most African countries.  It used to be uncommon to see an overweight person walking down the street in China or India, but not any more. 

But because this is a recent phenomenon—they are on the steep rise of the exponential curve—intervention now can make a powerful difference. 

A recent study found that reducing deaths from chronic disease by only 2 percent annually would prevent 36 million premature deaths in just 10 years.  Most of these benefits will be in low-income and middle-income countries, and almost half will be in people younger than 70, despite the common misconception that these chronic diseases are found mainly in old, affluent people. 

This is an extraordinary opportunity to practice preventive medicine on a global scale.

It costs less to eat and live more healthfully.  Walking, loving, meditating, and quitting smoking are free and require no special equipment.

In contrast, it costs thousands of dollars per person per year for lifesaving drugs that are needed to treat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and TB in developing countries.  Thus, using diet and lifestyle changes to prevent and treat chronic diseases can free up significant resources for treating HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, and other illnesses that do require expensive medications.  And these drugs work better when combined with good nutrition and healthier lifestyles. 

Unfortunately, developing countries are now beginning to spend billions of dollars on angioplasty, bypass surgery and medications–much of which could be avoided by going back to their original diets and lifestyles.

Multinational food companies can play a large role in helping to prevent chronic diseases around the world by offering healthier choices in the United States and abroad.  For the past several years, I have been consulting with the CEOs of major food companies such as PepsiCo, McDonald’s, ConAgra, Safeway and Del Monte.  I thought that if they would make and market foods that are tasty, convenient, and healthful; educate people about the powerful health benefits of nutrition and lifestyle; and use their considerable marketing resources to make it fun, sexy, crunchy and hip to eat this way, exercise, stress less and love more, this could make a powerful difference in the lives of millions of people each day, both in this country and worldwide.  They can provide a full spectrum of choices from indulgent to healthful. 

These companies are finding it’s not only the right thing to do, but also it’s good business as well.  Last year, for example, PepsiCo reported that 67 percent of its revenue growth came from its healthier foods.  McDonald’s introduced a Fruit and Walnut Salad with apple slices, walnuts, and grapes that’s become so popular it’s made McDonald’s the world’s largest purchaser of apples.  ConAgra’s Healthy Choice line of foods had $1.5 billion in sales last year.  Safeway introduced a successful new line of organic foods.  Del Monte’s Fruit Naturals (personal servings of fresh fruit sold in individual containers) have become among its most successful products.  All of these companies are emphasizing the importance of exercise and energy balance as well. 

Are these companies moving as quickly as I might like?  Of course not.  But they’re moving much faster than I ever believed possible. 

Ironically, more healthful foods and lifestyle choices coming from the United States may help people in Asia and other countries realize the power of their indigenous diet and culture.  They can copy our successes, not our mistakes.

This is a great opportunity for food companies to show global leadership.  They can get credit for helping to solve the worldwide crisis in cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes.  Also, they can get credit for creating culinary and cultural diversity.

By working together with organizations like the World Health Organization, the Clinton Foundation, the American Heart Association, and others, food companies can help people in these countries realize the value of their traditional diet and lifestyle.  They can also help educate consumers about the short-term and long-term benefits of exercise, smoking cessation, and stress management, both here and worldwide.  Instead of globalizing illness, we can globalize health.

© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.


Des Moines, Iowa to host cash-heavy 2007 World Cup

 Des Moines, Iowa – USA Triathlon has announced that the city of Des Moines will host an ITU World Cup in June of 2007, the first in the United States in over two years. In April of 2005 the city of Honolulu, Hawaii hosted a World Cup, and New York City and St. Petersburg have also hosted World Cups in the past, but thus far Des Moines is the only one on the stateside calendar for 2007.

The United States will hold five “Pan American Cup” (the nomenclature for Continental Cup races in the United States) races in 2006: Honolulu, Hawaii on May 14, Long Beach, Calif. on June 25, Bridgeport, Conn. on August 5, Boston, Mass. on September 3, and Westchester, N.Y. on September 16. In addition, The Grand Columbian in Grand Coulee, Wash. will host the ITU Pan American Long Distance Championships on September 16.

Ric Jurgens, president and chief executive officer of Hy-Vee, Inc., the title sponsor of the race, commented on the unexpected role of Des Moines as host for such a rich event. “Our role as hosts is somewhat rare and somewhat remarkable, given the relative size of our city.”

Triathlon’s richest purse
The Des Moines event will be the richest ever on the ITU circuit with over $700,000 in cash and prizes. The purse will include a top-heavy $200,000 each for the men’s and women’s winners, the ITU announced today.

The total purse tops the $550,000 currently offered at the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Hawaii – which offered $110,000 each for the men’s and women’s winners in 2005 – and also exceeds the groundbreaking $500,000 purses offered since 2003 at the revolutionary Life Time Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis.

The combined Life Time Fitness prize award of $80,000 each for the top finishers in the men’s and women’s divisions, plus a $100,000 bonus for the overall winner based upon a gender handicapping calculation, plus an automobile worth $40,000, still makes Life Time Fitness the biggest individual payout in the sport. Last summer, overall winner Craig Alexander of Australia took home a total value of $220,000.

A mistaken date in the overnight story written by the local Des Moines paper initially cast unwarranted suspicion that the ITU series was trying to undermine the Life Time Fitness event. The March 31 story in the Des Moines Register stated the date as July 17, 2007, which at first glance would have put it in direct competition with the Life Time Fitness Triathlon, which occurs every year in mid July at the time of the Minneapolis area’s Aquatennial festival. However, July 17, 2007 is due to fall on a Tuesday. A quick call by nervous Life Time Fitness officials to Des Moines race organizer Bill Burke confirmed that the true date of the Iowa race would be June 17, 2007. The reason for suspicion stems from the long-term irritation of the ITU with the Life Time Fitness organizers scheduling their race on the same date as the Corner Brook World Cup in Canada.

As things now stand, Life Time Fitness public relations officials are congratulatory and happy for the ITU, the professional athletes and Des Moines officials.

“This is great for the sport and the athletes,” said a Lifetime spokesman. “(Lifetime CEO) Bahram Akradi always felt that triathlete are amazing athletes and deserve rewards commensurate with their great athletic achievements.”

Indeed, Akradi has stated repeatedly that he hoped the Life Time Fitness prize purse and the same day NBC coverage would lead other sponsors to step up to the plate to reward triathlon professionals. And now, after Ironman Hawaii and Hy-Vee have each raised the bar, he has become a prophet.

Citizen’s race
Jurgens said Hy-Vee will also host a citizens’s race concurrently – the Hy-Vee Triathlon – for enthusiasts who will compete in age group and team events. They will be vying for more than $40,000 in gifts and prizes.

The elite and amateur triathlons will be run on Sunday, June 17, 2007. Jurgens said the entire weekend of June 15-17 will have events designed to encourage health and fitness. “We will have a lot of activities for families and people of all ages during Friday and Saturday, too,” he said.

In addition to the record prize purse, the Hy-Vee ITU World Cup Triathlon is a qualifying event for both the 2007 World Triathlon Championships in Hamburg, Germany in September 2007, and the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

Although elites and amateurs will race the same day, they’ll compete on slightly different courses. Burke predicted the event would draw 30,000 spectators.

Both elites and amateurs will swim 1.5 kilometers at Gray’s Lake, but their treks will diverge from their. Amateurs, on an “out-and back” route, will cycle as far as West Des Moines’ Jordan Creek Mall, then return to Gray’s Lake Park by the same path. Then they’ll take off on a 10-kilometer run to downtown and finish at the State Capitol.

After the swim segment, the elites will cycle directly to downtown Des Moines and complete a six-lap, criterium-style race. They’ll transition from bicycle to running shoes at Finkbine Drive in front of the Capitol, complete four laps around a course in downtown Des Moines and cross the finish line back at the Capitol.

The elite competition is limited to 75 men and 75 women from among the top 125 in each division’s world rankings. But the amateur event is expected to draw more than 2,000. The audience will have a distinct international flavor, both on the ground in Iowa and through telecasts in more than 100 countries around the world.

Jurgens said that his company began thinking about hosting a major triathlon partly because he had enjoyed participating on a triathlon team.

“I was amazed at how much excitement and enthusiasm a triathlon generates,” Jurgens said. “We believe that bringing an event like this to Des Moines is beneficial in many ways. One of the most important is that the triathlons, and all the associated activities, promote the concept of fitness and health. That’s important to Hy-Vee, because the more fit we are, the more healthy we will be. And that’s good for all of us.”

Hy-Vee, Inc., headquartered in West Des Moines, is an employee-owned corporation operating 222 retail stores in seven Midwestern states. For 2005, the company recorded total sales of $4.9 billion, ranking it among the top 20 supermarket chains and the top 35 private companies in the U.S..