January 23, 2018

Sooner or later . . .

If you’ve been doing triathlons or cycling a while you’re very familiar with the adage “There are two kinds of cyclists, those that have crashed and those that will.” Guess what, it was my turn again . . . and worse, Aida Wasilewski’s as well.

Wednesday, April 27th I shot an email off to Kona hopeful, Aida, to see if she wanted to do a ride/run with me the next day. Aida is an amazing athlete and someone I am very proud to be coaching. While she didn’t have a great race at Ironman California 70.3 her sites were set on Ironman Nice as her next Kona qualifier. Knowing what I know about her, I know she’s got a really good chance of qualifying.

Aida was up for the workout – a 3:30 ride and a :40 transition run – so we met down in Dana Point Harbor at 6:30 a.m.

It was cool and clear that morning. We were up for a great ride. I was just nine days away from Ironman St. George so I was in full-on taper mode and feeling great!

The ride was totally uneventful as we headed south toward the gate at Camp Pendleton. As a matter of fact, we had just talked about how we really appreciated the “uneventful” rides; the ones without any drama. And as coincidence would have it, we also were just talking about our encounters with bees while riding.

I related my story at Ironman Hawaii where I got stung by a bee that went down my shirt and another time just a couple weeks before when a bee got stuck in my helmet.

As I said, as luck would have it, we rode directly into a swarm of bees on the road just north of Camp Pendleton. I was just ahead of Aida and swerved as I batted away the bees. Unfortunately, when I swerved Aida’s front tire was in the way.

We both went down . . . hard. All I could hear was Aida’s scream as she went down. Then, expecting to hear a moan I heard a distinctly different scream.

Normally when someone goes down there’s the first shock of the incident followed by a cuss word or moan or some other reaction; Aida’s reaction wasn’t what I expected.

I assessed my own condition and couldn’t find anything significantly wrong with me but Aida was in pain – big pain! At that moment I had the same sick feeling as when I was a kid and took my younger sister for a tumble down a steep hill in a go-cart I made with a neighbor. I was freaking out (but not showing it).
Aida went down hard on her left side. I told her not to move as we assessed the damage. I could immediately see her left hand and elbow were bleeding and she was complaining about her hip and head.
She layed there for a few minutes as we tried to figure things out. Several male cyclists came by and asked if they could help. I can’t believe one guy actually scolded us to get out of the road and that Aida should get back on her bike and start riding (what a jackass!).

It took us a while but Aida wanted to try to ride. We were probably a mile from the Camp Pendleton guard shack and several miles south from any point a car could get to.

We tried to get her on her bike but it just wasn’t possible. So, should we walk to the guard shack, call 911, should I ride to the guard shack to get help? Lots of options.

Looking to our left I noticed a scenic turnout off the I-5 south. Aida pulled up Google Maps on her phone and it seemed like our best option. She called her daughter to pick her up and we slowly walked over.
Every step she took was painful. I was in pain for her.

Like a trooper, she balanced herself with her bike as we slowly walked what seemed like 10 miles but was probably more like ½ mile. The kicker would be a steep, but short hill up to the scenic turnout parking lot.

We made it up to the top of the hill and waited for Aida’s daughter. Aida made the smart move of not telling her daughter exactly what kind of trouble she was in. I’m sure she would have freaked out along with the rest of us.

Aida’s daughter picked her up and took her to the hospital. She didn’t want to go at first but because of her hip and head I told her that she really should.

Aida has friends at Mission Hospital so she got some additional advice on her next move.

The damages: abrasions on the hand and hip. Seven stitches in the elbow and a broken pelvis. Yep, it snapped. SHIT!!!

I was so bummed for her. Just a couple months out from a Kona qualifier where she had a very legitimate chance. She on the other hand took it completely in stride. An amazingly classy gal.

Aida is recovering nicely now. Sick of her crutches which she is confined to for eight weeks. She vows to get in the pool soon and has already signed up for Ironman Cozumel.

Crashes happen. I’ve had two pretty good ones before. A Honda cut me off on a steep downhill and I slid sideways with the big chainring gouging out a series of gashes in my right leg. The second was a hard fall that resulted in two broken ribs just five weeks before Ironman Coeur d’ Alene.

It’s going to happen if you ride long enough. Stay alert, be careful and maybe, just maybe you’ll be the first to avoid a crash.

Ron Saetermoe

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Interview with Dr. Sam Sunshine – Episode 22

In this episode of TriChatter, Ron and Dr. Sam Sunshine of OC Sports and Wellness (age group triathlete) talk about injuries, the way to treat them and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections for athletes. Especially with athletes who have ligament, tendon, joint pain or problems which seem to be nagging them, keeping them from swimming, biking, or running whatever the case maybe. It is amazing how well PRP helps people achieve that last 20%-30% of healing that just the body wasn’t able to perform on its own.

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Dr. Sam Sunshine is committed to helping his patients realize their personal health goals, fitness objectives, and life balance. He seeks to develop personal and professional relationships with his patients in attaining and maintaining better health habits. Please visit www.ocsportsandwellness.com for more information.

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Race Report – Ironman St. George, Larry Davidson

Ironman St. George – May 7, 2011

Ironman number 8 is in the books, and I continue to be thankful to participate in these events.  I never imagined 6 years ago that I would ever even do an Ironman, as the distances seemed kind of ridiculous. This was my 2nd time at Ironman St. George, and it was a very successful day for me out there in the Southern Utah desert.

St. George is perched at 3,000 feet above sea level, and is a short 2 hour drive north of Las Vegas.  There is a Mormon church on every street corner it seems, and it is a clean and pretty small town.  The locals embrace the race, and there were street signs, banners, and lots of welcome smiles in the days leading up to the race.

Three weeks prior to the event, I made a weekend trip to St. George with my training posse and we swam, biked, and ran various parts of the course.  I have a great group of friends who share a passion for endurance events, and competition.  I  trained really hard for this event as I had high hopes to finish in first or second place in my age group, which would guarantee me getting a slot to the Hawaii Ironman in October.  I have recently aged “up” to the 55-59 year old age group, so now I am one of the younger guys in that category.

My wife Kim and I made the drive to St. George on Wednesday, giving me time to go through the incredible logistical challenges as one preps to travel 140.6 miles of swimming, biking, and running.  All Ironman competitions start at 7AM with a mass swim start, and each participant has until midnight to finish.  

The weather forecast was looking a bit scary, with the mercury expected to get into the 90′s.  I don’t feel I am a particularly good hot weather racer, and would much rather work my butt off in cool weather.  I would be lying if I said I was not concerned about running in 90 degree plus heat!

Our group from Orange county included Slater, Monique, Max, Greg, Art, Gary, Ron, Quinton, Anna, and me.  They are all great athletes and I admire their abilities and dedication.  We also had some great support from friends and family to help cheer us on during the event.

We all gathered for our “Last Supper” at the Brick Oven restaurant on Friday night, then off to early bed, as I put in for a 3:30AM wake up call.  

Race morning’s are not without a fair amount of hustling around, and for this race, we had to get to the main square in St. George to catch the 5:15AM shuttle bus for the 20 mile ride out to the Sand Hollow Reservoir.

The early morning air had the makings for a warm day, but the water temperature in the mountain fed reservoir was a cold 58 degrees.

Swim for 2.4 miles:

The water at 58 degrees shocks your body, especially your face.  
That said, after a short while it doesn’t feel bad at all.  As the mass of 1,600 athletes surged towards the first buoy, I felt fine.  That fine feeling left me abruptly at about 500 meters, and I was unable to breath.  I was beyond being in oxygen debt, I was groping for any air, and thought I may have to DNF!  This had never happened to me before, and I was scared.  I flipped to my back and tried to breath, not much luck.  I continued to “try” and swim, but what a chore.  After about 15 minutes, I miraculously felt good again, and was able to swim in relative comfort the rest of the way.  Basically, this was a bad situation that fortunately didn’t halt my race.  I came out of the water in 18th place in my age group with a swim time of 1h14’26″.

Bike for 112 miles:

I felt ok starting out on the bike, but not like I was going to ride like Lance.  I had decided to try and pace myself smartly on the bike as it was going to be a sufferfest on the marathon, and wasting too much energy on the bike would be a mistake.  I kept a steady effort, and navigated this tough bike course of over 6,000 feet of climbing in what I think was a disciplined approach. I saw my friends Jorge, Carla, and Jeff out on the course.  They had ridden their bikes out to the town of Veyo, where each athlete has to climb the dreaded “Veyo Wall” twice.  It is a monster climb that is just under a mile, but has grade pitches to 14%.  That is VERY steep.  It was great to hear them cheering me on, and it helped a lot!

I know I was hydrating properly as I had to pee a couple of times on the bike (yup, while riding).
I took many opportunities to douse my body with water to cool myself.  I got off the bike feeling tired, but not completely cooked.  I got off the bike and I had moved up 7 places to 11th. My bike segment was 9th best in my age group, and my bike time was 6h6′.

Run for 26.2 miles:

As I was descending on the bike from Snow Canyon, the heat blasts felt like someone had opened up the Gates of Hell.  I was NOT relishing the idea of trying to run a marathon.  The people watching and cheering us come in off the bike looked like they were cooking.
When I got into T2, my wife Kim was right there to hand me my run gear bag; that was a great surprise.  I loaded my feet up with Hydro-Pel to avoid blistering, and slipped on my running shoes.  

I started running, and the 90 degree plus dry air had my mouth parched before I had run a half a mile.  This was going to be fun.  I decided I would run this thing one mile at a time, and just stay in the moment.  I also was going to find every opportunity to cool myself down. 

As tough as the bike was, the run on this course is far worse.  It features 2,000 feet of climbing, so you are either running up or running down.  No flat parts at all.  

Each mile had a fantastically staffed aid station with ice cold sponges, ice, water, gatorade, gels, bananas, grapes, pretzels, chips. chicken soup, coke.  It is a veritable smorgasbord out there.  At each aid station I took ice and put it in my cap, my shorts, my top, down my back.  I grabbed sponges, and doused myself with water.  I started sucking down coke and some water, but mostly coke.  

I passed a few guys in my age group, but I wasn’t thinking that clearly, so I couldn’t remember how many guys I passed in my age group.  I was passing people like crazy on this hilly run, and just kept moving forward.  It turned out I passed 198 athletes on the run.

I did a good job of keeping my body cooled down, and it allowed me to keep running when the masses were reduced to a pretty pathetic Ironman Shuffle, or walking.  I felt I was running for a Hawaii slot, but no clue what position I was in. I had the 3rd best run in my age group, with a run time of 4h00’36″.

I finished the last 6 miles very strong and was pumped up as Kim caught me and kissed me as the “voice of Ironman”, Mike Reilly, said:

“Larry Davidson, 55 years old from Dana Point, California, who has completed 7 previous Ironman races….YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

I later found out I had moved up to 5th place and would have a spot on the podium for my age group.  I also knew there would be a maximum of 3 slots to Hawaii in my age group, so I was certain I would be out of contention for that honor.

The competition for this event was absolutely brutal. The top 3 guys in my age group happened to all be doctors. One from the U.K, another from N.Y., and the other from South Dakota. This represented the 2nd time I have been on the podium (top 5), in my eight Ironman races.

I have not thrown in the towel on attempting one more race this year to qualify for Hawaii, but no decision made yet. I have already qualified for the 70.3 World Championships at Lake Las Vegas in September, so I am looking forward to that with great anticipation.

I feel absolutely great writing this 2 days after the race, and I am looking forward to getting back to moving my body and recovering from this race. Do yourself a favor, and go for a walk, a run, a swim; just move it baby, move it!

“Do today what others won’t, so you can do tomorrow what others can’t”

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