Healthy Grief For Healthy Aging: Celebration Of A Wonderful Ironman Triathlete, Frits, With An ‘s.’

I lost another good friend!

Frits, with an ‘s.’

healthy grief for healthy aging: triathlon training: Frits Massee at Lake Placid Ironman 2012, FitOldDog,

Frits Massee, with FitOldDog, at the Lake Placid Ironman, 2012. He was a youngster at age 67. Frits recently agreed to be my new Ironman coach, but then we lost him. But all is not lost! Frits left me with his secret sauce, which I’ll use to get to Kona one day, to celebrate my friend.

Healthy grief for healthy aging?

NEVER fear death!


healthy grief for healthy aging: FitOldDog with Frits and Cath!

Frits, center, with an ‘s’ at the Worlds Half Iron Championships, in Las Vegas. With Cath and FitOldDog, photo by Deb.

As the years pass, and now I’m in my 70s, you’ll lose friends and loved ones. First parents and teachers will disappear, until it’s just your generation that remains.

Then your friends start to die off.

I’ve lost several wonderful friends in the last few years. People who had a remarkably positive impact on my life.

Death is an essential part of life, so one has to move on, when you’re ready – but not before!

I know several people who’ve lost a child. A teenage child!

They exhibited two forms of grief!

  • One remained crippled by the loss. Even years later. Dwelling on the past. A shadow self! A lost soul!
  • The others celebrated the life of their child, and moved on. Still hurt, but living a full life, nonetheless. Such people impress the hell out of me – I have no idea how I would handle the worst of all losses.
healthy grief for healthy aging, Frits Massee coaching FitOldDog

My visit to Frits and his lovely wife, Machteld, in Seattle, weeks before his untimely death. Frits put up a brave fight! An inspiring man – thanks for the secret sauce, my friend.

So, back to my friend, Frits, with an ‘s.’ This is how he introduced himself to me, as we chatted briefly, on our bikes, at the 2010, Lake Placid Ironman.

Frits came along side me at mile-35. He’d noticed my age, written on my calf with a black marker – they do that! So, he stopped to introduce himself. The nicest, kindest of men. Then, with a wave, off he went, into the distance.

I thought, “Um! That’s a big guy, and he’s going too fast, at this stage of the race. He’ll bomb on the run.” And that’s what happened. Frits later informed me that he ‘bonked’ on the run, due to nausea. We all do, from time-to-time!

We encountered each other the following year, in Lake Placid, and again at the World’s Half Ironman Championships, in Las Vegas, in 2013.

healthy grief for healthy aging: Frits and Machteld at the Grand Canyon.

Frits and Machteld, during happy times at the Grand Canyon. Good people!

Then, to my delight, Frits agreed to coach me this year. He took Ironman triathlons seriously. Studying every aspect. Frits did admit that he hated swimming, but he did it anyway. As a life-long swimmer, I find this interesting, as I know several other triathletes with this issue. I suspect it’s related to a number of factors, one of which is letting go, and trusting the water. That’s just my guess, anyway!

I’m left with a good friend, Machteld, who Deb and I plan to visit in the Netherlands, this summer. This will allow us to say goodbye to Frits, properly, over a meal and a toast, after a solid ‘Secret Sauce Workout,’ of course!

I also have 2 x 3-week workout plans, and I understand that Machteld has mailed Frits’s ‘Triathlon Library’ to me. Thank you Machteld. I really appreciate it. They will hold pride of place in my Tiny House.

And, fond memories, that inspire me to train for my next Ironman race, to the best of my abilities, and to live my life to the full, in spite of everything!

My thoughts go out to Machteld, for her terrible loss. See you in the summer, my friend!

Wishing you happy trails, Frits with an ‘s,’ wherever you are!



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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.