As You Get Older Your Body Becomes Weaker But Your Life Is Richer


The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

by Robert Frost, From

Hi folks,

Lake Placid Ironman placardI don’t know if you have ever ridden a bike at 45 mph. It’s fast and you had better stay on your toes mentally, because you really do not want to wreck at that speed. Well, there I was in my sixth Lake Placid Ironman, an experienced old age-grouper (69), coming down the long hill (about 8.5 miles) towards the village of Keene, on the second 56-mile loop of the bike course, but I was falling asleep. I just could not shake the feeling that I needed to go to sleep. My eyelids were drooping and I was having trouble taking the ride seriously, and I came really close to doing just that, sleeping. A little voice in my head said, “Kevin, sleep and this hill are not a good combination!” So I slowed down, shook myself, and took the sharp turn at the base of the hill and settled in to hold a steady pace on the level for about 15 miles towards the village of Upper Jay. But I was still very drowsy, and I couldn’t shake it.

Robert Frost Visits Lake Placid

In a book about the history of the town of Lake Placid in a coffee shop, FitOldDog found that the poet, Robert Frost, had visited the place many years ago,

After a few more miles I came across a rest stop, where people were dealing with riders who had abandoned the race. At that point, apparently, the temperature in this part of the course was in the 90s combined with high humidity. Then I noticed that I wasn’t sweating! Bad sign! I suspected heat exhaustion or even the more dangerous heat stroke. I spoke to the volunteers at the stop, and the guy in charge said, “Please sit down sir, what you are saying doesn’t make any sense.” (another bad sign). I remember thinking that my friend Rory would say, “Nothing he says ever makes any sense.” Within a few minutes of sitting on a chair, putting blocks of ice on my head, I knew it was over. I had succumbed to the heat, and there was nothing I could do about it, and to go on would be just plain unwise. One year’s training and my first DNF (Did Not Finish).

The oval in Lake Placid, finish of Lake Placid Ironman race,

This is where I started my journey to the Lake Placid Ironman, about 20 years ago, waiting for my son Nigel to finish, leaning on that railing. I thought – boy, I’d like to do that, and I did.

Did I make the right decision? I sure did. Discretion is the better part of valor in this situation – live to race another day. I clearly have trouble with heat, and it has become worse as I get older. In fact, of the four people sitting there waiting for a ride back, two were over 60, myself and a 62-year old guy, and he was pissed, red in the face and clearly overheated. A very small proportion of the 3000 athletes are over 60, and here were 2/4 with heat stress. It’s a bummer, I know, but age played a role. But with age came the wisdom to stop, and take the ‘road less traveled’; getting off of the road.

What other factors could have played a role? I was well hydrated (in fact I had to stop and pee just before this rest stop), my nutrition was spot on, but my stomach was upset for the whole race, even the swim, and had been not quite right for several days. Furthermore, my right calf was still tight, and might not have fared well in the run, which would not have been good for the New York City Marathon in November. It was probably a series of things that brought me down, but I made the right decision, I knew it, as a result of which my mood stayed upbeat. Those are the breaks in the Ironman, but I’m all signed up for next year!

Take it in your stride, learn from it, and you’ll handle your first DNF OK. It’s bound to happen eventually. The bottom line: Suck It Up, Ironman!

Now I think of all the other positive things that came out of this race. My son, Nigel, who also had trouble with the heat, but finished, was there with his three kids, with whom I had a great time. My support team came up and had a blast. I met some wonderful people, including the regulars, such as my hotel neighbor, Stephanie (completed the race and beat my swim time – damn), and Frits (with an ‘S,’ great guy, 67, who dropped out at 5 miles into the run). I enjoyed most of the beautiful Lake Placid Ironman bike course. Finally, great food and good company.

Was this safe exercise for better health in a post abdominal aortic surgery case? Absolutely, but only because I listened to Dirty Harry. I recognized my limitations in time to prevent serious injury.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. As your nephew I am glad you did the sensible thing!

  2. As your uncle, I’m so pleased to see that you are enjoying running again. Run all your life I say. OK! To sleep, perchance to dream. Good night young man. -k

  3. Robert Frost, not my favourite poet, but the message here is good. Yes, heat is hard. When you stop sweating you are in trouble. Had you proceeded fanitically with the race you could go the way of fanatics.
    New York is not known for Indian summers so that is something to get on with. Glad to see you can bounce back.

  4. This time you’re making a lot of sense…it’s good that you’ll live to fight another day.

  5. Fight another day, indeed! I had THE BEST TIME just being there with you Kevin, and am slowly going through all the pics and thinking how I can’t wait until next year! {next year is going to be your 281.2 year}

  6. Pauline Watson says

    I had a similar experience and made a similar decision at last weekend’s 70.3 Half Ironman in Muskoka.
    The weather was awful in Muskoka Saturday, but Sunday race day was perfect. The water was low 70s, so comfortable with the short wet suits. The air temp was about 50F (9C), so there was mist rising from the lake. I started easy and comfortably (easy swim says the doctor), however I kept getting leg cramps (5-6 times) and had to stop, eggbeater, and massage them out, so my swim time was not great.
    The bike course was nice – Bob was there at 2 k so I stopped to give him a hug, Jane/Gay/Lynn/Chris were at the highway 117 junction with Helix the guide dog puppy, so I gave them hugs and we took some pictures. I chatted with volunteers at the 2 bottle exchange stops and made 2 pit stops, but was still on target to make the cut-off by 20 minutes. Then, in the last 15-20km, we arrived to 3 long sections of oiled gravel roads, and I was so gutless going downhill that I didn’t have the momentum going uphill and had to walk a few hills, as my heart beat was maxing out. I missed the bike cut-off. My chip was removed by a marshall, and I was quite ok with it. I had completed the 8 of 10 difficulty 94 k bike course and not blown my AAA.
    Then I remembered poor Virginia out there running by herself, so I ran back on the course to find her and so ended up running 15k. I could have run 6k more, but everyone wanted to go home by then. I was quite pleased with my efforts. I had done the bike and swim, and knew I could have finished the half. I am a different person than I was pre-AAA when competition was everything and I didn’t have time to stop and smell the roses.

    • Welcome to Nirvana, my friend. You had a great race, you have a great support team, and I hope Virginia had a great race too. It’s mainly in the mind, and how’s the toe for NYC, because I’m really looking forward to meeting you guys? Oh Yes! I need to book that hotel in Camden because a post-race drink sounds perfect. -k

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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.