“There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs18:24

Except when it comes to the half Ironman.

I have exceptional colleagues at our residency program.  We have been together through thick and thin; stood shoulder to shoulder against godless administrators and their attempts to shut us down; supported each other during the ups and downs of daily life; watched our children grow up; lifted, laughed, and loved.

There is one flaw in the ointment.

In a month, my colleagues and I will compete in a half Ironman in Monterrey, Mexico.  I am the newbie in the group, having never done a tri, let alone an Ironman thing.  My colleagues are very free with their advice.

Take Nin(j)a for example.  She encouraged me to tape a few granola bars onto my bike and to snack on them half way through the fifty-six mile bike ride.  I took her up on it.  I used a little masking tape and strapped an energy bar on the frame.  It was mile thirty on my Saturday AM ride when I decided it was time to eat the granola.  I was riding about 16 miles per hour when I opened it, and chewed off a small bite.  A gust of wind hit my face and I gulped a mouth full of air, and a fraction of an almond, right into my trachea.

For the next two hours, I hacked up a lung.  I finished the bike ride and headed off on the run, coughing away like a tuberculin-ridden old man.  My running shorts were covered in unpleasant almond-flavored loogies.  Visions of vegetable matter aspiration haunted the rest of my run.

Nin(j)a denies a pre-meditated attempt to keep me out of the competition, but I am not so sure that she didn’t have more nefarious designs.

Ed(way)ward was the next to give me pointers.  I arrived in my office early one morning this week and found what looked like an unlabeled Zip-lock bag of white powder on my desk.  One of the resident physicians entered my office as I held the bag up to inspect the contents.  “Dr. Leibert, what are you doing with that?”


“Sniffing or snorting?”  He smiled as he pointed at the bag.  “Looks like the good stuff.”

Headlines flashed through my mind: “Program director caught with a kilo of cocaine.”  That’s when I found the writing on the bag: “two scoops into 16 ounces of water.”  Ed(way)ward had told me that I needed some good electrolytes in my water for the long bike ride.  He included a packet of Gu to provide a pick-me-up before the run.

This Saturday, I mixed my water with the electrolyte solution and drank it during my fifty mile bike ride.  And I sucked down the Gu as he had instructed.

Nausea set in somewhere around mile ten of my run.  I wasn’t sure how my neighbors would appreciate me chucking up a gut of electrolyte-enriched Gu in their front yards.  I choked the bitter liquid down and forced myself to think happier thoughts – like bagging up the barf and leaving it on Ed(way)ward’s desk with instructions on the proper use of puke.

Moral of the story: trust that your friends have your back, unless you show it to them during a race.