TRIATHLON: 'Water Boy'

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George Papadakos -- Tales in Triathlon

Okay, I think we can finally say winter is over (knock on wood), and with hot weather comes the need for cold drinks.

I'm not talking a nice frozen concoction (which actually sounds yummy), but more about what you need to keep your body in top form with all the daily activities that come with the summer season.

Now whether you are a serious athlete or recreational exerciser or somewhere in-between, I think that one of the most overlooked parts of anyone's diet is their water intake. Water is extremely important as it helps to regulate body temperature, it lubricates joints (internally of course) and acts as a transport for important nutrients to your body for energy and health.

Without properly hydrating your body you may experience symptoms of dizziness or fatigue, and muscle cramps usually during strenuous exercise or sport. During my first ever Ironman distance race I learned the hard way what it feels like to be dehydrated.

In 2010, I raced in Louisville, Kentucky on what was one of the hottest days I've ever raced. Temperatures at 5 a.m. were already in the high 80's and the humidity was climbing steadily. During race talks they had warned us about getting enough water on the bike course so that we would keep hydrated.

The only problem was that they ran out of water at a key aid station (area where volunteers give water bottles to cyclists) and I was forced to drink only sports drinks. Now normally that isn't a bad thing, as I train and race with some type of sports drink. But on a day where the mid afternoon temperature reached 94 degrees, drinking a warm sports drink had my stomach turning, and thusly I didn't drink enough.

I persevered through the 180 km bike course, and made it back to transition. I thought I was done (stick a fork in me), I was already cramping, the medical officer looked at me and I thought for sure he was going to say I was done, but I slowly got ready for the run and nobody gave me a second look. I figured I was one of the lucky ones (haha) and set out to run 42 km on a depleted energy system.

I became an Ironman that day, but I paid for it. Even though there was plenty of water and food on the run course, and I could stop and walk at any time, the effects of not drinking water during the bike course had put me into a state of dehydration, that only time would help replenish.

I weighed myself the next day and found out that I had lost over 17 pounds, and although I was proud of finishing, I was in some pain. I couldn't eat, I was lethargic and wifey had to take the first shift behind the wheel because my legs were cramping (so I must of been in bad shape).

I learned this day the importance of water, and have always made sure that when training or racing to always prepare for the worst case scenario. Keeping a water bottle close by allows me to sip a little water often, whether I'm at work, home or on the road. I aim to drink at least two litres of water daily, and about four litres if I'm training.

Keeping water close by will always have you ready for that next training session.

Until we meet at the start line, train safe and have fun.


Only one Tillsonburg racer braved a very tough Milton duathlon on Sunday June 1. Scott Breen's dominance on the run placed him on the podium once again, as he finished second overall, and first place in his age group in a time of 1:28:55. Scott had an amazing day on the 30 km bike course which features a huge one kilometre climb that most people walk, clocking 50:21, and then had the second fastest run in the entire field clocking a 29:03 for 7.5 km, averaging 3:53 per kilometre on his way to a close second place finish. Congrats Scott!!


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