Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 in Pictures

Borrowing an idea from Chris Hawes who posted pictures from his transition setup from his '11 events. Here are some of my finish pictures from 2011.

First duathlon of the year, Jan 23 in Houston, TX

Apple Du, 1st race post pelvic stress fracture

Suffered thru the Pigman Sprint

Finishing at the Manitou Tri

Started to come together down in Rochester

Podium at MinneMan

Rock solid at Turtleman

2nd overall at Maple Grove Sprint

Master overall champ at Bismarck Half-Marathon

Last multisport event of the year Oct 2 in Houston, TX

1st Overall at Red River Run 15K in Moorhead, MN

Friday, December 23, 2011

12-Week Swim Guide for Sprint or Oly Triathlon

Here is my time proven guide for getting yourself ready for your first triathlon of the year in a mere 12-weeks. The program shown is just for the main set. I always warm-up with a 500 yd easy freestyle and then a 500-yd warm down. The warm down is done with paddles and a swim buoy.

Note - Click on each thumbnail for larger view. Or you can download the workout here.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Words for Triathletes to Use in 2012

I got this idea from a posting providing some favorite words that appeared in mental_floss stories in 2011. Have fun working these into your triathlete conversations this holiday season and in 2012:

Kummerspeck (German): Excess weight gained from emotional overeating due to your inability to break 19-minutes for a 5K. Or you got the entire female field. 

Petrichor: The clean, pleasant smell that accompanies rain falling on dry ground. It’s from the Greek petra (stone) and ichor (the blood of Greek gods and goddesses). The term was coined by two Australian researchers in 1964. So, when you arrive at transition at 4:30 AM and it is raining, you can say something like, "I love petrichor before a triathlon. It invigorates the soul."

Dysania: Having difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. Yep, you are at the pool at 5 AM waiting on your training buddy to show up. You can now text by saying, "Get your dysaniac butt out of bed and get here!"

Karoshi (Japanese): Suppose to mean death from overworking. We can alter this to mean being injured from overtraining. "Yeah, I suffered a karoshi injury from my 500 mile bike week."

Lawn Mullet: Suppose to mean a neatly manicured front yard and an unmowed mess in the back. I can see Jerry MacNeil using this at the finish line. "Hey, there is Bob Smith! Look at that hair. What a lawn mullet he is sporting!"

Koi No Yokan (Japanese): Refers to the sense that upon first meeting a person that the two of you will fall in love. For tri-geeks, we can apply the same feeling to a bike. "I went into Gear West and saw this Cervélo and it was Koi No Yokan for me."

Bakku-shan (Japanese): Suppose to refer to the experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front. I'm just going to let that one stand.

Have any other suggestions? Let 'em fly by leaving a comment.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Super Bike Summary

Recently I posted a photo of a bike I would consider purchasing if money were no object. Since then, I received a lot of additional suggestions and decided to do a quick summary of them for future reference sake.

Specialized Shiv

Price - $12700

Former Texas training partner and now Texas race host Tim "Buckwheat" Carroll was the first to lead me to this bike. Apparently illegal in road racing (UCI) but still is USAT legal. Basically, they ignored UCI rules and designed the Shiv exclusively for triathlon: with unmatched aerodynamics, the Fuelselage integr...ated hydration system, and a huge range of fit adjustability. The S-Works FACT IS 11r carbon frame, Zipp 404 wheels, and Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain make the S-Works an ultralight, crazy fast package.

This is the bike Craig Alexander rode for Ironman Kona 2011:

Here's what Alexander said about it afterwards..."It's a total rocketship that should be illegal."

Looks great, doesn't it? But I have concerns. First, the 22-24 ounce internal bladder. Most of us will not use straight water but some sort of electrolyte/protein replenishment so what happens when the bladder needs to be cleaned? Apparently, the bladder can be removed for cleaning but who wants to do that all the time?

Besides, I am a tri-geek who races sprint distance 90% of the time with the occassional Oly. I really have no need for an internal bladder to save me 0.025 seconds over 10 miles. A single water bottle will serve me just fine.

But the most important reason I would pass on the Shiv is USAT itself. A few years ago I purchased a De Soto Water Rover wetsuit. This suit has a distinct advantage by placing panels of 2mm, 5mm, 8mm, and 10mm thickness in specific locations to maximize speed and flexibility. When I bought it, it was legal. As of September 1, 2010, the Water Rover was banned in WTC Races. USAT was next. According to USAT regulations, there is no limitation as to the thickness of wetsuit rubber, and there will be no limitation until Jan, 2013. This means if you buy a Water Rover now, you can race in this almost unfair and perfectly legal advantage for the entire 2011 and 2012 triathlon seasons. After that, it becomes a nice training suit or for us in non-USAT races.

What is to prohibit USAT making the same determination with the Shiv and determining this bike to be illegal and one is stuck with a nice $12K training bike? I'm not going to take that chance.

Argon-18 E118

Price - One bike dealer listed for $7400 but unsure of the wheel set.

Reader Miguel Vieira lead me to this previusly unknown bike. I've not seen one locally but it sure is pretty, isn't it?

Out of the box, the E-118 is equally compatible with Di2 or mechanical components. Regardless of the group you choose, all cables and wiring are internally routed for enhanced aerodynamics.

Built in a new mold and certified UCI-legal, this triathlon frameset expands and refines the concepts first embodied in the spectacular E-114 that helped establish the company’s stellar reputation in this field. This new frameset was developed in close collaboration with triathlon champion Tim O’Donnell and the Team SpiderTech riders, including Svein Tuft and Hugo Houle, Canadian Pro and U-23 time-trial champions, respectively.

In the world of time trial events, much emphasis is placed on the aerodynamic properties of bikes. While this is an important factor, in reality the cyclist generates up to 70% of the aerodynamic drag. This fact is at the core of Argon 18’s design philosophy. Our approach is that the rider and bike must form an integrated unit in order to optimize efficiency and achieve the best results. CFD analysis clearly demonstrates that once the rider is not in proper position, drag increases dramatically. Optimal positioning through AFS gives the rider the ability to remain on the armrests in the proper aero tuck position longer.

AFS geometry built into the E-118 guarantees tremendously accurate steering and extremely stable handling. This allows the rider to remain on the armrests in circumstances where it has not always been possible. For example, riders can remain in the perfect aero tuck position on the armrests during descents, on uneven roads, while hydrating and even when reaching into jersey pockets for nutrition

The AFS approach ensures the rider can maintain a proper aero position longer through an easy, accurate fit therefore ensuring aerodynamic efficiency and the ultimate in performance.

Trek Project One Custom Speed Concept 9.9 Series Podium
Price as shown (with Aeolus 9.0 Clinchers): $10,184.97. With Dura Ace Di2 -$12468.72

This is the customized paint Trek that I posted earlier. I think it is the customized paint option that initially draws me to the bike. I don't have to look like all the others in the transition area. I can be 'different', which everyone already knows I am.

The Trek seems to be a super-fast aerodynamic machine - it could be the most aero bike out there; if not, it's certainly right up there - with excellent adjustability and a top spec sheet. My research shows that riders who have this machine indicate the Trek absolutely flies on the flat and on shallow gradients, both up and down, and one gets a ton of stability which helps keep things steady even in a slight crosswind.

Downsides? Current owners indicate that adjusting the brakes could be easier… a whole lot easier, in fact, particularly the back one. But that’s the price you pay for the aerodynamic benefit, I guess. If brakes are tucked away from the wind, they’re tucked away from fingers and Allen keys too.

It’s a similar deal with the gears. You don’t get any external cable stops or in-line barrel adjusters so you can’t adjust them on the fly. If you ever found the chain struggling to go up a sprocket, you’d couldn’t do anything about it from the saddle, so you have to make sure everything is bang on before you set off.

Here is what Chris Lieto thinks of the bike.

Felt DA1 Di2
Price - DA 1 - Ultimate+Nano Carbon, Di2, Zipp 808 Firecrest Wheels - $12,999

Felt is a bike that we see a lot here in the Tundra. Mainly due to the fact that local tri-shop Gear West carries Felts and most of its top athletes from the GW team ride them.

Years of research, engineering and wind-tunnel development went into the DA1. Already ridden to major triathon wins by Felt athletes Terenzo Bozzone, and Andi Boecherer, this is the bike that left the competition in the dust. With UHC Ultimate+Nano carbon fiber material—shaped through extensive Computational Fluid Dynamics engineering and real-world testing—it’s 14% more aerodynamic and 13% stiffer than the last-generation DA. It’s also optimized for Shimano Di2 electronic shifting, with internal cable routing and an integrated battery mount.

I've not really had the chance to speak to anyone who is riding this machine so I can't add that much more to it. But it certainly has to be a great bike. All the Felt riders I know, whether using this model or one of the cheaper frames, always finish ahead of me.

Giant Trinity Advanced SL 0

Price - $13,500

Coming in highest of the bunch (component selective, mind) is this offering from Giant. Giant was a big brand when I lived on the East coast in the late 1980's. They've been around for a long time and have a good rep. I just don't know of any tri-geek riding it nor can I find any reviews on the bike. If you have it, or can provide a review please post within the comments field.

The manufacturer states: Designed by Giant's top engineers, this road rocket boasts the most advanced wind-cheating technology you could dream of. Starting with an aerodynamic Advanced SL Composite frame and fork, Giant then adds an aerodynamic carbon seatpost and integrated handlebar system for the ultimate in stiffness, light weight and efficiency that's sure to have you breaking PR's in no time. You'll love the wide range of adjustability for the perfect fit in any position, and with top-of-the-line components like Shimano's electronic Dura-Ace Di2 group, amazing Zipp 808 tubular wheels and a sleek Fizik saddle with carbon rails, you've got one stellar machine that's ready to dismantle the competition!

Well, it better for that price (2012 model)!

Cervélo P5

Price - ???

Which brings me to my last bike for this blog entry. I currently ride a 2008 P3 which is aluminum with 650cc wheel set (ZIPPs). So, certainly anything by Cervélo I'm going to look at.

BikeRadar received confirmation that Cervélo are set to debut their new—and highly anticipated—P5 tri/time trial aero flagship, as two distinct models during January's European Brainbike event. The models will be split by purpose: one UCI legal and ready for World Tour competition, and a second version built to cater to the longer distances and less restrictive governing body of triathlon.

As discussed earlier, Specialized upped the aero bike ante this year by splitting their Shiv aero bike into both UCI-legal and non-compliant versions in order to simultaneously satisfy the technical guidelines of WorldTour racing and the comparatively unrestricted arms race of triathlon. Cervélo generally aren't perceived as having those kinds of resources but according to BikeRadar's exclusive industry sources, the new P5 will counter that move with a tri-specific model that will cater more to their highly loyal multisport clientele and a second UCI-legal version for time trials.

The tri-specific version will be more aerodynamic with a taller down tube, a more aggressive seat tube profile around the rear wheel cutout, and a conventional single-crown fork – albeit, one with an additional bolt-on nosecone to increase the effective aspect ratio. The UCI-legal version, on the other hand, sticks to more P4-like tube dimensions and a standard front end without the add-on nosecone.

Also the P5 will forego a dramatically sleek proprietary cockpit for a standard setup that will be easier to fit and allow more choice in components – a move retailers and fitters will undoubtedly support. Even better, retail pricing is rumored to be lower than that of the P4 – people are guessing around $4,000 for the frameset with brakes and seatpost.

I seem to do bike window shopping each winter. Sort of passes the time. But I'm also wondering if a move to a super bike from the 2008 Cervélo P3 that I have about $4k invested in. It is an aluminum frame and has a ZIPP wheelset.

This bike has a 650cc wheel set, so I've been wondering if a move to a 700cc wheel set would be faster. Not to mention the lighter and more aero frame.

So, I went to Kevin O'Connor. Kevin is the owner of the aforementioned Gear West tri store. Kevin was the 2009 USAT Duathlete of the year. And he is someone I have trusted to go to for triathlon advice and bike service. Basically, Kevin made the following points to me about a possible move to a super bike:

  • It is a loaded question but the short answer is that the new bikes are faster.
  • There are some example of guys in the same situation as you.  Brooks Grossinger and Chad Millner.  I don't know if you know these guys but they are both fast and prior to 2010 season they were still on their 6-8 yr old 650c bikes with 9 speed drivetrains.  And they raced very fast on those.  Few things worse than having them pull up next to you in a race on their 7 yr old bike.  But they have both stated that the new bike is significantly better.  I don't know that they are riding any faster but they certainly are not slowing down.
  • Here is the real answer to biking faster.  Training with Power.  [Such as training with] a Powertap wheel or Quarq crankset.  You would be able to quantify your cycling power.
  • Do not ever accept that your pace is just the current pace. I just don't believe that.
So for the curious, a Quarq crankset looks like this:

Priced at $1795, it is a bicycle powermeter that is integrated into the crankset of the bicycle. Specifically, the CinQo is a instrumented crank "spider" that mounts on specific production cranksets. The ANT+ radio transmits the CinQo's power measurement digitally to other ANT+ compatible bicycle computers. (Think of ANT+ as "Bluetooth" for bicycles.) ANT+ computers include the Garmin Edge 705 and the iBike iAero. The ANT standard is available to all bike computer manufactures, so look for more ANT+ compatible bike computers in the future.

The CinQo powermeter measures power by measuring the torque (pedal force) and the angular velocity (cadence). When you press on the pedals, all parts of the bikes drivetrain displace (flex) slightly under the load. The CinQo spider is carefully designed using Finite Element Analysis to displace in a very controlled manner in specific locations in response to applied load. Strain gages are used to measure the displacement and thus calculate the applied torque.

For powertaps, there is the $1600 top-of-the-line Powertap SL+ Hub, Wheel, or Wheelset with Joule 2.0. Also there is a SL+ Hub built into Rear Wheel and Joule 2.0 for $1749.99.

I know some tri-geeks who train with power in mind and seem to do well. If someone were to go this route, they would need to understand the power concept and be able to set their training by it.

What about you? Would you opt for a new super bike? Or simply stay with the date you brought to the dance and incorporate a new training strategy?

Let me know. Leave a comment below, especially if you own any of the bikes covered above or use power in your training.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Juuussssst Short

"Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades."

Looks like I JUST missed a National Honorable Mention in tri this year for the male 50-54 age group. USAT has its rankings up with all non-qualifiers removed (still not official until Feb). In tri I was 268th out of 2521 (top 10.6%), or just 16 spots away from a HM (top 6-10%). In du I was 47th out of 208 (top 22.5%). Both improvements over 2010.

Now, I still have a chance. However unlikely it may be. To sneak into the top 10% I just have to hope that another 159 people qualify (three USAT events mininimum for tri's) behind me while zero additional people qualify ahead of me. Snowball, meet Hell.

On the positive side this year was a step up over 2010. Especially when you consider that I started the season on the sidelines for 12-weeks while I dealt with a pelvic stress fracture. And the Masters win at the Bismarck Half-Marathon and the overall win at the Red River 15K certainly was icing on the cake.

Still, to have been this close I would have rathered missing by 1000 spots than a mere 16. Leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Even so, my concentration this coming race season will not be USAT race finishes but just to enjoy the races I sign up for and the friendships developed. Should be a fun year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

If I Were a Rich Man....

As shown, $10,184.97. I even have a name for her. "Little Wing" as in the song:

Well she's walking through the clouds
With a circus mind that's running round
Butterflies and zebras
And moonbeams and fairy tales
That's all she ever thinks about
Riding with the wind.

Click on thumbnail for larger view

Monday, December 5, 2011

Probiotics and You

I take Activia and as a licensed drug dealer (pharmacist) I am required to take continuing education classes. I recently took one such class on probiotics and thought I would share some inforamtion with you as FYI so you can make your own safety and effectiveness decisions on this emerging health issue. The following information is credited to Peggy Piascik, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy.

Hundreds of products claiming to be probiotic, both foods and dietary supplements, are available in the marketplace today. Consumers are bombarded with information about these products and their potential benefits for human health. A 2011 survey found that 81% of Americans are aware of using probiotics to improve digestive health and 43% of Americans already consume probiotic foods. According to SPINS, a market research company for the natural products industry, consumers spent $1.2 billion on probiotic foods and supplements during the year ending September 2010, an increase of 27% from the previous year.

Probiotics are live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host. Several related terms (prebiotics, postbiotics, and synbiotics) are sometimes confused with probiotics. All four terms are defined in Table 1. Many probiotics have been isolated from the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract, but only those native commensal bacteria that have been shown to have health benefits can be called probiotic. Prebiotics are sometimes called food for bacteria because they stimulate the growth and activity of the probiotic within the human intestinal tract.

Probiotics have been proposed for treatment of a number of medical conditions, including allergic diseases, infections of a variety of types (respiratory, urinary tract infections (UTIs), bacterial vaginosis), and the prevention of dental caries. The most active area of interest and investigation is the use of probiotics to prevent and treat GI disorders. Scientific investigation of the medical uses for probiotics has increased markedly in recent years. It has been estimated that more than 5,000 articles about probiotics have been published in the medical literature in the past decade. Evidence that probiotics are useful for improving gut health and stimulating immune function is now available.

Probiotics are not new products. Live bacteria contained in food products have been known to confer health benefits for centuries. In the early 1900s, immunologist Élie Metchnikoff linked the longevity of Russian peasants to their consumption of fermented milk products containing lactic acid bacteria. He suggested that these beneficial bacteria coated the colon, decreased intestinal pH, and suppressed harmful bacteria. During World War I, a strain of Escherichia coli was isolated from the feces of a soldier who survived an outbreak of shigellosis without developing enterocolitis. The strain was successfully used to treat acute cases of infectious intestinal disease and it is still in use today. The term probiotic, meaning “for life” in Greek, was first used in the 1960s.

How Probiotics Work

The beneficial effects of probiotics are the result of complex, interacting immune mechanisms that are detrimental to intestinal pathogens in the intestinal tract and restore the balance between the good and the bad microorganisms. In addition to variations in mechanism of action, probiotics differ in their ability to withstand gastric acid and to colonize the intestinal tract. It is important to note that probiotic effects are strain specific: For example, there is evidence that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG can reduce the duration of acute diarrhea in children; however, L rhamnosus GR-1 does not have the same effect. Proposed mechanisms include the following:

•Competition with the pathogen for binding sites on the intestinal wall and for essential nutrients
•Bacteriocidal actions, which may include
◦Lowering intestinal pH through the production of lactic, acetic, and/or propionic acids
◦Production of organic acids, bacteriocins, and hydrogen peroxide
•Immunomodulation, including enhanced phagocytic activity, production of immunoglobulin A, and stimulation of cytokine production
•Strengthening the intestinal barrier by stabilizing tight junctions between epithelial cells, decreasing permeability of the intestinal tract, and increasing production of mucins that form a protective barrier for the intestinal epithelium
•Metabolic mechanisms including:
◦Aiding digestion
◦Synthesizing vitamins
◦Increasing mineral absorption
◦Detoxifying carcinogens

Common Probiotic Organisms

The most commonly used probiotic organisms are the lactic acid-producing bacteria, bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Bifidobacteria are the most abundant beneficial microorganisms in the large intestine. They are anaerobic, rod-shaped, gram-positive bacteria that produce broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. Lactobacilli are gram-positive obligate and facultative anaerobes. They are much less abundant in the large intestine than bifidobacteria. Like bifidobacteria, lactobacilli produce a number of antimicrobial products. The yeast, Saccharomyces boulardii, is also used in probiotic products, as are a variety of other bacteria. Common probiotic organisms are listed in Table 2.

Manufacturers of probiotic products promote their products as supporters or regulators of digestive health. To support their claims, there is growing evidence regarding the use of specific probiotic products in the treatment of a variety of GI diseases; in fact, a number of meta-analyses have concluded that probiotics will produce a benefit during the treatment of these diseases. Gathering quality evidence is often difficult because of the inconsistency in testing methods; currently, data have been generated by small trials that are using a variety of probiotic strains and dosing regimens. The variability in study results have caused subsequent reviews to call for additional research to determine the best regimens by using specific probiotic strains in established regimens for specific patient groups.

Treatment of Diarrhea

Probiotics have been studied in a variety of diarrheal illnesses. A systematic review of 63 probiotic studies involving adults and children showed that duration of acute antibiotic-associated diarrhea was shortened by a mean of 25 hours when a probiotic product was added to the regimen. Stool frequency was also reduced. The majority of the probiotics tested were lactic acid bacteria, with two studies using S boulardii. The probiotics were generally used in combination with rehydration therapy.

Systematic reviews of treatment for acute infectious diarrhea, particularly pediatric Rotavirus infection, have concluded that there is an overall decrease in diarrhea duration between 17 and 30 hours. These trials primarily used strains of lactobacillus, most commonly L rhamnosus GG (LGG) and VSL#3 (a mixture of 4 strains of lactobacilli, 3 strains of bifidobacteria, and 1 strain of Streptococcus thermophilus).

Meta-analyses of 12 studies using probiotics for the prevention of travelers’ diarrhea concluded that S boulardii and a combination of Lactobacillus acidophilus and B Bifidum reduced the risk of developing diarrhea. Another review concluded that the reduction in travelers’ diarrhea was 8%. The ability to demonstrate effectiveness in studies investigating the prevention of travelers’ diarrhea has been complicated by the use of different strains of probiotic organisms, as well as the variation in both trip destinations and the organisms to which patients were exposed.

Benefits of probiotics for acute diarrheal illness have been reported in at least one controlled trial for strains of L rhamnosus GG, Lactobacillus reuteri, and the combination of L acidophilus, and Lactobacillus bifidus.

Because the benefits reported are modest and the conditions are generally self-limiting in healthy children and adults, use of probiotics in acute infectious diarrheal illness is reasonable for healthy adults and children within the first 24 to 48 hours of symptoms to decrease the risk, stool frequency, and duration of diarrhea.

Clostridium difficile Infection (CDI)

C difficile can colonize the intestinal tract after normal GI flora are disrupted, often following antibiotic therapy. Patients with recurrent C difficile infection may have markedly diminished intestinal bacteria compared with patients who do not have C difficile. A review of six randomized, controlled trials suggested that S boulardii (3 X 1010 CFUs twice-a-day) in combination with either oral vancomycin or metronidazole, or both drugs, significantly decreased the recurrence of C difficile infection. Other probiotics were not found to be effective. Two other reviews found insufficient evidence to recommend S boulardii as adjunctive therapy to prevent CDI or decrease its recurrence. Based on this evidence, probiotics are not recommended for prevention or primary treatment of C difficile infection in most patients. Treatment with S boulardii may be considered for patients with no significant comorbidities who have recurrent disease.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS is characterized by a group of symptoms, including abdominal pain, flatulence, and bloating. These symptoms have been attributed to possible alterations in the intestinal microbiota and elevated levels of cytokines. A meta-analysis of 16 randomized, controlled trials found methodological problems, including differences in probiotic strain, doses, duration of therapy, and outcomes measured, in many of the trials. Bifidobacterium infantis 35624 was the only probiotic to demonstrate efficacy in two appropriately designed trials. Both global and individual IBS symptoms were significantly improved without an increase in adverse events. B infantis increased the ratio of interleukin 10 to interleukin 12, suggesting an immunologic mechanism by which B infantis is producing a beneficial effect.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

IBD is a group of conditions characterized by inflammation along the GI tract. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and fever. Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and pouchitis are all forms of IBD. An imbalance in the intestinal microbiota may lead to the inflammatory symptoms seen in these diseases. Probiotics are being investigated for use in the treatment of IBD as an alternative to antibiotics, which are currently the mainstay of therapy. When added to standard therapy, probiotics do not provide additional benefit compared with standard therapy alone. Most probiotics tested to date are not more effective than placebo in inducing or maintaining IBD remission.


Pouchitis is an inflammation in the lining of an intestinal pouch, resulting from surgery for ulcerative colitis. This condition can occur in up to half of patients who undergo the surgery within 5 years. Decreased levels of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria may contribute to the condition. The combination product, VSL#3, has provided the best evidence to date of effectiveness in preventing and treating pouchitis. Several prospective clinical trials using VSL#3 for 9 to 12 months have shown a consistent decrease in the incidence and relapse of pouchitis. One uncontrolled trial involving patients with mild active pouchitis who were treated with VSL#3 showed a remission rate of 69%; while trials investigating treatment with LGG for 3 months failed to show efficacy. A 2010 meta-analysis concluded that VSL#3 is more effective than placebo for preventing the onset and relapse of pouchitis.

Ulcerative Colitis (UC)

Several studies have suggested that probiotics may be effective in the induction and remission of UC. However, most studies have been hampered by the use of different probiotic strains, a short duration of trial, and a small number of patients. Several small trials, all with a short duration of therapy and with a variable standard of care, showed improvement in various measures of disease activity and cytokine profiles. Studies comparing the efficacy of E coli Nissle 1917 with mesalazine found the therapies to be similar in the ability to maintain remission. A Cochrane database systematic review concluded that probiotics when combined with other therapies did not improve remission rates, but showed a reduction in disease activity in mild-to-moderately severe UC. A small study using a 4 week course of S boulardii showed a 68% success rate in achieving clinical remission. In another small trial, a 6-week course of VSL#3 effectively induced remission or produced a response in 77% of patients formerly unresponsive to standard therapies. All of these studies support the idea that specific probiotics may be effective for the short-term treatment of patients with UC.

Crohn’s Disease (CD)

The literature about the use of probiotics as induction therapy, as well as its use as a maintenance therapy during remission, in patients with CD is mixed. Again, methodological problems exist regarding trials, particularly the low numbers of patients involved. Data about the prevention of relapse following surgical intervention failed to show benefit; meta-analyses and systematic reviews have shown that probiotics were ineffective as maintenance therapy during remission for patients with CD.

Lactose Intolerance

Probiotic bacteria may produce lactase that degrades lactose in the intestine and stomach and prevents symptoms of lactose intolerance. Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus were shown to improve lactose digestion and reduce symptoms related to lactose intolerance in studies using yogurt with live cultures.

Patients with milk allergy or lactose intolerance should check probiotic labels for the presence of lactose or milk products. Some products contain milk protein or lactose and can cause symptoms in lactose intolerant patients.

The effects of probiotics on several other GI disorders are currently under study. These conditions include Helicobacter pylori infection, colon cancer prevention, obesity, and diabetes. To date, study results are variable and too preliminary to draw any reliable conclusions about the benefits of using probiotics.

Future – Additional randomized, controlled trials are needed to determine the most effective strains of probiotics to treat a variety of GI diseases. These investigations may include the following: a determination of optimal doses and the optimal duration of treatment; the use of single versus combination products; and the use of products combining probiotics with prebiotics. There should also be further investigation to determine the safety of probiotics for the treatment of debilitated patients and in patients with compromised gut epithelial integrity. Guidelines have been suggested for evaluating probiotics as a food or as a dietary supplement product. The probiotic must be identified by genus, species, and strain; it should be characterized functionally and a safety assessment should be conducted. Phase I, II, and III human studies should be conducted, including comparisons of probiotic regimens with standard treatment for the proposed use. The following issues should be considered when performing these studies:

•Probiotic species, genus, and strains may have different effects on individuals with different disease states.
•Probiotics may produce metabolites, or postbiotics, that contribute to the probiotic’s action by inducing cytokine secretion. These additional actions should be considered when determining a probiotic’s effectiveness.
•Few studies have documented the survival of a probiotic as it travels through the intestine, which can be done by performing a fecal recovery study. Results from one probiotic strain may not be transferable to other probiotics, even within the same species.
•Method of delivery, such as food product versus supplement tablet, may alter the viability and stability of CFUs. The vehicle for the organism, as well as other components of the preparation, can affect probiotic activity. Studies should be done using the specific dosage form available for purchase by consumers.
•The optimal dose in number of CFUs for each bacterial strain used to treat a specific condition should be determined. Doses used in human trials should be based on doses used in animal studies. Dose–response studies have not been performed for most probiotics.
•Optimal length of probiotic treatment and duration of response are not known for most probiotics. How long it takes for a specific probiotic strain to colonize, alter the microbiota, and impact the immune system determines onset and duration of activity.
•Age of the patient population is relevant. Composition of colonic bacterial microbiota appears to change as patients age, particularly for patients older than 60 years of age.
•Combination probiotic products may interact and have a different cumulative effect on host intestinal flora than single probiotic preparations.


There is evidence that human milk contains mononuclear cells that transport intestinally derived bacterial components from the mother to her infant. These bacterial components are thought to influence an infant’s developing immune system through a process called bacterial imprinting. An infant’s early diet and intestinal microbial environment are thought to serve as pivotal factors in overall health. Exposure to nonbeneficial microorganisms and antimicrobial agents in the newborn may result in immune dysregulation and lead to some chronic disease states. Production of secretory IgA, or obtaining it from breast milk, helps to protect the newborn from pathogens during the perinatal period. Addition of probiotic bacteria to formula may stimulate the natural production of IgA. A growing number of studies have evaluated the use of probiotics in children for common conditions, including infectious gastroenteritis. The evidence suggests potential benefit from LGG, L bulgaricus, L acidophilus, S thermophilus and B bifidum. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, confirmatory well-designed clinical studies supporting the addition of probiotics to powdered infant formulas do not currently exist; therefore, the Academy does not recommend this practice. Addition of prebiotic oligosaccharides to infant formula also lacks evidence of clinical efficacy. However, probiotics, with or without prebiotics, are increasingly being added to infant formulas and other food products marketed for use by children. Two infant formulas currently contain a probiotic; one contains Bifidobacterium lactis and the other contains LGG.

Probiotics should not be given to children who are seriously or chronically ill until the safety of administration has been established; its long-term impact on the gut microbiota of children is currently unknown. It also remains to be established whether there are significant biological benefits to the administration of probiotics during pregnancy.


Probiotics, particularly the lactic acid bacteria, have maintained a good safety record for the last 100 years. As long as the strain has no transferable genes for antibiotic resistance, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are considered very safe. Reports of infection are very rare and those reports have occurred primarily in patients with preexisting infections, dental surgeries, or obstetrical procedures, where the infection is likely to have occurred from native sources. Some species or strains of Streptococcus, Enterococcus, and Escherichia may be pathogenic, so correct identification of the strain being used is essential to maintain the safe use of probiotics.

A few cases of sepsis have occurred in conjunction with the administration of S boulardii. Contamination of intravenous lines may have been a factor in these cases. Another potential risk is the induction of D-lactate acidosis by probiotic bacteria that produce D-lactic acid. While this condition has never been linked to probiotic administration, it has occurred in patients with short-bowel syndrome; therefore, it is recommended to avoid use of probiotics when treating these patients. The unpredictability of immunomodulation in some disease states is a potential issue with the use of probiotics. Worsening of CD in patients taking probiotics has been reported.

Since no formal clinical trials assessing the safety of probiotics are required prior to marketing, the majority of information about safety has been obtained from individual case reports.

In summary, probiotics have been shown to be safe in healthy, immunocompetent patients who receive the product in an outpatient setting. Caution should be exercised when administering probiotics to pregnant women, infants, immunocompromised patients, or patients with chronic diseases because of the lack of information about safety in regard to these populations.

Probiotics are generally well tolerated. The most commonly reported adverse effects are abdominal discomfort, flatulence, and bloating. These effects are more likely to occur during the first week of use of a probiotic and are usually self-limiting.

Probiotics are marketed in a wide variety of formulations. The probiotics market in Europe consists primarily of food products including yogurt, fermented milk products, juices and other fortified food and beverage items. These products are sometimes referred to as functional foods. The U.S. probiotic market is primarily dietary supplements rather than food products although food products enriched with probiotics are growing in number and popularity. The following characteristics are considered to be essential when formulating a probiotic product (Table 3):

•Known genus, species, and strain of the product
•Established safety – the organism cannot be pathogenic or carry antibiotic resistance genes and it cannot degrade the intestinal mucosa or conjugate bile acids
•Resistant to degradation by acid or bile and survival in transit through the GI tract to its site of action
•Adherence to mucosa and ability to colonize the intestine for a period of time
•Evidence of health benefit established by scientific studies
•Stability of organism during the manufacturing process and storage prior to sale

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Possible 2012 Race Calendar

Lots that could yet change, but this is an early look into what I'm thinking about for 2012. Take it with a grain of salt as some of the race dates have not even been locked in yet. Little bit of new, little bit of old. Good mix of run and multi-sport.

For those who keep up with me, I had been thinking about doing a 'run only' year in 2012. Well, after running 170 miles in August, 130 in September, 170 in October, and 200 in November.....I can safely say my body would rebel. So, it will back to a shared mix of swim, bike and run in 2012.

I'm most excited about the three Graniteman Triathlons as part of a new series for Minnesota. Two of the races have history, but one is brand spanking new.

The Graniteman Endurance Series consists of three sprint triathlons all in beautiful Central MN. The first triathlon, Graniteman St. Cloud, is held in June in beautiful downtown St. Cloud, MN. The second race, Graniteman Clearwater, is held in July in scenic Clearwater, MN at Warner Lake Park, and the third triathlon is Graniteman Big Lake, which is held in Big Lake, MN at Lakeside Park in early August.

All participants in the Graniteman Endurance Series receive a $5.00 discount on every race entry, a great long sleeve Endurance Series dry fit shirt, and a free entry into the Graniteman Half Marathon, 5k, or 10k which is held in September! Participants from each race will also receive complimentary items from each race, t-shirts, and are automatically registered to win one of our great series door prizes.

Also notice that there are some kids events listed. It is time for my son to get into some official events which all will be chipped time. It should be a fun year for him.

Feb 5 - Hamel 5K - Hamel, MN
Feb 19 - Frost 'Yer Fanny Duathlon, Ft. Worth TX - 2mi run, 15mi bike, 2mi run
Mar 3/4 - Gasparilla Distance Classic Race Weekend - Tampa, FL 15K/5K/Half-Marathon/8K
Mar 10/17(?) - St. Patrick's Day 5K Run - Fargo, ND
Apr 7 - Fetzer 20K - Rochester, MN
Apr 28 (signed up) - Falls Duathlon - Cannon Falls, MN 2mi run, 14mi bike, 3mi run
May 19 (signed up) - Fargo Half-Marathon - Fargo, ND
May 26 - Apple Duathlon - Sartell, MN 5K run, 33K bike, 5K run
June 3 (signed up) - Buffalo Triathlon - Buffalo, MN 1/4mi swim, 12mi bike, 3mi run
Jun 16 - Lakes to Pines Triathlon - Park Rapids, MN - 500yd swim, 14.7mi bike, 5K run
Jun 23 (signed up) - GraniteKids Triathlon - St. Cloud, MN - 150yd swim, 3mi bike, 0.75mi run
Jun 24 (signed up) - Graniteman Triathlon - St. Cloud, MN 1/3mi swim, 15mi bike, 5K run
Jun 30 - Hy-Vee IronKids - Sioux City, IA - 300yd swim, 8mi bike, 2mi run
Jul 14 (signed up) - Graniteman Triathlon - Clearwater, MN 0.46mi swim, 15mi bike, 5K run
Jul 15 - Heart of the Lakes Triathlon - Annandale, MN 0.5mi swim, 21mi bike, 5.3mi run
Jul 21 - Hy-Vee IronKids - Rochester, MN - 300yd swim, 8mi bike, 2mi run
Jul 28 - Lindenwood 10 K - Fargo, ND
Aug 4 (signed up) - Graniteman Triathlon - Big Lake, MN 1/3mi swim, 15mi bike, 5K run
Aug 11 - Turtleman Duathlon(?) - Shoreview, MN - 3K run, 36K bike, 8K run
Aug 25 - Maple Grove Triathlon - Maple Grove, MN 0.3mi swim, 14mi bike, 3 mile run
Sep 1 - Hy-Vee IronKids - West Des Moines, IA - 300yd swim, 8mi bike, 2mi run
Sep 8 - Graniteman Half-Marathon - St. Cloud, MN
Sep 22 - Plymouth Firefighters 5K - Plymouth, MN
Oct 6 - FM Mini Marathon - Fargo, ND - Half Marathon, 10K, 5K
Oct 27 - Red River Run 15K - Moorhead, MN
Nov 17 - Turkey Trot 5 Miler - Fargo, MN