Big disappointment lead to big opportunities

It may be only days away from my last blog post, but I forgot to send it out at the new year!  Since then, a lot has happened.

Great Aloha Run: Monday, February 20, 2017.  Running race, 8.2 miles.  I consider my self new to running, having trained for a year and a half.  I still don’t know how fast (or slow) I should run.  Don’t get me wrong… I am not fast, but I do want to get better!  It’s me racing against myself.  Anyway, I started out at a pace I thought was reasonable, and my pace picked up last at the last half of the race.  I picked 1:20:00 as my goal, and I finished at 1:16:22.  Not too bad for me!  I finished 54 out of 409 for my gender and age group.  They were 13262 participants and I finished 1131st.

Lavaman: Sunday, April 2, 2012.  Olympic sized Triathlon.  I had my eye on this race for a long time since I was determined to beat my time experienced last April.  I got through the swim in record time, for me, anyway.  My first transition was slow, and my bike started fine.  I fought my way through the headwind going out, and going back, was aided by a tailwind.  Then, approximately 2/3 into my bike ride, as I was about to pass another rider, some inexplicable reason, he crashed, taking me with him.

I was going about 25 mph when I crashed, landing in the middle of the highway.  Thankfully, no cars hit me!  I tried to get up to continue (about three times over a space of 30 minutes) but each time, the world started to spin.  I was done.  Not only did I not finished, but my shoulder was in a lot on pain.

I went to medical tent (thank you for volunteering your time!), found out that I’ll live, and told see my doctor early.  Later in the week, I had x-rays on the shoulder.  That explained pain I was in.  I had fractured my three ribs and clavicle!

fractured clavicle

Needless to say, I was disappointed.  Yes, crashes do happen, but still…  I privately and briefly went to self pity mode, thinking about the lost personal best that was lost and “what ifs.”  Still, I worked out to the best of my ability on a recumbent bike (swimming and running were too painful) and then a couple weeks later, it struck me.  Why was I doing this?   To give stroke survivors hope!  My best time was secondary.  My future events were secondary.  I needed that.

Strokes and crashes do happen.  For me, I heard something the other day: God is good and loving, life is hard, and I have the power to overcome.  Am I going the let a stroke and a crash define me?  NO WAY!  True, being a stroke survivor is hard.  Having a crash is hard.  What do I need to overcome?  For me, a good and loving God gives me the strength to overcome, to try again.

So, big disappointments led me to big opportunities.  I have been training in all three disciplines, swimming, biking, and running; stretching myself as my healing body permits, but with increasing attention to other important things, namely, to give stroke survivors hope.

You don’t have to try triathlons.  That’s my passion.  If you can walk, get walking.  If you like a dance, get dancing!  Life is waiting for you!

Stroke survivors CAN!



A New Year!

As I think back on the 2016, I can hardly believe it.  So much has happened!  From swimming to biking to running races, triathlons, to marathons, it seems like a dream.  From being an office worker, and then couch potato, I didn’t know I had it in me.  And now that I know, I will keep it up sporting wise, because I love it, and to let people know, as always, stroke survivors CAN!  Too often, I hear stories of stroke survivors giving up on life.  True, there is a grieving process that needs to be gone through, but don’t lose hope and a striving for a new purpose in life.

Thanks to all who sponsored me last year with hours volunteering, cash, services, goods, discounts, and kind words!  Your generosity touched many people.  So, when I keep on hearing my story and my hard work is such an inspiration, both from stroke survivors and others, you played an essential part!

January, I moved to Honolulu to be with my wife (woo hoo)!  Talk about a change of scenery from Kona to Honolulu.  So far, I have had a challenge in finding long stretches of road in which to ride my bike (while being relatively safe) and finding water suitable to long swims.  I had made friends, too, both socially and in the world of triathlons.  I hope to get into a training group, too, especially in biking!

Events I’m entered in so far includes Lavaman Olympic size triathlon (Kona) and Hapalua Half Marathon (Honolulu) in April, Honolulu Triathlon (Olympic size) in May, and Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (Kona) and Rock and Roll Half Marathon (Seattle) in June.  I’m still undecided about the World Championships Ironman in October (Kona).  One, I want to see my bike time improve, and two, my name needs to a drawn.  In December, I am entered in the Honolulu Marathon.

Finally, I would like to touch base with you about Stroke Survivors CAN, a nonprofit I’m starting designed to let stroke survivors who are interested in participating in non contact sporting events.  I known first hand the expenses while trying to live on Social Security Disability, and were it not by a generous people, I would not have gotten so far!  Be on the look out for when that is officially launched!

Stroke Survivors CAN!

Post Ironman World Championship

I still think sometimes it’s like a dream but I did it.  After 12 months of training, I finished the Ironman World Championships!  I wasn’t fast, but I was persistent and determined, both in my training and during the race.  Here’s what I went through on the day, October 8, 2016.

Check in

I got up at 3 AM, having about 7 hours sleep.  I ate a light breakfast, packed my numerous bags, and rechecked them many times.  I got to the venue at about 6, stressed because I wanted to get there at 5:30.  Because I was competing as a physically challenged (PC) athlete, I was able the avoid the long lines of triathletes and went through the VIP section and got my body marked with my race number and put on my timing chip.  There were triathletes everywhere, with 2300 starting!   After that, I quickly made my way into PC tent.  There, I was able to put my gear into carefully organized piles, stuff that I would require of the swim, bike, and run, things that I had stuffed into four bags, which included clothes, shoes, orthotics, and snacks and liquid nutrition in between the events and during the event.  I didn’t have time to do a warm up swim like I wanted, but I did have time to get my shoulder muscles massaged.

Feelings wise, I managed to turn them off mostly.  I went in mission mode; I knew what had to done.  My race was just with myself, remembering my pace, and not racing other competitors, who were faster substantially than me (the top 1% of Ironman triathletes were here, along with the pros).  Remember, I was in it for stroke survivors, to give them hope that their lives were not over.

Swim – 2.4 miles

89_3rd-188806-ft-1369_012573-4410494The swim start time was 7:10 and off the races I went.  Heads, arms, legs, and torsos were everywhere throughout the swim.  It was pure pandemonium and partly aggression.  I put my mind elsewhere in order to cope, plus I was relatively comfortable in the water.  I paced myself but had cramps unexpectedly with first two hundred yards.  It was inconvenient, but no problem.  I barely used my legs as a result and I relied on drafting on the person in front of me.  I finished in 1 hour, 18 minutes with plenty of energy for the bike ride.

Transition 1

This was where you change in to your biking gear.  Shower quickly (if you can say shower) to wash the salt off my body, and assisted by my handler, Scott Rigsby, the first double amputee to complete Ironman, helped me take off my swim speedsuit, swim cap, and goggles.  To save time, I wore my bike/run gear underneath it my swim speed suit, a common practice.  I had a long drink, put on my helmet and sunglasses, put on my bike riding shoes, and left with my bike in hand.

Bike – 112 miles

96_3rd-188806-ft-1369_018189-4410501This was where I needed work, and I knew it.  Not only was it long, but hot, humid, and windy!  Despite the added weight, I wore a camelback for water because of time saving consideration, and I had a water bottle filled with liquid nutrition.

While biking, I had uncooperative hip flexors who liked to cramp, and this time was not different.  No fewer than 10 times did I dismount my bike to do stretches.  It was worth it, though it cost me time.  Nonetheless, I was stressed.  There was a bike cutoff, and I just barely made it, huffing and puffing.  I think I was the last bike to be allowed to continue the race, barely making the cutoff time!!  I finished the bike portion in 8 hours, 55 minutes.

Transition 2

This was where you change from bike gear to running gear.  This was slow for me because of my orthotic I wear over my right foot.  Without it, my right foot would drag, so the orthotic was worth it.  My handler, Scott, was invaluable here.  I was able to change into my running shoes, get refreshed, catch my breath, and calm my head down.  I “knew” that if I made the bike cutoff time, chances were good for me to run the marathon in the time allotted, even though I had never run this far.

Run – 26.2 miles, a marathon

120_3rd-188806-ft-1369_100403-4410525I was last out on the run course, and I had my work cut out for me.  The first part of the run, approximately 10 miles, there was a surprising number of people I knew, cheering me on, including my wife, Laurie.  That was nice and supplied a surprising amount of energy!

I was determined after swimming, biking, and running this far, I wasn’t going to be late to the run cutoff, which was approximately 7 miles to the finish line.  I made it through the intermediary run cutoff, with minutes to spare.  A little anxiety was helpful in this situation!

With 1 mile to go, I heard to announcer say repeatedly to the competitors crossing the finish line: “You are an Ironman!”  Yes, the end was in sight!  With ¼ mile to go, so many people cheered me on.  It was surreal; it was like I was in a dream!  With 25 yards to go, I entered the finishing chute, with lights blazing and the cheering crowd was unbelievable.  Strangely, all tired thoughts and feelings left my body.  As I crossed the finish line at a little before midnight, there was only one thought: we did it!  We, stroke survivors, were an Ironman!  Yes, stroke survivors CAN!

Thank you!

I couldn’t do this alone.  I have many people to thank!  Thank them for believing in my cause!

Kevin Rhinehart
Stroke survivors can!

PS: Be watching for Stroke Survivors Can, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping stroke survivors (re)discover noncontact physical sports!  If you want updates on this, please send an email.  We do not redistribute your email addresses.

Ironman World Championships

frontIt’s almost time!  What I’ve been doing in training for the past year is almost here.  Those tears of sweat of my skin and eyes, the injuries, the never ending muscle soreness…  This Saturday, October 8, is the World Championships of Ironman.  The top 1% are represented here, having earned it through the performance at other Ironman performances.

How did I get in?  Back when I was training, I was thinking a sprint or Olympic size triathlon, maybe a half Ironman.  Never did I think a full Ironman.  That would be crazy – 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride that was tough, and 26.2 mile run (a marathon).  By the end of June, I had already done a sprint triathlon, an Olympic size triathlon, and two half Ironmen.  At the encouragement of my coach and others, and a large part my insanity, I entered a physically challenged category drawing put on by Ironman.  And I won!  I’m definitely not 1%.

So, there you have it.  An older man who does not like to run, who couldn’t run one mile a year ago, who had a serious stroke in 2012, entered.  And he will be starting the Ironman World Championships.  That is a victory in itself!bike

I hope to finish!  The bike is my weakness and there is a time limit.  If things are looking favorably, I should make it.  Pray that my body will cooperate with me!  My right leg, of course, is giving me problems.

I could not come so far had it not been some generous people: Rick Rubio, coach, who volunteered his time; Grant and Janet Miller from Bike Works Kona, who gave a Specialized Shiv bike; Francois Cote, TurboMed Orthotics; and many more listed on Team Kevin.  Thank you all!

Stroke Survivors CAN!


10 weeks until World Championship Ironman!

It might seem like a lot of time, but it’s not!!  I got OKed to start running again after 5 weeks off due to foot injury – planter fascitis.  It was and still is painful, but the pain is only temporary, I hope.  The podiatrist gave me some stretches and something to wear in my shoes.  Anyway, I am behind on my running but I hope to be where is was running before too long!  I have kept up with biking and swimming.

Plus, I’ve been spending time analyzing my running style.  I overextend my knees and I’m not pushing off strongly enough.  Easy, right?  My right foot dragging is another story.  James, a physically challenged athlete who I met racing Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, said he noticed my foot drop at a training session I had while in Honolulu.  He set me up with TurboMed Orthotics, who makes athletic braces for foot drop.  Short story, I ordered one and it should be here in a couple of day!  I am so excited!  

I also had a conversation with a guy who is a professional cyclist and does Ironman and Ultraman, and he has seen me bike.  He says the number one reason physically challenged entrants in the Ironman don’t finish is because of the lack of speed of bike.  Gulp!  I better get on this!!   You got until 5 PM to be done with 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride through some hilly and windy country (before starting on the run portion, a Marathon).   I’ve already adjusted my  training schedule to include more rides at a faster pace.

This brings me to today.  I rest of Fridays, and I need it.  My legs are so sore!  Right now, I’m icing my right foot and I’ve got my two legs undergoing some electrical stimulation.  Earlier today, I did yoga and stretching.  Later, some more stretches.

Why am I putting my body through this, you might say.  To give stroke survivors hope!  Too often I hear stories where people give up on life because of stroke (or other catastrophic life event).  I’m here to say stroke, though unfortunate, just means adjusting life’s message and/or goals.  Life is not over; it’s just starting!  Stroke survivors CAN!!

As always, I would like to thank my sponsors for making this possible – Bike Works of Kona and Bikeworks Beach and Sports, Project Rudy, and XX2i!

Racing and Training Update

Halfway on my 112 mile biking run, June 18, 2016, Hawi, HI.

It’s been three weeks since I competed in Ironman 70.3 Hawaii and I’ve been busy! I had Sunday and Monday following the Ironman off to recuperate, light training for the rest of the week.  On June 12, I participated in Peaman’s 2016 Papa Pea’s Sizzling Summer Sprint, a 1/2 mile swim and 2 mile run.

Let me say something about Peaman events.  They are free and offered every month. An interesting plus is they have special races for kids (keikis) with toys as prizes. What a wonderful way to help build the community. Hats off to Peaman!

Anyway, I finished well, coming in 23rd place. I did the swim and run at 36:39, counting a very slow transition time.  Apparently, I still need help in my transitions.

I’ve been hard at work building my cycling endurance and strength. Part of it is psychological. I have this fear that the wind will cause me to crash. Now, when I say wind, I’m talking about side gusts up to 40 miles per hour, regular occurrences in North Kohala. Downhill presents its challenge, as well. At almost 40mph, I have this tendency to use my brakes. Factor in that I have just one working hand, and you get my drift. However, my confidence is growing as I continue to practice.

Three weeks ago, I injured by right heel while running.  June 19, as I ran 20 miles, it really began to hurt. Last Tuesday, I had x-rays done, and the radiologist still hasn’t looked at them. Frustrating!  Needless to say, I’ve been giving running a rest. Ice is the treatment until I hear from the radiologist. Meanwhile, swimming and cycling don’t seem to hurt it. I will be glad when the running can resume. Hard to believe, right?

Ironman Vineman, the full length Ironman on July 30 in Napa valley, California, is in question. The Lord is in control, and unless a minor “miracle” happens in the area of finances to go to California, I won’t go. I’m fine with that. The Lord’s been good to me by letting me participate this far, and I’m in the World Championships through a drawing in October!

I would like thank my sponsors for helping me get this far – Kona Bike Works, Waikoloa Bikeworks Beach and Sport, Project Rudy, XX2i, special mention to BioAstin, and to my first coach, Rick Rubio. Thank you!


Humbly and with Gratitude,
Kevin Rhinehart
Stroke Survivors CAN!

Ironman 70.3 Hawaii

13335911_1102627216462497_2185197965966400087_nI did it!  My first Ironman is in the books. It included a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a half marathon, 13.1 mile run.  Swimming was no problem (42: 25), and I was surprised that running (2:27:03) didn’t create more of a problem.  What I was surprised at was the biking (3:46:19).  Too slow!!  I need to work on speed and endurance.

However, I was pleased with my first Ironman.  I finished it and was not last!  Incidentally, that same morning of the event, a newspaper article cover me was published.  It covers my story and gives hope to stroke survivors!

Lesson learned from this event, besides the bike time, were many.

  1. Don’t try any long distance stuff two weeks to the event.  I swam 2.4 miles nine days prior.  I felt miserable during the swim.
  2. Decrease weight on the bike.  I used a Camelback during this ride.  While it may be fine for a leisurely bike ride, Ironman was not leisurely.
  3. If I use socks for the run (I don’t, typically), wear compression socks, not household socks.  I had the socks fold up under my feet, and I have blisters as a result.
  4. If I ride my bike after the event, don’t try and hold sacks (me, anyway).  The sacks got caught in my front tire and I flipped, breaking one of my electronic gear shifters.  I’m still bummed…

As Coach Rubio says, every event is a learning experience.  Yippie…

As always, and it comes from the heart, I would like to Grant and Janet Miller of Bike Works and Bike Works Beach and Sport.  Without them, participation in triathlons would not be possible!   Thanks for my other sponsors, coach Rubio, teammates, and Team Kevin.  You have been an invaluable source of support, encouragement, and friendship!


Kevin Rhinehart
Stroke Survivor, Triathlete