Seattle Rock and Roll Half Marathon

As I headed toward my starting position outside the University of Washington Huskies stadium, I felt like I was running in a home race.  I grew up in Washington and several of my family still lives here.  As a teenager, I left home to attend the University and being a Huskies fan, the stadium holds some good memories!


What made this race even more special was I was running with my nephew, Flip Herndon, who was a former collegiate track athlete.  He agreed to set the pace, as opposed to running his own race and leaving me in the dust.

From the first mile of the 13.1 mile race, I knew I was in trouble.  My right leg and foot – leftovers from the stroke, from doing a half Ironmen two weeks earlier, and running too many miles in between the half Ironmen and half marathon –  were fatigued and dragging.  Flip knew where I was because my right foot kept scrapping the pavement.  Needless to say, after the race was over, I threw the running shoes away.  Had it been a marathon, I would have been running in my socks!  Without my TurboMed 3000, I would have been in running in my right sock by about mile 6!

Still, Flip kept up a decent pace.  At the start, before I knew I would be having a problem my with right leg and foot, I had told him that I would finish at 2:15 mark.  He kept encouraging through his occasional spoken word and pace, especially when I would slow down.

I have never broken 2:30 in a half marathon.  To be fair, I had only run the half marathon once before, and ran the distance a couple times after swimming and biking in a triathlon a couple of times.  Truly, running (as well as triathlons) is new to me.  I was surprised to learn that I had finished​ in 2:16!  As an “old” man who’s been running under two years and who has survived a stroke, I was pleased.

I couldn’t do this alone.  Special thanks to Flip and TurboMed, as well as God, my hard working wife, my family, and all of you, many of you I haven’t met.  Again, thank you!


What’s next, you ask?  In December, I have the Honolulu Marathon, and in April 2018, I’m planning to participate in the Boston Marathon!  Who would have thought that five years ago, I didn’t like running, to being wheelchair bound, then participating in triathlons, including the World Championships Ironman (2016), and Boston Marathon (2018)!

I never saw the stroke coming, and I never saw the results athletically coming.  Don’t ever give up hoping for a brighter tomorrow, and for me, it all started with exercise, starting with lifting my right arm and taking a haltingly few steps, the biking, then swimming, and then running.

All this to say stroke survivors CAN!!

Kevin Rhinehart



Ironman 70.3 Hawaii Recap

Honu, the Hawaiian name for turtle, is the affectionate name given the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, held yearly on the Big Island during early June.  Each year, 1500 people from all over the world, come to participate in a unforgiving 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and a half marathon, 13.1 mile of running, all within a predetermined set of time guidelines.  A few are out to win; most, including me, participate to get through it.  All are winners.

My preparation was on track until early April when I was involved in a bike crash during another triathlon, Lavaman, an Olympic size triathlon.  I suffered a fractured left clavicle and three ribs, and Honu was is serious question.  I pulled out of the Hapalua half marathon, being help a couple of weeks later, being hurt from the crash.

fractured clavicle

While recovering, I rode the stationary recumbent bike, adding swimming couple weeks later, bike riding on stationary trainer, then running, and then bike riding.  While hurt, I did improved my leg strength, and that helped my bike.  While rather painful initially, the level of pain diminished gradually, and by race day, my shoulder was “comfortable.”

A couple days prior to the event, I had a pre-race meeting to attend, check in where I got the race bag and number, and brought my bike to check in.  It was a good time meeting people that I only knew on Facebook, and running into people I already knew.

Pictured here with 2016 Winner Physically Challenged Division Ironman 70.3 Hawaii, James Cuizon

Race day, I woke at my scheduled time at 2 AM after getting 5 hours of sleep.  I packed my race gear and nutrition, double and triple checked that I had everything, and I headed off the race, about an 1 ½ hour trip.  About a half hour into travel, I forgot my nutrition for my bike ride, an essential for my bike!  Panicky, I called Greta, who helped host me, who was also racing​ but had a much later start time, to see if she could bring it.  Gratefully, she didn’t leave yet, and she brought it!  Whew!!

The moments before the race is stressful.  The race itself doesn’t stress me out that much.  Did I remember everything from swimming, biking, and running?  I went through things for the transitions.  Gladly, I was able to do a warm up jog and swim, and it helped clear my mind.

Exiting the swim, going uphill to where my bike is.  Photography by John Prehn.

The start time to swim was a couple minutes after 6:30 AM.  Gratefully, I’m comfortable in the water, and I didn’t have issues with it, even got to pass some people from the group before me!  I did the 1.2 mile swim portion in 38:10, and I was pleased with that.

2015honubike3 1.jpg

Exiting my bike, getting ready to put my shoes on for the run.

Next up, the bike portion was challenging, to say the least: 56 hilly, hot, humid, and windy (35-40 mph) miles.  All along with way, I saw people sidelined with flat tires, and occasional crashes.  I, however, was not in any bike crashes or flats!  Many people passed me; I don’t think I passed anyone.  My bike time was 3:41:16.  Clearly, I’ve got a lot more training to do.  One unfortunate thing that happened for me it all my electrolyte tablets, which aid in keeping cramps away,  blew off of my bike on my second half of the bike course.  I would be needing them on my run.

Photography by John Prehn
TurboMed at work!  White things on my shoulders are sponges to my body cool.

The run started off well.  I had plenty of energy left, although I was missing Hot Shot, an anti cramping drink, and, as previously mentioned, my electrolyte tablets.  What the run course consisted of was the two laps around a golf course and a hot, barren road called Hell’s Kitchen.  As I began my second lap, I had muscle cramps in both of my calves.  I sure could use Hot Shot and electrolyte tablets!  I was on pace for a 6:45:00 ending time (my goal was to break under 7 hours) until the cramps hit.  I walked a good portion of the second lap and my run time was 2:36:00.  Darn!

In all, it was a challenging day to race for everyone.  I take my hat off the everyone who tried, finisher or not.  You all are winners!   I finished with the official time 7:13:45. I am happy with that considering all.

I couldn’t have done it without people who supported me every step along the way:

  • Bike Works Kona Hawaii
  • TurboMed Orthotics
  • Network Enterprises, Honolulu
  • Challenged Athlete Foundation
  • Rudy Project
  • S-Works (they upgraded me from Specialized when my bike needed warranty work)
  • My wife, kids, family, and friends
  • My faith in God who loves me no matter what
  • Health professionals including Kristina Roberts, ND and Larry Derbes, MD
  • So many people from the town of Kailua-Kona and Honolulu who cheered me on
  • My old coach, Rick Rubio, and team mates
  • Facebook friends who cheered me on
  • Honu specific: Kevin Lannen, physically challenged athlete volunteer; Bree Wee, volunteer cheerleader; Larry Derbes, volunteer; Tiffany Nakamura​, Ironman staff; Wil, Toni, and Greta Friesen, hospitality
  • And others!

It does take a village to raise of a triathlete from the ruins of stroke!

One final note: it is my passion (or craziness) to pursue triathlons.  You have a life affirming passion within you.  You might not even know it.  Before the stroke, triathlons didn’t even show up on my radar screen!  It all starts with exercise.  It might not end up in you doing anything athletic, but it starts with being healthy.  You are worth it.

Kevin Rhinehart

Stroke survivors CAN!!!


Honolulu Triathlon Recap

Honolulu Triathlon Recap

May 14, 2017.  I woke up in plenty of time, 0’Dark AM.  For a short time, I wanted to go back to sleep; the sheets were calling my name!  I resisted and got ready.  Breakfast, if you can it that, was liquid form, jogged a mile before leaving the condo, checked my gear, got in car the car and started to head out, had go back to the condo because I forgot the race number, and finally, I left at 4:45 AM.  I was planning to leave at 4…

I arrived there on time, but not enough time to warm up swimming.  Oh, well…  I kept on telling myself it was okay, that I made it, and I’m doing it for stroke survivors!  It also help that I ran across a fellow stroke survivor who was doing it.


Swim Portion: I had purposed to take my swim nice and easy, and I did, and I recorded 30:22.  1500 meters along side other participants is, well, interesting.  Swimming is a non-contact sport, right?  Not when you’re in a triathlon!  Gratefully, nobody swam over me (I did, though… Sorry), but I did have put up with many arms and legs.

Transition One: This is where with I had throw off my speed suit covering up my tri suit, rinse my feet after running through sand, drink, and get on my bike.  An abysmal 6:26.

Bike Portion:  This one I was most curious about.  As you may already know, the bike portion is my weakest.  I kept a good pace without killing myself, I didn’t crash (and I didn’t have anyone crash into me), and I did 40 km in 1:14:55, a 20 mph average.  A noted improvement!

Transition Two: This is where I rack my bike, change of out biking shoes into my running shoes.  The brace keeps it slow for me, and that’s okay.  But I had trouble putting on my shoes.  6:09.

Run portion:  I kept telling myself a take it easy until the last half of the 10 km run, I am did that mostly.  I started with 11:35 for the first mile, 9 something for the next 4 miles, and 8:46 for the last mile.  Other that the first mile, I’m happy that.  58:43 was my run time.

So, I finished with 2:56:35, and I was glad because I set my time to break 3 hours, even though it was a flat course.  I got 463 place out of over 1300 participants, and 18/38 place for my division.  Clearly, I’m improving and I have room to grow!

Next Up:  Ironman 70.3 Hawaii (Honu), June 3.  This is a half Ironman consisting of 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 run.  It will be tough because the hills on the bike ride, a half marathon, plus the heat.  I did it before, barely making the bike cut off time.  We’ll see!

As always,

Stroke Survivors CAN!

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!