Friday, July 8, 2016

The Secret to Recess

In second grade I had a teacher who read a book to our class called The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. Almost daily, in the middle of a sentence, the 11 o’clock bell would ring, thrusting our entire class up from our chairs as we bolted to the door. It was time for recess.

I don’t remember much from that class besides the Whangdoodles, but the activities and personalities from recess are still with me. I can hear the laughter as we raced to the swings, diving into the swirling energy of our classmates as we poured our hearts into a game of kickball or dodgeball. I can still feel my stomach rise as I launched into the air in a leap of faith from the swing set.

Last week, at the end of a long morning, I looked at the clock. With only 10 minutes until lunchtime (recess), I began to plan: throw on a pair of running shoes and run along the cliffs in La Jolla, or race to the Masters workout and flip around in the warm San Diego sunshine. Far better than wasting time in some restaurant waiting for a meal to only later regret. Under my desk, I began to stretch my calves. In that instant, I decided that the coolest thing about being an adult is planning our own recess and that our playground is: the entire world.

Why is it that so many of us use our recess to train? Why do we use our free time to move our bodies far and fast over running trails and cycling routes? Perhaps it’s because the experiences we have on our bike, grinding up a long climb and winding down a long descent, give us gifts of kinesthetic joy, discovery, and achievement — seasoned with a taste of our human potential.

Breathing deeply in training forces our bodies into a pattern of relaxation and it makes us wherever we are — kids on a playground. Psychologists have said that when people play they gain control over their world, and by manipulating their activities they can control the outcome of events.

How we play reveals the best in us — the stubborn immortality of the child inside. Playing as a triathlete is an exercise in pure possibility, of an unlimited potential to grow. There is something strikingly similar to the feeling of the starting cannon of the Ironman, and that bell we all thirsted for in second grade.

We are, through this sport, doing what we want to be doing every time that bell goes off.

Mitch Thrower is a Financier, Entrepreneur, Author and 22x Ironman Triathlete. More articles here.

Some great affiliates and companies for Triathletes to check out:

Worried about traffic on the road during your Sunday ride? Check out Schiller Bikes, the world’s most advanced water bikes. Bike on a lake, bike on the ocean, bike on a river!

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Race of the week: XTERRA Races around the world offer athletes a chance to race in some of the most diverse, spectacular, and challenging natural environments on the planet – from tropical jungles to snow-covered alps.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Monday, March 10, 2014

Nana: A Story of Death and Life at 30,000 Feet - Delta Flight 2303, March 6th, 2014.

Taking off from JFK Airport last Thursday, I snapped this photo. Getting set up on GoGo wireless, I could not have imagined what would transpire in just a few hours.

Here is the play-by-play.

We were about 2 hours and 30 minutes into the flight from NYC to SAN when the announcement comes that shakes everyone on the flight to the core. “Is there a doctor on board? Please, if anyone is a doctor on board, please identify yourself and come help us in first class.” It was a strong request for help.

I sat up in my seat and looked back to see if there was a doctor on board, and unfortunately, the people on the plane seemed frozen- there was no doctor.

Jumping out of my seat, I ran to first class, and could immediately see an elderly lady on the ground, who had lost all her color. She was staring lifeless and breathless at the ceiling of the airplane. The flight attendant was starting chest compressions and he was concurrently trying to see if she was breathing, which she was not. I corrected her head position and started mouth to mouth pushing air into her lungs, as the focused flight attendant Ryan Moore kept yelling, “Bring me the AED, bring me the AED!” to the other flight attendants. Ryan was the most professional, well-trained airline personnel I have ever interacted with. Delta should be proud.

When the AED arrived, he started to open the kit, and get it ready. He moved with lightning speed to set up the equipment and in seconds she had the electric leads and pads on her chest.  As he worked with the equipment, I took over the chest compressions - short bursts, just like the CPR safety video I watched just months before on YouTube.

A pediatric nurse joined our impromptu rescue crew, and as I continued the compressions, she took over mouth-to-mouth breaths to fill the lungs, along with checking for a pulse periodically. “I’m not getting a pulse, I’m not getting a pulse!” she said.  The AED machine then advised a shock, which indicated that her heart likely had stopped.  We cleared the patient and the first shock was issued.

As we continued CPR, the entire plane held its breath, praying that she would start breathing again.

The woman was still unconscious and with no pulse-- time was moving at a snail’s pace.  After the flight attendant put the sticky paddles on the woman’s chest, he yelled “Clear!” to keep the patient from shocking anyone else, and with a beep, the device delivered the first shock.  She seemed to move around a bit, but the shock did not seem to restart the heart - so we kept doing CPR, then delivered a second shock.

And it is here when her rescue breathing started, short breaths as she was gasping for air. The O2 arrived and the nurse and I changed positions and I grabbed the back of her neck and started to talk to her while holding the O2 mask on her face.

I asked her daughter about her age, history, medications, and found out that she had recently been cardioverted from Atrial Fibrillation, which is when the heart goes into an abnormal beat and is then shocked back into a normal beat. It is dangerous in much older folks, because of the risk of stroke, though this did not look like a stroke, this looked more like a heart attack caused by blockage hitting her heart, or the heart going into ventricular tachycardia, but blood clots can occur on flights, perhaps triggered because she was flying with a broken leg.

Her blood pressure was coming back from the readings the nurse was now taking, and her pulse was a locked in 120.

She had been without vitals for about 4-5 min as we performed CPR.

As she started slowly to regain consciousness, I asked her daughter her name, and she indicated that she was called “Nana”, so I started to talk to her, “Nana, my name is Mitch, it’s going to be okay. We’re all here and there is a lot of noise, but listen to my voice, your daughter is here as well. You’re doing fine.” Her eyes were beginning to open and close.

With the application of the O2 mask, she started to feel more and more alert, but still was laying down with only her eyes moving.  “Nana, can you hear me?” I asked, and she nodded slowly.  “She’s responsive!” I said. And the nurse and I exchanged a quick glance of relief.

I kept my left hand around her head and neck and held her head and kept talking to her, explaining to her what was going on. Her sweet blue, fearful eyes looked up at me and I looked down to her, and told her it was all okay, and that she was going to be fine over and over again for the hour. I could see the fear slowly dissipate from her glances and she started to relax as she and I communicated with the tornado spinning around us. I kept talking to her.

Whenever you are going through something of this magnitude, just having someone who cares next to you means the world.  One of the lonely things about dying is that we leave everyone behind as we go to see what’s next.

The pilot had diverted the flight to St. Louis and we were descending quickly and heading to the closest airport, you could feel the plane dropping like it was an amusement park ride.  I told Nana we were going to land and that she would be okay.

When I mentioned to her that she was going to the hospital, she also said the sweetest thing. She asked with a mumble through the O2 mask, “Oh dear, how long will I have to stay in the hospital? Will I miss the rest of this flight to San Diego?”  The spark of life in her blue eyes was growing stronger and stronger.  In that moment, it was easy to see a beautiful child, trapped in an aging body, and afraid of inconveniencing her daughter.

I told her “Nana, you’re going to have quite a story to tell, I’ll bet you’ve never landed on a flight while lying down.” She smiled at me through the O2 mask.

Ryan, the flight attendant who performed the two shocks kept taking her blood pressure, and monitoring the AED, while now helping the nurse get an IV line in to her arm, just in case.

Flight attendant Ryan Moore was calm, professional and followed the exact protocol required to save a life.  It was amazing to watch the flight attendants, including Ryan switch from serving customers in a caring way to a rapid response medical team, gathering and deploying the necessary equipment and process to save Nana.

Nana looked up at me frequently now.  I had become her friend.  She would close her eyes every short bit, and then re-open them to make sure I was still there, just inches away - as if to check in on me, even though she could feel my hands around her neck, damp from perspiration.

The compassion of the entire plane seemed to be in my hands as I was holding her head with one hand and the O2 mask placed gently on her face with my other.

As we descended, I stayed with her, holding her in the aisle. When everyone sat back down in their seats, Ryan sat in the chair next to her watching the AED, which was monitoring her heartbeat.

As we approached touchdown, I stayed with her so she would not be scared using my legs to brace myself for landing by propping them against the aisle chairs on either side of the plane.  The flight attendant counted down, 10, 9, 8, 7, then we landed softly when he said 1.

The pilot had performed a perfect smooth landing, and our patchwork medical crew had brought Nana back to life.  Her daughter who was traveling with her was speechless and holding back tears.

We taxied to the gate and the ENTs arrived quickly. We briefed them on the situation and helped Nana sit up slowly, and I passed her off into the arms of an ENT from St. Louis.

I did not realize until I stood up after being pretzel-cramped on the floor with Nana leaning on me for close to an hour, that my legs had gone numb and were now trembling. But I could feel my soul beaming with the amazing visual I will now have in my mind forever of Nana coming to life as I held her head, after we all took turns performing CPR.

Before she left the cradle of my arms and hands, I had said, “Nana are you okay, are you uncomfortable?” and I gently pushed her hair from her face. She replied to me with a bit of a smile and raise of her two bushy grey eyebrows, “Well, I’m most certainly uncomfortable, but I’ll be okay,” and she smiled again behind the O2.

I smiled back at her and she and I were connected - in the way that only two total strangers, born decades apart, who have shared the moments of CPR, the moments of re-entry into life at 30,000 feet.

Though I may never see her again, I will most certainly never forget her.

Nana from Delta flight 2303 will always carry a special place in my heart.

What a flight.



Everyone should watch the latest CPR videos on YouTube and get certified from the American Red Cross

If you can get a defibrillator at your office and or home, it is an amazing, life saving device - please get one if you can. Philips makes a easy-to-use home or work edition, click here for more info.

Friday, October 21, 2011

12 Minutes That Will Change You From Claire Wineland's Message: It's Just a Disease

     I have the honor of co-producing an event called TEDxLaJolla where spectacular speakers and musicians are selected to present their stories, ideas, music and adventures via a live video feed to the world.
     This year, from an open air stage overlooking the ocean in La Jolla, California, there was one speaker that received not one, but two standing ovations. Her name is Claire Wineland, and the best way to meet her and understand her message is to see her video.
     Tony Farwell, from the exciting new specialty site for the Military called and Farwell Capital, said after watching Claire's video yesterday, "It reminds me of a saying that means a great deal - 'After health, everything is profit' "   So very true. So easy to forget.  Claire is a superhero.  Claire has done an "Ironman" every day of her life.
     Click this video below to hear her story. Also, the photo gallery from the event is below - join us next year! You can find out more about the event, apply to attend and watch other videos at

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The First Two (of 5,000) Triathlon Secrets

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Photo: Kona Morning
So where do we begin?  Let's start with two triathlon secrets from the more than 5,000 secrets I've learned about this sport in the last decade:  
Photo: Mitch Thrower Running in Ha
1. By taking control of your thoughts when training and when racing, you can improve your performance by 25% or more.  Think about it.  What are you thinking about right now? Consider everything that pops into your mind as you read this.  
It would be safe to say that if you are like most people, you ride your thoughts throughout the day rather than DRIVE your thoughts throughout the day.  Have you ever asked yourself, "What should I think about now?" and what should I spend time considering?  What about before a workout?

Disciplined thought and asking yourself the right questions while working out, like "What are the most enjoyable and memorable parts of my life?" or "How can I be faster right now?" are questions you can choose. But, again, if you are like most people, when you go for a run, you'll see a road sign with a name of someone you know, then you'll remember you need to call that person when you get back to the office, and then you'll think of his last email to you, and then you'll think of his cousin who also reached out to you and was looking for a job, and then you'll remember you wanted to update your resume, then you'll think you need a raise, etc. Take control. Don't let your mind float.

When I do mental prep for an Ironman, or any triathlon, I think through the race itself and I also think through the questions I'll ask myself during the race.  Try this when you are racing and training, and also try it when you're just going about life, outside of the sport.

Lesson: Pay attention to what you are choosing to pay attention to.  Choose wisely.

2. Sign up for more races than ones you actually want to do.  Why?  I have learned that life presents us with temporal challenges.  

Time commitments will overflow into your race weekends and injuries are unpredictable. The seasonal cycle of our sport and of training and racing mean that several windows will open and close for you to perform at your best.  

Because so many races sell out so quickly, it's always a good idea to have back-up plans and registrations at events that can serve as a second chance at a peak performance or exciting travel weekend.  

It may be expensive, but so is insurance and if you've been in the sport long enough, you know that you just never really know what can happen.  I've said before you can take Ironman's tagline in a positive or negative direction, read the following, thinking good then bad...  "Anything is possible." - or - "Anything is possible."   

Lesson: Register for a few back-up races so you have options.

Train Smart,


The Island of Hawaii

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"Triathlon is just like life - it's not about the time displayed at the finish, it's about what your soul can display in the time before you finish." -Mitch Thrower

2011 Ironman Swim Start - Photographer: Amanda Grant
After a year of reflection,

I'm back.

What a journey it has been. So many lessons, people, and places to write about.  So many articles, blog posts, photos and dreams now to share.

It has been an honor over the past decade to contribute perspective to the sport of triathlon and curious minds around the world.  And I must say, it's been refreshing over the past year to take a deep breath and just experience life, without putting it all into words.

Stay tuned also for several very exciting things my group has planned in the media and interactive space.  Projects launching include an entirely new way of doing business in the realm of participatory sports transactions and, separately, Triathlete.IM - the next generation of triathlon social and interactive media.

It has been said that the only thing you can be certain of is that things change.  Careers change, business models change, triathlon changes, we change.  I've seen all of the above. Think Myspace and Facebook, Microsoft and Apple. Think about wetsuit companies and bike companies that no longer exist, and the current ones in the spotlight.  

Photo: Mitch Thrower - 22nd Ironman
With close to 3 million triathletes racing now, and races selling out just minutes after registration opens, the chemistry of our sport continues its journey into the mainstream.  Some people embrace this growth, while there are still some who think the sport is too big now and wish they could finish the Hawaii Ironman World Championship like the sport's Dr. Seuss - Bob Babbit did eons ago, under a dim light bulb hanging from a tree.

And triathletes are quite different than they were back in the days when San Diego was ROME in the Empire of Triathlon.  The sport has since been filled with events and personalities, egos and entrepreneurs around the world.  The sport is now grown up.  It's global. It has changed the world, and many lives for the better.
 Almost two weeks ago, I finished my 22nd Ironman triathlon (14th Hawaii). Once there are more than 10 of these races under your belt, the moments and memories of them tend to blur together; but what can never blur or fade is the light in your soul sparked and strengthened by the choices you make in the process of making triathlon a lifestyle.

If you discover triathlon and stay in the sport, your life's dreams and goals will come into focus in a way you never imagined.  I'm here to help.

Photo: Dig Me Beach & The Future of Triathlon

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Triathlon Sanctuary 2011 - Schedule


For more pictures, please see:


--Wednesday, September 14th, 2011: arrival & warm-up day

8:00a.m.-11:30a.m. Athletes arrive
11:00a.m. Optional easy scenic trail and beach run
12:00p.m.-2:00p.m. Welcome meeting, introductions and weekend overview. Snacks provided (La Jolla Palace “LJP” Roof deck)
11:00a.m.-2:00p.m. Bike mechanic available
2:00p.m. - 4:00p.m. 15 mile warm up bike tour - followed by 3 mile Time Trial up Mt. Soledad (awards given)
5:45p.m. - 7:30p.m. Two options: easy bike to Masters Swim Workout at the nearby Coggan Family Aquatic Complex (5 min away) or La Jolla Cove Swim
7:45p.m. Light dinner at the La Jolla Palace Rooftop with special surprise guests
8:30p.m. Introduction of professional triathletes and coaches. Presentation: Secrets of Triathlon Part I

--Thursday, September 15th, 2011: core training day

6:45a.m-9:15a.m. Bike mechanic available
7:00a.m. Catered buffet breakfast (LJP) & cycling safety and racing techniques presentation
8:00a.m.-9:00a.m. Bike prep
9:15a.m. sharp! Shuttles leave for bike start
10:00a.m.-4:00p.m. Cycling skills workshop at the start of a spectacular scenic bike ride. This (approx 5 hour) epic bike ride has a food stop at the halfway point. (We will be stopping along the way, but bring ample food/water.) Sag wagon avail. All levels of cyclists should join - we will split up into the fast, moderate and easy paced groups. The easy pace group will have a 30% shorter course.
5:00p.m.-6:00p.m. Rest/swim prep/snack
6:10p.m. La Jolla Cove Recovery Swim
7:50p.m. Group catered dinner, followed by a social gathering with triathlon sponsors and equipment companies on the LJP Roof deck. Presentation: Secrets of Triathlon Part II.
7:00p.m.-9:00p.m. Sara Mattson from Aquanots is coming to measure for custom ear plugs

--Friday, September 16th, 2011: bike recovery, hard swim & learning day

7:15a.m. Option A: 30-40 min recovery beach run
Option B: Rooftop yoga for triathletes with Nikki Jade
8:30a.m. Breakfast buffet (LJP Roof deck)
10:00a.m.-12:15p.m. Shuttle to hard core swim workout - each participant gets filmed above and below water with one-on-one training by swim coaches
12:30p.m. Light sandwiches provided poolside
1:00p.m.-2:00p.m. Tour Nytro Sports Store and get 10% off product merchandise— exclusive for sanctuary participants
2:30p.m. Easy Recovery Ride— scenic coastal route (for those not racing Saturday)
2:00p.m.-7:00 p.m. San Diego Tri Expo (mandatory for race participants). - check out this site here: and go to to register. Registration is open now. Be sure to register early, as the race will sell out.
2:30p.m.-5:10p.m. Free time for nap, rest, and massages.

- Triathlon-specific deep tissue massages will be available by appointment:
• Larissa: (858) 450-7118 or
• Nikki: (858) 344- 3165 or
• Mark: (619) 787-9617 or

5:10p.m. La Jolla Cove open water swim and race lessons (La Jolla Cove beach)
7:15p.m. Catered closing barbecue, presentation and awards (LJP Roof deck)

--Saturday, September 17th, 2011: VERY SPECIAL TEDxLaJolla Event, San Diego Tri Camp & entertainment

All Sanctuary participants receive complementary tickets to the TEDx La Jolla event!

6:30 a.m. Option A: San Diego Triathlon Classic
Remember to register here: Click here to register
7:30a.m. Breakfast (LJP roof deck)
8:30a.m. – 12:00p.m. For those not racing:
- Option B: coastal beach/cliff run
- Option C: Slow scenic group coastal ride
2:00p.m.-5:30p.m. Part I TEDx La Jolla events with memorable speakers, videos, live musical entertainment— see
5:30p.m.-7:00p.m. TED buffet dinner at the La Jolla Palace
7:00p.m.-10:00p.m. Part II TEDx La Jolla live speakers, live music and entertainment.

Camp attendance is open by invitation only— potential participants can be referred by current participants only or apply online.

--Business Networking
All participants may prepare an optional, 5-8 min overview of the projects they are working on where they could use some form of help and/or networking ideas. All information shared at the Sanctuary is confidential, unless specified otherwise.

• Nytro is offering 10% discount on products specifically for Triathlon Sanctuary participants during the tour of the store

• Sara Mattson with Aquanots will be measuring for discounted custom earplugs. Contact her at:

• Triathlon Sanctuary participants will receive 50-65% off XTERRA Wetsuits and free ground shipping when using the code R-TRISANC

• Special deals and test drives available on various CervĂ©lo models

• Online discounts of 10% to Sanctuary participants during the time of the camp

• Try on many different styles and brands of goggles

Most events start and finish at the La Jolla Palace— Shuttles will be provided to offsite starts/finishes.

--La Jolla
In Spanish, La Jolla means "The Jewel.” La Jolla is indeed the jewel of America's finest city, San Diego. It is located 15 minutes from downtown San Diego. It has wonderful beaches, cultural activities and fine restaurants. La Jolla is an exquisite combination of a southern European resort atmosphere and southern California fun. While La Jolla is known to be one of the most affluent communities in the United States, it has a down to earth feel due to its beautiful natural scenery and the laid-back attitude of its residents. In addition to fine restaurants, beautiful beaches, hotels and art galleries, La Jolla is home to renowned institutions, such as the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Stephen Birch Aquarium & Museum.

--Payment & Registration
All coaching, entertainment, transportation and most meals are provided. Please register ASAP, limited spaces available. Click here to register

--Where to Stay
The *** hotels are offering discounted rates for Triathlon Sanctuary and TEDx La Jolla attendees. Upon making reservations, mention you’re a part of the Triathlon Sanctuary or TEDx La Jolla group to receive the discount. All of the hotels are within walking distance of the Palace.

• *** The Grande Colonial Hotel
- (888)530-5766
- 910 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037

• *** The Empress Hotel of La Jolla
- (888)369-9900
- 7766 Fay Avenue, La Jolla, CA 92037

• *** La Jolla Cove Suites
- (858)459-2621
- 1155 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037

• La Valencia Hotel
- (858)454-0771
- 1132 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037

• La Jolla Inn
- (858)454-0133
- 1110 Prospect St., La Jolla, CA 92037

• La Jolla Village Lodge
- (858) 551-2001
- 1141 Silverado Street La Jolla, CA 92037

--What to Bring
Please bring your swim, bike and run gear. Wetsuits are recommended. Bring a camera and any special needs food and drink for your workouts.

We look forward to seeing you September 14th!

Monday, August 8, 2011

IRONMITCH ARCHIVES - 10 Years of Tri-Lessons & Adventures

For more articles, videos and photos, check out the archives located at this link -