- STREND and Isometrics by Mark Lundin 3/1/00

- Muscle and Marathon by Lufong Chua 4/4/99

- STREND in the Real World by Mark Lundin 2/9/99

- Going For the Pot of Gold by Sharon Nakamura 10/17/98


STREND and Isometrics

by Mark Lundin (3/1/2000)

Almost seventy years ago, so the story goes, a bully at the beach kicked sand into Charles Atlas' face. The girl Atlas was with left him and went off with the bully. Thoroughly humiliated by the incident, Atlas went home and began developing a workout routine called “Dynamic Tension.” After a few months he had built himself up into a Man of Steel, went back to the beach, kicked sand in the bully's face, and got his girl back.

Nowadays “Dynamic Tension” is more widely known as isometrics, which is the application of muscular force in a static exercise. Modern day research has shown that isometrics is not as effective as Atlas would have had you believe, either at attracting girls or developing muscles. The user must exert at least 2/3 of his maximum strength at no less than six different points in the range of motion for isometrics to have any effect.

That being the case, does isometrics have any place in a modern-day super-sport like STREND?

Yes. All the upper body exercises in STREND are compound movements, that is, movements that involve more than one joint or one group of muscles. The bench press uses the pectoral muscles, the anterior head of the deltoid and the triceps. Pull ups use the biceps, the brachialis, posterior head of the deltoid, the latissimus dorsi and a host of muscles in the upper back. If you're familiar with these exercises, you know that different muscles come into play at different times during the movement. For instance, at the bottom of the bench press when the bar is touching your chest, it is the pectorals and the deltoids that begin the upward motion, with the triceps joining in at the top of the press. With a pull up, it is the final contraction of the muscles in the upper back which enables you to touch your nose to the button on bar, signaling a correctly performed repetition.

I believe it is best to have comparable strength between the various muscle groups used in the STREND regimen, and isometrics can help you identify the muscle groups that need work. If your pectorals are weaker than your triceps, you will be unable to get the bar started upward on one more repetition of the bench press. If your triceps are weaker than your pectorals, you may get the bar going up, but you will not be able to finish the press. Most athletes know when they've reached the limit on their pull ups when they can't get their nose on the button because the muscles in their upper back are not as strong as their biceps or lats.

If you're training for a STREND competition from time to time you'll do a practice STREND test to measure your progress. It is difficult to keep an accurate count of the repetitions, maintain good form and at the same time try to determine which muscle group is tiring out first. This is where isometrics comes in. After a thorough warm up, perform one pull up repetition and hold yourself at the top in an isometric contraction. Note the time on a wall clock or have someone time you. As the seconds tick by any weaker muscle group will make itself known with an intense burning pain as the fatigue increases. When I did this pull up test I felt it between my shoulder blades. My biceps and lats were doing fine, but the trapezius and rhomboid muscles in my upper back were protesting. After 20 seconds or so of this madness I lowered myself, unable to continue. Then I knew I needed to concentrate more on those exercises that work the upper back muscles, adding a fourth set to make their strength more equal to that of my biceps and lats. Periodically I re-test myself to see how much I have increased my hang time.

Chin ups, too lend themselves well to isometrics. Doing one repetition and holding it at the top of the stroke will help you to identify any weak spots in your muscular armor. I've done this same test with bar dips and have found that my triceps and anterior deltoids and pectorals share comparable levels of strength. I stayed in the lowered position for a minute without any appreciable fatigue in any of those muscle groups.

Isometrics can increase your forearm strength as well. There's nothing worse than feeling your grip strength ebb away as you try to maintain good form while doing your pull ups or chin ups. Doing a full hang from the bar until you can't hold on any longer is a good way to condition these muscles. For a more intense workout you can add some plates to a weight belt around your waist.

It has been said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. That adage is quite appropriate here: The STREND logo shows a chain connecting a weight lifter to a runner, the blend of STRength and ENDurance from which this sport derives its name. You won't do well unless you have a good balance between your weightlifting performance and your speed on the running track, and these isometric strength tests I've outlined above will enable you to spot any weak links in your muscular chain.

About the author, Mark Lundin

go to the S.H.I.F.T. page


by Lufong Chua

Achieving both muscular strength and cardio-vascular endurance is both compromise and synergy. It is a compromise because the individual achieving both dimensions of fitness is less likely to outrun the reed-thin gazelles who win marathons or out muscle the bulky hulks devoted to power events. However, it is also a synergistic form of accomplishment - a strong runner is usually faster, more efficient and less injury-prone, while stamina and endurance can only enhance the power athlete's muscular performance. And when one really sits down to think about it, a strong swift athlete, the total warrior, requires both to fight and win in the arena, athletic or otherwise. Even in the comic strips, a highly-trained crimefighter like Batman is depicted as not only a strong and powerful, but also highly resilient Dark Knight capable of fighting both hard and long. Achieving dual high levels of strength and endurance - STREND as Ed Bugarin calls it - is a unique challenge. It demands a price, it demands effort and commitment, but it gives as much as it takes.

As an athlete, I have been involved with several strength-oriented sports - judo and flatwater kayaking in high school, and rowing crew in college. Such sports demand a high level of both power and endurance, but most practitioners, including myself, preferred to invest their time in strength training alone. Looking back, I think I would have improved my performance significantly if I spent as much time hitting the road as I did cranking it out in the weight rooms. However, I had held back from high-volume endurance training for several reasons. Being small-built, I wanted to gain muscular mass and power. Weighing about 130 pounds then, I could bench press more than 160 pounds and perform 30 pull ups - this level of strength gave me confidence, and I was afraid to risk losing it by running too much. I had also feared the unfamiliar, unglamorous pain of long-distance endurance running.

Then in December 1998 I decided to take the plunge, to test the endurance dimension of my physical faculties. I decided to train for a marathon in March 1999. 26.2 miles was the goal; Maui was my destination, the venue for my test. The marathon is one of the great human traditions, celebrating courage and endurance, and I felt a fiery desire to participate in this mythic physical test, to experience my very own moment of truth. No matter if I lacked a running background - I had three months to give wings to my feet.

I decided from the beginning that my goal was to finish the marathon strong and whole and go home with the finisher's medal, never mind the finishing time. I would put in as many long slow miles as necessary to build up the aerobic base. At the same time, I wanted to carry on with my weights and strength training - not only to preserve muscular mass and strength, but to increase them if possible. Well-meaning friends had told me that it would be hard if not impossible to train for a marathon while trying to bulk and power up my muscles, but I was determined to achieve that balance. I decided not only to train hard, but also train smart.

Definitely, doing high-mileage running 4 times a week while weight training 3 times weekly was taxing and tiring, especially in addition to my academic workload, but as I gained momentum and rhythm, it became a simple matter of motivation and self-discipline. I saw more compromise than synergy at the beginning. I felt stiff and heavy when I ran, and I was tired when I hit the weights after a run. But I felt confident knowing that I was equally at home in the gym and on the road, knowing I could outrun the gym rats and outmuscle the road runners. The final goal was to out muscle the gym rats and outrun the road gazelles. It would be possible, I knew in my heart, and it would be more than worthwhile to work and fight for that goal: to be stronger, and stronger longer.

It wasn't long before the synergy between strength and endurance began to manifest itself. I had begun my running regimen with shin pains and foot aches, but I am convinced that relentless strength training on my quadricep, hamstring and calf muscles had subsequently fortified them against wear and tear. I also recovered faster between my weights workout sets and was able to push my strength workouts a notch higher in intensity because my cardio-vascular endurance kept my muscles working efficiently. My 10-minute-miles became 9-minute miles in my long runs by the end of 2 months - my bench-press one-rep-maximum increased from about 180 to 200 pounds, and I gained almost 10 pounds of body weight.

Sure, it is possible to argue that I must have compromised my performance, that I could have gotten even stronger and bigger without all that running, or run faster without all that lifting, but I believe that, even without the existence of a strength-endurance synergy, achieving a high level of both was the best possible investment in my physical fitness, a worthwhile athletic goal. It gives me a confidence that would elude gym hulks who can't move their bodies fast and far and skinny runners who lack upper-body strength. It is a confidence that belongs only to those few who know they can fight both hard and long whatever their chosen sport.

I treated my prospective marathon with the same maximum respect I would accord any life-or-death test. Complacency would be my death-knell. I was determined to train as hard and smart as necessary to bring myself across the finish line strong and whole, and henceforth become a member of that larger-than-life group of athletes called "marathoners." I spent time reading about running physiology, rest, recovery, training. I paid attention to details, down to the way I should tie my shoelaces so they are guaranteed to stay put. I learned to nurse my blisters and calluses, and learned to prevent them in the first place. I learned how to talk to myself, to push myself through the long solitary weekend runs through a campus that was usually then deserted because of cold or rain. At the same time, I hit the weights hard in the weight room, adamant that even if it compromised my running speed, it would be a worthwhile investment of time and energy.

Most beneficial to my training efforts was the training advice and motivation provided by Ed Bugarin, via email. I had never made any formal or explicit request for training advice, except make the occasional inquiry. It was obvious to me that Ed is not in the over-hyped, commercialized distance-training business, and that all the training effort must come from myself. No coach can do the pushups for the athletes he trains. However, as it became increasingly apparent to Ed that I was committed to running a good marathon, he gave me good, solid training advice in small manageable doses, which complemented the pace of my progress perfectly. Even in a simple sport like running, he had plenty to teach from experience. He taught me how to prepare logistically for the race. How to develop a training philosophy. How to fuel for training and racing. And because he was perfectly professional, always separating fact from opinion, I benefited tremendously from his advice. He had even gone out of his way to help me, by offering to have me stay with his group over the marathon weekend in Maui so I could save costs and avoid the stress of travel planning. I could hardly have received more assistance.

When late March arrived, I was finally ready to face my test in Maui. I had 10 additional pounds of weight on me since I began my run-and-lift combined regimen, but that did not affect my confidence in the least - I felt strong and ready for the trial. On March 19, I flew to Maui on my own over spring break, and looked forward to meeting Ed Bugarin, my mentor during my months of running, at the airport on Maui. When we met, Ed had one final piece of advice for me: no matter what, he warned me, I must run a slow race at the beginning to warm up. And to aid me in warming up, he gave me a trash bag, to have holes cut for my head and arms, and to wear when the race begins. The rest was up to me - when the gun sounded at the starting line, I certainly didn't feel as funny as I must have looked.

During my first 4 miles, I was running 9:30 miles, which would not have enabled me to complete 26.2 miles under 4 hours, which was my goal. There were hundreds of runners ahead of me, sprinting like bats out of hell, and I forced my mind to ignore them, to run my own pace. It took me almost 5 miles to warm up, before I began to speed up. The well-paced warm-up was certainly critical to my successful finish. I met my time goal, finishing at 3:51:37, with an average 8:50 mile. I had passed enough runners to come in 307th overall out of about 1700 finishers, and received an age group award for finishing 3rd out of 36 men in my age group (20-24).

Crossing the finish line was one of the proudest moments in my life, a moment that had taken many hours of hard work to accomplish. It is very gratifying for anyone to see the law of sow and reap manifesting itself in his or her life. My efforts, leveraged by intelligent training advice from Ed, had paid off nicely for me.

A marathon is an awesome opportunity for self-affirmation. The late George Sheehan had declared that the marathon has a certain music, "a martial strain" to it, which celebrates the heroic ideal of endurance and commitment. Every finisher has reason to feel like a winner. Best of all, for the amateur athlete, becoming a marathoner does not require a scrawny physique or losses in muscular mass and strength which detract from the ideal of total athleticism. Nature abhors a vacuum - the human body abhors an imbalance. In life as in sports, the race is not only to the swift, but also the strong.



Ed (left) & Lufong (right)

LuFong Chua is a citizen of Singapore, and an undergraduate international student at Stanford University in California. He began corresponding with Edward Bugarin after reading about the STREND Fitness Challenge (SFC) in the April, 1998 issue of Men's Fitness, and topics of conversation ranged from sports to fitness to military subjects. Being an impoverished college student, LuFong was never able to make that expensive weekend flight to Honolulu to test his mettle at the SFC. However, a sudden fever for running a marathon had convinced him to choose a marathon that fell within this year's spring break, and the Maui Marathon, which Ed would also coincidentally run, was chosen as his first ever road race. LuFong and Ed finally met in Maui in late March, and in the days after the race Ed spent time teaching him many useful things, the most important of which was how to husk a coconut. Ed had also debunked all the wisdom about protracted post-race recovery by taking LuFong mountain-biking, swimming and kayaking in those productive days. Both teacher and student, at least a generation apart, had become fast and good friends.

Ed at mile 23 (Lahaina), Maui marathon, March 21, 1999.
Finish time: 3 hours 13 minutes

go to the S.H.I.F.T. page

STREND in the Real World

by Mark Lundin, STREND Athlete

If you're an athlete who's logged onto this website you probably think of STREND as an athletic discipline only. I used to think so too, when I began my second career as a STREND athlete back in March of 1995. My first career (and current one) is as a police officer with the San Francisco Police Department. In addition to my regular patrol duties I have spent the last 12 years as a member and instructor of our Specialist Team, which works alongside our SWAT Team during hostage or barricaded gunman incidents.

The selection process for the Specialist Team is the most demanding test of any unit in our Department. It includes a timed 300 yd. obstacle course, a written test and a slow-fire rifle marksmanship test. Applicants must achieve a minimum score of 70% on each of these test phases to be ranked on the eligibility list. The top fifteen finishers on this list then undergo a background check and oral interview and must successfully complete a two-week Basic Training Course before being assigned to the Specialist Team. Approximately 50-60% of the applicants each year are eliminated when they fail to score high enough on all three phases of the test. Most of these eliminations occur during the obstacle course, in which a candidate wearing body armor, gunbelt, 25 lb. pack, gas mask pouch and AR-15 rifle must run 200 yards, climb over a 6 foot wall, low crawl for 10 yd. under three 18" high obstacles and then engage a series of targets with the rifle along the final 75 yards of the course. Scoring is based on an applicant's time through the course and the number of hits on the targets.

To be successful on this portion of the entrance test an applicant needs a good balance of strength and cardiovascular conditioning to get through the course fast enough while still being able to get a sufficient number of hits. We've had plenty of candidates who could bench press 300 lbs. but were so out of breath after running, climbing and low crawling that they missed most of their targets. We've had others who were superb marksmen but couldn't run hard enough to complete the course in the allotted time, or lacked the upper body strength to get over the wall wearing all the equipment. Almost all the test candidates in the past have been men, with only a handful of women officers over the last twelve years trying out for the team. Up until now only six women have ever successfully completed the entire selection process.

In October of 1998 I was approached by Cynthia O'Neill, a 31-year old officer at my station who was interested in trying out for the Specialist Team. She asked me if I could give her some tips on getting into shape for the January 1999 tryouts. Having had great personal success with the STREND High Intensity Fitness Training Program (S.H.I.F.T.) designed by Ed Bugarin, I knew she had come to the right source. Even though I am in my early forties, S.H.I.F.T. has enabled me to consistently outperform much younger Team members during training runs or obstacle courses. I started Cindy out with Part 1 of the S.H.I.F.T. program, using the 19 upper and lower body exercises and the running program that are the heart of a STREND workout. I adjusted the weights for each exercises and determined running distances based on her current fitness levels. She was surprised at the volume of information I had provided her and was eager to begin using it.

Embarking on the S.H.I.F.T. program can be a rude shock to even accomplished athletes. After all, the H and the I in S.H.I.F.T. stand for "High Intensity." The first time I did a STREND workout I began to feel nauseous about halfway through it. Cindy completed her first workout but admitted she was a little ticked off with me during the ordeal because it was so tough. I told her to stick with it, because her body would quickly adapt to the increased workload.

During the three months she trained for the entrance test Cindy and I would go to the shooting range and set up the obstacle course. In the early sessions she couldn't always get over the 6-foot wall while wearing all the gear. On those occasions when she could get over the wall we found that her time through the course was at least 45 seconds too slow and her shooting accuracy suffered because she was breathing so hard. I modified her program by adding a fourth set to her pull ups and chin ups, because she would be using these muscle groups the most when getting over the wall. We left the running program unchanged. As Cindy stuck with the program she noticed her arms were beginning to get leaner and more toned. Her running form and endurance improved. These changes translated into better performance on the obstacle course. Now she could consistently get over the wall in a smooth efficient manner. Her shooting scores and elapsed time through the course were tightening up as well, getting much closer to what I calculated would be a winning effort.

Cindy's tryout day arrived on January 12, 1999. Forty-one other applicants, including another female officer, were trying out with her. This year's crop of candidates was no different than those of years past. We had guys who blazed out of the gate like they were the Roadrunner but looked more like Wiley Coyote when they hit the 6-foot wall. Others took too long to get through the course or were so winded they hit only a few targets. One by one they fell, but enough candidates passed the obstacle course test to make the tryouts interesting. When it was time for Cindy to begin her run she was ready to rock, thanks to her STREND training. She completed the course within three seconds of her target time, and her score on the course was one of the top five for that day. Out of 42 applicants, 19 survived the obstacle course to go on to the remaining phases of the entrance test. At the end of the day Cindy ranked number six on the final list of the top fifteen applicants, having done very well on the two remaining test phases. Her impressive finish against so many male applicants was due in large part to the high degree of total fitness she achieved using the STREND program. Cindy is continuing to use the program to improve her fitness levels and I'm betting that those other STRENDless candidates will be eating her dust during the Specialist Team Basic Training Course in April 1999.



Mark Lundin learned about Ed after reading a STREND article in the October 1994 issue of Runner's World. He contacted Ed, who resides in Hawaii, in January, 1995 to learn how to train as a STREND athlete. Living in California, Mark wanted to know if Ed could provide him with a training program via US mail. Ed hesitantly agreed to train Mark since this was the first time Ed trained anyone this way. Ed was worried that Mark would not get the desired results because he would not be there to supervise Mark at each training session. As a personal trainer, Ed knows that clients need the personal contact during training sessions to insure they are doing the exercises correctly and stay motivated. So Ed put together a training book based on the training he provided his clients in Hawaii. This program, called S.H.I.F.T. (STREND High Intensity Fitness Training) targets total fitness. Success hinged on Mark's own initiative in following the program and training consistently. To Ed's delight, Mark followed the program to the letter. Mark's success culminated when he competed in the first STREND world championships in March 1996. After over a year of correspondence (Mark didn't have a computer) and telephone conversations, Mark and Ed met in Hawaii during the world championships. At the championships, Mark, the oldest competitor in his division (40), placed 2nd in the male open division. He performed the most repetitions for the five upper body disciplines in his division. Mark has competed in every STREND world championships. Because of STREND, Ed and Mark have become close friends.

go to the S.H.I.F.T. page


Story about a competitor during the 3rd STREND World Championships

by Sharon Nakamura

Jennifer Thompson-Tuzon could walk out of here today ranked an elite world class athlete, so for Heaven's sake, don't let it rain!

It's early afternoon on this mostly-sunny Saturday on October 10, 1998, and 31-year-old Thompson-Tuzon sits in solitude on some covered baseball bleachers munching on an energy bar. A handful of fellow perfectly-sculpted human specimens gather around in small groups happily chatting away while the loudspeakers pump out upbeat Hawaiian rhythms.

Another mountain shower catches Thompson-Tuzon's attention as it blows down from the Koolau mountain range, out across the Honolulu lowlands, and disappearing into the great blue void beyond. As dedicated volunteers zigzag across the secluded field getting things in last minute order, Carol Jaxon, president of STREND Fitness Challenge, Inc. approaches.

“What if the bar is wet?,” asks Thompson-Tuzon. Jaxon smiles and assures her that the judges have plenty of dry towels down on the field. “Do you have any words of wisdom for me?,” she asks. Thompson-Tuzon's voice sounds understandably nervous, though her concern for the passing rain-spurts is only the tip of the iceberg. Days earlier the only other female competitor in the Open Division dropped out, leaving Thompson-Tuzon with an agonizing decision. If she decided to stay in the Open Division, it would be a guaranteed first place-- as long as she finished. But today there are only two other female competitors, both in the Elite Division. And the top three Elite winners earn cash awards. Now most people at this point would just say, “show me the money!” It seems obvious that with three competitors, she's definitely going to get something. But it's a little more complicated than that. See, this is no ordinary competition.

It's the Third Annual STREND World Championships. A fairly new sport (in its fifth year) with a lot of potential, it combines five upper body STRength events followed by a three-mile ENDurance run. For the first five events (bench press, pull up, military press, chin up and bar dip), each competitor has three minutes to do as many repetitions as possible. The weight required to lift is based on a percentage of individual body weight, which is measured and calculated a few hours before the start of the competition. The repetitions from each event are then added together and divided by the three-mile run time. This gives each competitor a STREND Factor.

Thompson-Tuzon, weighing in at 150 lb., mentally calculates her requirements for the bench press. In the Female Elite Division, the standard is 80-percent of total body weight (120 lb.) and a minimum of four repetitions. “I hope I can do that much,” says Thompson-Tuzon. “I've been training for the Open Division (60-percent of total body weight) so I've only been pressing 90 to 100 lb.” After paddling in a 31 mile race across the Molokai channel with her team Lokahi just two weeks ago, Thompson-Tuzon admits she found little time for STREND training.

Then again, she entered her first competition on the day of the event and placed second in the Open Division. “I was there as a volunteer, but it looked like so much fun that I really wanted to try it,” she says. “So I borrowed [Male Elite World Champion] Sonki Hong's shoes and went for it.” That was earlier this year and now this three-time veteran is hooked.

There are a total of four competitions held annually in Hawaii and several others in Germany where the sport is catching on quickly. The three local STREND Fitness Challenges draw in bigger crowds primarily because of the nominal registration fee, but the World Championships is another animal. Only serious competitors need apply. And indeed they have. Thompson-Tuzon herself is an accomplished canoe paddler, triathlete, and marathoner, to name a few. Then there are the other 17 competitors here today: Three returning World Record Holders (one is German), an Ironman, ultra-marathoners, powerlifters...all seduced by the lure of this unique sport that caters to the well-rounded athlete.

With the start just minutes away the background music changes from meditative to motivational and competitors peel off in different directions. Thompson-Tuzon, number 11, patiently waits for the 10 competitors before her to begin cycling through the strength circuit. On the next whistle, she attacks the bench press barbell. It takes less than a minute to pump out eight repetitions and now she has the remaining time to mentally prepare for the pull ups. “How many [repetitions] did I do?,” she asks. As odd a question as that might seem, it clearly illustrates the intensity of the sport; her concentration completely focused on the bar. An official comes over to spray her hands with Stickum. “You're gonna have to really want to get off that bar now,” he comments. The pull up bar is wiped down, though the passing rains have held for several minutes, and the whistle blows again. Thompson-Tuzon centers herself on the bar; legs crossed and body fully extended. As with all the strength events, again she must do a minimum of four consecutive repetitions or face disqualification. (delted . She cannot be bumped down to the Open Division and) It adds pressure to this discipline, her self-proclaimed weakest. “I always do three [pull ups] and get stuck on four,” she said earlier. And the anticipation is nerve-racking. A small red button mounted to the middle of the bar sets off a buzzer when depressed by the nose or chin and her first pure adrenaline pull causes her to make skin-tingling nose-to-button contact. It doesn't seem to phase Thompson-Tuzon as she continues to knock out another five with extreme prejudice. The worst behind her now, Thompson-Tuzon's smiling face looks much more at ease. She becomes inquisitive about her female rivals. At this point, it's still anybody's race. One slip on the bar, one second over the 24-minute time restriction on the run, and it's all over.

With every three-minute whistle blast, another competitor jumps into the strength circuit and is introduced by the announcers. “And now on the bench press, number 16, Brady Adaro... His hobbies are gambling, body boarding, martial arts, and chasing beautiful women,” the announcers continue. “When asked how he prepared [for the competition] he said he didn't go to the disco last night.” Though not all the introductions are that light-hearted, they offer a glimpse into the psyche of these very normal people. There is always laughter and encouragement on the field and a lot of camaraderie.

Thompson-Tuzon's last three strength events go off without a hitch, except for one light, passing shower which ironically she could care less about at this point. Her combined score: 48 repetitions.

Judges compliment Thompson-Tuzon on her marked improvement over previous competitions and almost before she can crack a smile, she is whisked away to the starting line for the three mile run. Off she goes; distinctive blonde ponytail bobbing up and down and black Oakley sunglasses firmly pressed against her face. The current Female Elite World Record Holder, Peedi-Jean Saldania, finishes her run and sets a new world record. She is clearly unbeatable at this point, but the other female rival is the last to compete and is just beginning the strength circuit.

So far, only two males have dropped from competition for failure to complete the run. “You feel like Magilla Gorilla when you first start sprinting around the track,” comments Rick Hawkins, a veteran competitor and senior event official, as he does a little ape imitation complete with a STREND self-adhesive tattoo plastered across his forehead. “All that blood is pumping through your upper body.”

Time continues to tick away for Thompson-Tuzon as she nears the 24-minute mark, but she breezes in with just 22 seconds to spare and takes a long walk off into the field. “The second mile was the hardest,” she says as she tries to catch her breath. “I felt like I was going to hurl, but then I thought... work through this, work through this, ignore the pain. By the third mile I was much more relaxed.” She has a lot to be proud of today, having far exceeded her goals and guaranteeing herself a money spot in her division.

Now, only Linda Moran, the final female competitor, remains on the field. The number of on-lookers and moral supporters grows with every lap; Moran's wide, confident grin says it all. She typically has a slower run time than Thompson-Tuzon, but there is so much electricity generated by the crowd that she couldn't stop now even if she wanted to. For the last 100 yards, Moran is joined by German competitor, Alex Reinsch, one of the two men disqualified earlier, who has had ample time to recover from nausea. Together, their kick to the finish line is awe inspiring. Even Thompson-Tuzon cheers alongside other athletes and officials as her chance for second place slips away.

As the exitement dies down, the music switches back to easy Hawaiian listening and volunteers set up tables and chairs for the ensuing feast. The entire competition took less than two-hours, but where has the day gone?

After the banquet, Thompson-Tuzon takes her place on the podium. A large medal hangs by a red ribbon around her neck. She has a check in her left hand and, grasping the hand of the first place finisher in her right, thrusts it into the air for a champion camera pose. Here stands a world-class elite athlete, and off in the distance-- a bright, double rainbow in the clouds.

If you've got a STREND Story, send it to us at strended@aol.com


STREND Fitness Challenge