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Vitamin or Painkiller

Posted Jul 10 2008 4:04pm

VitaminDuring the peak of the Dot-com bubble (read the 1998-2000) I was lucky enough to get to know a very energetic entrepreneur.Donna August, along with several partners, started a company called FreshWater Software. The company had a NASA like control center here in Boulder, Colorado.

It was a pretty wild room with dozens of massive monitors, tons of computers, and lots of very serious people doing what looked like mission critical work in a highly cooled and I'm certain redundantly backed-up mission control center.

I'm sure that NASA would have been proud of what Donna and her partners had built in a non-descriptive and unassuming office building on Arapahoe Avenue.

At this point you must be wondering what any of this has to do with vitamins, painkillers, or even triathlon. Personally, if I were you, I'd be more curious about what Donna and her partners were up to in their control center.

I'll start at the end of this story and work my way forward. Donna ended up selling her company for tens of millions of dollars (or perhaps more), as was the way in those heady Dot-com days. She retired very young and last I heard was working on a foundation who's goal was to bring Gospel music to Africa.  Or perhaps the foundation was going to bring African Gospel music to America.  I must confess that I have forgotten the exact details.

She made all this money by providing a painkiller (her word) to her corporate clients. You see the control center monitored the health and wellness of hundreds of big name web sites around the world. The technicians who worked at FreshWater Software would make sure that if you happened to operate a mission critical web site (think Amazon, eBay,,,, ) or any of the other hundreds of new web sites that were popping-up everyday during those early internet days, your site would be up and running all of the time.

FreshWater would monitor your web site 24/7 and would ping it from around the world to make sure it was responding in a fast and furious manner.  And if by some unlucky bug, malicious attack, or fluke of nature your mission critical web site crashed, they had access to web based tools that could and would bring it back-up and get the orders rolling out of the door again.

Because if your entire business model depended upon Gay turtles or selling smelly sandals online, it would not impress your VC backers to have a broken web site.

I asked Donna how she came to creating her company and she simple said that one day she and her partners were sitting around a table discussing business ideas. First and foremost they all agreed that their new company should be a painkiller and not a vitamin.

In her mind a vitamin business was a company that provided discretionary sales and service tools. You know things and services that increase a company's bottom line by improving performance, or cutting cost, such as marketing or sales tools.

On the other hand a painkiller is a business model that the client company can not do without because it would directly cost money and/or directly derail sales and perhaps even the business.

To put it into a more endurance athlete friendly context, a bike mechanic is a painkiller because if you break your bike, and you don't know how to fix a bike yourself, you won't be riding or racing without his or her services. While an areo (Time Trial) bike helmet is a vitamin because you don't really need one as you can use a regular helmet to ride or race.

With that in mind here's a list of some other Vitamins and Painkillers that you may not have considered as such when racing. I do not include the obvious gear such as a swim suit, running shoes or even a bike because you know what basics you need to race. But with gas prices at an all time high, and the economy sputtering and stalling, I though this list of preferred vitamins and painkillers might help make the most of your race day budget.


BodyGlide:This a figurative and literal painkiller. Nothing wrecks my day more than forgetting my BodyGlide Anti-Chafing Skin Protectant Stick at home on race day, because without it I know I'm in for a painful wetsuit hickey, chaffed nipples, among other sore body parts. Plus I use BodyGlide on my wrist and ankles to help speed up the wetsuit removal dance. Some athletes prefer Pam to help remove the wetsuit, but I personally don't like to smell like an spinach egg omelet during a race.

Butt Butter:Once again as an age group athlete I consider any race or ride that does not involve bleeding or chaffing a success. I hate it when I have to go to work the next day with bloody or sore body parts from forgetting something as essential as chamois cream for a long bike ride.

Bicycle Pump:It's all fun and games until you blow a tire in the transition area. I can't tell you how many tires I've heard the frightening bang of a blown tire right before a race. HEREis an interesting discussion as to why tires blow in transition. This is a huge painkiller tip that is well worth remembering.

Salt Tablets:When it is hot and certainly when racing any distance at/or beyond a 70.3 these are worth their weight in gold. I've had the misfortune of almost passing out during myFIRSThalf Iron distance race from dehydration, and I can tell you that it all stops being fun when you start to get tunnel vision.


Areo (Time Trial) Helmet:I have to admit that I reallylove myRudy ProjectTT helmet. Does it make me faster? I'm sure that it is a faster helmet when worn by the pro's on the TDF. When worn by yours truly the answer is not so clear, but once again it makes me feel faster and for us everyman age-group athletes that's just as important.

Transition Bag:You can of course use a regular backpack or gym bag to get all of your gear to and from transition. But I have to admit that I wouldn't go race without my transition gear bag anymore if you put a gun to my head. I love the special pocket for my water bottles and helmet. I can't help but believe that sometimes feeling professional makes me race professionally.

Disk Wheels:  My friend Marc rented a set of Zipp 808 for his recent Ironman. Was it worth the $140 he spent to get a set of Zipp 808 for his race? Read all about itHERE.

If you have a second please use the comments section to add your list of favorite vitamins and painkillers. This old dog is always eager to learn a new trick.

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