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Oak Street & Oregon Allergy Blog

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Dr. Sarah Kehl (purple cap, center) tackles the first leg of the Pacific Crest Olympic Triathlon.

I competed in my first Olympic distance triathlon on June 24. I’d been having a lot of fun competing in the shorter-distance triathlons over the last few summers, and decided to challenge myself with a “real” triathlon. Once I signed up for the Pacific Crest Olympic Triathlon, I immediately got butterflies in my stomach. I wondered if I had the time to train for such long distances, and if I had the strength to compete in a race that I knew would take me about four hours to complete. I pushed those thoughts out of my head, and just concentrated on the three components of the race: the swim, the bike ride and the run.

The swim
First was the swim. This race was going to be a one-mile swim in a very cold lake near Sunriver. I thought I’d tackle that segment first, since I love swimming, and I figured it would be the easiest part of the race for me. I went to Fern Ridge one night after work with a group of fellow triathletes and swam about 1.2 miles. It wasn’t too cold, especially with a wet suit on. The water was really murky, and my goggles fogged up a lot, so it was hard to stay focused on the buoy markers. But I wasn’t winded, so I figured that was enough training for the swim, and moved on to biking and running. 

Oregon Allergy Associates team member Tracy Willemsen volunteering as part of the hospitality team at the Olympic Trials.

With our prior experience with elite athletes dating back to the Olympic Trials in Eugene in 1980 and spanning multiple local, regional, national and international events in the last 32 years, our staff and doctors were proud to volunteer as part of this year’s medical team and serve other aspects of the Olympic Trials. It’s exciting to know that “Tracktown USA”, may become the permanent host to the Olympic Trials.

Oak Street Medical nurse Judy Moran checks bags as fans pour into Hayward Field.

This means that many events are held during grass pollen season, when as much as 20 percent of athletes, as well as fans, have increased symptoms associated with their allergies and asthma. Therefore, our services are in high demand, especially for elite athletes who strive for peak performance during competition. Fortunately, we were able to control symptoms of many of athletes, as well as fans, such that our unique grass pollen level was not a factor.

Tagged in: Olympics Pollen

As the 2012 London Olympic Games take center stage around the world, all eyes will be on the many athletes set to compete. Did you know that more than 20 percent of athletes in the 1998 Olympic Winter Games had asthma? Asthma is a condition that makes a person’s airway narrow and swell, which results in difficulty breathing.

Some of the best U.S. athletes, such as heptathlete and retired Olympian Jackie Joyner-Kersee, have competed with asthma.

Tagged in: Asthma Olympics
Marion Jones competing at Eugene's 2004 Prefontaine Classic in the midst of her fight against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

Track season is under way, and the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene and the Summer Olympic Games in London will be here before you know it. Some elite athletes with allergy, asthma and related conditions, especially those with grass pollen sensitivities, see our allergy doctors before competitions in our area during high pollen months, not only to relieve their symptoms but also to apply for a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) so they can use certain approved medications during competition.

Given this, you may wonder why some elite athletes are banned from competition. Unfortunately, some athletes use performance-enhancing drugs to gain an advantage over competitors. During the Trials, you will likely hear about an athlete who has been suspended or disqualified for using a banned substance.

Tagged in: Asthma Olympics

The Olympic Trials are coming to Eugene for the fifth time in 40 years, June 22 through July 1. Please join Oak Street Medical and Oregon Allergy Associates as we prepare for the Trials and the “Best Team Ever,” which is this year’s theme. For 33 years, Oregon Allergy Associates has provided pollen counts and medical assistance to elite athletes during the Trials.

Who can forget the Olympic Trials of 2008, which were a stunning success. The plans for the 2012 Olympic Trials call for an even bigger and better event, but with the same asthma- and allergy-related challenges. Due to our high levels of grass pollen, particularly in June, allergies and asthma can greatly affect some athletes. Eugene’s grass pollen counts are more than ten times higher than what some of the competitors experience in their hometowns.

Tagged in: Olympics Pollen