Grass Valley woman works Ironman event |

Grass Valley woman works Ironman event

After a 20-year career of helping her patients work through pain, Margie Plog was ready to make a move. The 54-year-old Grass Valley massage therapist decided to put her hands to work in the world of sports.

So, when her mentor encouraged her to apply to work at the Ironman World Championship held Saturday in Hawaii, Plog decided to dive right in.

“It’s giving me a lot of experience and exposure to elite athletes,” Plog said in a phone interview last week.

The official entry form for the Ironman Worlds, held in Kona, included 1,782 athletes who had qualified to compete in the torturous 2.2-mile swim, 122-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run. With that many athletes putting their bodies to the test, Plog said a record number of massage therapists were to be on hand to help them pass.

“It’s projected to be the largest group of massage therapists ever gathered for an (athletic) event,” she said. “There are over 100 of us here.

“It’s incredible around here. There are hundreds of people running and biking on the roads all the time. And they’re expecting like 30,000 people watching the race along the roads Saturday.”

Many of those people, including Plog, were already in town when a 6.7-magnitude earthquake that caused an estimated $73 million in damage struck on Oct. 15.

“I was getting ready to go swimming,” she recalled. “I was walking out of the condo and the earth started shaking and I started surfing the earth. It was pretty wild.

“Many of the locals thought it was a volcano, so they were all saying ‘Let’s get up to higher ground’ thinking a tsunami might happen. The roads were just jammed with people heading to higher ground.”

Though hotels – and even hospitals – were evacuated at the time, no serious injuries were reported from the quake, and life soon returned to normal on the Big Island., including preparations for the Ironman.

Among Plog’s own preparations was working with the athletes following training sessions prior to the race, although she said most of her work would be done during the event – in transition periods between the swim, bike and run Ð and after the race had been run.

“I’ve got an appointment to work with Bryan Rhodes, a triathlete from New Zealand (Thursday),” she said. “He won the Ironman Malaysia in 2002 and he’s one of the 10 favorites to win Saturday, so that’s pretty exciting.”

Plog’s work with elite athletes fits better with her feelings about massage therapy, she said. While she enjoys helping people push through pain, she said she would rather be helping people who will help themselves.

“I got into this while in high school and when I was going to college,” she said. “A friend of mine had kidney ailment that required dialysis and was stuck in bed three days a week. So I started massaging his feet.”

At the time, she had thought of becoming a physical therapist, but the experience led her to massage instead.

“I really enjoy working with someone who has serious pain. I’m very good at working with acute pain, like with people injured in extreme auto accidents,” she said. “I’ve found that people who are injured and are experiencing acute pain seem to be more motivated to get better than people who have been dealing with chronic pain for a long time.

“I just don’t like working with people who aren’t motivated to help themselves.”


To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail or call 477-4240.

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