Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guest blogger Liz Davies

Liz Davies has been trying to spread the word on various cancer and exercise topics for the last year or so on many blogs and I was happy to help:

 Exercise and Chemotherapy

Benefits from Exercise  
Exercise has proven to be beneficial for many people going through chemotherapy. There has been a lot of research done on women with breast cancer and there have been impressive results from people who continue to exercise through various forms of treatment. What is very remarkable is a recent study which showed there are benefits to patients who were receiving chemotherapy for inoperable lung cancer.
There are mental and physical benefits from exercise and for these lung cancer patients both types of benefits were discovered.  People undergoing chemotherapy often experience exhaustion, vomiting, pain, depression and anxiety. Exercise is able to lessen and sometimes even eradicate these symptoms.
The patients in the study had stage three and four lung cancer and completed a six-week exercise regimen which consisted of both cardio exercises and strength training. At the end of the six weeks the lung cancer patients had an increased lung capacity and an increase in muscle strength. It was also seen that their mental well-being had also improved drastically and patients had more energy for daily activities.
Many times exercise is not recommended to cancer patients with a poor prognosis. This is true for lung cancer patients, mesothelioma cancer patients and people with other types of cancers with low survival rates like pancreatic cancer patients. Doctors often find a hard time seeing the benefits when it comes to these cases. But through this study it was shown that it is important for patients even with low survival rates to take part in an exercise routine. The physical benefits are important but the mental benefits are extremely significant for patients who are experiencing such an intensely emotional time.
Cancer patients often have a hard time finding the motivation and energy to begin a full fitness regimen. One way for patients to keep a program going is to have the program take place at a gym and to have a personal trainer. There are trainers who specialize in working with cancer patients and they are able to give high levels of motivation to these patients who especially need it. If the plan is to complete home-based training it is very easy to skip exercising.
After patients take steps in creating an appropriate exercise program and begin following it they will be sure to see the results. 

Liz Davies is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer especially interested in health and wellness. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives because she sees how cancer has devastated so many people in this world. Liz also likes running, playing lacrosse, reading and playing with her dog, April.


One of the ironies of exercise is that so many of the people that need it the most don't get any. It turns out this is true for those battling severe cancer too...

But, fighting such diseases must be a terrible combination of long term emotional stress punctuated by lots of boring waiting around for heath care professionals to do their thing. I can imagine that exercise could be something stress relieving and providing a feeling of self empowerment....at least SOMETHING is under your control. (I remember ready stories of Fred Lebow (NYC marathon founder) dealing with his brain cancer hospital time by doing laps around the ward..IV in tow.)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weekly recap: 13 weeks to Eugene

Monday: Rest

Tuesday:  4 miles + 6x8sec hill sprints + lower body strength training.

did 4.29@10:18 avg
Split Dist Pace HR % WHR Cad YPB
1 1.00 9:52 139 76.2 86 1.284
2 1.00 9:20 149 84.4 87 1.265
3 0.82 9:34 125 64.8 86 1.472
4 0.04 6:59 131 69.7 97 2.107
5 0.05 20:25 132 70.5 52 0.633
6 0.03 6:42 117 58.2 99 2.355
7 0.04 19:46 128 67.2 58 0.657
8 0.02 6:59 113 54.9 94 2.077
9 0.04 18:10 126 65.6 60 0.730
10 0.03 6:31 114 55.7 97 2.807
11 0.05 19:14 129 68.0 59 0.683
12 0.02 7:21 116 57.4 77 2.001
13 0.05 19:54 131 69.7 58 0.636
14 0.03 6:13 118 59.0 97 2.856
15 1.00 10:34 126 65.6 83 1.323
16 0.07 10:58 125 64.8 84 1.317
Summary 4.29 10:18 134 72.1 83 1.277
Summary2 4.29 10:17 126.2

I really love the hill sprints (splits in red)...I was always scared of them before..the few times I tried them I came close to hurting myself because I did too much too soon. 

Jill is a good coach:..she starts me out with small numbers of reps and short ones..and gradually builds up each parameter week by week. This works great and builds new muscle you can feel in the back of your legs in just a month or so. Plus, feeling the wind in your hair is pretty fun.

When I got to the gym after my running I didn't have a printout of the strength routine, I did  single leg squats, 2x10 ...could not do more (yet)..they are tough. Then I did stability ball leg curls...2x15 success!. Last buildup in the summer when Jill threw these at me the first time I could not do them at all. Now I can 8)...I was sore the next day from them...they are tough for me.

Then I did squat jumps (2 legged) was supposed to do one legged. Then I did 1 legged box jumps (was supposed to do box lunges), then clams, then eccentric heel lowerings. The box jumps were really tough, and I only had a very short box ;)

Wednesday: 6 miles @ base. '

did 6.1@9:51m/m avg. I was feeling it in the legs after the sprints and exercises on Tuesday. Did "myrtle" hip routine.  

Thursday: 6 miles, last 10 min at 'moderate pace'. eccentric heel lowerings. Did the 10 min (1.2 miles) at <9:00 pace as the 'moderate pace' stuff. I was pressed for time and so could only run 4.6, not 6 miles.

SplitDistPaceHR% WHR CadYPB

Friday: 6 miles easy. I needed the 'easy'. I ran to the Paly track (2 miles) and did about 100 yds of very gentle barefoot running then did the final 4 miles after that.

..total of 6@10:14m/m avg, 116 HR

Saturday: No running, but upper body weights and bicycles. I did a lot of house project stuff today which involved a lot of moving. Feeling stronger today with the rest...you can really tell.

I bought a couple of 15lb dumbells so I don't always have to use the gym just for upper body stuff.

Sunday: 9 miles with last 20 at moderate pace (and hills if possible), myrtle routine

I really wanted to do my beloved bay trail loop as it's been so long..and so no hills. Instead I did the entire thing targeting 125 bpm. The resultant paces are not too shabby and I felt pretty great the entire time..smooth feeling and good form, 4:2 relaxed breathing  and with a good cadence for that pace.

Split Dist Pace HR % WHR Cad YPB
1 1.00 9:46 113 54.9 87 1.595
2 1.00 9:45 122 62.3 88 1.479
3 1.00 9:15 124 63.9 88 1.533
4 1.00 9:13 123 63.1 88 1.552
5 1.00 9:12 125 64.8 88 1.529
6 1.00 9:27 127 66.4 88 1.466
7 1.00 9:17 129 68.0 88 1.469
8 1.00 9:14 125 64.8 88 1.525
9 1.00 9:21 126 65.6 87 1.493
10 0.50 9:29 125 64.8 87 1.486
Summary 9.50 9:24 124 63.9 88 1.511
Summary2 9.5 9:23 123.9

The birds were out feeding as it was low tide in the morning so it was a happening place. I could hear the muffled bangs of the duck hunters out in their blinds a few miles away down by Moffat field.  I get nervous running the trails down there on weekend mornings 8/

I was supposed to also do some 100ups after my runs this week. FAIL on that. I'll try this coming week.

I should also mention (mostly to my future self that might be trying to remember what I did on this training cycle ;) that I've been dieting the last 2 weeks (since I got back from vacation). I have been well over 170 lbs (173-175) for many months (even during CIM) and added a couple more lbs during my vacation. I would like to get back below 170. (you may remember my post where I found out I'm 18% body fat by getting dunked). 

Back pre-CIM I realized that building up for CIM and doing strength training, sprints, drills, etc, etc, I just could not add dieting to the mix..I would not be able to do the workouts. This time I feel like I'm starting from a better point and I'm also being very modest: get below 170lbs by Eugene. 13 weeks to lose 3-5lbs seems doable.

I never skimp on calories after a run..I eat (within 30 minutes) enough to full pay back the run, especially important if I've done fast running of any kind or strength training. I'm eating a bit more protein and generally cutting back the lunch and dinner just a tad and for sure reducing the empty calories (e.g. alcohol, bread before meals at restaurants, desserts). 

Speaking of strength training nothing burns the cals like having more muscle. I have never felt so ravenous in my life since I got all these muscles. You an just sit in a chair and they still demand food!

So far, so good. I can tell I'm losing fat (using the pinch method)...I think I'll be sub-170 by race day no problem, maybe a couple lbs less even...mastering the BMI will only help running fast and not getting AT. 

Today I weighed in at 173.3
Total 30.5 miles for the week..two 30ish mile weeks. Previous buildup was only low twenties for these weeks(!) 12 weeks to Eugene!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Kepa is excited about his first tagging and has tagged me so I'll oblige.!

If you are interested in random me-stuff facts you can check out
this post.


Do you keep a training log?

Sorta...I have this blog, in which I record details of specific training buildups via split tables from the garmin data and also my race reports.  I also keep all my garmin .tcx files and use garmin connect to look over old data...I also have some software of my own that I can use to parse the garmin data.

Do you think videos of guys getting hit in their privates are funny?


Train/Race - socks or no socks?

I use silk sock liners from REI. I have never had a blister from running in my life (knock wood).

What is your favorite movie?

Hmm. That's a hard one. I like a LOT of movies...last movie seen: "Tin Tin" in 3d.

Do you listen to music while you train?

Nope. I do listen to music a lot, but just not while running. I think using earbuds when running is a bit dangerous and when racing downright rude. I do hear music in my head though 8)

Heel striker or mid/forefoot?


How many pairs of running shoes do you own?

 3: saucony kinvara 2, nike free 2, saucony peregrine (for trails).

What is your favorite color?


Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, Other... Don't Care?

Prefer not to bring politics to my blog...

At what training distance do you decide to carry your own hydration?

For distances less than 6 miles I just chug some water before I leave the house. For longer distances I will carry either a one or two bottle pack.

Do you wear your workout clothes more than once before washing them?

I used to wash my tech shirt and shorts while in the shower and then wring them out really hard. They will then air dry by the next day. 

However now I have so many tech shirts from races now (and I bought more shorts) that I just toss 'em in the wash. 


I think this meme has been around once now so I'll stop passing it on. (With a branching factor of 11,  the entire blogosphere  gets tagged pretty quickly ;)

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Myth of Protein Complementing

"My what a nice amino acid you have there"

No. Not that kind of protein complementing!

Back in 1971 there was a very popular book called "Diet for a Small Planet". In this book was put forth the idea that if you were a vegetarian you needed to mix types of protein to get a compete set of the 4 amino acids that are not made by the body.

So for example rice and beans went well together because each was high in a different 2 of the 4 amino acids...both together gave you all 4 in good amounts.

Even though I was not a vegan, I have leanings in that direction and so I always remembered that part of the book. (as well as the parts about how terribly inefficient it is to grow meat).

These days I'm a vegetarian about 85% of the time (I eat dairy, but only skim milk)...the rest of the time I'll eat meat or fish as along as it's damn good stuff.

Recently, I was eating lunch with a co-worker (a pretty solid vegan) and he didn't know about this at all (!). The reason is: when we got back to our offices he looked this up and it TURNS OUT IT IS NOT TRUE.

Here's part of the wikipedia entry for Diet for a Small Planet;

Knowing that her audience would be skeptical that a vegetarian diet could supply sufficient protein, much of the book is devoted to introducing her theory of complementing proteins, also called protein combining. This is a method of eating different plant foods together so that their combined amino acid pattern matches that of animal foods. But while LappĂ© was correct that combining would indeed result in a more meat-like protein profile, it is also unnecessary: Individual plant foods contain all the amino acids required by humans, in amounts which satisfy growth and maintenance; however, certain deficiencies of particular amino acids should be considered since such deficiencies can have a negative effect on health.[1] In other words, mimicking the composition of animal proteins is not essential to human nutrition. After this was pointed out, LappĂ© recanted the idea of protein combining in the 10th anniversary 1981 version of the book:

"In 1971 I stressed protein complementarity because I assumed that the only way to get enough protein ... was to create a protein as usable by the body as animal protein. In combating the myth that meat is the only way to get high-quality protein, I reinforced another myth. I gave the impression that in order to get enough protein without meat, considerable care was needed in choosing foods. Actually, it is much easier than I thought.
"With three important exceptions, there is little danger of protein deficiency in a plant food diet. The exceptions are diets very heavily dependent on [1] fruit or on [2] some tubers, such as sweet potatoes orcassava, or on [3] junk food (refined flours, sugars, and fat). Fortunately, relatively few people in the world try to survive on diets in which these foods are virtually the sole source of calories. In all other diets, if people are getting enough calories, they are virtually certain of getting enough protein."[2]

(Red parts emphasized by me)

So there you go. It's even easier to eat vegan than I thought. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Goals for Eugene...and CIM 2014?

Thinking about my goals for Eugene, I have modest ones (I think):

1) Finish the training cycle with no bad Achilles Tendonitis problems. (Lots of preventative exercises being done)

2) Finish with pace under 9:00 m/m..want to see an 8 there. 8) This is a sub-3:55 marathon...i.e. I only want to knock about 90s off my PR. This assumes I have a good training buildup at least as good as CIM (CIM == California International Marathon in Sacramento) , and that the marathon gods smile again on race day of course. 

3) Enjoy the race! Perhaps take pictures AND do the PR 8)

What is also special about a  sub-3:55 goal is that this is the new BQ (Boston Marathon Qualification) time for men age 60

At my current age the BQ time is 3:40..which is an insane pace right now. In some fantasy world...where I did not have to work and had a coterie of trainers and PT people babying me all the time I *might* be able to get there...but I would bet not...probably I'd get injured. And doesn't matter anyway because I do have to work. 

However, in November, 2015 I turn 60...to qualify for the next Boston (April 2016) I could do that at CIM sub-3:55 in Dec 2014.

So, if I can shave 90s off my current, new PR time, and hold that 2 1/2 years from now. (CIM would be my race for that you can be assured!) I would BQ.

You may think this is a slam dunk... I do not. If you look at the age grading calculators a 3:40 at age 56 is about the same relative effort as a 3:55 at age 60. But, on the other hand, it's well known that you can improve for several years in the marathon (because it's so complex and involves optimizing so many things).

So I just *might* be able pull it off...it seems in the realm of the possible. I admit I would be crazy happy to do this.

As for getting to actually run Boston, I would guess that's very  unlikely.  I won't be BQ-20 or even BQ-1 I would guess so I'll be last on the list in my age group to get any entry.

I would not care...getting the BQ is the victory..running Boston itself is just the victory lap...heck I lived there and watched tons of them so I'm not caring that much about running it...would be nice but whacha gonna do?

But it all starts with being able to run <3:55 races at all. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Exercise South of the Equator, part II

Toni and I had a great time in Galapagos..it was pretty active as I mentioned.  Most days were were up at 6am and there were 2-3 major excursions to do every day.

Most people hit the rack very early after the first few days and I was one of them. 

Here's one last memento...a fellow cruiser took this video of my encounter with a baby sea lion. Moms leave their younguns for a day or two when they go out to fish and the little guys get bored. 

my best shot of Machu Picchu..yes it really did look like this.
Then we were off to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. The altitudes there range from 11,000' down to 8,500'.  

We had large parts of two days to explore M.P., Toni and I did the hike from M.P. up to "Sun Gate" along an the Inca Trail.

This is not a huge hike..maybe 3-4 miles tops. It climbs up to probably around 9,300'. I was glad I was in good shape..I found this hike interesting for the altitude issues but they did not slow me down. I used my speed to get up to the Sun Gate and have the place to myself until the other hikers caught up..it was magical. 

inca trail to sun gate

The "Inca trail" is really a network of thousands of miles of trails built 500-600 years ago. Sun gate is at a pass where the trail comes up through a saddle and you get your first view of Machu Picchu...AND it's called Sun Gate because the dawn on the vernal equinox pops through this notch and shines down on Machu Picchu.  There is a temple building in M.P. where the sun comes through a window and hits a stone obelisk carved out of a huge existing rock  and this casts shadows that also mark the moment of spring.

I would really like to go back to this area of the Andes mountians and do some hiking someday. It's very beautiful and the Peruvians are a great and friendly people...with some wonderful foods (they domesticated the potato and have many many kinds you have never seen before..yum!)
Toni and I at sun gate..machu picchu is just
to the right of my left arm. The switchback road
to get to the site is just below that.

Anyway, if you get a chance to go to the Inca valley and Machu Picchu you will find it a place that is quite beautiful and special.

And you can get a lot of good high altitude tromping around in to boot!

Full album here

Monday, January 23, 2012

Physician, devour thyself.

A great article here:


it talks about research recently published in Nature  into *why* exercise is so good for you..

Dr Levine and her team were testing a theory that exercise works its magic, at least in part, by promoting autophagy. This process, whose name is derived from the Greek for “self-eating”, is a mechanism by which surplus, worn-out or malformed proteins and other cellular components are broken up for scrap and recycled.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekly recap: 14 weeks to Eugene

Jill said when I got back from my trip (remember 6 weeks total of no running):

So you have 15 weeks to Eugene.  Really, not a lot of time considering you haven't run much (i.e NOT AT ALL 8), but totally doable.  We'll just have to make sure the runs we do do are quality (This means I'll be on the RMRF plan: "Run More Run Faster"  8).  I'm going to aim for 5 days/week running and one xt day.  If something flares up and all then we'll bump down to 4 and do a lot of core work. 

Monday: rest

Tues: 3 miles + 4x8 sec hill sprints + 20 minutes core work

Did 3.3@9:26m/m. This was easy...I also did 2x20 eccentric heel lowerings for each leg separately ..the first 20 with straight knee, the 2nd set with bent knee.

Wed: 7 miles w/6x50 sec @ 10-5K pace

10-5k pace means 7-8 min/miles for me. This was tough...I felt each interval taking a little more out of me and really had to concentrate on good form in the last mile. During the day later I was feeling a bit 'jazzed' up by the adrenaline I burned up..not used to that after 6 weeks off.  Did 7.28@9:58m/m

Thur: 6 miles easy + "myrtl" hip girdle routine
The easy pace was very welcome after yesterday! But even so this was a tough run near the end..'easy' pace became slower as the miles ticked by. 5.21@10:27m/m

Friday: 6 miles, last 10 minutes moderate pace
I felt much better today, I started the 10 min pickup at mile 4..what's a 'moderate pace'.?..well I decided around 9:00m/m..by the end of the 10 min I was ready for the cool down. 6@9:58

Saturday: rest running; video link + 20 min core work
Went into the gym to do this...also did some upper body weights and leg lowerings. Felt even better today (got two solid 8+ hour sleep nights)

Sunday: 8 miles, last 20 minute moderate pace (some hills in here, if possible)
Did a route that picks up 200' of up down.  For some reason the pace on the first mile split was wrong...crazy GPS reception? Trust me, I was not running an 8:56 pace at a HR of 116. Anyway, things felt most excellente and so I picked it up to a 9+ m/m pace for the last 3  miles plus 1 cooldown mile 

Split Dist Pace HR % WHR Cad Elev+ Elev- YPB
1 1.00 8:56 116 57.4 88 3 0 1.700
2 1.00 9:44 125 64.8 88 16 0 1.447
3 1.00 10:10 127 66.4 86 121 24 1.364
4 1.00 10:03 126 65.6 85 53 15 1.391
5 1.00 9:15 121 61.5 87 11 132 1.571
6 1.00 9:03 127 66.4 87 0 19 1.532
7 1.00 9:05 134 72.1 87 0 12 1.446
8 1.00 9:47 126 65.6 85 6 6 1.428
9 0.06 9:52 119 59.8 85 0 0 1.534
Summary 8.06 9:30 125 64.8 86 210 207 1.481

The overall averages, 9:30 pace with 125HR for 8 miles is pretty good. At my peak for CIM that number would probably have been 9:10 or so. (I should go check but that's my gut feeling) I checked. NOTE: I did check my conditioning ...that posting shows 14 weeks before CIM I was in very similar aerobic shape to now). So I have a ways to go but I actually think I'm ahead of the game vs 14 weeks out from CIM (as I have more strength training under my belt already this time!)

One problem looming is that I'm probably going to have to travel to Ireland for work for a couple of weeks in late March..this is only 6-4 weeks out and so will be a pretty high mileage time to try to find routes in a suburb area of Dublin...could be fun though! I'll also be working pretty hard and it's not clear how much time I can spare but since they'll be nothing to do but work, eat, sleep and run I think I can pull it off ;)

If you look at my race schedule on the side, I've signed up for the Santa Cruz half marathon on April 1st. I have run this race one time before and set my PR half time at an 8:30 pace, which I would dearly like to improve if the race gods are with me.

This is 4 weeks out from Eugene and that's when you do a half time trial to see test your fitness for race pace as well as help with pushing up the LT before race day. Hopefully I'll be back from Ireland by then, if not I'll have to do another solo time trial, which is not nearly as much fun as a race. 

Total: 30 miles for the week. 
Not bad considering it's my first week...it started with me feeling rusty but ended very well.
No niggles to speak of so far...did the 2x20 heel lowerings twice this week.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Exercise South of the Equator...

For 6 weeks after CIM I did no running. Partially, I wanted to give my body a rest after what was a pretty big buildup (for me) and fast, hard marathon.

As it turned out, it was perfect timing because I also had a lot of work to get done before the holidays. On the 27th Toni and I went on a trip to the Galapagos Island (Ecuador) and Peru.

These were not 'lazy-around' trips. There was plenty of walking/hiking and in the Galapagos, deep water snorkeling. I did a post a while back about surface diving as cardio. I got to do plenty of it there.

The water was cold even with shorty wetsuits, especially off Isabella Island which is hit full smack on by the Humboldt current. Let me tell you, runners are not good candidates for survival in cold water. You want to be as fat as possible. 

Add to that the fact that surface diving in a floaty wetsuit  and no weight belt makes things hard and you have plenty of cardio.

Here's some pictures of Galapagos Sharks.  There were dozens of them down about 12-20'...The first one turned away just as I got to his level, sigh. 

The one on the right I snapped from shallower depth..you can see a deeper one in the upper left of the shot

There were a lot of huge schools of fish.. here's some

After these snorkels sometimes I was so cold I had to run hot shower water on myself for a loooong time. I also lazed around like these guys do 
after their hunting expeditions. Look how comatose mom is while the young (6 weeks?) baby gets to suckle.. Later, she gets a thank you kiss for her efforts.

We did get to swim with the sea lions a few times. I was never bothered by any of them but sometimes the young ones will buzz you and blow bubbles just to see you freak out. I just saw big ones swimming by to go off to work (to catch fish).

The Galapagos is also the home of the only species of sea-going (marine) iguana. They feed on underwater algae and get rid of the extra salt they pick up by accumulating it in a gland in their noses...they then 'sneeze' out the salt from time to time when re-warming themselves on land. 

We did see guys swimming under water while snorkeling. I was not lucky enough to see one eating though. 

They get up to 3 feet long or so.

I'm still creating my "best of" album, but if you want an early look you can go here and click on 'slideshow'. Still lots of photos to add and captions too.

Next: hiking at Machu Picchu.