Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy my darlin', you hurt me real bad!

Hurricane Sandy is running a muck!

Yeah, no, I didn't mean this Sandy ...
Good-bye Sandra Dee!

I meant this Sandy!
Coming up the coast!
I took the day off from running. Call it an excuse, or call it cautious. I'm gonna stick with cautious. I didn't feel like getting whacked in the head with any falling branches - like the one that crashed into my roof this morning and startled me out of bed! Thank goodness - no damage ...I hope it stays that way!

Even my l'il Jack is acting weird!
Even though Jiggy's in good hands,
she's still freaking out!
It seems that all the animals are acting odd. This picture was taken by someone DTS (down the shore for you non-Jerseyans), yesterday!
Yes, that's a deer, running into the ocean!
It's a little crazy here, and we still have 2 more hours before the eye of the storm comes closer! Buttoning down the hatches, getting out the flashlights, the Coleman lanterns and charging the phones, while we still have electricity! Since my oven is electric, I made a huge pot of chicken noodle soup, yesterday, which I can heat on the stove top, in case we lose power, and then, of course, our heat!
Staying ready and looking out ....


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Love the track!

Not a bad day at the track considering that I only had 3&1/2hours of sleep last night!
Yup, up late again, trying to complete another report! Lots of work this semester - for only two classes. I thought about sleeping an extra hour, but when the alarm went off, I just couldn't go back to sleep. At 5:30AM, I made my way to the gym for some strength training. Today, I was in the mood for some Monster Walks ...hey, it's coming on Halloween ...
Trust me, I do not look this happy when I'm doing these!
I love monster walks - they are such a great all around glute, hammy, quad and abductor work out! Next, I entertained myself with 10minutes of stair climbing, 100 leg extensions, some kettle bell shoulder press, dumbbell press, back flies and tricep push backs ...oh yeah, and something even more fun than Monster walks ...
7 consecutive minutes of planks (side & prone pos'n.) and sit-ups!
And then, the icing on the cake: 

Today, I warmed up with a slow1.25miles. Then, I followed that up with six 100meter sprints to wake up my legs. I didn't push too hard on the sprints - partly because I was literally running on little sleep, but also because I don't want to re-injure my knee. 

When it came time for my workout, Coach went easy on me: four sets of 1200meters,  with a 100meter recovery jog and a 100meter recovery walk. Goal pace 7:20min mile, which I felt was a little easy, so I pushed it out a bit and kept up a 7:10min mile pace.

I finished up with a 1.25miles warm-down, lots of stretches ...and, OMG, look at the time ...home, eat, shower and off to school!

What's your favorite workout or strength training exercise?


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Food Facts: A sigh for Acai

It's been crazy here. I have had two tests every week - every Monday and Tuesday, for the last several weeks. 
I was smart enough to only take two classes this semester, but I'm not smart enough to just keep up with them! I do dumb things, like take on-line webinars, to learn more about foods and how they impact our biochemistry, instead of studying for upcoming tests. Like last Saturday, I decided to take an on-line course on bioactive substances, like antioxidants, instead of studying. This webinar, From Antioxidants to New Functional Benefits, was really eye opening! It pointed out that the
Antioxidants activity/free radical scavenging hypothesis is being dismissed. 
What? This is crazy!
For the past several years, we were told that antioxidants in the diet may help reduce oxidative stress, which is linked to aging, chronic and degenerative diseases, like cancer, heart disease Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Now, the antioxidant theory is being dismissed? This is huge! Especially for someone, like me, who lives in a state where 34% of the 40-64year olds and 60% of those 65years and older will be diagnosed with cancer!
I want all the protection from cancer
- and if I can get it from food, mmm, mmm, good!
For years, we have been told that the active ingredients in fruits and veggies include vitamins, like Vitamin A & C; essential minerals, like potassium and magnesium; fiber, insoluble and soluble; and phytochemical, such as carotenoids, chlorophyll and flavanoids (includes anthocyanidins - the stuff everyone justifies why they drink red wine).
We were told, "Eat all your colors" based on the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of foods, which was supposedly an indication of antioxidant activity. Foods with rich color, had high ORAC values and were deemed "Superfoods".
The theory: The higher the ORAC value, the higher the antioxidant value.
ORAC charts were completely exploited as marketing tools!
The lowly Acai Berry started to make headlines!
I never even heard of the Acai berry before 2006. Now you can find it in the local grocery store in pulp, juice, freeze dried, pill and tablet forms! Another superfood that hit headlines is the amazing Goji berry. Both Acai and Goji berry have been touted for health benefits based on their ORAC values, which was defined by the National Institutes of Health, as a measurement linking oxidative capacity to fluorescence. The degree of oxidative protection (antioxidant capacity) was quantified and interpreted as an ORAC score.
This is also (one) theory behind why raw is better when eating veggies:
Why boil or steam? Just eat 'em raw ...if you can digest them that way!
If boiled veggies have less color, steamed veggies have a little more color, and raw veggies have the most color - you should eat those veggies raw because then you are preserving the color, and not affecting the antioxidant capacity.
This past year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), publisher of the ORAC data, withdrew its USDA ORAC Database for Selected Foods from the Nutrient Data Laboratory!
So, what's this mean?
This means that the ORAC values don't have any relevance to the effects of specific bioactive compounds.
I feel so sorry for the Acai Berry!
I guess we will have to start looking for life somewhere else!
This is not to say that bioactive compounds do not have a role in preventing or ameliorating disease - it means that the ORAC data for antioxidant capacity of foods generated in a test-tube cannot be extrapolated to real time human effects because past clinical trials have not proven a consistent link between ORAC values and antioxidant capacity. Result: claims to link beneficial effects to antioxidant activity in food are being withdrawn!
Even the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a statement denouncing claims regarding the antioxidant content/properties of food!
The EFSA forbids claims in Europe touting benefits of antioxidant constituents of food since there is no proof that these antioxidant food constituents have any ability to scavenge free radicals, or offer beneficial physiological effects in humans, or protect human cells from premature aging, healthy aging, or claimed effects (like prevention or amelioration of chronic and degenerative diseases: cancer, heart disease Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease).
One reason ORAC values and antioxidant capacity of foods are being dismissed is because their concentrations in humans cannot be properly measured.
So do these fruits and vegetables that we once thought of as "super foods" offer any health benefits?
Fruits and veggies are still a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals - now, though, phytochemicals aren't being researched in terms of their antioxidant capacity - instead, they are being studied in other ways, like how they may positively impact our cardiovascular system.

I had a reader once comment, "I only eat healthy food, that tastes good." This is, by far, the best way to look at fresh fruits and veggies! I must admit, though, the idea that some foods have super powers, is seductive!
Super Garlic

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday: Back at the track!

Yes! Back at the track!
My knee has been healing, so yesterday, I went for a quick 5mile run. When I got home I saw a text from Coach: "Just saw you running. You look strong. Do you want to meet tomorrow?" I was going to push out the track work out for one more week, but when I saw that text, it was like I had no filter - and responded immediately, "Absolutely!" So much for waiting one more week!

Today, I warmed up 1.5miles, and got right into my strides. My strides were a little slower than normal - about a 22sec pace. My thoughts were to start out slow and ease back into speed, over the next few weeks. I have the community run on Thanksgiving - my all-time favorite local race - and I don't want anything to get in the way of my three, okay four, super important  turkey day race goals:
  1. Avoid getting passed by anyone pushing a baby stroller! This can really kills that runner's "high".
  2. Do better than last year's time. So far, these are reasonable goals.
  3. Make it into the top 10 in my age group. Ugh, I've never ever been able to do this in this race! Sad, I know, all this training and I am still a turtle!
  4. Get a mug! This is my #1 goal for the entire month of November - yeah, that's right. It's not about getting the turkey right or making some perfect pie - it's about getting that mug at the Ashenfelter Classic!  I'm totally obsessed with the mug ...but look ...they're beautiful, aren't they?
Aaaah, my Ashenfelter Classic Treasures

So when Coach told me to run eight 1/4mile splits with a 30sec rest and goal pace: 7:20min/mi,  I thought, "I can do that!" As I ran the splits, I stayed focussed, on my Ashenfelter mug. Needless to say, Coach was impressed with my times: 1min40second splits. 
didn't tell him that I ran a little faster 'cause I couldn't stop thinking about how much I want an Ashenfelter Classic mug!

Cool down: 1.5miles. Lots of stretching, afterward and home for some post work out carbs, fiber, food: Organic Yogurt (carbs + protein), some crushed walnuts (healthy fats: Omega-3) and raisins (a good source of potassium and iron). 
It felt great to be back on the track!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

No Fizzle!

It has been an emotional week in my community. Everyone is very upset over losing one of our high school seniors. For the first time, I realize what others must have felt, when my family experienced the horror of 9/11. I know it's not the same - but the events involve a similar pain. And they both leave you with, the "if only" thoughts and the infamous "why" questions...
'If only this happened, and not that ...
Why, God?'
I've been to many Grief Support Group Meetings, enough to know:
The "why" questions will kill you.
They will drive pain deep into your heart, and torment your soul. 
They will rip you in two, chew you up, and spit you out like yesterday's garbage.
After 9/11, I went to lots of grief support group meetings - I was desperate to find answers. Even though I never got any answers, I did take in the suggestions on how to cope. One suggestion, I remember was learning how to get myself off those trains of "if only" thoughts and "why" questions. I remember learning that I had to literally envision myself getting off of a train. First, I would envision being seated on a train. Then, I would picture myself reaching up and pulling on a cord which would let the train conductor know he had to stop the train and let me off. I would visualize myself getting up from my seat, walking down the middle aisle, and stepping off the train. I would even imagine looking toward the front of the train, watch the conductor as he stuck his head out of the engine car,  and then, tip his cap, as if to say to me, "Bye ...for now."

At first, getting off that train was hard, but after much mental exercise and practice, it was the one method I used to propel myself forward - taking the necessary steps to move forward, to live in honor of my husband, and his life.

The wake for the young man we lost last week - due to a tragic, accidental fall - was so very difficult. I asked my friend to go with me. Once inside, I heard the young man's dad say to my friend, "We are just so grateful that we had him in our lives. You know, you and me, we will just fizzle out of this life. Not my son - he went out with a blaze!" 
I just can't stop hearing these words in my head. 
They have inspired me.  I must get off the "if only" and "why" trains of thought. I must move forward in a positive way to honor and celebrate this young man's life.

I know we will pull together as a community and find a way to celebrate and honor this young man's life. So many people have already asked me to let them know if I hear of anything. Please know that when I do, I will post it here. For now, let's continue to pray for his family - that they find peace and strength in God's arms, and continue to move forward in a positive light.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

not just any wednesday

Today, I shut off my alarm and put off going to the gym. It's been pretty rainy here, so I'm blaming my laziness on the weather.  I justified my sleeping in by telling myself that more sleep will heal my knee.
More Sleep = More Knee Healing.
Yup, my knee has been giving me problems again, so I've scaled back my running and replaced it with Spin.
Not quite like running, but it'll do while my knee recovers.
As I dozed back to sleep. I promised myself that I would go to the gym after breakfast, do some strength training and run the measly 3miles that Coach prescribed.

I guess my kids were feeling these same lazy feelings because everyone came downstairs late. When they're really late, my daughter asks me if I can drive them to school. The high school is right next to the commuter train into Manhattan and parking is tight. If Girlfriend leaves past 7:40, she has trouble finding a parking spot. Shhh, don't tell anyone, but I secretly love driving them to school. I get to tell them how wonderful they are, how they can do anything ..."Just focus and give it all you got. Make it a great day. I love you guys." And just like that, they were off and so was I - right to the gym.

I had a decent little run and a good little work out. All in all, it looked like the morning was going well. I sipped my water, went to my locker, got my gym bag, pocketbook, pulled out my phone and there were it was ...a horrible text from my daughter:

One of her classmates died, last night.
I couldn't understand. I didn't want to understand. I still don't want to understand.
It just can't be true.
I called Girlfriend, she told me she was home. 
Sidekick picked her up, already.
The entire senior class was dismissed.
I told her I'd be right home.

When I got home, Girlfriend was crying. She was asking me a whole bunch of "why" questions. Some related to her classmate, some relating back to her dad. I told her, "I don't know." I didn't tell her, but I was asking the same questions on my drive home from the gym.

I know Girlfriend's classmate's Dad. He is a good man. A runner, like me, maybe like you, too. I saw him last week for the parent's Project Graduation Kick-Off Meeting. We know each other from the running club - I volunteered for him over the summer - he helped organize a children's track & field day - but we never put 2 + 2 together - that our kids were in the same grade, and graduating, this year! When I went home that night, I asked Girlfriend if she knew my friend's son. She said, "Yeah. He's nice, Mom. I really stink at soccer and he's like the only one who will pass the ball to me in gym."

My heart breaks for my daughter's classmate and his family.
I wish I knew what to say or do - something ...anything that would help in some way.
I have nothing.
There's one thing my Mom told me, after my husband was killed.
It kinda' helps.
She said,
"Elizabeth, God has big shoulders. They can take a good punch."

Tonight, the community held a candle light vigil.
RIP J. Dunk
Girlfriend went. 
She and her friend brought some candles to pass out.
I couldn't go. I'm home ....beating up on Someone's shoulders!


Friday, October 5, 2012

Food Facts: Running & Stomach Problems

I belong to the Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Linked-In Group. Two weeks ago, Nancy Clark, posted a question on her Linked-In page: "What is the solution to stomach problems on long runs?"
Of course, I was like, 
"OMG, Nancy is posting on something that has me written all-over it!"
Must read Nancy Clark's Post, STAT!
I think Nancy Clark is a true pioneer in the field of Sports Nutrition. I have read all her books, completed all her Webinars and am a dedicated reader of anything she posts! Needless to say, there I was taking in the post she developed.
Nancy Clark's Post of Q's to ask yourself if you suffer
from stomach problems on long runs
What I like most about Nancy's post is that it contains no answers, it's just a list of questions. The answers must come from the individual runner. It makes sense - everyone is different and their body reacts differently, to different foods. This list of questions is super comprehensive - it covers everything that I have ever asked myself, over the last 30+years (of running), in order to avoid having any embarrassing "moments" during any run or race. The only thing I would add is FODMAPs. I definitely suggest going through the list of foods that make up the FODMAPs because these foods can cause you to make gas ...and if you're a runner, you know:
Gas could ruin any perfectly good race or run, 
no matter what the distance is! 
< FODMAPs  = <Gas,
which is like PV=nRT for dietitians!
Stomach issues are so common with runners. This past week, another person posted another question, in the Sports Cardiovascular & Wellness Nutrition Linked-In site, asking how to resolve stomach issues when running. There were some interesting responses, a couple of people suggested drinking Aloe Vera Juice. I have seen Aloe Vera Juice in the health food stores ...I've never had the guts to drink it!
So tell me, 
Have you ever tried Aloe Vera Juice?
If so,
Did it help resolve any health issues (i.e., stomach problems)?
This info would be good to know!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


De-Nile, not The Nile!
Okay, so sometimes I am in denial and I don't think I have Crohn's Disease. When I think like this, I stop taking my medicine. Like, last week. Towards the end of last week, I got so frustrated and started thinking:
I hate taking medicine, Grrrr!
I'm healthy - For goodness sakes, look at all these miles I'm running!
Plus, this medicine makes my hair fall out - I like lost a pony tail's worth in the shower the other day!
That's it. 
I'm done!
No more medicine!
I threw a little adult temper-tantrum and stop taking my Pentasa. I skipped about three days. By the end of the third day, I was inflamed. And this weekend I was out, celebrating my friend's wedding (ADD sidetrack: Yeay, I'm so happy for them! It was so beautiful!) when the backlash of my foolish tantrum started to catch up with me. Ech, I wanted to crawl up in ball and wait until the pain subsided. Unfortunately, it lasted all the way home, the next day and even today, I'm still not right. 
I did, however, notice something....
My left knee started to really hurt, again.
So did my left hammy and gluteus muscles.
Even my right knee feels weird.
I have come to a conclusion that when my Crohn's flares up, and I'm inflamed, my joints ache, and my muscles get really sore and heavy - it feels like they take longer to recover from whatever I do in the gym in the AM.
So, please, someone slap me if I ever go down that river of
De-Nile, again.

It really hurt my training!
I couldn't run 5miles yesterday and I couldn't make it to the track, today.
Although, I did manage to spin for an hour.
Maybe I will feel better and run some light miles tomorrow?
For now, it's back to my Crohn-ie meds, building back up some good healthy intestinal flora with  Culturelle & yogurt, and fighting the inflammation with Fish Oil Omega-3 Capsules.