Thursday, December 13, 2007

Is it Christmastime already?

With all the training I've been doing this year, the year just literally "flew" by. Tonight, I took the opportunity to go for a run. As is typical - at first the kids didn't want to go, then one did and then the other. We took the baby jogger, and even though one was on a scooter, that didn't last long. He ended up in the jogger with the scooter, too.

All this made for an interesting interval workout, where I was pushing a pretty heavy double baby jogger. I thought we were done with that...

Long run on Saturday planned - it's supposed to be 21 miles, but I'll just have to see how it goes. My training has been pretty random since the Redman.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Exactly one year ago...

It's been a year since I've started blogging about celiac and training. So much has happened, but something special happened that I found out about yesterday at church. Exactly one year to the day after I had a discussion about my celiac situation with another runner, I found out she was diagnosed with celiac.

It's a moment that gives me mixed emotions. I'm empathetic as I remember the loss and relief I felt from my diagnosis and the hard times that immediately followed as my diet shifted. But I also remember the joy crossing the finish line at the Redman -- something only made possible by my improved health as a result of my diagnosis.

And it's my joy and the coming joy of those who start their own journeys to better health through a diagnosis that keeps me writing.

Disney workout

Last week I went with my family to Disneyworld, which I can recommend for those interested in keeping their base strong while vacationing "gluten free." Disney is more or less know for their ability to come up with a gluten-free solution at pretty much any place with a kitchen, which was good news. The children's meal plan is a little less congenial, but they were still able to come up with substitutions most of the time.

As with anywhere else, the key is to plan ahead. Disney has far overscheduled their restaurants, so you need to get reservations at the restaurants where you are planning to eat waaaayyyy ahead of time. Thank goodness for the French restaurant at Epcot that took pity on us when my sister decided she didn't "like" Moroccan -- the only restaurant we could get into on our first day. When my sister vetoed a restaurant based on preference vs. dietary need, it made me realize how flexible I'd become. I'll eat pretty much anywhere I can snag some GF food.

In terms of working out, my family thought it was wonderful that I would jog all over the park(s) with our cards to get "Fast Passes" -- I did, too. It's the first decent set of workouts I've had in weeks thanks to my schedule at work. It turns out an Ironman is pretty good training for Disneyworld. I was getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night and loving it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hit by lightning

I asked my wife if she'd done anything to upset God lately. Two weeks ago, she was in a car wreck, and so I was only half-kidding, because when a storm came through the other night, lightning struck nearby. Our power was out for a minute, and when it came back on, her computer, the cable modem, the wireless router and MY TREADMILL no longer worked.

I'm thinking that's going to be expensive. We'll see.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Another rest day

It's still in my chest, but at least I've got some anti-biotics now. Thanksgiving dinner was an awesome gluten-free extravaganza. My wife's family rocks!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gluten-Free Medicine?

That cough turned into sinusitis and bronchitis, and now I find myself looking for some gluten free medicine. In my 2003 guide to medications, it says that Zithromax (the pill) is not gluten free, but the suspension (usually given to kids...) is. I always get funny looks at Walgreens. The Waltussin DM seems okay, too.

As an aside, I think the FDA should rename those "inactive ingredients" to something like "mostly benign ingredients" Has anyone out there run into trouble going off the "approved" list for their medical plan because of gluten ingredients?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bending rules

So if you have a cold, do you go out and run/train? I've heard that if it's in your chest, don't do it, but if it's still up in your head, it's up to you. I've followed that rule with success and broken it at my peril.

Well, this cough is in my chest, which is a workout no-no. The catch is my wife said that I better do something because I get surly if I don't exercise (she knows I haven't done much for a week - so maybe I was already a little irritable ;-). So I bent the rule and walked a half-hour on the treadmill. I have to admit I feel a little better.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I guess this is my offseason...

I haven't worked out in a week. I hate being sick. Stupid cough. I went to bed at 8:30 last night and slept for 10 hours.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

2 days flat on my back

Nasty bug. No long run this weekend and then I missed 2 days of work for this stomach thing. Unbelievable (and no - I didn't catch some gluten, but thanks for asking).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Celiac Disease Corrected by Bone Marrow Transplant?

Well, I'd be the first to say that I think my reading list might be a bit eclectic, and I may not understand the medicine, but this article seemed like big news to me. Medicine is amazing.

It really has me thinking forward. What would the world be like for CD if there were a cure (albeit extreme and expensive)?

The Celiac community has been wandering in the gaps of the medical profession for decades -- this could put us square on it.
  • Would people even sign up for a bone marrow transplant to cure their CD? (Not me - but a career baker might?)
  • Would the medical profession allow it as too risky for a non-life threatening situation (post diagnosis)?
  • Would companies be able to use the cost in business cases to drive other, less invasive or costly treatments?
  • Would health insurance companies reimburse for the cure? In lieu of that, would they start reimbursing gluten free food?
  • What happens to the Celiac community and the support groups? Do we switch the mission from awareness?
  • Do oncologists start coming to support group meetings to drum up business?
Brave new world out there.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rest Day + Great Nova

Yesterday I went out with my kids to shake things loose, so today's a day to relax. I watched a great NOVA on PBS (we recorded it) about a team of out of shape people who trained 40 weeks for the Boston Marathon. They had all kinds of health problems and emotional issues and really struggled and achieved. It's well worth watching, although I must admit I winced pretty hard when they talked about stress fractures.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ironstar Recap 1/2 Iron 6:40

What? You thought my recovery wasn't going well? Well - I'd been sick and out of it, barely hanging in at work and not doing workouts. Then I realized that I've only done 2 triathlons this year, and I felt like I really wanted three so I could see how I was doing compared to last year in the USAT rankings. I looked for a shorter race, but there were none to be had close to Houston this late in the season.

So Wednesday night I thought - I can do this, and I signed up for the race at packet pickup.

We went camping in the cold with the cub scouts for the weekend and then I was off to Conroe for the race. It was cold. The swim was not short as in previous years, but I only missed my swim PR by 10 secs or so. Then the bike ride - another PR averaging 16.1 mph (including a stop to get a bee out of my hair!). And then the run - another PR for the race. My time of 6:40 lopped about 40 minutes off of my previous best effort and it was a great way to end the 2008 triathlon season.

In "Celiac retrospect," the best part was that after waking up at 4:30 am, I went by myself, recovered well after the race, loaded up all the equipment, drove home and unloaded it. I came home and went straight into watching the kids, making dinner, etc and didn't go to bed until 10:30. I'm not saying I wasn't dog-tired, but it's such a far cry from efforts in prior years, where I've had significant support from my wife, slept on site, slept after the race, etc. And it's even farther away from the days before I was diagnosed when I used to sleep for hours after my Saturday long runs.

What a blessing it has been to me and my family to know and eat right. Eating gluten was such a physical boundary for me before my diagnosis, and I think some of those boundaries crept into how I thought about the world. Not anymore. Not anymore.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Triple digit temps

No - it's not actually 100 degrees here in Houston. The weather is actually quite nice 88 degrees and low humidity. I'm referring to the cold bug that snared my kids and wife and finally, me. I had been busy catching up at work and then went out for a Saturday morning ride and I just never really felt up for anything after that. Sunday night and Monday morning were the worst - that twilight sleep that doesn't refresh, combined with alternating hot and cold spells. Ick. Add a deadline at work and the week was double-ick. My resting heart rate the other night was 64, so you know I was fighting it hard.

In retrospect, now that I'm on the mend, I figure it was a good time to be sick, though. My body could use the time off. If I don't want to totally spin out, I need to set a new goal. Oh sure, I'm signed up for the marathon, but I wonder about the wisdom of doing a tri, beat up and coming off an illness. Maybe I'll just play it by ear.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Redman Triathlon recap


I was ecstatic with my time of 16:20 – because I met my goal of finishing the race. The race started in temperatures in the high 70’s and spent most of the race in the low 90’s. This had the effect of slowing down my overall speed, but I managed my energy to start speeding up as the temperature dropped. In retrospect, a race this long is about overcoming the multiple obstacles that the distances and environment place in your path. Throughout the distance you draw on the love and support of the volunteers, other athletes, the inner physical training and your spiritual resources to overcome them.


There’s a saying that you “pack your fears.” Well, I packed a bunch. If I had been smart, I would have packed my Pre-race, T1, T2, special needs (bike and run) and post race bags AT HOME. I think it would have helped me pack less. I didn’t pack that way, and then I basically had to pack again, which was a total waste of time (and honestly, it made me anxious).

There were a couple of Celiac-related things. I had called Hammer to ask about their gels. They have natural grain dextrins in them – and the ingredients are proprietary. They asked me for my email so they could send me a note. I’m still waiting, so no Hammer gel for me. I also hadn’t really figured out what I was going to do for a pre-race dinner and breakfast. Next time, I’m going to identify a meal and/or restaurant in advance. We asked the hotel for a refrigerator and they sent up a mini-fridge.

My parents and I reserved adjoining rooms, which was good. My mother brought a cold with her, which was bad. I kept waking up at odd hours. I’m not sure if it was the newness of the hotel or pre-race jitters, but it was kind of weird. There was a pre-race swim on Friday morning, but you get your sleep when you can. I put in earplugs and put on eye shades to sleep in and skipped it. Later I found out that was a good idea, as the waves were quite choppy.

I spent most of Friday futzing with my bike. I had noticed some holes in the front tire on the way up. I thought, “Well, I’m either going to be worried about a flat because of the holes or I’m going to be worried about a flat from a new tire, so I might as well change it.” So I did. It wasn’t until I rode it around the parking lot that I really felt my fitness. “Good timing there.” I thought.

We went to the pre-race meeting to drop off the bike and transition bags. Then it was off to dinner.


I woke up before the alarm. In terms of sleep, I don’t need to sleep well at all on race night, but it’s nice. If I wake up more than an hour before the (two) alarms I set, then I try to go back to sleep. Transition opened at 5:30 am, and after a quick breakfast, I left at about that time.

The parking was a long way from the transition area, so I walked in, and walked my pump back to the car. I should have left it in my post race bag, because it made the time tight. I brought my LED headlamp like the ones they wear on the “Amazing Race.” That was a good idea – it was easier to see in the pre-dawn light. I had planned to put the socks I was wearing in my bike shoes, but didn’t. That became important later, as did my inattention to my bike gloves. Someone else had brought an extra bicycle – and I thought that was a pretty good idea, although he should have brought an extra helmet, too.

One neat thing was that I was racked two bikes away from the only other guy from Houston in the full. We chatted briefly and wished each other luck.

The invocation and national anthem were great and put me in the right mood. I still wasn’t nervous. The race is just too far for that. I quickly grabbed my goggles and helmet and headed to the swim start. I put my goggles under my swim cap and put in my ear plugs and we got into the water. I had a little trouble with my wetsuit. I lined up back and away so I could avoid the “cuisinart start” – Swimming is probably my slowest leg, relatively. I sent up my prayers and we were off.


I swam clear and smooth, thanks to training the “Total Immersion” way. I was wearing goggles that were practically new and I had put them on dry. Navigation on the leg going out was easy because there were distinctly shaped buildings on the north side of the dam. Somewhere short of the first turn, there was a short patch of warm water followed by a patch of colder, rougher water and what seemed to be a bit of a current. I went around the first and second buoys without a fight. Coming back through the cold patch, I was kicked on the side of the head hard enough to knock loose an earplug. That was a surprise, to put it mildly. Up to that point it had just been the occasional arm brush. I had been concerned because I’m a slower swimmer and the half iron and aquabike was starting after us. I think the guy who kicked me was wearing a white cap, which would mean he was doing the full, too.

Navigation coming back was more difficult. I couldn’t see the end, and the shoreline was indistinct. so I had to swim buoy to buoy. The rest of the swim went without incident, although I noticed myself getting tired in the shoulders, sort of hungry and a bit of rubbing on my neck. The wind and waves picked up a bit, and I noticed it was easier to breathe on the left away from the waves. It was the farthest I’d ever swum without “touching” a wall, and I felt pretty good knowing I was setting a “race distance PR” with every stroke.


I came up the ramp and tried to relax on my back while volunteers stripped my wetsuit. I jogged into T1 and dumped my bag out on the floor. I ate and drank a little. I put on my heart rate monitor, changed into my cycling bibs, put on my cycling jersey and looked for my gloves and socks. Uh oh. Even though I’d put on sunscreen before the race, I asked the volunteer to hit me with the spray. THAT woke me up – my wetsuit had given me a few hickies by chafing my neck, and the alcohol in the spray stung. I jogged out to the bike and saw my shoes without my socks. I decided I’d just have to go without – and I’d never gone without socks on the bike, even for a short tri. I had gone without gloves, but oh well. I walked my bike out to the mount line and was off.


It was pretty nice out on the 56 mile, two-loop course to start. I settled into a comfortable heart rate and started in on my nutrition plan. In a little early drama, one section of rock bound with asphalt had a soft shoulder, but the trick was it looked the same. I had to wrestle with my bike a bit at that point to stay on the road. The course had few turns out of town and was then out and back on a country road. I would have actually enjoyed something a little more technically challenging. I skipped all the aid stations on the first loop, as I worked off my four bottles of calories and electrolytes and bars. I had a great first half of the bicycle leg, but I was worried about a hot spot developing on my left toe.

I saw my family around mile 55 and said I would be stopping at the nearby aid station on the turnaround. It was great to see them all cheering and supporting me. I secured a pair of socks, topped off my bottles with cold liquids and was on my way. Only later did I find out that they had waved to me at the start of the bike from the car, and I had waved back. Of course, I waved at everybody who cheered and I didn’t realize it was them.

I headed out for the second loop and the wind picked up. It was deceiving, because it was a tailwind. The heat started to rise and it reminded me of all those hot training days in Texas. My food started sitting on my stomach, and the Endurance made things worse. My heart rate started going higher, so I stopped at aid stations to lower my core temperature and heart rate. I heard at one of them that there had been a medical evacuation already, and it reminded me that I needed to keep respecting the distance.

After the turnaround, the hot wind was in my face and I had 28 miles to go. I had to be smart and patient, because my food still wasn’t settling, and without water I risked overheating. Nothing worked like it did on the training rides, but I just kept going, if slower. I started in on the headaches and knew I was riding the fine line with heat exhaustion. Despite the cautionary notes in my race, I was still passing the stragglers from the half iron race at this point.

If Kona looks like the moon because of the lava fields, then the Redman looks like Mars. The dirt in the plowed fields is Oklahoma red, just like in the NASA pictures. There was at least a 10 mph headwind and on some of the rolling hills I went down to my last chain ring (although I was sitting and didn’t have to stand or tack the hills). It was 92 degrees at the lake, but it was cooler there. My math abilities started to become unreliable and even my cyclometer had quit by now. My calves started to give notice that they wanted more electrolytes and calories. Someone at the next aid station joked, “Who’s ready to run a marathon?” and nobody with a number thought it was funny. Mentally, you want to be in the moment, or at least in the segment, of the race you are actually in. Worrying about a marathon when you still have to finish the bicycle leg isn’t productive.

I remembered the cool breeze off of the lake that had energized me on the first leg of the bicycle course, and that gave me hope that things would get better when the sun went down and temperatures fell, and I kept pedaling. Suddenly, I was at the turn into town and the scenery changed more rapidly, with more houses and businesses. I churned up the dam hill in my lowest gear and crested the hill. My heart rate was still under 160 and I was going to finish the bike portion. Later I would find out 16% in my age group did not.


I came to the dismount line and eased off the bike. I had learned earlier that running right away after a 112 mile bike ride made my hamstrings complain, so I eased into transition and racked my bike. I took off my cycling shoes and walked to the tent. A volunteer offered to massage my legs. I took a long time in that tent, trying to get food down or even see what looked good, but nausea was setting in. I was keeping count of my heat exhaustion symptoms, and I always bag a workout if I get to three. So it was decision time. I decided that the aid stations were close enough together that if I went slowly, I could manage. I’d start the marathon. My race number ripped off my tri-belt and I had to do safety pins on shorts. “So much for high tech tri gear,” I said. Thank God for the volunteers who massaged my legs and helped me get on my way. Later I would find out that another 16% of my age group abandoned in transition after they racked their bikes.


My family was waiting for me just outside T2. It was good to see them again. I was determined to walk, but my Dad said I had to jog by the bleachers so I could “look good.” I gave it a try and figured I felt like I’d bonked at mile 20 in a hot Houston marathon. Well, I’d done 6.2 miles feeling this bad before. I started jogging 100 paces, walking 50. I was on the windward side of Lake Hefner, so the wind was hot. It was around 5 o’clock. I was picking my shots, going slow now and hoping that I’d recover enough to go harder later. My family drove around to mile 3 and nearly missed me at the park there. It was good to see them. My nutrition plan was out the window, and I knew I was short calories. As a celiac, the crackers, figs, pretzels, gels were all out of consideration. Soda was making me gassy. An orange didn’t work. I choked down one of my energy bars, but it just sat, Endurance was twisting my insides and I envisioned a repeat of the bicycle leg. I needed probably 2000 calories to finish the marathon and I was already running at deficit at mile four. Desperately thinking for calories, I finally struck on bananas. Run 100, eat one bite, walk 30. Repeat. My body agreed to take just one bite every repeat.

The heat seemed unrelenting for the first 10K. But it finally started to drop a little after the turnaround. The shade was rapidly getting longer and the wind died down. My body spent less time trying to keep cool, and more energy went into the run. My pace improved, but I was still nursing my calorie situation. It was twilight. About mile 11, I realized I needed to run significantly faster to beat the 17 hour cutoff. Panic set in – a year’s worth of training had come down to this. It was now or never. I started running. My family saw me going into turnaround, I said “Hi” – at my limit. The turnaround mat was way past the finish line. Earlier the Redman instructions had said to put a long sleeve t-shirt into the special needs bag and tie it around your waist. I carried it along with my bars and electrolytes. I could feel my pace improving. On the way out I said, “Can’t stop, this is going to be close.” But miles started ticking by at 12 minute pace, which started to provide a cushion. 14 – I stopped at the aid station to try some water and and electrolyte tab. I gave them my shirt. I had my hat and couldn’t possibly see how I could get cold enough to need it. 15 and then 16. At that point, another challenge cropped up. Both calves locked up simultaneously in cramps, nearly pitching me forward into a face plant. I knew I’d be walking for a while. 20 minute pace - 3mph – 10 miles. Again I ran the math. This time it worked! If I could keep that pace, I would beat the time limit, just barely. I started walking faster. Around that time, a golf cart with volunteers showed up with ice cold Endurance. It was just the thing for cramps, if I could drink it. And suddenly I could. I was 130 miles and 14 hours into the race and I could finally tolerate the stuff. I had a cup of ice and just drank the whole bottle as I walked fast, swinging my arms to improve my pace. Four mph would be 15 minute pace. I timed the next mile at 16 minutes. I decided not to test my calves for a while, just in case they really locked up instead of just complaining.

It was a little dark on the lake path, even with the ¾ moon shone in the cloudless sky. Outright darkness made things interesting. At one point, I saw a glow stick a good distance that wasn’t moving, and I worried for another athlete’s safety. I had been calling out to people all day, asking if they needed help and so on. I called out, “Are you okay?” No movement. I was really worried, until I saw that the volunteers had ringed a post in the intersection so I would see it and not hit it. Then I called out, “Am I okay?” laughing at myself for imagining things.

I dropped off my bag of useless bars at an aid station and worked bananas, endurance and water as the mood struck. I decided I could run the downhills, such as they were on the mostly flat course. Now that my risk for hyponatremia had passed, I was looking for labeled ibuprofen, but there was none to be had. As I pulled out of the last aid station, I met Tara. She and I struck up a partnership, encouraging ourselves to finish the race. As we came back, we could see the other people trying to meet the cutoff time. One guy was wearing an eight pound bag of ice on shoulder. “Why didn’t I think of that!” mixed with, “He looks terrible. I hope he makes it.” And suddenly we were passing people going the other way who knew they weren’t going to make it. The next day I would sit with the “ice man” at breakfast. Steve finished in just under 20 hours, and three volunteers were there waiting for his victory at 3:10 in the morning.

This was Tara’s third iron tri. She was still nursing her 7 month old, and a mid race feeding had made her nauseous. But she was strong now, walked like the wind and I felt I was holding her back. I told her I was cooked, and I was. With three miles to go I went to a Coke. Nothing. Then something, so I jogged to catch up. We had been making good progress and at this point we knew we were going to finish. I thought she should go first, but she didn’t. She told me to go on. So I ran on ahead toward the lights. This time, I could take the left turn instead of going straight to the turnaround. I went over the recognition mat and kept going to the finish line. My family saw me and started cheering. My son ran ahead and I high-fived him with joy in my heart. Seconds later I was over the line. I was done.

Post Race

The most confusing thing was that they wanted to hand me things I hadn’t asked for – A finisher’s shirt and medal. Then they were asking me how I felt. At that point, I remembered I had hurt my shoulder reaching into my cycling jersey, and now for some reason I couldn’t lift my right hand above my shoulder. I went to the first aid tent for ice. But I was fine. I sat there with ice on my shoulder sipping my recovery drink. I went to the massage tent and they worked my muscles. I didn’t feel too bad. Adrienne and Dad were awesome, getting my bag and helping me navigate around the finish area. We collected ourselves and went back to transition to bail out my bike and bags. At this late hour, it was easy to pull the car up and put everything away – except I couldn’t put my bike on the roof rack (shoulder, again). We tried to leave without one of my bags, but I spotted it before we took off. After that it was back to the hotel, shower and bed.

Post Nap

About 3 o’clock I woke up in darkness, needing to use the facilities, but I felt like I had a weight on my chest. “Ha ha,” I kidded myself, “I’m having a heart attack.” In my grogginess, a momentary flash of panic set in when I realized I couldn’t move my left arm! But my daughter had fallen asleep on my chest, cutting off my circulation. Then, she decided that her ‘pillow’ was escaping and was surprisingly effective at wrestling with it. Upon my return, I fell asleep again into that sound sleep without dreams. What a great day.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Be careful what you wish for...

Back in an earlier posting, I'd mentioned that you don't want to feel too fresh going into race, because you peak early. Well - I'm three days out, and I still feel sluggish. Some of the workouts have been brilliant, but overall I still feel tired, so it's pretty good. I just want to keep remembering Mark Allen, who started out the Nice triathlon feeling bad, but then rallied for a come from behind victory.

Speaking of coming from behind, that's how work went today. I think someone's bugged my office so they know when I'm planning vacation. Of course, today of all days I had about four/five hours of work dropped on me at the last minute. It's all done, but I still have other work that needs to be finished...

Anyway - it's probably time to start sending out emails to my friends who want to know I'm doing on Saturday. One possible wrinkle -- one computer model has remnants of a tropical storm going through OKC Saturday/Sunday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Newsweek story

Newsweek put out a great article about Celiac. You can read about it here. I'm sure glad that some of the major media outlets pick the story up occasionally. The Celiac community is still too small, though. The stories seem so familiar to me because the names are all repeats, but I guess that's a good thing. Advertisers will tell you - repetition works.

I had another blasted hot and humid workout today. Eleven days to go before the big race. At this point, I'm looking forward to the vacation.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Flying? Pack your own food

What happened to the workouts?
I spent this week on a business trip touring some of the major airline hubs (one flight delayed, the other canceled). I can say this with certainty. If you want to find a gluten free meal at an airport, it's most likely going to be in your carry on baggage. First, there's nothing on the plane. I flew American going out and their new snack menu is "all gluten." Skull and crossbones for them. Second, the terminals are only slightly better and you have to hunt. I managed a bunless burger and fries (separate fryer!) at a pub. At the Atlanta airport I went to the Chik fil a, hoping to pick up a salad. They were "too small for salads" (or fresh lemonade), so I ended up with waffle fries and a Coke (hey - It was Atlanta after all). Delta's in flight offered peanuts with an acceptable mix of eatable dextrins.

What to pack?
I had stopped by the grocery store to pick up provisions, and I'm glad I did. I took along about 6 packages of tuna/salmon, assorted nuts and 5 GF Larabars. (Cereal in the suitcase) My usual policy is to "forage" as best I can and then dip into my backpack for the rest. Some trips I don't even touch the food I bring with me, but this time around I ate about half my fish and bars. Other good airline trip food includes apples and applesauce in those little packages.

Friday, August 31, 2007

GREAT workout

I knew taking off some time from work would help with my times, but I was shocked this morning. The schedule had a 45 min run with 10 min fast. Rather than run in the afternoon heat, which has been my habit to get used to the heat, I decided to run in the morning. On the way out, I did 8 minute pace and on the way back, 7 and even sub 7 pace! Since this was at the same HR I was doing 12 minute pace just a few weeks ago, I'll have to say I was beyond thrilled. So thank God for keeping me injury free and on schedule.

So contributory reasons were probably the shorter run, lower temperatures, the taper and running in the morning instead of later in the day. Wouldn't it be great if I just broke through a plateau with three weeks to go?

I'm thinking that maybe a "straight swim" of over 1.2 miles would be useful. And a massage. Who would have thought I would spend more on massages than race entry fees?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tapering -- Finally!

Well - you can't swim when there's lightning out, and you can't taper without a race. I'm just over three weeks out from my iron-distance race and my body is finally overcoming the training load. Now it's just three weeks of easier workouts as I heal up going into the Redman. I'd say that things have gone pretty well so far. Lots of training, not so much injury and sickness, good recovery. When you're dog-tired, it's hard to see the end.

I took a half day off from work today and I'll do the same tomorrow so I can ease into the Labor day weekend on a good schedule. Just a four hour ride and a two hour run. I'm going to have to do it all indoors I think because the weather is going to be rainy again.

I hope I'm still feeling sluggish up until the day of the race - that way I won't feel like I want to burn anything extra or do anything truly stupid. "The hay is in the barn," as they say.

I better not eat dumb, either. Mental note...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Elite Athlete surges after diagnosis

I saw this article on Pubmed about a college volleyball player who was diagnosed with Celiac her sophomore year. Several things interested me about her case.
  1. She had a low hemocrit count on her complete blood count (CBC) before she was diagnosed. Me too.
  2. She fell asleep at all times after intense workouts before she was diagnosed. Me too.
  3. She lost about 20 pounds on her way to a diagnosis - and the medical team thought she had an eating disorder. That didn't happen to me, but it really irks me that medical teams go to anorexia and bulimia right away. Celiac is pretty common, too.
  4. They thought it might be cancer. Me too.
  5. She rebounded and surpassed her original fitness level after diagnosis and going on a gluten free diet. Me too.
What I'm thinking may be useful here from a medical perspective is the low hemocrit count and the sleeping thing. In athletes (and others?) the hemocrit may presage (or present with) the illness. This is critically important, because doctors will order a CBC for just about anything, but not a Celiac panel. As far as the sleeping goes - I recall the moment I realized I was really improving was the Saturday I did my 15 miler followed by activities with the kids all day, followed by a date with my wife (concert). As I was sitting in the chair at 10:30 pm, I realized I hadn't needed a nap that day. In the past, 15 miles had meant at least a two hour nap.

So my (not a doctor) advice for you is that if you need sleep after your workouts and have a low hemocrit count, get tested for Celiac. Any medical researchers want to pick this up?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Doctor with little clue

Oh wow. I couldn't get over an article I saw in Running Times about Celiac. The Celiac runner had put on 10 pounds, and it was obvious that the doctor answering the question almost totally missed the boat. Doctors need to get away from "go see a nutritionist." It's just Celiac shorthand for, "My medical education is woefully incomplete." (In fairness, it seems that the magazine is doing better with their recent articles, so maybe they are learning...)

My answer:
There's two issues here - the weight gain and the carbohydrate intolerance.

First, I have heard a lot of stories from people who gain weight after diagnosis. I call it healthy weight, because your body is healing and finding out about all those nutrients it has been missing and packing them away in various places. Of course, to doctors, all weight gain is baaad, even though their studies are based more on BMI than on body fat %. So take that advice with a grain of salt (mine, too). But those 10 pounds require some thought. Here are some broad outlines:
  • Calorie, portion sizes and food habits need to be relearned as the small intestine heals in the newly diagnosed. Since your body is absorbing more, it can get by on less.
  • You may notice an improvement in recovery times, but there may be some issues with the added weight slowing down your times. This balancing act will be something you need to manage.
  • Your body may go through some remarkable changes (like being a teenager all over again). Expect it and adjust your training schedule.
Second - how do we fix the carbohydrate issue?
  • Newly diagnosed Celiacs tend to screw up adhering to the diet (by accident), so look for gluten in the carbs you are eating.
  • If the carbs are gluten-free, it may be something else, like soy. That reaction may have been muted when your autoimmune system was beaten down, but now is rearing its head.
  • Try some safe carbs one at a time. I have a protocol I use. Eat it once at home with no workout to see what happens. Then eat it before/during a short workout. Then eat it in the last hour of a long work out. Then eat it to start a workout.
  • Not everybody likes gels. Even the GF ones make me sick. For my carb replacement, I like Shot Blox, among others, depending on workout length.
  • Electrolyte imbalances can make you sick, too.

Good Day/Bad Day

Training for an Iron-distance triathlon results in having to make trade-offs. I think one of those happened this weekend. I'm in the middle of the toughest part of the training cycle. I ran a 10k Friday (in the heat), a 20K Saturday (in the humidity), and then tried to be up for a 5 hour bike ride on Sunday. It didn't happen. I pretty much quit at 2 1/2 hours. I could have 'gutted it out' - but I was already enervated. Sometimes you just have to know your body and know when to pack it in. Better luck next week, eh?

I signed up for the sleep-in option on the Austin Celiac Awareness Race - Got Guts 5k. It's the first time I've slept in for a race (on purpose...). It made me remember the one time I woke up half an hour before the gun for a marathon. I ended up running a bit more than just 26.2 that year, and my chip was probably the last one over the start mat.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Two hours at the melting point of Iron

I think it was Churchill that said that "The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare." While he was talking about war, the notion seemed to equally apply this past weekend as I am doing the workout buildup phase for the iron-distance race in just over a month. Because of my illness, I needed to both re-invigorate my mileage and my ability to handle the heat. So the perfect workout weekend was 9 miles in the humidity-soaked Houston air on Saturday, followed by a 75 mile ride on Sunday out to Sheridan.

One of the things about acclimating to the heat I find fascinating is that my body slows down (dramatically) to compensate for the lack of cooling. I noticed this phenomenon the other day when I was up on the reservoir. In the sun, I was only able to do twelve minute miles, but in the cooler shade later in the same run I was able to go at sub 10 minute pace for the same heart rate. The same thing happened this Sunday on the bike ride. As the heat index climbed close to 100, my speed slowed down. It wasn't hard on my (already tired from the Saturday run) legs, but it was slower. I noticed some mild dizziness and nausea, but nothing too bad. Still, for two hours in the very heat of the day, I slogged into a headwind, making what felt to be slow progress. Slowing down was mentally pretty wicked, too, because every mph slower you go, you add minutes to your finishing time. Don't give me grief about that, though. I had plenty of electrolytes on board and calories, too. (I joked with my wife that I had more 'points' on my bike than she eats in a day). It's interesting to me that my body almost appears to rock back and forth over the heat threshold the same way it does over an anaerobic threshold.

I've concluded that the race day temperature is one variable that really matters for a nutrition plan, because cooling and fluid intake (plus electrolytes) depend on it. Unlike the anaerobic threshold, which depends on fitness, "heat fitness" depends on heat index and, more importantly, is a variable that the racer doesn't control. So my ever-sage wife asked me what this "heat training" was going to be good for in September. Sure enough, when I checked the average high temp for race day it was a mere 82 degrees! So I should be well-ready even if it is blasted hot when the gun goes off. Yay.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A month of undertraining...

I have two children and so usually any little bug that runs around visits the house. We had a squirelly little bug. You'd get sick (and very tired) for a week, then for the next two weeks it would just make you very tired at random times. So basically, just when you think you are over it, you'd go down hard and sleep for ten hours. This made it hard to work, because you never really know when you're over it.

And you certainly didn't feel like working out. And you didn't feel like training in the heat. Two and a half weeks went by and I was wondering if I could even be ready for an iron-distance tri in September in OKC. But my wife (thank you) remininded me I had been training a lot and that it would be okay. After I reviewed my training schedule I decided she was right, so it's great to have her perspective. I did have to alter my training schedule and my expectations a bit, but I'm still good to go.

I'm also trying to figure out the balance of calories, liquid, electrolytes and temperature for my nutrition plan. If anyone has a good approach to that, I'm all ears -- please leave me a link.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What movies do you run to?

For whatever reason, it seems to rain nearly every day here in Houston this year, but I still train by running on my treadmill and riding in my bike trainer. One of the things I've found out is that my free time is so compressed I now have a rule that I don't watch TV unless I'm working out, or done working out.

A lot of people have told me that they couldn't do that (ride three or four hours on a trainer or run hours on a treadmill), so I guess it's just something about the way I'm wired.

One of the things I do is get rental movies and watch them while I train. I've found some movies are better than others - especially for hard and long workouts. Anything with running in it is good -- The Amazing Race (any season), the LOTR (2nd one, especially). Battle scenes are good - like most of the Star Wars and Matrix movies, although sometimes there can be some irritating quiet spots. I also enjoy comedies.

One huge hit - I usually watch the Tour de France every year. At this rate, I'll have to get a DVD and watch it over my Christmas holiday.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bike fit = 20%+ more watts!

I know it's been a while since my last post. Work has been busy. Today I went for a bike fitting at the local bike shop. The fitter takes a look at your form and then mucks around with your seat, handlebars, stem, etc to get you more "aero" and more powerful.

To make a long story short, I went through the process and even in the store I noticed I had more power. So I went home and put the bike in the computrainer and did my ride. My heart wasn't working any harder, but I was putting out more watts - over 20% more power. I knew my fit was bad, but I didn't think it was that bad. I'm a believer. I think I'll make my next goal to put out more watts than my weight in pounds for an hour aerobic ride.

In other fun news, my back tire is showing the tread, which means I've finally worn out a tire before I ruined/punctured the tire.

Also - the other day I used a CO2 cartridge to repair a flat, and I thought my tire had reflatted, but the guys at the shop told me that CO2 just leaks out like that. Who knew? You're just supposed to empty the tire when you get home and refill it. Hmm. Learn something new every day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Trip to the bike shop in my future...

I hadn't been on my trainer for more than 15 minutes when a I heard an awful sound coming from my rear gear changer. I quickly stopped pedaling, because the voice of wisdom told me there was big trouble down there. I'd previous ruined a mountain bike (and the subsequent race, riding my bike as a one-speed) hearing that exact noise.

Luckily, I caught the culprit in time - I'd managed to pop a pin halfway out of the chain.

So -- I get all the credit for trying to do the workout at 9:30 p.m., but none of the exhaustion. Yeah!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Back on Track

I did the Tejas Triathlon on Sunday, and I had pretty low expectations coming up to the event because of lack of sleep and missed training. It just goes to show you that you should make the most you have on the day of the race. For the first time in "I can't remember how long" I had a tri race where I didn't "screw up, blow up or throw up." Despite the heat, I put in 1:10:32, which was good for 49th place in my age group - the top half! (It's been almost two decades since that's happened).

I felt good and managed to a 173 average heart rate with a max recorded HR of 187. So what does that mean? I was at 92% of my max HR for over an hour. No wonder I'm happy. The actual data from a race also puts the lie on MaxHR = 220- your age, because that would make me 33. My recovery still took 5 minutes or so to drop below 130.

The moment that made the difference for me was my "smart swim." Let's just say it involved cutting the tangents to the buoys and a clever application of rule 4.2 and leave it at that. So I raced smart and hard and had a great day.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Packet Pickup

I dropped by packet pickup today, and I had a discussion with another athlete. He said, "Well, maybe you'll be lucky and your toenail will fall off during the swim..." I think I'm just going to have to tough it out. I did a little math on the shoe tradeoff. I figure I can go 1 mph faster for the 10 miles, which roughly works out to about 2 minutes. It won't take me two minutes to swap shoes. In fact, I'll be surprised if it takes me two minutes for the whole transition area. So I'm sticking with using both bicycle shoes and running shoes. On top of all this, I think I caught a stomach bug my son had, which won't take me out of the race but will probably annoy me.

I also did some figuring on how fast I will be able to leave - and it's all about the slowest bicyclist from the last wave. I figure the earliest I will be able to lay my hands on my bicycle is 8:30, so that makes making the first service a pretty tight connection. We'll see. What drama.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Blog lives!

Now that the superbusy-ness of the race has died down, I'm back to my workout. Tonight was an hour on the bicycle. I have to say that my toenail and riding don't mix well, and it's making me think about my options for the triathlon I'm doing this Sunday. It's short enough so that I'm thinking about biking in my running shoes. You see, I've cut half the toebox off one of my old painting shoes - and it works pretty good. Does anyone have any thoughts on the bicycle/running shoe tradeoff (improves transition time, but you are slower on the bike?)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

First workout since the race

Having successfully directed my first race, I can now say with confidence that practically everything does happen in the last two weeks. As a consequence, all of my free time, including that for exercising, went to the Celiac Awareness Race (so it was for a good cause). I finally squeezed out 30 minutes for a run today. Ahhhhhh.

The only thing that really marred the weekend for me was that I dropped a picnic table on my big toe, which has been turning some rather unlovely shades of blue, black and purple. It's my first black toe from a running event, and somehow I always thought it would be a marathon and not this. Oh well. It didn't hurt too bad for the run, but it sure does bleed everywhere. Maybe I'll stick to cycling and swimming.

Any bets on if it will fall off?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

MS 150 ride was fun

What a crazy two weeks this has been. Work was busier than usual, and then I had "getting the race going" issues. Finally, there was all the logistics of pulling together my food (oh yes, and cycling equipment) for the ride. All of this consumed an insane amount of time in the two weeks prior to the ride this past weekend, and I found myself skipping a workout here and there and still going to bed way later than usual or desired.

I over packed for my food needs (I had packed a whole cooler for the weekend). I probably over - worried it as well. About a week before the ride, I discovered that my magic weight loss shakes were probably cross-contaminated with wheat (made on a line in the same room as another powder that contained wheat). I've reverted to "safe" foods, but it messed up my food schedule/plan. Overall, I probably spent as much time pulling my logistics act together as I did actually riding, which always seems like a silly allocation of time to me.

The bicycling went well. I was trained up and ready to roll. The first day I did a good amount of riding behind (never in front of) some "Cat 2" riders. Although I was well over my target heart rate and lost my sunglasses trying to keep up, I did manage to hang until the slight hills before the first lunch break. I figured it would be good training to "ride tired" for the last half. I over ate, thinking "lunch" meant noon. It wasn't even 10 yet, so I felt very full for the remainder of the ride. I pulled into LaGrange after 6 hours and 100+ miles (with significant drafting and a strong tailwind), so I think I need to be in better shape by September if this Ironman is going to be successful (with cushion and confidence). Good thing I have another five months to train.

To see what the start of the marathon might feel like, I went out for a 5k run after changing into running shorts. I needed to start slower out of 'transition,' but the rest of the run went well. Why my teammates called me "nuts" I have no idea...

The ride had been very crowded for the most part, but the next day I had a taste of what the Ironman biking portion might be like. We went through a park with some hills and a wider road where it thinned out. I frequently found myself on my lowest chainring, but never 'beat' by the terrain. I did drop my chain twice, which was very annoying and greasy. I mostly flew through it, being passed by relatively few riders and maintaining some momentum from hill to hill. It was the best part of the ride by far.

Last night was the first time I felt like exercising since Sunday. I was wicked-tired (post-ride listlessness and work, again), so I went to bed early and got 8+ hours sleep. I feel pretty good today.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Race directing = time

Every night I've been thinking, "Oh - I should write in my blog." For some people, blogging is a way of life. For me, it comes behind just about everything else. Until I feel guilty that I haven't blogged in nine days.

I'm not sure what people mean by the "Ironman Lifestyle." It must mean something like - I have endless time to go do workouts and adjust this and consider that. What it's meaning to me is that "I settle for less than perfect - frequently"

I just went and printed 1000 copies of the race application for distribution around the Houston area. I figure we can print more or put things in the race packet if we get more sponsors later. It takes a lot of time to run these things down, so I'm trying to be as efficient as possible.

There's a meeting tomorrow for the volunteer group at the Katy Outback restaurant at 5pm. Please come out if you are interested in volunteering.

I did the Brookwood ride in Brookshire. I told my wife I wasn't go to do it unless I woke up in time to get there. My eyes snapped open right on schedule. There was a stiff wind today (flags straight out), and I rode with my group, basically cutting the wind all day. We finally turned for home and had the wind at our backs with about 7 miles to go. I was late so I just lit it up for the last bit. It felt great and turned out to be a great workout.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Zelnorm pulled, try gluten free diet

Big news. I read in the WSJ yesterday that Zelnorm (which treats IBS) is being taken off the US market. This provides us awareness junkies with a marketing opportunity, as many Zelnorm patients are likely undiagnosed Celiacs.

"IBS sufferers losing Zelnorm pills should try gluten-free diet" -- something like that. I seem to recall reading research from a Novartis-funded doctor that said perhaps 1 in 13 sufferers of IBS actually had Celiac instead.

I wonder if Novartis would send a note out as a public service announcement...

Workouts are going terrible right now.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

2 busy 2 blog

Workouts are going fine, but I blew last night's swim workout for work and the bike half of tonight's bike because of computrainer trouble.

The big news is that I'll be directing a Celiac Awareness Run/Walk here in Houston. All the pieces are falling into place logistically. Now all I need are runners, walkers and volunteers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The week is looking up...

I just got back from my talk to the running group at the Y. I was told I was not boring, so that makes me feel better. I didn't tell them I had moved my workout to the afternoon, but I talked about safety, the perils of over training, how to stick with it and the like.

I've had a string of early morning conference calls followed by late night questions, so I've really worked a lot already this week. I even had to skip last night's swim workout.

That's good news, because today I finally received the insurance waiver for the Celiac Awareness Run/Walk I'll be holding in Bear Creek on May 19th. I'm sure I've missed a bunch of advertising deadlines, but I am looking forward to putting it together. Now if I could just finish my taxes...

There's nothing really noteworthy about the workouts, they all seem to go pretty well. I've discovered that lubing my chain every third ride or so works wonders for the clattering. I'm sold on that.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Extra Long ride Saturday, paying today

I'm doing the MS 150, which I hear is actually closer to 180 miles, so I've been adding in some biking mileage where it makes sense, like on a weekend ride. Nobody from my team for the ride (Team Trinity) wanted to go the 70 miles on offer. I did, and it went by pretty quick. One of the training things is that I really don't want to draft off of others, because they penalize you in the race if you do so. Of course, people on the ride just love it when they can get sucked along for "free." And I don't mind if it's not a race.

Of course, a bunch of people looked at the calendar and said, "Oooh - I haven't gotten in my long rides yet." I saw so many newbies out there, we could have used twice as many ride marshals. The police coverage at intersections was pretty good. I think I did 75 total.

My Tivo did pick up that episode of the celiac segment on The View. There's a big old weather warning on it, but what do you do?

The Y wants me to come talk to the new running group. I've been doing it so long, I wonder if I can make it simple anymore. At least I get to mention Celiac in passing.

Speaking of the Y, I did my first "real" swim workout there tonight with warm up, drills, and sets. Let's just say there's more work to be done.

The brutal thing was then I came home and did the hour run on my treadmill. I usually try to have an action/adventure movie in, but I ended up watching the last half of the Shawshank Redemption. There are some real slow spots in that movie. And I looked down at the timer a lot. I finished 45 minutes ago, and I think I'm tired enough to beat the two hour rule to bed.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Can't sleep - but the work's getting done

I just put an hour brick in and popped in a skateboarding movie while I was cooling off. It seems that regardless of the time I work out, it takes me about two hours to wind down and get ready for sleep, and today a movie was about right.

I've been slowly building up my swim distance - for two reasons. One is that swimming has been my worst leg of triathloning since, oh, 1983 or so when I did my first one. The other is that I've been trying to ease off my rib injury from the marathon. Last night I did 88 "wall touches" - meaning one down, two back, three down, and so on. I find it's the only way I can keep the distance straight, as I am forever losing count of which lap I'm on. For those of you quick with math - that's 2200 meters - which turns out to be a personal distance PR. I've been adding 200 meters each workout to my twice a week workouts, so I'll get on the 2500 meter workout plan from my book soon.

Fun stuff today from the NFCA. Celiac Awareness came to The View. I love it when people on a show try to cram a "condition" into five minutes. I hope my Tivo caught it.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Two off days in a row...

Last week, I was at church and one of friends said, "That race is today." She'd mentioned it before, and I hadn't committed. I felt pretty strong and figured, "Well - a hard 5k could substitute for 45 minutes easy..." Let me just say that they do not.

It was quite possibly the latest I had ever signed up for a fun run. I got caught in the typical I-10 traffic and made it to the registration table with barely a moment to spare. I quickly filled in a blank or two, signed the waiver and ran to the start line. I was so late the national anthem caught me between the table and the start line. After a hard 23.22 5K, I collected my shirt and was off (on vacation). Only just now did I find out I was second in my age group - had I put my age down on the form! Whoops!

I was pretty happy with the time. Even though it was slower than last year's - it came pretty close to the marathon in January (they had moved the race earlier in the year) and more important, it was my sixth relatively hard workout of the week. This last Sunday, it all caught up with me so I took the day off. Today too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Celiac Stoplights

In my celiac world, there's three kinds of food -- red, yellow and green. It's how I tell people about whether or not I can eat a food. "Red" is the 'no way don't even check' category. This would include stuff like bread and cookies, flour mixes, etc. "Green" is food that is obviously okay - fresh fruits and vegetables, pure meats and the like. "Yellow" foods are those foods that are in the "unclear" category, sausage, au gratin potatoes and refried beans.

It just so happens that the last three foods showed up on my breakfast plate at the Mariposa Ranch, where my wife and I are staying on vacation. The eggs were okay, but the rest? So, even though I had gone through the whole "diet thing" twice already, I did it again. They didn't have the ingredient label for the sausage, the beans were okay, and the potatoes had mushroom soup as an ingredient, and the second ingredient on that can was, you guessed it - wheat flour.

I always send back plates that have been contaminated with wheat, but of course that most important item - trust - goes away, and with it a good part of the enjoyment of the meal. I try not to let it bother me.

On the celiac front, I may have found a local here in Brenham with symptoms, so I had the opportunity to talk about that.

For training, it turns out that Brenham has an aquatic center, which I used for my swim workout. I ran right by the Blue Bell ice cream factory (but didn't go in). It turns out there's an M&M lane behind the factory that smelled like fresh chocolate chip cookies. Mmmmm.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

I am so outta here...

I finally wrapped up work and can go on vacation. Yippee. It's a good thing exercising late helps me stay awake.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Celiac PSA and Polar Watch

Two nice things happened today - I got my new heart rate monitor from Polar and the NFCA sent out an email about their new public service announcement for Celiac. Yesterday, I was tired from staying up late, I didn't get yesterday's swim in, and I've not done so well with the diet lately, so this was a nice pick me up.

I've looked at the PSA and it's good, factually correct, and attention getting (starring Heidi Collins of CNN). Personally, I think it would be better with louder music running in the background, but WOW! Now we can actually pester television stations with a high quality PSA. Not that the conditions are at all similar, but I was struck by the news today about the new drugs to manage AIDS. I remember the crisis and AIDS activism back in the 80s -- and I sure hope it doesn't take 27+ years to bring this condition into a mainstream medical resolution. The PSA will go a long way, and every little bit helps. You rock, Heidi!

Playing with my new tech toy was fun, but initially quite time consuming. It turns out Heart Rate Monitors have changed a bit in the ten years since I bought my last one. The most frustrating point is that I can't get it to use my laptop's IR port to exchange data. How dumb is that? It's also hard to snap together. All that said, I used it on my bicycle, and the "ear-clippy" pulse monitor is way off from the HRM, at times by 10-12 beats per minute. I can't use the software yet (kudos for making it looks worthwhile to use - major thumbs down for using Active X garbage in the software.) Good workouts - getting faster.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Vacation coming up...

Last weekend was a bit of a blur. I made all my workouts no problem, but I was pretty darn worn out Sunday. I feel much better tonight. Thank goodness I have a vacation coming up. I can't wait.

No real big news to report. I'm working on putting together a race to raise Celiac awareness, so I'm short tonight.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Christmas is finally put away

Today was the day we finally decided it was time to put away the Christmas tree. I know, you're thinking, "Your Christmas tree is still up in February?" No. It's in the box - we've just been trying to decide where to store it. I wasn't keen on the floor of the garage, and my wife was thinking attic, and well, it just sat there in the playroom for about two months. After a while, you just sort of forget that it's there.

Tonight I was out grilling and looked at the garage and said to myself, "It's time." Perhaps I was inspired by my children, who were picking up (!) in the playroom. So I climbed up in the attic, cleared a space, found a bungee cord, wrapped the box and started moving it out. My always helpful wife was hot on my heels, asking if I needed help.

So I lifted that box without any trouble right up there. She guided it into place, and that was that. The whole operation took perhaps 20 minutes total, and now we can enjoy a tree-free walkway until Thanksgiving or so.

So what on earth made us wait to put it away this long? It makes me think that a lot of training things are like that tree -- if you just do them, you get them over with quickly and get to reap the rewards. If you don't do them, well, they just sit there waiting for you.

Workouts have been pretty good. Swimming is up to 1200 meters (in 30 minutes). My legs are achy tonight, but that's probably to be expected.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Training on track, weight stable

I "hit" all of my workouts this past week, although I must admit to a little skimping on Friday and Sunday (shorted my runs by about 10 minutes each). The thing I have to be the most excited about is the swimming. I've been adding about 100 meters of swimming every workout, taking it easy, and making sure I don't overstress anything. Last Thursday I hopped in the water, swam a thousand crawl stroke, and hopped out of the pool. Feeling pretty good on the way home, I reflected that it was probably one of the first times I swam crawl stroke that far, without mixing in some easy breast stroke yardage.

I did manage to skip the weight rebound problem, so I'm calling those seven pounds history. I've realized one of the ways to get faster is to just lose weight. I'm not sure how much of my energy level is correlated with eating sufficient calories to maintain my weight. Right now I'm thinking that if I lose a reasonable pound or two a week, I'm happy with the weight loss more than I'm sad about the loss of training efficiency.

My mood has been pretty good lately, too. Although, physically, I have to say all I really wanted to do yesterday evening was sit and watch the world go by. Of course, the cure for that is a good night's sleep, which I had.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Finally! a good workout

You can probably gather from the lack of recent postings that I've been a little under the weather. I either took a bug with me to New York, or I picked it up at there. In any case, it just made me tired and unable to concentrate, so I've been sleeping a lot. In fact, I skipped Friday's workout and slept most of the weekend and most of yesterday too. Although I wouldn't wish it on anyone, one silver lining is that I did lose 7 pounds this week, mostly because I just didn't feel like eating. I aim to keep that off and lose some more.

Another indication that I have been sick is that it's been really easy for me to hit my target heart rate range for my workouts. It was the same story today. I made sure I got in a full day's work and did my running workout. It didn't help my energy level, but it didn't hurt either. At nine o'clock, I almost didn't go to my swim workout, but now I'm glad I did. My swim is the weakest leg of my triathlon, and tonight I did 800 yards with good form in good time. Plus, I came out of the water with more energy than I started with. It just goes to show you that it makes sense to give the workout a try and see how it goes.

There was some interesting Celiac news. The people who brought you the Pillcam for upper GI endoscopies announced that a major insurer (United Healthcare) will be covering the Pillcam under one of their insurance policies. My hope is that more and more insurers (payors) will realize the importance of Celiac as a chronic condition and insure it and treat it as such, especially right after a diagnosis.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Sometimes I want to live in a bubble

There's a new survey out for those who want to chime in on the proposed FDA ruling. I took it, in the interest of adding my voice to that of the crowd. I wasn't happy with it, because it didn't ask about my habits now, and then how they would change under the proposed ruling. Personally, I think I'll buy less prepackaged food and more "pure" foods if they go with the ruling as it is, which is probably the opposite of what the manufacturers want. It's been a tough week (having traveled), so at times like these sometimes I feel as if I'd rather be in a bubble.

But then I wouldn't have sat next to a GI surgeon on the plane today, so I keep plowing ahead.

Some quick tie-ups. The "dangerous" ride director sent out an email that, while not quite an apology, did give the impression that 1) He got an earful 2) the hurt riders would live and 3) they won't be doing that route again.

I went to the Risotteria in NY for dinner. It was good, and it turns out that it's pretty close to the subway line. They said lots of people have been having trouble getting Redbridge up there. Kinda makes me feel guilty to have a sixpack in the fridge...

The Hilton where I stayed made it up to me with a GF breakfast this morning. It would be better to have GF processes in place, but I'll take it.

Workout round up: I did the two workouts Wednesday and my workout when I got home. I'm pretty bushed.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The mean streets of New York

I am posting this from NYC, where my Celiac day was mostly funny and my exercise mostly non-existent. One of the things I like about occasional travel is that I often get to ask people if they have gluten-free options for me. Of course, my backpack is full of packaged tuna, salmon, and nuts in case I run into trouble, but it's fun to see reactions.

The concierge desk at the hotel where I am staying was baffled. They suggested a "healthy" restaurant, but when they called, the restaurant was clueless. The next place, a vegetarian place, said they had gluten-free food.

Armed with an address and a map, I hiked (my exercise) to the Whole Foods just off the southwest corner of Central Park. It's in Columbus Circle and you have to go downstairs to find it. It was packed to overflowing. The line for the express lane was halfway around the store, and it had a person with a pre-fab sign that said "5 minutes from here" (just like Disney World)!

Now armed with Mesa Sunrise Flakes and Lil'Milk, I made my way to the restaurant. Have you ever been to a place where you know you could get some food, but you're still not comfortable? This restaurant was such a place. Besides, I just couldn't see paying $15 for a plate of steamed vegetables with rice.

Then I decided to call a friend who might know a good GF option in Midtown Manhattan - and my cellphone promptly froze. Just turned off. Wouldn't turn back on. I decided it wasn't my day.

I also decided cereal for dinner was looking pretty good. Maybe I'll do a two a day tomorrow.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Most dangerous organized ride ever

For a lot of reasons, I am pretty safety conscious when I am out riding my bike. I never ride without a helmet, and I try to be as safe on the road as possible. Yesterday's ride up in Kingwood was perhaps the worst-chosen route I have ever ridden.

On these organized rides, one occasionally expects to see poorly-controlled traffic, loose dogs, a route on the feeder road, no shoulders, loose gravel, unmarked potholes, construction and aggressive traffic. One does not expect to see these things all on the same ride. It wasn't just me. Several riders around me were quite upset.

When we were starting, one truck ignored an officer in the intersection and took out two bike riders. One went over the hood, and the second went through a driver-side window. Although I didn't see the accident itself, I know this because I saw the aftermath, and a rider who finished next to me saw the whole thing. Upon hearing this, another rider commented, "My friend turned down the role of safety marshall because he disagreed with the route." For five of the last seven miles, we had ridden together through feeder road construction that put cars (that wanted to go 50 to accelerate to the freeway), construction equipment, and bicycles in the same gravel-strewn lanes. This was a so-called "recommended ride" for the MS 150. I (lamely) joked that the reason it was a "recommended ride" was so that everyone would get very serious about safety very early in the season. I rarely toss out my prerace plan, but yesterday I did in the name of self-preservation. I rode up much faster than I wanted to, just so that I could hang on to a pace line that was moving through the bad area quickly. It was so bad, at the end of the ride I literally thanked God for returning me to my family safely and asked him to look after all the people who probably got hurt that day.

It was pretty cold and a little windy, too. It was about 35° Fahrenheit at the start of the ride and at the end it was 42°. I had systematically packed everything but my tights, but it turns out I really didn't need them with the four layers I had on top and wind stopper mitts. Not that I wanted to, but I found out that your toes can be cold for hours without getting frostbite.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Myopathy raises chances of Celiac

Just like IBS increases one's chance for a Celiac diagnosis, so does Myopathy.
Thus, celiac disease is more prevalent in patients with inflammatory myopathies than in the general population. -- Selva-O'Callaghan and colleagues (Muscle & Nerve, 2007;35(1):49-54)

If you have any friends with muscle weakness or inflammation, you might want to let them know.

Speaking of inflammation, I ran my workout a little too hard again today. Tomorrow, I'll be doing a bicycle ride north of Houston. Time to go prep. It should be fun.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

On course, FDA, DNA Testing

I am settling into my new workout schedule fairly well. Yesterday, I had a good brick work out consisting of 30 minutes on the bike followed by a 15 minute run. It was harder than I usually go for those types of workouts, so I guess my body's going to learn something. Today was an easy spin at 100 plus revolutions per minute and a swim. It's getting easier to spin quicker and more fluidly, so that's a bonus. For the swimming part, I took my kids up to the YMCA. I vowed I was going to swim 500 m today, which is a little bit farther than Tuesday, but not so far that I would overly stress my rib area. It worked out pretty well and the kids enjoyed playing in the warm end.

On the celiac front, I received the nicest e-mail newsletter from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, and I thought there were two interesting things in there. First, there was the best explanation I had ever seen on DNA testing for Celiac. The second thing I saw was the instructions for submitting public comment on the FDA's proposal.

Yesterday, Iwent out and bought some more of that Redbridge beer. I talked to the manager at the liquor store and he said they're going to order more because it sells pretty quickly. Maybe their example will encourage more food companies to come out with truly gluten-free products.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Where'd that ball go?

Monday was a rest day for me, and anyone who knows me knows that I take my rest days as seriously as I take my workout days. I decided to take advantage of the time by "going long" at work and using my trigger point massage gizmos. After I'd worked over both legs, I hopped in bed and tried out the massage ball on my rib area - very gently. It seemed to help, and I wondered if it would do anything for my abs, too. I put the golf-ball-sized ball on my stomach and pushed and just started laughing because I couldn't see the ball anymore. I wondered how much faster I would go if I'd just lose 20 pounds or so.

Today I had a quick 30 minute run, which felt good, and a quick 30 minute swim, which was awful so I cut it short. It was tight around my rib and makes me wonder if I didn't hurt my pec muscle when I fell. I have a book that says I should go see a doctor if that happens, and my wife said, "You should go." I pointed out that I had seen a doctor last Monday, so I guess I'll just keep seeing how it feels.

On the Celiac front, my local newsletter reported on some studies that came out regarding thresholds. They only tested gluten at 10mg for a few weeks, and I feel that's too short a time to tell if there's long term damage. I think the study recommendations are too loose and any regulation based on them would give consumers a false sense of security. The cumulative effect of small amounts of gluten over long time periods was not studied.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Good Celiac PR + working out

I had a meeting with the group putting on the Austin Celiac Awareness race and someone said I was "famous." Evidently, I showed up in her Google tracker as a "runner story" for the Houston Marathon. It just makes me think again how small is the US Celiac world. It's good PR for Celiac Awareness, for sure!

This past week I needed a lot of medical attention, the sum of which is, "We can't tell you if you broke a rib or not." OK. Helpful. I can feel myself getting stronger, so either the rib is broken and it's no big deal, or it's not and it's no big deal. So I won't do anything risky, but I am doing my workouts.

Saturday (yesterday) was one of those days that just doesn't go right. I was helping my wife and told her I was going to lay down for a minute, and three hours later she was reminding me to take the boy to his Discovery Imagination meeting. I needed the sleep, but it was prime workout time.

Because I had family commitments, I decided to double up the workouts today. Now, before anyone goes nuts on me for over training, tomorrow's a rest day, so back off. It only totaled up to 90 minutes, anyway.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mmmmm... Beer

The big news that hasn't made the blog yet is the introduction of Redbridge beer. It's a beer a Celiac can drink. In celebration of the nationally-issued product from the same folks that bring you Budweiser, I had my first post-marathon beer ever this year. It was good, and I couldn't tell you if it hurt or helped my recovery. Somebody needs to tell Anheuser-Busch that their "restaurant locator" needs to give at least one result, even if it's 50 miles away. I put my zip code in and it gave me no results. It might hurts sales, (but the word on the street is that the specialty liquor stores are selling out anyway.)

Today was the fourth day this week I've been in a medical office, and no, I don't work in one. I still don't have my lab results, so in true "what you don't know can't hurt you" mode, I've been exercising while waiting. I had a good ride. I think it may be the first time I was actually able to spin 100 rpms on the bicycle. The rib is feeling better today, so I must either be doing something right, or at least not making things worse. It doesn't feel good enough to go swimming yet, however.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

FDA sucker punch...

The FDA has released their guidance on having a gluten free label, allowing 20 ppm - without much science to go on. I don't know about you, but in my book, "Free" means "with none" - so if this regulation goes into effect, I won't be able to trust "Gluten-Free" labels either.

In my opinion, the FDA is conducting another mass experiment on the population. I work hard enough to keep gluten out of my diet. I don't need the FDA confusing the food service industry by saying that "when you are serving Celiacs, some gluten is okay, after all, it says Gluten-Free on the label and it has 20 ppm." For those of us who are diagnosed, the FDA is guaranteeing a minimum level of environmental gluten in our food chain. Gee, thanks. Maybe we can get the EPA to guarantee a minimum level of hazardous waste on your computer keyboard.

You can read the document for yourself here.

In other news, I did my first workout on schedule today, and I have another volunteer for the Celiac Awareness Race/Walk in May.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

One step forward, two steps back

Last night I remarked to my wife that I felt as if I was going about the training for doing an Ironman backward. Some people might say, "Well, you should do the swim, then see if you can do the bike after that, and then see if you can do the run after that." I figured that the run was the hardest part, so I focused there. I still need to learn how to swim (better). That's backward.

Then it came to building my workout plan for this year. I was sitting in the doctor's office, and I agonized over how many days I should do training and on which days. It took the doctor a half an hour to see me, and I went through three drafts of just the days. I finally settled on something that I thought looked decent. Then I said to myself, "Now I just have to modify one of those training programs to fit my schedule." I have about three Ironman training books, so I picked the one I thought would work and looked at the schedule in it. It was a perfect match! And then I started thinking, "What if I had picked up the book first? That would have saved me a half an hour..." Backwards...

While I wait on my bone density and x-ray results, I could tell you about that advice I received from the only other Celiac Ironman (woman, it turns out) I know. I think the best advice was that I need to figure out what is really important and settle for the "best I can manage" on the rest. That approach seems true to me and straight-forward, so that's advice I'll take.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nice Walk...

I went for a short ride last night. I put in about 10 1/2 miles on my Computrainer. Luckily, I'm one of those people that can ride or run staring at a wall for hours on end. I do prefer the outdoors however. Today, my wife said that she wanted to go out of the city and maybe go for a hike. Since I'm in recovery mode right now, that sounded like a very good idea to me. We packed the kids and the scooters in the car, went to the park and hiked about 3 miles on the asphalt trails there.

I found another celiac who has done an iron man distance triathlon. I think she did Coeur d'Alene last year, so I sent her an e-mail asking her for advice.

Well, it's probably time to try and figure out my training schedule. So it's time for me to stop blogging and go do that.

Friday, January 19, 2007

About That Bruise...

For the uninitiated, there is a lot of pain associated with running a marathon. Your legs hurt during the marathon, and then after the marathon they hurt worse. For days.

I'm familiar with that pain, but this year I had more. The doctors at the finish line said that I should seek medical attention if my bruise hurt for more than four days and didn't get better. I called the nurse line today and they had me do a simple test --- press on my breast bone and see if my rib hurt. The answer was yes, so now I have an appointment on Monday to see the doctor. Personally, I think it's cracked, but I'll wait for the x-ray. There is a part of me that feels like these skeletal injuries are in part due to my previous bout with osteopenia, but my wife thinks I'm wrong on that point, and that I am just accident-prone lately.

With all this injury talk, I sure don't want to sound like a whiner, but for the purposes of this blog, I feel it's important to record significant events, feelings and training issues. So moving on, I'm in very good spirits. This feels like a minor setback in my training. Plus, I'll have a great story after I heal. "Yeah, I ran 20 miles with a cracked rib." Finally, today I got a massage for my legs. I always love that.

Another reason to be in good spirits is that I may have helped a friend of a friend with his ill wife. She said, "I know someone who knows about Celiac, I'll get you some information." So I passed that along today. I'll keep you posted.

Also on the celiac front, I asked the people at Saltstick if their electrolyte tabs contain gluten. They were able to tell me that "The capsules do not contain any added gluten as far as I know. The cellulose used as the capsule material is "hypromellose". The rest of the contents are salts. There is no added filler. Hope that helps! Race strong!" They had a nice PDF file on their website explaining the different components of the current top electrolyte pills. There were some pretty big differences between them. It makes me wonder where I can get an analysis of my perspiration...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Post Race Tidbits

Last night I enjoyed going to both the Houston Racing Triathlon Club meeting and the Katy Fit post marathon party. I don't think it was nearly as much fun for my wife and kids, but I really enjoyed myself.

The best part is that I'm already looking forward to a number of upcoming events. This is different from previous years when I felt like I didn't want to see a pair of running shoes for weeks afterwards. The next big target on the horizon is the MS 150. I got some good advice from some Ironman-distance triathletes, who said, "After the first day when you get to Lagrange, strap on your running shoes and go for a long run." I thought, "Perfect." Based on that mental self-talk, I think my mental recovery is complete.

My physical recovery is going pretty well too. Today was the hardest day for the legs, but I walked for 20 minutes and I can already feel that soreness going away. Pretty soon, I'll I will be left with is the bruise on my ribs. Oh, and I should mention that I got away with trying something new on the day of the marathon. I tried some Access shakes, and they seemed to work out for me.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Houston Marathon results...

Well, I continued on my trend for the year. (Having a good race marred by an unpleasantry)

Of course, the weather was perfect. The woman set a course record for the full marathon, and a new US record was set in the men's half marathon. I always joke that they put the average temperature on the literature to entice runners from other states, but that the weather has varied between hot and humid and arctic chill. Luckily, this year we managed to get the weather right in the middle. It could've been 10° cooler, but that would really be complaining.

My prerace training wasn't ideal because of my cruise and wrist. But having done 17 Houston marathons in a row, I had to toe the start line for number 18. Things were going brilliant until the 10K mark, when I hit a seam in the pavement. This time I fell down on my right side, hurting my hand, elbow, shoulder, and the back and front of my chest. The guy running next to me said, "Gosh, are you okay?" I said, "yeah" --- and after running about three steps, feeling the impact of my flying forward roll and seeing my bleeding hand, I revised that to, "No, I really hurt." I got patched up at the 7 mile medical tent and kept going, but I'll have to admit I was thinking that 20 miles was a long way to go at that point, especially after I missed my wife at our usual 8 mile rendezvous.

I ended up finishing strong at 4:55 (4:50 chip time) - just a one minute per mile fade off of my planned 10 minute pace over the last 20 miles. Medically, it's not that bad, but I did go to the post-race medical for only the second time in 18 marathons, and my chest hurts worse than my legs, if you can believe that. Still, the time was a twenty minute improvement over last year...

Funny story, I joined a training group and have consistently run at the very back of the pack at a 10 minute pace all year. I was the guy constantly cajoling the others to run the actual workout instead of speeding through. Some weekends, I would come in last, a half an hour behind the next closest guy. I passed two runners from the group two miles from the finish. I wonder if I should tease them a bit?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thunder rumbling outside...

As you can probably guess from my lack of posting, I have been down with taking care of my family. They all had the flu. Since I had my flu shot, which is recommended for celiacs in Canada, I have just had a mild case.

Marathon Sunday is just two days away, and today I went to pick up my packet. The Marathon expo was pretty good, but the folks from TP massage weren't there, so I couldn't get my massage ball. I guess I'll have to order off their website.

Because the weather forecast is "sketchy" I'm considering doing something I don't normally do, which is to change something the day of the Marathon. I figure between my recent illness and the rain, I don't have much to lose by trying a new supplement, but I have a lot to gain, potentially. We'll see.

On an unrelated topic, I saw a scientist recently on Nova Now who was wearing her bicycle helmet incorrectly. I need to send her an e-mail...

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Good News, Bad news...

The last two weeks have been marked by a hectic week at work, followed by a hectic vacation to my parents (slowband connection = no posts), followed by a hectic week at work. I didn't train as much or as well as I would have liked, and I always felt "off my feed" as I was taking an oral vaccination for typhoid for a now-no-longer-upcoming trip.

All that aside, it was dark and early when I tromped to the local park office January 2nd to be one of the supplicants to reserve a spot for my first (annual) Celiac Awareness Race and race directing gig. Even though I was 19th in line, I was amazed at how fast the dates and locations disappeared. (A veteran reserver for the boy scouts took some 15 dates). Even so, I managed to secure the 19th of May (third choice), so there you have it. Even better, one of the local race directors said he would send me his checklists, which will obviously be like manna from heaven for a newbie race director like myself. Yippee! Now I just need to focus on logistics.

It's a good thing my marathon training is in the bag for the Houston Marathon on the 14th. Training this week has been awful. I went to do my interval workout yesterday on the treadmill and stepped off before the first repeat. Some days you just don't have it, and yesterday was such a day. I went to bed and promptly slept for 11 hours straight, so you know something was up. I probably have what my kids have.

I had good news from the doctor. I can take my wrist brace off. This is the first "two handed" typing I've done in over a month. I'm cleared for all my "tri" sports and just have to wear my brace while riding a bike. I'm pretty happy I don't have to have a cast or brace for the marathon.