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.