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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Boot Camp

Just to mix things up a bit, and because I don't have another triathlon in the foreseeable future, I'm taking a few boot camp classes this week. This morning I ran 2.2 miles in 19:45 (9 minutes per mile, not too bad for me on a humid early morning), did 57 push-ups in 2 minutes, and 55 sit-ups in 2 minutes. I'd love to run faster, but I'm content with the others.

The class is 13 weeks long -- I would love to stay for the entire length of the class, since it seems like it's going to be pretty challenging. But, I will be moving to LA. I'm going to try to find something like that there. That would be fun.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Second Tri of the Season

This one was MUCH better than my first this season.

The swim was 0.5 miles on a nice calm inland lake called Lake Chargoggagogmanchaugagoggchaubunagungamaugg, which will herein be referred to as Lake Cha. The start was very crowded -- legs kicking everywhere. I tried to keep moving, but I really like my personal space so all these people kicking me and swimming into me was really ticking me off. My breathing was really off too, and I was starting to get that panicky feeling again. So, briefly, I did the breaststroke, let the crazy people ahead, and once it was less crowded and I had my space, I swam again. I felt better, got into my groove, and finished off the swim. Lake Cha was nice and peaceful, without big waves, which was nice.

When I swim, I've tried to breathe every three strokes like I do when I practice in the pool. But it never works out that way. So, instead, at the suggestion of our tri club run coach, I decided to go with what I felt natural doing -- breathing every two strokes. It worked out well.

The distance from the water to the transition area, where our bikes and other equipment are stored, was long. So, it was a very long-seeming barefoot run in a wetsuit to get my bike.

The bike started off well. People who break the rules annoy me. One person was riding in the middle of the road, very slowly. I suggested to him to get over to the right. Then some woman passed me on the right (which is a huge safety no-no -- when you pass, you pass riders on the left), and was about to try to zig-zag through three riders. So I rode up next to her and said, "If you pass, you need to do it on the left." I don't think she was thrilled to hear from me. And she passed me again. Two miles later, there she was cursing at the side of the road with her bike upside down trying to fix a tire. Karma's gonna bite you, right?

The course got TOUGH!!!! Around mile four, we approached a huge hill. I put my bike in low gear, stood up, and powered through it. Some people walked. Then at the top of the hill, phew, that was tough, and around the corner was ANOTHER HILL, which was similarly steep. And then ANOTHER!!! Whew were my legs tired! Following these hills came a long downhill, steep at times, and my speed got up to 35 mph, which on a bike is damn fast. I hit the brakes at one point, which was good as the pavement went very rapidly from smooth to treacherous and bumpy and flying off the bike at that speed could have been really really bad.

The rest of the bike ride was considerably less hilly. I took it easier, so that my legs wouldn't be worn out on the 3-mile run. My pace on the 12-mile bike was 15.5 miles per hour, nothing to write home about, but faster than I could have done last season on this type of course.

The run flew by. I didn't feel like I was flying, but it went fast. I was breathing hard, but comfortably, unlike the triathlon two weeks ago. I remember catching up to a woman, who looked like she was struggling, and of course I said, "Good job, keep it up." She said, "My legs are so heavy... they hurt!" I looked down at the back of her leg, where our ages are written -- hers is 53. "Look, my mother is younger than you, and I could never see her doing one of these in a million years, so you are awesome! Keep going!" I think that got a chuckle out of her.

So I finished strong. I don't know when my next race will be, but it will likely be four weeks from now, once my bike and belongings arrive safely in LA and I have a better idea what my schedule will be.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

PETA's Letter to Michael Moore


Michael Moore's new movie Sicko, which exlores the many flaws of the American health care system is coming out soon. In honor of this, Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, took the opportunity to write a letter to Michael Moore. Included in the letter is the following:

...there’s an elephant in the room, and it is you. With all due respect, no one can help but notice that a weighty health issue is affecting you personally. We’d like to help you fix that. Going vegetarian is an easy and life-saving step that people of all economic backgrounds can take in order to become less reliant on the government’s shoddy healthcare system, and it’s something that you and all Americans can benefit from personally.

The letter goes on to make some great points about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. But, calling Michael Moore an "elephant" and insulting his weight are completely inappropriate. People are sensitive about their weights. Further, this type of language is more likely to infuriate him rather than to convince him to give vegetarianism a chance.

A vegetarian diet is no guarantee that one will be thinner either. While some people have lost weight by going veg, I know plenty of overweight and obese vegetarians as well. And, while I wouldn't consider myself fat, I do have to work to keep the pounds from creeping on.

Would I call any of my patients an "elephant"? No way!

A better tactic would be to congratulate Michael Moore on his movie, and to suggest that vegetarianism is a way to prevent many of the illness that we see today, rather than insulting his weight.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Finding Time to Work Out

Here's how I get the training in. This year I've had one of the most unpredictable schedules. I've been on call literally every other day for the entire year. So, my schedule has had to be flexible for those days when I stay late at work to finish a case, or if I get called in off hours.

I've gotten accustomed to running with my pager, putting my pager on the side of my spinning bike and checking it every few minutes because I know I can't hear it with the booming music, and bringing my pager poolside in case it goes off while I swim.

But, I've managed to fit in triathlon training. In fact, ever since my third year of medical school, ten years ago, I've exercised at least three days a week. Right now in the midst of triathlon season, I average six days a week.

For example, here's what I did this week (and what I plan on doing for the rest of the week):
Monday -- 6:30 am -- Master Swim, 1 hour, 2000 meters
-- 6:00 pm -- Outdoor bike ride with women's group, 21 miles, 1.5 hours
Tuesday -- 6:30 pm -- Speed training run, about 4 miles total, three speed loops of about 0.4 miles each
Wednesday -- 6:30 am -- Master Swim, 1 hour, 2250 meters
Thursday -- 7:15 am -- Tempo run, 50 minutes, about 4.5 miles with 2.5 miles of fairly hard pace running on the Esplanade
-- 6:15 pm -- Spinning class, 45 minutes
Friday -- 6:00 am -- Weights with my personal trainer, 1 hour, followed by a short run if the mood strikes me
Saturday -- DAY OFF (it always feels weird not to work out)
Sunday -- TRIATHLON!!!!!!!!

ADDENDUM -- Even after writing this, I had to change it up. I spent a few hours at the hospital in the middle of the night on Thursday, so Friday became my DAY OFF and my personal trainer was kind enough to train me on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Runner Safety

On Saturday night around 11:15 pm, a young woman was sexually assaulted while she was jogging along the Boston Esplanade.

What on earth is she doing running alone that late???

I run on the Esplanade at least three days a week. But I sure don't run there in the dark.

I've been harrassed while running. About nine years ago, I was running through a densely wooded park near my parents' home in the daylight, but completely alone. A man walked up to me. "Excuse me, can you tell me which way is Commerce Road?" I pointed him in the correct direction.

He then ran toward me. I turned around. He said, "You have great #$%@. Do you mind if I squeeze them?"

I was so scared, I turned around and sprinted out of there, out of the woods and a half mile home to my parents. Winded, in tears, I called the police.

From that time on, I've been more cautious. A hard way to learn a lesson, and I was lucky that I wasn't hurt.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Gift Dilemma

I'm looking to purchase a gift for someone, on behalf of not just me, but from a group of us. Someone close to the recipient came to me and said, "Get him one of these. He's been begging me to get him one."

The item that has been suggested to me is made of leather. I do not purchase or wear leather -- it is a cruel industry that is not just a byproduct of meat and its production destroys the environment. I shopped all over the internet and in Boston for a non-leather version, and was not successful.



The route of least resistance would be to just buy the leather item, which I found in a store in Downtown Boston. And, for a moment, I thought about just buying it and saving myself time and aggravation. In good conscience, though, I just can't do it. I have another gift idea that I think will work well, and I'm going to go with that.

To learn more about where leather comes from, click here.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The End of Training

This week, I'll be finishing up my interventinoal cardiology fellowship.

It's an exciting time. I'll be moving to Los Angeles and joining a group there. And finally, I'll be earning a salary that matches with the amount of years of education and training that I have.

Now, after seven years of training after graduating medical school, I'll be an interventional cardiology attending physician. I must admit, it's a little daunting to be on my own. No longer will I have my attending scrubbed at the table with me to ask, "What do you think of that lesion? Should we use this balloon?" and so forth. It'll just be me and a radiation tech. But, I think I'm ready for the challenge.

Leaving Boston will be bittersweet. I'll be leaving friends, mentors, and coworkers. Boston has been a really fun place to be. For those of you who know me in real life, you know that the decision to come to Boston was a challenging one, but if I had to do it over I wouldn't change it in a heartbeat.

So, on to a new city and a new stage of life.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Salad

I had this as part of my dinner last night -- organic lettuce, beets, cannelini beans, and artichoke hearts. It was easy to throw together and very filling.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Results are In....

I was 39th out of 65 in my age group.... putting me at 60% from the top. Did I predict that or what (Look at the post below)?

Strangely, in spite of all my panicking, the swim was my strongest of the three, the bike was in the middle, and yes indeed, I tanked on the run. My pace was about a 9:56 mile, when I typically run 9:00 miles in a 5k or triathlon.

So, I plan to focus more on running. More speed workouts and more tempo workouts.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Choppy Water and Asthmatic Wheezing

It didn't feel like a good day for me.

The ocean swim was really choppy and the field of swimmers was crowded. Normally, I get into my groove about a third of the way through and I get comfortable swimming the course. Not this time. I was short of breath the whole time. Wheezing, no less.

It's a little known secret, and something that I like to deny to myself, but I have exercise-induced asthma. I like to think I've outgrown it. In fact, I haven't touched an albuterol inhaler in four years; I haven't needed it. Every so often during a race, particularly if pushing myself at the end, I'll feel it.

Back to the swim -- the waves of the ocean landed salt water in my mouth far too many times. I couldn't keep my head in the water long enough to swim freestyle for much of the swim. And I was panicking. Panicking and wheezing. It'll get better. Let's get past this buoy. Or I'll pass this group of people. And I'd try to pass the slow people in front of me, but then I'd get winded and panic more.

I was so relieved when the swim was over! Still wheezing, I walked fast to my bike and hopped on. Even on the bike, my breathing wasn't great. But I felt strong. I got to do something I'd never done before -- pass people on the bike course. Granted, some of those ridiculously souped-up bikes passed me, but in the past, the bike has been the slowest part for me. Thanks to 2-3 spinning classes per week throughout the winter and spring, I've gotten faster. I biked the course at 18.3 miles per hour -- last summer, I was lucky to pull 15 mph!!!

Then there was the run. And the wheezing came back in full force. I was breathing loudly... really loudly. I passed no one on the run. Everyone passed me. And several people who passed me tried to encourage me, like I was some kind of invalid -- come on, you've got it, keep going, and so forth. I felt so slow running -- maybe it's that I'm coming off an injury, or maybe because I finished the bike in a faster time, I ended up with faster runners. I'll be surprised if I was anything faster than a 10 minute mile.

So, lessons from this tri:
-- Keep doing spinning classes
-- Swim in open water so I don't freak out when it's race time
-- Do more brick workouts -- running after biking, as in an actual race.
-- Do more running speedwork.
-- Stash an albuterol inhaler with my stuff, just in case.

The results aren't out yet, but my guess is you'll find my name about 60% down the list of women in my age group.

Friday, June 08, 2007

First Tri of the Season is Tomorrow....

.... and I'm a little nervous.

I've trained hard. My swimming has gotten faster with better technique that I've learned from Master Swim. I've been spinning at least twice a week, which I think will make me a faster cyclist. And, in spite of my iliotibial band issues, my running has been okay, with our run coach giving me some suggestions on tweaking my form and kicking my butt on a few tempo/speed workouts.

But, other than running, the vast majority of my training has been indoors. I've only cycled outside once all season. And I haven't done a single outdoor swim.

We'll see how this all translates tomorrow at the Hyannis Sprint Triathlon.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Dr. Flea

This is the ultimate blogger nightmare.

A Boston-area pediatrician is sued for malpractice. On his anonymous blog, he details the experience of being sued, what he thinks of opposing counsel, and how he's been told to behave on the stand.

His blog is brought up during the trial and he's outed as Dr. Flea. The next day the case is settled for an undisclosed amount.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Environmentalists and the Elephant in the Room

Did you know that raising of livestock for food produces more greenhouse gas than all of the automobiles in the world?

Or, did you know that in order to produce one pound of steak requires the amount of water that you would use to shower over an entire year?

So, it would make sense that organizations that care about the environment would encourage people to go vegetarian, or at least decrease their meat consumption. But they don't.

Environmental organizations like to camp out in the Back Bay area of Boston to recruit new members. Somehow, if I'm walking by with a Trader Joe's bag (but not if I'm empty-handed... go figure?), I look like an ideal target. And I ask -- what do you know about meat consumption and the environment? Most stare at me blankly, though one activist who says he once was a vegetarian gave me a good answer.

I care about the environment -- I recycle literally everything I can. I minimize the amount of driving I do. I use as little electricity as possible. I minimize the number of useless goods that I consume. And I'm a vegan, which comparatively may be the biggest thing I do for the environment.

But, in good conscience, I can't join an environmental organization that completely ignores livestock production, one of the greatest toxins to the environment, in order to pacify its members and potential members.