Friday, March 30, 2012

Passover is Coming!!!

I will be making my second annual vegan Passover seder this Friday.  So far, there will be 25 guests at the seder table.  I'll post pictures and tell you all about it once it's done, but in the meantime, here are some previous Passover meals and celebrations:

2011

2009

2008

2007

Eggplant and Matzo Meal Pancakes

And... why a vegan Pesach isn't that hard.

I went to images.google.com and entered the phrase "vegan passover".  Five of the first 21 pictures that came up were from my blog.  Wow, I think that almost makes me an authority on vegan Pesach!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

LA Marathon -- With a Little Help From My Friends

Today was my twelfth marathon.

My athletic bucket list has just about everything checked off.  5K in under 28 minutes -- check.  Half Ironman -- check.  Olympic tri in under 3 hours -- check.  Half marathon in under two hours -- check.  Podium finish in a local race -- check.  Ironman finisher -- check!!

But one item remains on the list -- Qualifying for the Boston Marathon.  So, I take my running seriously.  I've been dutifully doing my runs as prescribed by my coach.  I go to track once a week and push hard.  I even do my yoga, which I don't entirely love, but know will make me a stronger runner.  But that BQ time (Boston Qualifier) remains elusive.

While my training was on track, my sleep last night was poor.  Before my next race, I will remember to turn my phone off before I go to bed.
 My Race Bib

Having good friends made this race the success it was for me.  My friend Kiki was kind enough to drive me to the start line at Dodger Stadium at 5 am.  Since she would be spectating in Westwood around mile 18, I gave her a bag of Gu Chomps (fast-acting carbohydrate) to hand off to me if she saw me during the race.

The weather for today was projected to be terrible, similar to last year's race.  I was layered up, with gloves, arm-warmers, hat, and tights.  But, just before the race started, the sun came out.  No one expected sun today!!!

In the first mile, which initially was a shuffle as we all piled onto the race course, I saw a sign that read, "Go Vegans!"  Obviously, that got my attention.  Holding that sign was my friend Lawrence Ziese:
I'm not sure where the nickname "Sensational" came from, but I'll take it.

Miles 1-3 were more downhill than uphill.  Miles 4-5 were the biggest hills on the course.  Miles 6-8 took us up Sunset, onto Hollywood Blvd.  Around Mile 8, I saw my friend Trey, gave him a high-five and kept going.  I was on pace at this point and felt good.

Still feeling good, at mile 11 I saw teammate David Wachtel.  He was kind enough to take my gloves and arm warmers.  He was also filming with his IPhone.  He asked me if I had anything else I wanted to say, and for some reason my response was "Booyah!"  Endorphins clearly do not make for intelligent speech.

Onward.  Miles 11-14 took us through Hollywood, past Grauman's Chinese Theater, down the Sunset Strip..  The wind was pretty tough at times.  Then we turned onto San Vicente, a nice downhill, and then right on Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood, with great entertainment, including cheerleaders in drag.  Mile 16 took us through Beverly Hills, and Mile 17 was down Rodeo Drive.  Again, I saw Lawrence and his "Go Vegans!" poster.

Shortly thereafter, I saw LA Tri Club friend Byron Lea. Last year, coincidentally I was running with him for about four miles -- he was out doing a training run, and I was running the race.  I ran into him last weekend and jokingly suggested that he should be on the course so he can pace me for a few miles.  He asked where would be ideal and I suggested that the second half of the race would be good.  Now I didn't expect him to actually take me up on this.  But there he was, in his shorts and running shoes, waiting for me!

So I had Byron with me for miles 18-22, through the rest of Beverly Hills, Westwood, and through the VA.  I let him do most of the talking since I was tired.  He reminded me what was coming ahead, to shake things out, be ready for a hill, and so forth.  Having someone with me kept my mind off the pain.

At mile 18, at Santa Monica and Westwood, as expected, there was Kiki with my bag of Gu Chomps screaming some words of encouragement.  The Chomps definitely hit the spot.

Miles 20-21 traveled through the VA Medical Center, my least favorite part of the course.  It's boring and it's uphill and at that point I just can't see that I am going to finish this race off.  My pace dropped off here.  Big time.

Byron left me at mile 22 as I turned onto San Vicente in Brentwood.  Running alone again, this may be where I "hit the wall".  Nothing in particular was bugging me, but I was just tired out.  I struggled just to keep a 9:45-10:00 pace.  I ran up the short hill, and then "everything was downhill", or so they say, because when you've run 23 miles and have three more to go,*nothing* feels like it is downhill.

The next few miles, we were battered by strong winds.  Mile 23 was my friend Carol with a bag of frozen grapes that absolutely hit the spot.  Miles 24-25 had a few other LA Tri Club friends to cheer me on.  Then at mile 25 was the turn onto Ocean Blvd for the final stretch.  I gave everything I had left of my tired legs.  My calves were starting to cramp up, an issue I've never had before in a race.  At Mile 25.5, Fortius team members Kelly, Cynthie, and Bodie were cheering loudly for me, but at that point, I was so spent that I think I tried to smile but nothing happened, and yet I was so grateful for their encouragement right then.  At mile 26, I saw Fortius teammate Hans, yelling for me as I headed toward the finish.

Finish time:  4:11:36.

And finally, a huge thank you to Lisa, my ride home, who surprised me with coconut water, blueberries, and a granola bar.  A perfect post-race snack!

This was my personal best by a minute and 17 seconds.  But, I am disappointed in how my pace dropped off.  Next marathon, the phone will be turned off at 8 pm, and I will be better rested.  In the meantime, I will train like hell, drop the 5 pounds that I need to lose to make me faster, and next time, at the Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon in June, I will kill it!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Red Meat Increases Mortality

There's been a lot of buzz lately about a study that came out this week demonstrating increased mortality associated with eating red meat.  The more servings of red meat consumed, the shorter your life span.

The article was published in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine.  The study evaluated over 37,000 men and over 83,000 women who were enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) or the Nurses' Health Study (NHS), with up to 28 years of follow-up.  Subjects were asked about their consumption of processed and unprocessed red meat, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, dairy, and fruits and vegetables.

One serving per day of red meat, processed or unprocessed, was associated with a significant increase in mortality, including all-casue mortality, death from cardiac casues, and death from cancer.  The risk increased with increasing consumption of red meat.

Image from livetherun.com

 
The researchers suggest that 9.3% of deaths in men and 7.6% of deaths in women could be prevented  if everyone consumed less than half of a serving of red meat per day.

Is this surprising news?  No.  But it is one of the largest studies demonstrating increased mortality with meat consumption.

Dean Ornish wrote an excellent commentary.  He discusses the consequences of decreasing our consumption of meat -- not just improved health, but also more grain resources to feed the hungry, and less impact on our environment.

I also enjoyed Kathy Freston's commentary on the Huffington Post, "Meat is the New Tobacco."  It's an interesting perspective.  We now universally recognize that tobacco leads to illness and death.  Now we have strong data demonstrating that meat consumption has the same effect.

This is great motivation to encourage people toward a plant-based diet.  But, in the words of Dean Ornish, "We have a spectrum of choices; it's not all or nothing."  When you exclude some meat and animal products and include more whole-food plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole-grains, your health will improve.

Pan A, Sun Q, Bernstein AM; et al. Red meat consumption and mortality: results from 2 prospective cohort studies [published online March 12, 2012]. Arch Intern Med. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.2287.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Irony and Dog Bites

Earlier this week I posted about the joys of running with dogs.  Which makes today's adventure an odd turn of events.

This morning, I went running.  When my dogs see me put on running shoes, they get excited, wag their tails, jump and chase me around the house.  So, for my tempo runs, I'll take the dogs with me for my 10-20 minute warm-up, then put them in the house and finish my workout on my own.  And that's what I did this morning.

I started my tempo portion of my run, heading down the sidewalk along Ventura Boulevard.  I turned onto a side street and ran toward a man and his dog on a leash. I was at least three feet away, when the dog lunged toward me and bit my leg.

I stopped, stunned.  The older man holding the leash fell silent.  I looked down at my left leg, a couple inches below the knee, and saw the puncture wound of the dog's tooth.  It was a bit less than a centimeter wide, but there was some depth to the wound because I could see a couple granules of fat tissue.  Blood was flowing down my leg, and I used my black crop pants to try to blot the bleeding.

The man remained silent.  His dog stood still, perhaps even shaking a bit.

I said, "Do you see what your dog just did?  Do you see this?"

He finally said, "I'm sorry." 

My first thought was that I'd look odd finishing up my run with blood dripping down my leg, since ideally I would have had about another 30 minutes to go.  Then reality hit:  I should not be running with a dog bite, I need to get this wound looked at.

I didn't have my phone with me, which I often do since I do a lot of my running when I'm on call.  But, fortunately I have a good memory, and fortunately this was an honest man who gave me his real name and his real address, which I was able to confirm later on the internet.  In retrospect, it would have been good to have the dog's license number as well.  The information that I did obtain was useful for the report that I filed later that day to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health.

I ran home, quickly showered, washed off the wound a bit, covered it in a band aid, and went to Urgent Care.  There, the wound was cleaned up well after some local anesthesia.

Since the Los Angeles Marathon is only 10 days away, I was worried that I might not be able to participate.  But, the physician recommended a few days off my feet for the wound to heal.

I worry about tripping and falling, twisting an ankle, or straining my IT band as the events that can derail my running.  I never thought a dog would get in the way.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Running With Dogs

I've never loved "recovery runs".  They're usually on days when I'm tired out from doing a long run the day before.

I've turned them into an opportunity -- to exercise my dogs.

I have two retired racing greyhounds.  This is Gold.  He is 8 years old.  Once upon a time, he chased a stuffed rabbit around a track.  Now he chases me as I shuffle through the neighborhood.


And this is Curves.  She is 6 years old.  She is a greyhound, but at her petite size of 51 pounds, she was never a racer.
These guys are 45 mile per hour sprinters who can catch a squirrel in my backyard (yes that's pretty gross cleaning up the mess).  But when it comes to distance running, I am a little faster than they are.  We're happy doing a 11-12 minute per mile pace.

We stop a lot.  We sniff and pee and poop on things (well, I don't do those things, but my dogs do).  We say hello to other dogs in the neighborhood.  And overall, we have a good time.

The dogs are great companions.  They get my mind off of worrying about my pace.  They remind me of why I run -- to escape, to feel good, to free my mind of stress and obligations.

And when they are exercised, they are happier.

 Here we are.  One big happy family of runners.