18663 Ventura Blvd, Suite 202, Tarzana CA 91356

Friday, October 30, 2009

I Am Burned Out

I haven't been enjoying running lately.  While I love to run, as of late I absolutely dread getting on the treadmill.

Today I came to a realization:  I have been training for something for over two years.  A half marathon.  A marathon.  A half ironman.  Another triathlon.

I need a break.

I exercise and train beause I enjoy it.  I do it for me.  So, when it ceases to be a fun challenge, I think that means I need to take a break.

I am dropping out of the CIM Marathon that I signed up for on December 6.  For the next two months, I will be exercising for fun.  Though I may do a few short 5k or 10k races, there will be no big events to train for.  I'm going to do things that I haven't done in a while -- kickboxing, rollerblading, and spinning.  I may even try some new things, like pilates or yoga.

I hope to come back refreshed in two months and ready to start base training for Ironman Lake Placid in July 2010.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fuze Tropical Punch

I love pop / soda, and not the diet variety -- the full-calorie drinks, and I love fruit juice.  However, they're empty calories, so it is best to drink as little of these beverages as possible.

Recently, I discovered Fuze. One bottle has ten calories. It's flavorful and has vitamin C. It doesn't even taste low-calorie!

Saturday, October 24, 2009


A patient once described to me his diet which included healthy meals, such as "good foods like steak."  He experienced initial success with the Atkins Diet in rapidly losing fifteen pounds, and then, unfortunately gained back all of the weight within months.

The Atkins Diet was popular early in this decade as an easy way to rapidly drop weight.  True, the diet will allow you to lose a large amount of weight at first, most of it in water.  But, in the long-term, it isn't successful.  How many people do you know who have lost weight, kept it off for several years, and attribute their success to the Atkins Diet?  I don't know a single one.

Ingesting a diet high in saturated animal fat and protein is not good for the body.  Diets high in saturated and animal fat have been shown time and time again to increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. 

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, a multi-national study of thousands of people, demostrated that high-protein, low-carb diets increase mortality risk.

A low-fat, vegetarian diet, with lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, with lean protein, really is the best option for health and permanent weight loss.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Moon Century -- 100 mile bike ride

Physically, I'm always looking for something tougher, something bigger to accomplish.  Yesterday I rode 100 miles, including 9000 feet of climbing.  This is the most I have ever ridden in one day.

As of late, my training has been focused on running.  Cycling has been reserved for recovery days.  My last 40+ mile ride was over a month and a half ago!  So, needless to say, I was a bit worried.

However, this event supported a good cause, the Jewish Federation's Fed Up With Hunger campaign to feed hungry people in Los Angeles.  It was also an all-vegan ride!

The ride started in the West Valley community of Oak Park, headed south to Agoura Hills, west toward Thousand Oaks, south to Pacific Coast Highway, PCH into Malibu, then up Mulholland and when I say up I mean up up up with some serious climbing.  We stopped for lunch at mile 56.  The last 44 miles were full of climbing -- on Mulholland and up Topanga, and then back to the start.

I felt okay at the start.  I went out with a group that seemed at my level.  A couple riders were a bit faster.  I ended up riding much of the way with one person, who was on a commuter bike, and when it started getting windy on Las Posas Road and at the westernmost edge of PCH near Poing Mugu, I drafted off of him.  I'm not sure he realized I was drafting him, but when I gained enough energy, I rode in front to give him the chance to draft off me, but I'm not sure he took advantage because I'd turn around and see him behind and to the left of me.  Is there shame in a man drafting off a woman cyclist?  I'm not sure.

Once we reached Mulholland, around mile 39, the ride really began -- in other words, the climbing!  I really surprised myself that I had it in me to climb those mountains given my lack of recent cycling, but I passed a few riders in our group.

I was so thrilled to get to mile 56 and enjoy some lunch.  Since all the food was vegan, it was easy -- I fixed myself a whole wheat Tofurky sandwich with avocado, tomato, and Vegenaise.  Yum!

The last 44 miles were rough.  I found a couple of men who were about my pace to ride the last 35 miles with.  When struggling to achieve a goal, it's great to be around others -- that's why I do my long training runs or track workouts with a group -- I get energy from being with other people with the same goal.  I'd say I "hit the wall" at mile 85, climbing on Mulholland heading west back to Las Virgines Road.  My legs were tired, my knees ached, and my energy was sapped.  One of my riding companions flatted at mile 90, which made for a good excuse to stop and wait for him to change his tire.

When we finally finished, it felt so good to be done!  I slept so well last night.  Yesterday's ride helped me gain the confidence that I need going into training for Ironman Lake Placid, knowing that I can complete a long hilly course.  Also, I got to practice staying fueled while training, with both electrolyte solution and food.

No more endurance races for me for a while... not until the California International Marathon on December 6.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Three Runners Die in Detroit Half Marathon

Sadly, three runners died at the Detroit Half Marathon today, as reported in The Detroit News.

Two runners collapsed and died around mile twelve, and the third shortly after finishing.  All three were men, ages 26, 36, and 65.  All received prompt medical attention and had defibrillators applied to them, all unsuccessfully.

In addition, a 23 year-old man died at the Baltimore Marathon last week, and two runners died at the San Jose Rock N Roll Half Marathon just a few weeks ago.

Why are apparently healthy athletes dying, and why is this a more common phenomenon recently?

A person can feel well, train for a race, but unknowingly may have heart disease.  In younger athletes, those under age 40, the most common cause of sudden death during a race is a structural abnormality of the heart, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dilated cardiomyopathy, or arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia.  The presence of those structural abnormalities of the heart, combined with the stress of a competitive athletic event, can trigger a deadly arrhythmia.  Amongst older participants, unknown coronary artery disease may be present, and could lead to a heart attack or arrhythmia that could then lead to death.

Statistically, the odds of dying while competing in a marathon range from 1 in 50,000 to 1 in 150,000.

What should an athlete do?  How can we find these things before someone dies?

This is a controversial question amongst the cardiology community.  I believe that everyone who wishes to compete in any type of endurance sports needs a full physical before participation.  This includes a physical examination, blood pressure check, full panel of blood work including fasting cholesterol levels, and an EKG.  A physician should also inquire as to whether there is family history of heart disease in any first-degree relatives.

In Italy, guidelines are even stricter.  All young competitive athletes have a complete echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart.  As you can imagine, the vast majority of these echocardiograms are normal, and thus this recommendation is quite controversial.

Despite the risk in participating in competitive athletics, I hope that these recent events will not scare people away from being active, because an active lifestyle, in spite of these risks, is far better than a sedentary lifestyle.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Dr. Oz -- Cowboy Goes Vegan to Save His Life

Rocco is a cowboy.  He's overweight, diabetic, and has a large amount of plaque in the arteries of his heart as demonstrated by a CT scan.  Dr. Oz challenges him to go vegan for 28 days with the goal of reversing his coronary disease and prolonging his life.

Watch the video here

Now, Rocco is similar to so many of my patients whom I see every day.  If he can become a vegan, then I'd say just about anyone with the right motivation can make important dietary changes to improve their health.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Long Beach Marathon

Today I ran the Long Beach Marathon.

I wasn't sure whether to run with the 4 hour pace group or go it alone.  As the gun went off and the 4 hour pace group dashed ahead, my choice was made for me and I started on my own.  I easily settled into a pace of 9:15-9:20 per mile.

I was nervous about being able to keep that pace, but for the first 13 miles it felt comfortable.  Then my legs felt heavier, and I slowed down, averaging 9:59/mile for the second half of the race.

Highlights of the race were running through Cal State Long Beach during miles 17-18 and all the enthusiasm of the students cheering us on, and the nursing home that brought their residents outside -- I've never seen a row of twenty elderly people in wheelchairs bundled up cheering at a marathon, it was awesome!

At mile 25, one of the stomach cramps that I have been plagued with came upon me.  I ended up slowing to a walk for about two minutes until it passed, and then I ran the rest.  The last mile felt so long, and it felt so good to finish!

My finishing time was 4 hours, 12 minutes, 55 seconds.  It's my personal best by almost six minutes over my San Diego Marathon.  But, I'm not that pleased.  I feel like I missed my goal, and could have gone faster.  Maybe I needed more longer runs.  Nonetheless, a personal best is a personal best, and I'll take it.

I think that before I race California International Marathon in Sacramento on December 6 that I will do a few things differently:  I hope to do more long runs, and I will take two Immodiums instead of my usual one.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Vegetarian Diets Reverse Diabetes

Improving control of your diabetes can be as simple as changing your diet.

In this interview from the Huffington Post, Kathy Freston talks to Dr. Neal Barnard, whose research has demonstrated that diabetes can be controlled and even reversed with a vegan diet.
Image from

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Cooking Less... Eating Vegin' Out!!

Today I ran the Race for the Rescues 5K in 24:29, a new personal best for me, 1st in my age group and 6th woman overall.  I definitely have increased confidence going into next weekend's marathon.

With work, running, triathlon, and time with family and friends, it's tough to prepare healthy meals.  I don't feel like cooking when I get home.  And, living alone, fresh produce has a habit of going bad. is a vegan home food delivery service.  They bring three different main dishes, four entrees, a soup, and five cookies.  It's enough food for eight or nine full meals, all for $110/week.

The food is healthy stuff, relatively low in oil and fat, and delicious.  I would love to see them provide calorie and nutrient information, but perhaps that's something they can provide in the future.

Check them out at  And, if you sign up, tell them I referred you!

Saturday, October 03, 2009


A Taper is a period of time during which we back down the amount of exercise that we are doing in preparation for an upcoming race.

I've never truly embraced the concept of a taper.  When I decrease the amount of exercise that I am doing, I feel sluggish.  Invariably, I gain a pound or two because I'm not as active.  But, when I stick with the taper plan and am rested before a race, I do well.

Last weekend's 18 miler went much better than the one before it.  I had some good runs this week.  This morning, I ran a total of 8 miles, six of those miles with the LA Leggers 9-minute per mile pace group, which is the first time that I have run with this faster group.  It was a challenge  running 8:20 per mile for eight minutes and then walking a minute, and keeping that pace while running up a couple of steep hills, but I was able to do it.

Tomorrow I'm doing a 5K race, just to get an idea of how much I've improved since July, when I had a personal best of 24:55.  I would love to break 24 minutes.  Then I'm going to go for an easy hour-long bike ride.

My strategy for Race Day at the Long Beach Marathon next Sunday:  Coach Jamie wants me to start at a 9:15/mile pace.  I think that's a little aggressive, but if I'm rested up enough, maybe I can keep that pace up for the race.  If around mile 7-8 I feel like that's a little too fast, I'll back it down.  My goal is to run in under 4 hours and 5 minutes.