April 29, 2011

Conscious Eating and Depleting

So, I gained 10+ pounds last year. Between my brother living with us after his accident and starting my own law practice I found myself with many reasons to eat richly and not as many openings for vigorous caloric expenditure as I might want.

Lucky for me, I'm dense. I carry excess weight fairly efficiently. Based on how I look, I've never been problematically obese. I didn't have to buy new clothes, they just looked a little less attractive. So, I packed on a little less than one pound a month for a year and that was that.

But, now that I'm facing reality, obviously I need to lose the 10 pounds. And, once I started looking into the latest health and diet information, I found that I couldn't ignore the reports on adipose tissue around organs in western people vs. Afghanis.

And, I really can't ignore that as a very slow runner, I'm 30+ pounds heavier than my newfound hero Desiree Davila. As the fastest American Female Boston Marathoner, she's the epitome of health. While I, shorter than her, am fighting off 10 lbs to get to a *goal* weight that is 20+ pounds heavier than her race weight.

I've heard Kevin Patterson's saying: "Your body will forgive you for eating just about anything if you move enough." I like that logic. I just need to start moving enough to make me feel like I belong to the covered class.

Unfortunately, I've also read Born To Run (Awesome Book!) and it led me to think that if the secret to human health is running like the historic running cultures, then truly, it's also about a simple diet made primarily of plants.

Moving alone may not be sufficient.

Plus, in my newfound quest for health, I read the reports from the Biosphere and the amazing health benefits the previously healthy by western standards biospherians experienced from eating a diet that was entirely self-produced. And, there are tons of articles and studies showing the benefits of applying the principles of anti-inflammation to the modern diet -- most of the experts in this field have specific foods they recommend and almost all of them are unprocessed plants. It's pretty obvious where the science is headed (and I'm sad to see the information isn't getting as much press as I'd like because there's no money to be made off of it).

We may not like it, but it looks like Healthy Humans do best with regularly meeting 90%-100% of their needs (easy to do with a primarily plant-based diet), plus the occasional celebration full of caloric/protein/fat/mineral/vitamin/co-vitamin excess and the occasional starvation every now and again.

So, where does this leave me?

Well, for starters, I'm moving more. As I mentioned, I'm training for a marathon. It feels great to be so full of motion and momentum. Yesterday, I ran the fastest 3 miles I'd run in 2 years. I felt so alive.

On the other hand, if I am honest with myself, I think the issue is not just about movement. Let's say I accept that 1 tsp once every three days of Turmeric can significantly reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis, or that 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil is as good as 200 mg Ibuprofen for calming muscular inflammation.

If that's true, then shouldn't the counter be true? Shouldn't 2 tsp of fats or sugars separated from their natural counterparts have similar strong effects on me? Isn't it weird that at the airport, when they offer me something fried as my quick meal before I board my flight, I can consume (in addition to whatever has been fried) 200 Cals of plant fats without the mulitple pints of fiber and all of the vitamins and minerals I'd historically have to consume to get those plant fats?)

And, yes, I'm aware of the Sugar is Poison movement.

But, I don't have a sweet tooth and I'm watching my caloric intake to get back into my acceptable weight range (so I can evaluate whether I need to re-define "acceptable"). Therefore, at the moment, I have no direct issues with sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Since I've been trying to eat primarily plant-based foods with minimal processing (limiting my grain intake to unmodified whole grains has been educational) and generally shy away from pre-prepared food, I haven't seen much of the backlash from this article, which apparently is large and fascinating. Good for Lestig.

In summary, tonight, at a local mediterranean joint, I was shocked when my squid came breaded and fried. The menu said that it was cooked in white wine and garlic. Little did I know that there was a breaded/fried portion of the prep. I realized it had been weeks, if not months since I had had truly fried food. Don't worry, I got over the surprise, enjoyed my unexpected treat, and the leftovers are in the fridge for tomorrow post run.

But, it got me thinking. If you're actually looking to implement a historically, evolutionarily healthy diet/lifestyle, you probably have to start with avoiding almost all of the culturally normal American food (fast food, restaurant food, packaged pre-prepared foods) and getting down to what Americans would consider an almost starvation weight. Once there, you'd need to stay active and continue to avoid the majority of the culturally normal American food except the occasional (once a month, perhaps?) splurge.

So, Washington -- Thanks! You gave me the time and space to experiment with instituting an eating pattern and level of running activity to become much healthier. Oh, and you made me appreciate my Californian weather in ways that nothing else ever could.

April 25, 2011


I had more girl time this weekend than I've had in a very long time.

3 roadtrips with friends.

Dinner with my mom, sister and our girlfriends.

Preparing for and helping to host my sister's baby shower.

The bachelorette party of one of my best friends.

A Sunday of recovery and hanging out with one of my college roommates.

Our flight back to Washington left at 6:40 AM, today.

Oh, and I kicked it all off with a 20 mile run on Friday morning.

Yes, I am about to lie down for a much-deserved nap. (Thanks to my clients who have treated me to a rather mellow Monday so far!)

April 21, 2011

Boston, reviewed

So, the Boston Marathon was an epic event this year.

The fastest marathon ever ran by a human (2:03:02)? Check. The second place guy was faster than the standing world record as well. And he was in his debut marathon.

Ryan Hall running the fastest marathon ever run by an American (2:04:58) and taking fourth? Check.

Kara Goucher setting a PR by 2 minutes and taking 5th 6.5 months after giving birth to her first son? Check.

Desiree Davila (previously, a relatively unknown U.S. runner) leading for much of the final miles and thrilling us as she pushed the pace of the leaders and surged to battle for first, finally finishing second place (by 2 seconds) and breaking the U.S. women's course record? Check.

Joan Benoit Samuelson (holder of the prior U.S. women's course record) running a 2:51 at the age of 53? Yup, that happened too.

All in all, it was one of the most amazing sports events I've ever watched.

I may never be in good enough shape to qualify to run it now that the new standards are in place. But I'm definitely thrilled to enjoy it as a spectator and I may just go and volunteer one day to experience the thrill of the day in person.

April 16, 2011


On Monday I'm going to enjoy this year's Boston Marathon. I'm rooting for Kara Goucher, Ryan Hall, and Joan Benoit Samuelson to all have an excellent day. The international field is very strong with both of last year's winners returning and some wildcard debuts as well. It is going to be an exciting race.

My marathon PR is a 4:04:27. For the last several years, I've considered the potential goal of running the Boston Marathon. Until this year, my Boston qualifying time was 3:40:59. Based on some of my speed workouts in past years, when I've been at my fittest, I think it probably would have been possible for me to hit that time if all things went well, but I haven't made the lifestyle rearrangements and training commitment to make it happen.

This year was supposed to be a magical year -- because I will have switched age groups, I'd only have to hit 3:45:59 to qualify. My original plan was to get back into shape for the Coeur d'Alene Marathon and try to PR. Then, if I felt strong and motivated, I'd try to qualify for Boston at CIM in December.

Unfortunately, things have changed in Boston that make this plan less likely to be successful than I had hoped.

First, Boston registration has hit its max number of participants in record time in the last few years. Historically, you could register as late as February for the April race. But, 2010 registration closed in November 2009 (ahead of CIM in December). And, 2011 registration closed in just 9 hours when it opened in October.

To address this, the Boston Athletic Association has changed the way registration works. First, it will be open in September and will close two weeks later.

In other words, CIM BQ times run in December must be used for the Boston Marathon two calendar years after the calendar year of CIM. Or, in my case, no magical qualifying age-group boost from CIM this year.

Second, registration will now be in tiers. Athletes with a qualifying time of 20 minutes less than the BQ will be allowed to register first, 2 days later, those with 10 minutes to spare are welcome, then those with 5 minutes to spare, and finally open registration for all comers with a BQ who haven't yet registered.

If I am honest with myself, achieving a BQ time has always been a long shot goal for me (even with the now-unavailable magical age-group boost). Doable, but close.

My guess is that this year's registration will be full before the open registration period begins. I think the Boston Athletic Association thinks so too, because in addition to tiered registration, starting in 2013, the qualifying times will be 5m59s faster than their current levels (or, despite the new age group, I'm right back up to 3:40 again).

Additionally, Boston will now confirm people's times and register those in each tier in order of speediest qualifying finishes.

I belong to one of the most populous demographic groups in marathon running. So, I'm guessing the actual qualifying and registration time cutoffs for those in my group are going to be *MUCH* faster than they have been.

I guess what I'm saying is, it looks like if I want to qualify for and actually register for the Boston Marathon, it's going to be a much larger commitment than I originally expected.

I'm not sure how I feel about that, for me. I think it'll make for a much more competitive and prestigious race. But I'm just not sure that level of performance and the sacrifices it would require are attractive to me.

I think I'll just focus on Coeur d'Alene for now -- 6 weeks to go and I'm definitely getting back into shape. I checked my running logs and my 6 miler this week was faster than anything I've done in more than a year (including faster than runs I did 7 pounds lighter!). This has been a step-down week of 33 miles and I've got a 10K tomorrow, so after the race, I should have some good feedback on speed and fitness to help me reassess my marathon pace goals.

April 15, 2011

Cooler Than We Thought

Thanks to my plane delay, tonight, we ended up showing up for one of our local late night happy hours for dinner at 11:15 PM. Pearl's free valet parking, mussels, tuna tartar, sautéed wild mushrooms, tenderloin bites with blue cheese and an extra side of bread? Oh, hell yes. We were spoiled rotten. And we devoured every bite amongst the cool digerati.

We were also out 'til after midnight, which for us is a serious rarity. Last night, I fell asleep at 10:30 PM before my 23-yr-old roommate in CA even made it home from his workout.

Add the pretty people in town for business in their gorgeous clothes and we were very happy with ourselves this evening. We felt like perhaps we were not seriously lame and old.

In fact, after our impressive late night performance on a Thursday (before a Friday and Saturday of ridiculously good behavior to prep for Sunday's race), the only downside was, by the time we got back to our building, all of the useful parking was taken and we had to park 2 floors down, far from the elevators.

All-in-all, given the scenery and delicious food, it was worth it. At least this once. Next time, we'll likely skip it, but at least we now know what it's all about and that next time we'd prefer a slightly less hip establishment.

Mmmm... I'm so happy to have butter sauce soaked bread (mussels with bacon and a separate mushroom dish???) in my belly. It's a rare option these last 4 months, since I've been committed to healthier eating and training. But, boy-oh-boy, when it's available, the hind-brain is all too happy to indulge in the high calorie protein/fat feast. Yummm!!!

April 10, 2011


Yesterday, I ran next weekend's 10K race course with V at a nice easy pace and was a super lazy bum for the rest of the day. I started and finished Mennonite in a Little Black Dress while laying in recovery yoga poses and laughing out loud -- one of the most relaxing days I've had in a while. It felt good to stay in one place for more than 24 hours after so many weeks of flying back and forth between the bay area and seattle.

Last night, we had a nice healthy meal of matzo ball soup (I now make it from scratch), steamed broccoli, and salad. I went to bed and fell asleep at a reasonable hour and had high hopes for yet another awesome weekend long run.

Today's long run was supposed to be 17 miles. I'd registered for the Soaring Eagle 10 mile trail run and figured I'd add the 5 mile loop and a 2 mile out and back to make the total.

Unfortunately, it did not go as smoothly as I hoped. First, despite printing directions from the race website rather than relying on the duplicitous google maps, the directions were still a bit confusing and I had to backtrack, making myself late for the start. A very sweet wife of a distance runner picked me up rather than continue on her exit as I parked (far from the start) and she drove me right up to the flags, assuring me that they'd just started and that she'd see me at the end. (She did, and she recognized me and introduced me to her husband. What a great running supporter!)

Since everyone else was already on the course, I skipped the registration tent and just asked the organizers which color streamers to follow (orange, they were all orange). I headed out and quickly slowed to a halting dance between puddles and muck. The entire 15 foot width of the main trail was a collection of muddy shoe prints! I don't mean slightly muddy, I mean, you could see the imprints of the sides of people's shoes in the mud. Extremely muddy! With all of the slipping and sliding, I was barely doing a 20 minute mile. After half a mile, I decided I'd be better just road running my long run and I turned around. But, once I returned to the start, the organizers saw me and pointed me up a single track trail that was in much better shape.

So, I headed up the hill once more, ran where I could, splashed through several puddles and creeks, slipped and slid through entirely too many mud patches to count, and finally finished the 10 mile loop in 2:01:08 (give or take a few percentage in either variable due to the turn around and watch stopping and general GPS tomfoolery in the forest).

Trouble was, after all the jumping, slipping, sliding, and avoiding roots, the 10 felt like much, much, more. And, my shoes were sopping wet and covered with mud.

I made a deal with myself and did another 2.5 miles and called it a day.

Yes, I was 4.5 miles short. No, I did not like that reality (although I did like the reality of the brownies and pizza at the "finish"). 3-4 inches of mud on the main road and creeks full of muddy water on the single track made for lots of jumping and lateral motions to deal with obstacles that couldn't be avoided. It felt like much more distance than it actually was. And, my shoes had some evidence of just how hard I'd worked for those 12.5 miles. Even after the last 2.5 miles on the road to shake loose much of the gunk, they looked like they'd had a rough day:

I'm hoping that in hindsight, the decision to limit the muddy miles will appear intelligent, but I'm somewhat apprehensive of the fact that it's 7 weeks 'til the marathon.

I'm recording 36.06 miles for this week (instead of breaking 40, per my training schedule). This total includes a great mid-week loop with a friend (on sabbatical from UW -- academic life sounds heavenly!) around Greenlake and yesterday's trial of next weekend's race course.

I now know that next week's 10K will be *very* hilly (including starting on a very steep hill, which is probably smart to space out the runners, but quite difficult, nonetheless). I'm not looking to PR, but the course is fully paved and will be traffic-controlled, so I am excited to push myself and to use the results to inject some useful data into the assessment of just how fit I am (allowing me to evaluate my goal pace for my first marathon in more than 2 and half years).


April 5, 2011

The Need For Speed

I'm suffering from a cold. It sucks. Big time. My allergies are already super lame here -- who knew that Washington was the capitol of pollen? Even with all the rain to clear the air. But, after discussing with many folks, I've been re-educated. Snot is a way of life here for people like me. Blissfully non-allergenic air, like the sunshine, is just another thing about the bay area I didn't appropriately appreciate until now (and I'll never take for granted again).

Anyways, I've been suffering from a full-blown viral snot-reproduction party in my nasal cavities for the last several days. Lame.

Only up-side? Running clears my sinuses. I already had a pretty good incentive and motivation to run, but now, I've got to rein myself in from running more than what's on the training plan because I know that when I run, I can breathe.

Today, I did outdoor speed training at our local park. I haven't done outdoor speed training in a very long time. I'd forgotten how variable my top speed is while doing speed outdoors. The treadmill is so reliable on that issue -- it just does the speed you tell it to do, and voila´ you are training appropriately. Outdoors, there's wind, dogs, people, turns, and, of course, your own motivation.

Needless to say, while I felt more sore than a treadmill workout, the new Garmin that E bought for me was brutal and painfully accurate in its honesty. Today's outdoor workout was not anywhere near as fast as it would have been on a treadmill. And yet, I can't help but think it's better for me, nonetheless. I feel like I had a better workout than if I was on the treadmill. At the end of the day, I'll take that metric over the fancy wireless data feed anyday.

The goal was 6X0.25miles at 7:30 pace. Yes, I know many people would not consider this speed training.

Good for them.

Today, I averaged 7:45 or so across intervals at as quick of pace as 7:33 and 7:35 and as slow as 8:07. Clearly, consistency is not my strongsuit.

But, despite my sickness, I went out for the speed workout. And despite the variability and slower than hoped for times, it went well.

Overall, I'm happy to be moving, slowly, haltingly, perhaps incorrectly, but at all times with much momentum towards may Marathon in May.

Here's to increased speed and hopes for healthy fitness on the weekend of the race!

April 3, 2011

Momentum Building

This week's long run was 15 miles. I haven't ran 15 miles (or more) in a single run since my last marathon, the San Francisco Marathon, in August of 2008.

So, completing 15 in one run feels like a huge milestone.

Today, I cleared it quite easily thanks to the weather and a new friend. I know V from lawyer networking in the bay area, but she's up here now, working for MSFT. She emailed me to let me know she's training for a half in May and looking for a weekend running buddy. Done!

We agreed that she'd try to join me on my medium length runs on the weekends. This weekend, we planned to meet up at Pioneer Park for a medium run on Sunday.

Yesterday, howevever, the weather was not on my side. So, I decided to hit the treadmill for a medium run on Saturday, and to fit our joint run into the middle of my long run on Sunday.

It worked perfectly. It was a little less than 7 miles from our place to the park entrance and because I knew I was meeting someone, I didn't let myself drop the pace -- I put in a nice solid 7 miles and arrived at exactly the moment V's car passed the entrance. Once we met up, we did a very enjoyable and amusing (muddy, a few adventures in getting lost) 5 miles. From there, V kindly drove me back to the main I-90 trail entrance where I did my remaining 3+ miles and then walked back to the apartment to cool down. 1 pre-run latte, 2 gus, some water, a post-race shower and lunch of Greek food, and I feel great.

In fact, the most sore part of my body right now is a strange collection of muscles including my right triceps, the muscle that does external rotation in my right forearm, and my right latissimus dorsi. WTF? I noticed it yesterday and asked E if he had any ideas -- nothing. But today, on my arrival back from the run, he asked, did you say your arm hurt? (while rubbing his right triceps and lat).

I laughed out loud. Once I saw that he was sore in the same areas, I knew exactly what had happened. Friday night date at the Arcade was apparently a little too aggressive on the air hockey and the ski-ball. Comedy.

In other news, my weekly mileage hit 39.59. Washington definitely seems to be agreeing with me and my running goals right now. Onward!

Marathon Countdown? 8 weeks to go.

April 1, 2011

The Unhappy Hour

One of the great things about our temporary relocation is the opportunity to try new restaurants. When E's folks were in town, we ate out for every meal, both in the greater Seattle area and in Whistler.

We still have plans to hit up Salumi, Mario Battali's dad's deli, one of these days, but that will likely need to wait for a weekend so we can make a full Seattle day of it.

Due to the economic downturn, many of the fancy restaurants in the Seattle area have taken to having happy hour menus with small plates in the restaurant's theme and lower priced drinks. Since we live within walking distance of downtown Bellevue, we can walk to many of these options in less than 5 minutes. Additionally, some of the restaurants have taken to offering the happy hour menu again, after the traditional dinner hour. This results in the interesting side effect that the happy hour menu is available from 3 - midnight in many of these restaurants with only a short break from 6:30 to 9 or so.

So, we've taken to eating only during happy hour (or avoiding the "unhappy hour" as I like to call it) at some of our favorite restaurants like Seastar (a walk to an early dinner of half-priced oysters, deviled eggs, and raw fish?), Daniel's Broiler (early or late deliciousness with a view of Seattle from the 21st floor), and John Howie Steak (Did someone say *fried* gnochi?).

There are several more options we're looking forward to trying like Pearl and Monsoon.

Unfortunately, my favorite local restaurant, Din Tai Fung does not have happy hour, nor do they take reservations. So we go there at odd hours to avoid the 1.5 hour wait as well. E's favorite restaurant, Sushimaru is so reasonably priced that every seat along the conveyor belts are full with a wait on the benches along the wall during workday lunch and dinner hours.

In short, the traditional eating hours are not a good time to be eating at restaurants in the Seattle area. But if you're flexible on time, you can get quite a great deal.