Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Back by popular demand

I've had a few requests to start up again, so here we go! I was considering starting a separate blog dedicated to my greyhounds, but yeah, it seems easier just to go with the one. So I'll use labels and those of you interested in my training can read those posts and those of you interested in my dogs can read those! There should probably be some cat posts in there as well or Tissy, Bergamo and Gaffer might get offended. They are still in the majority after all!

So ... in March I posted about adopting a second greyhound. Unfortunately he didn't work out and went back to GAP after a few days. He is now back where he belongs though, happy with his trainers who love and adore him.

We licked our wounds for a little while then in May I was exchanging drunken messages on Facebook on the bus ride home (as you do) when I spotted a four year old white boy with a blue patch on one side of his face who sounded perfect. I was just tipsy enough to get home and show his adoption page on the GAP website to Hamish. Hamish thought he sounded perfect. He was in Kaiapoi so I called up the kennel manager and ...

It turned out Desiree, the Kaiapoi manager, was heading through Wellington in a few days' time and had space in her dog trailer. So before I knew it we were welcoming Mask (racing name Shadow Wolf), off the Interislander ferry.

After a day or two of deep thinking, Mask became Harvey, short for Harvey Dent, the two-faced man from Batman. We had four days to decide whether he would work for us or not before Desiree headed back through Wellington on her way home. It was quickly clear however that Harvey wasn't going anywhere.

So now we are a two-dog, three-cat household. I was assured that two greyhounds were not that much more work than one. Initially I didn't find that to be the case. That is probably because Em was such a mellow, quiet girl. Harvey was supposed to be calm and quiet but .... wasn't - at least initially. Boys are definitely different from girls, and he seemed much more boisterous to me.

Harvey was much more curious about the cats than Em, who is slightly scared of them. He wasn't at all predatory, but he wanted to sniff them to kingdom come. Our cats were obviously not too keen on that! Four and a half months in, Harvey is generally pretty good. The cats stay clear when he is at his most energetic - first thing in the morning and when we get home in the evening. Once he has had his dinner he crashes, and then Bergamo will join us in the lounge. The other two - Gaffer and Tissy - are less keen on hanging out in the lounge with him. Gaffer will join us if we carry him in, but generally walks in and hangs out in the bedroom. Tissy prefers to hang out in the bedroom but is starting to make forays into the lounge. This is way ahead of the progress we made acquainting them to Em. Harvey did manage to bail up Tissy in the hallway tonight, burying his nose in her fluff, but she gave him a jolly good hiss before retreating outside. A few minutes ago she wandered down the hallway and headed for our bedroom, so clearly she's not been too traumatised.

We originally thought Em wouldn't appreciate another grey in the house, but a couple of weeks in Bannockburn with my father-in-law's Jack Russell puppy proved that she could share territory with another dog. She put Harvey in his place a few times in the first couple of weeks, but now they quite happily share a selection of sofas and beds. In fact Harvey has taught Em how to be more cuddly. She never used to share our sofa but now, in an obvious attempt to beat Harvey to the favoured spot, she will jump up on to the sofa with us and snuggle on in.

I'm still regularly amazed by the differences between Em and Harvey. They can both be quite anxious dogs, but show it in different ways. Harvey will get noisier and more boisterous, Em retreats. Harvey has to be near us. If it were up to him he would sleep on our bed every night. That will never happen - at least not while we still have cats - but he certainly pushes the boundaries and comes in to wake us at first light.

Harvey loves sofa cuddles. Last night he was taking up 2/3 of the sofa while Hamish and I squeezed up together at one end. Harvey scootched up until he was lying across Hamish's lap with his nose on mine. Bergamo then joined us, lying so that they were practically nose-to-nose. Harvey then fell into a deep greyhound sleep, involving contented groans, snorts and snores. Hilarity ensued, with Hamish and I completely unable to control our laughter.

Emmie is what Desiree described as a 'jesus hound', perfect in every way. She is elegant, beautiful, intelligent and she loves us. Harvey is a big, boisterous and impulsive boy. He needed a little more work to settle in at home, and he has needed more training to socialise him around other dogs. The two complement each other fantastically. Our lives will never be the same, and that is definitely a good thing!

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's been just over a year ...

It's been a while - just over a year since my last post. I am thinking of resurrecting this blog again as my primary running/cycling/living blog. However I also want to establish a second blog.

In March last year our lives changed when we brought Emmie (racing name Living the Dream) into our lives. Em is a gorgeous five year old blue and white former racing greyhound. I regret not chronicling her first year with us, though it's all out there on Facebook. I had no idea adopting a dog would change our lives so fundamentally, or that my routine would become centred around being a dog mum. A year in and I'm learning to balance playdates with training, a career and a social life. So what do we decide to do?  Adopt another! There are so many brilliant greyhound blogs out there I thought it might be fun to create one of my own. After having been so slack with the whole blogging thing I can't make any promises, but keep checking in and I may be back with another blog announcement some time soon.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentines Day 2013 (14 years married)

When the sun went down
it was immediately 
cold and
sound crystalised in the air
over Taranaki Wharf
and fought for space
with the stars and
the transmitter lights
on Mt Vic.
This isn't dancing,
let alone dancing in
the sun
but it has a similar
feel and meaning.
You, me, music,
and a universe. 

*Written while waiting for Porcelain Toy to start playing at the Performance Arcade.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Goodbye 2012

2012 - the year we lost Ede to Feline Infectious Peritonitus at the age of 12.  One afternoon she lost control of her bladder, the next day we took her to the vet and less than 24 hours later she was gone.  Her passing felt like the end of an era, as we'd bought her not long after we got married, and just before we moved into our first apartment.

It didn't take long for me to call Gaffer's breeder to ask to be put on the waiting list for a lilac Burmese girl.  The house felt too quiet with just two cats.  Hamish's thoughts however turned to getting a dog, and we started making inquiries into adopting a retired racing greyhound.  We spent much of the last half of 2012 reclaiming our back yard from blackberry and building a fence.

I didn't get much running done in the first half of the year.  I injured my shoulder just before 2012 rolled in, and that took four months to come right.  Just as I was getting back into things I strained my right satorious muscle and that took another couple of months to fix.  By that time I'd lost most of my run fitness and gained yet more weight. That said, I really enjoyed the time I spent out on the trails on my own, without having to keep up with anyone else's pace.

 I went through a phase of being in love with the Skyline track, before formally adopting Transient and the trails around Polhill and the wind turbine as my spiritual home.

I picked up a cheap mountain bike off Trademe and managed to get Hamish out on a couple of easy rides.  Unfortunately his bike needs a little percussive maintenance and he's a bit limited in his gear ratio as a result.  Must remember to get that fixed!  I headed into Makara Peak a few times, most memorably with my trainer Duck.  Duck convinced me to try an intermediate trail and I lost my nerve, however it was on the comparatively easy Lazy Fern that I took my first spill, memorably captured on my helmet cam.

The mountain bike did make it easier to explore further round Wellington's coasts however, and we were blessed with some stunning days in which to do so.

Road cycling was something that, like the running, never got to where it should have this year.  The injuries put me way behind schedule when Taupo training started, and I was well over race weight.  I'd started my second new job of the year and was in the midst of recruiting and training a new team whilst still trying to learn my own role.  A trip to Canberra for work also disrupted my cycling.

And then we brought home a little speck of a kitten and my motivation to leave the house to go for a bike ride plummeted to an all-time low. Meet Bergamo.

Who could have known that such a tiny ball of fluff could be so much work?  We spent the first week trying to get her to eat.  We would take her to bed with us every night and she would stay there till we rose in the morning. I'd never had such a small Burmese before and felt overwhelmingly protective.

Thankfully after a week Bergamo found her appetite (and her voice) and came out of her shell.  She started growing and hasn't stopped.  Gaffer was quickly besotted, at least until she grew large enough to be able to jump on him with a modicum of force.  Now he sits there and howls until we rescue him from her enthusiasm.

By the time Taupo came around there was no way I was ready to ride 160km.  I instead rode the first 80km then executed a planned DNF, making the most of the bus ride back to the startline, a cold cider at the motel and my private spa pool.

Not long after that I was flying premium economy all the way to Geneva for four days of meetings.  I had a half day free - long enough for a cruise on the lake.  Looks beautiful but it was -11 when I arrived, and we had a full day of snow. What with breakfast meetings at 7.30am, a full day of conference, and formal dinners and evening meetings there wasn't any time to run, even if I'd had the warm gear required.

On the way back I had two days in London for more meetings, and an evening of fun with these two lovely people.

London rained. I was really happy to be home.

Everything at home was. Tissy is still not best pleased with our new addition, but will tolerate her unless she gets too close, then short, sharp retribution is in order.

A last minute hitch with catsitting arrangements led to Hamish heading off to Central Otago for Christmas, and me spending some quiet time at home.  A beautiful Christmas day provided an opportunity for a bike ride around the Bays.

Most of the time though it was just me and the cats.

Who continued to be incredibly cute.

So where does that leave things?  2012 was an amazing year.  I didn't really achieve my fitness goals, but had a lot of fun all the same.  I got into Overload, an extremely intense crossfit style programme at my gym.  I also continued to train with Duck, both individually and in groups.  However at the end of the year I felt the least fit I have been in a long time, and am certainly the heaviest.

A lot of that had to do with work.  Three different jobs in one year is a lot of change, even if it's good change. I love my new role but I do feel the pressure.  It's not going to ease off this year either, as my team have two conferences we are organising, both being held in April, and have also taken over as Chair of an important international engagement. Oh, and one of the conferences starts on my 40th birthday. That has scuttled plans to cycle the Central Otago rail trail ...

I finished the year feeling quite drained and in need of a solid break.  Unfortunately not being able to go down south has meant I haven't been able to get away and I'm worried I'm going to head back to work in two weeks not feeling refreshed.  2013 is going to be huge as well, especially as we are on the waiting list for our greyhound. If Tissy doesn't like Bergamo then she's in for a real shock ...

So what do I have planned for 2013?  Obviously I need to get fit again.  I also want to find some of the energy and motivation I had some years ago.  Hopefully those two things will go together. I'm going to enjoy watching Bergamo grow, and I look forward to the day we get to bring a dog home. So all up, more of the same, just better!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Two in One Day

Well, the last couple of months have been interesting here in my world.  I started a new job, which turned out to be more of an adjustment than I'd anticipated. Oh, and I decided to try coming off one of my medications again.  That worked really well until it didn't.  I am in fact still trying to get over that little mistake. Lesson learned I guess, which is a bit of a disappointment, but right now I'm just busy trying to get things back to normal.  That and trying not to feel fed up with being problematic.

Anyhow, on to other things.  Through everything one thing that has remained constant has been my running. I might be feeling way too heavy, I might be feeling slow, and I may have had some bad runs, but at least I've still been getting out there.  When I'm not in the right headspace for 5.30am starts and hardcore group training sessions it's good that I've been able to hang onto at least that.

A few weeks ago the squad ran up to Colonial Knob. My legs were shattered from the start and I crumbled on the stairs, eventually limping my way up to the Knob well behind everyone else, then running slowly back down with the stitch.  I got in the car and drove home trying not to snivel and feeling quite demoralised.  In that mindframe (and with my legs even more shattered) there was no way I was getting up to run even the short Xterra Woolshed run the next day.  The squad reported back that both options were hard and horrid, so staying in bed didn't seem such a bad thing.

Since then I've had both good runs and bad runs, but I've been finding my legs haven't been recovering that quickly and that I've had to take a bit more rest as a result.  I had a brilliant run up Transient, Highbury Fling and the Rollercoaster trails in Aro Valley, then had an ok run up Mt Victoria the next day.  I followed that with a brilliant run up around Wadestown on a perfect autumn evening (of which there's been rather a large number this year).  Unfortunately all those hills caught up with me when Duck had us running up nearly every flight of stairs in town on Wednesday night.

Thursday was a rest day, and my legs were exhausted.  Duck and I had a session on Friday morning - yet another beautiful autumn morning.  We mostly worked on my upper body - especially my shoulders, but there must have been just enough leg stuff to ensure that when I went out to run yesterday that I was still feeling tired. Oh well, nothing to be done and two runs to get under my belt.

8am Saturday morning saw the squad assembling at a calm, crisp Days Bay.

We ran a variation of Butterfly Creek, entering at the bus depot, and coming out at McKenzie Road.  We ran (and walked) straight up over 200 metres, then it was down into a lovely flat to undulating section of bush trail that was even under foot and quite blissful. Unfortunately the downhill meant one last climb up again, although easier than the initial climb.  From there it was down an at times steep trail down to McKenzie Rd, then a short road run back to Days Bay again and cups of hot tea.

The hills were hard, primarily due to my tired legs, but I had a blast running through the valley along the stream.  The trails were in an excellent state and I finished feeling quite invigorated.  Except of course that wasn't where things finished ...

Later that day I was on my way to Karori to take part in yet another Xterra run, this time the Starlight Run in the Makara mountain bike park. I was feeling quite nervous as this was my first nighttime trail run.

This year the Xterra crew were victims of their own success.  Nearly 300 runners turned up, with registration running overtime.  In the end those of us who had already registered walked up the road to the start, where we waited for stragglers.  The long course eventually left, looking quite impressive as they all streamed up the four wheel drive trail, and then a few minutes later we short course runners were let loose.

My feelings about this run are mixed.  Ulimtately, as a slow trail runner, I would not do this course again in this format.  The trails just aren't wide enough for that number of runners. We short coursers started off running the same route as the long coursers, but turned sooner to loop back around.  Unfortunately the long course was not sufficiently longer, and the gap between the two waves not long enough.  After we'd run up the four wheel drive track, followed by a bit of a downhill, we turned onto a narrow and twisty single track.  Almost immediately we were being passed by long course runners.  I added a good ten minutes or so just moving to one side and slowing to let runners through.  I was accompanied by a man with his young son and he was getting quite irate - almost to the point where if a passing runner had said the wrong thing I think he would have had a go at them.  He wasn't exactly being encouraging of his son either and I wouldn't blame the kid if he never wanted to run again, but that's another story.

My problems were exacerbated by equipment issues.  My headlamp wasn't bright enough and the torch I was supplementing it with wasn't much additional help.  To add to that about halfway through my headlamp started falling down my forehead and hitting my glasses.  I spent a few kilometres pushing it back up until I eventually just took it off and held it.

I can't be too hard on myself.  Given the vertigo issues I'm having at the moment, my poor eyesight, and my general clumsiness I did something amazing just being out there at all.  Even going over hard at one point didn't stop me.  There were runners coming up behind me so I just got up and kept on running. I ran as much as I could, even when my running pace wasn't much faster than a walk.  I tried not to let the constant sound of runners coming up behind me freak me out too much, and I tried not to freak out too much when I was running on my own with no one else around me.

By the time we got to Lazy Fern though I have to admit I was a little bit over it.  The run was supposed to be 5 to 6km, but in the end was 8, which meant I ran 18k all up yesterday. No wonder I was a bit tired!  I passed a couple of women with a young girl at a junction in the trail debating whether to take a shortcut back to the start.

I walked a fair bit of Lazy Fern, then in my eagerness to get back to the finish ran faster than I really should have back down the four wheel drive track to the finish.  At the end I grabbed a cup of sports drink then extracted myself from a conversation with another runner acquaintance. By the time I'd walked back down to the car I was freezing.  I cranked up the car heater and drove back to Brooklyn where I stopped for dinner.  The shop had a gas heater going so I stood inches from it thawing out.  By the time I got home it was raining fairly steadily.

So there it was, my first night run.  Today my right hip flexor hates me, and last night I had the worst charlie horse in my right calf.  Thankfully today's been horridly windy and wet, so hanging out on the sofa hasn't been a hardship.  If I'm going to do a run like that again I'm going to have to get a better lamp, and I need to practice!  Oh, and if I'm going to keep running up multiple big hills I'm going to have to lose some weight.

But first I have to hang on till the medication starts working properly again.  Only about another week with any luck!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A connection between my Addison's and Inflammation?

Ok, so this is talking about cortisol in the sense of the body becoming resistant to it, but I think there are interesting correlations. If the body's inability to use cortisol leads to inflammation then perhaps too low levels of cortisol could have a similar response. In other words, perhaps I need to up my medication when I'm injured after all.

Original post and podcast here.

Concrete evidence linking chronic stress to inflammation and modern disease

Chris Kresser: All right, so the first study is right in line with the April Best Your Stress Challenge, and if you haven’t heard of this, go check out my blog, You now, there are a lot of 30-day diet challenges. There’s the Whole30, and there’s the Personal Paleo Code, my program where we ask people to give the Paleo diet a try for 30 days and give it that chance to change their lives and make a big difference in their health. But I’ve talked a lot about the importance of stress management and improving stress tolerance and mitigating the impacts of the stress that we can’t get rid of on our life, so I thought it would be a good idea to spend April doing a 30-day Best Your Stress Challenge. So, the idea is to apply that same concept of a 30-day diet challenge to stress management, and I wrote a post about this a little while back, I think, on March 30 and offered some ideas for what people can do to manage their stress throughout the month of April and just to make a commitment and preferably a small, fairly manageable one because oftentimes we have a tendency to commit to more than we can do and then we don’t follow through, so just setting a small goal, like meditating for 10 minutes in the morning or doing a deep relaxation exercise every afternoon or taking a walk in the woods or on the beach — whatever it is that helps you manage your stress — and doing that throughout the whole month of April and seeing how that improves your health overall.

So, the other day, I saw a new study with the title Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk, and since I’ve been thinking a lot about stress and the effects of stress on disease, I thought it would be a good idea to talk a little bit about this study because it’s really interesting, and it takes our traditional concept of how stress contributes to disease and kinda turns it on its head. It’s some relatively new information. I’ve seen a few other studies with a similar theme, and if anything, it just reinforces what we’ve been talking about in terms of the connection between stress and disease and the importance of managing stress and either reducing the symptoms of a disease that we already have or helping to cure it entirely or preventing the risk of acquiring a new disease. So, stress is associated with just about every modern disease that you can name, from depression to cardiovascular disease to type 2 diabetes to autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis to upper respiratory infections and even the common cold. And up until pretty recently and still now, I think, most people think that stress causes disease by dysregulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, but this notion that stress acts simply by elevating cortisol levels is becoming less and less likely, at least in the current scientific literature. So, what this new paper and other recent papers suggest is that it’s actually the sensitivity of cells or the target tissue to cortisol, not absolute levels of cortisol that’s most important. So, glucocorticoid resistance, which is a decrease in sensitivity of immune cells to glucocorticoid hormones like cortisol, makes it more difficult to shut off the inflammatory response. So, let me break that down. When you’re insulin resistant, you’re producing enough insulin, but your cells are resistant to the effects of insulin, so it’s like insulin’s knocking on the door, but nobody’s inside or whoever’s inside isn’t listening, so the door doesn’t get open, and insulin can’t perform its function. The same is true with leptin resistance, and there’s even thyroid hormone resistance where thyroid hormone can’t activate the cellular receptors for thyroid hormone, so even though there’s plenty of thyroid hormone circulating around, you experience all the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism because thyroid hormone isn’t affecting the receptor.

So, this study and others like it suggest that there’s a similar phenomenon with cortisol resistance. So, it’s not high levels of cortisol, per se, that are contributing to an increased susceptibility of disease, but it’s instead the insensitivity of cellular receptors to cortisol that’s the problem, because one of cortisol’s jobs is to turn off the inflammatory response once it gets started. So, let’s say you catch a cold or you get a cut or you have some kind of injury or illness, and inflammation is the natural response to that. Inflammation is not all bad. In an acute setting, inflammation is what helps us to heal. The problem happens when inflammation doesn’t get turned off appropriately, and then it just kinda runs wild and you get chronic inflammation, and it’s that chronic inflammation that is a risk factor for disease, not the acute inflammation that helps us to heal. So, in a normal functioning person, what would happen is that you’d get a cold or you’d get some kind of injury or acute condition that causes inflammation, and then the glucocorticoids, like cortisol, are produced and they turn off the inflammatory response by activating the glucocorticoid receptors. So, what these researchers have found is that people who are under chronic stress, that doesn’t work right. The cortisol gets secreted, but it doesn’t activate the receptors, and then you get a runaway inflammatory response. And this has been shown in other studies. They’ve found that cortisol resistance is present in spouses of brain cancer patients, in parents of children with cancer, and in people that are very lonely, and all of those populations are known to be experiencing significant stress.

So, in this study, the researchers used, I think, a pretty ingenious model to demonstrate this effect. I mean, it’s well established that chronic stress increases the susceptibility to the common cold and upper respiratory infections, as I mentioned earlier. So, the researchers actually did two studies in one. The first one was meant to determine whether stress causes cortisol resistance and whether people with cortisol resistance are more likely to develop a common cold in the first place. And then the second one was meant to determine whether cortisol resistance could predict the amount of local inflammation in the nose, for example, in response to a viral infection. So what they did is they actually purposely infected people with a virus, a rhinovirus that causes the common cold and respiratory infection, and as expected in the first study, the results did show that exposure to stress increased cortisol resistance, and in the control group they found that exposure to an acute stressor was associated with white blood cell count, but in the group that was under chronic stress there was no association. So, in other words, what should happen is that when you’re exposed to a stressor, as I mentioned, cortisol should turn off the inflammatory response and reduce the white blood cell count, but that didn’t happen in people that were under chronic stress and had cortisol resistance.

In the second study, they found a correlation between cortisol resistance and the levels of various proinflammatory cytokines locally, like interleukin-6 and TNF-alpha. And then they also saw a decreased sensitivity of white blood cells to the inhibitory effects of cortisol, like we’ve been talking about. So, in other words, when you’re stressed out, the immune system cannot turn off the inflammatory response like it’s supposed to, and then you’re more likely not only to get sick in the first place, but you’re more likely to stay sick for longer because that inflammatory process doesn’t get inhibited. So, the interesting thing also about this study is that there was no correlation between actual cortisol levels, like circulating cortisol levels, and disease risk or inflammation. So, it seems like it’s the cellular receptivity to cortisol, the sensitivity of the receptors to the actions of cortisol, that’s the most important, rather than the circulating levels of cortisol themselves. So, I thought that was pretty interesting, and it may not change things from from an end-user perspective too much because the idea is still that you want to take steps to manage your stress, but for me, every study I see like this is just another affirmation of the importance of stress management, and I see it in my work with my patients, I see it in my own life and my own experience, and people might be getting tired of hearing me talk about it, but I’m gonna keep talking about it because I thinks it’s kinda the elephant in the room in a lot of cases. In my patient population, I think I can pretty safely say that people who are taking active steps to manage their stress have significantly better clinical outcomes than people who don’t, and I just think it’s a much bigger contributor to the whole disease process than most of us really realize.

Steve Wright: That’s pretty insightful, man. And I thinks it’s awesome that we’re getting more data on what the problem is because you do hear a lot about, well, you’re not totally stressed out or you can go do another CrossFit workout as long as your cortisol isn’t over 20 or something like that.

Chris Kresser: Yeah.

Steve Wright: So, this is cool to have a new model. Now, do you know if, for instance, because we’re a little bit better at measuring insulin resistance and leptin resistance, are the three correlated? So, if I’m insulin resistant, I’m likely leptin resistant or I am leptin resistant. Am I also cortisol resistant then?

Chris Kresser: I don’t know what the exact relationship between all of those would be, but I certainly think that HPA axis dysregulation can contribute in some way to leptin and insulin resistance and probably vice versa. I wish there was a way of testing for cortisol resistance in the commercial setting. I don’t think there is. I think it’s only available in research settings. But what’s interesting about this study is that I think, like you said, the idea that we can just run an adrenal stress index or any kind of hormone profile where we measure cortisol, and if the person has normal cortisol we say: OK, you’re clear to do, you know, five CrossFit workouts a week. We can’t really make that assumption because that test is not gonna show cortisol resistance in the white blood cells. I think ultimately just paying attention to symptoms is a pretty good guide because if you have this cortisol resistance pattern, you’re gonna have more difficulty recovering from workouts because that inflammatory response won’t get turned off. I mean, working out, especially lifting weights, but doing any kind of intense workout is basically like a controlled stimulation of inflammation. You’re breaking down tissue when you lift weights. You’re breaking down your muscle tissue, and the idea is that when it builds back, it builds back bigger and more able to deal with the next stressor, in that case, lifting weights. So, that works well if you give the body long enough to recover, if you give the body long enough to turn off that inflammation and then to start the anabolic process rather than the catabolic process of building the tissue back up. And if you’re a healthy person with no significant stress levels and you’re not dealing with any chronic inflammatory condition, that should happen fairly quickly and commensurately with the amount of exercise that you did. But if you’re dealing with chronic stress and you have cortisol resistance, here’s what’s gonna happen: You’ll do the intense workout, you break your tissue down, which is what happens and is the whole point, but the recovery process will be very, very slow, and the inflammation will persist. So, instead of taking one day or maybe two days to get back to baseline and then start building new tissue, stronger tissue, you’ll take several days to get back to baseline, or maybe you really never fully do get back to baseline. And then you do another intense workout, so then you break down more tissue and cause more inflammation, and then it’s a downhill slide from there. And I see this a lot in the CrossFit community, people who come to me who have been doing CrossFit. And this is not all people who do CrossFit. I’m talking about people who are under significant stress and who may be dealing with a chronic health challenge. But the fact is most of us in this modern world are under stress, and some of us are better at managing it than others, and some of us pay more attention to that than others, but I think this is a very real phenomenon and it’s not just affecting people who have kids with cancer or spouses with cancer or people who are socially isolated. It’s affecting all of us to some degree or another.

Steve Wright: Way to wrap that up. I think it’s important to keep learning about it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter Adventures and More Medical Pondering

Oriental Bay, March 2012. Not a breath of wind.

So what's a girl to do when Easter throws up perfect weather here in Wellington? Don't forget, it's autumn in New Zealand, and Welly's not exactly known for its climate at the best of times. It was a very lacklustre summer, so it's been pleasant to be gifted an ideal autumn Easter break.
Devil's Gate, Southern Coast of Wellington

My next event is a trail half marathon this Saturday. It's a fairly flat course and mostly on forestry tracks, so not too technical. On Saturday I went out on my last long training run - two hours around the flat, gravelly and sandy trail out past Red Rocks. The first four or so kilometres are fairly straightforward, but then the trail deteriorates and is interspersed with big banks of gravelly rocks which have to be gingerly traversed, or deep sand which has to be waded through.

After Devil's Gate I was almost completely on my own. It was just me, the hills to my right, and the sea to my left. So incredibly beautiful and so remote-feeling despite being so close to my country's capital city. After about eight and a half kilometres the hills turned into a huge sand dune which begs for a repeat visit for some sliding. The road became deep sand. I turned around and plodded slowly back to the car park. On the way back I sort of lost interest and energy and it was not a negative split by any means.

Cooling my legs in the sea at the end of my run.

The lacklustre nature of this run concerned me in that it followed a week of absolute exhaustion. I had become a fan of the afternoon nap, and was cultivating a close relationship with the sofa. Even with the beautiful weather and free time I had lost my mojo and just wanted to sit around.

Was I prepared to let myself do that? Well, no. I decided to let the housework and gardening slide instead!

Looking from Red Rocks car park towards Pencarrow

On Sunday I went out for a road ride with a friend, Karen, and a new women's riding pack. We were scheduled to do an easy ride of the Bays here in Wellington - about two hours and mostly flat. I should have known I was in trouble. My friend and her riding partner have been training seriously for some big cycling events lately. Another girl has just come off Ironman training, and a couple of the others just looked very fit in general.

I coped easily while we were on the flat but got owned when we climbed the five kilometres to the top of Brooklyn Hill. Karen even came back looking for me. So embarrassing. I guess my legs were more tired from the day before than I'd thought, and I really need some more bike time!

The lower of the two Pencarrow lighthouses.

After yet another afternoon nap on Sunday I was up again for a mountainbike ride with my friend Julia. I was really feeling quite worn out by this stage, but I knew I was a faster rider than Julia so figured I could take it easy. We started from the car park at the end of Eastborne, on the opposite side of the harbour from the car park I'd run from on the Saturday.

This wasn't exactly hard core cycling. For the most part it's an easy ride on a four wheel drive track. It's only the last four or so kilometres which get a bit more technical as the track slowly peeters out. We finished up in gravelly sand at Baring Head, a popular rock climbing site. The land around Baring Head has recently been purchased from private ownership to be turned into public reserve. I'm planning to return to explore the trails inland, and the historic lighthouse and farm buildings. Such an amazing asset for the city.

We'd had what seemed like beautifully calm conditions on the way out, but it only seemed that way because of the stonking Northerly headwind we turned into on the way back. It was a total slog back to the car and I was really quite shattered by the time we finished. It was all I could do to get my bike into my car and drive home. I spent the afternoon getting off the sofa in short bursts to tick chores off my to-do list. All the same, I was feeling so lucky and grateful to be able to spend my weekend outdoors doing what I love.

Through the whole weekend (and most of last week) I'd had a headache, and by yesterday I was starting to worry that my surgery might have failed and that I'd soon be back in hospital again. I'd lost my appetite and all motivation, and last night's squad run was a non-event.

Then I looked at my calendar and realised it had been four months since my last B12 shot. Guess what I had this afternoon? Guess who feels a lot better already? Yes. I'm an idiot. Don't let me make that mistake again!