Monday, February 21, 2011

Gettin' busy!

The weather's picking up, the training's picking up...woo hoo! Time to throw the bike on the car and head out to some long ride locations.

Friday I got out for my first ride after the bike fit. WOW! I really didn't realize what a difference having my bike custom adjusted to me would make. I did an 18 mile ride out Padden Parkway to a friend's house and back. It was a crisp 40 degrees (warmed up 9 degrees from when I got up). I could not believe how smooth the ride was. I don't know really how else to explain it, but everything was smooth and connected. No slack, full power all the way through the pedal stroke. I actually picked up 2 mph on my average pace, which is fantastic considering the last half of my ride was in the pouring rain! I'm convinced! If you haven't done it, make an appointment to get a professional bike fitting--if you're in the Portland area, contact Russell Cree at Upper Echelon Fitness.

So my bike stats:
Cannondale Synapse Road Bike, 53cm
170 Cranks
Shimano SPD Pedals
Terry Butterfly Saddle
Specialized Shoes, mountain bike clips
Saddle Height (center of BB to top of saddle in line with seat tube): 71cm
Saddle Fore/aft (tip of saddle relative to center of BB): -5cm
Reach (tip of saddle to center of handlebars):  50.5cm
Drop (top of saddle to top of bars): -4cm
I've started "stacking" my workouts, doing back-to-back training workouts, such as Zumba and then cycling, Boot Camp and then yoga, swimming and then lifting, etc. I'm trying to up the intensity and get my body used to changing activities one after the other to get ready for brick training (the transition from swim to bike and bike to run). I can tell it's more work on my 18 mile ride was right after Zumba and I could really feel my legs. The weather was beautiful Saturday so I did an impromptu 7 mile run even though it was supposed to be a rest day, and my hip flexors were really barking at me by the end. Sunday and today are rest days now.

I took my friend Theresa with me to the Portland Triathlon Club Coffee Hour Saturday so she could meet folks. She's done a sprint and an Olympic triathlon and has trained on her own for them; she's excited to meet others to train with. We'll be heading to Hood River next month to visit ProMotion Wetsuits to check out their women's tri suits--we've heard great things about them.

Stuff coming up...I'm going to attend a free Triathlon Tips 101 class offered through Portland Parks and Recreation, have the next Tri Club meeting with a bike maintenance clinic beforehand, and the 15K Shamrock Run in Portland with high school girlfriends Seriny and Patty. Working on scheduling training with tri buddies Christine and Theresa and others I've met at Tri Club. Also planning on checking out some rides with the Portland Velo Club; I met the club president at Upper Echelon during my fitting and sounds like they have some great rides.

So, here's my tenative 2011 Race Schedule (I was able to finalize it since we had vacation picks last week at work!):
May 14 Portland Tri Club Mock Triathlon, Vancouver Lake
June 26 Iron Girl Sprint Tri, Haag Lake
July 31 Midsummer Sprint Tri, Blue Lake
Aug 21 Portland Triathlon Sprint
Sept 4 Stumptown Sprint Tri, Blue Lake

I got a little excited about triathlons I think...  :o)

Will be looking for volunteers to help me in the transition area during the tri events, let me know if you're interested!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Are you riding across the US?...Do you have a defibrillator in there?

Today I had my performance bike fitting by Russell Cree at Upper Echelon Fitness in Portland. I admit, I felt a little like Lance Armstrong in my tri suit, bike on a trainer, having my movement analyzed by a computer. The whole process took about 2-1/2 hours, and at one time, I had three people surrounding my bike working on it! It was a great experience.

Knee, ankle, and toe sensors
Russell had asked that I bring/wear what I carry and wear on my rides, including tri suit, shoes, etc. I made sure all of my normal accessories were attached: water bottles, tire pump, bag on front and under my seat. As he was taking my bike upstairs to the fitting area he teased, "Geez, you have a lot of bags on here, are you planning to ride across the United States or something"? So I told him that I was a firefighter paramedic and that the front pack was my first aid kit, that I never ride without it. His reply, "That's a big you have a defibrillator in there?!?" He appreciated that I carried it, saying that they usually have physicians and emergency responders in the rides and races who do the same thing. "You will lose the race, you know, when you stop and help someone...but I'm sure they'd comp your next race." It cracked me up!

Retül sensor bar

Russell uses the Retül dynamic fitting system, which measures biomechanical motion in 3D (up, down, toward, and away from the bike) using infrared LED markers. Little LED markers are attached at the wrist, elbow, shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, heel, and toe and a sensor bar out eight or so feet from the side of the rider reads the sensors and gathers the information in real time. During the ride, I could see a little stick figure on the screen showing my movement--very cool! The computer then analyzed the minute or so of my riding, determining joint angles and any lateral movement. Russell went over all the numbers with me, explaining what they were looking at and what the optimal numbers would be and how to adjust my bike to get that. 

Retül analysis
I was a little concerned that I might not be able to get adjusted into optimal numbers do to my congenital hip deformity that makes me pigeon-toed. Russell wasn't sure how that was going to affect my responsiveness to the bike adjustments, but it turned out not to be an issue at all. The analysis showed that I was pretty close to fitting my bike, but that I wasn't bent over low enough, my reach was too short, and that my right leg tracked a little out from the bike.

Seat adjustment
Russell lengthened my reach by moving my seat and installed a new handlebar stem that pushed my handlebars a little bit forward. After evaluating my handlebars, we determined that the drop of my handlebars (the lower handle) was so large that it was inefficient for me and led me not to ever use them--so I got new handlebars as well. Anyway, the old ones needed to be retaped (ha!). Molly Cameron of Portland Bicycle Studio, which shares the space with Upper Echelon Fitness, taped my new handlebars for me, "Because he's a perfectionist and does the best job of that," according to Russell. After adjusting my bike, Russell checked my shoes and adjusted the clips to change my thigh/tibia angle and give me more power and better tracking.

New stem and handlebars

The sensors stayed on because I was reanalyzed after changes to make sure they had the desired effect. I could actually feel a difference with the changes. My body is much lower now and I love the new handlebars; I can easily move to the lower grip and reach the integrated gear shift/brake levers now and will use that more often.

Russell recommended refitting when you feel you have changed as a rider. What does he mean? Well, as your body changes, as your performance changes. Perhaps you lose weight or notice that you have improved in that once hard hills are easy. For some, that is the start of every season.

So my bike is custom-fit to me now! It needs a little tune-up for the start of the season, so I'll get it to the bike shop for that. If it doesn't snow tomorrow, I'll get a ride in and check out the changes and hopefully, performance enhancement!

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Heart Day!

Happy Valentine's Day 2011!

This year I took care of my heart for Valentine's Day. My gift to myself was a copy of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD. I had read about his studies and program, and seen his information in Forks Over Knives (see my previous blog for more information on the movie), but I hadn't read his book. It was very enlightening about heart disease and diet. I will be doing a separate post on his findings soon. In addition, it was heart-healthy food and exercise for me in celebration of the holiday!

Training is going well. I had hoped to do some more running, but the days I had scheduled that were the mornings after some awful nights at the fire station without any sleep, so I got off work exhausted and came home to bed. I just couldn't get myself motivated later after a long morning nap. This week should be better, I hope! My bike fitting at Upper Echelon Fitness is Thursday and I can't wait! I'll post pics and info after the appointment.

This morning I signed myself and two friends up for the Shamrock Run in Portland, March 13. It's girlfriends' weekend here at Divefrog Manor that weekend, with Seriny and Patty coming for a fun weekend together--we decided that the Shamrock Run would be a wonderful celebration for us!

Wishing you all a Happy Heart Day!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Science of Vegan Diet

My blog post, Why I’m Vegan, explained that I chose to become vegan after learning about the health benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet, but it did not explain the science behind it. I tend to need more proof other than “it’s just good for you,” so let me share what I learned that led me to change. Note: This is an overview of what I have learned and I suggest that you check out the links and/or read for further information on these studies and topics. The amount of material on this topic is massive.

The China Study

In the early 1970s, Chinese premier Chou EnLai, who was dying from cancer, initiated a nationwide cancer census in China, a huge undertaking. The results of this cancer mortality survey were published in a 200 page atlas depicting the geographic distribution of cancer mortality. Although the overall cancer rate was dramatically less than the United States, the findings from this study were remarkable in that in a country with little genetic variation, cancer mortality rate varied dramatically, often 100 times (10,000%) greater, between geographic regions of China (compare this to the United States where cancer mortality only varies about two to three times from region to region). What this study didn’t answer was why.

An international research team, including T. Colin Campbell, PhD, set out to determine the basis for the findings of the China Study. This team evaluated 6,500 adults across China, running laboratory tests, evaluating everything they ate for a three day period, and compared 8,000 statistically significant associated variables between food, lifestyle, and disease. What they found was that disease grouping was associated most strongly with economic development. Areas with stronger economic development suffered from “Diseases of Affluence” such as cancer, diabetes, and coronary heart disease, at rates similar to Western countries, such as the United States.

Dr. Campbell and his team took the information from the China Study and earlier research done on the link between the consumption of animal protein and cancer. These earlier studies, in rats, found that diets high in animal protein (20% protein diet) increased cancer development, as compared to diets low (5%) in protein. The rats in these studies were administered a carcinogen (aflatoxin) known to initiate cancer growth; half were given a 20% protein diet and the other 5%. At the end of the study (100 weeks, a rat’s typical lifespan), all of the rats fed the 20% protein diet had died or were nearly dead from liver cancer, whereas all of the rats feed 5% protein were alive and thriving. To further test the hypothesis, halfway through the experiment some of the rats were switched to the other diet; those switched from a high protein diet to the low protein diet had diminished tumor growth and those switched from low to high had increased tumor growth. Researchers were able to turn cancer cell growth on and off through diet regulation. Several other studies found similar results, that nutrition had a greater impact on cancer growth than carcinogen exposure, and furthermore, nutrients from animal sources increased tumor development whereas plant-based foods decreased tumor development.

How did this link with the China Study? Areas in China with higher cancer rates were generally found to be those with higher economic development. Examination of the diets in China found that as economy developed and people had more money, they changed their eating habits, adding more expensive animal protein to a mainly plant-derived diet. This diet more resembles a Western diet, leading to “diseases of affluence” or, what Dr. Campbell calls “diseases of nutritional extravagance.”

More than Cancer

At the same time Dr. Campbell was researching the link between animal protein consumption and cancer rate, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn was researching the link between animal protein and heart disease. Dr. Esselstyn began his study in 1985 with 18 patients with severe coronary disease, with a total of 49 associated medical events including angina, coronary artery bypass graft surgeries, myocardial infarctions, strokes, and angioplasty; these patients were so severely ill that they had been told by other physicians that nothing more could be done for them. Patient’s in Dr. Esselstyn’s study were placed on a non-fat, plant-based, whole foods diet and evaluated. In the following eleven years, the group’s total cholesterol level dropped from 246 to 132, and their coronary artery disease has reversed. Only one patient had any cardiac event during the study, one who had strayed from the diet for a two year period and suffered angina, and then promptly returned to the diet. Another physician, Dr. Dean Ornish began a similar study, treating cardiac patients with nutrition rather than surgery, with remarkable results.

Plant-based diets also have a positive impact on diabetes and autoimmune diseases. The science behind the connection between autoimmune disease and animal protein has to do with the inflammatory response of our bodies from changes in pH. One of the most interesting things I have learned in my research has been the effect of animal protein consumption on osteoporosis, in that increased consumption of animal protein (like recommended dairy products) changes the pH of the body to such an extreme that your body robs calcium from your bones to return it to a more alkaline state, thus increasing bone loss even further. For further explanation, please see this presentation by Dr. Heitsch on Health and Nutrition from a recent Northwest Veg meeting.

Dr. Heitsch on Health and Nutrition from Keith Iding on Vimeo.

More Information

I encourage you to seek more information. There are tons of studies on these topics, including retrospective studies on vegan cultures such as Seventh Day Adventists, and lots more research. A documentary about the studies of Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn is soon to be released to the general public called Forks Over Knives. Mother Superior and I had the great opportunity to attend a premiere of this movie in Portland last November and got to meet Dr. Campbell and others associated with the film. Two previews are below; the movie is set to hit theaters May 2011. Dr. Esselstyn’s son, Rip, an Austin, Texas firefighter, is also profiled in the movie, and you may have heard about his Engine 2 Diet, a vegan diet that he introduced to his fellow firefighters and then published.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Dr. Dean Ornish and the Preventive Medicine Research Institute

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

Rip Esselstyn

Next post will address What I Eat!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Whoops! Missed a weekly posting!

Well, whoops! I missed my weekly posting date! Thanks, girlfriend Rachel, for keeping me honest and on track by subtly asking if my blog feed updater was broken...doh! Isn't that what makes girlfriends the BEST?!?

Lacamas Lake trail (in fall)
I've been keeping on track with working out. Most of my workouts recently have been in the gym due to the weather and I've been going at least 5 days a week. I'm still cross-training with running, swimming, boot camp, and Zumba. Had planned on a bike ride in there, but the weather did not cooperate. I was concerned that I wasn't getting enough running in to be able to work on increasing my running distances. In the past, I've done run training that focused only on running, which had varying short distance runs during the week and increasing long runs on the weekends; this training has a lot of variety but not as much running time. Well, apparently the cross-training I'm doing is helping my running....I did a 10K (6.5 mile) run yesterday that was just wonderful! I have to say it was one of my most delightful runs I've difficulty, no mental fighting, breathing was excellent, and the mileage ticked by almost without me paying attention to it. My longer run speeds usually drop a bit and yesterday I maintained a 10 minute mile throughout the entire run. So I'm pleased! The weather was great and I absolutely adore running Lacamas Lake. It is a gravel trail, which I prefer to run on, 5K length, with wonderful scenery. I did almost crush a salamander on the trail, but I managed to narrowly avoid him as he looked like dog poop! Lucky for him!

I went to the Portland Triathlon Club meeting last night (no freezing rain this month). It was great! They had a tire changing clinic beforehand that I went to. I do know how to change my tubes/tires thanks to the three tube disaster immediately before the start of my first Portland Bridge Pedal in 2007, but thought I'd go to maybe pick up some pointers and meet other newbies. Did get a tip and got to know another new gal while helping her learn the process. The meetings are held at Upper Echelon Fitness in NW Portland, a great facility! I checked out their website prior to heading down and I have to admit I was very intimidated about going there, it really is a hardcore cycling/triathlon training center, but it was very comfortable, people were very inviting an I didn't feel at all intimidated there. Russell Cree, DPT, of Upper Echelon Fitness, did a presentation on Bike Fitting. I will be calling today to make an appointment to have my bike fit to me after learning about the performance enhancement of having your bike properly fit to you. I had my bike sized to me when I purchased it from River City Bicycles (a great shop by the way, who spent hours with me getting the right bike in 2006), but have never had it fitted to me. I'm very, very excited about this! I already adore my bike and think the fitting will make it even better! More to come on this after I have my fitting!

I really like the Tri Club group! They are very inviting. Interestingly, the club is 60% women! It's laid back and fun, very informative, and you get a lot from your $40 annual membership: free training plans (distributed March 1 to prepare for this season), training events every day of the week all over the Portland metro area, equipment, vendor discounts, contacts, etc. And I won a $20 jug of electrolyte replacement powder (gluten-free, dairy-free, artificial sweetner-free, fructose sweetened) in a raffle at the meeting! Yay me! And, I'm now sporting a Portland Triathlon Club swim cap! Well, not while writing this blog, Ha!

This blog has been beneficial, not only as a way to keep me motivated, but has put me in contact with others with similar interests and created connections! Yesterday I heard from a friend from high school who has been following the blog via Facebook who is a triathlete AND vegan. She lives in Portland so we are going to be getting together in the next couple of weeks to catch up and talk about training and nutrition. What a great resource the Internet can be!

So stay tuned! More to come. I will be posting the next installment on being vegan this week. Also will post about my bike fitting when that happens. You may notice there is a new calendar on the blog now. I will be inputting races on there, I'm not going to all of those, it's just a way to keep me and other notified of what's out there and encourage participation. Upcoming events for me: Portland Shamrock 15K Run (if 100 people sign up with the Portland Triathlon Club, $5 per person will be donated to a PTC charity, yet to be determined by the club. Don't have to be a PTC member for this. Let me know if you are interested and I will give you the code to use during registration), and Portland Bridges to Brews 10K with girlfriend Rachel.

Also, Manager John, of Gag the Manager Podcast, and I were kicking around the idea of a Hood to Coast team next year....hint hint Charlie White.... any interest? Would need 12 people and van drivers, registration in October.