Saturday, January 30, 2010

A run in the Headlands

Yesterday, Suz, Florencia, and I started our run before it was even light outside. It was a nice, cold day on the coast and the views were amazing. My legs were a little tired after my 12.6 mile run on Thursday, but it was great to be out there among friends. Florencia and I clocked 23 miles and Suz continued on for another 5 or so. What a great day!

Here is an interesting article from the NY Times.

Phys Ed: How Exercising Keeps Your Cells Young

Chev Wilkinson/Getty Images

Recently, scientists in Germany gathered several groups of men and women to look at their cells’ life spans. Some of them were young and sedentary, others middle-aged and sedentary. Two other groups were, to put it mildly, active. The first of these consisted of professional runners in their 20s, most of them on the national track-and-field team, training about 45 miles per week. The last were serious, middle-aged longtime runners, with an average age of 51 and a typical training regimen of 50 miles per week, putting those young 45-mile-per-week sluggards to shame.

From the first, the scientists noted one aspect of their older runners. It ‘‘was striking,’’ recalls Dr. Christian Werner, an internal-medicine resident at Saarland University Clinic in Homburg, ‘‘to see in our study that many of the middle-aged athletes looked much younger than sedentary control subjects of the same age.’’

Even more striking was what was going on beneath those deceptively youthful surfaces. When the scientists examined white blood cells from each of their subjects, they found that the cells in both the active and slothful young adults had similar-size telomeres. Telomeres are tiny caps on the end of DNA strands — the discovery of their function won several scientists the 2009 Nobel Prize in medicine. When cells divide and replicate these long strands of DNA, the telomere cap is snipped, a process that is believed to protect the rest of the DNA but leaves an increasingly abbreviated telomere. Eventually, if a cell’s telomeres become too short, the cell ‘‘either dies or enters a kind of suspended state,’’ says Stephen Roth, an associate professor of kinesiology at the University of Maryland who is studying exercise and telomeres. Most researchers now accept telomere length as a reliable marker of cell age. In general, the shorter the telomere, the functionally older and more tired the cell.

It’s not surprising, then, that the young subjects’ telomeres were about the same length, whether they ran exhaustively or sat around all day. None of them had been on earth long enough for multiple cell divisions to have snipped away at their telomeres. The young never appreciate robust telomere length until they’ve lost it.

When the researchers measured telomeres in the middle-aged subjects, however, the situation was quite different. The sedentary older subjects had telomeres that were on average 40 percent shorter than in the sedentary young subjects, suggesting that the older subjects’ cells were, like them, aging. The runners, on the other hand, had remarkably youthful telomeres, a bit shorter than those in the young runners, but only by about 10 percent. In general, telomere loss was reduced by approximately 75 percent in the aging runners. Or, to put it more succinctly, exercise, Dr. Werner says, ‘‘at the molecular level has an anti-aging effect.’’

There are plenty of reasons to exercise — in this column, I’ve pointed out more than a few — but the effect that regular activity may have on cellular aging could turn out to be the most profound. ‘‘It’s pretty exciting stuff,’’ says Thomas LaRocca, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, who has just completed a new study echoing Werner’s findings. In Mr. LaRocca’s work, people were tested both for their V02max — or maximum aerobic capacity, a widely accepted measure of physical fitness — and their white blood cells’ telomere length. In subjects 55 to 72, a higher V02max correlated closely with longer telomeres. The fitter a person was in middle age or onward, the younger their cells.

There are countless unanswered questions about how and why activity affects the DNA. For instance, Dr. Werner found that his older runners had more activity in their telomerase, a cellular enzyme thought to aid in lengthening and protecting telomeres. Exercise may be affecting telomerase activity and not telomeres directly. In addition, Stephen Roth has been measuring telomeres and telomerase activity in a wide variety of tissues in mice and has found, he says, the protective effects from exercise only in some tissues.

Another question is whether we must run 50 miles a week to benefit. The answer ‘‘can only be speculative at the moment,’’ Dr. Werner says, although since he jogs much less than that, he probably joins the rest of us in hoping not. Given his and his colleagues’ data, ‘‘one could speculate,’’ he concludes, ‘‘that any form of intense exercise that is regularly performed over a long period of time’’ will improve ‘‘telomere biology,’’ meaning that with enough activity, each of us could outpace the passing years.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Answer we have all been waiting for.......









Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Race lotteries are a pain in my butt!

Okay, so I didn't get in. Get into where, you ask? UTMB, I say!!! Damn lotteries! I am bummed about that, I really am. I could envision myself climbing and descending the Alps and conquering them. I was ready to take those mountains on! I am disappointed. First it was WS, then Miwok, now UTMB. What next?

Last Saturday, with Mont Blanc on my mind, I ran a good effort up to the top of Mt. Tam and back again for a total of 28 miles. A group of good friends all training for different races, WS, Vermont, Bear, Bighorn. The good news of the day was when Suz announced that she had made the National Team for the 24 hour race which will be held in France. She qualified at the SF 24 hour in October when she ran 134.7 miles for a course record! She will do awesome!

I am looking at plan B: Bighorn 100. I am not a strong 100 miler but I am just itching to tackle the Bighorn. Let's see if I can get into that one!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kathy's Race

Kathy Van Riper and her family have been battling breast Cancer for over 10 years. Through those years, her family has come through great lengths to survive. This is their story.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

As per usual, I have been slacking on my blog writing. It just seems really hard to get everything that needs to get done, done. My running has been going well. Not great, but well. After being on a gluten free diet for over a month, I have thrown in the towel. I gave it my best, and decided that maybe the diet isn't really for me. I had hoped that it would help me with my pain issues that keep me restless during the night, and stomach issues that haunt me during my runs, (literally), but I just didn't have enough power in my legs during my uphill running. I realize that I need more Carbs in order to push during my runs. I have eaten a low carb diet for over a year now with good results, but completely eliminating gluten makes me feel really sluggish during intense exercise. That is just not going to work for me. I will continue to eat as I have been doing for the last year or more and try other remedies for my sleep and pain issues. Everything in moderation. It always comes back to that, huh? I am glad that I am open to trying new things. I would much rather try dealing with my problems with diet as opposed to medication. I wish there was an easy answer.

I find out on Monday if I am selected for the UTMB lottery. 6500 people have entered with only 2000 spots, or something like that. I guess the odds are not bad considering they are better than what they were for getting into WS 100. Several of my good friends got into States, so my chances of getting into Mont Blanc are looking better than grim. I must stay positive! If UTMB doesn't pan out, then I will go to plan B, which is who knows what. I have some ideas, but nothing concrete until Monday. In the meantime, I am sweating over achy knees and sore toes. I guess in the large scheme of things, I best be thankful that I am who I am. Being me isn't so bad, sore toes and all. Run hard my friends.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

"We seem to be going through a period of nostalgia, and everyone seems to think yesterday was better than today. I don't think it was, and I would advise you not to wait ten years before admitting today was great. If you're hung up on nostalgia, pretend today is yesterday and just go out and have one hell of a time." Art Buchwald

A nice long run.....

I went to bed late last night, only to wake up early this morning. There's something about waking up early to get ready for a run.....I can't put my finger on it, really. The alarm goes off and I hop out of bed like a bat out of hell. I get excited and I am usually always on time. Today was no different. Suz and I met at 7 am and did a 25 miler in one of our favorite places. I am glad that I did it since it is the farthest I have run since my surgery. I ran a 50k a week before my foot surgery and that was in September. It has been a long time. I felt great, (most of the time), but mentally, it was a little tough. Running with Suz is like being chased by a Jaguar. It is relentless, fast, and hard, and no whining is allowed. I tuck in behind her and run like hell. Sometimes, I stop to pee, not because I have to, but to get a little breather. Do not tell her my little secret though. I don't want her to catch on to that one. I couldn't ask for a better running partner or friend. Running with someone who is faster than you is a great way to get in a great workout and to learn to run fast. Try it, and try my little secret is you need to take a breather. I won't tell. :)