Cake or pie?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Running Tip #2

Before I ran my first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon in 2007, I was a spectator at the MCM in 2002 or 2003 I think. I was a student athlete at my university at the time, and as a team we went to the course to cheer on the runners and offer whatever encouragement that we could. One teammate in particular was pretty hilarious with some of her encouragement, like "You're almost there!"

Bear in mind, we were at mile marker 20 of a 26.2 mile race. They were not "almost there." Marathoners joke that a marathon is just a 20 mile race followed by one of the hardest 10K's of your life. Ultramarathoners joke that a marathon's just a warm-up. I guess there's always someone higher on the pecking order, (and in medicine too, sweet!) huh? Spectators tell runners lies all the time, and rarely the truth.

Sample lies:
  • Lookin' good!
  • You're almost there! (this looks familiar huh?)
  • The beer's close!!
  • This is the last hill, c'mon you can do it!
Sample truth:
  • If it were easier, I'd be doing it!
You get the gist of it.

Anyway, my tip is: use BodyGlide or some other kind of lubricant. If you have never run longer than 2-3 miles, lubrication usually doesn't come up. It can be a lifesaver to use it though, especially on long(er) runs. If I am doing less than 10 miles, I just put it on my feet so I don't get blisters, even though I missed a spot at this past year's MCM in 2009 and got a sweet blister as a result. If I am doing more than 10 miles, my nipples get the BodyGlide treatment. You know why one of the lies quoted above is "Lookin' good!" ? I can tell you, if you are bleeding from chafed nipples, which BTW has never happened to me but I saw at that MCM back in 2002 or 2003, you are most definitely NOT looking good. The guy that dropped a deuce in his shorts was also not lookin' good back then, but at least we didn't know it until he ran past us. Talk about dedication. I know at the MCM over the years several different groups have been around offering up vasoline on tongue depressors (aka popsicle sticks?), for all your anti-chafe needs.

I wish I had known about BodyGlide when I taught camps for several summers in 80-100 degree weather throughout the Northeastern United States (Virginia to Pennsylvania with some NC & SC thrown in). Some of the dudes I worked with always swore by Gold Bond, or Gold Bond Medicated (saying Medicated was like a cooool breeze~! on your junk). BG washes off, it's awesome. They have my full endorsement.

So running tip #2: lubricate, especially on longer runs. Especially especially if you're overweight, or your thighs rub together. Anywhere there is going to be skin-on-skin or skin-on-sock-on-shoe upper, it's a great idea to use BodyGlide or your other favorite lubricant (wonder how KY Jelly works.. just kidding).

Austin Marathon blog post will be up sometime this weekend.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Budget Cuts, Spring '10 First Impression

Budget cuts are in full force at my post-baccalaureate institution. To make up the difference, lab fees have been increased, tuition will undoubtedly increase in the next year, class sizes are larger, and the list goes on. One thing I noticed quickly last week, in the first week of classes, is that all of the physics recitation sections are now on Friday, and I think the same instructor has the 4 sections. Last semester, recitation sections were covered by several different instructors on several different days, and there were no more than 25-30 people in each recitation, which makes the recitation quizzes easy to administer in a pen & paper format.

This morning in organic lab, one of the TVs did not work, so two lab sections of around 50-60 people, some of which I think were hoping to add into the sections, which seemed full, crammed into one lab to watch the safety video from 1993 (yay protective wear/knowing what you are doing/asking questions if necessary, boo drinking/eating in lab/pouring waste down the drain/siphoning liquids with your mouth/playing practical jokes/doing your own experiment in lab). Someone should really update the safety video. Also, we were watching an informational video about NMR, which IMO was a colossal waste of time for the people not directly in front of the 25" TV. I'm sure the volume was all the way up and still it was hard to hear anything, and not just because I am getting older--hey! I'm only 29!--but because of the overall din of everyone's side conversations, texting, laughter, etc.

This semester, like I said, all recitations are on Friday, each recitation has around 70-80 students in it, and the quizzes are no longer going to be pen & paper but online, or via iClicker in class (multiple choice). MC kind of defeats the purpose of physics in my opinion. I thought the whole point of studying physics was being able to set up the problem correctly, drawing a picture if necessary, drawing out the vectors and then doing what is asked, i.e. physics is one of those "journey" not "destination" type classes, where you are learning how to problem solve systematically, but where you must have an understanding of what is being asked and what assumptions to make in setting up and solving problems.

I'm taking the second part of physics, organic chemistry, and plant biology. There's a new professor for the physics lecture which will be nice, having some new blood and a different lecturer. I have nothing against last semester's physics professor, but like I said it's nice to see a new face and get a different perspective. Another component is online homework that will be rolled into a quasi-participation aspect of our lecture grade (lecture and lab are separate grades in physics, recitation is rolled into lecture). Organic is the same as last semester as far as the lecture goes, I'm assuming that the class average on the exams will be uniformly low like the end of last semester, i.e. 9-10/21 correct on most of the exams, considering there is no "easy" part like nomenclature, acid/base strength, and so on, like the beginning of organic chemistry I had. Plant biology doesn't seem that bad, the lab looks like it should be interesting and not time-consuming, which is nice since I'm taking organic & physics together, I feel like the bulk of my time will be spent preparing for those, but I will have to be mindful to not neglect plant biology. Speaking of plant bio, the lecture is straight from slides, but there is still a participation component via classroom response system/iClicker so it will be fun to see everyone straggle in to maximize possible points.

18 days until Austin! That's two long runs, one flight, stopping in Chicago and switching planes before flying into Austin/Bergstrom, and 26.2 miles. Can't wait. I'll update pretty soon with an Austin-specific blog, and I'm still deciding if I want to live tweet/take pics during the Austin Marathon. We'll see.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Running Tip #1

Don't eat chili the night before a long run, for obvious reasons. Ooh, wait, there's a proviso: if you regularly eat chili, you're probably safe to eat it before a long run.

Of course that isn't actually the real chili we ate - we used ground turkey for meat, but the beans are the same, there was minced garlic in it, chili powder, diced onions, tomatoes, etc. There were also oyster crackers and the cheese we had was more finely shredded than above, just so we're clear.

Backstory: I went over to my sister's house on Saturday night to catch up, play some Beatles Rock Band, and help her make and eat some chili. I showed her the easiest way to dice an onion, and considering she's in her 30s, I'm surprised she didn't know it already, and also how to cut fresh basil leaves. So, at least she learned something new, and I did as well (something about cost-plus). I use two knives when I cook, and I'm a firm believer that you can get by fine for most tasks with just two simple knives: 1) chef's knife (preferably 8") and a 2) paring knife. Anyhow, so we're making the chili and we sit down, start eating and catch up on her DVR, at least the shows she watches that I will watch too, like Supernatural, Burn Notice, Fringe, etc., (no Grey's, thanks!). Her Yorkie is begging next to me on the couch. The one time this dog is well-behaved is if you have some savory nom-noms on a plate or in a bowl in front of you.

Post-chili, we christened the Beatles Rock Band for Wii I had bought her for Christmas. I think I like being Ringo the most--shocker. We played quickplay for a bit then started story mode to see what things we could unlock, but it was getting late and I decided to head home.

Fast forward to Sunday morning, it was raining and cold, and I'll run when it's cold, or run when it's raining, but I don't run outside when it's rainy and cold. I have my principles (if principles = comfort level). So I went to my other sister's house to run on her treadmill, and of course my nephew comes down to the basement, he's 4, and asking what I'm going to watch on the TV while I run.


"Psych? I thought you were watching 'How I Met Your Mother?'"

He is such a well-spoken four year old. I explain that I rotate what I watch whenever I use the treadmill, all though he was right, I was watching HIMYM for a while.

Anyway, long story short, about 8 miles in I get the severe feeling right in my core, where I feel like I'm at SHITCON 2, I mean this thing is close to imminent, but I gut it out, no pun intended, and get to 9 miles before I take a break and handle my business. That was about the hardest mile I've run in my life, even though it was only at 8:20ish pace...

Anyway, lesson learned, and without going into gory detail, don't eat chili the night before a long run, and further, don't change your diet at all before a long run, don't throw your stomach a curveball, a slider, or especially a knuckleball, or you'll pay for it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shadowing Part Deux: Electric Boogaloo

So the past two weeks I had shadowed a specialist.

One thing I noticed - quite a few of his patients were older and on Medicare/Medicaid. Another thing I noticed was that the older the patient, typically the more positive and happy the patient's outlook. The younger patients (younger as in, 50s/60s), weren't too bad off, but it was really the 80s, 90s and the 103! year olds that had the best outlooks on life and attitudes.

It made sense to me. People that are constantly negative, bitter, and bitching about their lot in life are probably the ones that are not survivors, and do not make it to 70, 80, or 90. Some people may get cancer, or have a heart attack, and succumb to the illness... but I think it's typically the people with a negative outlook and pessimistic tendencies that do not make it over the long run. So lesson learned: stay positive. I feel like I am an optimist at heart and want to find the best in people and situations but it is not always easy.

Several patients had faced adversity over their lifetimes - sometimes disability, a heart attack or quadruple bypass here, cancer there, diabetes and high blood pressure everywhere. Still, they had a positive outlook on things and that seemed to make all the difference in that they were still there, smiling, catching up with the doctor in the exam room and wishing each other well. Even the patients with disabilities, like reduced vision, etc., seemed to get along okay, for one older gentleman, as long as he could do his crossword puzzle and play tennis, that's all he cared about. In my mind, that's great!

More to come later... along with what else I will be up to a month from now: running the Austin Marathon!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Hi, 2010. Nice to meet you!

First, Happy New Year to the three people that read this! I hope you each have numerous blessings and great stuff happening to you this year. You deserve it.

What's been happening? Surprisingly, not much. For the past week and a half, I've been shadowing a specialist physician. My dad is actually a patient of his, and the last time my dad was in town, I asked him to see if it was cool with this doc if I could come in and shadow him, he offered up a two week window between New Year's and when he is going on vacation, so I said yes.

I haven't shadowed before, and my main experience with clinical medicine had either been as a patient (rarely, as I am lucky enough to enjoy good health overall and I'm thankful for it... I think if you have good health you are rich in life, because if your health sucks you aren't going to be happy, but I digress), or as a family member, mainly with my mom during her eight year battle with cancer.

This was a different beast. As we entered the exam room for each patient, the doctor would greet the patient by their name (i.e. "Hello, Mr. Smith" not "Hi, John!"), and introduce me, "We have a student/young doctor-to-be with us today, this is ASK." Most of the patients have been with this doctor for a long time - some for thirty years. Over the past week and a half, all of the patients were very cooperative and seemed okay with having me in the exam rooms. It was odd the first time, after asking if she had any more questions and finishing up with a patient, and when we were leaving the exam room and wishing her well, telling her to stay warm, when she thanked me and said, "Nice to meet you, Dr. K."

The first time I corrected the patient and said, "I'm not Dr. K yet, but hopefully will be one day." Of course I liked hearing it, it had a nice ring to it. After that first day, I stopped correcting the patients if they ever said, "thank you, doctor" or "nice to meet you, doctor" to me. I realize that while I look the part, and while I want to be one, I am not a doctor yet, but in the grand scheme of things, while I was introduced as a student, not "medical student," it doesn't matter to the patient, and I did not feel like I was being disingenuous or misled any patient. I did not offer any medical advice, since I am unqualified to give it, but I was lucky enough to take part in certain non-invasive parts of their exams. A few times, I was encouraged to start taking a history, informally, just to get more used to speaking in a "doctorly" capacity with patients.

I have definitely learned a lot this past week and a half. I feel like now more than ever, after seeing the rapport of this doctor with his patients, most of whom have been under his care long-term, I am convinced that this is what I want to do and will be satisfying to me in so many different respects as a career.

But, man! How much would it have sucked if the first day I went in to shadow, after doing all of these prerequisite classes as a post-bacc pre-med, that I realized I hated clinical medicine? I'm glad I really like it. I like this specialty in particular too, but I am still keeping an open mind and looking for other opportunities to get clinical exposure in any capacity... not to make myself a stronger applicant all though it would definitely not hurt, but just to be around the patients more and see what the different practices are like on a day-to-day basis.

I will update more on shadowing later. :)