Inside Tracker – March 2017 Tests

If you’ve been reading a while, you know I’m a fan of Inside Tracker.  I’ve written posts about my first test and my second test, and you can learn a lot about how the service works in those posts.  In short, you go get a blood draw, and in a few days, you get your results and all sorts of data from Inside Tracker.  What I love is that they don’t just look at what’s considered “healthy” by your doctor, but they’re also looking at what is optimal for an athlete.

It’s been a year since I’ve done tests (though I did input some data from a doctor ordered test at my annual physical last summer), and my diet hasn’t been so great as of late, so I was interested to see how the results would play out.  Turns out, the numbers were better than expected, but I still have some solid work to do.

I’ve got a number of things in optimal zones, but here I’m just going to talk about where things aren’t optimal, because I believe that this is where Inside Tracker truly shows its worth.

Note – you can click on any of these to see more.

So my blood sugar is trending up.  This isn’t a surprise.  I had done a really good job of watching my general sugar intake and lately, I’ve been finding jelly beans stored in my pocket.  So that needs to stop.

My cholesterol is down from my last test, but that was from a doctor’s test that I input myself, and it wasn’t a fasting blood test.  That said, it’s still up from my last Inside Tracker test, and that’s not something I like to see.  Much of this is genetics (joy of joys), but I can absolutely do some work on this.

Similar results with my LDL, though I’m closer to where I was at my last Inside Tracker test.

Rounding out cholesterol, we’ve got HDL and Triglycerides.  Nothing in the optimal range, but I’m working on it, but at least I’m in the officially “healthy” range.

What’s key about all of these?  One big way to help these numbers is to lose body fat.  And this is exactly why I work on weight loss.  Or more importantly, fat loss.  I’m huge on accepting your body for what it is and not worrying about your weight.  But on the other hand, you also have to accept your health.  As Inside Tracker says, Blood Don’t Lie.  I’m confident there are people much heavier than me who have much better results on their blood tests, so it’s not solely weight – genetics plays a huge role here.  But for me, if I want to get my body into those optimal zones, I need to continue to whittle off the excess fat.

Step one, fewer jelly beans in my pockets.

Ferritin is a number that I’ve been working on, and you can see how the change in my diet has been increasing that number every so slightly.

B12 isn’t trending in the right direction, and I think this one might be where I look into supplements.  I don’t really want to add octopus or beef liver to my diet right now.

I’ve seen pretty much no change in my Inflammation Group, which tells me that what I’m doing isn’t working.  I’m not any worse off than I was, but I’m also no better.  Once again, one of the options is reducing calorie intake, which hey, I’ll be doing anyway.  This might also be where I look into supplements.  I’m wary of adding too many supplements, but Vitamin C isn’t a bad one.  I usually only add additional Vitamin C when the plague hits my office, but maybe it’s time to make that an every day thing.

In general, I’m going to research some more supplements.  This is an area where you can’t just say “Hey, I’ll take a pill for that,” because supplements aren’t all created equal.  I’ve already decided to add spirulina, because as long as you’re taking a supplement that’s free of contaminants (do your research), there aren’t any side effects.  Other supplements don’t work in the same way, so it’s worth doing the research and talking to a medical professional.

Full disclosure – as a member of Team Coeur, I get a discount on Inside Tracker tests, so I paid a discounted rate for this test, but as you can see, I’ve been a fan of the company from well before I started to receive a discount.  All opinions are my own.  As was the blood.

Thursday Ramblings

Security / Pixabay

This past week has been a bit more crazy than normal.  I still haven’t adjusted to time change.  I suppose I like the added daylight in the evenings, but do we really need Daylight Saving time?

I have a choir concert this weekend (If you’re in DC, come see us!), which means rehearsals three nights this week instead of the normal one.  Of course, the snow that came in on Monday night thwarted that plan.  For safety’s sake, Monday’s rehearsal got cancelled, so now we’re in limbo as to whether or not we’ll need a Saturday morning rehearsal.  I don’t want a Saturday morning rehearsal.  Saturday mornings are for sleeping in, going for a bike ride, and this weekend, going to see Beauty and the Beast!

The snowstorm also didn’t help my time change issues.  I got to work from home on Tuesday, which meant sleeping in.  Yesterday morning was rough!  Even the cats didn’t want to get out of bed and they are usually 100% ready for breakfast.  Maybe by next week, my body will have this thing figured out.

A crazy week also means a screwed up workout schedule.  My coach gave me a plan for the week that accommodates all of my extra rehearsals, but then with the snow, swimming was out since the pools were closed.  I will get back to the pool eventually!  Heck, next month I’ll probably be looking at an outdoor swim in my wetsuit.  But a missed swim was just the excuse I needed to get back to my strength training plan.  I have a tendency to follow that quite well for a month or so, and then it all falls apart.  Spandex season is coming!  I need to get as toned up!  (Well, as much as is physically possible.)  Plus, you know, the added strength will be good for my race season and all.

So here’s to next week being much more normal.

Coeur Team Kits are Here!

I got some awesome mail last week.  My Coeur Sports team kit arrived!  This is my third year on the team and each year, the design of the kits gets better and better.

If you love the design too, don’t worry, it will be available next year.  Because of the love for these team kits, they are team exclusive for one season, and then the next season, they’re available for purchase (without the sponsor and other team specific info).

These kits get better and better.  I’ve done a review of the kit before, and I still love them.  The chamois in the shorts is amazing.  Zero issues with chafing, even during my 70.3.  But now, they’ve added 8″ shorts to the line (I’m happy in the 5″, because I have short legs, but I know that 5″ is too short for some people) and they also have tops without a built-in bra, since many of us still have to wear a bra under our kits.  I don’t find that the built-in gets in the way, but I’m looking forward to trying a top without the built-in.

I’m also simply looking forward to racing with this team again.  The Coeur Team is filled with awesome women.  If you see any of us out on a race course this year, be sure to say hi!

 

 

Battling Your Genetics

geralt / Pixabay

A few weeks ago, news broke out that The Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper had a heart attack while working out.  Thankfully, he is going to be just fine.  He has said that heart issues run in his family and his mother died from a heart attack, so this is most likely a genetic issue.  He’s a very lucky man.

Unfortunately, after this, I’ve seen comments online from people saying things like “See, exercising and being fit clearly doesn’t mean you’re healthy” and “If he didn’t work out so much, he wouldn’t have had a heart attack.”

Well, you’re not Bob’s doctor, nor are you all seeing, so you don’t know if that is true or not, now do you?  I bet you’re not even a doctor at all.

To quote from a USA Today article

While vigorous exercise can sometimes act as a trigger for a heart attack, it’s less likely to happen in someone who is already fit, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. The overall heart benefits of exercise “far outweigh” any risk, the group says.

 

“Physical fitness and a heart healthy diet don’t confer immortality,” but do lower risks, says Prediman K. Shah, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. Good health habits also help people recover from heart attacks and prevent recurrences, he says.

So no.  The exercise was likely not the trigger for the heart attack, and because Bob is so fit, that’s likely why he survived and will recover.  Sure, his genetics tried to take him down, but his healthy habits are what kept him alive.  And of course, he’s going to make some dietary changes to make sure that he is doing everything he can to keep his heart healthy.

It’s so sad to see people use someone else’s health issues as a reason to not exercise.  “This could potentially kill me, so I’m not going to do it.”  You know what else could potentially kill you?  Just about everything.  Airplanes, cars, falling vending machines, the list goes on and on.

So if you’re using Bob Harper’s heart attack as an excuse to sit on the couch and eat chips because then you won’t die of a heart attack in the gym, you’re fooling yourself.  (Okay, so if you never go to the gym, you won’t die of a heart attack there, but that’s just semantics.)  In general, being active is healthier than being inactive.  Eating well 50% of the time is healthier than eating well 5% of the time.

This doesn’t mean you have to be skinny, and I certainly don’t think you should use any of The Biggest Loser’s tactics to get “healthy.”  In fact, the tactics that they and many others use to “shed the weight” are ultimately unhealthy and bad for your body.  Instead, I think Bob’s heart attack is a reminder that even though we can’t change our genetics, we do have some ability to change how those genetics impact us.

Race Report – 2017 Little Rock Half Marathon

Sometime last year, a group of friends started planning to do the Little Rock Half Marathon.  Due to work commitments, I wasn’t able to join in, and then in November, my work schedule changed, and within two hours of that change, I was registered for the race, had purchased flights, and had planned to room with a friend.  While running isn’t my top training priority right now, I didn’t want to miss out on a fun weekend with friends.

When I registered, I didn’t really put two and two together and realize just how close this was going to be to the Donna Half Marathon.  I don’t typically race this close together anymore, though I definitely used to.  But hey, that just meant that getting up to race distance wasn’t going to be an issue.

While discussing my training plan with my coach, I emphasized that I didn’t want running to be my main focus.  The last time I was heavily run focused was before Donna in 2015 and I just didn’t enjoy it.  I don’t like running four times a week.  My race that year was stellar – about a minute and a half slower than my PR, and I was delighted with my results, but I wasn’t sure that chasing a PR was what I wanted to do.  I do this for fun, and if I hate all of the training, I’m failing in that goal.

So this winter, I’ve been very bike focused, while still running twice a week (a shorter run of 4-5 miles and then a longer weekend run).  By doing that, I’ve still been able to pull out races in the sub-3 category, which is always my goal.  My PR was set at the 2012 Virginia Beach Shamrock Half Marathon at a blistering 2:48:33, so I am quite happy with 2:55ish finishes with less training.

I did very little planning for the Little Rock Half.  I mean, I trained, but I didn’t look at the course, and only sort of paid attention to the weather.  As race week arrived, it looked more and more like it was going to be rainy.  Not ideal, but I’ll take rain over crazy heat for any race day.  (Well, maybe not for triathlons… I’ve done both and I’m not sure which I prefer.)

For race day, I knew I wanted to push the run, so I didn’t plan to run with anyone, but I wasn’t setting any specific goals, so I wasn’t nervous going in, nor did I really eat properly.  Way too much unhealthy food, way more alcohol than normal (which is really any alcohol – I don’t drink regularly anymore).

Race morning dawned and it was raining and chilly.  So I wore a long sleeved shirt over my short sleeved, figuring that if I got warm, I could take it off and tie it around my waist.  That sort of thing doesn’t bother me.  We also got incredibly fashionable trash bags from the hotel.

Black is slimming, right?

I ditched the trash bag before the race, but I saw people running in trash bags and ponchos for the entire half, and even saw some marathon finishers cross the finish line wearing plastic outerwear.  I didn’t think it was that cold.

Now, cold weather is my jam for running.  I even think that the fact that my wet long sleeved shirt pressed against my body helped my run.  I was miserably cold after, but during the run, I felt great.

During the first few miles, I felt like I was going out too fast, so I tried to pull back, but wasn’t very successful.  So I just decided to see how I felt.

Around mile 5, I started to wonder if I was on PR pace.  I also started to wonder just what my PR was.  I knew it was somewhere in the 2:48 range, but wasn’t sure where.

At mile 6, I started to do the mental math.  And continued that for the next few miles, as I continued to tick off sub-13 miles.  (I know, not fast for many, but my PR was at a 12:52 pace, so this was good.)

By mile 8, I knew that if I kept up the sub-13 pace, I could set a new PR.  So I decided to keep pushing, but not push too hard.  I knew there was a distinct possibility that I was going to blow up somewhere around mile 10, but I figured it was worth it for the attempt.

So I just kept ticking off the miles and holding to my intervals, hoping that my body would hold out.  It hurt, but in the good way.  I certainly didn’t feel like I was dying, as compared to many other races.  I think the temperatures absolutely helped.

By about mile 12, I knew I had it, and I was right.  I sailed into the finish with a time of 2:46:52, destroying my 5-year-old PR by over a minute and a half.  Definitely an unexpected result, but I think going in without that expectation really helped, and the conditions were just about perfect for me.

Clearly all the work I’m putting in on the bike has helped tremendously.  I love that I can see improvements like this without killing myself on run training.  I love killer bike workouts and loathe killer run workouts, so this is a huge win all around.

The race itself was awesome.  Amazing course support, and so very many spectators out there, even with the rain and the cold.  And best of all, the finisher’s area was all held inside the convention center, so we could get out of the cold and rain when we were done with the race.  This is definitely a race to keep on my list.  And the finisher’s medal is awesome!  Definitely bigger than normal, and the spiral on the back spins.  The marathon medal is insane – literally twice as big as the half medal and it pretty much takes up a person’s entire chest.  So if you race for medals, this is the race to run.

I set a PR, colored a llama, and drank a beer. All in all, a good day.