Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Keeping it weird in Austin, Texas

Capitol building, start of the Austin marathon and half marathon

I'm now in Austin, Texas, for a Dead Runners Society World Conference. It's a rather glorified name for a get-together of members of an online group of runners from all over the States and further afield who like to talk about running and everything else under the sun. I've been part of DRS since 1996 and have made some close friends through the group, including Kathy & Karl (last seen in Santa Clara in late 2010), Ellen (last seen in Singapore last year), Pam (Pennsylvania's Hershey half marathon), Ian (San Francisco) and Jane (Oakland). This weekend I met some other Dead friends for the first time, including the founder, Chris, Nangel, Rietta, Brigitte, Marc, Carl, Becky... I also enjoyed talking with Jon and Jenny, from the UK. Four Deads ran the Austin marathon yesterday, and a big bunch of us ran the half marathon. Andrea from Albuquerque kept me company on what was a slow run for her. We clocked 2:00:03. I was 13th out of 147 women in my AG. I think I can attribute 3 minutes to the hilly course and 3 minutes to my poor fitness, so I now have a reasonable gauge for the rest of the year.

We've had various lunches and dinners as a group. Did a river run this morning with Kathy, Carl from Michigan, Dan from Louisiana, Jeff from Montana and Connie from Boston. Lunch at a barbecue place with founder Chris and Jane from Oakland.

My last couple of weeks in NYC were very busy with work. I caught up with friends Selma and Murray, whom I met in Santiago, for dinner; went to a Swedish film at Scandinavia House and had dinner a couple of times with Lisa; ate at John's pizza restaurant in Harlem with Lorraine and Phil from Melbourne. (I ran with Lorraine in Melbourne back in August, and before that in Kuala Lumpur in 2010.) I also finally got to spend an hour or so with Maite and Wanda, whose house I was living in! Very interesting and lovely people. I hope to see them in the summer when I'm back in New York.

And, of course, I spent early-morning quality time with my running support crew: Maria, Sung, Lissy, Joanne, Heather, Joe...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Guest article: Liz Davies on using exercise to stop cancer

Guest article: Stop Cancer with Exercise Liz Davies Cancer is a war. It can be won, but fighting the disease can be an uphill battle. Cancer patients need a whole weapons arsenal to defeat this enemy, and exercise is one of the best weapons around. Whether someone is fighting a common, treatable skin malignancy or a rare disease like mesothelioma -- or any other cancer illness -- exercise prepares patients for the battle. Regular physical activity primes the body with strength, energy, and stamina. From the initial diagnosis to treatment and recovery, most cancer patients feel a sense of helplessness and a loss of control. Not only must they deal with painful cancer symptoms, but they also face debilitating treatment side effects. A cancer fitness program helps them cope with these symptoms and side effects. It also renews their sense of control and give them a positive outlook. Physical and Psychological Benefits of Exercise Numerous clinical studies indicate exercise boosts energy and builds stamina -- two things cancer patients need to endure the aggressions of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Exercise builds muscle, strengthens joints, and improves immune system functioning. In addition to physical benefits, regular exercise offers several psychological benefits: lower stress levels, fewer depression symptoms, elevated mood, improved self-esteem, and a better outlook. All this helps cancer patients cope through treatments and recovery. Improved Cancer Survival Rates Some research suggests exercise may improve survival rates for patients with certain cancer types. A 2010 study published in the “Journal of Clinical Oncology” found that exercise reduces the mortality rate for men with prostate cancer. It may also prevent cancer from recurring. Enhanced Quality of Living Cancer patients who engage in regular physical activity enjoy better overall health and well-being. Exercise enhances quality of life in many ways. Besides its impact on treatment symptoms, exercise lowers the risk for other chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis. And, since exercise releases “feel good” brain chemicals like serotonin, it promotes emotional well-being and decreases depression risk. Depending on their cancer type and treatment method, most patients can include exercise in their daily routines. As long as the movement does not cause pain or interfere with breathing, exercise is possible and safe during treatment and recovery. The National Cancer Institute recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise on five days a week. Cancer fitness programs should include stretching and flexibility movements, aerobic activities, and strength training. Even small efforts add up in the fight against cancer. Patients should start slowly with exercise, and gradually increase the duration and intensity levels based on doctor recommendations. Liz Davies is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer especially interested in health and wellness. She wants to make a difference in people’s lives because she sees how cancer has devastated so many people in this world. Liz also likes running, playing lacrosse, reading and playing with her dog, April. If you would like to contact her she can be reached at healthylizd@gmail.com.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Hunkered down in Harlem

My running remains very lacklustre at the moment, despite doing two 12-mile (20K) runs in the past week with Sung and Sarah as part of Sung's training for the Napa Valley marathon next month. I ran the Gridiron 4-mile race on Sunday with Heather at 8:30-minute mile pace for an eighth place in my age group. Neither of us was "racing" it. I'd met up with Maria beforehand, and caught up with Joanne, Natalie and Steven (back from Ecuador) afterwards. Visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and had dinner with Lisa on Friday. A fun dinner on Saturday with Fran, Rene and Fred at the apartment on Central Park West. On Sunday afternoon, Sung and I went to Carnegie Hall for a performance of "Carmina Burana", which I really enjoyed. I also saw it performed in 1994, at the Sydney Opera House. Sung's dog Jasmine died on Saturday, which was sudden and very sad. Yesterday, Monday, I had a massage with Marie and we ate at an Asian fusion place afterwards. She is going to South Africa to compete in the Comrades marathon mid-year. I've got my work cut out for me doing a whole bunch of half marathons this year, the next one in less than a fortnight in Texas. Good fun to run into my friend John on the crosstown bus on Sunday. Work is still very busy, so 4 a.m. starts are becoming a bit of a habit even if I'm not running...