Monday, December 12, 2016

Physical Activity and Your Child's Academic Performance-Get Fit to Get Smart!

After several years working exclusively as an outpatient physical therapist, I returned to school-based therapy when I returned from Guyana. So far I am loving it. It has been a great experience and some days I cannot believe I get paid to play all day. However, there is one thing that I had forgotten about: how much of the day students sit. 

Students sit and sit and sit. And then teachers are surprised that they don't act well. As a physical therapist, I want to yell: Get up and move! But I work only with the students in special ed, so it's not my place, right? Not so fast. Evidence backs me up. 

We all know a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of early morbidity and mortality and don’t you think that those behaviors start as a child? Plus, it is well-established that physical activity and sports have a positive effect on children's physical health. Regular participation in physical activity in childhood is associated with a decreased cardiovascular risk in youth and adulthood. 

In an age where 1/3rd of our children are obese and 1/12th have or will have diabetes, this should be justification enough. But there’s more! Numerous studies have looked at the effects of physical activity  and its beneficial effects on many mental health outcomes, including quality of life and improved mood states. Throw in better coping strategies, self-esteem and lower rates of anxiety and depression and physical activity at school seems a no-brainer!

Beyond mental and physical health outcomes, evidence has begun to emerge supporting a link between physical activity, cognitive function, and academic achievement. Cardiorespiratory fitness, speed-agility, motor coordination, and perceptual-motor skill all appear to be associated with improvements in cognitive and academic performance. A meta-analysis published in 2013, suggested that while physical activity in general improved cognitive outcomes, the largest effect size was with cardiovascular exercise. This is consistent with Lees and Hopkins’ study that revealed aerobic physical activity to be positively associated with cognition, academic achievement, behavior, and psychosocial functioning outcomes (Lees). Being cardiovascularly healthy improves their brain function!  

A review article in the Journal of American Medicine Pediatrics summarized the hypothesized rationale for improved academic performance with higher levels of physical activity. They cited that there are three hypothesized mechanisms which include (1) increased blood and oxygen flow to the brain; (2) improvement in mood and reduction of stress due to increased levels of norepinephrine and endorphins and/or (3) increased growth factors that help to create new nerve cells and support synaptic plasticity. By increasing a child’s physical activity levels, we are in turn allowing them an improvement in their learning potential while decreasing their stress.

Although schools are able to offer unique opportunities for structured physical activity for children, there is a tendency to cut back physical education and reduce the amount of physical activity afforded students during the school day. The increasing pressures to improve academic scores often lead to additional instructional time for subjects such as mathematics and language at the cost of time for being physically active. Integrating physical activity into the classroom may increase learning and offset the decreasing physical education classes and recess. One recent systematic review found that physically active academic lessons of moderate intensity improved overall performance on a standardized test of academic achievement by 6% compared to a decrease of 1% for controls.

I am in the process of proposing a kinesthetic learning lab for the elementary school that I work at. This would allow students that opportunity to be active while learning through a variety of aerobic exercise machines and activities. The hope would be that this would help supplement the limited physical education and short recess offerings that they get throughout the week. It’s in its infancy but I am very excited about the possibility of helping improve both wellness and academic performance.

Here’s the thing though, schools cannot do it all. Parents need to be on board to promote and model healthy behaviors and physical activity at home. Which can be tricky.  You work all day and just want to relax when you get home. But this really is time when you can model healthful behaviors for your children. Go for a walk, play outside or(if you live up north) make a snowman. The key is to instill upon them a love of the outdoors and being active so they want to do it.

Together we can create a healthier and smarter next generation.

Until next time,

Danny

Monday, December 5, 2016

Rudolph's Rampage

This past weekend, Kenny and I headed back to Harbison State Forest to try our hands at Rudolph’s Rampage Half-Marathon. I was looking for redemption after getting lost during the Hairy Bison 15k. Kenny was looking to complete her first trail half-marathon with her goal to “not walk”.

We arrived early with the intent of warming up. However the cold temperature kept us in the car until right before the start. Yes, I realize that it’s snowing in New England right now, but I swear that 40 degrees feels like it’s freezing. That’s what a year in Guyana will do to youJ

It was an interesting start to the race with 10k racers starting 2 minutes before us. In theory, you’d expect that they’d be running a bit faster but in reality, we still had to get through all the back of the back racers. In fact, when we took off, the first three miles or so were spent off/on trail getting around the herds. A group of three of us took the lead and starting making the passes. We actually ended up passing each and every 10k runner in those first three miles. At mile 4 or so, we dropped one runner so now it was down to two of us. At the half-way mark, I could still hear number 2 but not see him. By mile 7, I was running alone.

I settled into a comfortable pace and just ran enjoying myself while trying to keep the pace high enough not to get caught. Every once in a while, a mountain biker would come up on me and I’d panic thinking I was getting caught by a runner and I’d do a little pick-up only to see I was mistaken. The course was very well marked and despite my natural inclination to get lost, I did not. I finished with a time of 1:28:38 for first.

I grabbed a long sleeved shirt and headed back out on the trail to cheer on Kenny. Having never done a half-marathon on trails before, she had asked me what would be a good time for her. I took her 15k pace and figured that out for a half so I told her a 2:04. Not having a watch as I was running, I didn’t know what the elapsed time was as I ran back towards her. At mile 12, I came upon her looking strong and smiling brightly. Meanwhile, I was starting to bonk. I tried keeping up with her to run her in that last mile but I could not. Luckily, I knew a short cut and met her at the finish.

She managed to beat my expectations with an awesome  2:01:33 for a 5th place overall female finish. Based on how smoothly she was running, I am guessing she didn’t leave it all out there on the trails. Meanwhile, those two extra miles left me gassed.

I am running the Harbison 50k the first week in January and that “cool-down” was discouraging. I cannot imagine running another 17 miles. Oh boy, guess I better start up with some long runs.

In addition to eating my calories back in donuts, I got a free pair of sunglasses and a gift certificate for Fleet Feet for the win. I'd say it was worth the effort especially for such a fun race. 

Until next time,


Danny

Monday, November 28, 2016

Wrong Way Ferreira Strikes Yet Again!

I was jinxed. On the eve of a 15k trail race down here in lovely South Carolina, my good friend, Rich, commented on a photo I was tagged in on Facebook. It was the RI 6 hour race where I went off course and cost the team precious minutes(which we, of course, were able to make up but nevertheless became ammunition for Rich over the next years where I did continue to find ways to get off course).

So he makes that comment Friday night and Saturday morning about 6 miles into my race, I made a wrong turn which resulted in an extra half mile run and dropped me out of the top three.

 In fairness, there more than 2 people ahead of me but several of them were running the 30k so weren't directly competing. Yes that's right. There were people running twice the distance than me at a faster pace than me.
The Hairy Bison
Despite getting lost it was a fun race. The Harbison Trail Runners who put it on are hilarious. They have a hairy bison mascot, a funny pre-race introduction and Monty Python characters handing out water in Buffalo nickles at the only aide station on the course. There are NO course markers out there which likely contributed to my getting losted. I must note that the other few hundred runners did not seem to struggle with this.

I could have gone off course by a few miles and still had a great last few weeks. My parents came down from NH and we showed the around SC. Tailgated and went to a USC football, took them to our favorite restaurants.

USC's band

Hiked at Harbison and Congaree National Park.

A fallen tree from Hurricane Matthew
My brother and his girlfriend came over for Thanksgiving and stayed most of the weekend which was really nice and made me want to make sure I get him out my way more often. Maybe with more golfing:)







Jinxed is a relative term. I may have the worst sense of direction but I would say my life is anything but. I am blessed with all the people and adventures in my life and am thankful to be able to draw in each and every clean breath of air. I am likely to get lost again on the trails but I know where I belong.

Until next time,

Danny

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Habituate to Better Fitness

Have you ever noticed that when you get in your car in the morning, the radio seems to be blasting? I have. It seems that as the day goes on, I slowly increase the volume. Which makes sense right? Traffic, driving with the window door, and my engine revving all cause me to increase(at least momentarily) the volume. But I usually lower it again, so why is it high the next morning? 

Because of creep. Every time I lower the volume down, I do so a little less so incrementally it still gets higher as the day goes on. And I adapt(or habituate) to the noise and create a new norm(or baseline) for the rest of the day. It's the same thing with gaining weight. You gain weight to the point you notice it then you attempt to lose it. And you may lose most of it, but very rarely do you get it all off. So now you're new base weight may be a few pounds more. Do that again and again over the years and it's easy to see why it's so hard to keep the weight off.

Finances can be no different. You get a salary bump which makes you feel flush with cash so you go out living more extravagantly. Then you back it off but not to your previous leaving but to a new norm that's a bit above that so it's like you didn't get a raise at all.  

Obviously none of these scenarios are ideal. We'd love to save our hearing, lose all of the weight, and pocket the pay differential. But for most people we habituate to noise, income and body weight and slowly creep to an inevitable demise.

It's also a pitfall of P90X. P90X is great at revving up your engine but what happens when it's over? Lots of people just fall off the bandwagon or have to repeat it. But it doesn't have to be that way! For example with exercise, I suggest we can use this principle to our advantage.  There should be a P60 and then a P30X as well that slowly weans you down to a more manageable and sustainable routine that is just challenging enough to continue to make fitness gains. And that's the benefit of having a coach who can tweak your workouts individually to match your exact fitness needs.

But if you don't have or want a coach, try a train-cation. 

Let's say you're currently working out 3 days a week and just CANNOT do more than that. Take a week or two where you really ramp up the workouts* whether you do more days, harder intensities or throw in some cross-training. Really anything that makes you work a lot harder than you had. You can definitely do it for only a week or two right? Well, the nice thing is once you're done, you may have just created a new norm. A tolerance to add another day to your routine, or to run that loop a little faster. That's one of the main benefits of training camps. 

The key is to make the added increase enough to change your norm. A slight increase of body weight is easy to drop, but a big increase makes it difficult to lose it all. Likewise, really ramp up that workout routine so when you taper off, you still are slightly better off than you were before. 

Good luck!

Until next time,


Danny
























*To ensure you don't injure yourself try not to do too much at once. I.e. increase mileage or speed but not both. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Ironman Cozumel Preview and Pro Start List

Image result for cozumel ironman

On November 27th, while the rest of us will be well into our food induced comas, Amber and her sister Deidre will be racing Ironman Cozumel. This will be a fast race. Not only because the level of competition is, again, very high in the pro field, but also because of the course itself. 

Image result for cozumel
You cannot make the swim all down hill but you can make it go with the current. And that appears to be the case here. The race is a point-to-point swim that supposedly goes with the current. Not sure if that's a positive for Amber in year's past, but this year her swim seems to be her weak link, so getting her out closer to the front is probably a good thing. 
After a fast swim, Amber will be biking a three lap course that supposedly is entirely flat but has strong cross winds. Strong enough that disc wheels are prohibited. That's a good thing for Amber since she never races with a disc and some of those bigger girls that can grind the gears won't have quite as much of an advantage. 

The run is also a flat three lap course and the wind might slow things down a little, but hopefully by the second lap, Amber will be using the crowds and the athletes just starting their own marathons to feed off of and get her to a speedy finish. 



Here's the pro female start list: 

  1. Abraham, Corinne
  2. Belanger, Valerie
  3. Bruck, Kate
  4. Capone, Lauren
  5. Cave, Leanda
  6. Ferreira, Amber
  7. Fillnow, Kelly
  8. Finger, Annett
  9. Gellatly, April
  10. Green, Erin
  11. Javens, Amy
  12. Lester, Carrie
  13. Lidbury, Emma-Kate
  14. McCracken, Amelia
  15. Naeth, Angela
  16. Roohi, Molly
  17. Schaerer, Celine
  18. Snow, Caitlin
  19. Stevens, Alena
  20. Stevens, Amanda
  21. St-Pierre, Caroline
  22. Vantassel, Amy
  23. Wendorff, Amanda
  24. Williamson, Kelly

Amber had a pretty darn good Mont Tremblant despite being just a month off of a very serious bike crash that derailed her training. I'm excited to see what three months of training can get her. Make sure to follow her and send her all your good vibes. 


Until Next Time,

Danny



PS: Since writing this post a few days ago, 4 MORE athletes have entered the melee bringing the total athlete count to 28!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ultra-Running Boy is Back!

Well that might be a bit of a stretch. But I am wearing my Leadville sweatshirt as I type this.

I'm really having more fun than that picture suggests. 

So anyway. I also have now signed up for TWO ultras in 2017. First in January I just signed up for a 6 hour trail race. So technically it might not end up as an ultra if I only run 26 miles or less. BUT still. The intent is that I'll be doing an ultra. Then the next month, I am doing the Harbison trail 50k race. I am excited about that one. Kenny and I have been out there a few times and I really like the trails out there. Supposedly it's 20 miles of singletrack and 10ish miles of fireroads. I am sure I'll be happy to see those roads. 

All this is build up for my 2017 A race which is March's Columbia Marathon. I really am going to try to PR/win it and know I'm more likely to get in my necessary mileage training if it's in the form of a race. Plus I miss racing and it's a good way to meet like-minded people down here. 

Okay well, I better get running so I can live up to my name again.

Until next time,


Danny

Friday, October 14, 2016

Settling in to Columbia

Oh hello again. Sorry my blogging has been erratic. But I'm just having so much fun down here in South Carolina!

Now that may sound sarcastic but it's true. I love my job and the kids I work with. I recently volunteered to head up the Wednesday Walkers afterschool program which I modify to more of a Girls on the Run program(but for both genders). If you haven't checked them out, you should: here.

In addition to really liking my job, it's nice to finally feel settled in with Kenny after the year apart and actually decorating our place and making it our own. We do miss our friends and family but have plans to make it home multiple times as well as have some of them visit us. And finally with an extra bedroom we can actually invite people to come down and stay with us for a while.  We have just started really getting a chance to explore Columbia but we like what we've seen.
The Capitol
Oh! And I just had a week off of work. That's right. Little ol' Hurricane Matthew apparently blew by and school was canceled from last Wednesday to this Wednesday. With perfectly clear skies for all days but Saturday. That gave me plenty of time to make it to Congaree National Park-one of the few NPs I had never heard of until I started researching Columbia. It was actually very cool. Some of the last remaining old growth trees on the east coast, a 2 1/2 mile raised boardwalk over a swamp, 30+ miles of single track, plenty of Cypress Trees and biodiversity and even an encounter with a wild boar. What's not to love?

Congaree

Kenny and I also found a cool running store and have signed on for their weekly track workouts. While not as intense as Amber's, it's great motivation to get out on a weekday and do some speed work. Plus, there is an all you can eat Sushi place right around the corner so that is even better motivation ;)

What also is motivating is that Kenny and I have signed up for the Columbia half and full marathons, respectively in March. I've looked at the winning times for the last 3 years so of course my plan is to win. Which I think I can do. Which means I've just jinxed myself. Oh well. It still gives me motivation to get out there and train hard.

Tonight we head to the South Carolina State Fair where they have pig races, dog tricks and local live music. Tomorrow we head downtown for the extended Farmer's market, and Oktoberfest. And Sunday we are going to see if we can find a church that has a good community service program that we can help out with. All in all, we are having a wonderful time down here and are happy with our decision to try somewhere new.

Hope you all have wonderful weekends.

Until next time,


Danny

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Birthday Half Marathon

This past weekend as part of my birthday celebration, Kendra and I headed to Charlotte to run a trail half marathon and attend a wine festival. This would mark my first race since the terrible French Guiana marathon. I had mixed emotions about it. I was excited to race but nervous about how precipitiously my fitness had dropped since the Tobago scooter accident and subsequent laziness/South Carolina move/laziness.

We arrived Friday evening and after settling in to our nice AirBNB digs, headed downtown.

Side-Note: We stayed with a host that had THREE cats. And I don't like cats. Not one bit. Except these three cats were amazing. One acted like a dog and another looked like a cat straight from Andrew Lloyd Webber's casting. The third was misunderstood living 5 years of her life thought to be a male. Bottom line: I'm still never going to get a cat but it was actually nice having them there. 



Heading downtown was  amazing in its contrast to just two years earlier when I had last been to Charlotte. The place was dead. Which won’t come as too much of a surprise to many of you keeping up with the news, but still: I was surprised. Besides hundreds of armed national guard soldiers and a few preachers, the place was barren. It actually took us quite some time to even find a restaurant that was open.

All that changed about an hour later where the bartender came over to us and told us that they were locking the doors as the protesters went by. Protesters? Well, yes it seemed that that was where everyone was. Must have been in a different part of town but then walked through this part and it was filled with a swarm of people. The whole thing only lasted about 15 minutes and to what effect, I do not know. But I was glad that there wasn’t any rioting.

And since there was a curfew still in place, it forced us to have an early bedtime which was good for the race the next morning. We gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the US National Whitewater Center which was where the race was taking place. I had been there two years earlier, but Kenny hadn’t so we took a little time to look around. It will be a great day to go with her nephew as there are mountain biking and running trails, rock climbing, a high ropes course in addition to the whitewater park. We will definitely keep him and ourselves entertained.
Danny and Kenny pre-race
But we were there for a race and wine. Kenny wisely signed up for the 5k so she had a little more time to warm up (or maybe just overheat in the 90 degree weather), while I headed out for the half.
Despite all the races I’ve done, I don’t think I’ve ever done a trail half marathon. I’ve done  ten milers, marathons and ultras on trail but never 13.1. So pacing was an issue. I took it out conservatively, partly due to this and partly because I didn’t know what type of fitness I had left. After about a mile into the race, I had found myself in 6th place. 

Side-note:As I mentioned about these trails double as mountain biking trails and it soon became obvious that that was their primary use. The berms and kickers became quite a challenge to run in. But also made for a more interesting run.

After a few miles of 6th and feeling like I was being held back a bit more than I’d like, I passed the 5th place guy and about a mile later the 4th place one as well. I settled in to a comfortable pace, not wanting my wheels to come off(see French Guyana, Trinidad and Suriname Marathons for more on that). I stayed in 4th place until about mile 7 where I came upon a struggling runner who, after a bit of chit chat, noted that he was more of a triathlete and wasn’t used to running on trails. We talked for a while and I found out he was training for Ironman Louisville in a couple of weeks. I soon thereafter passed him and pulled away.

He had told me that the 2nd place guy was about a minute or so ahead so I made a conscious effort to just slightly increase my pace thinking that if I could go about 15 seconds per mile faster than him, I’d be able to catch him around mile 12. Which is exactly how it worked out. I started getting nervous that I stayed to conservative and the next turn there he was. Maybe 20 feet ahead. I reeled him in and was just thinking about best strategy to get ahead of him for the final kick when he stops for a cup of water at the last aid station. Really? With less than a mile to go, he basically just gave me second place. I looked back once and just cruised into the finish line.
Kenny, who had started 90 minutes after me, finished a few minutes later with a time good enough for 36th overall and 3rd in her age-group. Not a bad day in the podium department and also a nice confidence booster that I didn’t lose that much fitness.

After changing we headed over to the wine festival which ended up being pretty much just  a few tents with wine vendors serving Napa wines. In fact, there was only one North Carolina vineyard there at all! Which just made our decision to head back to Charlotte a bit easier. We spent the rest of the day walking around town and going to our new favorite Charlotte brewery, Birdsong, for rehydration and live music. A great way to end a nice birthday.

One more weekend away from Columbia this coming week as we head back north for my cousin Will’s wedding, but then we will finally get a chance to start exploring and will be sure to keep y’all posted.

Until next time,


Danny

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Transitioning Back

Well hello there! Sorry it's been a while since I've posted anything. Kenny and I have recently relocated to Columbia South Carolina and just settling in.

And, to be honest, I'm still settling back in to the US after my year in Guyana. Some things are easier to transition back to. Like eating meat, cheese and drinking good beer which has allowed me to promptly gain back all the weight I had lost. Maybe not a good thing but it tastes good. And it gets people off my back about looking to skinny. NOBODY is saying that any more.

Less easy is the waste that I see so prevalently here. After a year of running by burning trash and piles of waste on the beach, I came to appreciate the need to conserve and reuse. Coming back and being exposed to disposable waterbottles, individual sized servings of EVERYTHING and the overabundance of K-Cups everywhere made me worry about where all our trash is going. Obviously I cannot fix the problem, nor do I intend to preach about it, but I do my little part by brewing a pot of coffee(added bonus: definitely HYPED up each day), using my reusable water bottle and trying to buy things in bulk so there's less waste. Although admittedly, I have gone back to canned beans instead of dried ones-those just take soooo long to cook.

Another difficult transition is the ubiquity of cell phones. It has become somewhat of a third arm for many people. I know usage hasn't changed that much in a year, but my expectations have. I can certainly say that first time hanging out with Kenny and her phone (seemingly) constantly going off was not a pleasant return home. She's been kind enough to appease me and we both shut off our phones fairly in the evening to ensure we can actually spend time together. Which is nice. I'd recommend it if you haven't done it in a while. Like maybe instead of looking at this blog lift up your gaze and see what's going on right now. Maybe something really cool. Trust me, this will be here when you get back. Go out and enjoy.

Speaking of enjoying things, I've had a great first couple weeks in South Carolina. Due to the lack of sidewalks near where I live, I have been running almost every day at a local State Park which happens to be on my way home from work. It's been nice. I actually haven't yet had a full weekend to explore(I was back in NH last weekend for a bachelor party) and won't for another few weekends, but I can say for sure that there is plenty to do in Columbia. I'm  pretty excited to share it all with you.

Until next time,

Danny

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Life Is What Happens When Making Other Plans

Well hello!


This is likely to be my last blog posted from the lovely state of New Hampshire. I leave for South Carolina to meet Kenny tomorrow. This month home after Guyana was great as it allowed me to see my friends and family but also tough because it felt somewhat like a false start. Kind of like I was in a hovering pattern before starting back up with my life.


But an often over-quoted aphorism is fairly accurate here: life is what happens when you're making other plans.


It would have been easy to be so preoccupied with the move that I lost sight of all the good experiences that I was able to have this month while home. And I am sure that I did miss some opportunities and wasn't always able to remain present in the moment. But I was lucky enough  to be able to step back and see [at least some of] the forest through the trees.


For example, these past few days I've been staying with my parents and my nieces. Even when I was living full time in Concord, I didn't really ever spend the night over there and definitely not multiple nights. It was a nice and relaxing time and great to see my parents and fun to play with the girls. It is/was a time I will definitely look back upon fondly. Especially tomato picking with the girls, playing scrabble with my mom, and riding into work with my dad. The small things that happen are often the most meaningful.


I am excited about creating a bunch of new small things that make up life down in South Carolina and I invite you to join me on this next journey.


Until next time,


Danny

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Goodbye Concord!

September 1st, 2016

The bay window that attracted us to this apartment so many years ago
 After nine years living in the same apartment on South Main Street in Concord, NH. I have finally moved out of my apartment. That was the longest I had ever lived in one place before. It was definitely bittersweet. Some loved ones left my life too early but others came into it to fill that place in my heart. Even my roommate changed over the years. So many good (and some bad) memories, but all of them helping me become the person I am today. From that new-graduate with a still developing brain [male brains don't fully develop until 27-29 y/o(if at all)] to today seems to have happened in a blink of an eye. Yet with a lifetime of experiences.




Strange seeing it so empty

Last meal in the empty apartment




For all the people that have come into my life some to stay and some who left as abruptly as they entered, all the races, faces and places: thank you. It has been a wonderful time and I am grateful for every moment.


As I closed the apartment door of my now vacant apartment for the last time it felt like I was saying goodbye to a good friend. And like with a good friend, it really isn't so much a goodbye as a see you later.


Until next time,



Danny



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Amber 4th at IM Mont Tremblant-1 Month After Crash!

It has been almost three months since my scooter accident in Tobago that derailed Kenny and my running careers. I am barely back to running and still feel very choppy and uncomfortable-definitely not my normal stride. My training has become nearly non-existent-partly due to discouragement about loss of fitness and only partly due to how busy I've been preparing to move to South Carolina.




I wasn't too busy to notice Amber finished 4th at Ironman Mont Tremblant. Yes, the same Amber that got in a bike accident a month ago that required an ambulance ride, and hospital stay.

Always smiles

 And yes, Ironman Mont Tremblant a race comprising a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a marathon to top it off. And here I am struggling to do a 4 mile easy run.




I am so impressed not with her physical ability to do it but for her mental fortitude to get back on the bike and start training. That must have been so difficult not to just relive that crash. I know I'd be struggling if I had to get on a motor scooter again so I don't know how she did it. And then to push through the pain that I'm sure she was suffering from as she healed. Just amazing.
Amber and her sis prepping for the race


Granted it wasn't all raindrops and kittens. I just spoke with her and apparently she finished the race and passed out. Blood pressure something like 50/30! So she may have dipped a little too deeply into her reserves. But still such an inspiration and I'm glad to see her back racing. I cannot wait to see what she can do when she's fully healed.




Until next time,








Danny

Sunday, August 21, 2016

America's Funniest Video Syndrome

I saw my sister the other day and she handed me a 12 pack of beer and a journal. This is for when you want to express yourself but shouldn't on your blog.

Point taken. 

It's really easy to get caught up with the social media craze of sharing every little bit about the minutiae of our daily lives. And for the most part it's harmless. But I do think there is definitely some negative connotations of seeing the details of our peers' lives.

I call it the America's Funniest Videos' Syndrome. I am pretty sure that I haven't come up with a single unique thought in my entire life so I'm sure that someone else actually coined the term and I'm just poaching it, but if I don't remember stealing it, am I stealing it? I'll leave that up to you to decide.

Anyway, the premise of my theory is that when we are exposed to others' pain and suffering we, by extension, are made to feel better about our own lives. We seek out these instances of pain and suffering just so that our lives can become more tolerable. Definitely a reason, in my honest opinion, why people gossip: to deflect their own suffering and sadness.

However, it's only when we see through this ineffective and inhumane coping strategy of building ourselves up by bringing others down, will we ever find true happiness. 

After all, there is no finite limit to happiness. Just because you are happy, doesn't mean I cannot be as well. So I wish you health, wealth and that white house on the hill. Because you can have that and I can still pursue my own happiness.

Until Next Time,


Danny


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Danny returns home

Well hello. I would like to tell you I am home right now but cannot for two reasons.
One reason is that my dad doesn't know I'm coming home early and I'm surprising him as he boards the deep sea fishing boat he thinks he's doing with the other children.

But the second reason is more authentic.  I'm not yet home. Despite the fact that it is now 2am on Monday and I left 12pm from Guyana on Saturday is not lost on me. Or my rapidly depleting energy as I have not slept in this time either. Nor will I sleep at least until Monday night (still a merciless 19 hours from now).











So when I post this it means I waited til after that day (Monday)  due to surprise and authenticity.
So why am I sitting in the Atlanta airport at 2am? Unlike Quentin Tarantino,  I think the beginning is the best place to start so let's go back a few months when I booked my trip home.
Sorry, I think I may have nodded off for a minute there.

Where was I? Oh yes. So a couple months ago when I had finalized my departure date(but not yet knowing I'd be moving to South Carolina), I had wanted to make sure I saw my brother in Atlanta. Because of. His work schedule, I checked with him to make sure he was free when I'd arrive and then I booked my flight. The thing is to fly from Guyana to Atlanta is very expensive so instead I flew Guyana to Panama. I'd  have a half day in Panama to explore then continue onward from Panama to Miami. From Miami the plan was to rent a car and drive through thd night and arrive at Drew's place mid morning, catch up on lost sleep and then hang out for a day or two.

Well they do say SOMETHING about best laid plans. Andrew had forgotten that he actually did have something that weekend (my nieces birthday and dad's deep sea fishing trip) so he wouldn't be around.  Which was fine since I could change my flight from Atlanta to Boston from Tuesday to Sunday... But no the price of the flights on Sunday were prohibitively expensive so I had to settle from a 5:45am flight out Monday morning.

Which then left me with two nights of no sleep.

So here's how it went down:
It started out good enough with the Peace Corps driver picking me up within an hour of on time and me getting to the airport early enough to spend my last few GYD on a latte which I subsequently spilled all over myself as I embraced my friend Joel who I had not seen since I had moved from New Amsterdam back in late January. He was heading home (Cuba) and was on the same flight to Panama as I was. In fact he was sitting, purely by chance, one row behind me. We were able to catch up and after finishing it on the flight I gave him my copy of Dharma Bums.

Helping another escape samsara must help your own karma right? Well if it does, it must do so in mysterious ways. I arrive in Panama to find it enveloped in cloud and pouring rain. Since my plan was to walk around the city and as I had donated my umbrella prior to leaving Guyana, that was out. So instead I just settled in and ate my leftover cook up (or as my brother in law calls it:glop). Not quite how I was hoping to spend my time in Panama, but oh well I expect I'll be back at some point.
From Panama, I flew to Miami arriving a little before 2am picked up my rental car and started my trip north. It is amazing how reliant we become on our phones. Not having one now (or more correctly not having a data plan) I wasnt able to access GPS so ended up running two tolls (they didn't have options for a physical payment) be for getting on 95. NOT looking forward to that bill.
Being used to Guyana,  I was expecting sunrise around 5am thinking I would then find a little secluded beach and take a couple hours nap. Instead however the sun didn't make her appearance until well past six which meant I was well past the beaches I knew around the Southern Florida area. I finally settled on St Augustine beach (more on the history) around 8am. By 8:15am after having sand fleas bite and beachcombers step on me, I decided sleep was out of the question. I jumped in the ocean which invigorated me enough to go from a run along the beach. Which lasted probably three quarters of a mile behind my tender feet couldn't tolerate the shells slowly gouging out small chunks of flesh like a microscopic Shylock.   

I got gingerly back in the rental (a ford fiesta, by all counts but one a wonderfully efficient car. I only needed to fill out the tank 1 1/2 times for the whole 700 miles!)  I opted to follow the brown signs.
NOTE:always follow the brown signs. They will lead you either to a historic landmark or a some form of natural beauty. Either way you will be pleased.

So anyway I followed one to historic St Augustine which, lo and behold, was really nice. St Augustine is the oldest European settlement in the US that is still inhabited. Established all the way back in 1565. Meanwhile Native Americans settled Cahokia slightly less than 1000 years earlier.

After looking around and visiting the fort, I continued onward pausing only momentarily in Jacksonville but cutting across I 10. This is where things got interesting. Really only because I opted to drive backroads through Georgia to Atlanta rather than on the highway. I came to some little towns that I was sure would be playing the Deliverance theme song and also a few cool little state parks. It was nice to get off the beaten path a bit. In all definitely was worth the detour. I still arrived in Atlanta with several hours to spare so hung around for a bit before making my way over to the airport. Not exactly the most restful few days but surprisingly not too bad.

Except the next day, I would still not sleep as I was to head out deep sea fishing with my family. But that's enough for now.

Until next time,

Danny


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Stranger Than Friction

Although it has been over two years since Amber and I crossed the finish line of our marriage, took our respective medals and kept on living our lives both together and separately, I have recently had several people asking me whether I thought I was strange that I am still so close with her and still write a blog often involving her. Even to the point, where someone saw me running with her and decided it was a worthy topic of gossip. That truly must be one said and pathetic life to think that our running lives are worthy of in-depth US Weekly discussions. Isn't it strange to still be in each other's lives? 

My answer: yes it is atypical.  But is it strange? Which of the following is the least strange?                 

1) Staying in a marriage where the two slowly inexorably get pulled in divergent paths. A life filled with passions un-pursued, compromises un-reciprocated, slowly finding yourself beside someone you share nothing but a place to lay your head? 

2)Getting divorced due to these differences and, at best, have a tepid distaste for the other and, at worst, an anger and bitterness that slowly erodes your trust in love,  faith in others and ability to love anyone again.

Or

3) Getting divorced due to the recognition that those forces pulling the two apart would keep pulling. So rather than rip like a rope in a forceful game of tug of war why not be more like a zipper? We can split while each retaining the best parts of our lives together and apart.
                                            
Isn't it more strange that people can go from saying they are going to spend their whole lives with another person to hating them with a passion? Or to passionately stay in a unfulfilling and unhappy marriage?

Just my thoughts on the matter.

Until next time,

Danny

Friday, July 29, 2016

Top Five Covers of Bob Dylan Songs

Although the Beatles might be the most covered artists of all time, I think very few people wouldn't recognize them as the original artists. However, it's not the same with Bob Dylan. Several of his songs became far more popular and more well known after someone else covered them.

 Here's my top five:

1. All Along the Watchtower. This is one of Jimi Hendrix's best songs and it was originally Dylan's. Dylan's version is actually only the third best as Dave Matthews Band also performed a far better rendition.

2. Knocking on Heaven's Door. Whether you're thinking of Eric Clapton's or Guns N Roses' version, I'm sure you're not thinking of Dylan's.
It's interesting that arguably three of the best guitarists of all-time(Hendrix, Clapton and GnR's Slash) all were involved with some of Dylan's best covers. 

3. Forever Young. I'm probably dating myself with this one, but I thought that this was Rod Stewart's best song. Come to find out, it's Dylan's. Or was it? This one is actually a bit marred in controversy as Ol' Rod tried passing it off as his own. Eventually(probably when the two songs were compared), he gave in and shared his royalties with Dylan. The Dylan version was also performed by Joan Baez, as well as Patti Labelle at Live Aid.

Compare the two for yourself: 


4. When I Paint My Masterpiece. Bob Dylan's own band did it better. Yes the Band. And another song I didn't know was originally Dylan's but makes sense.

5. Tangled Up in Blue. Again probably dating myself but I thought this was the Indigo Girls' own song. I don't think it was until college that I realized there was another version. They actually stayed pretty close to the original here.


Sorry for the lousy version of this song but it's cool it was recorded in Concord:)


To contrast that cover's similarity with the original, look at Rage Against the Machine's version of Maggie's farm for how disparate some covers can be from the original.


What do you think? Did I miss any other good ones? I am sure I did, but you don't know what you don't know:)


Until Next Time,


Danny

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Disaster at Ironman Lake Placid: Good Karma to Come

If you were following Amber's Ironman Lake Placid race on Sunday, you may have noticed that all of a sudden the tracker "wasn't working". Or that was what I thought when I checked in to see how she was doing. Come to find out it was a lot worse than that.

Amber had come into the race as an underdog despite having won it two years prior. She would have had to have a great race to compete against Heather Jackson but she was in that kind of shape that I thought she could. Either way it seemed clear that she'd be on the podium and likely to win some nice prize money.

That's what she gets for me counting her eggs before they were hatched. Instead she got no money and will likely be thousands of dollars in the arrears. So what happened?

Well what happened, from what I hear tell, is that about 80+ miles into the bike as she was closing in on the racers ahead of her, a ten year old girl run onto the bike course directly in front of her. Not having time to stop, Amber hit her full on flipping over her handlebars. Supposedly the crash was so bad that someone in the audience texted her coach thinking she was dead. An ambulance came and brought her to the ER where luckily it was discovered that her femur was not fracture just severely bruised. But all the tests, ambulance, and hospital stay are going to be a big hit on Amber's high-deductible insurance. Amber says she doesn't race for the money but for the love of sport but still...
Always smiles
There has been some people telling her to sue the family and/or the race, but I know she won't do that. Besides bad karma, she understands that accidents do happen and that she also wants this girl to be a life-long fan of triathlon and not create undue stress on the family. I wish there were more people who could do that. I'm not sure I could, but proud to have a friend that can.  So instead, she'll just go about the slow process of healing and will hopefully carry that good karma with her to the next race. Whenever that is. We will be watching and sending her all the good vibes she deserves.

Until next time,

Danny

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Moving to South Carolina




A few months ago, when preparing to return to Concord Hospital to cover a therapist's medical leave, I was told that they'd try to get me a full-time position but couldn't guarantee it. This prompted a vague job search where Kenny and I sent out applications for any where we would consider working which didn't require us taking a pay cut. After turning down, a few job offers because of a sense of "not a good fit", I decided to accept an offer to work in an elementary school in Columbia South Carolina.

After about a week of Kenny nervously wondering what would happen if she didn't also get a job, she found one. Wow. That was easy. Luckily we both have very portable jobs that allow us to pretty much go anywhere in the States. 

The downside of Kenny getting a job so quickly is that she actually starts work the week after I get back to New Hampshire. So I literally arrive in New Hampshire and drive with her down to South Carolina. 

But since I had committed to Concord Hospital, I will be back up in New Hampshire for the next month. Which will be nice to see people, hopefully get out for a few hikes and also pack up all the things I have accumulated after 9! years of living in one place. Which by the way is technically the longest I've ever lived in one place(since we moved several times while I growing up). It is actually going to be sad moving out of the apartment. And definitely sad not going to be as close to the family. 

However, the nice thing is that flights are cheap, and the weather is warm. Meaning: I plan on coming home(New Hampshire will always be home) several times a year and have invited my family to come down to stay as long and often as they would like. In fact, we are hosting Thanksgiving this year down in SC. 

Now I've only been to South Carolina twice, once for my buddy Brooklyn's wedding in Columbia and another in Charleston for the Kiawah Island Marathon. So I don't have a great idea of what we are getting ourselves into. 

BUT, Columbia looks awesome! 

Within 30 minutes there are breweries, a plethora of restaurants, a large University with a cool name(look it up-this is a PG blog), indoor and outdoor climbing, a state park, a national park and plenty of golfing for when my dad comes down. And it seems endless festivals two of each that I'm most excited about are: Oyster and BBQ festivals:)

Only 80 minutes away is Charlotte and, more cool, the US Whitewater Center where you can raft, kayak, SUP, and run on their trails. In fact, I've already signed up for a half marathon on my birthday followed by a wine festival at the center. A great way to usher in 34 years on this planet:) Plus Charlotte has super cheap flights in/out of it so will definitely take advantage of that. 

In under 2 1/2 hours, we can reach Myrtle beach, Savannah or Charleston or hike in the Smokey mountains. And only 30 minutes longer and we can reach my brother in Atlanta

Now assuming we like our jobs and location, the kicker will be how much we see family. The hope is they all come down for Thanksgiving, we go up for Christmas and then that my parents come down to "winter" with us for a bit. I'd like to then be back up for April and then again in June. So if that works out, I think we may stay a bit. But if we find that we're not seeing our families enough, this may be a short trip. We will see. 
Either way, it will be a fun and exciting time, and I will keep you posted on how it goes.


Until next time,


Danny 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Beer Calorie Count: The Newest Expression of Corporate Greed


Watch this video to get an idea of the hypocrisies of Corporate America: 

Now before I start talking about beer, let's be clear: drinking a lot is not healthy. A lot is many in one sitting or a few in many sittings. Read more here. Okay there's you public health message. Onward!



Listening to NPR yesterday, I heard that big beer companies have decided to "be more transparent" and provide calorie counts on their products. They stated it was good a good Samaritan act so that their imbibers know just how many calories they were consuming. 

I am skeptical to say the least. This is eerily similar to a story I read about in the book True Enough.  After an unsuccessful campaign addressing smokers’ rights, large smoking companies shifted focus to “a larger, more universal scourge”: the government and how it had become too big, invasive and controlling.  The campaign was called Get Government Off Our Backs, or GGOOB and urged a diverse group of people(not just smokers) to stand up what they considered the first step in a long line of actions to take away people’s rights in America. The author concluded that “by turning the battle onto one about big government rather than big tobacco and by hiding its own association with the plan, [cigarette companies] could ride towards its goal upon a wave of anti-regulatory activism.  And the plan worked.” Legislation on tobacco products were halted or at least delayed.

Is beer facing new legislative restrictions? I sure hope not! But the big companies are facing the biggest challenge probably since the prohibition: good tasting alternatives. Meaning craft beers. Quality beers made by individuals who like beer rather than corporations seeking to leech out your money one flavorless beer at a time.

And by no means do I think all craft breweries are altruistic, but I always root for the underdog, and this case it also happens to be the tasty oneJ

So what does this have to do with calories? Well craft beers with their diverse flavors and higher alcohol content also come in at a higher calorie count. If consumers start being exposed to beers that have 2-3x the calories as a Miller Lite, they might think twice before buying it and instead go for the crappy, but “light” beer. Craft beers just won’t be able to compete without undercutting the exact thing that makes them good. 

So stand strong against this newest wave of corporate deception and go enjoy a real beer. Support your local micro-brew. None close by? Well, I just feel sorry for you.


Until next time,



Danny

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Epoch of Epic

Twice a day, every day, an old man hobbles with his bent legs and a stick down and up the cobbled land outside my window. This is no need for him to shop twice a day. He does it to get out and about. He moves very slowly, with great concentration and care… His face is expressionless under his flat cap; his patience is absolute.

He pauses halfway up the lane and leans resting on his stick. His legs are very thing, the trousers flap loosely. The old man calls to someone passing at the top of the lane; they wave and walk on briskly. He shifts his stick, looks up at the top of the lane and moves on, eyes fixed on his objective. As he tackles the last steep ramp his head goes down and he pauses, rocking, between each step. He makes the top, wobbles, then steps down off the pavement and he’s made it. His shoulders sag, he looks around at the trees, the newly returned swallows carving up the air, the kids playing football and the mechanic bent over the car. A perfectly average precious morning. Then he straightens up and hobbles on along the road to the right, inching out of my line of vision.

This is the real thing, done daily, humbly, for no fame or applause, to no end but self-respect and the purchase of daily bread.


I love that quote. In an epoch of epic, where bigger, longer, faster is viewed as better and get more views/likes on twitter/Facebook, it’s sometimes important to take a step back and realize what we are doing it all for.  It’s sometimes the mundane daily challenges that are the most heroic and yet most often ignored. Like the father who works a second(or third) job to give his children advantages he never had. Or a person with rheumatoid arthritis who still gets up, despite the pain, to go to work every morning. Someone dealing with racism(or any other ism) day in and day out. Or an old man fighting valiantly against time and gravity. 


It’s easy to be dismissive of the mundane saying that they are not achievements just part of life. And yes while that may be true, getting through life isn’t always easy and sometimes the exact opposite. Living in a country with the highest suicide rate in the world, I can attest that many people opt out entirely. Whether it's visible or not, everyone is going through some form of struggle or challenge. Many of which will never make it on social media.

But it, nevertheless, is still an achievement when we rise up above our challenges and see what a wonderful opportunity we have in this life. The alternative just isn't appealing to me and hopefully isn't to you.  No matter how you got to this moment, you are here now. Congratulations. That certainly was epic!


Look around, breathe, love, live. Give thanks.

Until next time,


Danny

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Last Days in Guyana: Time Crunch

Panic has officially set in. With only two weeks to go before I COS(close of service) my time in Guyana with the Peace Corps, I have realized how much left I need to accomplish. Besides all the paperwork and tedium Peace Corps provides and providing the Ministry of Health with useful tools to continue to utilize in my absence, I have realized how far behind I really am.

I still have three books to be read, two Coursera courses to be taken, and many beautiful days to be fully appreciated. I just don't think I have enough time.

As I have started my close of service duties, I certainly have appreciated moving back to the States, especially the day(s) at the Bank. Here's how a typical encounter at the bank goes:


  • Wait in line for approximately 2 generations(or at least 3 hours).
  • Find out that despite being told to be in this line, you are in the wrong line.
  • Wait another few generations.
  • Find out that the form that Peace Corps requires every volunteer to fill out when closing service is not the correct form and the bank is unable to sign it.
  • Leave bank frustrated.
  • Have Peace Corps call bank to ensure that they will sign it.
  • Return to bank.
  • Wait requisite 2-3 generations(which you will never get back)
  • Be told that no they will not sign that form apologizing(slightly) for the misinformation I was provided)
  • Return to Peace Corps office explaining the continued resistance.
  • Peace Corps opts to forego form so just have to close out account.
  • Return to bank.
  • Wait in line(patience is a virtue)
  • Attempt to close out account.
  • Signature does not match the one on my original account opening form(despite my holding my passport and debit card) .
  • Told to re-sign.
  • Sign.
  • Signature does not match the one on my original account opening form.
  • Told to re-sign.
  • Sign. 
  • Signature does not match the one on my original account opening form.
  • [Manager comes out]
  • Told to re-sign
  • Sign. 
  • Signature does not match the one on my original account opening form.
  • [Manager instructs Danny on how to sign exactly how he did the first time]
  • Sign.
  • Sign accepted.
  • Close out receipt provided.


All of $40.

Okay so that's not a positive aspect of Guyana, but I certainly am going to miss the weather. And the fact that I am finally getting to know the city. I now cannot go for a walk without running into someone who I actually know. It's starting to feel like my city, only to leave. Which is unfortunate. As is the fact that I have so much more work I can do with the hospital.

But I hope that we can get another volunteer to fill my shoes(and maybe even have a bigger and better pair of shoes).

I will definitely miss Guyana but I am very much looking forward to returning home and starting the next chapter of my life (in South Carolina).

Oh hadn't heard the news? Well more to come about that.


Until next time,


Danny

Saturday, July 16, 2016

2016 Ironman Lake Placid Start List

Next Sunday, Amber Ferreira will be defending her Ironman Lake Placid title. They didn't have a 2015 pro race so this will be the first time professionals will race on this course since Amber's 2014 victory. If you have been following Amber's race schedule this year, you will have noticed solid performances with her triathlons and stellar performances in her bike and running races. The swim seems to be her weak link thus far in 2016, but as luck would have it, Lake Placid has a nice line to follow as well as it is a well-known course to Amber. So no excuses there. Not that I think she'll need them, She overdue for another win and my prediction is that we will see it next weekend.

Because it doesn't have much of a prize purse, the field might not be as deep as some of the others Amber has raced, but that doesn't mean it will be any less competitive. As it appears to be the case with every race Amber has entered in the last year and a half, Lake Placid has attracted some of the best triathletes in the world. Most notably Heather Jackson and Alicia Kaye.  These girls are bound to put up a strong fight but I think Amber will come out on top.

Pro Start List:
1 Heather Jackson
2. Kelly Williamson
3 Alicia Kaye
5 Kaitlin Anelauskas
6 Christine Avelar
7 Neilia Bliss
8 Kate Bruck
9 Florence Chretien
10 Erin Green
11 Rachel Jastrebsky
12 Caroline Martineau
13 Jodie Robertson
14 Molly Roohi
15 Beth Shutt
16 Nicole Valentine

 17 Annah Watkinson 

Save all your positive vibes for next weekend and send straight to Amber!
Despite the fact that she is the defending champ, she will be going into this races as an underdog. Which is in her favor. A few things Amber has going for her coming into this race include the race itself(not a pancake flat course, the hills and grinding nature of this course will thin the herd), her experience on it(in addition to her win in 2014, she also raced in 2011 and 2010), as well as her bib number(4 is her lucky number!). But truly the real thing going for her is her ability to day in and day out continue to do work and get stronger and become a better athlete. No matter what the result of the races this year, she has produced far better individual race results which is a sign of what is still to come.


"It's easy to keep going when you feel strong and good. Anyone can do that. But to be able to continue when you feel horrible-that's what you're really training for. So keep on running, through the pain and reluctance. Do you really expect to get through this Expedition-this day, this race, this life for that matter-without some of the old blood, sweat and tears? No chance. That's part of the point of it all. So keep on running...."


Let's all focus our good vibes and positive thoughts towards her and her race next weekend.Good luck Am!


Until next time,


Danny