Thursday, March 30, 2017

Walk Yourself to Better Thinking

Walking is a good way to get some exercise in. If done vigorously enough, it can help improve your heart and lung health, build muscle and bone density and has even been shown to improve mental health and quality of life.

Walking can also help improve your thinking. Walking is a complex task that we learn to do almost subconsciously. The coordination of our feet, legs, hips, arms and trunk in conjunction with our vision and inner ear usually flows seamlessly and with very little energy.

But it's a great way to get extra blood flow to the brain. In fact, this increased blood flow promotes the birth of new neurons and formation of new synapses in the brain while strengthening existing ones.

This combination of a mindless activity that stimulates brain activity is the perfect way to stimulate creativity and spawn new ideas. Remember back to Tolstoy's Daily Schedule? It included a good amount of physical activity to stimulate his mental activity that he did subsequently. He wasn't alone. Charles Dickens took 3 hour walks every afternoon, while the composer of The Nutcracker and Swan Lake walked 120 minutes. The philosopher Kierkegaard said, "I have walked myself to my best thoughts." John Muir concurred stating "In every walk in nature one receives more than he seeks." Whether that's beautiful scenery or beautiful minds, he was right.

Have a difficult problem that needs solving? Get outside for a walk and you just might think about it in a new light.

Good luck!

Until next time,


Monday, March 27, 2017

Wrightsville Beach Marathon Race Recap

This past weekend, my parents joined Kenny and me in Wilmington, NC as she attempted to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Mind you, Kenny has only really been running for a couple years now and yet has come surprisingly close to qualification. The Wrightsville Beach Marathon was going to be the one. The one she finally qualified at.  This race had three advantages: 1)she had put in probably her best training to date, 2)it was very flat course, and 3) she got older. Haha. What I mean by that is that she now needs a 3:40:00 instead of a 3:35:00. That would still be a few minute PR for her but advantages #1 and 2 made it seem achievable.

We arrived after I got out of work on Friday evening, and after a short detour to the tourist trap that is South of the Border, we met my parents for a nice dinner right on the Cape Fear River and then got an early bed time for the race the next morning. My dad was kind enough to drive us to the start as this is a point to point race and that allowed us not to have to worry too much about race day logistics.
View of Cape Fear River
As it was, we ended up still in line for the porta-potties when the gun went off. But no worries, it was a chip-timed race so when we started didn't really affect her ability to qualify for Boston. But it did mean that we had to spend a little more energy weaving through runners. Probably only affected us 10-15 seconds.

After that first slower mile, Kenny and I proceeded to click off consistent 8:04-8:06 minute miles. Our goal was to run fairly consistent splits with just enough of a buffer for a few slower second half marathons. We went through the half marathon right on track. At mile sixteen, Kenny told me she was getting tired and we spent half that mile at a slower pace just to get her head back in it. Which did the trick as her next several miles were all still within our goal pace.

We saw my parents at mile nineteen, and before I could yell at her not to, Kenny swerved out of her line to give my mom a high-five. Only about 3-5 seconds delay.

We continued to run steady low to mid 8 minute miles, well within our allotted pace to get her in with a qualifying time, until mile 22 where the wheels fell off. She actually stopped and walked and I thought for sure that the race was done. But within probably 20-25 seconds, she got herself motivated and started running. Those last few miles were all mid 8's and I was eyeing the clock and saw how close she was going to come if she wanted to qualify.

We hit the 26th mile just under 3:39 and I knew we were going to miss it, but I didn't let her know that. She sprinted it in and finished with an awesome 3:40:31. A lousy 31 seconds away from qualifying!!!

Despite her near miss, she still PR'd and ran an amazingly steady marathon, by far the best one I've seen her do. The marathon was great with good support and an easy but diverse course. I'd definitely recommend it as a BQ race.

My parents were of course at the finish line awaiting us. We quickly headed out as we still had the day ahead of us. We went to Moores Creek National Battlefield where the Separatists won their first battle against the Loyalists in the Revolutionary War. It was actually a very one-sided skirmish as the Loyalists were comprised of Scottish Highlanders baring only swords against armed men with a cannon as well as the element of surprise. But what I liked was that they presented it fairly unbiased and even had a monument to the fallen Scots. Well worth a half hour detour.

We then went to Wrightsville Beach and walked around for a bit before going back to downtown Wilmington which is a surprisingly nice little town where we had dinner but soon thereafter our fatigue caught up with us and we headed back to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

The next morning we awoke and parted ways, quite sadly, with my parents, who we have had the pleasure of having as guests for the last few weeks. Not even before we were home, Kenny had already pulled up potential fall marathons to try to qualify again. It's sure to happen any time now.

Until next time,


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Get to the Green-St Patrick's 15

Yesterday Kenny and I headed downtown for a nice dinner and plans for a quiet weekend. We've had a busy 2017, traveling most weekends, racing the few we are free, and generally just needing a break. I've certainly been taking a break from running-- obvious to anyone following me on Strava. And it's been nice. My mom and I got in some nice walks when she was here. In fact, that was my exercise plan for Friday afternoon: getting in a nice long walk with Kenny.

Well that was the intent. After about a 2 mile stroll from 5 Points to the Vista, we both got hungry so we headed back to 5 Points where we were going to eat a cheap meal since I had a gift card from my latest burger eating contest winning.

Side-bar: Pawley's Front Porch has the best burger deal in town. For $20 you can enter yourself in a burger contest and if you win you get a $15 gift card for your next visit. The competition is ridiculously easy so you are in essence eating for $5.

Okay, sorry about that digression. On our way over, I suggested a detour to the local bike shop which, amazingly after 5 months of being here, I still hadn't visited. What good luck! It was hosting the St Patrick's Day 15k, hosted by Eggplant Events as part of the St Patrick's Day Festivities in 5 Points. While Kenny was distracted by the good assortment of Specialized and Cannondales, I hastily signed myself up for the next morning's 15k. So much for a race-less weekend!

We have done a few races in Columbia since we've moved down here, in they've all been small affairs with a few hundred runners at most. So that was my expectation for this race but when we arrived 25 minutes before the race start, the whole 5 Points was already packed with runners and we struggled to get a parking spot, We finally did and jogged the 3/4 miles to the start line.  I had heard on the radio that they were expecting some elite racers in attendance, and only two weeks after the disastrous Columbia Marathon, I had no thoughts of winning.
Danny and Kenny pre-race
The 10k and 15k both started at the same time so as the gun went off, I settled into a comfortable pace and trying not to get carried away with the 10k runners. At the 10k/15k split, I realized that all but one of the runners ahead of me were running the 10k. Trying my best to not get in my own head, instead of thinking of the chance of a win, I focused on my breathing and running smooth and steady.

With a lead cyclist and only one runner ahead of me, the chances of winning were greatly improved since I a)couldn't conceivably get lost, and b) only had to pass one guy. I slowly reeled in the guy ahead of me and after a few surges that I was able to contain, I passed him around mile 6.
Mile 6
 Then I had the awesome experience of being led by the cyclist. Which wasn't anything special until a little after mile 7 when the 15k converged on the herds of 5k runners. Literally a sea of green. No actually that's no literal but figurative, but you know what I mean. A lot of green runners. Impossible to get though.

Nothing is impossible with your own cyclist! He told me to stay left then spent the next 3+ miles shooting "On your left! Lead 15K runner coming through!" It was so cool to this modern Moses part the Irish seas. As I'd pass, the runners would cheer me on which would result in me picking up my pace a bit more. When he changed his wording to "15K winner come through!" I knew I had it in the bag.
Dodging Leprechauns 
What fun! It was such a great race, well organized and came with a cool medal that doubled as a bottle opener. The course took you through some of the best parts of 5 Points and awesome volunteers and fan support. Plus participation got me free entry into the St Patrick's party saving me $20.

I had to book it out right after the race because I was leading a hike at Congaree, but the race director, Erin, was good enough to give me award right then. She was so friendly and really made me want to do more of her races. If Kenny wasn't running the Wrightsville Beach Marathon next weekend, I definitely would have done the Quarry Crusher, which looks awesome. Kind of like a fell race but in a quarry. Kenny and I are actually probably going to do the one in Atlanta. I say probably, because while she has signed up, I haven't yet. But I think knowing Eggplant Events, or E squared as I like to call them, is organizing, I probably will now.

Danny with the race director, Erin

All in all, I am really glad to have wondered into the bike shop, not only because of the win and discovered a cool local bike shop but also because I found out about a cool race production company.

Until next time,


Friday, March 17, 2017

Optical Allusion

I just finished Denis Lehane's new book, "Since We Fell", (which was great by the way--nice easy page turner) and came across the word malapropism. I had a vague sense of what the word meant in that it was using a word inappropriately but when I looked it up for a more precise meaning I found it to mean the unintentional misuse of a word in a comic manner. I like that. It speaks to the only time when I'm actually funny: the unintended pun or joke. 

I guess the word comes from a character, Mrs Malapros from the Richard Sheridan 1775 play "The Rivals". Her most famous malapropism is: He is the very pineapple of politeness." But it leads me to the question: Is it still a malapropism if it was intended? That character may not have known it was a comic misuse of the word, but the author surely did. So maybe it's a pun from the author's perspective and malapropism from that of the character's. 

It's funny that if you look up well known malapropisms, two famous people frequently come up: Archie Bunker, the well-known bigot from "All in the Family", and George W Bush, an actual person and a two-term president. Here is a sampling:
  • A witness shall not bear falsies against thy neighbor."
  • "The hookeries and massageries…the whole world is turning into a regular Sodom and Glocca Morra."
  • "Last will and tentacle…"
  • "Patience is a virgin." (virtue)
  • "A menstrual show." (minstrel)
  • "Buy one of them battery operated transvestite radios."
  • "A woman doctor is only good for women’s problems…like your groinocology."
  • "I ain’t a man of carnival instinctuals like you."
  • "Irene Lorenzo, Queen of the Women’s Lubrication Movement."
  • "In her elastic stockings, next to her very close veins."
  • "In closing, I’d like to say Molotov!" (Mazel Tov)
And these are from Bush:
  • "The law I sign today directs new funds... to the task of collecting vital intelligence... on weapons of mass production." 
  • "We need an energy bill that encourages consumption." 
  • "We cannot let terrorists and rogue nations hold this nation hostile or hold our allies hostile."
  • "I don't have to accept their tenants. I was trying to convince those college students to accept my tenants. And I reject any labeling me because I happened to go to the university."(tenets)
  • "We've got hundreds of sites to exploit, looking for the chemical and biological weapons that we know Saddam Hussein had prior to our entrance into Iraq."(explore)

Funny right? Or scary. Either way, I thought I'd share a few of the ones I used to hear as a physical therapist: 

  • Plantar fascists- I know plantar fasciitis is very painful but as bad as Nazis? 
  • Medium meniscus- Do you want pepperoni on the medium meniscus? Medial meniscus is the inside(medial meaning towards the middle)portion of your knee. 
  • Old Timers or All Timers-This is actually very common and kinda makes sense but the word is Alzheimer's. 
  • Vertical- I do treat dizziness or vertigo. Not quite sure how to treat vertical though... maybe just by tipping you over? Oh wait, that's kinda how I treat vertigo.

As I'm writing this, it kinda feels like I'm being condescending so I want to clarify that I'm probably one of the worst malaprops out there. Not sure? Here are a few of the words I mess up: 

  • Pronunciation (pruh-nuhn-see-ey-shuhn) noun- I'll quote the dictionary for this one: the act or result of producing the sounds of speech, including articulation, stress and intonation, often with reference to some standard of correctness or acceptability. 
      Danny's pronunciation: proh-noun-see-ey-shuhn. It's not a good thing when you can't pronounce pronunciation. If that's the case you may be putting the wrong  emphasis on the wrong syllable. 
  • Expedite-(ek-spi-dahyt) verb- to speed up or hasten. 
       Danny's pronunciation: ek-speed-iate- Apparently I was trying to put the emphasis on speed. 
  • Self-deprecating-(self- dep-ri-key-ting) verb- to belittle oneself. 
      Danny's pronunciation: self- dih-pree-shee-eyt-ing - actually a very similar meaning if you use depreciating instead of deprecating but nonetheless not the word I was meaning to use. 
  • Surreptitious(sur-uhp-tish-uhs) adj- acting in a stealth way. 
    Danny's pronunciation: sur-rip-it-tus)
  • Latin(lat-n) noun- a language not spoken except in some churches
     Danny's pronunciation: lad-in. Apparently it should have stayed unspoken. 

See! I make them all the time. Except when I'm trying. Then I cannot think of any funny ones... So I am good at malapropisms but bad at puns. Oh well.

Until next time,


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

A Bad Marathon but Still Blessed

This past weekend, I raced in the Columbia Marathon which was to be my A race for the year and my first marathon in almost exactly a year. After a 2015 season without a marathon, and 2016 as the year of the tropical and oft-dehydrated marathons of the Caribbean and South America, I was hoping to usher in 2017 with a solid marathon. Plus, after looking at the previous years' results, there was a part of me that thought I could win it outright.

Unfortunately neither of those things happened. I started out on pace for a decent race and kept the leader in sight until around mile 12. At the half-way mark I was still doing okay, and was running with the number 2 and 3 runners. Just a few miles later, I slowed ever so much to let them slip away. And that's the story of the rest of the race. I had a few legitimately bad miles where I walked for a few minutes at a time, but in reality I just got tired and slowed down enough to put the podium, and a sub-three hour marathon out of reach.

Immediately after the race, I was mad at myself. Mad that I went from 155 to 175lbs this year by consuming a year's worth of meat and beer that I had missed while in Guyana. Mad that I skipped my tempo runs. Mad that I didn't even try to stick with the six runners that passed me in the second half of the race. Just generally mad at myself for having a glass heart.

But then it occurred to me. About 9 months ago, I wasn't sure I'd ever be able to run again. That scooter accident and the subsequent month of no physical activity. The painful next month of trying to start back up and the long and arduous trip back to fitness. All those things brought back to me just how far I had come as well as how much I really have to be grateful for.

I may never be able to run like I once could, but I am glad to be out there at all.

Until next time,


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Happy Dr Seuss Day!

Today is Dr. Seuss' birthday and part of Read Across America Week. So what are you reading?

Image result for dr seuss quote about doing good

I'll share two of my favorite DS quotes with you and then be out:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”

And even better:

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."

Get out there and care.

Until next time,