Percolating Thoughts

Some various thoughts that flow from one to the next:

  1. A PhD candidate in ecology once told me that he didn’t understand how people gained weight from calories. “Isn’t it just energy?” It was a rather startling reminder of just how stratified different fields of science are. I explained that extra energy is stored as fat in the body.
  2. I was listening to a Star Talk Radio episode during my run yesterday and they talked about how you have to have an energy source to make a starship start flying (that is, to overcome the pull of gravity). So I started trying to work out the science of exercise in my head.
  3. I’ve been slowly trying to understand eating for fitness. It’s pretty sad that I’m most comfortable with eating for weight loss, not for supporting physical fitness (though there are definite huge overlaps, since I don’t believe in unsustainable diets).
  4. I had one of those, “Oh wow, evolution is beautiful” moments this morning. Here’s what hit me: Our body is designed to quickly and easily provide that energy we need to overcome inertia/gravity/etc whenever we decide to move. We barely have to think about doing it. This is incredibly basic science, but it was never explained that way in high school. No one ever took our Biology class and our Physics class and said, “Here is a real-life, everyday example that matters for you: do you realize HOW CRAZY IT IS that you can just start walking right now if you want to?” (I could rant for hours about how little of our high school curriculum was made applicable to everyday life, and therefore accessible/relevant enough to really engage us in the subject matter.)
  5. I did a quick Google search and found this website that basically breaks down the whole calories become energy and fat thing and very briefly touches on the Physics of it (the potential energy/kinetic energy that our body uses).
  6. I wonder what the reaction would be if, like in the website above, schools actually taught students how to calculate their calorie needs based on their activity levels. I think it would be tremendously useful and could be done in a healthy way. There is so much misinformation out there, and high school is the perfect age to address it (here’s a really fabulous article about it). We have the information, but it’s getting buried under layers and layers of misinformation and media agendas. And if this isn’t “Biology” and “Physics” and “Chemistry,” then something is wrong with our curriculum.

A PostScript on Epsom Salts

Hypothetically, based on how Epsom salt baths are supposed to work, you should be able to use them preemptively (your body will just store the extra minerals).

So I took an Epsom salts bath last night. Today was CrossFit. I guess we will see if it helps! My muscles were definitely in a much better place than last week, but it’s hard to say whether that’s just me being stronger, a cumulative effect of the foam rolling, or what. When I told someone what we did in class today they said I’m going to be seriously sore for days, so …. we’ll see.

PS – I’m still really bothered that the ONLY research studies to support Epsom salts use are either non-published (which implies it didn’t pass peer review), or too small a group of subjects (only nine!) to really be a valid research population. Why hasn’t someone done a simple blind study where half the people take regular hot baths and half take Epsom salts baths? It wouldn’t bother me as much if Epsom salt usage was something humans have used for thousands of years and discovered through basic experimentation, like many herbs, but this started as a health fad in the 1600s! /rant

PPS – I got all excited telling my friend about all this research I did on Epsom salts, and only realized after that she thought I meant Epsom salts as a laxative! She must have thought I was very unhealthy when I told her that I bought Epsom salts to help me with CrossFit….

Spartan Scale

I’m obsessed with the Spartan Races and I’m not ashamed of it.

I’m pretty sure that lifting this cover, with all the snow on top, to put in our recycling qualified as a Spartan-worthy “everyday workout activity” (or maybe just warm-up):


Anyway, when I was gathering the recycling, this saran wrap box caught my eye. You know the little metal tear-off piece? I kept thinking that it would be good for a miniature obstacle course. I let the idea go, but then the saran wrap box fell out while I was picking everything up – so I took it for a sign. After all, the whole goal behind this blog was to encourage my random creative urges – regardless of how silly they are.

I did three obstacles before I ran out of steam: a climbing rope wall, tires, and those ropes you have to go under. The ropes are at the bottom of a hill, but then you do the tires uphill to the climbing wall (it’s hard to see at the angle I photographed it).





It’s pretty silly, but I had fun coming up with ways to recreate the obstacles in miniature with things I had around the house. I used my craft blade to make small slits to fit the climbing wall in, and supported it at the back (though I had fun thinking about participants trying to scale a tilted wall….). I did something similar for the metal pieces (from the saran wrap box) that are holding the ropes.

My only regret is that I don’t have Lego people to put on the course! (Though I’d have to make it much smaller-scale if I did.) The last miniature I remember doing is the sukkah, and I had a lot of fun with that too.

So that’s my silly snow day project before I get down to cleaning.

Donor Dash 10k

Sunday was my race!

Sadly, it did not take place on this street because that would have just been perfect:


But it did take place nearby, on a tree-lined road by the water.

But backing up – it was a full weekend! Friday night – Saturday night I was at a bar mitzvah. I met a lot of interesting people, so I enjoyed myself. I didn’t get to my hotel in Delaware until 12:30am, but I wanted to be prepared so I laid out my race stuff before I headed to bed:


I’d also brought food for the morning, so basically I put everything in the best place for a quick and smooth morning.

I got up early because there wasn’t designated race parking. The parking lot at the Art Museum had JUST filled up, so I kept circling – turns out I didn’t think about the way Philly people park – as in, in the middle of the street. So yes, I came back later to find a line of cars parked down the center of the parking lot! But it’s all good because I found parking very close by and the on-street parking rates in Philly are pretty good.

Before the race my main goal was to find the place where you could take photos saying who you’re running for. I also talked to various other runners – met some nice people. A lot of the families were transplant families, so the race was really meaningful that way – to have so many people running because transplant has impacted their loved one’s (or their!) lives. One guy was running in honor of his brother-in-law who had a heart transplant – and is doing so well now that he does triathlons!



I got so excited over this guy. He had bundled his sweatshirt on his back when he got warm, but because of how he folded it with the word “cure” showing, it totally looks like he’s “carrying the cure” on his back!


The race itself was decent. I wasn’t at my strongest and my nose was running faster than I was, but I still ran a good pace (and the people I was running for can’t breathe easily either, so I decided it was appropriate!). The first half took me 37:00 minutes (overall pace 11:55 min/mile) and the second half took me 37:34 (12:00 min/mile overall pace). Total time: 1:14:34 – which is actually in line with my best times in training, so I’m pleased. There weren’t any spectators while we were running or at the finish line, but the volunteers were great about cheering us on when we passed them.

There wasn’t really anything going on when the race ended, so after grabbing a banana and pretzels, I wandered back to my car to eat and text my family that I’d survived the race. My parents really made my day by calling me right away and cheering me through the phone. I have to admit, it’s really lonely to run a race without anyone there to either run with you or cheer you on. But my parents’ call totally made up for it!

Once I’d eaten my snack, I paid for another few hours of parking and started heading towards a sign I’d seen for an exhibit at the Academy of Natural Sciences. I ended up at the Rodin Museum first. I’d had no idea it existed, but it’s gorgeous – both the grounds and Rodin’s work, of course.



Completely random factoid: Rodin became completely obsessed with getting de Balzac’s head right and spent EIGHT YEARS on it. And then the world didn’t like it! The critics said it made him look undignified.


At that point I decided I had to eat and caffeinate. So I wandered some more and got a sandwich and a latte and randomly photographed these flowers in Whole Foods.


Because I had caffeine in hand, I went into the gift shop first when I got to the Academy of Natural Sciences. Most. Awesome. Gift. Shop.

I talked myself out of buying this shirt, but it was a close thing:


Instead I bought some cards for friends. Also bought some gifts at the Franklin Institute …. I am so spoiled from DC having free museum admission. What I did in each gift shop was ask the cashier what I had to see at the museum. Then I thought about whether that stuff sounded like something I felt I had to see.

At 1:30 (about 4 hours after the race), I was just exhausted, so I decided to drive home. I had more surprises in the form of several phone calls – from both my aunts and from my friend (the one whose son turned bar mitzvah) asking how the race went. So sweet of everyone to remember and call me!

Next up is The Color Run 5k on May 19 with a group of coworkers. I’m planning to keep doing 3 – 4 mile runs between now and then to keep in shape for it. Fitting in a 3 or 4 -miler is much simpler than a 6-miler! Training for the Donor Dash 10k really did what I needed from it – gave me a goal to work towards, something to build my days around when I needed more balance, something to focus on and bring meaning to the losses I see in the rare disease community I work with. I’m looking forward to continuing to run (and cross-train), but I’m also looking forward to being slightly less intense about training.

Last night (Sunday), I crashed to sleep at 9:00 pm. It’s 9:45 pm now on Monday and I’m falling asleep at the keyboard. Bedtime!

Running Therapy

I promised to post about why I suddenly decided to sign up for this 10k.

Because it was sort of sudden.

I’d been wanting some sort of fitness goal lately for all sorts of silly, selfish or just plain human reasons: to become super-fit; to have a goal to distract myself from other things going on in life; to be burning so many calories that I could eat a Chipotle burrito without caring that it’s 700 calories.

But those sorts of goals really don’t drive me. So I wasn’t really paying any attention to them, other than to make a mild effort to fit in a minimum number of workouts each week.



I work with a community that is filled with stories of everyday struggles, big and small. A child who can’t laugh without fainting because her body can’t get enough oxygen. A parent who has to explain to her young children how to cope with knowing their mom could die in the next few years from a combination of rare diseases. People fighting to live their lives, to be able to just walk, let alone run. And they’ve embraced me in their community simply because they inspire me every day to work my best to help them.

And for so many of them, it will all come down to this: Will they get the call for a transplant in time? Will the donor be a match? Will the transplant be a success?

We lost another patient this week. Someone I knew personally. We’ve lost a lot of people I knew personally in the last year. But I had just found out about this passing, and then I saw this 10k. And it’s for organ donation awareness. There are few causes that could be so meaningful to me right now.

So I’m going to run 10k, for all the people I know who can’t run at all, and to show my support for organ donors and organ recipients. The race is on April 21 in Philly, my birthday weekend. My job has taught me to be grateful for every birthday, every year, and I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate than by being part of something that helps so many others have another birthday to look forward to.

By becoming an organ donor, you can save up to eight lives. Are you registered?