3/23/14

Oakland Running Festival 5k

This weekend I did better at the Oakland Running Festival 5k than I did a couple years ago, by 18 seconds! Chip time 21:17, in top ten females OA. 2nd place AG but received a cute running cap. The Masters Division winner won a trophy. Breaking 20 minutes is tough and takes a lot of time and patience, but it will happen one day. The last mile on this course is fast, but then there is a hill right before the finish that will zap your desire to make up time on the final sprint (note to self: practice hill sprint). I've been doing weekly speedwork since last November and though the improvements are minor it makes holding the pace at slightly faster speed feel easier. There seemed to be more people signed up this time. Official tally was 2,314 5k runners! Now just imagine doing 5k pace throughout an entire marathon. That's the pace people were winning sub 3:00 marathon times! The relay looks like fun, would like to try that next year. I could probably do the 5k and then the last leg of the relay. It would be easy to hop on 19th Street Station to West Oakland for the exchange. Just putting that out there!

Next up: 10k race and try to 5k PR on a flat course similar to the one I PR'd on before. Laying the speedwork foundation to carry into the summer marathon.

3/13/14

Iron and Blood Donation

It's been over a year that I've been a regular donor at Blood Centers of the Pacific. The first time was on my birthday last year. I'm grateful for my health and glad I can help others in some way. This also motivates me to stay healthy and eat right so I can continue to do so.

My Hemoglobin Levels
Since I became a monthly blood donor, I've been able to monitor my iron levels through the bloodheroes.org website. Iron is important to me as a female endurance athlete because I noticed when it's low I feel more tired. I didn't realize how much running can zap my iron stores, and how effective iron supplementation was until recently when I started taking the supplement. Normally I donate platelets so I'm not losing that many red blood cells through my donation.


I try to eat a varied healthy diet of lots of leafy greens, lentils, an apple a day, whole grains (50% carb diet) and 3 servings of red meat a week, in addition to liver and shellfish and organic tofu. I have six eggs a week (cholesterol is under 150). You know I'm a big fan of green juice! I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs or medications (except caffeine!), and never take NSAIDs. But, last fall I was not able to donate blood because my iron levels were on the border, so I waited almost 4 months. I started taking a slow-release 45mg iron supplement at bedtime for 60 days before my next donation and hemoglobin went up almost two points in January (3rd bar from right). Then I stopped taking the supplement because I thought the levels were sufficient, and my hemoglobin went down again to the lowest ever in February. I resumed supplementation and one month later I'm back up almost one point! It's a quick way to build iron.
Dailymile Running Log
Dailymile All Activities (running, cycling, swimming, fitness)
Lately I have not been running that much, less than 20 miles per week. I've been training for short distance races at high intensity in minimal shoes. I was wondering if switching to barefoot shoes increased my iron loss due to "foot-strike hemolysis", but then I learned it's not just runners who experience exercise-related iron loss, it's all endurance athletes. The correct term is "exertional hemolysis". The second dailymile chart shows all activities and totally corresponds to the drop in iron levels, as activities increased in January and February, and last July when all activities peaked to 153. I also noticed it corresponds to fatigue I had been feeling years ago and reported to my doctor after another high mileage month. I have had blood work done last July to rule out anemia and then recently learned there is another condition called athletic psuedoanemia, which can account for the fatigued feeling. Runners and endurance athletes may need more iron than the average person to maintain a balance to perform. Very informative links below. Over the years, I have become so much more aware about the direct correlation between nutrition, health and performance, and now I realize the importance of recovery. Stay healthy!

Ironing Out the Details

Hemoglobin and Function of Iron

Donors Deferred for Low Hemoglobin 

Take a Closer Look at Your Lab Results


 Ryan's Story
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April Recap

Spring is here! Proceed with caution!  I managed to ramp up my activities, adding in more bike rides and swims, and taking the time to d...