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Thoughts related to marathon deaths

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yesterday I ran the HM in Philadelphia. It was a great run and I was thinking about what I wanted to share with my Spark friends - until my friend (who is a press person) shared that there was a press release that a 21 year old and a 40 year old had died in the marathon. I also heard that one died in the Marine corps marathon.

My friend is not medical, so we discussed what could potentially have happened. Arrythmias, electrolyte disturbances, genetic related heart attacks etc. There is a laundry list of what could happen and we won't know until the autopsy has been performed. No matter what the cause is - my condolences goes to the families and friends affected and to the Philadelphia Marathon organization for the the loss.

It hit me to hear this and to discuss it. I will admit I was in a somber mood. But at the same time noone MIGHT have prevented this from happen. I think we frequently don't realize how we challeng our bodies, and Sparkpeople are no exception. I will confess I am some times amazed to see the lack of respect people have for their bodies. From a professional perspective I am very concerned that people are running half marathons back to back to back - and don't think twice about it. Frankly, did you ask your health care provider if it was OK to have a self induced stress test several days a week? That is what you do when you go out and run distances.

I could go on, but I won't. What I will do is appeal to your common sense and take a serious look at what it is you are doing to yourself and want to accomplish - and ask - is what I do for my health and body - or is it for my ego? Have you even asked your health care provider if he think it is safe to run longer distances (you may not want to say half marathon and marathon, because that may be to abstract to them).

On a lighter note - the Philadelphia marahon/HM is phenomenal . Incredibly well organized, great course in the neighborhoods of Phily. Granted the weather was phenomenal. In addition, the spectator support is the BEST in any of the HM's I have run.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ACTIVE_AT_60 11/22/2011 9:02PM

    I want to point out that we don't know what happened to these two runners before the autopsy and toxicology comes back and like in the blog, I am not going to speculate. It could be a lot of things and it will be unfair to speculate what it might be. These are some of the options - gentics, acute heart failure, electrolyte imbalance, conduction defects - all the reasons we see as the cause for athletes in other disciplines. One was an ironman and I am sure he had knowledge of fueling and hydration.

I think the take home message is - listen to what other people have done in the past and learn from it and be respectful of your body.

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MOXIE-IN-MOTION 11/22/2011 8:50PM

    I ran the Philly Half as well! And I was also shocked to hear about the two deaths of those running in the Half/Marathon. It has been a topic of discussion between many of my running friends....there are so many things that can go wrong, but you have to listen to your body!

And I understand your point about pushing ourselves and doing things back to back to back. I have to admit, I did fall into this category, this time around. But, I knew I was going into the Philly Half in less than ideal physical condition. So I knew to not shoot for a PR, and to take my time, listen to my body, and finish safely.

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BILLALEX70 11/22/2011 6:50PM

    I agree that sometimes we can push ourselves to far and abuse our bodies. We talked about the deaths at work just today. I truly feel that those poor people would have died that day anyway. We can't live our lives being afraid of trying new things and stepping off the ledge; otherwise you're really not living.

I'm sure that those people died doing something they loved and that's important.

Always insightful information!

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APIRLRAIN888 11/22/2011 12:29PM

    Thx I was worried about all the deaths too running first MArsthon nxt yr. Taking my rest day really seriously

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DDOORN 11/22/2011 9:11AM

    I think SparkPeople is all about "tuning into" our bodies, not beating ourselves up recklessly with physical challenges. Pay attention to what your body is telling you and I think we can avoid having any such tragedies visited upon ourselves.

We want to push ourselves...but let's do it responsibly!

And if in doubt? Of course check with your primary care provider or other health professional.

Glad to hear you had such a great run Jan! Thx for being such a voice of wisdom for our SparkFamily!


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HUGGIEBEAR10 11/22/2011 5:54AM

    Very well said. It's very inspiring. "....what it is you are doing to yourself and want to accomplish - and ask - is what I do for my health and body - or is it for my ego? "
However, it is a line very hard to find: how far is too far? You won't really know until it's too late. May we all exercise wisdom. When in doubt, you would rather be under-trained or under-performed than sorry forever..... So, so sad for the families......

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BE-THE-CHANGE 11/22/2011 5:01AM

    Thanks for the words of wisdom.

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DRB13_1 11/21/2011 11:44PM

    Glad YOU had aa great HM and I was also saddened to hear of the deaths... if I were an organizer, I would really dread that possibility, you never want it to happen.

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CALIDREAMER76 11/21/2011 10:58PM

    Again, very wise words! You put good, important ideas out there in a very clear easy to understand way. Please - be careful yourself Jan!

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MCCOURTT 11/21/2011 10:19PM

    I have mix thoughts on this one, first I feel for the families that lost loved ones. It is never easy to lose someone you love.
I fully agree, that if you run, you should let your doctor know, and what you are planning on doing.
But if I was to die running a marathon, or just out running, biking, hiking or whatever I would hope people would take it as I was living life. That does not mean I'm careless about any of those things, I try to do everything I can to be as safe as possible. But life is about living.
Great blog!!

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ON2VICTORY 11/21/2011 9:58PM

    Bravo Jan, and AMEN. thanks for sharing. Sobering thoughts indeed.

what are we really doing this for anyway? are we trying to prove something or are we following after a healthy lifestyle?

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BOBBYD31 11/21/2011 9:44PM

    thanks for the insight as always. i know the things i have done to my body because of being ill prepared and it is not pretty. just like most things moderation is the key! lessons learned(i hope)

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LILPAT3 11/21/2011 8:19PM

    Well said! My surgeon told me if I planned on doing a marathon that I should pick very carefully. He said it would be the only one I would ever do. My knees are now rebuilt, I can't run (heartbreaking), but I still do triathlons. I have developed an ability to walk pretty quick.
I think many of us take too much for granted. Pain is NOT a show of progress, but an extra strong ego will/can drive one to disaster. Sometimes we can't predict what is going to happen to us. Doctors can make mistakes but we as athletes need to use some common sense as well.

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GOEGIRL 11/21/2011 6:27PM

    Very sobering and intelligent questions, Jan. Thanks for the insight.

SO glad to hear that you had a good HM - many more healthy halves to you!

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LADYGWEN25 11/21/2011 6:00PM

    I agree Very Well said Jan.. you'll be happy to know DID ask all of my health care providers: GP, Cardiologist, Endocrinologist, and Chiropracter if they think i was physically ready for a Half IRon Man next year. they all agreed and they all have talked amongst themselves had have set ground rules for me to know if i had to pull out because the work it is too much.. All 4 KNow i did complete the HIM training plan without racing it..and because i was successful at it.. they think i can do it again.. I have 1 more health check in January before i restart the program... And i was VERY clear about which HIM i am doing is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run.

And i do agree with you.. As an athelete.. Sometimes i think it is pride that pushes us to far..One thing i have definately learned in the last year is to listen to my body... You have taught me that and are the voice in my head when i am pushing too much.. You usually say: "really Gwen...are you gonna stop or drop?" :)

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TIGGER622 11/21/2011 5:25PM

    Very well said. Many have brought this topic to my attention knowing that I am a runner and one time marathoner... my answer often is something along the lines of there are so many things that could have caused this OR many people die every day on their way to work... my point being that we can't live in fear... but you are absolutely right, we can live in health... if we are doing this to get healthy and we are training smart *hopefully* we are putting ourselves at less risk. The truth is, it could happen regardless if we are so genetically inclined. It is so sad and I feel for the families and everyone involved. I think we all should think long and hard, as you said, about why we do what we do. Wonderful blog.

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Thanks for the reminder Coach Nancy

Saturday, October 22, 2011

SP_COACH_NANCY says, don't let anyone stand in your way of living your's not about being first or being best, it's about accomplishing a GOAL and having the honor to share it with others!

Coach Nancy. I love this statement. It so reminds me of the journey I have been on for the past 8 years.

Having the honor to share - got a different meaning for me recently when I met a 38 year old woman with terminal cancer. She used to be a runner before she got sick. Now she is unable to run. It is people like her (name withheld for confidentiality) that makes me think when I run ... this run is for you and other people I know in that situation. They are unable to accomplish or share their joy and passion of running. I maintain my wellness through other people's illness.

Wellness or illness - I say (if used - please quote me)
Three discplines - one mission - one goal.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TIGGER622 10/31/2011 1:00PM

    Wonderful, thank you!

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DAVEINSEOUL 10/30/2011 5:31AM

    Jan, I agree - you are such an inspiration to others. Thanks!

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LYNNANN43 10/23/2011 10:50AM

    You just brought tears to me eyes. What simple, but powerful truth.

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LOGOULD 10/23/2011 6:19AM

    Just one of the many added benefits of living a truly sparked life....learning to live life to the fullest and to appreciate all the wonders of this life.

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CALIDREAMER76 10/22/2011 11:01PM

    I feel blessed to have met and know both you and Coach Nancy - both inspirations in your own right! People who selflessly give or do for other people are the true inspirations - Jan and Nancy and so many of my other spark friends

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JEN-LOVES-LIFE 10/22/2011 9:59PM

    I agree too. What a perfect reminder for us all.

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BOBBYD31 10/22/2011 7:26PM

    thanks jan, short and sweet but o so true.

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LKEITHO 10/22/2011 7:14PM

    You and Coach Nancy have it exactly right!

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BE-THE-CHANGE 10/22/2011 5:59PM


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GROEDER 10/22/2011 5:38PM

    I agree completely!!!!! You have inspired me to do things on my bike that I never thought I could do!!!!!
Your advice and encouragement has helped me more than yo will ever know!!!!
"Thank you" just doesn't seem to be enough, but - THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!

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    Jan - you are others inspiration too.

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Columbus half

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Earlier today I ran the Columbus half marathon. If you are close to that event, do yourself a favor and run it - or run the full. It is very well organized from start to finish. The EXPO tend to be a little crowded, but it is only an issue I assume if you are hanging out there.

The route (half) was lined with spectators and music. It was great. The weather both last year and this year was great. This year was the fifth year in a row it was sold out.

I had a mixed run. I did very well for the first 5ish miles - 9 min mile average. But for reasons I am not sure - I had some abdominal pain which seem to recur every time I ran - and kind of subside when ever I walked. I had some nausea. So it there was a lot of walking involved.

Getting to the finish line - I was OK, but I couldn't find the person I carpooled with - however, after an hour he was there. I was cold to the bone.

During the run I saw and greeted by a spark friend (Billalex70) and later I ran into Anne who was in a better shape than me. I had talked with her on the way down, but did not know she was running the full.

I got my ride back to the hotel and took a nice long shower and headed towards home. I was going to meet up with Anne but did not feel good - and I think that was a good decision. I am now lounging at home.

Although you may not sense an enthusiasm as in other race reports you read - I did have a great time. I think I have a different writing style than others (sorry).

when is the C'bus marathon - third weekend of October. I may have to switch between Detroit and Columbus. I like both - but unfortunately they are on the same day.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DREMARGRL 10/21/2011 6:19AM

    I hope that you are feeling better by now, Jan. Sounds like you just needed a rest and will be ready to go in no time. I'm sorry that you didn't feel well. I hate being cold so I empathized with you on that note. Giving yourself a good break will make a world of difference.
Have a great weekend......chill.
xo MaryAnn emoticon emoticonYou're always #1 in my book.

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LKEITHO 10/17/2011 12:40PM

    Too bad about the stomach upset. Hope it doesn't recur in future. If you can have positive things to say about the race despite that, it must be a good event!

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TIGGER622 10/17/2011 11:16AM

    So sorry you weren't feeling good, sounds like you still managed to make the best of it and enjoy the run! I guess you have the mental side of running down to a science. Hope you are feeling better today friend, have a great recovery!

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LYNNANN43 10/17/2011 12:25AM

    Jan, I do hope you're feeling better now.

9 min split for the first 5 miles?! WOW! I couldn't run even one 9 minute mile!

emoticon emoticon

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JOPAPGH 10/16/2011 10:26PM

    Sorry it was a tough run but glad you could finish. I run my first full marathon next Sunday.

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LOGOULD 10/16/2011 10:10PM

    Sorry about the abdominal pain.....has this happened before??? Probably a good ide that you decided to head homeas take it a little easy. I may have to look at adding that one to my schedule for 2013....seems like 2012 is pretty much already scheduled, but I have heard from others what a great race Columbus is.

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ON2VICTORY 10/16/2011 9:59PM

    way to go my man!! 9m/m? wow, you runnin machine!!

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JEN-LOVES-LIFE 10/16/2011 9:00PM

    Hi Jan!

I hope that you are feeling better now. I had a few issues that I needed pit stops for along the way. I think it was nerves. I saw Bill twice, once before I started and once right before the finish. It was really fun, but I walked almost the last two miles.

I am going to blog about my whole race experience, hopefully tomorrow.

I'm proud of you for running and finishing it! 13.1 miles are a lot of miles, especially when they are all in a row!

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BOBBYD31 10/16/2011 8:49PM

    congrats on a great day, you are really running well. we will see how my running goes over the next year because i would like to head out there and do a nice flat race.
hope your feeling well.

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LAURIE5658 10/16/2011 8:34PM

    Jan, 9 m/m is truly amazing and very foreign to me. I am in awe. I am so sirry you did not feel the greatest foday and hopefully it was one of those things. Thank you so much for the heads up on Columbus. I shall put his one on my list of possibilities.

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BILLALEX70 10/16/2011 7:33PM

    Great seeing you today!

For some strange reason I've not been getting your blog updates. The BMR is a good one.

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Do you know your BMR

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My what? BMR ... yes, your basal metabolic rate.

What is it - it is the amount of calories you will be spending if you are on a bed sleeping for 24 hrs without food. OR, that is probably the least amount of calories you should ingest.

If you know your fat percentage calculate your goal weight (ideal body weight)

Then you calculate your BMR (you don't need an IBW) and depending on your activity level you will get the minimum amount of calories you need to take in to reach your goal weight (your ideal body weight). To some this may be a surprise number (me included).

Clearly the number I came up with was not what I thought - I recently started to track my calories - and I am consistently ~ 1000 cal behind.

What happens if you don't take in the minimum (BMR) calories - your body starts to go into starvation mode - and the metabolism becomes inefficient.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HUGGIEBEAR10 11/22/2011 5:56AM

    How to know your "fat percentage" in order to calculate BMR??

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KMILLE65 10/13/2011 9:54PM

    Thanks for the clarification, and I stand corrected. My club offers two tests. One is called Cardio Point where they determine your zones or intervals for training. The second test requires that you fast, you are put in an anti-gravity chair and are hooked up and have a mask. They monitor the amount of CALORIES you burn when you are doing nothing for an hour. This is the RMR, not the BMR. Hope I didn't confuse anyone!!! :)

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TIGGER622 10/13/2011 7:29AM

    How interesting! I was shocked to find my BF% in the 'healthy' range... and instead of the usual goal weight of 125 for a female my height, they give me 147 at mid range BF% and 140 at low end. That makes a lot more sense for my body type considering I have a heck of a time staying in the 150's these days!!! Anyways, thanks for the info!!!

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ACTIVE_AT_60 10/12/2011 8:40PM

    Let me clarify a couple of things. If you want a TRUE basic metabolic rate aka calorieemetry - you will need to spend a significant amount of time in a lab hooked up to monitors, have a mask and other contraptions attached to you over several hours. The BMR calculator (and there are several formulas) are screening tools.

What KMILE65 is referring to is a calorie counter. Calorie counters and calculators usually use Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) rather than Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) because the conditions upon which the RMR rates are taken reflect the normal situation in a personís day to day activities. So the results are more her situation (from the website '').

ere may be advantages for both tools.

I am not making a judgement whether it is a good or better method. I am merely suggesting that these are two different measurements having two different purposes.

Thanks KMILE65 for your comment.

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KMILLE65 10/12/2011 10:55AM

    Some fitness centers have metabolic testing that will tell you exactly what your individual BMR number should be. As your fitness level changes, your caloric intake and metabolism will change. My club suggests you be tested quarterly. As your workouts increase, your intake needs to increase. But as you lose weight, your caloric needs decrease. However, as your body becomes more efficient, or inefficient, the BMR does change. I find when I consume calories at my BMR or "floor", I plateau. If I eat just a couple hundred calories below, I start to lose weight at a safe rate (1-2 pounds per week). It has been a year since I have been tested but according to the formula with a sedentary lifestyle (which mine is not), my BMR is 1549 kcal per day. I am fortunate to have a metabolic specialist with the patience of a saint at my club because this can get confusing and frustrating if you don't get results.

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ON2VICTORY 10/11/2011 11:09PM

    thanks for the info Jan! :)

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LKEITHO 10/11/2011 10:54PM

    Good info!

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LOGOULD 10/11/2011 10:16PM

    Thanks....GREAT information.

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No I don't live in Texas.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

I have received a couple of comments today because I chose not to ride today because of the weather.

No, I don't live in Texas :-) ... I should probably have said - I am taking a rest day - cuz that is really what it is. I will be working out again tomorrow. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TIGGER622 9/4/2011 3:05PM

    Three cheers for a rest day! Often much needed the way we push ourselves!

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LKEITHO 9/3/2011 10:10PM

    I only did a couple of miles today just to keep the streak going. Otherwise it was a rest day for me, too. Have a great long weekend!

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GIANNA345 9/3/2011 5:04PM

    I don't live in Texas either, but it's still hot here. Saturday is usually a rest day for me, since I bike so many miles during the week.

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LOGOULD 9/3/2011 4:21PM

    Many people wiser than me have repeatedly eschewed the importance of taking rest days. Out of necessity, I am taking one today too. I am coming to find that if you continually push your body without giving it the time it needs to fully recover and rest and heal......well, it will make you. I'm betting that you are going through some adjustment back to the climate at home after your vacation too. Enjoy your "day off". I'm sure you will more than make up for it tomorrow!

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ETTEZEUS 9/3/2011 4:17PM

    I ran 13 today in *Texas Heat* and *Florida Humidity*....lucky me, I get the best of both worlds!

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MIAMIA7 9/3/2011 4:06PM

    Feels like Texas here :)

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BOBBYD31 9/3/2011 4:03PM

    cut mine to 10 miles, wasn't too bad but did 2 mile run after, that was pretty warm. it was about 90 and really humid when i finished

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