The world lost an incredible mother, wife, daughter, friend, attorney, underprivileged advocate, and community member suddenly and unexpectedly on October 16, 2013. In honor of my late wife, Holli Wallace, I am training for the Hallucination 100 mile trail run and raising money for the Children's Grief Center of the Great Lakes Bay Region.

My training progress

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Help spread the word!

Holli and I worked on a promotional flier last night. It's suitable for posting on office doors, outside businesses, on community bulletin boards, or anything of which you can think. Print out some copies and help spread the word. You can print it from here!

Thanks to TrailFlex and Blubandoo

I'd like to thank TrailFlex and Blubandoo for their contributions to my run. You will now have the opportunity to win some TrailFlex hats (great for running!) when you donate and Blubandoo has provided a hat and bandanna to keep me cool while training. Below are some details of their products:

Blubandoo cooling headwear presents fashionable neckbands, visors, headbands, doorags, and patented cooling caps/ hats. Simply immerse them in water for five minutes. They quickly dry to the touch, but keep the wearer cool for days. They’re reusable, washable, and available in popular fabrics and colors. Name drop is available. Blubandoo Incorporated is a WBE - Women Owned Minority Owned Business. Most products are made in the USA.
info@blubandoo.com, www.blubandoo.com


The TrailFlex Modular Pack System is any pack you want it to be, thanks to the radical approach we've taken to backpack design. TrailFlex users take their skills to the next level with the most flexible personalized carrying system ever introduced. You'll never have to buy another specialized backpack when you own the TrailFlex Modular Pack System. www.trailflex.com

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Running, Aspartame, Dental Health, and Risk



Ah, 8 pain free miles today. That makes me very happy. Of course, it was well over 80 degrees by the time I was done, which is a bit toasty for me, but I felt good nonetheless.

I have a confession to make. I'm a sociologist and I think about things like risk. I just read this article on aspartame (the stuff that make most diet food diet.) Yeah, it probably causes cancer. I believe Dick Cheney had a role in getting the FDA to approve the stuff back in the day, but I can't remember for sure. I have a love/hate relationship with artificial sweeteners as I debate the risk of cancer against the risk of heart disease and obesity.

I recently read a post about the potential impact of long distance running on your teeth. That got me thinking about this. Exercise is good for you and all that, but it does carry with it some risks. Tooth decay is perhaps minor compared to risks of injury, whether due to the wrong shoes or the getting hit by a car. There is even some psychological risk. I haven't read the female ultramarathoner Pam Reed's recent book, but I understand part of it discusses her struggles with an eating disorder.

Ulrich Beck argues that we live in a risk society where many of our decisions are based on assessment of risk. I think that's a reasonably fair description. We are becoming more aware of the fact that risk is inevitable and, in many ways, struggling as a society to deal with the realization. Because of this, however, I think it is important that we avoid simplistic perspectives of risk which see it as something that should be avoided. Risk decisions are really issues of which particular risks you are willing to trade against others. Maybe I'll just stick to iced tea. Make sure to brush your teeth after those long runs.

(Can you tell I've been working on my dissertation?)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

It's gotta be the shoes....Saucony Omni 6 that is


Well, I went to the only specialty running store in the area, spent some time getting fitted, and trying on at least 7 different pairs of shoes. What I learned is that barefoot running is probably not for me, I over pronate, and you should always ask people who know about these things. I'm now styling in a nice new pair of Saucony Omni 6 Ultimate running shoes. Nice. The store was Runner's over in Bay City on Wilder Road. They seemed pretty competent and the manager told me they even sponsor a 100 mile ultrarunner. Hmmm...

Actually, the cool thing is that they really are making a difference with my knee. You can see in my training log the dip where I got injured and this week I am finally getting back on track, although I still have some catching up to do. Most importantly, it doesn't hurt (much) to run. The picture comes from the Sport Tracks training software, which is primarily used with GPS trainers, but can be used as a conventional training log. It's great if you are a datahead and it's free. I mean, I don't NEED to know my average weekly heartrate as a percent of my max, but it is sort of fun. Seriously, it is way better than Training Center, which Garmin makes, and Sport Tracks lets you do cool things like examine satellite photos of your runs.

Anyway, I only have 12 miles on the new shoes so far, although I am wearing them pretty much all the time to take some stress off my knee. I like the cushioning on them--soft, but not too squishy. The insole also seems to fit my foot well, which is important since I've had problems in the past with blisters on the bottom of my feet. I would recommend them for a relatively light runner (135 lbs) with high arches, narrow feet, and overpronation problems.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Thank you, everyone!

I'd like to offer a special thanks to everyone who has donated so far. We are over 25% of the way there! I would also like to thank everyone for their work helping to spread the word. Really, all of your support means a lot to me and my family. I still have several more fund raising ideas in the works and my training is going well (albeit somewhat slower than I had hoped). Keep checking back and thanks again!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Anthropological Evidence of Distance Running

Here's a summary of some anthropological research I've heard talked about that might be of interested to runners:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041123163757.htm

What do you think? Have we evolved to be long distance runners?

All I know is that I can take Casey, the border collie, in a 10 mile run, but he has me easily at short distances.

Walking an ultramarathon

I'm still taking it slow as my knee recovers and I wait for my doctors appointment. Here's my revelation though. Last weekend, I was taking a walk with my wife, who walks much faster than I do. Being the geek that I am, I had my GPS with me and started timing how fast she walked. Without me slowing her down, she was moving at 14 minute miles--not bad for a stroll!

So, I looked up some information on powerwalking (aka fitness walking or race walking) and took a shot at walking 5 miles today. Here was the cool part--no ITB pain. Not only that, but be modifying my form, I was able to move pretty regularly at 12 to 13 minute miles and elevate my heart rate to 70%-75% of max (yes, I really am that much of a geek). This is important because maintaining a heart rate of 70%-80% will yield some aerobic benefits (i.e. keep me from getting out of shape) and even 13 minute miles are plenty fast enough to finish a 50 mile run under the cut off. In fact, to make the cut off I only need to do 15 minute miles.

Don't get me wrong. I like to run and would like to finish the race well under the cut off, but I would rather go slow than injure myself. I think it also highlights the important point that walking is an important part of completing an ultramarathon and warrants, perhaps, practice in itself. I think walking gets a bad wrap despite its usefulness in terms of recovery, pacing, injury prevention, and just getting across the finish line. For more information about walking check the links below:

Walk the Walk from Trailrunner Magazine

Walk Breaks? from Jeff Galloway, the guru of walking/running

Email update

My email is back up and functioning. Sorry for the delay. Please feel free to send me email at fundraising@thomaswallace.org.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Lupus

Despite the fact that I've dedicated my run and, frankly, at least as much time as I have spent training to raising money for the Lupus Foundation of America, I have not yet had a post about it. Part of this is because I believe many people feel inundated by stories about things that they should contribute to. It's part of the information age that we live in. So, while I try not to bring it up on a regular basis for strategic reasons, it is worth mentioning. A lot of diseases get attention. They should. Below is some information about Lupus. Pay attention to the demographic. Someone you know has Lupus. They are probably embarrassed to tell you. You probably wouldn't know what it was or what it meant even it they told you. If you haven't donated, please think about doing so. At the very least, send this to someone you know.

This text comes from the Lupus Foundation Website:

"Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, joints, heart, lungs, blood, kidneys and brain. Normally the body's immune system makes proteins called antibodies, to protect the body against viruses, bacteria, and other foreign materials. These foreign materials are called antigens.

In an autoimmune disorder like lupus, the immune system cannot tell the difference between foreign substances and its own cells and tissues. The immune system then makes antibodies directed against itself. These antibodies -- called "auto-antibodies" (auto means 'self') -- cause inflammation, pain and damage in various parts of the body.

Inflammation is considered the primary feature of lupus. Inflammation, which in Latin means "set on fire," is characterized by pain, heat, redness, swelling and loss of function, either on the inside or on the outside of the body (or both).

For most people, lupus is a mild disease affecting only a few organs. For others, it may cause serious and even life-threatening problems. Although epidemiological data on lupus is limited, studies suggest that more than 16,000 Americans develop lupus each year.

The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) estimates between 1.5 - 2 million Americans have a form of lupus, but the actual number may be higher. More than 90 percent of people with lupus are women. Symptoms and diagnosis occur most often when women are in their child-bearing years, between the ages of 15 and 45.

In the United States, lupus is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans than in Caucasians."

P.S. Happy Father's Day! Dad, you are cew (cew=slang for cool).

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Email is down

Well, my email is officially down for the present, although I am hoping that it will be up soon. If you need to contact me, please use the Meebo instant messaging interface on the right side of this site. You can also contact me at brianjasenthomas@gmail.com.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Phedippidations Podcast

I'd like to thank Steve for making my blog "Blog of the Week" on his weekly running podcast, Phedippidations. You can listen to this week's podcast, which includes a mention of my Lupus run at the end, on Steve's website here. Look for episode #101. Thanks, Steve!

Email Error

Just so you know, my thomaswallace.org email appears to have been down yesterday. It appears that I did not get any email sent to me anytime yesterday (I checked this by sending some emails to myself--my host company was upgrading their server). So if you emailed me, please resend the email. Thanks and sorry for the error.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Running with a baby

I haven't posted much lately. Mostly because I've been trying to follow my own advice and refrain from long runs until my knee starts feeling better. I've had a few short 5 milers that went pretty well and the foam roller/stretching combination seems to be working really well. Still, I don't want to make things worse which will lead to longer recovery time.

I've been doing a lot of walking with Elliott and Casey to make up for the lost running time. Those Kelty carriers are awesome--thanks Mom and Dad. I'm not quite sure how the workout compares to running--I checked a calorie calculator online and it looks like backpacking burns about 150 calories less per hour than running. All I really know is that between Elliott, the pack, and water I've got to be hauling nearly 30 pounds. It works up a sweat. If you haven't seen a picture of our setup there is a picture here.

Coming up with cross training that incorporates a baby is a challenge, but it got me thinking about the issue of coordinating running and other important parts of life, such as family. I think most of you reading this know that I have a 14 month old baby and a very supportive wife, who is currently working full time. I'm not teaching for the summer, which means my schedule is pretty flexible, but as those of you with children realize, it isn't all that flexible.

Basically, all my training must either incorporate the baby or take place during the evening or early morning. I usually wake up around 6:30 AM, which is plenty early enough for me and I'd rather spend the evening relaxing, or cleaning, or getting Elliott ready for bed. That leaves the rest of the day with Elliott.

Not only is it a reasonable option, but its pretty cool. Here's why:

Elliott loves to run. When he's awake he loves to look around. When he's tired he sleeps peacefully. He has probably covered hundreds of miles in his jogging stroller without ever crying or being upset. Seriously, if you have children you probably this is a sufficient reason to go jogging with your baby.

Elliott gets to see new stuff and meet new people. Seriously, I am sure he gets bored of being in our house. In fact, he would be outside all the time if we would let him. We see new places, people often smile and say hello to us. It's just friendly.

Elliott carries my stuff for me. Especially in the summer, it's nice to have some water, maybe a powerbar. We always need baggies for the dog. A cell phone can be nice to have along. It doesn't take long to have more than fits in a small fanny pack, which can bounce around uncomfortably. All that stuff and more will fit in a jogging stroller. Nice.

How do you run with a baby?

I've read multiple places that you should wait until they are 6 months old (uh, check with your doctor of course--this is just some blog). Elliott and I started when he was slightly younger, but we went slow, he had unusually strong muscle control for his age, and I was eager. Properly bundled I've been running with him at 40 degrees and with sunscreen we've been out in 85 degree weather. We have a full cover rain shield that is essential in windy weather too. I've taken him up to one and half hours at a time without a complaint. I'll probably try longer this summer if the weather is right. I don't know if this is typical, but it works for us.

What about your dog?

Of course, Casey goes with us. I've found surprising little information on running with a baby and a dog at the same time. I don't have many recommendations. A waist leash can come in handy so that you can keep both hands on the stroller. Make sure that your dog is one that you can keep under control. Casey jogs nicely next to the stroller, but it took two runs of him desperately trying to outrun the stroller and running into the wheels. He figured it out. I also threw in a few cautionary grunts when he started to drift too close to the stroller. I always keep him on a shorter leash so that he is slightly behind the stroller and can see it well. Otherwise I risk a collision when I change directions. Other then that it just takes a little practice to make sure everything is moving in the right direction and turns don't look like some NASCAR highlight reel.

Whew, that turned into a longer post than intended. Hope some of you found it useful and don't forget to DONATE TODAY!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

98 days to 50 miles

Woah, seriously. I've kept the mileage light this week and will probably skip my long run on Sunday with the goal of getting back on schedule Monday. The knee is way better than last weekend, but I don't want to push my luck. I've also added the use of a foam roller and some strength training to my anti-ITBS repertoire. I think that the foam roller is really helping. For those with similar issues, are some details here. I got mine at Dick's Sporting Goods, but they are cheaper at www.zombiertherunner.com if you don't mind waiting for it to ship.

I'd lack to take a minute and thank everyone for there responses to the sunglasses contest. I cast my net wider this time, and have been happy to get such a positive response. In particular, I'd like to thank Dave, Bill, Steve, Sandi, Francis, Phil and Brenda, David, Kris, and Holli, all of whom have made mention of my effort on various blogs and websites. Steve has also said that he will mention in one of the upcoming episodes of Phedippidations, his weekly running podcast. You can listen to it here.

I also got a very supportive email from Kelly Ridgeway, an elite level, Montral-sponsored, ultrarunner. She apparently has Lupus and still does well in ultramarathon. That's pretty bad-ass.

Finally, I IM'd with Scott Sigler yesterday and the T-shirt design is finalized and should be ready very soon. This is the first time he's promoted a charitable effort through his fan base (and they really are a cult like group if any of you have started following his work) and is interested in what the response will be. Scott just signed a movie deal with the company that did "Shaun of the Dead" so its great that he is still putting the time in to help his fans. I don't remember of I have posted this link before, but here is the New York Times article about him that appeared this spring. There are also links to samples of his novels, as well as some other podcasters.

Anyway, I mostly wanted to make sure that I offered a public thanks to everyone so far. We still have a long way to go, although I have some other plans that I am working on. Sociologically, I've been curious as to the nature of social networks that have developed through new technology (i.e. podcasting, the blogosphere, MySpace, 2nd Life, old fashioned listserves) and so far I've been pleasantly surprised at the potential of these social networks in relation to charitable activities. As Holli would say and I would agree, yeah I'm a geek.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Donate now, win sunglasses!

Tifosi Optics has generously donated two pairs of sunglasses that I am raffling off to those who donate money to the Lupus Foundation in support of my 50 mile ultramarathon. Simply click here before September 15th to donate. For every $5 that you donate, you will have one chance to receive one of the pairs of sunglasses (e.g. if you donate $25, you will have five chances to win.) Please make sure to include your email when you donate so that I can contact the winners.

I've been running in a pair of these for the last few months and these are quite a step up from the cheap gas station sunglasses that I am used to. They are lightweight, stay in place while sweaty, and don't fog up. They even have interchangeable lenses. One pair is the "Slip" model. The other is the "Gavia" model. These make great sunglasses for running and, I imagine, other outdoor sports.

My goal is to sell 200 additional "tickets," which would mean another $1,000 towards our goal. Please pass this information on. Those who have already donated will automatically be entered.

Do you have a blog or website? Mention this raffle and I'll give you a free ticket. Just email the link to me at fundraising@thomaswallace.org.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Running with Your Dog


I only ran a slow 5 miles today since my knee has been bothering me. It didn't feel too bad, but I don't want to press my luck and make it worse.

I thought I'd give me thoughts as to running with dogs. Nearly every time I run, I run with my 6 year old border collie, Casey. In fact, we've been running together since he was about 1 year old and just moved into our tiny Oregon apartment from the Junction City cattle ranch where we got him. He is by far the coolest dog that I have ever met and, seriously, you can communicate with him in complete sentences. He's also an excellent running partner.

Dogs make excellent running partners. I occasionally run with other people and its a nice break, especially on long runs. However, I'm not really cut out for running in groups on a regular basis. Too often my runs must be carefully timed with work, caring for Elliott, traveling and the dozens of other things that come up on a regular basis. Casey doesn't care about any of that stuff. He is always ready to run. Not only that, but he gives me reason to run. Border collies are extremely smart dogs that are bred to work. In fact, they suffer psychologically if they can't work. Running is Casey's work and, while it can be inconvenient at times, I have probably run more regularly since Casey arrived at our home then all the previous years. (A side note, DO NOT get a dog just for motivation, especially a work dog like a border collie. They provide motivation if you already have an interest in an activity, but most people are unable to deal with high energy dogs and that's one reason too many dogs are in shelters.)

How far can dogs go? Casey is the type of dog who will run as long as I want him to. That can be a problem. In the first year that I ran with him, we had some problems with wear on his paw and at least one overheating scare. I think that the paw wear stemmed partially from the salt on the winter roads we were running on. More frequently, I get concerned that overheating will be a problem. I've carried water for him with me in the past, but now I usually just drop Casey off after 3 or 4 miles instead. On cool days (<50 style="font-weight: bold;">What do I need to run with my dog? I recommend taking your dog to obedience training. This is just a good idea under any circumstance. I've been chased by a variety of dogs and encountered a variety of people--it makes me feel better to know my dog is under control. Casey and I use a harness and a belt leash we got from campmor for around $20. It's called "The Buddy System." I recommend it as I like to have my hands free while running. Also, it is the only thing that makes running with a dog AND a stroller manageable. As note, consider bringing water for runs on warm days.

Is it good for my dog? Er, duh. It's good for you so it is also good for your dog. It's good psychologically. It's good physically. Casey just had a checkup last month and the vet commented that he had a nice low athletic heartrate. On a side note, she also recommended that I begin to give him glucosamine supplements to prevent long term wear on his joints (see previous post). Unfortunately, Casey doesn't like taking large bitter pills. Luckily I just found out that Nutro makes biscuits with supplements inside. They are technically for senior dogs, but might be worth considering if you run frequently with your dog.

It is hard not for me not to smile a little when Casey starts circling me excitedly at the mere smell of my running clothes (and he does know the difference between a cotton T-shirt and a synthetic one.) He is gets such pure enjoyment from cruising along the road with the occasional glance back to make sure I am still there. How can you not like running when you run with someone who enjoys it so much? It adds another dimension to the experience of running just watching him. Besides, its hard to skip a run with those brown eyes staring hopefully at you.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Ilialtibial band syndrome management

So my greatest concern as my training progresses is suffering an overuse related injury. This is another of the reasons why I am comfortable having so many days off from running as part of my training schedule (see previous post for my schedule). It's also the only problem that I had when training for the Huff 50k a few years ago. Specifically, I had trouble with my left knee, which I am fairly certain was due to iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS). Best I can figure this is when a tendon that runs the length of your knee starts rubbing against bone.

Check out this site for more information on ITBS. To me, it feels like a sharp pain in my knee that only affects me when running and goes away when walking. It is also more intense when going downhill.

I'm not a doctor, etc... However, here's what has worked for me gleaned from a variety of readings.

1) Stretch. Honestly, I hate to stretch, but in the long run this has been the most effective treatment for me. Runner's World has a good description of the stretch that I use. From what I have read it is important to stretch after running and not before. Your muscles should be warmed up after a run and you are less prone to injure yourself. My strategy is just to stretch whenever I am thinking about it. I leave a jumprope laying around as a reminder to stretch at least once or twice a day. That and Elliott likes to play with the jumprope.

2) Stop. I've had trouble following this advice myself, but it is important. Continuing to run just further inflames the area. This is typically an overuse injury. Don't run so much.

3) Change shoes. I have mixed feelings about this. Most website claim that overpronation is a problem and you should switch to a more stable shoe. I've actually had more success switching to a less stable shoe--specifically the Nike Free. I'm not sure what this means, but if it works what can you say?

4) Glucosamine Sulfate. Okay, you should always be careful about taking supplements, but these seem to be effective for me. I take 500-1000 mg per day. My verterinarian thinks the stuff is a good idea and recommended that I even give some to Casey to make sure his joints are healthy in the long run. You can find some more information here. I also take fish oil (anti-inflammatory) and multivitamins. I use whey protein as a supplement too--largely because Holli and I don't eat much meat.

5) Ice. In the past I have iced my knee after running. I think this is a good idea if you start having a problem. However, I recommend stretching and even taking glucosamine first as preventative measures. I've had success with this strategy so far... Well, at least until last weekend. See comments below.

Now, part of the reason that I bring this up is that my right knee started bothering my while running in Victoria. I'm fairly certain that this is because I stopped stretching and taking glucosamine while I was there. Perhaps the lower protein consumption also made a difference--who knows? I'm going to try and take it easy this week and see how things go. Luckily, there is still ample time before the race for me to take a step back without throwing off my training too much.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Mt. Douglas


My long run turned into a regular run since I decided to go out to dinner with some people from MSU. We went to a seafood place overlooking the bay. It was nice to get a chance to see downtown Victoria.

I wanted to get at least a bit of a run in so I ran to the top of Mt. Douglas after I got back to my room. I'd had my eye on this park since there was a race being held there today. I decided to go to sessions instead of the race, but I figured I could still get some of the experience just running it myself. It isn't a high peak, but I promise you it was steep. The sun was started to set when I started my ascent and it was pretty close to dark by the time I got to the top. That was okay since there was a paved road the whole way and a parking lot at the top with several people enjoying the view. The view of Victoria was awesome and well worth the time it took to get up there. It was dark enough you could see all the lights of the city, but still bright enough you could see the bay and the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Very nice.

So I only ran 9 miles instead of the 20 I had planned. That's okay--sometimes you just need to go with the flow. Besides, I figure the hill more than made up for it.

I gotta leave for the airport at like 4:30 AM so I better get some sleep. Next post should be back in the US.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Tifosi Optics Sunglasses

I have a new supporter! Tifosi, a small sunglasses company, is sending me some sunglasses. I think that I will probably raffle a pair off or something. Hmmm... Maybe I'll throw in free tickets for everyone who has donated and then give tickets to everyone who donates $5 or $1 through http://www.firstgiving.com/brianthomas between now and some date in the future. Or maybe I should wait and see if I can get more donations for more of a blow out... If you have any ideas on how to maximize donations with the chance for free sunglasses, please feel free to post them in the comments or email me.

I'm still in Victoria. I'm going to go for a run and think about it.