Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Science and Training--all in one

I've been continuing to get my workouts in. Still not strong enough for two-a-day. Ugh. So slow. I wish I had more endurance. I was beat after my bike ride on Saturday. Sunday, I lounged most of the afternoon on the balcony, soaking up the sunshine, drinking a latte, and watching the house finches at the bird feeder as I played Sudoku. Verrrry relaxing. I took a late afternoon nap, and then got my ass in gear and got onto the treadmill. I squeezed in a weight lifting session afterwards.

Today, after lab, I went to the pool. The day flew by and I didn't have the typical late afternoon slump that normally keeps me from the pool. Hmmm. Still figuring out how to get my energy levels up and avoid naps. I've actually been REALLY good. I've only taken 2 naps in the past 7 days! Progress. I'm still having a hard time going to bed on time and waking up earlier. Sigh.

Anyway, my pool workout went as well as could be expected. I have been missing my swim workouts so I expected to have lost some endurance. I still enjoyed my swim. I did some sets of breaststroke-backstroke-free for my warm-up. It really loosens me up. I love backstroke to compliment freestyle. And breaststroke is my active rest. I then did a set of 400 m before my form started to fall apart. Sensing I was starting to get fatigued, I did some drills to work on my form, intermixed with laps of free. I ended up with stroke counting. It felt so good. My shoulders and back are dead tired but I got a little massage from Jason and I know I'll be back in tip-top shape in no time. I just need to swim more!

I get a massage from a new person on Friday. I'm very excited. My back has these HUGE knots. My back and neck get really sore after biking. I don't know if it's a fitness thing or bike fit thing. Maybe I should find a bike shop I trust and schedule a professional fitting.

After my swim, I was really too tired to bike on the trainer so I scrapped that and decided to be satisfied that I got my priority workout done and gave it 110%. I still managed to clean the balcony and vacuum and change litterboxes and do clothes and clean up the kitchen and call the cable co and credit card co to bitch at them for being dumbasses! That will clear the way for more time during the rest of the week, so there!

I'm excited b/c Jason and I are doing the St. Patrick's Day 10k this weekend. Then, April 1st, my dad and I are doing a 4 mi run from Saratoga to Los Gatos when I visit my folks. Then, Jason and I are doing the Carlsbad 5000 on the 9th--the fastest 5k in the world! I have to do it b/c the motto itself gets my adrenaline pumping! And April 22nd, I'm doing the Devil Dog Duathlon at Camp Pendleton. Then, tri season starts, kicking off with the Spring Sprint in May. Isn't it crazy? My "A" races this year will be the San Diego International in June and the Camp Pendleton Olympic distance a bit later. I now just need to get a wetsuit so I can do some ocean swims!!! And next year, maybe a new tri bike? I haven't earned my aero bars yet but if this season goes well, maybe next year. I'm also going to check out the San Diego Triathlon Club. It's really reputable, and they have all sorts of good things going on.

As for lab, I've been settling in nicely. I really like the people I work with. I do my experiments all in the morning, particularly the mouse work. Then, in the afternoon, I settle into writing everything up, reading and outlining papers, and project planning. That's been taking up a lot of time and it's been a great schedule. I try to squeeze in a run in the afternoons when I can. I can run up to Torrey Pines, the beach, or go to the UCSD track. Way-cool. Or bring my bike, and head up the coast towards Del Mar on the Pacific Highway.

(Warning: science talk approaching.) Lab has been going really well. I'm learning how to work with mice. It's very challenging and very new to me but I've been practicing a lot and gaining confidence. My project is investigating the role of Toll-like receptors in atherosclerosis. It's so cool. There's the whole connection between the immune system, inflammation and atherosclerosis, and I'm trying to elucidate the connection. I think it's cool that fat triggers an immune response like chronic inflammation. Plus, there's another level of complexity when you think about plaque development from differentiation to a foam cell in the early lesion to thrombosis and plaque rupture in the late lesion. Waaaay cool. The lab I'm in uses a mouse model prone to atherosclerosis--the LDL receptor knockout mice. We can cross them to other mice (TLR2 or TLR4 knockouts in my case) and also do bone marrow transplantation following gamma-irradiation to investigate the role of specific proteins in only macrophages in lesion development. It's a cool system. That's sort of where I am right now. I'm learning how to harvest macrophages from mice, culture them, and stimulate them with TLR agonists to look for changes in gene expression by harvesting RNA and doing RT-PCR, using high through-put gene array. I'm learning a ton. The lab is really great too. Everyone is very helpful.

Sorry if I bored everyone with the science talk. I've got my life neatly divided into a trifecta: lab, family (Jason and buns), and triathlon. Pretty perfect!


Fizzgig said...

The science talk was actually really interesting!!!

Cliff said...

I have no idea what u are talking about but it sounds cool.

I think your endurance level is quite well. I mean it takes a while to develop it. There is no rush..besides it is fun just doing the journey.

As for running a 1/2 mara for a practice run..it's nuts huh? I was thinking about that the other day too. The body is one amazing piece of machinery.that's all i gotta say :)

Ellie Hamilton said...

Hi, Rachel, and thank you for visiting my blog.

You know what, I've been doing triathlons for 5 years including long ones (2 1/2-IM's and, last fall, an IM) and I RARELY do 2 workouts in one day. I can't handle it physically or mentally. After a longer workout than usual I need the next day off, including a nap. I do far less training than most triathletes but it gets me to the finish line.

I loved reading about your research. I'm a nurse (or was)and I actually understood what you were saying!

Ellie Hamilton said...

Oh, I forgot... Journey is a mixed breed, a Pound Hound -- the shelter called her a Shepherd mix, I see Lab and beagle. Who knows!!! She loves to run. :-)

Anonymous said...

YAY lab talk! Thank you SO much for adding it! I was worried about you liking your postdoc lab. In your earlier posts you mentioned you had a hard time getting everyone in your lab to meet with you so I was concerned.

Your project sounds cool! Don't you LOVE LOVE working with RNA? Remember how you used to make fun of me? Now's payback time, HAH! ;)

I'm finally going to do my siRNA! The only bad thing is, I have to do qPCR to make sure my gene is knocked down. Carlos gets to do WBs. it's not fair, Rachel!

Rachel said...

I'm glad y'all enjoyed my science chat. I'll have to do it more often.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Hey, that's interesting about the fat-inflammation link. I was a pre-med once, so that kind of stuff interests me a lot.

Goddess Empress of the Universe said...

Who doesn't enjoy science talk? :-) Besides macrophages are way cool! I !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bridget said...

Just have to say I loved the lab talk!