Thursday, April 17, 2014

I've moved to a new web address! Come find me!

Howdy-ho internet. This post is just to announce that marathonsam has packed up and ran to a new address. You can now find all of my posts at:

I hope I can continue to tittlate and educate as I renovate. So long, google, thanks for all the fish. Marathonsam has its OWN address now.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's up Wednesday

Buenas Dias blog-o-sphere! I apologize for not checking in since my little weekend wrap-up on Sunday. I usually like to do all-photo posts on Wednesdays, but today I'll shake up my routine. Things have been a little hectic here in marathonsam-land, I thought I would send out an APB to remind the internet that I am still alive and doing what I do, namely:


Eating oatmeal:

And doing science:

Pull-downs a plenty

The main reason I didn't post anything Monday or Tuesday is because I am teaching myself how to do a new kind of experiment. The technique I am learning is called a thymidine incorporation assay. It is a way of measuring how fast cells copy their DNA. It is also a giant pain in the neck.

Things got a little overwhelming
The way these experiments work is you grow cells in the presence of a radioactively labeled DNA ingredient. You can measure how much of the radioactivity gets taken up by the cells, which gives you an indication of how quickly the cells were using that ingredient, and thus how quickly they were copying their DNA. 

Not that kind of radiation...
Not this kind of radiation either...

The question I was asking is if a particular drug slows down the rate that my friend B. subtilis copies its genome, and by how much. It looks like the answer is: a little bit. Next time I'll have to hit them with more drugs if I want a stronger effect.

"The answer is ALWAYS more drugs"
In other news: marathonsam will be undergoing some technical maintenance this week. I've decided that this little blog of mine deserves its own domain name and a better hosting service. In the future you will be able to find all of my content at Right now I'm working on migrating everything over, I apologize if any technical glitches arise during the process. I'm about as computer-literate as an iguana, but I have limitless amounts of optimism. Hopefully you won't even notice that it is happening.

I got this, guys!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, friends and neighbors! I think that some Bob Dylan would be a good way to wind down the afternoon.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Weekend wrap-up...and gastric distress

Good evening groovy guys and gals. I hope everyone has had a restful weekend and is feeling PUMPED to take on the week tomorrow.

So pumped...

On balance, I had a delightful weekend. I ran, I swam, I bought some things and I learned some things. Come along with me and I'll give you a run down of the high points, low points, and talking points.

Saturday morning started out with a 20.8 mile run. This was my last long run leading up to the marathon I am running for the Seattle Humane Society on May 4th. I would love to write that this run was amazing. I want to wax poetic about finding my flow two miles in and riding a cloud of endorphins the entire way. I wish I could say that the last run of my peak training week was the best run I have had all year...

But that would make me a liar...marathonsam may do many strange things, but he will NOT lie to his readers. Saturday's run was BRUTAL. The first 15 miles were pretty typical, pleasant even. However,  the end of the run and the last three miles in particular tested my mental tenacity, my gastrointestinal system, my sphincter control, and at some points my faith in humanity.

I was so optimistic when I was heading out to door....little did I know

Warning: the next few sentences of this blog are mostly going to be about my large and small intestines. I'm a runner. Runners are gross. You have been warned. If you find discussion of digestive issues objectionable, I'm sorry. Maybe you'd like to look at a picture of some pygmy goats instead.

If you'd like another perspective on gastric distress while running I MUST recommend this hilarious article by one of my favorite running bloggers at the website: I recommend her entire blog in general, her posts about ironman training, life, and the wacky things runners do always educate me and make me laugh. Runner's World has another good article about GI distress in runners.  This is a problem that a lot of us cope with...

OK- I've danced around the story long enough, let's get right into it. On Saturday's run I decided to try out a new flavor of energy gel. 

This flavor....this is the little packet that tried to END me

The internet is FULL of articles admonishing marathoners against trying anything new on race day. I am smart enough to have read those articles, this weekend's run seemed like a fine time to try out this new flavor of Gu. I was optimistic going into it. I know that some other Gu flavors work well for me, and I LOVE salted caramel gelato
This place is the GREATEST!

I was wrong. I was OH so terribly wrong. I ate the gel about 10 miles in. That packet is supposed to contain 100 grams of carbohydrates in the form of 70% malodextrin, and 30% fructose, with a little bit of leucine and electrolytes thrown in there for good measure. I must have gotten a bad batch because, according to how my stomach felt, apparently my Gu packet also contained a kilogram of yellowcake uranium and a whack-a-mole machine. 

This game is so FUN until it is happening in your colon
15 miles into the run I started to feel just generally not-so-right. I thought about Chi Running, and focused on making sure I was running with proper form. That had me feeling better for about a mile. Then I started noticing my stomach...not any specific pain, I suddenly just became VERY aware of my entire midsection. I shook out my arms, and started focusing on my breath to distract myself. Those tactics worked pretty well, for a little bit. 

Then things started gurgling. 

I have a new affinity for Mt. St. Helens
At mile 18 I started feeling bad. At mile 19 I felt wretched. Frankly, I was tempted to stop, but by that point finishing the running was the quickest way home. 


I think that that is all I need to say about gastric distress and digestive issues. Thank you for listening. I hope with all my heart it doesn't happen to you. However: that which does not kill us makes us stronger...and I will NOT be buying the Salted Caramel flavor of Gu again. I'l stick with my old reliables.

Here's a picture of a Llama so that we can put this episode behind us.

The rest of the weekend was great! We had a retreat for a training grant that I am on. I presented a poster and heard some interesting talks.
I have GOT to make a new poster, I have so much more data...
Lunch break at the retreat.
More posters from the retreat
I went to a nice wine shop to pick up a bottle of Beaujolais that Eric Asimov recommended.

This place is great! One of the faculty members in my department is a co-owner
Regular readers (Hi Mom! Hi Lori!) will remember that one of my goals for april is to drink more wine, and that I have decided to drink along with Eric Asimov's wine school series of articles in the New York Times. I haven't tried the bottle I bought yet, it's sitting in my wine rack waiting for the right occasion to open and sample it. 

Who wants to come to wine school with me?
I also attempted to make some headway on the tragic state of my yard this weekend.  

You can take the blogger out of the wilderness, but you can't take the wilderness out of the blogger...or his lawn
I think that the crop-circle/UFO landing zone will make an excellent spot for a fire pit!
I acquired a Weed-Eater in an attempt to make my house look a little less white-trash paradise.

and made myself look a little bit white-trash paradise in the process. 
Unfortunately,  I only ate the weeds in about a quarter of my yard before I managed to lose the little bolt that keeps the guard attached to the violently spinning rotor. I also realized that I need to buy a rake. It looks like another trip to the hardware store is in my future, but for now I think I'll put this blog post and this runner to bed.

I like this place
Have a great week everyone!

What were the highlights of YOUR weekend?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Freedom Friday

Happy Friday citizens! Guess how I started my day:

Good morning
I have dishes...sometimes it's just more fun to eat my oatmeal out of a pot....don't judge me

Today I am feeling particularly patriotic. It might be because spring is in the air, and Seattle is abloom.
So nice
It might be because the increased mileage I am running for peak training week has bumped the endorphin content in my blood to dangerous levels. 

These colors DO run...lots and lots o miles
I think that it is because there have been a few news items recently that are making me proud to be an American. Granted, there is also some legislative and judicial tomfoolery occurring that has me extremely worried (I’m looking at YOU McCutcheon vs. FEC  and no limits on aggregate donations to political campaigns from individuals …combined with the Citizens United decision, this worries me quite a bit). However, this post is not about what I personally perceive as problematic in politics. This is a post meant to CELEBRATE the freedom and individuality that exemplify the American Ideal. As Americans we may not be perfect, but we are FIERCELY independent, creative, and unique. That is what makes this country great!

I have recently been following the news coverage commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Legislation of 1964. Even though the bill itself was signed in July, a summit took place this week at the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library in Texas. President Obama gave a fantastic speech reflecting upon how far we have come as a nation…without losing sight of the challenges we still face.

In keeping with the theme of civil rights, Hillary Clinton gave a FEROCIOUS speech for women’s rights this week in San Jose. This speech, in combination with Obama’s recent executive order on equalpay for women, make me optimistic about the direction our country is heading with respect to gender equality. Not to mention the fact that my home state of Colorado is in the process of enacting a progressive reproductive freedom act

Finally, Derrick Gordon, the shooting guard for UMass Amherst, bravely and publicly came out—becoming the first openly gay division one athlete in the United States. This is a great big step forward in terms of LBGTQ equality. Only five states remain with gay marriage bans that are not being actively challenged. Just two years ago there were NO openly gay athletes. Now supporting gay marriage has become a cultural norm, as demonstrated by the extremely publicdownfall of Mozilla’s Brandon Eich

Let me be the first to admit that there are still a LOT of problems with these good old United States. A few high-profile announcements and speeches don’t magically eliminate bigotry and hatred. We still have a lot of ducks that we need to get into a proverbial row: income inequality, environmental protection, overseas interventionism…the list is long. However, even though we are a work in progress, we are MAKING progress.

Freedom, uniqueness, and individuality are as deeply rooted into the American Ideal as apple pie, iPhones, and fireworks on the fourth of July (yes I am aware that many of those things come from China- we’re an inconsistent nation of immigrants). Today I want to celebrate my identity as an American with some awesome Americans who stand up for these qualities so that America really can be the land of the free.

Let’s all take a moment and give an All-American virtual high five to LBJ, MLK, Malcom X, and Cesar Chavez; Susan B. Anthony, Susan Sontag, and Gloria Steinam; Harvey Milk, Dan Savage, and Tammy Baldwin…the list goes on and on. I celebrate our country because even if our America’s establishment is unjust, there are always AMERICANS ready to fight for everyone’s freedom. I apologize if this post is getting sentimental, but sometimes I’m a sentimental guy.

Let’s hear it readers:
Who are YOUR favorite Americans?

What is inspiring you on this fantastic Friday?