Tag Archives: vegan athletes

Plant-Based by Nafsika premieres on Wednesday — I’ll be a guest on August 24th

Plant-Based-by-Nafsika-TV-series

The vegan lifestyle show we’ve all been waiting for is finally here! Called Plant-Based by Nafsika, the show is hosted by amazing vegan mogul Nafsika Antypas who will guide us on a wide-ranging tour of veganism through engaging interviews with trailblazing vegan doctors, activists, athletes, chefs, and fashion designers, among others.

Calling itself “The world’s first vegan lifestyle TV series”, Plant-Based by Nafsika aims to show the world how healthy and fun the vegan lifestyle can be. This educational and inspirational new show will premiere on Wednesday, June 27, 7:30 AM EST on the FYI network. The rumors that I was invited to be a guest are actually true! My segment, in which I discuss joggling and unicycling for fun and fitness will air on August 24th. The launch of this show, besides many other positive developments makes this an especially exciting time to be a vegan! Be sure to tune in!

Plant-based by Nafsika TV Show glimpse

 

Becoming a better unicyclist

Screenshot from 2016-06-05 15:42:32

“Do something crazy with your energy, and you’ll always get back more than you put in” – C.P

The world of unicycling is the gift that keeps on giving. When I purchased my first unicycle last year, I realized it would take a lot of skill to be able to ride it compared to a bicycle. I knew it would take a lot of practice and getting better would likely be frustrating at times, especially after upgrading to a larger unicycle and having to relearn certain skills. Since my last unicycling report on April 18, I’ve been training on a regular basis with my 29″ unicycle and have improved in a number of ways:

  • Instead of 6.5 miles per hour on long rides, I can now ride at 8 miles per hour
  • I can go up big hills. A few days ago I climbed an 80 foot hill with an average grade of 10% without stumbling or dismounting
  • I can now idle a little on the 29″ unicycle, for 20 cycles at most
  • I can juggle while unicycling for up to 2 miles without dropping, 3.5 miles with a few drops; I can even juggle while going up and down hills, so long as they aren’t too steep. My joggling ability definitely helped me with this skill.

In my experience, all it takes to ride faster is feeling more comfortable on the unicycle, and so this it the easiest thing to improve in the short-term.

Idling on the 29″unicycle  was particularly difficult at first. Though I could often idle for several minutes nonstop on my 24″ unicycle, at first I found idling impossible on the 29″. I just couldn’t maneuver the larger wheel the same way I could the 24″, and kept dismounting after dozens of failed attempts. I grew increasingly frustrated with my inability to idle on the 29″, then one day it clicked and I was elated. It was a magical moment. I finally figured it out and 1 idle became 3, then 10, then 20. It’s still much more challenging and tiring than on the 24″, but it’s starting to feel almost natural.

Hills are still a challenge as well. There are steep hills around here that I can easily climb with the 24″ that I still can’t do with the 29″. Juggling while unicycling doesn’t feel like joggling yet, but that will take a little more practice. I still need to work on hopping and going backwards. If you’re new to unicycling and are struggling, just keep on practicing. There are tons of videos on Youtube that give a lot of useful tips. What seems impossible now may soon come easy to you with enough practice.

All in all, I’m enjoying unicycling and the fitness benefits, even if learning certain skills can be frustrating at times. Discovering strange new abilities certainly makes it a worthwhile fitness challenge.

Screenshot from 2016-06-05 19:28:30

Documentary about the Vegan Joggler

Thanks to a very talented group of students from Bronxville high school for producing this short film. Although I kind of liked being this mysterious figure and this makes me a lot less of one, I’m still glad I got to share my story since a lot of people find it inspiring. I was very impressed with the finished product, especially the music. I rarely mention the horrible backstory that lead me to take up joggling because it was eons ago and now my joggling is so intertwined with my veganism that I almost forget how it all started.

If you like stories about passion and perseverance, then this is for you. All credit for the documentary goes to Ohto, John George, and Scott; I didn’t film or edit this, that was all their work. There are no special effects. I hope all you fit-freaks and even non-fit-freaks around the world find it informative and inspiring.

Joggling the Looper Bowl

Screenshot from 2016-02-25 20:11:27

At the Looper Bowl finish line

Many people think joggling is difficult enough as it is. Why would anyone try to make this ridiculous activity any more complicated? Yet there are 5 ball and even 7 ball jogglers; jogglers who do tricks while joggling; backwards jogglers like Joe Salter, who plans to set a 50 mile backwards joggling record in October.

Then there are jogglers like me who love to joggle hilly trails. Even in wintry conditions.

Earlier this month I joggled the Looper Bowl 10k up in Pound Ridge, NY for the first time. The last 2 times I just ran it since I wasn’t up for the challenge of joggling it. The first time I ran it, I didn’t have that much trail joggling experience, and though I considered joggling it the second time it was too cold and the snow on the trails was much deeper.

This time it was just under 20F at the 8 AM start, and it got a little warmer during the run. Besides this, the trail was only partially covered with snow. So the conditions were just right for my first attempt at joggling this treacherous trail. For safety reasons I was one of the very last of the 50 participants to start the race.

For about the first 2 miles through this winter wonderland I felt alright except for my hands. They felt cold in spite of the fact that I had on heavy duty gloves. By mile 3 they felt fine after I warmed up. I think this was the greatest obstacle course I’ve ever joggled through: other runners, endless twists and turns, ups and downs, rock outcroppings, tree roots, ice, mud, and sometimes the snow was a challenge to joggle though. This was a really big challenge since I am not used to joggling on such a course. My eyes were kept extremely busy looking down and ahead to make sure I didn’t trip over anything and also to ensure I could maintain my juggling pattern through the endless unevenness.

I managed to joggle drop-free until I got to about mile 3, thanks to a hill so steep the trail was almost vertical. I dropped 2 times on that monster, and ended up having to climb to the top on all fours because of its steepness and slipperiness. Upon reaching the top I felt frustrated but quickly regained my composure. About a mile later I fell and dropped because of some slippery rocks, but was back on my feet in no time. I really picked up the pace during the last mile and a half when the trail was a lot smoother, passing a few runners in the process. Something had come over me, like some ancient forest spirit possessed me and helped push me forward all the way to the end without any further drops.

In spite of everything, I managed to maintain a 9:35/mile overall pace, completing this 6.2 mile run in 1:01 and 46 seconds. Toward the end, my brain was more tired than anything. I got so much support from my fellow runners that day, they seemed to enjoy the joggling. I had a fantastic time. Believe it or not, I wasn’t the craziest one out there; the runners who went through rather than over the nearly waist deep water were the really crazy ones. Very inspirational. Maybe I’ll try that next year. Thanks to the Leatherman Lunatics, uh I mean Leatherman Harriers for organizing this event. You all did great!

5 More Things That Aren’t Necessary For Being a Healthy Vegan

Screenshot from 2016-01-24 12:31:45

The long-awaited sequel is here! The post I did back in November of last year titled “10 Things That Aren’t Necessary For Being a Healthy Vegan” was so popular(a big thanks to everyone who shared it), I decided to do a followup. Many things were left out because I didn’t want the post to be too long, so I prioritized the most common things that I believe are problematic. Here are 5 more things you don’t need to be a healthy vegan:

1) Eat alkaline

This form of pseudoscience has a following both within the vegan/plant-based community and misguided health nuts among omnivores. It overlaps to a large extent with rawfoodism, though isn’t necessarily the same thing. The idea behind this diet is that most people eat diets that are too “acid-forming”, and that an acidic environment inside the body can lead to serious diseases, including cancer.

By eating an alkaline diet, you are helping to prevent this unhealthy acidic environment in your body and the diseases it causes. Some advocates go even further and claim it can be used to treat serious diseases. Basically, eating alkaline means consuming lots of fresh fruits and vegetables(since they are generally alkaline), which is excellent advice, though alkaline gurus recommend it for the wrong reasons. There is virtually no scientific basis to this type of diet. You can’t do much to alter your PH through diet, and your body works hard to make sure your PH stays within a very limited range to keep you healthy.

Some medical conditions can lead to a significant shift in PH, which can be dangerous; the medical conditions associated with a PH imbalance require urgent medical care. Assuming you have this type of problem, you cannot fix it through diet. There is no good reason whatsoever to embrace this fad diet and its idiotic restrictions.

2) Give up all grain including bread

One of the hallmarks of disordered eating is avoiding perfectly healthy food for irrational, pseudoscientific reasons. It’s disturbing witnessing all the over the top fear-mongering on social media concerning soy foods, olive oil, cooked food, and even staples like grain and bread. Grain-free is yet another ridiculous, unnecessary restriction that greatly increases your chances of failing at veganism. It’s no coincidence that the zealots pushing this “grain is poison” madness are very often rawfoodists, though they have allies among the paleo, high meat/protein crowd.

At its most basic, the idea behind this type of dietary restriction is that grains will ruin your health because we supposedly didn’t evolve to eat them. Grains cause obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and Adam Sandler movies. As always with pseudoscience based restrictions, there is virtually no evidence for these claims, except that in a generic sense there is a grain of truth to it. Eating too much of anything can lead to health problems, not just grain. Yes, grain isn’t perfect, it contains “toxins” like phytates, but there is no such thing as a “perfect” food or a “perfect” diet. If you had to abstain from something because it contains small quantities of “toxins” and therefore falls short of perfection, you’d have to give up everything and end up starving to death.

Now while a minority of the population are better off restricting carbs or eating high-protein, this approach doesn’t appear to benefit most people. This fad is best ignored. Grain won’t harm you when consumed in reasonable amounts; whole grains are one of the cornerstones of a healthy vegan diet.

3) Focus on super foods

The most important thing you should realize about “super foods” is that this is purely a marketing term, not a special class of food recognized and recommended by reputable health professionals. That said, there’s nothing wrong with eating them, just don’t get carried away with thinking there is something magical about them.

What you really should be focusing on is eating a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The wider the variety, the better. The criteria for deciding what is a “super food” is usually pretty arbitrary and changes with time and what is fashionable at the moment. Since antioxidants are all the rage right now, “super foods” very often have a high antioxidant content. All too often, the evidence showing some unique medicinal effect for a certain “super food” is weak or preliminary, but that doesn’t stop health guru authors, supplement pushers, and retailers from hyping them. Again, “super foods” can be part of a healthy diet, but there’s no good reason to consume them in supplement form.

Ignore the hype and just eat several servings of fruits and vegetables every day – darker, more colorful ones are generally more nutritious.

4) Go macrobiotic

The popularity of the macrobatic diet waxes and wanes. Right now, this Japanese type diet doesn’t seem all that popular, but all it would take to make it popular again is a major celebrity endorsement. Macrobiotics isn’t a vegan or vegetarian diet(it usually includes fish) but it comes close, so it is easy enough to make it vegan.

For the most part, a macrobiotic diet is pretty healthy(though it can be salty), at least when you compare it to the way most Americans eat. It emphasizes fruits and vegetables, legumes(especially soy), and whole grains. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that macrobiotics is an overly restrictive diet based on pseudoscience. Although it gets a lot of things right, it does so for the wrong reasons. An important feature of macrobiotics are these arcane, complicated food combining rules, the purpose of which is to properly balance the “yin and yang” elements of food to help you achieve optimum health. For example, perfectly healthful members of the nightshade family like potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant are excluded from this diet because they are considered too “yin”. It really should go without saying that there is no scientific basis to “yin” or “yang”; you could be missing out on a lot of nutritious foods if you follow these nonsensical rules.

There really is nothing macrobiotics can add to an already healthy plant-based diet except unnecessary restrictions, so there’s no good reason to embrace macrobiotics.

5) Go paleo

Finally, the diet that combines the best of both worlds, with incredible health benefits reflecting this best of both worlds approach. However, does it live up to the hype?

The paleo diet, which mimics the way our caveman ancestors ate is thought by proponents to be the ideal human diet since we evolved to eat this way. Or at least that is what paleos want you to believe. In essence, the paleo diet is really just the latest iteration of high protein dieting; it’s more or less a successor to the Atkins diet.

The central idea to paleo is that if you want to be optimally healthy, eat like a caveman. That’s because cavemen ate the way nature intended us to eat, we “evolved” to eat a paleo diet. Since cavemen didn’t eat processed foods, the paleo diet excludes processed foods like refined sugars, oils, etc. This is generally a good idea, though some people get a little too carried away with this. Paleos also typically eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and don’t consume dairy, so it should be easy for vegans to go paleo, right? Only if you ignore the fact that paleos typically eat a lot of meat and generally forgo grain and legumes, and that the diet is followed purely for health reasons.

To me, there’s always been something very oxymoronic about this “paleo-vegan” phenomenon. After all, a great way to describe the paleo diet is “wholefoodism for meat-lovers”. People who think paleo and vegan are compatible or combine well are usually clueless hipsters obsessed with all things trendy. I struggle to think of two things more antithetical than veganism and paleoism.

A lot of half-truths, distortions and pseudoscience underpin the paleo philosophy, but I’m mainly concerned here with how paleo-veganism is often promoted as an improved version of veganism by paleo-vegan adherents. In a lot of ways, it’s certainly healthier than the way most Americans eat, but does it offer anything to vegans?

As far as I can tell, it doesn’t offer anything to vegans except unnecessary restrictions which puts them on a slippery slope to disordered eating. Like I said before, a small percentage of the population may benefit from minimizing grain and carbs, and eating more high protein foods, but one need not go paleo to accomplish this. If you eat a whole food vegan diet, embracing paleo is largely redundant, since you’re already excluding dairy, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables. Science doesn’t suggest that paleo-vegans are healthier than regular vegans, or that this is the best diet.

In my opinion, just ignore this fad or anyone who fancies themselves as a reborn caveman. We already knew that eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods was good for us, and that dairy isn’t necessary, well before paleo came along.

  ********

These are just 5 more things that may screw up your vegan diet, on top of the 10 from the previous post. I could have easily added several more to this list, but it starts getting repetitive. I write these lists because I am troubled by all the bad health advice that encourages disordered eating being spread on the blogosphere and social media. I run into ex-vegans all the time and I usually find they embraced a type of extreme diet based on lots of terrible advice and/or unnecessary restrictions like those on this list. Vegans shouldn’t be made to feel guilty by fellow vegans for not following some “perfect” version of a vegan diet, when there is no good reason to follow this “perfect” diet. I want veganism to be as practical and evidence-based as possible, not difficult and esoteric.

Pseudoscience and misinformation does nothing to help vegans improve their health, or for that matter, in case you’ve forgotten, live an ethical lifestyle that does not exploit animals, which is all that veganism is supposed to be about.

Related articles:

Is the “alkaline diet” legit? Does meat cause cancer because it’s acidic?

There’s no such thing as a superfood. It’s nonsense.

 More Trouble for Antioxidants

Stop Confusing Veganism with Clean Eating (and Pass Me That Vegan Donut…)

2015: The Year in Joggling

original-4c0dbc486637

At the Yonkers Marathon in October. In spite of some difficulties, I managed to complete it.

2015 was a particularly eventful year in the world of joggling. It had its highs and lows, the biggest low by far was when Michal Kapral was not allowed to joggle the NYC Marathon by the fascists who organize the event. He ran the event without juggling and made big news anyway. For a synopsis on all that happened in the joggling world in 2015, read Michal Kapral’s post, The Year in Joggling 2015.

In my neck of the woods in the world of joggling, I’ve also had my highs and lows, with my low point being the disaster that was the Yonkers marathon. Due to knee issues on an especially hilly section of the race, it was my slowest marathon ever, finishing in over 4 hours. By some miracle I didn’t drop the balls, and besides this, during the marathon I joggled my fastest 30k(2:29:36), half-marathon(1:39:15), 10 mile(1:13:23), and 15k(1:08:07) ever. The crowd support was priceless and often pretty funny. The lesson learned from this is to take it easy on the hills. Luckily this knee issue/injury was minor, and I am currently joggling long distances again.

Besides this, earlier last year I completed another Looper Bowl, though as a runner, not a joggler. Even I’m not crazy enough to joggle on a snowy, hilly trail for several miles. This hilly trail run was held in early February during an arctic blast after several snow storms, so there was a lot of snow on the ground. My feet are still angry at me for what I put them through at the beginning of this run when it was only a few degrees above zero, though I had fun overall and didn’t get lost this time. Had even more fun joggling in the city during the summer.

In November, much to my surprise, I was mentioned and quoted in the NY Times in their article about Michal Kapral, “Running While Juggling Is Banned by Marathon Organizers”, even though I had nothing to do with this event. Also quoted were joggling super-stars Zach Warren, circus performer and development worker in Afghanistan who has broken world records in unicycling and joggling, and Richard Alec Ross, a development worker in Central African Republic, who, among his other duties teaches joggling to refugee children.

The more time goes by and I forget about the bad, the more 2015 looks like an extraordinary year of joggling. It may not have been my best year, or the year in which public perception of joggling has changed for the better so that it’s seen as a sport and not as a circus act, but we can dream. More importantly, I also dream of the world going vegan; it’s fantastic being able to combine two things that I love. In the mean time, I will continue to joggle, and intend to make 2016 my comeback year; besides this, I’ve also recently taken up a cross-training activity that I will get to in another post.

 

How to joggle an entire marathon without dropping

Screenshot from 2014-01-02 22:06:36

Although I have touched on this subject before, I keep getting asked how it is possible to joggle an entire marathon without dropping by both fellow jogglers and non-jogglers alike. Although I have only completed one marathon without dropping(I dropped at the other 2 I did), these days I can often joggle for 20 miles without dropping. I hate to sound like I’m bragging; there are other jogglers who can joggle entire marathons without dropping, and I’m not a world record holder. So what is my secret? Here is how I do it:

  1. Get plenty of practice. I usually joggle 6 days a week, which adds up to about 40 to 50 miles of joggling per week. Even on the days I don’t joggle, I practice juggling for at least 20 minutes.
  2. While joggling, relax, and always maintain your posture. Take deep breaths. Approach joggling as an active meditation. Keep movements smooth, think of it as a form of dancing, or martial arts. It’s inevitable that people will try to distract you while you’re joggling, but stay focused on what you’re doing.
  3. Strength-train your upper body. In order to build endurance in your arms to enable you to juggle for many hours, you will have to strength-train your upper body about once or twice a week. I mean exercises like push-ups, curls, and pull-ups. Doing a little core work like bicycle crunches or planks may help too. I find that just a few minutes is sufficient for improving muscle endurance and circulation in my arms.
  4. Occasionally practice juggling(or joggling) with heavy balls. This is almost the same thing as #3, except it combines improving muscle memory with endurance work by targeting the muscles you use for juggling. Juggling with heavy balls for a few minutes is also a great warm up exercise before joggling, since it increases circulation to your arms.
  5. When practicing juggling, work your way up to juggling 4, 5 or more balls. Just about all jogglers are 3 ball jogglers, but if you can juggle 4 or more that will help improve your arm speed and hand eye coordination. Once you can go a few minutes without dropping, try occasionally joggling with 4, 5 or more balls. I often practice with 4 balls as part of a routine I like to call “juggle chi”. It’s basically combining juggling with T’ai Chi movements.
  6. While training, learn to do lots of tricks while joggling. This will improve your hand-eye coordination and balance. At races, keep tricks to a minimum, if you’re doing them at all, unless you’re really good at them.
  7. Joggle with fruit occasionally. This can really challenge and improve your hand-eye coordination to the point that you won’t even feel like you’re joggling when you go back to joggling with regular balls. To take it to the next level, joggle with different types of fruit or fruit of different weight and do tricks with them.
  8. Do balance work. When juggling at home, stand on one leg. Better yet, juggle with heavy balls or do lots of tricks while standing on one leg while spinning around. Or combine balance work with strength training by doing planks or other exercises on an exercise(stability) ball. Balance and coordination go hand in hand, since you are more likely to drop if you are off-balance.
  9. Hit the trails, especially hilly ones. This is the ultimate joggling challenge since hilly trails can challenge everything all at once. If you can master this, joggling on flat surfaces becomes a piece of cake. Once you become proficient at this, take it to the next level by joggling trails with fruit or heavy balls.

2014 Joggling Highlights

13513488_2

At the 2014 Yonkers Marathon

2014 was an epic joggling year for me. Overall, I ran 2,286 miles in 2014, juggling about 95% of the time. So much happened it would be difficult to write about all of it. I improved so much and broke so many personal records my mind has trouble digesting it all. So rather than mention all that happened, I thought it would be better to focus on the highlights of 2014.

The WNY Vegfest

This is the first vegan event I’ve ever been invited to. This was also the very first WNY Vegfest, and I must say it’s off to a great start. I managed to joggle the Tofurky Trot 5k in slightly more than 20 minutes, and didn’t drop the balls even once. It was priceless being with and meeting so many enthusiastic vegans at this event, celebrating and showcasing the vegan lifestyle. I can still feel all the energy from this event; you really should go this year if you happen to live anywhere close to the planet earth.

The Yonkers Marathon

This was my second time joggling this hilly, historic race, and my third marathon overall. I guess you could say I’ve improved. Not only was I 11 minutes(3:40) faster than in 2013, I didn’t drop the balls even once. Not in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought such a thing was even possible not too long ago. This just goes to show you what you can accomplish with enough dedication. I still feel the Joggler’s High from this event, even though it took place in late September.

Joggling 40 miles from Mount Vernon to Mahopac

My crowning achievement of 2014, and the culmination of many years of joggling. This is the farthest distance I’ve ever run or joggled. I only dropped once, and that was at mile 39! If it wasn’t so dark, I probably wouldn’t have dropped. There are moments when I think this was a strange dream. It just seems so close to impossible that there is this surreal quality to it. Yet again, it’s ultimately the product of unrelenting dedication. To live a life without ever attempting the impossible is a life not fully lived.

Beyond my tiny little piece of the joggling world, it was a terrific year for the sport of joggling, with new world records set. The always amazing Michal Kapral set yet another world joggling record, this time with the half-marathon(1:20:40). He did this as part of a team who are raising money to help AIDS orphans. He also appeared in TV ads for Fairfield Inn and Suites as part of their “Stay Amazing” campaign.

Besides this, rising super-star Dana Guglielmo broke the 5k world joggling record in April. I find her story so inspirational because she managed to break a world joggling record while suffering from arthritis.

Yonkers Marathon race report

13513488_2

On marathon day, I awoke at 5:20 AM, jumped out of bed, and ran out the door to do a quick run. I ran for about 100 yards through the eerie darkness, about half a block and back to my house for the breakfast that would be my last significant carb-loading meal before the race.

Breakfast consisted of raw sunflower seeds mixed with kimchi, dried cherries, and a bagel drizzled with flaxseed oil. This is what I normally eat for breakfast, though the fruit often varies. Sometimes I eat kiwis or mangoes instead of cherries. The day of a marathon and for days before I always stick to what my body is familiar with, to avoid any problems.

Downtown Yonkers is just a few miles away so it was a quick ride to the start line. With the race set to start at 8 AM, I wanted to make sure I was there by 7:30. It was in the mid 60s, much warmer than last year. I did a few short warm up runs along the Hudson river(and 2 push-ups), and went back to the start line by 7:50 and drank the last of the juice I had with me. There were nearly 1,000 runners there, most of whom were doing the half-marathon; only about 167 were there for the full marathon, including me.

After a delay, the race started a little after 8:05. It was a frenzied start like always, and I passed many runners and many runners passed me as we ran through northward through downtown Yonkers. Many people like last year were amazed by the joggling, and I was accused, like last year, of being a “show-off”. The route along Warburton avenue overlooks the Hudson river and often provides spectacular views, but unfortunately my stomach was giving me problems. It was mostly this vague stomach pain that tended to get worse whenever I would run faster. I started out slow, but was slowly picking up the pace. As we ran north, the route not only becomes hillier but also more suburban.

After drinking some Gatorade at around mile 5, my stomach felt even worse. I did my best to ignore it, and was running even faster. I was just a little nauseous, but at the next aid station I grabbed some water and I felt much better. The hills were brutal. They felt even more brutal than last time because I refused to let them slow me down. The race starts at a little above sea level and involves over 1,000 feet total elevation climb. The big hill in Hastings(a small town just north of Yonkers) is especially steep, so much so, while doing the second loop I swore I heard the hills laugh. Some runners just walk up all or part of the way of these hills. After mile 5, the crowd of runners had mostly thinned out.

By the time I looped around to the start line area in downtown Yonkers at the 13 mile mark(50% done), I was feeling super and the space between runners was so big I felt like I was doing a training run. My stomach problem was mostly forgotten, and the crowd support was unbelievable. There were even some people shouting “go vegan!” or “that’s my man!”. Now on my second loop(this is a double loop course), I all of a sudden felt this rush of energy that allowed me to pass a bunch of runners. I’m not sure how fast I was going, since I wasn’t able to record this on my Runkeeper, but I was probably running somewhere in the 7 minute mile range on a gentle incline.

As I approached the steep hills of Hastings yet again, I started slowing down. And so did some of the other runners. The hills seemingly went on forever while running south back to Yonkers and the temperature was well into the 70s. I felt like I had hit the wall by mile 18, though I would pick up the speed on the downhills. At mile 20, I realized I hadn’t dropped my balls even once, though I was expecting to before I reached the finish line.

By mile 23 my legs felt so heavy that even small hills were becoming a challenge. I was sweating profusely on this unseasonably warm, sunny day. I grabbed my last Gatorade, and tried picking up my speed as I headed straight for the finish line along the Hudson. I think at this point the man in the tutu ran past me, complimenting me on my juggling. I complimented his style.

As I’m approaching the finish line along the Hudson river, there was some amazing crowd support, including from some fellow vegans. Since this was my second time running this, I was hoping for a PR. Last year I merely wanted to complete so I held back, but this year I often went all out. There was so much excitement as I crossed the finish line, I think even more than last year. It probably helps that I was significantly faster than last year.

The results: I finished in 3:40, compared to 3:51 last year(the route was virtually identical to last year). This is a new PR for me. Out of the 167 finishers, I was 35. Of the 31 males in the 30 to 39 age group, I was 7th. But most shocking of all is that I didn’t drop the balls once. Sure I fumbled a few times, but I didn’t drop. This is my third marathon, and my first zero drops marathon. I wasn’t expecting this, not with all the brutal hills, pot-holes, other runners, and endless distractions. Not to mention the heat, exhaustion, and borderline delirium during the last few miles.

I hope that while running this race I’ve inspired others to go vegan; that would make me happier than the new PR or the fact that this was a zero drops run. I’d rather drop 10 times and get 5 people interested in going vegan than drop zero times and have no one think of going vegan.

Congratulations to the amazing Oz Pearlman for winning the Yonkers Marathon(2:37) 2 years in a row! 1 day after winning the Hampton’s Marathon! Wow! Thanks to everyone for making this a wonderful race experience, especially the volunteers, and thanks to NYCRUNS for organizing this. All in all, a great race, and congratulations to everyone who finished the full and half marathon!

2013 Yonkers Marathon Race Report

Addendum:

Why did I experience so much stomach pain this time compared to last time? It could be due to my faster pace, but it may also be do to all the carb-loading I did in the days leading up to the marathon. I may have overdone it, I was eating tons of bread, pasta, and fruit, and sometimes I felt a little sick afterwards. I did have some probiotics like kimchi, but no kefir juice in the days before the race. I believe this helps, though sometimes probiotics can be unpredictable. It’s possible I drank too much juice before the race. According to some sources, fructose is more likely to cause stomach upset than other sugars.

Not getting enough sleep sometimes plays a role in digestive upset, however, I believe I got more sleep this year compared to last year. I slept I think 7 1/2 hours versus 6 1/2 last year, and I was less nervous.

Another difference from last year concerns the omega 3’s. Last year I was still taking vegan DHA/EPA supplements. I stopped doing this almost a year ago because I wasn’t sure if they were doing anything, and now I only take flaxseed oil for my omega 3’s. The ALA(alpha-linolenic acid) in flaxseed oil can convert to DHA(docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid) in many if not most people if they maintain the proper ratio of omega 3’s to other fats(the proper ratio is a controversial issue) and are healthy otherwise.

Science has shown that the omega 3’s, DHA in particular, are important for optimal brain function, and also for cardiovascular health. Late last year I decided to stop taking the DHA/EPA supplement, just to see if I noticed any difference. I replaced it with flaxseed oil, which, as I explained before, contains a precursor essential fatty acid called ALA which can be converted to DHA and EPA. I figured that if I were to become deficient in DHA, or any other omega 3, my joggling performance, which requires a high level of neuromuscular functioning, would suffer.

Since then, it seems my joggling performance has improved over last year. I didn’t drop once during several 20+ mile training runs(this didn’t happen last summer), and even the times I did drop, I dropped once or twice. Last year I could only go as far as 15 miles without dropping, while this year during training I went as far as 23 miles without dropping, and now this record was broken at the marathon and I can go 26.2 without dropping. All while not taking DHA/EPA supplements.

This isn’t scientific, it’s not like I’ve had my blood tested, but I think it’s safe to say my DHA/EPA levels and omega 3’s in general are adequate. I think the ALA I get from flaxseed oil is converting to DHA/EPA in significant amounts. A lot more research needs to be done on these essential fatty acids, but I don’t think I need DHA/EPA supplementation anymore. To get adequate omega 3’s on a vegan diet, you simply need to eat flaxseeds or their oil, or chia seeds, or walnuts. It may not be wise to take DHA or EPA supplements, so consult a doctor or health professional if you think you can’t get enough from diet alone.

Vegfest WNY here I come!

header-wny-vegfest-buffalo

 

Yes everyone, the rumors floating around in the vegan-o-sphere are true. I am happy to report that I will be attending the first annual VegFest WNY in Buffalo, New York, on August 3rd, at 11 AM, and will joggle the Tofurkey Trot 5K. It sounds like it’s going to be a blast, a real extraVeganza! There will be delicious vegan food, inspiring speakers, live music, exhibits, dancers, acrobats, animal adoptions, and so much more.

If you’re in the area, I hope you can make it to the fest. There’s nothing like having fun and supporting a great cause. Special guest runners at the race include: George Laraque, Andrew Peters, Derek Walter & Steve Jenkins(Esther the Wonderpig’s Dads), and the Buffalo Joywalkers. What a list of inspiring vegan/veggie athletes/activists! Don’t forget that this is a run or walk event.

Thanks to Veganpathways and all the other vegans in west New York for making this possible. You guys are amazing; I wouldn’t be surprised if all of western New York goes vegan thanks to your efforts. When I’m not busy munching on delicious vegan food, or dodging buffalo stampedes, I’ll be more than happy to give free juggling lessons to anyone interested. I promise to keep my bad jokes to a minimum.

I’m really looking forward to this big celebration of the vegetarian lifestyle and the race, and meeting so many other like-minded vegans. I can already feel the energy! Above all, let’s have fun and make this a day to remember!

Your support of WNY Vegfest will benefit Asha Sanctuary, Farm Sanctuary, and Food Not Bombs

trot-poster-2