Monday, March 30, 2015

Preliminary thoughts on DNA results

Let's start with some definitions and meanings that y'all may remember from Biology class.
Homozygous- both copies of the gene are mutated.  Enzyme is 70% defective.
Heterozygous- one normal copy, one mutated.  Enzyme is 30% defective.
Compound Heterozygous- multiple alleles.  In both alleles, one normal and one mutated.  50% defective.

ACE- Heterozygous.  Impacts sodium retention.  Surprised this was not homozygous but it's a pleasant surprise.  This suggests that I am genetically suited to middle distance running, which I already knew.

MTHFR- Homozygous on 677, which is the worst mutation to have.  Not a surprise given what's going on.  The 1298 allele is normal however so it could be worse.

COMT- Compound hetero.  I feared the worst on the one and I suppose hetero cases respond better to treatment.  This one likely affects my zinc/copper and methylation.

CBS-Compound hetero.  I expected this.  The mutation is responsible for the taurine issues.  In the past, taurine has been both a life saver and a nightmare.

VDR- Compound hetero.  This one affects Vitamin D metabolism.  My Cal supp contains D so it may have impacted the Cal/Mag sensitivity.

DETOX path-
Overall, this one looked pretty good.  One mutation that stuck out was a double homozygous result on SOD 2.  There is evidence that suggests that this one is preventing me from reaching my max heart rate.  That makes a LOT of sense to me.  I don't wear a heart rate monitor but I'm sure that when I was cranking out sub-7:30 workouts with ease, my heart rate was indeed fairly low.  The workouts were NOT too hard.  I often under-performed in races because I just could not access the top gear needed to get up to 185 BPM.  It's like stripping an 8 cylinder engine down to 6.  If I can fix this one, it could be HUGE. 

NOS- Homozygous here as well and I just read that can make the CBS issues worse.  That makes sense too.

Still premature to say how this will impact the rest of my life.  I'll know a lot more after I talk to a health coach.

Early plan:
-I'm going to try to increase my folate to fight the MTHFR.  My diet is a bit deficient in greens.  I will need 5-Methyl folate if I can tolerate it.

-Ordered B12 in the correct form (Hydroxyl rather than methyl or cyano).  This form is well tolerated by those with COMT issues.  I already know I can't take the methyl.

-Ordered a SOD supplement.

-Picked up some Ribose.  Evidence suggests that my mitochondrial function is poor as is my ATP production.

-Stay with AllinOne for general detox support.

-Stay with Cal/Mag+Thym-Adren for fast oxidation.

In the last 2 years, I have improved my Mag and copper status, which are critical minerals for energy production yet I've gotten worse.  It could be that my extreme fast oxidation compensated for weaknesses in ATP and mitochondrial function.

Methylation status:
I remain very sensitive to methyl donors but I cannot know for sure my methylation status until I do a whole blood histamine test, which is not available on Request a Test.  The cause of the sensitivity could be over-methylation, the mutations or toxic metals.

Another rant about doctors:
Homocysteine, which was the only lab value flagged in 2005, is more dangerous to the cardiovascular system than cholesterol yet my MD totally dismissed it.  Given that I have the MTHFR defect, I'm sure it's still high.  He also said that it was easily treatable with a B-complex.  WRONG!  Most cheap B complexes do more harm than good.  In particular, folic acid is terrible for the MTHFR defect.  It's got to be 5-methyl folate.  COMT patients have trouble with B6 especially if tissue calcium is low.  Also, most B12s are cyano, which contains a toxic molecule of cyanide.  BAD stuff.  The MD also said that since Bs are water soluble, they can't hurt you because you just pee out the excess.  Why did my whole body stiffen up within minutes of taking the B6?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ancestry results

  The DNA test results are in!  As expected, there are numerous mutations but it does appear to be treatable.  Bottom line is that I've got to solve the instability.  I may never PR again but I really do want to get back to the point in which I can enjoy the running community and participate in group runs without fear of a collapse and the walk of shame.  The results are very complex and I don't fully understand them yet so it's premature to post the full results and explanation until I talk with a health coach.  I feel a bit better psychologically knowing that the test found something.

No shockers here.  I expected to see a good mix of Western and Eastern European DNA with possible traces from West and Central Asia or North Africa.  I would have been very surprised to see any Native American or sub-Saharan African DNA.  Without further ado, here are the results:

Fully 100% European- A mild surprise that there was no trace of anything else but again, it's an interesting mix nonetheless.  Here's the breakdown:

18.5% British and Irish- No surprise here.  My paternal grandmother was born in Scotland.  I expected the percentage to be under 25 because Scottish DNA is quite diverse.

2.9% Scandinavian (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland)- Interesting but not a big surprise.  Scandinavian DNA is common in Scotland but I know that I have no recent ancestry from there so that percentage is probably accurate.

2.8% French and German- That percentage seems awfully low given that there is a lot of German ancestry on my father's side but there's a reason for that as explained below.

25.3% Broadly Northern European- I'll bet that this is mostly German or at least Western European.  This is only the preliminary result and could get more precise upon further inspection and more data. Germany was not fully unified until the late 19th century, which I believe was after my father's ancestors came to America. 

30.8% Eastern European- This includes countries such as Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, Czech, Slovenia but I know that this came from my mother's side, which is mostly Polish.  This was expected and the percentage seems about right.  Poland was not homogenized as there was a lot of migration from southeastern Europe in the Middle Ages.

0.2% Balkan- (Includes regions such as Greece, Serbia and the former Yugoslavia).  An interesting find but not a big surprise.  This most likely came from my mother's side as part of the migration to Poland.

1.7% Broadly Southern European- Can't be pinpointed but I would not be surprised if it is also Balkan DNA.

0.2% Ashkenazi- (related to European Jewish DNA).  This was the biggest surprise of my results.  I think it's pretty cool that I have a trace of Jewish ancestry even though it is several centuries old.  I could be very distantly related to some Bible characters.

17.6% Broadly European- Again, it cannot be pinpointed exactly but it was narrowed down to Europe.  There could be traces from Italy, Spain or others but more than likely, this percentage is from both my mother and father's side and likely will add to the percentage of Eastern European and German.

Bluegrass Half RR

  Even in my previous bad races, I felt there was a chance that I could pull something out even though I was not feeling the best.  This time I knew not to expect anything other than a loud sucking noise. I have been limited to about 20 MPW over the last 4 weeks with little motivation since I have no real chance of improvement until I get the genetic test results.   Even if everything broke in my favor, I would be hard pressed to break 1:45 on a tough course and I feared a Gallo-walk with a time well over 2 hours.  Fortunately, because of the generous 3.5 hour time limit (16 minute pace), there was never any doubt that I would finish.  Even if I crashed in Mile 3 and had to walk the rest of the way, I would get to the line with time to spare. 

Took the whole day off work on Friday and made it a 1 day trip.  No need to worry about wearing myself out from driving.  I was going to suck no matter what I did.  I opted for the more scenic route through Chattanooga and Knoxville rather than through Nashville.  It added about 30 minutes to the trip but it was worth it.  Even though the trees were still bare, it was very scenic especially through northeast TN and south central KY.  I arrived in Lexington around dinner time after a fairly comfortable driving day.  I scored a bargain on a bright yellow Nike winter top for just $40 at the expo then polished off a full rack of ribs at Applebee's for dinner before settling into my fleabag motel.  Race morning also went without a hitch.

Kentucky is hilly but downtown Lexington is relatively flat.  However, this course would not be going downtown.  It started and finished on the grounds of Keeneland race track and we would catch a view of the track itself.  I'm not much of a horse racing fan but that was still pretty cool.  Most half marathons start at 7:00 or 8:00 AM but this time, the gun would not go off until 9:00.  That can be a good call or a bad call depending on the weather.  This year, it was a good call as the low temp dipped down to 20 with a 10 degree wind chill.  By 9:00 with the sun up for 2 hours, it wasn't too bad.  It was probably in the upper 20s at the start and 35 at the finish with sunny skies and moderate winds. 

The course is one of the toughest I've done.  It was advertised as rolling with a 500' elevation gain.  It seemed a lot more than that.  A quick and accurate description was one climb for about a quarter mile that was relatively steep but not a killer followed by an equally long and steep downhill that gave back the previous elevation gain.  It was just like that for pretty much the entire course.  No let up.  I counted a grand total of 3 relatively flat stretches and none of them were particularly long.  No hill will kill you but the cumulative effects take their toll and by Mile 10, you're shot.  It was all rural through the horse farms and I smelled a few hints of the manure at times.

I aimed for an 8:00 pace with the expectation that I would fade in the last 3 miles but hold on for at least a sub-1:50.  As is often the case, I was out slightly faster but not stupid.  I was clearly well off form but in spite of the relentless rolling hills, I was fairly comfortable through the early miles.  There would be no early crash and if I did have to Gallo-walk, it would not be until the last few miles. 
7:48- 7:48
7:47- 15:35
7:50- 23:25

I was not crashing but every climb would knock my energy down a notch.  I saw a couple people starting to take walk breaks on the hills and I knew it would not be long until I would be doing so as well.  I passed the halfway point fading fast but still at an even 8:00 pace overall.  Even a brutal fade to the 10 minute range would give me a hollow victory with a sub-2:00 finish and it still looked to be a pretty good bet that I would break 1:50.

8:08- 31:33
7:49- 39:22
8:24- 47:46
8:34- 56:20
8:37- 64:57
8:29- 1:13:26

Towards the end of Mile 10, we hit a longer hill with a curve and it would be the one that broke my will for good.  I had to take a few walk breaks over the next 2 miles and these last 3 were just as hard for me as any full marathon.  With 2 miles to go, I saw that I could still break 1:50 with a pair of sub-9 miles to finish up.  I made a half-assed effort to pick up the pace but nothing was there.  In the last mile, the course became less rolling and more of just an annoying incline.  I took some pride in the fact that I ran the entire way from Mile 12 to the finish but it was no faster than the Gallo-walking and I mercifully crossed the line in 1:50:46 totally spent.  I had no more running left in me after this.  Hard to believe that I was once a 3:20 marathoner.

8:54- 1:22:20
9:18- 1:31:38
9:27- 1:41:05
9:41- 1:50:46 (last 1.05)
Result: AG- 59/177- 67th percentile.

Overall impression-
I would have preferred to run the Kentucky Derby next month in Louisville but I have a family commitment that day.  Not withstanding my poor performance, this was not one of my favorite races (no offense intended).  It's just a personal preference of mine to race in the city, through parks or near a lake or river but I can see how a horse racing fan would be thrilled to run past those horse farms.  It did have a pretty nice after party and one of the better medals but the shirt was a thin cotton hoodie.  No Gatorade/PowerAde was available but rather an unfamiliar sports drink.  Fortunately, I did not react badly to it.  Kentucky was state #23.  I've got Pennsylvania in September and South Carolina in October to finish the Half2Run Challenge.

To the average undertrained runner, a 1:50 on this course is still pretty darn good.  It still placed me in the top third of my age group but it has become obvious to any observer that something is badly wrong.  Even on a flatter course, this performance was worth no better than 1:46-1:47ish, which is a full 90 seconds per Mile off my PR.  To put that into perspective, if Usain Bolt slowed by the same percentage, he'd run about 11.7 in the 100.  That still beats almost everyone off the street but an average high school sprinter will run about 12-flat and most teams have at least 1 in the low 11s.

BIG news ahead:
The DNA test has arrived and there are indeed many mutations but it does appear to be treatable.  It's a complex report that I don't yet fully understand.  More to come later on the subject.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Neurotransmitters, Methylation and anti-depressants

Ten years ago, my former MD ignored evidence of methylation problems revealed by high homocysteine and insisted that I needed an SSRI (selective serotonin).  When that failed, I was put on SNRIs (serotonin, norepinephrine), which also failed. The dumbest suggestion that I ever heard was that the fatigue was just a side effect of the drug. One of the major reasons I took that drug was to GET RID of the fatigue!   That's hardly uncommon.  In fact, by Big Pharma's own admission, fully 70 percent of patients who take an anti-depressant report that they still have unresolved symptoms.  Their solution?  Add another drug, usually Abilify, which is actually an anti-psychotic.  No business can stay afloat with a customer satisfaction rate of 30%.  While I still believe in natural methods, I would never tell the lucky 3 out of 10 to stop the drug.  What about the other 7?

 There is another cause of their depression.  Doctors should never prescribe a powerful mind altering drug without knowledge of the patient's methylation and neurotransmitter status.  It ought to be common sense that giving an SSRI to a patient with normal serotonin and low dopamine/adrenaline will be ineffective at best and potentially dangerous at worst.  Also, if you are an over-methylator, you will almost certainly react poorly to SSRIs.  As for me, it still remains to be seen what my methylation looks like but it is possible to be both an over and under methylator and I do have characteristics of both.  I did have a low serotonin level but was also low in GABA, dopamine and adrenaline while the norepinephrine was normal.  I did get some relief from anxiety but my fatigue actually got worse.  I know now that while serotonin may have risen, adrenaline probably fell and the adrenaline/norep. ratio got further out of balance.

Neurotransmitters can be tested with a painless urine test and treated with targeted amino acid therapy tailored to your results.  I responded very well to treatment.  Dopamine was the first to rise followed by serotonin and GABA.  The adrenaline took longer but normalized within 2 years.  My only gripe was terrible sensitivity.  1/2 a pill meant the difference between a great day and an awful one.  The prescribed doses were too strong and I could take only limited amounts but my numbers kept moving in the right direction.  Eventually, they stayed normal without any support.  I thought I had a clear path to balance.  That was in 2009 and I am still waiting. 

I know now that genetic mutations were to blame for the sensitivity but the COMT may have contributed to the quick rise in dopamine.  Man, I must have been extremely sick for that to drop so low in spite of pre-disposition toward elevation.  I've read 2 things recently that make some sense:
-Problems due to mutations are more likely to appear as you get older.  My sensitivity got a lot worse after I turned 30.  As much as it sucked to have adrenal fatigue in my mid-20s, it was easier to treat at a younger age.  Some of the stuff that I took may not have worked today with mutations fully turned on.
- ACE mutation can cause sodium retention.  I'm likely positive on that, which explains why mega Thym-Adren was needed to get my tissue Na under control and why I often could not go a day without the Thym-Adren.  That brings the likely positives up to 4 (MTHFR, CBS, COMT, ACE).  Can that be treated?  If so, it will be easier to keep the Na down.

Genes can be activated and inactivated due to environmental factors and treatment.  For example, there is in fact a gene for nicotine dependence.  Well, even if I do have that gene, it won't hurt me because I never have and never will try a cigarette or chew tobacco.

Current health status:
Biggest complaint is extreme sensitivity to All In One but I can tolerate Cal/Mag + Thym-Adren.  If I take more than 1 pill, it's too much but if I take it before bed, it starts to wear off by the afternoon.  It must be taken in the morning so that when it does wear off, I will be asleep.  I could get the 23andme results as early as the end of the week and am already frequently checking my e-mail. 
I could still get lucky in Kentucky but it could be a 2:30 Gallowalk finish.
Today's workout: 3 miles in 22:24.  LAME.

One other symptom and I'll be as tasteful as I can.  My urine smells strongly of sulfur and ammonia or other toxins such as mercury.  I often feel a little better after I get that stuff out.  More than likely,  taking more than 1 All in One causes too much detox.  I still think I might have mercury issues and if that is indeed the case, All in One does aid in the detox.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Ancestry guess

I'm still about 1-3 weeks away from receiving the results.  Although I am primarily interested in my raw genetic mutations, I'm starting to get excited about my ancestry report.  I expect to see a good mix of eastern and western European DNA but based on what I've read, it may not turn out as expected.  I do know that my paternal grandmother was born in Scotland and my paternal grandfather was of German ancestry.  My mother's side of the family is mostly Polish but I believe that there is some Irish mixed in as well.  While I do expect to see those 4 countries represent the vast majority of my DNA, it is important to remember that none of them were completely homogenized when my ancestors came to America.  Let's take a look:

Poland: There was a lot of Slavic migration in the medieval period here so I may see a bit more DNA from southeastern Europe or even west Asia.  I do tan well and can retain some of it even through the winter months.

Germany:  I've read that Germans commonly have a bit of east Asian DNA, which likely comes from the Mongolian Empire so if I do have a trace of Asian blood, that's where it came from.

Scotland and Ireland:  Surprisingly, I've read that Scottish DNA is especially diverse.  It's common to find Scots with traces of DNA from much of Europe including Germany, Scandinavia and even Asia and Africa.  If I do have any African DNA, it will be a very small trace but that's the most likely source.

All told, I still expect to see more than 95% European DNA but would be surprised if it is fully 100%. If I do have traces of unexpected ancestry, it's certainly worth finding out.
Another interesting fact is that most African Americans have between 15-25% European DNA and some have traces of Asian and Native American.  One case that particularly surprised me was that Condoleezza Rice is only 51% sub-Saharan African.  The rest of her genetic makeup is composed of 9% Asian and 40% European.  Since reading these reports, I have become even more disgusted by racism on all sides and can appreciate beauty in every ethnic group.

As for my health, I have a mixed report.  Tolerance to folate has improved and I am back on Jigsaw Mag.  Also, the zinc and copper sensitivity remains well under control as does the Cal/Mag ratio.   That said, I still don't feel any better overall.  If anything, I may have regressed a bit since last week.  The taurine intolerance has not let up and that is almost certainly due to the CBS mutation.  Also, the sensitivity to All In One is brutal.  I may have to open the capsules and take half because 1 is not enough but 2 pills are too many.  1.5 may be just right ....   for now.   There's not much I can do until I get the results and talk to a health coach.  If nothing changes next week, I expect that a "good day" in Kentucky will be a finish in the mid-high 1:40s.  A bad day will be over 2 hours but likely not approaching 3.  The time limit is a generous 3.5 hours (16 minute pace) so there's very little chance that I DNF.  If my health coach suggests it, I may take off the month of April as well as the early part of May.  I don't think I'm doing myself much good by continuing to train while so far out of whack.  I am still very disappointed that I hit another barrier when I was so sure that Cal/Mag plus Thym-Adren would lead me to balance by Spring.

Next week's post will be on methylation, neurotransmitters and overuse of anti-depressants.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Still Unstable

Turn for the worse this weekend.  Rested Friday.  Managed just 2 horrible miles Saturday and will not even attempt a workout today.  Finished with 20 miles on the week.

If I go a day without taking Cal/Mag or Thyrm-Adren, I'll be hurting but I'm okay with that.  Given my numbers, that's what should be happening.  I project that my tissue sodium is under 60 by now but given how bad my methylation cycle is, it may not be as effective now.  I won't be horrible if I take extra pills or 1 less than normal, which is good.

All In One-  This more more upsetting.  If I go 36 hours without it, I'm hurting.  If I take a 2nd dose too close to the first, I'm hurting.  That means, I need neither more nor less than 1 of those per day.  VERY ANGRY!

I've looked into mercury toxicity and suspect that I have a hidden problem because it's usually not revealed on a hair test.  I do have 2 root canals and several amalgams but I'm afraid to have them removed because I've heard horror stories from people who have gotten worse after doing so.   I tried Activated Charcoal, which is supposedly good for all purpose detox.  NOT GOOD FOR ME!  I got the same old stiff legs, malaise and depression after taking it.

All I can do is stay with the 1 All In One until I get the genetic test.  Kentucky is in 2 weeks.  I got lucky in Arizona and it could happen again but I'd be very surprised if I can break 1:45 on a tough course.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

First week on All In One

So far so good after 4 days.  So far, I've totaled 18 miles on the week and expect to finish over 30.  On Day 1, I could not hold a sub-8 pace longer than 2 miles.
Day 4:
AM- 3 miles in 21:56 (7:19 pace) with a strong negative split.
PM- Comfy 5 in 37:57 (7:35 pace) with an even pace.
  Mood and energy have both improved.  All in One has 3.75 mg of zinc with no copper but has not thrown off that delicate balance.  Plain zinc alone?  I'm scared to try.  Same with the Jigsaw Mag and methyl B complex.  I did try some ADHS just now (10:1 ratio) and don't think I've had any real reaction.  Also, I've not developed any Cal/Mag sensitivity since stopping the taurine.  YES! I am still a LONG way from the Crazy J of old and will not consider myself "back" until I am CONSISTENTLY under 5:35/20:00/42:00/1:34.  All of those times are more than 5% slower than my adult PRs.  At 34, any age related decline is negligible and I am only 6 months removed from an unofficial 5K PR set on a very lucky day last September.

I am still at least 2 weeks away from getting the results from 23andMe but the recent turn of events have led me to feel a bit more optimistic about my prognosis.  The All In One does support the methylation cycle but as far as I know, it does not specifically target any mutations.  I do think I may be experiencing some detox however.  I've had diarrhea a couple of times (not while running), a couple break outs and more than usual popping in the joints.  None of these are terribly bothersome or a cause for concern.  In theory, I will only get better once I do address the mutations.

I cannot change my DNA but I can "work around" the errors. Many autistic patients who are almost surely worse off than I am have reported very positive outcomes.   Dr. Yasko had an interesting analogy on her site.  Suppose the m key is missing from your computer or it will not register when you type.  If you meant to type "miss" and type "iss" instead, spell check will catch it and make suggestions such as "kiss", "hiss" or "miss." Just choose miss and you're good to go.

It is clear to me now that even when I was doing well and mostly symptom free, I was hanging on by a thread.  Energy pathways that required Mag, copper and yes, methylation were severely compromised.  I thought of another analogy today.  The quickest way from downtown Birmingham to my apartment in Hoover is to go southbound on Interstate 65.  If there is no traffic, I can get home in 15 minutes.  What if a section of the Interstate is closed?  No big deal.  Just take US-31 or even US-280-I-459.  Again, assuming minimal traffic, I can still get home in 20-25 minutes.  Even State Highways are not a terrible option but if I have to rely on back roads or county roads, it's going to be a long trip.  That's the way it goes with the energy pathways.  Just open up one good one and symptoms will surely be reduced.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Taurine/All in One Supplement review

I was downright AWFUL all last week.  I managed a grand total of 10 miles with the best day being 3@7:45.  Most days, I could not break 8 minutes for a single mile.  If anyone out there still thinks that I'd feel better if I didn't run so much, think again.  Today was a bit better as I actually had a trace of energy flowing and did not feel completely listless.  I managed 4 miles @ 8:12 pace and kept it under 8 for the first 2 miles.

 I credit the improvement to cutting out taurine.  Yes, that's right.  The same taurine that led me to a PR 5K just 6 months ago will no longer work.  Despite the periodic liver detoxes, my system is still burdened by sulfur and ammonia.  The CBS mutation is the most likely culprit.  Fortunately, Dr. Yasko has a  better plan for detox.  I just have to wait another 2.5-4.5 weeks to confirm what I already know.   I was hopeful that cutting the taurine would allow me to tolerate methyl folate again but I was wrong and will likely take another step backward tomorrow.  Why was the taurine so helpful for a brief time?  In the past, I needed exactly 1g of that stuff (neither more nor less).  That tells me that there are conflicting mutations and correcting one may cause other symptoms to flare up.

I've got a tough fight ahead of me but at least I will know the enemy.  What I do have in my favor is that I have a history of  fast responses to treatment.  Less than 2 years after being diagnosed with Stage 3 Adrenal Fatigue, I was a sub-4 marathoner despite the instability.  Also, my magnesium and ceruloplasmin rose faster than expected once I found the right treatment.  I now fully expect to test positive for CBS, MTHFR and COMT and probably a couple others.  I know one woman with 14 mutations but it's highly unlikely that I am in that bad of shape.

While I got bad news about remaining intolerant to methyl folate, the good news is that I CAN tolerate the All In One.  It's a multivitamin which VERY GENTLY supports the methylation cycle.  Very few people have a problem with it and I am not one of them.  No, it's not a miracle cure but I did not expect it to be.  It can't hurt me in any way.  It can only help.  Also, thanks to the All in One, I should be able to stop taking Jigsaw Mag, which contains too much Folate even in 1 pill.  I am still able to tolerate plain Cal/Mag and Thym-Adren and would guess that my tissue sodium level is in the 60s now and could be near balance by the end of the month.  I may have a small ray of hope going forward.   Even if I do get the results before Lexington, it will be too late to begin the treatment so close to race day.  If I have to Gallo-walk it to a 2:30ish finish, SO WHAT!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Genetics and sick children

Are today's children sicker than those of 30 years ago?
   To me, there is little doubt that the answer is yes.  Take a look at the obesity rates, diabetes and the increased rate of autism.  You should see some of the stuff that I read on my Facebook support groups posted by mothers of children under the age of 8. It will break your heart and I just don't think it was nearly so common when I was a child in the early-mid 1980s. I'll share 2 examples:
1.  A child complained of terrible leg pains and when the pediatrician could not find anything wrong, he/she suggested that the child was faking to get attention.  WHAT THE _____???
2. An autistic 4 year old child reacted with extreme emotion minutes after taking a mineral supplement.  The poor mother could not ask what was wrong because the child is completely non-verbal.
   What is their prognosis?  Will they be disabled for life?  Seeing sick children is the one thing that really makes my heart ache and tests my faith in God.  I just can't believe it's His plan for those kids to be disabled for life.  I still believe that although you may not be cured, you can improve with proper care and treatment.

Austism and vaccines:
This has generated a lot of controversy in recent years.  I am sure that I am not autistic so I may not be qualified to comment but here are my thoughts.  Back in the '80s, children only received about 10 vaccines and the odds of having a child diagnosed with autism were between 1/5,000-10,000.  Now, children receive more than 40 vaccines and the odds are now 1/88 or even 1/68 depending on the source.  It is known that vaccines are laced with toxic metals such as mercury and aluminum and contain many other disturbing ingredients.  That's a correlation too great to ignore though it does not necessarily mean causation.  My personal opinion is that vaccines are one of several factors responsible for the increase.  Congenital vulnerability, poor gut health and other environmental factors play a role.  For the sake of argument, let's say that vaccines are solely responsible.  If that's so, why is it that 98-99% of vaccinated children manage to escape autism but 1-2% succumb?  Genetics is the likely reason.  Some parents have reported a nearly immediate injury following the vaccinations and I saw a heart breaking documentary in which 2 healthy children became severely disabled hours after the shots.  More often however, it is a slow decline.  Some have argued that autism rates are not really increasing but rather, it is simply caught more often nowadays.  I don't buy that.  That means that 1-2% of adults are living with autism and don't know it.  I don't think so.

My personal view is that yes, some vaccines do prevent disease but the number of required shots should be reduced and spread out over a number of years rather than taken several at once.  Children should be screened for genetic risk factors and mutations before vaccination and yes, risky cases should be given the choice to opt out.  Autistic children often see very low tissue zinc along with a low Zn/Cu ratio with very high levels of toxic metals.  If any parents of children with autism are reading this, Google Amy Yasko and check out her protocol for recovery.  Hair testing may also be useful as well.

Let's shift gears to the importance of genetics as a whole.
I am about 99% sure that I have multiple serious mutations.  I believe that the cause is a combination of a congenital weakness or abnormality and other environmental factors such as prescription drug use, exposure to other toxins or an unknown food intolerance.  The big question is how well will I respond to treatment.  I will also have to ask how I was able to do so well for so long in spite of the mutations.  I believe that answer has to do with energy pathways.  When one is blocked, your system will look for another.  It won't be as efficient as the preferred pathway but it will get the job done.  That likely explains sudden collapses.  When a person suffers an energy crash, it is likely that they have been badly unbalanced for years but remain asymptomatic until the last good pathway is blocked.

"If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."
How I wish that were true but unfortunately, genetic limitations come into play.  I had an English teacher in high school who honestly believed that anyone could be an "A" student if they wanted to.  That's naive and best and potentially hurtful at worst.  Yes, I worked hard in school but without above average intelligence, my achievements simply would not be possible.  When it comes to running, yes I believe that most HEALTHY people can FINISH a marathon with several years of training.  However, if you want to break 4 hours, a decent amount of talent is required.  Very few people could run a sub-3 no matter how hard they train.

More about congenital weaknesses:
The acne drug Accutane has been linked to numerous serious side effects.  I was among the 10-15% that had a serious negative reaction.  So why is it that 85-90% get through the treatment with little more than some dry skin?  By now, you should know the answer.

For every soldier that comes home with severe PTSD, there are at least 10 from the same unit that do not.  The one that was severely affected by the horrors of war is not necessarily "weaker" or "softer" but rather their chemistry is such that intense stress cannot be tolerated.  I believe that a genetic weakness is at least partly to blame.

Examples of strength:
Most people who eat the diet and volume of food that I do will be overweight with high cholesterol even if they did run.  I am still "paper healthy" with an ideal BMI along with good numbers in cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.  Also, underneath the chemical imbalances and genetic mutations, I have a strong capacity for work at fast paces and can recover quickly from hard workouts.   Roger Bannister trained at only 30 MPW (ALL HARD) in his quest for a sub-4 Mile and managed a 3:58 on a dirt track.  That translates to at least 3:54 on a modern track with better gear.  How much better could he have done with "proper" training and more LSD?  IMO, not a whole lot.  He trained best for his genetics and chemistry and I expect that my report will show the same strength but obviously not at the same level.

Now, what about the people who can train at 80 MPW while working a demanding job amid emotional trauma yet remain on top of their game?   That is something that I have no desire to do and along with most people, would break down if I ever attempted such a stressful regimen.  This may not be a popular comment but here it is. The people who are able to live such a lifestyle are indeed very driven and admirable but may not be necessarily "tougher" or "stronger" than others, at least in terms of how the world defines those terms.  Rather, they have a favorable genetic makeup and a chemistry that is such that high stress can be tolerated.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Awaiting the 23andMe results

It's a new week and I have shown no improvement.  If anything, I am getting worse.  Lately, a good day is 3 miles at a pace just south of 8 minutes. If I don't think I can do that, I'll just skip the workout without any guilt. It is clear to me that methylation is the source.  It seems that I just cannot tolerate more than about 100 mcg of Folate per day but if I don't take any, I will have anxiety and panic attacks.  The methyl donors do indeed solve the crazy Zinc/copper sensitivity in which I need neither more nor less than a 20:1 ratio but the fatigue and malaise makes it worse.  Oh yeah, as soon as I go back off the methyl donors, the sensitivity kicks back in with a vengeance.  Until I get the test results, I don't see any improvement on the horizon and I may get worse.  It's just too depressing to log so many D and F workouts so I am suspending the training updates until further notice.  This does NOT mean that I am giving up just yet.  I've already tried low dose methyl B-vitamins.  After 2 days, I've seen enough to know it's not the answer.  The next option is a supplement called All In One, which is a multivitamin which very gently addresses methylation and the doses are so small that among thousands of patients, it almost never causes any physical symptoms.

It is possible that I can improve with the All In One but highly unlikely that it is the key to success.  I will have to wait another 3-5 weeks until I get the raw data. Then I need to do a consult with a health coach who is qualified to interpret the results.  There are 2 genetic mutations in particular in which I expect to test positive.  They are COMT, which likely explains the zinc and copper issues as well as MTHFR, which explains the issues with folic acid and methyl folate.

I will also get some ancestry information, which might be interesting.  I expect to have nearly 100% northern European DNA as I have known ancestors from Germany, Poland and Scotland.  Many people have 2-3% Neanderthal DNA.  I would not be too surprised to see a trace of Asian DNA but it's highly unlikely that I have any African or Native American ancestry.

I have listed 4 possible outcomes from this test:
Worst case scenario:
1. Nothing wrong with my genes at all.
The chances of that are almost nill.  Everybody in support groups on Facebook tells me that my symptoms strongly suggest mutations.  Unlike standard serum tests, this one is likely to reveal problems at least based on everything I've heard.  If nothing comes out of this test, there will be NO explanation as to why I feel so bad and why I cannot even tolerate even minute amounts of certain minerals.  Back in '05, some people were pleased to see that my thyroid and adrenal hormones were normal in the blood.  To me, that was the worst nightmare scenario.  If everything was normal, why did I feel so bad?  I want answers and don't try to tell me that it's all in my head or just my imagination.  Stopwatches don't lie.  If I was capable of running faster on those horrible days, I would have done it.

2. Degenerative disease that will leave me disabled or unable to tolerate exercise.
Fortunately, I believe that the chances of this are very slim.  Yes, I will be devastated but in some ways, I think I'd actually prefer it to scenario #1 because it will give me closure.  I will be able to walk away from all of this knowing that I did everything in my power to fight the disease or slow the progression.  The DNA test will also show what types of exercise I should be doing.  Some people are not supposed to do more than gentle aerobic exercise.  If I have to stop running to solve this instability, it is a price that I am willing to pay.  That said, I believe that is also unlikely.  I've taken many breaks over the years and regardless of whether the break was planned or unplanned, I never felt well during the break and could not wait to get back out there.  I've never liked going slow and feel invigorated by hard interval sessions at the track.  I expect that short and intense exercise will be recommended based on my DNA results.

3.  Multiple serious and conflicting mutations that are treatable.
This is the most likely scenario.  I expect to have at least 2 mutations, probably more.  I also expect that treating one issue will cause other symptoms to flare up just like in the past.  There will be 2 front wars and it could be a life long battle but I will improve.  Mutations will always be there but they can be "turned off" or "inactivated", which I take it means that symptoms will no longer be present or at least reduced.  Eventually, I will get back to "winning" more often than "losing."  I'll probably never get back to PR form again but will be able to enjoy racing, travel and the running community.  I'd love to do group runs again without fear of a collapse 4 miles into a long run followed by the walk of shame back to the start.  With PR chances gone, I may broaden my horizons to include triathlons.

4. Easily treatable mutation pattern
I've been consistent with my Thym-Adren so I expect that my mineral balance is pretty good right now.  If it is indeed easily treatable, I can be better than I ever was during my PR streak without any difference in training.  I suppose it's possible but it's a dream scenario and probably too good to be true.

How do I feel about all this?
  Take a guess.  Since I don't know anything yet, it is premature to reveal everything that I have been feeling.  Suffice it to say that I have been crushed by my umpteenth false hope.  I thought I had a path to balance back in 2009 when my neurotransmitters came in line.  6 years later and after a glorious period in which I felt best on NO pills, I am still fighting for balance.  Even if I am healed in about 2 years, I'm afraid it will be too late.  The damage has been done and I may never be the same again.

Race plans:
Nothing local at least until I get better.  I don't want to run a 22 minute 5K and have to answer all the questions about what is wrong with me.  Even under scenario 1 and 2, I am going to finish the 10K and half marathon state challenge.  I don't care if it takes me 3 hours and I have to walk most of it.  I am only 3 states away from the Half 2 Run Challenge and I am going to finish it.

3/28- Bluegrass Half Marathon in Lexington, KY- I expect to suck.
April and May- Take a break to rule out genetic intolerance to exercise.
6/5- Asheville 10K-  This will knock out North Carolina and finish out the 10K in 10 states.
7/4- Peachtree- This is a question mark.  By this time, I should know one way or the other how this plays out.  I'll bow out if I can't break 45.
7/19- Erie Presque Isle half-  This could be a nice summer getaway to NW Pennsylvania and I've never done a half marathon in the northeast region of the U.S though I have done Nova Scotia.
10/25- Greenville Sphinx Run Fest- If this is my last race, it's a good place for it.  I used to live here and my first 10K race was in upstate South Carolina.

Under scenario 1 and 2, I will officially retire at the end of 2015.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Arizona Road Trip Report

The biggest issue on the whole trip was the weather.  The day that I was to leave for Atlanta to catch my flight to Phoenix, we had a wintry mix predicted for Birmingham.  I decided to leave for Atlanta after work on Tuesday rather than Wednesday and just chilled at Nick's place for a full day.  In the end, north Alabama got hammered with snow but Birmingham got mostly a cold rain with a change over to snow for just a few hours at night.  Still, given the disaster last winter, I was not taking any chances.  On Thursday evening, after a delay, we finally took and landed in Phoenix at 8:00 PM.  I would be leaving 30-40 degree weather with ice and snow to sunny and 75.  That evening was drama free as we found our hotel and got a quick bite before bed.  Outside of our hotel, I saw my first cactus.  I was not in Alabama anymore.

Breakfast at IHOP followed by an early trip to the expo, which was relatively low-key.  I thought about getting a Run PHX or Arizona T-shirt but decided against it.  I knew it was not going to be a good race.  Even if everything broke in my favor, I would be hard pressed to break 1:40.  I won't know the source of the suckage until I get the test results in 3-5 weeks.  Hard to believe that I chose this race back in September with a BQ in mind.  We did a quick driving and walking tour of downtown Phoenix.  It'a nice city but the downtown area was not as large as I expected.  Soon, we went back to the hotel then did a quick junk run around Mesa's Riverview park near the Cubs Spring Training facility.  It was a very scenic area with palm trees, mountain views and a large fountain.  Next, we made sure we knew how to get to the staging area.  It would be a point to point course ending in a shopping center in Mesa.  The Phoenix Marathon did not actually go through Phoenix proper.  Dinner was a Porterhouse at Logan's but we would be going to bed early because we had to catch a bus at 5:00 AM for a 6:30 start.  That meant a 3:30 AM wake up call.

I timed the pills well and felt that I had a chance at a semi-respectable showing.  The day dawned overcast with temps in the mid 50s.  I felt comfortable the whole race and was only mildly chilled before the warm up and after the finish.  I lined up with the 1:40 pace group.  The course was advertised as downhill with a 300 ft drop with no uphills.  I doubt that.  There were only 3 downhill stretches.  None were very steep or very long and it seemed that most of the course was an imperceptible incline.  It was mostly highway with a few residential sections.  It may have been net downhill but I believe it to be a legal PR course.  I took off aiming for a 7:40ish pace and was out slightly quicker but not "stupid" fast.  Here are the early splits:
7:34 (7:34)
7:29 (15:03)
7:31 (22:34)
7:38 (30:12)
   If I can hold this pace, I'll finish in 1:39ish.  I slowed just a tad in Mile 4 because of stomach cramps.  I took care of that in the next portajohn and lost 63 seconds.  So what?  The effort was still barely perceptible and I thought I still had a chance to make up that time.  It would go in my book as moving time anyway.

I managed to pick it up in the next mile and passed the halfway point still on pace for a moving time just south of 1:39.  I also got word that I was closing in on the 1:40 pacer.
7:32 (37:44)
7:40 (45:24)
7:38 (53:02)

I stopped for water and Gatorade in Mile 8 and though I don't think there was any connection, I faded shortly thereafter.  When I saw my split for Mile 9, I feared a complete meltdown to 9-10 minute pace by the finish and a time north of 1:45, which would be my worst showing since 2007.  Fortunately, my strength held and pride would not allow me to give up.  I managed a solid finish and less horrible time than I had feared earlier in the week.
7:54 (60:56)
8:15 (69:11)
8:10 (77:21)
8:12 (85:33)
8:15 (1:33:48)
7:47 (1:41:35)
:37- Moving time- 1:42:12.  Official time (1:43:15)
AG: 34/162- 78th percentile.
It was the best I could do under the circumstances.

The weather looked iffy the rest of the day so we got cleaned up quickly then headed north and up in elevation.  We planned on seeing Sedona that afternoon then stay in Flagstaff before hitting the Grand Canyon the next day.  Fortunately, we had decided to wing it after the race in case the plans changed.  Good call there.  Flagstaff got hit with major snow overnight so we would not be staying there.  That's right.  Even though it is less than 3 hours north, Flagstaff was more than 30 degrees colder than Phoenix because it is 6,000 feet higher in elevation.  It was snow at 6,000+ feet altitude and rain below that.  Nick suggested that we go straight to the Grand Canyon, which was another good call.  We got to the overlook area and WOW!  Words just can't describe it and neither can pictures.  It was so amazing that it looked more like a painting than the real thing.  Again, it was nearly 70 down in Phoenix but at over 7,000 ft elevation, it was barely 30 at the Canyon and the same sleet that we got in Atlanta had followed us to northern Arizona.

The night would be spent in Sedona at 4,500 ft., well below the snow line.  We arrived just before sunset and were treated to some breath taking red rock scenery.  Unfortunately, due to the rain the next morning, we could not do any real hiking.

It rained all day in Sedona but we hit the road first thing in the morning and it rained most of the way back southbound on the interstate but Phoenix was dry so we would spend most of the next day in Scottsdale, an upscale suburb with some interesting touristy southwestern shops.  It was 30 and snowy at the Grand Canyon, 50 and rainy in Sedona but 70 and dry in the Phoenix area.  After lunch, which was a burger and a beer, we walked around town for a bit then ended up in a nice park, which contained a bike trail, which is surely popular with the local running community.  After discussing what to do for a while, we settled on going back to Mesa to stay near the shopping center.  After a decent dinner, we saw the movie McFarland, which I highly recommend.

The flight back to Atlanta went without a hitch and so did the drive back to Birmingham.

Final thought:
I made the best of it and managed to have fun in spite of not feeling well most of the trip.  If the medical report is bad and I have to retire from racing, I am sure going to miss these trips.  I had been to Arizona for about 10 minutes riding on the Interstate back in '08 but now I feel like I can truly count it among my 48 states visited.  22 down now and only 3 to go.  I'd love to make Alaska my 25th half marathon state but if I continue to deteriorate, I want to finish the goal this year rather than 2016.  Next up is Lexington, KY in 4 weeks and I don't expect it to be much better.