Friday, December 27, 2019

Rant or Rave: All Inclusive Resorts

I’ve never stayed at one myself but two winter destinations on my bucket list (Cancun and Dominican Republic) offer many such resorts.  In the Caribbean, it seems that there are more all-inclusive resorts than standard hotels.  I’ve done some research on this subject, so I feel somewhat qualified to give advice to my fellow travelers.  Is it worth it?  That depends on what you are looking for. 

Convenience is by far the biggest plus here.  Often, you can simply take a shuttle directly from the airport to your resort.  No need to rent a car or even take Uber.    You will be transported to a luxurious gated community and can do pretty much whatever you want as well as eat and drink free of charge once you get the coveted wristband upon check-in.  Typically, the resort has multiple restaurants and bars as well as free room service.  In other words, you won’t even need to leave the grounds of the resort.  Just leave your wallet in the hotel safe and use the credit card for small souvenir purchases.  Safety is another important factor.  If you are visiting a third world country with a high crime rate, you may not feel it is safe for you and your family to go outside the resort.  Inside, you can bet that it will be well patrolled, and you won’t get very far without a wrist band.  I certainly would not allow a teenager to roam the streets of a foreign country unsupervised even if he or she is with a friend.  Remember Natalee Holloway. 

To me, the biggest disadvantage is the lack of authenticity.  I can imagine a couple returning from a Jamaican all-inclusive resort and commenting about how much they loved the country.  Nope.  You just loved your resort.  Most hotel guests are either American or European so outside of the resort staff, you will have little to no opportunities to interact with locals and take in the culture.  If the same resort had a location in the Dominican Republic, you could have had pretty much the exact same experience there.  I’m sure that many resorts offer excursions to nearby attractions, which is good, but it also locks you into a specific schedule.  If the buses don’t run several times per day, it could be big trouble if you miss the ride back.    

Hidden Fees:
Often the quoted price is a very reasonable $200-250 per night.  That said, you get what you pay for.  There could be an additional charge for multiple guests in a room as well.  Unless it is a 5-star resort, you can bet that food will be mediocre and it may not even be fresh either.  Drinks will be small and watered down too.  Extras such as souvenirs, sun tan lotion and even wiFi probably will NOT be included while excursions to nearby hiking trails will certainly be extra.  Some resorts are family friendly while others are adults only and catered toward honeymooners and other young couples.  I doubt that very many will be catered to singles. 

I would personally opt for the standard hotel even if I must walk a few minutes to the beach.  I prefer the authenticity of the local culture.  If a country has a Level 3 or 4 Travel Advisory, I am not going even if it’s just to a resort.   I don’t care how beautiful it is.  In a resort tailored to couples, sitting alone at a restaurant table would be quite depressing.  I really don’t care about the fancy spas or getting pampered with a massage.  Just give me a basic room that is clean with a comfortable bed, TV, fridge and microwave and that’s all I need.  I’m primarily there for the beach but I do want a strip of authentic restaurants and fun bars within walking distance.  If I am with a girlfriend, yes, I would be willing to compromise and stay in an all-inclusive resort.  I would want it to be within walking distance of local attractions and would like to eat one meal outside the resort per day. For example, if I’m in Cancun, Mexico, I want a serving of real Mexican food, not a pizza or chicken buffet.  Fair enough? 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Reason for Optimism?

Seven days ago, I quit taking TRS after my system began to completely reject it.  The first 3 days went according to form.  I showed the usual incremental improvements from day to day.

Day 1- 2@9:50. Would have been over 30 minutes for 3 miles.
Day 2- 3@8:19- All out effort to get under 25.
Day 3- 6.5@8:30- This one was encouraging.  My pace was not significantly slower over more than double the distance.  I dialed back the effort as well to ensure a comfortable finish.  After all, this was my longest run in 10 weeks since the race in New Hampshire.  I had more in the tank and managed a 7:50 pace over the last half mile.  I'm sure that I would have faded in the last 5K but this pace would bring me home in 1:51 for a half mary.

I took off the next 4 days over the Christmas holiday but I kinda wish that I had done 1 junk run to keep the legs moving.  At any rate, I did not notice any demand for the TRS even after a full week off the stuff.  Also, I came off caffeine and did NOT NOTICE any real withdrawal symptoms or adrenal spike.  Excellent news there.

The moment of truth would come on the afternoon of Christmas Day after 7 days off the TRS.  I REALLY did not want to see a strong negative reaction to it.  There's no reason why a single spray should trigger such a reaction.  Add to that, without the TRS, the sensitivity to the other pills will most probably kick in with a vengeance after several weeks off it.  Though I did not run, I felt no difference after the first spray.  Emboldened, I tried 2 more.  Once again, NO NEGATIVE REACTION.  If anything, I may have felt slightly better. 

Going forward:
I'm going back off the TRS until the end of the week.  At least one day will be completely free of pills.  I don't expect to set the world on fire in my workouts.  I just want to avoid a relapse.  Early next week, I will try going back to the TRS with the dreaded better with or without test.  What I hope to see is slightly better WITH the TRS but not enough to be considered significant.

The best sign that a health plan is working well is when you do NOT notice any real differences from day to day but over the course of several weeks, improvement becomes evident.  Think of it like an hour hand on a clock.  You can't even tell that it's moving unless you look closely for several minutes but if you come back to the room 6 hours later, its position completely reverses. 

I've been burned too many times by false hopes so this is just the first step.  I won't get my hopes up unless I can make it through January without a major relapse.  Next race is Utah on President's Day weekend for state #45.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Body is Rejecting TRS

How about this episode?  I took 3 sprays of TRS on Monday evening and it KNOCKED ME OUT!  I had to go to bed at 7 PM and did not/could not get up until 7 AM when it was nearly time to get ready for work.  Needless to say, running was out of the question.   A single spray that evening triggered another noticeable negative reaction but it was less severe.

The next day was better.  Free of TRS, I opened with a 10:21 Mile at Montreat in the morning but improved to a 26:42 (8:54 pace) for 3 miles at Gold's.  I tried another 1 spray.  Again, I said ONE spray a full 24 hours after my last dose.  It knocked me out again and the ill-effects were nearly as severe.  I tried to run the next day and slipped to a 19:40 for 2 miles (9:50 pace).  If I had gone 3, my time would have been over 30 minutes.  So, I slipped by more than 60 seconds per mile BECAUSE OF ONE EFFING SPRAY!!!  I don't think caffeine is a factor.  In fact, it actually HELPED me get through the day.  This is nothing new for me.  I've dealt with similar reactions to pills for many years.  Right now, TRS is the only treatment that triggers such reactions.  The rest are non-factors.  I won't feel much difference if I miss a dose or if I take extra.

Needless to say, I will not be taking any TRS until further notice.  What will happen?  I do have reason for hope.  Only a few months ago, I had similar reactions to Glycine and DIM.  Now, both are non-factors.  Perhaps, the same will happen with TRS.  I've said this over and over again and it never came to fruition but I do think there is a good chance that I will get a permanent resolution one way or the other within the next month.

I see 3 possibilities:
1.  My body will once again demand TRS after a few more days and I will continue to have all these episodes until further notice.  This could break my will forever.  Sadly, this is a real possibility.  Word on the street is that I am peeling off layers of toxins and the stuff that is being eliminated now is even worse than the previous layer.  I'll need mega doses again and have to make constant adjustments.  OUCH!  I cannot take this anymore!

2. Permanent intolerance to TRS.  This one seems unlikely.  It is NOT an acceptable outcome even if I can get by okay without it.  There is NO reason why 1 spray of TRS should trigger a reaction, especially not after it was actually effective and necessary just a few days ago.  That is NUTS!  I believe that there are still toxins in my system.  If TRS is not tolerated, nothing will work.  It is the ULTIMATE IN CRUELTY for me to discover the key to solving the sensitivity yet end up intolerant to the solution.  The sensitivity to the other stuff will probably come back before too long and I'll be right back where I started from.  YUCK! 

3.  Now, the happy ending.  After a few days-few weeks of intolerance, the TRS will once again be okay for me.  The difference will be that a few days off it will not be noticeable and if I go over the recommended dose for a couple days, that will also be okay.  TRS is the only treatment that I currently take that triggers a reaction.  If the TRS does not trigger the reaction, my condition is under control!  I'll be able to train regularly and get back to respectable times within a few months.  I can date and have a social life as well.  Still, I must say that I may never be the same again.  Losing so much of the prime of my life is NOT something that I can overlook and say it was okay.

PLEASE LET ME GET A RESOLUTION!  If I get a grim diagnosis, that would be easier to deal with that all the BS false hopes.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Verdict on Forbidden Drinks With TRS

After the post-Thanksgiving relapse, I got back on track last week with a determined effort to keep the diet clean and simply give my system a rest from the detox every 7-10 days.  No TRS and no other pills either.  I wasn't horrible after the missed morning dose but by the end of the day, I was hurting and demanding at least a few sprays.  By the next morning, I had an insatiable need.  5 sprays helped, 10 sprays were better but I was still nowhere near where I needed to be. 

Over the next few days, I got the usual incremental improvement from the high doses (10 sprays AM, 5 sprays PM) and made it 5 days drinking nothing but water.  On the 5th day however, things began to unravel.  I managed a 24:56 for 3 miles (8:19 pace) at lunch, which was a modest improvement over the previous day but a bit slower than I expected to be at that stage.  Something felt off too.  My mood remained low and I was fading down the stretch in my workouts.  It looked like I could go sub-24 early but had to fight to hold the sub-25.  Normally, I run negative splits when I am improving.   Still, I began feeling somewhat better over the next few hours but got decidedly WORSE after my evening dose of TRS.  Again,  this was only 5 days after my previous missed dose so it should be too early to have another reaction, right?  To play it safe, I would go with just 5 sprays going forward.

WRONG!  I had hoped to run maybe 6-8 miles at whatever pace today with the group but did not even attempt it.  It was IMMEDIATELY apparent that the TRS had caused another relapse.  Looking at yet another weekend in the dumps, it was not surprising that I cheated.  What happened next was very interesting or you could say NUTS!  After the first can of Red Bull, I actually began feeling better and was once again able to tolerate at least a few sprays of the TRS.  I wondered what would happen if I drank a 2nd can.  Not surprisingly, it made things WORSE again and I became INTOLERANT to the TRS.  Does this mean that low doses of caffeine are actually necessary to tolerate TRS but I must keep it to a narrow range such of 1 can every 3-5 days?  I sure hope not!  Here's my new plan going forward and what I expect/hope to see happen:

I will TRY to remain abstinent but I know for sure now that one or two cheat days per week won't hurt me AS LONG AS I DON'T BINGE!  Going forward however, my need/tolerance for TRS will DECREASE with every day that I am abstinent.  I may still need a missed dose every so often.  It will be NO more than 5 sprays per dose in both the morning and the afternoon no matter how much I need it after the missed dose.   When I need a missed dose, I must NOT cheat!  The need for the TRS will kick back in soon enough even without the caffeine.  When it does, the dose will be lowered by 1 spray.  Instead of 5 in the morning and evening, it will go down to 4.  I can guard against a relapse on race day by taking a missed dose 2-3 days before the big day. 

My ultimate goal is to get to a point in which I can go 3 days without the TRS and still feel okay.  At least below the Mendoza line.  Then, the effects of a single dose or 2 become negligible just like all my other pills.  This year has royally SUCKED but one MAJOR positive development is the decreased sensitivity to the other pills.  I can skip all my treatments except the TRS for several days and barely even notice.  That would have been unthinkable just 2 years ago.  Can it be possible for this scenario to occur?

-I take 2-3 sprays of TRS for preventative maintenance but a single dose has little noticeable effect.
-Same is true for Magnesium, Methyl Folate, B-complex, B-12/Liver, ADHS and CBS/NOS. 
The latter case has already happened.  I could be just 1 step away.
I've said it too many times and still stand firm.  My demands are hardly unreasonable.  Here's all I want:
-Stable cocktail of pills (it will never be zero because of genetics)
-Decent-adequate energy every day
-Steady group to run with on the weekends.  I don't care if it's the 7:00 pace group or a 10:00 pace group.  I just want the camaraderie back.  Yes, I know that someday I will be too old to run but let's hope that doesn't happen until at least my 60's, not before I turn 40.
What I just described would be considered to be "under control of my health."  In such a scenario, yes I can date and have a social life.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Going to Puerto Rico

This was pretty much on an impulse.  I'm NOT racing in Utah next month.  As it stands now, I have virtually no chance of a respectable showing.  I've learned that the sugar/caffeine/alcohol is indeed A problem but not the only problem.  I need to abstain from those 3 AND skip 1-2 doses of TRS every 7-10 days.  In theory, that should stop the relapses but I have little faith that it actually will.

As it is, the plan for Utah is to fly into Salt Lake but race in St. George (SW corner) only 2 hours from Las Vegas and make a loop back to Salt Lake while catching small samples of National Parks.  The weather in St. George should be okay but Salt Lake could very well be cold and/or snowy.  If I wait until February, the average high temps are 5 degrees warmer (45 vs 40 in SLC).  Yes, there is still a risk of snow but it's less of a chance.  Add to that, the course that I would run in February is about 500 ft net downhill and there will be more daylight to view the amazing scenery.  It's a no-brainer to wait until February.  If the weather in Salt Lake is bad, it will cost a lot of money but I can switch my plans and fly into Vegas instead.  I DO want to hit Utah early in the year, which makes it a lot easier to finish all 50 by the end of the year.  It really is imperative that I do that because my days as a runner look to be numbered.  It pains me to say it but I don't even enjoy it anymore.  It feels more like a chore than a fun activity.  Getting my health under control would change everything.

Why Puerto Rico?
Several reasons.  It's affordable and easy logistically.  I got a direct flight out of Atlanta for just $300 and can take a cab to my hotel on the beach for just $10.  My hotel is actually a condo with an ocean view.  I'm sure it will be bare bones but I don't care.  As long as it's clean and has a bed, fridge and microwave, I don't care about the extra perks.  I won't be spending much time inside anyway.  I will not be staying in San Juan.  Hotels are ridiculously priced and there is a festival that weekend so it will be jam packed.  Instead, I will stay in the municipality of Carolina on Isla Verde Beach.  The beaches here look better anyway than the ones in San Juan.  The best place for surfing is actually on the west coast in the town of Rincon.  That would require a rental car.  No thanks for now.  If I like it, I can always come back and do more exploration another time.  As it is, the beach as well as many restaurants and bars will be within walking distance.  I get in early afternoon on a Friday and leave early afternoon on MLK Day so that's a good chunk of time and only 1 day off work.

What to expect?
Unlike Miami, there is virtually no chance of a freak cold front even in mid-January.  Temps are almost guaranteed to be in the low-mid-80s.  Rain is possible but this is the dry season so chancing it on the weather is not much of a risk.  Sand will be light brown with crystal clear water and tropical palm trees.  I expect that the water will be bluer than Miami but not as blue as Cancun.  As far as the surf, word on the street is that the waves will be gentle but surf-able.  In fact, there is a beginner surf school near my condo.  I will bring my inflatable boogie board.

Puerto Rico is a US territory so my new passport will not be needed and US dollars are the currency.  Still, it will most definitely have the vibe of being in a foreign country.  People in tourist areas can speak English but Spanish is most definitely the dominant language.  The Puerto Rican accent is very distinctive so DuoLingo will not be enough to catch more than a few words here and there.  Still, my Spanish was appreciated in Mexico and I expect that it will be here as well.  Nobody will laugh at my southern accent and I might be a hit because of it.  Puerto Rico will have American chain stores such as Walgreens and even fast food restaurants such as Wendy's and KFC but I'll have to be adventurous and try some real Puerto Rican dishes at least once or twice.

In terms of ethnicity, native Puerto Ricans are a striking mix of European (mostly Iberian and Italian), Native American and sub-Saharan African with traces from the Middle East and North Africa.  I look forward to the opportunity to interact with the locals and who knows?  I might meet a friend.  Seems like a good trip plan.  If Puerto Rico ever votes for statehood, I'll have it covered already.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Training 12/1-12/8

12/1- I drank 24 oz of beer on Thanksgiving and 24 oz of sugared drinks on Saturday.  I kinda had to in order to be social on Thanksgiving and I had to drive late on Saturday.  That's hardly a binge but I still relapsed.  ZERO tolerance to anything but water.  It seems that the caffeine intolerance would not be nearly as severe if I wasn't taking TRS.  At any rate, I hoped to run 6.5 on Lakeshore this morning but had to settle for 1 in a blazing time of 11:20.

12/2- Day 1- AM- Dreaded interval workout.  3x l lap at Montreat.  With no TRS, I managed a 3:31.  Took 5 sprays and improved to 3:07.  5 more sprays left me slightly worse with a 3:14.  Overall time was 9:52.

PM- 2 miles at Gold's in 18:40 (9:20 pace).  Started off with 5 sprays and came through the Mile in 9:11.  Took 5 more and slipped to a 9:29.  This is enough to be considered significant but just barely.  I could feel a difference but it was barely perceptible.  I suppose this is good news.  Taking less TRS will save money and although I will stick with the water only for 21 days, tolerance for forbidden drinks should improve when I take less TRS.  I will repeat this experiment at the end of the week but until then, it's down to 5 sprays twice a day.

12/3- Day 2 is often the worst and today was no exception.
AM- Montreat Mile in 10:56.
Began feeling better after noon.
PM- Montreat Mile in 8:40

12/4- Day 3.  AM- Improved to 8:13 for the Montreat Mile.
PM- Did NOT cheat on the forbidden drinks yet still relapsed.  It took my 5:18 to do a HALF mile at Gold's then quit.  The culprit was TRS! 

It seemed as though all the trouble that I had with caffeine wasn't really caffeine at all.  That's partially true.  I simply need to skip a dose or two of TRS every 7-10 days to give my system a rest.  TRS+ caffeine WILL be tolerated but beware of the withdrawal symptoms.  If I cheat for more than 2 days, I will still experience the withdrawals. 

I'm done blogging about running until further notice.  Nobody seems to care anyway.