A bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you fail to make the turn....

It's gonna get harder before it gets easier. But it will get better, you just gotta make it through the hard stuff first.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Fueling, salt intake and recovery drinks.

Well, since my training is over and I am officially in a taper zone, I figured I'd talk a little about various thoughts I had - or people had to me - about fueling, cramping, salt intake and that "weird leg sensation". 

This forum on Whole30 website, started by no other but my own husband, had described some questions and answers about weird pain sensation not related to usual cramps while running long distance on Paleo and reduced simple carb consumption. I first experienced it in October during my first intro to Whole30, 7 days in, in a 3 hr run. The pain was extreme with some kind of tingling needles and almost seizing but not quite, was most once you stop and try to rest (and after the workout ended, it was to the point I had cried), yet not cramping. I had two other, milder, bouts of that pain during October.

When I came back to Whole30 on January 1st, I didn't have said pains, for whatever reasons (may be because I was slowly getting miles up, not trying to continue on high training), but Larry did, and so he freaked out and posted that thread. No much help or explanation was offered. I was one who's thoughts were "It is fat getting used to being metabolized while exercising", as in: simple glycogen pathway is being replaced now for energy production.

So, months gone by, I am sticking to Paleo life style (unless it's a party day, and I have a drink and a slice of bread or two), and Larry is on "80/20" wagon, meaning if I cook, he is good, but when he cooks for his son, or takes him out, it's pancakes and burritos, but it happens twice a week, so not bad at all. Neither had really have any pain returns, and then I did my 5 thousand hill repeats (ok, only 20) one day, and by the end had that very leg feeling...not tired, not cramping, but painful tingling...and it lasted about 30 minutes after I was done too. And the following weekend I did my last run, which was a mere 15 miles with little to no elevation gain, and very slow (!), yet the tingling were back in the last hour.

That made me think...there is no more "getting fat metabolism started" as I'd hope it's already turned on, and I don't have nearly as much fat to "shake off and burn", on my legs anyway (one other explanation I had was that fat cells get "jiggled" and hurt while breaking down, I know, what kind of scientist am I?). What hit me then (since those 2 cases were so recent and fresh) was that both times the evenings (and actually all full day) prior those 2 runs I hardly had any carbs. I had eggs with spinach, sausages, and lots of chicken for dinner with a few slices of eggplant, but nothing that would fill up my glycogen stores. There is a reason for carbo-loading after all, even if it doesn't mean pasta! And that Paleo for Endurance suggest Sweet Potatoes before the long run/race!

This blog post discussing race strategy and fueling pre- and post and mentions similar findings.

Now, speaking of (just normal) cramping. As you know (if you follow my race reports), I had severe (and I mean SEVERE) cramping issues during Cheaha 50k in February (so did Larry, we ran it on day 45 of Whole30/Paleo eating, but did use gels during a race). I had fantastic (no problem on that part) races at Syllamo 50M and Freestate 100km, and though that was solved - just to get hit with cramps again in the last 10 miles of a McDonalds Forest 50k. Now, I belong to the camp that cramps are not a single-cause issue, but rather a combination of EITHER/OR:

-underhydration
-low salt intake for replacement
-underfueling
-not firing up enough muscle fibers or fast enough (basically, not trained for either elevation change or speed you're trying to go at)

For the first race Salt seemed to have been a biggest pointer - we were deprived of packaged foods thus not consuming Sodium in large quantities anymore, and we were taking salt tabs at low rate even though the day was warm and humid. PLUS the 50k at Cheaha had 6700 feet of elevation gain, what we were not ready for (not from Texas, and not 4 weeks into training cycle). We adapted that - and next 2 races went well (even though Syllamo had 11,000 feet of gain in the 50M). So, when Mac50 came with pain (and oh, what a glorious pain it was with locking down 10 feet away from the finish line!), I knew I was consuming salt enough, BUT felt a little less on water (ran with 1 bottle and it was 80F) AND race still had 7,300 feet of elevation gain, which, while I was better trained by May, still not THAT good coming from Texas with hills lasting half a mile!

So, what's the girl to do, when she has a 100M race coming like a freight train in just over a week??

That post linked above had a comment:

Just a few thoughts on what may cause muscle cramping/soreness during a race:

- Magnesium depletion. There is a clear connection between magnesium and muscle cramps, and during times of stress and exercise, there is an increased use of magnesium, and therefore a higher chance of running low. For many athletes, and especially those that participate in long-duration activities, I would usually recommend a magnesium supplement. It's both cheap and safe, and should yield noticeable benefits for performance. Magnesium is vital for cellular energy production, and a deficiency can definitely reduce metabolic efficiency

- Going harder than you did in training. Asking muscle fibers to do a job that you didn't prepare them for can result in cramping and excessive soreness. For example, the climbing of hills will likely require the recruitment of more powerful muscle fibers than running flat, but if you hadn't trained in a way that allowed you to build these muscles to perform such a task, you could have cramping as a result. (Not saying that you didn't train properly, just offering some thoughts).

- Perhaps a lack of protein intake during the run could have contributed. Protein-containing foods are harder to eat while running, though, and will use up more energy to digest, AND will potentially contribute to GI distress, which is not something that you want to have happen in the middle of a 50 mile run. Maybe you'd benefit from adding some BCAA to your home-made fuel mix? 


So, that made me question my choice of taking Succeed! caps. 
After a consultation with Meredith Terranova, our local nutritional guru, we decided on Thermolyte MetaSalt as they have that suggested Magnesium. For references, I had combined the information in a table below.




Succeed!
Endurolytes
Endurolytes Fizz
Thermolyte Metasalt
Serving

1 capsule
4 capsules
1 tablet in water bottle
2 capsules
Sodium
341 mg
40mg
200
330
Potassium
21 mg
25mg
100
85
Calcium

50mg
100
25
Magnesium

25mg
50
12
Chloride

60mg
60

Vitamin B-6

6.6mg
13
2
Manganese

1.6mg
3

L-Tyrosine

50mg
100

Other Ingredients

Rice Flour, Dicalcium Phosphate, Vegetable Capsules (plant cellulose and water), and Magnesium Stearate
Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Sorbitol, Stevia, Wheat Germ Oil*, 10 calories, <1g carbs="" of="" p="">
Phosphorus 15mg, Vit D3 220IU, Zinc 1mg, Selenium 10mg, Lipoic Acid 20mg, Black Pepper Extract, Licorice Extract, Ginger Extract. Peppermint Oil Powder, Silicon Dioxide, Cellulose

And since that guy also talked about BCAA, and I had mentioned a new product I began using for recovery (the BRL Sports EnduraFuel), I looked into trying to compare a few other products I used and know others use. Note: EnduroFuel does not contain protein but does have BCAA. Recoverite has 10g of protein from milk and soy, and Ultragen has 20 g of protein from milk and whey. Unfortunately, for me, milk, soy and whey are not compatible with my IBS, so I could never had Ultragen (and did use Recoverite at my "own risk" after long runs and races). The jury is out on BRL Sports, but I have hopes.

EnduraFuel®
Recoverite
Ultragen
BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACID COMPLEX:
6g of BCAAs per serving:
3,000mg L-Leucine
1,500mg L-Isoleucine
1,500mg L-Valine
ENDURANCE/RECOVERY AMINO ACID COMPLEX:
L-Glutamine and L-Arginine
ANTI-FATIGUE/PERFORMANCE COMPLEX:
2,000mg Citrulline Malate
Vitamins C and E
MENTAL PERFORMANCE COMPLEX:
Caffeine (low dose)
L-Theanine

Glycine 50 mg  
L-Carnosine 60 mg  
L-Glutamine 3 g  
Tyrosine 17 mg

Ingredients:Maltodextrin, Whey Protein Isolate, L-Glutamine, Cocoa, Natural Flavor, Calcium Chelate, Xylitol, Magnesium Chelate, Stevia, Potassium Chelate, L-Carnosine, Glycine, Salt, L-Tyrosine, Manganese Chelate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Chromium Polynicotinate.
Contains: Milk, Soy
Gluten-free
BCAA total 4.5g
-Isoleucine 1163mg
-Leucine 2135mg
-Valine 1211mg
Glutamine 6000mg
Tyrosine 806mg
Threonine 1135mg
Alanine 866mg
Gycine 392mg
Aspartic Acid 1817mg
Cystine/Cystein 272mg
Serine 1054mg
Lysine 1738mg
Methionine 479mg
Phenylalanine 806mg
Proline 1597mg
Tryptophan 324mg
Histidine 476mg
Glutamine 6g
Contains Whey Protein Isolate, Milk Protein Isolate, Hydrolyzed Whey Protein
112 cal
170 cal
320cal
Carbs 30g
Carbs 32g
Carbs 60g
Dextrose 15g
Suagrs 3g
Dextrose 60g
Maltodextrin 15g
Protein 10g
Protein 20g
Na 300mg
Na 60mg
Na 350mg
K 300mg
K 115mg
K 200mg
Mg 150mg
Mg 42mg
Mg 250mg
Ca 100mg
Ca 94mg
Ca 500mg
Cl 380mg
Cl 90mg
Cl 150mg

Iron 0.4mg, Chromium 41mg
P 105mg, Zn 7.5mg
Extra: Citric Acid, Sucralose, Nat.Flavors

Vitamin A (beta-carotene) 2,500 IU Vitamin C (ascorbic acid and calcium ascorbate) 400mg
Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol) 200 IU
Vitamin E (d-alpha tocopherol) 400 IU
Vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate) 8 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 8.5 mg
Niacin (niacinimide) 20 mg
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCl) 8 mg
Folate (folic acid) 200 mcg
Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) 6 mcg
Biotin 150 mcg
Pantothenic Acid (d-calcium pantothenate) 20mg

That said, if BCAA is not enough when one goes 100 miles long, and I can't/won't chew on "real food" (personal preferences, you go ahead, but nothing unless it's liquid-y goes in me when I race, and that cuts it to soups only if they have them), what do I do?
  
That very guy had his own post discussing need for protein intake during longer efforts.
Go ahead and read it, but here is a paragraph:
“Consequently, it has been debated whether dietary protein administration prior to and/or during exercise can also stimulate muscle protein synthesis rates during continuous endurance type exercise activities. Prior work has clearly shown that protein co-ingestion during prolonged endurance type exercise improves whole-body protein balance. Moreover, whereas whole-body protein balance remained negative when only carbohydrates were ingested, dietary protein co-ingestion was shown to improve whole-body protein balance by increasing protein synthesis as well as decreasing protein breakdown, resulting in a positive protein balance during 5 h of prolonged endurance exercise.”
Meredith also suggested to add protein at least at mile 80 (if not earlier) - and I am thinking between a cup of bullion and a packet of Recoverite at mile 80, I should be able to cover it, plus 4 servings of BRL Sports with BCAA throughout the race.

The rest of the day? My trusted gels, baby, V-fuel gels. Thermolyte MetaSalt tabs on the hour. Extra bottles picked up at certain point prior to longer sections for hydration. V8 juice for some acidity and extra Potassium.

And havign an Eye on a Tiger...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Recovery and last push.

Nothing major and unusual for the week. I recovered much faster from a 50k with 7,300 feet of gain than from rather flattish 100k - by the 3 I was totally back to normal. The miracle of it all was that my knee suddenly seems to have almost healed! Go figure...I am keeping my fingers crossed and monitoring closely.

On Thursday Austin, TX finally, finally got to summer. Not that I was unhappy with all those weird cold fronts that kept popping up and moving in, staying a few days, lifting a bit and coming back all Spring! We had the wildebeest Spring I ever saw, and so did most of my friends (what makes us worried about upcoming summer, but hey, at least it's 6 weeks shorter for the summer now!). I am taking it with gratitude.

So, on Thursday I went at 4 pm for an 8 Mile trail run, wearing yoga shorts and sports bra...in 96F and 75% humidity...and I almost died out there. Boy, was it bad! As much as we're better adjusted to warmer temps, we are NOT adjusted to THIS yet! 2 bottles and a bandanna are making a come back. But the legs felt fine.

Saturday was a 20 miler with 20 repeats on a gnarly 0.42M Hill of Life and some 266 feet of gain per each, what gave me over 5,200 feet of gain for the total. I started at 6 am, and the first 10 went in a breeze (relatively speaking), much better than 10 I did after Kansas 100k. But then the dehydration accumulated, the heat and sun peaked up, and I was under-fueled too. So, somewhere past #13 it was grind and gritter. Thankfully, lots of people to support my efforts! Rogue Running store and their trail training group under Eric Stanley were doing 4M loops from the top, so the hollered and shared their cold water (I wouldn't have finished on what I stashed!). Austin Trail Funners (a.k.s. a side-kick to HCTR club) had their run begin from the top and top photos and made small talk. There were hikers doing 2-4 times repeats, backpackers training for their adventures and going up and down with packs 3-5 times, one guy doing 10 of his own however slowly (not sure of his deal, but he was cool), a Crossfit dude who walked down, then did lunges all the way to the top, an elderly couple who were totally inspiring and talkative, and all in all, they counted with me, and encouraged me, and I felt responsibility to get through it all - and I did.



The bad thing was that I had same bad leg twinges/tingling/sharp painful sensations after I was done like I did when I first went on Paleo/Whole30 back in October, and they lasted for an hour or so. The good thing is that my friend Bob Gentile set me up with a new product similar to First Endurance (Optigen and Ultragen), so as soon as I was done, I had 2 scoops of BRL Sports and back to being alive. A big omelet devoured, and 2 hrs working at Massage Envy later (one of the clients was a gal from CO having being sore from doing The Incline! What are the odds!), I was brand new, and the thought of having another run next day didn't threaten me anymore.

That's not to say I enjoyed that Sunday run much. It was humid, and I ran roads, and didn't want to go to gas station to refill my water bottle, as I it is too close to the house and I didn't want to battle getting to continue, so I asked a random person mowing the loan for some water - luckily he was nice! So, I finished, and yes, lived to get to work (Massage Envy is both days on the weekend), and to shop, and to chop for the week, and to prep a neat and healthy dinner with a little plus.
I am on 3 weeks to go to San Diego 100. Last big effort is this week, then heat acclimate, maintain and take care of the knee and the weight to be steady. I am looking forward the race - and to a downtime after that!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Home, Mac50 and "You always have amazing race stories".

That what Benjamin Chan told me when I posted my status update on Facebook. Unfortunately, the social media had gone from thoughtful blog posts with lots of emotions to Facebook updates, and even to Twitter one-liners, and it's getting harder to re-live what you felt when you said in one of those outlets.

But do I ever have stories, indeed...

I had an amazing race. Simply put, I couldn't wish for a better day, and even my dramatic finish was well belonged right there, right then.

In fact, this trip "home", to my sweet Portland of Oregon, was a highlight of all trips. And I don't even think it's because how it all fell together, but more so where I am. With every passing year, every visit, I get to a next, more solid place, in my life, where I feel more assured, more contempt, yet more bold and assertive, and just in my own skin. Couple it with fantastic weather I happen to always somehow experience when I fly over, and amazing, absolutely best ever friends I ever had, and the crowd that makes me feel most loved ever - and it was paradise and heaven in one wrapping paper.

Thursday night sleep was non-existent, as I landed at midnight, picked up the car, drove to my good Russian friend Anna, and by the time dinner and little chat was over, it was 2 am, which is 4 am my time and about to get up - so I never fell asleep. But at 5 am I was meeting Ronda and Amy for a little run in Forest Park and a lot of coffee and conversation...
Anna
Beautiful sunrise.

My happy ladies! Ronda and Amy
 The rest of the day was spent with my son Alex, who is moving at a good clip right direction, and while he, himself, might think things don't change fast enough, as an adult, I know he is in much better place then he was even few short months ago.
5 pm I hit an after-work traffic and made my way to Salem, to stay with Pam and Mac Smith. And to say it was the best part of my hang-out portion of this visit is an understatement. Can I be adopted, please? :) Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, this will stay in my memory and be cherished forever.
That's my girl! Pam

Pam is all about gardening...Larry would have been impressed.

Liam and Megan caught a chicken for me...we didn't eat it, but we ate plenty of fresh eggs.

Mac is making cookies for an AS and we're eating them fresh and gooey!
That night's sleep was very restful! We got to the start of McDonald Forest 50k right on time to see early starters go off, and I squeezed some hugs and kisses right there. And from there on, the next hour, and the whole race, was an absolutely best time of my life! Surprised faces, all the hugs, all the chats, all the welcoming, and compliments, and questions, and kisses...This is home for sure, and I never feel the same anywhere else. No disrespect, but this is where I "grew" as an ultrarunner, this si where I was supported and seeing through challenges of runs and life, and the crowd of Oregon is just special...

And we were off. (All race photos are courtesy of Long Run Pictures).

It was a beautiful day, 50's at the start, just reaching 80F by 2 pm. Sunny gorgeous day, that treated with amazing views at the top of the Maze climb, Old Growth forest, single track intermittent with some fire roads, soft footing, gliding opportunities, climbs that leave your hamstring and butt screaming and downhills that make quads shaky-jelly. And oh, did I take on those ups and downs! They are my favorite! I power-hiked like there is no tomorrow, and flew down yelling as I was coming by on a single track "Sorry, but I missed it so much!" non-stop. I realized I will pay the price, but my body remembered how to do it, and I wasn't about to disappoint it.


I had a goal. Well, realistically, my "pace chart" on the bottle said 6:25, but Ronda laughed me off and encouraged to shoot sub-6. Secretly, I wanted sub-6 as well, but decided not to re-do the chart so I don't get mentally wrapped up and disappointed. We don't have 7,300 feet of climb and same for descend in 2+ mile stretches in Texas! How would I know if I could?

But I tried, boy, did I have fun trying! As Ronda put it, lets have a race, not a run, and push, and breathe hard, and work, and not let up! We were together until about half-way, and it was so awesome to know she is right there, working with me and not letting me slack. When I saw a milder grade, I'd break into a shuffle and tell myself "Ronda is running it". Run she did!

Dimple AS at mile 18 came and left, and I felt a twinge in my calf. Uh-oh! I knew I was totally solid on salt, and drinking full bottle between each AS (approximately an hour apart) - so if a little less water than I would have wanted, then not by much. I was fueling on the clock, as for the knee...well, it was taped, had a strap on, and lets just say I had consumed 7 Ibuprofen in 6 hr run - I wasn't going to let it ruin my race, so no reason to discuss it!

I had the same group around me, some moving ahead, some dropping, then coming back, and seems that we were so supportive and evenly matched with each other, even if our strengths and weaknesses were different! We were passing on early starters, and more hugs and kisses and high five's ensured, and I felt totally like a celebrity. My jaws were locked from smiling so hard!

But by mile 20 or so the cramps were more noticeable and more consistent. It felt Cheaha 50k all over again...at least it started later! I pounded more S! caps, drunk a coke at the last AS and told myself: last 5 miles, 55 minutes, you can do it!

And it went nuts. My calves were moving on their own terms, and then my inner thighs started to have contractions. There was a nicely graded incline on a dirt road that totally deserved running, but I power-walked and prayed not to make sudden movements. The same slight grade of decline came on the same road, and it would have been nice to "take on it", but I shuffled gently, occasionally breaking into a walk to let the cramps subside. I knew there was Kamm and Megan were right behind, my good friends who we worked together with since almost very start, and who we exchanged non-dying support with ("Stay with me, I need you!" - "I am latching on you, go, girl!"), but I also knew I can not afford to lock up as I did on the last climb at the Cheaha, where I spent 20 minutes basically standing, and I still had 6 hrs in the view...

And then a short single-track climb came, and I thought: nice, it'll stretch my calves! I even stopped for a few seconds and literally stretched them! And then last 1.5 miles, softest most awesome steep downhill on a narrow trail to scream down on...and all I could was just maintain low-rise short gait to avoid disaster. From time to time the Charlie Horse would hit, the muscle would twist, and the foot would drop pointing, and I trip a bit, but still upright, tightening my fists yet trying to relax the rest of the body...hearing Kamm and Megan yelling to me" Hold it, push it!" (Kamm later said she saw my calf muscles moving in all directions separately from me). I see Michael of Long Run just before the final turn, slowly exhale...
cross the famous wooden bridge, think "I did it!"...see a guy laying right across the path in front of me, 10 yards from the finish line, and whether it was accidental sudden jerk of my legs to avoid him, or that "sigh" of all the systems that we're done, but the left leg completely seized in a mother of all pains wrenching and I screamed, and stopped, and kept yelling profanities not able to move, from pain, from frustration that the clock is showing 5:57 and I am not moving, thinking there are kids around, and my running girls are coming right at me from behind and around, and Ken the RD runs to me and helps me up, and then I start yelling "I have to do it under my own power", and strengthen up leaving him, consider hopping on the other leg but afraid that one will go seize as well, and Kamm and Megan come back to me, as I cry and smile, and keep those fists tight, and move forward, swinging that leg, and yes! It's done, and I am at 5:58:15! Holly cow!
My legs stand behind the guy in the picture.

Crying? Or laughing?


What a dramatic re-entrance into PNW racing scene! At the finish line, where everyone is watching! And in a way, it was like it was planned (it wasn't), and in a way kind of perfect too, and in a way so many laughs, support, hugs and stories...and frankly, despite moving a couple of spots down, I wouldn't want it any other way. It was the way it was, humbling, yet uplifting, and so absolutely wonderful. My best finish ever.

It was great to meet the goal, and the rest of the day was wonderful. We showered and drove to Father Clem's house for some after-party and I spent more time living in my past, the past of my ultrarunning, and exchanging news and gossips and races and support...
I spent another night at Pam and Mac's, another awesome sleep, and after a Mother's Day breakfast and precious hugs from precious kids, I drove to the park where I used to do my daily runs - Tryon. And as I did my shake-out run on the trails, the tears hit me, finally, my God, what I had in my backyard, I could walk to here, this paradise, every day, what I had, and what I don't have anymore...

But alas, it, but a past, a memory, etched forever, and aching often...More Anna, more Alex (and even Oleg), then dinner with Monika and Stan, and off I went, on my red eye flight, back to Texas, holding  dearly on to the memories and understanding that we all have to move one...and so I do. One step at a time.

FULL RESULTS
ALL PHOTOS FROM THE TRIP





Thursday, May 09, 2013

"Aha" moment of the past.

I am reading this book, Quitter, by Jon Acuff, "Closing the gap between your day job and your dream job". This is the first book that talks not about jumping in feet first, closed eyes and mouth open, into new career, and yet not taking extensive steps identifying what exactly is that you may potentially want to do. The books is talking sense. The book resonates with me, why, while I am not the happiest in the world doing what I do for the last 20 years, I am not the saddest in the world about not doing what I trained for and got education for. And the book just handled me "aha" moment I actually speak often about...

When I was 14 and in 9th grade, Soviet education system had you, as part of high school curriculum, do one day a week of "professional training" type of class. I wanted to be a truck driver - I was a tom-boy and doing such things felt like a good option. But the teacher of that class refused to take girls - there was a lot of swearing happening, and he wasn't about to be fired or hold his tongue back. So, as a girl, I had to pick a seamstress class - but I was already sawing all my clothes and didn't foresee this as a career move - or take a nurse assistant class. My sister's husband was a doctor, so I decided on that, just in case.

And while we did some theory, and some practice, as a practical and realistic teenager I was, I decided to get a job to utilize my new developing skill set - as a night shift "nurse assistant" for a ICU unit at the hospital, what in normal terms for that age and grade level meant simply a janitor. A person who cleans the floor with big mop and a huge water bucket, changes sheets, wipes puke, handle urine dishes and cleans kitchen stuff after dinner. And yes, cleans the toilets. All the good stuff.

I actually liked to clean. And liked to feel useful. And I never felt disgusted with puke, urine, poop and blood, nor with helpless patients while turning them from side to side trying to change the sheets. My "office" was a closet with mops, water facet and a toilet. 

I will never forget the first morning, after a shift, when I found a sack of oranges on top of the toilet. You see, Soviet times (and Russia in general) are known for "gifting" as a way to pay your appreciation. May be tipping is what is here, and money were given as well, but anything goes. It shows that you do a good job, and it sort of asks for continuing doing that in a way, I guess.

My first "gifting" was a sack of oranges, that probably was brought to the recovering patient by their relative, nameless, and not quite cheap. I almost cried. There was a note. "You are very good at helping".

I went on to apply for Medical school 2 years later, even though in 10th grade (last high school year for that time of Soviet education) was attending preparatory classes in 2 other Universities: Aviation Engineering and Moscow State University's Jurisdiction department (I wanted to be a Detective). Medical Doctor was more of a "girl's" job, and the society strongly opposed to both female Aviation Engineers and Detectives (my parents kept belittling my choices and explaining how I'll be poked at and put down). But I also by then realize that I do love the helping aspect of Medical Profession, and I do like to wonder the cause behind the symptom.

As I worked though the years of Medical School as a Nurse Assistant, Nurse, and then Physician Assistant (that's another perk of Soviet system, as you progress in education of eventually higher degree, the "lower" steps degrees get earned and allow you to work using them), I found my calling for sure. Spending time with patients was what I loved the most. Not even brain-storming what and why and how to treat, but trying to "save the world, one person at a time", often by simply talking or holding hand.

So, while the biggest reason I never took that National Board Examination to re-certify as an MD in the US because at first I didn't speak English, and then I got a job and had to make a living for the sake of the family and not sit home and study, as I was learning about local medical system, I wasn't sure Doctor is where I'd like to be. And so I stuck it out as a Research Scientist, doing bench work, DNA, RNA, Protein Purification, Kinetics, Bacteria, Mammalian Cells, and Radioisotopes. It's not a bad job, not at all. It has challenges for the mind, it has breaks in time, it is pretty stable and has a pay that makes live livable. But it doesn't feed my soul.

But back to the book. The reason I began talking about it was because many folks who are unhappy at their current situation often simply drop it and wonder what they can do next. Or, the take tests to see "what their calling is". Or start one project after another. Go to school to get another degree. Read books.

What the author said was simply "Think of what made you fulfilled at some point of your life and see if it can also make an earning".

Helping others can be done in so many ways. It doesn't have to be one. Not all have to make an earning - although some certainly should, because without that one simply can't live sustainable life and be willing to keep offering help. And this is where I am. Making slow steps towards the direction I wanted to go for 30 years...

...Funny, I was simply blabbering away, as Larry called and told me to check out the initial webpage he just launched! Come visit!

www.olgav100.com