Monday, June 23, 2008

Dr (?). Joshua Riley Wheeler (MD-Ph.D ??)

Last weekend Kristen and I traveled far and wide visiting graduate schools. Yes, I know we are nerdy for visiting graduate schools in the middle of the summer, on a Friday and during our Sophomore year but you know what I am glad we did!

First stop, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This is it. As soon as we started to walk around on campus I felt the same feeling that I had felt oh those many years ago when I first walked onto App's campus. As of late, I have decided to peruse a MD-Ph.D and Chapel Hill offers one of the premiere programs in country. Kristen and I walked around the campus for about three hours because we didn't want to do one of those stupid tours with all the high schoolers who's moms made them dress up in the middle of the summer and march around in the heat and pretend to care when really they just want to not be seen in public with their mother. That being said we got severely lost on campus but got to see parts of the campus not shown on most tours, namely the back woods behind the medical building. It was quite a sight to behold. The upside to our special tour was that we got to tour around the creepy library that we immediately dubbed as a scene out of Scooby Doo and we got to get locked out the biomedical lab building. I was able to talk to a number of students and administration that are heading up or participating in the MD-Ph.D program. I have sense revisited my undergraduate goals... Basically I have to retake a few classes, bump up my GPA by a little and score a next to impossible score of 38 on the MCAT. Fear not, I got my Princeton Review MCAT book and have started the preparation. Chapel Hill 2010...errr..2011..2011.5? here I come!

Chip off the ol' Block

False start! I am back to limping around like a 90 year old man. After one day of kickass training, I woke up the next morning with a brick workout planned only to find myself three miles into a 'run' paralyzed from pain on the side of the road.... Alas, back to PT for me.

On Sunday night I drove down to Chattanooga to visit with Dr. Tommy Brown the following morning. After getting up at 4:30am to make a master's swim workout, I was very thankful for coffee (thanks to Zach for making a coffee addict). I know what you are thinking. Why are you swimming if you can't walk? Well, I can swim without pain which is alot more than I can say for most other daily activities. Therefore, I swim. On a positive note, I am impressed with how my swimming is progressing. Not being able to run or bike maybe a blessing in disguise as I am now able to focus interaly on my weakest discipline while I recuperate.

After my X-Ray photo shoot, Dr. Brown and I sat down to examine the pictures. As soon as we turned on the light, it was obvious what the problem was. There on my L4 transverse process (the little boney pointy thingy on your the edge of your vertebra for those none science types) was a clear fracture. From the looks of it, it appears that I fractured the vertebra a few months ago (probably from running 100-120miles for 8wks back in Nov./Dec) and due to the high level of stress that the Fl 70.3 provided on my body it seems the bone fragment finally chipped off the process completely.

So what does this mean? It means that I do not have a pulled muscle, separated muscle, pitched nerve, bulging disc, hunerated disc, or herpes. Which is all good news! I will not be able to race or run for a little while due to the compression and stress that running puts on my vertebra. The good news is like I eluded to earlier, I will be able to swim...A LOT! I'm going to be a merman! Watch out Michael Phelps...

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Recovering from injury is the worst experience for any athlete. Not only do you know that you are missing out on fitness but in the back of your mind you know that your competition is out there training while you are sitting back massaging your butt.

But to that end, I am proud to announce that I am back to training and will soon be back to kicking some butt. With a newly formed PT and recovery process, I will be back to full strength within the week.

Watch out all those racing Chatty bc I am headed your way with a renewed vengeance!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The adventures of the yellowdart have been put on hold the last week due to an unusual pain in my lower back that has reduced me to walking around like a 90 year old man. After a steller block of training following Florida 70.3, I was looking forward to toeing the line again. However, following a light 10mi run on Wednesday of last week, I felt a light twing in my back which I immediantly iced and went onto bed. I woke up the next morning, hammered out a tempo run and couldn't walk to class. I made the call to take it easy until the race that weekend but after not seeing any improvements I canned the race and got the opportunity to travel to Charlotte and chear on Kristen during her race. As hard as it was, I have to say that it was one of the better experiences I have had this year at a race. It reminded me that in triathlon we all have a first race and regardless whether we are embarking out on our 15mi cooldown tempo run or can't move for a week following that race we are all people before we are triathletes. I have continued to take the rest of the week off and feel that I am finally up to strength to start back training full time. Look out Chattanooga, here I come!

In better news: This weekend Kristen and I will be heading out to checkout the Chapel Hill and USC med programs. Sounds awesome!

In even better news: This weekend is the Olympic Trials! Sadly, Alan Culpepper is not going to be competing.

In even even better news: In Japan It's A National Law For Companies To Measure People's Waistlines - Men over 33.5" and Women over 35.4" are in trouble. If 10% of them don't lose weight by 2012, their companies might be fined up to $19 million.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tri-Nerd finds a summer job

Here's my job! Takes about seven and half hours straight to do one of these puppies...Ouch

F2 – Isoprostane Assay


Label plasma tubes with initial, plasma number
2ml Di H20
20 ml internal std. (d4 8-iso PGF2a, found in freezer) with Hamilton syringe; clean with ethanol following use, touch syringe to side of tube

Add sample to tubes
Plasma: pipette as much as possible from thawed tubes and record volume
Urine: 200 ml

Adjust sample pH to 3 using 1N HCL
Using a pipette top touch small amount of sample to pH paper

Put C18 Sep-Pak into place
Syringes, label with sample number and initial
Waste tubes, label with sample number and initial then put into corresponding place with C18 Sep-Pak
Precondition with 5ml methanol, then 7ml pH3 H20

Decant waste into waste beaker
Vortex samples before adding
Add samples, do not push through too rapidly
Label new, clean tubes with sample number and initial

Wash samples
10ml pH3 H20
10ml heptane

Add new, clean labeled tubes
Decant waste into waste beaker
Elute sample into new tubes with 10ml 1:1 ethyl acetate:heptane
Remove tubes, replace with waste tubes

Remove C18 Sep-Pak and replace with silica Sep-Pak (black tops)
Pre-rinse with 5ml ethyl acetate

9/10. Add small scoop of sodium sulfate and vortex lightly
Pour into silica Sep-Pak, *Do not to pour in sodium sulfate*
Push through slowly
Wash samples
5ml ethyl acetate
Label small tubes and tops with sample number and initial

Add new small tubes and pour off waste into waste beaker
Elute sample into small tubes with 5 ml 1:1 ethyl acetate:methanol

Dry samples under N2 bath at 37 degrees for *25min* or until evaporated

Esterify samples
40 ml PFBB
20 ml DIPE
Place at 37 degree (wet incubator) for *20min*

Dry samples under N2 bath (approx 5min)

Reconstitute sample
50ml 3:2 methanol:chloroform
Make new reconstitution of 3:2 methanol:chloroform each time

TLC Purification
Make sure that the TLC plates have been prepared fresh daily
Draw line across TLC plate 13cm from origin
Spot 5ml TLC std. (PGF2a TLC std) to separate TLC plate
Spot samples - 50ml sample
Dry samples and place samples in TLC tank, allowing solvent to move to the 13cm mark before removing from tank, dry plates
Mark centrifuge tubes with sample number and initial
Spray std. with phosphomolybdic acid, place std. on hot plate until dark band appears (1-2min) then mark 1cm above and 1cm below mark
Pair samples with mark from std. plate, scrape samples onto filter plate and pour into marked centrifuge tubes
Add 1.25ml ethyl acetate,

Centrifuge at max rpm for *2min*
Label new centrifuge tubes with sample number and initial

Use 1ml pipette to decant ethyl acetate into new centrifuge tubes, *make sure not to decant any silica*

Dry samples under N2 bath at 37 degrees (approx 15min)

Add 8ml DMF, 20ml BSTFA (located in brown, sealed containers)
Vortex, place at 37 degrees C for *5min*

Dry under N2
Reconstitute with 15ml undecane
Label and prepare GC tubes
Pipette out samples, cap samples

This is not a road, it's a trail!

Its been a few days since I have had a free second to write anything down. We'll call it the weather.

Training Update:

Getting stronger everyday! Over the weekend had one of the best brick workouts of the season. The story goes like this. I decided the morning of the ride (which was supposed to be 3.5hrs) to map out a new route because for some reason I was getting tired of riding the same ol' roads. After marking out my new path, I embarked upon what was soon to become one of the craziest rides of my life. Ideally, I was going to drop off the mountain and descend into Lenior the land of flats roads, country women, brown water and hot weather then come back up the mountain after a little sight seeing and drop into Blowing Rock. That was the plan. Here's what happened. I started out riding and got to the road that was going to take me off the mountain. Much to my surprise the road was a steep gravel descent into the backwoods of Appalachian. Sketched out I made the call to turn around and ask one of the locals if this in fact was the right road. I found an elderly man on sitting on his lawn mower and asked directions. He informed me that the gravel would end 3-4miles down the road. Since he looked like a trusting ol' timer I figured Father Time knew what he was talking about and took his word. Shoot, what's 3-4 miles down a gravel road if I get to ride on flat roads anyways. The 3-4 miles turned into a dramatic decent down a gravel ravine into a land of nothingness. I found myself sliding down a loose gravel road for an hour in search of the fabled paved road. These words fail to describe the level of pissed off I was at having to walk down this road with my TT bike. Many might think why not turn around? Well, by the time I had thought of that I had traveled 3-4 miles and kept thinking the road was right around the corner. The only person I saw for an hour and half as I traveled deeper into the bowels of Appalachian was two ladies driving a beat up pickup truck. I asked directions and almost got laughed off the road as I was informed I had a long ways to go before I got to the paved road. I pictured the old man sitting on his lawn mower laughing at how he had tricked me. I was reduced to a caveman style vocabulary as I grunted and cursed my way down the mountain. THIS IS NOT A ROAD, THIS IS A TRAIL I screamed every thirty seconds. Finally I got to the bottom and took a right (I guessed that to be the correct way) I biked for another hour before I saw anyone or anything. Then I found myself at a general store where I asked directions. The man working the feed store in formed me that if I "followed the yellow brick road" I would find myself in Lenior before I knew it. Great I thought. I found the only man in Appalachian with a sense of humor. By this time my total riding time was fastly approaching three hours when I was supposed to only ride 3.5 hours. Oh yea, it was 96+ degrees. There were points in the ride that I was riding down the road and the tar on the road was melting and sticking to my tires. To add to my missery I ran out of water for forty minutes. Delierous I found a BP and stopped for water, soda, oatmeal creampie (most bang for the buck). The lady working behind the desk told me the only way I could get back to Boone now was to bike to Wilksboro and take hwy 421 straight up to Boone. So thats what I did. I biked for close to 5hrs 21min in 96degrees down a dirt road thanks to a mean old man and then had to TT across the desert with melting tires to find myself climbing the final 12miles (avg 7%) into Boone. I was supposed to run following adn being a sucker for pain. I jumped off my bike, threw on my shoes and clocked out 6miles (first two miles 5:42 avg miles pace, last two miles 5:34 avg pace)!

Moral of the story: Do not trust an old man sitting on his John Dear to tell you directions when embarking on a 3.5 hr bike ride unless you want to bike down a gravel road for an hour and half.

Totals for this week were high: 25k pool, 13.5hrs bike, 58mi run
I'm hungry.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

F2 IsoP Assays and 30hrs of Training - Neither makes much sense to me

Week two of summer school for those keeping track and I am now officially hired on to help out the in biochemistry labs doing really smart stuff that I don't pretend to understand. The last two days have been insane to say the least. While trying to balance four to five hours of training, I am attempting to go to school and learn all there is to know about biomechanics and working in the chemistry labs till seven or seven thirty at night. I do believe I have been bitch slapped by the real world. For all those that constantly worry about my health and more importantly my sanity, I am cutting my lab hours back to two days of seven hours (Monday and Wednesday) in order to properly prepare for my class and train full time.

Here is a peak into the wide world of Josh (TR 6/5/08) for a day:

6:00am wakeup call

615-7:45 Breakfast, shower, yoga, study F2 IsoP Assay techniques, finish biomechanics COM lab report, 'clean', watch the weather channel, think about going back to sleep

8:00-8:20 Bike to WSC for my morning swim, change clothes, flex in the mirror, stand on the pool deck for ten minutes wondering how cold the water is

8:30-9:45 Swim LCM (oh boy) with the ancient hardmen that show up to the pool in their banana hammocks

10:00-10:20 Shower, bike to school, pass school go to Stickboy, eat second breakfast, buy bread for Kristen, droll over the cinnamon buns for five minutes, realize I am late for class, buy coffee, time trial to school (again)

10:25-11:45 Biomechanics class, eat third breakfast (morning snack), drink water, look interested, think about my second swim workout

12:00-12:20 Drop off employment papers, bike to my car to get my license, kick with Kristen for five minutes, bike back to school, print lab report, eat first lunch, turn in lab report

12:20-1:00 Videography Lab

1:15-1:25 Bike to SRC pool, change clothes, flex in the mirror, stand on the pool deck wondering if this water will be warmer than this morning's

1:30 - 2:45 Swim again (faster)! 1st afternoon snack

3:00-3:20 TT home on my trusty steed (aka my mtn bike)

3:30-3:45 Ate lunch, downloaded music, changed clothes, flexed in the mirror, got on my other trusty steed (Kuota) and set out for a ride

4:00-6:00 Biked, thought about eating more food, ate more food, chanced down a herd of wild thundercats (see below for definition)

6:00-6:20 recovery run, fell in the pool, showered, started dinner

6:30-7:15 ate...a lot

7:15-8:30 Videography Lab report, listened to the Doors and Kristen coughing

9:00 Bedtime

9:30 Second dinner, second bedtime, epsom salt bath (metro moment with JR), dreamed about eating and running and lab (just kidding)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Twitchers and ThunderCats


Anyone who visits the website more than 5x daily. Not there is anything wrong with this website because it provides a valuable source of current endurance sports related news that cannot be found in one place anywhere else on the internet. However, the problem I have is with a number of key qualities that seem to be personified by these twitchers. These people exemplify what is wrong with today's triathlon. No longer is triathlon or any endurance sport for that matter about personal fitness, quiet competition or accomplishment. Rather these twitchers bring a materialistic, narcissism to the start line of all the races they sign up for. It appears to me that it is more about who has the best bike, the hardest race schedule or the most worthless accomplishments. Since when did listing our race results become a prerequisite for entering into a race? These twitchers bring an arrogance that is not needed in our beloved sport. They look down on those with lower quality gear, precieved less fitness or triathlon newbies. We all need to remember that we all started somewhere. No one came right out riding the best gear or splitting a course record in the first race they entered. It drives me crazy to show up the day before a race and see people riding their disk wheels around in the parking lot or walking up to the packet pickup wearing their aero helmets and racing flats. It is cool to have the good gear. The joy of competition should be on our minds before attempting to purchase the newest, lightest water bottle. Twitchers stop critiquing each other's positions or showing off your rides! Loose 25 pounds first, see how that helps you out on the race course before you decide to drop an additional two grand on a new break lever. HTFU is not a battle cry! Shut up and train, let the results do the talking for themselves.


Thundercats are an indigenous species of power riders that enjoy slightly rolling hills and flat grounds. They are at home amongst other Thundercats and get extremely aggressive when passed by smaller riders or Twitchers. They have massive quads and calf muscles and huge upper bodies. Thundercats typically have hairless legs but a grizzly chest and furry back. They ride in packs, it is very rare to see a Thundercat on its own separated from the herd. Like twitchers they always have the latest, greatest, lightest gear. Thundercats cannot climb hills, mountains or stairs. When racing Thundercats will typically be last out of the water, first off the bike and finish dead last on the run. Thundercats are most known for their ability to push a gear of 60rpm for any distance. Unlike Twitchers, Thundercats will not wear their racing flats to packet pickup. They will, however, wear their aero helmets down to the swim start. Thundercats are nicer than Twitchers because instead of going back to making excuses at the end of a race about their overall placing a Thundercat will belly up to the bar and knock back a few cold ones before clearing out their transition area. Thundercats are almost always male however on rare occasions a female Thundercat can be spotted.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Peddle Faster, I Hear Banjo Music

Taken from one of my favorite hippie bumper stickers around Boone, "Paddle Faster, I hear banjo music," I thought the title only fitting after my 4.5hrs jaunt through the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee.

Today I rode for a long time. I rolled mad thunder the whole time, practiced my nutrition and did not seem to get too worn out until the final eight mile climb (don't know what I was thinking trying to tackle Shulls Mill after biking for eighty miles but we'll know for next time...)

I started out under overcast skys and got soaked for the first hour. Then the sun opened up and shined down its smiling rays of joy on the road making it a freaking sauna. Unbeknown to me I ended up riding a good portion of the Blood,Sweet,andGears course. There were plenty of Appalachian, backwoods types out on the course to cheer me on though so I didn't get too lonely. I was happy to see a wide variety of ex-Confederate Civil War soldier, Dancing Outlaw, distill moonshine in the bathtub in their front yards locals. Regardless, it was a beautiful ride through the countryside!