Friday, April 11, 2014

Montana Postscript 2014: Lone Peak, Mon Amour

In any other culture, say India or Japan,  Lone Peak might be a holy place. A reverent place that is the subject of meditation, paintings, and woodcuts. I like to stare at it, about as much as ski it.

It's not the tallest mountain around (11,160 feet); there are plenty of taller Rockies, particularly south of it in Colorado. But the peak has a perfect conical shape and is covered, now and for much of the spring (given that it still has a snowpack of about 8 to 10 feet), with creamy, flawlessly white snow.

It has a Mt. Fuji-like prominence and vibe.

I took one of the tamer runs off of it on April 9. I've skied from the top every year since 2011, except for one when the tram to the peak was temporarily out of order (I'm only there for a few days, but try not to miss a year). It's one of the places I use to keep me honest as I get older, and I try to do something a little harder every year.

But I also realize, and upon moments of reflection disapprove of, using grand mountains primarly for Type A-ish, competitive proving grounds. As in all high mountains, Lone Peak can be a hazardous place. You wake up in the morning and hear charges going off, as ski patrollers do Avy (avalanche) control.

They do this so that inbounds skiers don't trigger their own avalanches. The ski patrol released one a couple of years ago that roared down the Marx (named trail) flank of the mountain and wiped out a chairlift shed. In commemoration, they've left a toboggan up in a tree to show the power of the avalanche. The mountain, and nature, is always in control.

I always feel better in the winter after skiing, and I always feel better after skiing Lone Peak, so I think this is a physical/spiritual dynamic. If you want to stay fitter and healthier in body and mind, consider taking up downhill skiing, and paying homage to Big Sky. Just don't forget to meditate, or if so inclined, pray.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Big Sky, Montana: April Tidbits

On here my fourth and second to last day, I had a great run in the Headwaters Bowl. I took the Challenger lift up, then skied over the top to the Headwaters area of Moonlight Basin. One of the nice topographical touches on that part of Big Sky is the access to the Headwaters Bowl and lift from the top of the Challenger lift.

Very few people were around, and it was peaceful and windswept and sunny enough for a low-visibility day. It's very steep but the snow was soft and deep (Western Montana has a huge snowpack for April). I made some turns and went through some trees to the skier's right of Alder Gulch, then went faster down the Bowl where the pitch flattens out somewhat.

I've always had my eye on a trail called bonecrusher, which is a bootpack or hike through some woods and up a slope several hundred meters. Coming up not long after my Headwaters run, I saw an opening (the ski patrol had literally opened the bonecrusher trail). So I took my skis off and started hiking.

I was lugging kind of heavy resort skis, not backcountry boots or skis, so it was a reasonably hard workout. Can't beat the view though of the surrounding Montana Rockies and 11,160 foot Lone Peak looming overhead. I used the trail made by two cheerful young lasses with snowboards, who were the only other people plus me who did it that day.

They got most of the way up and made a snowman, while I was grimly stomping uphill like I was finishing Everest or something. I was doing the classic two-step shuffle, then stop to catch your breath. It's very blown off on top and mostly rocks through the otherwise deep snow.  I would guess the top is at least 9500 feet in elevation, hopefully higher for the purposes of bragging rights!

The two ladies eventually stepped into their snowboards and blithely headed off, making wavy marks in the snow. Then came the hardest part for me, which was putting on my skis.

Try it sometime, standing at a fairly steep angle in  deep snow. I dug a little trench for the skis, knocked the sticky snow off my boots, and finally succeeded in clicking in, after imagining how awkward and energy-wasting it would have been to hike down with all that stuff.

The picture on the left shows our bootpack or trail, a little line above the trees.

Then I had my own powder run down after "earning my turns"; very satisfying.

As for a tram run off the top of the peak, there's always tomorrow!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Gone On Kauai, As Reviewed By The Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews

My novel Gone On Kauai has been reviewed by Kirkus Reviews, the New York book magazine. Here's part of what they had to say:

“Perry reprises his Karl Standt character here, but this novel can easily stand on its own. The island of Kauai is a character in itself (“the flat river moved with a hypnotic slowness, like heavy floodwaters”), and Perry effectively describes its culture, including the super-rich who view Kauai as a trust-fund playground, the surfing locals who personify the laid-back island vibe, and the plague of drugs that are harvested and sold there.  Perry depicts the different sides of island life through the perspective of New Yorker Standt, who’s out of his element but relies on his instincts. Although the plot sometimes glosses over details, it eventually provides a thrilling revelation.”
 Gone On Kauai is currently on sale until March 4. You can download it as an ebook on iTunes (.epub), Amazon, Smashwords, and other retailers.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Using Smartphone Apps For Interval Training

Are you a fan of combining workouts and sports tracking devices? Or do you plan to be? Then you will be interested in "Using Smartphone Apps With Interval Training," the first book about setting up and using Endomondo Sports Tracker and Strava Cycling for sprint training.

This ebook includes step-by-step instructions for custom designing your own interval program and using the built-in interval programs in Endomondo. It also describes how to use the popular Strava feature Segments for sprint training.

The book covers sprint-training techniques (e.g., Tabata sprints and various other protocols), as well as how Endomondo and Strava can be used to augment your intervals. It is designed for both beginners and "power users" of the two popular apps. Both have excellent features for helping manage your high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

"Using Smartphone Apps With Interval Training" includes numerous screenshots from both the cell-phone apps and the web dashboards that they offer their users. The chapters include an interval-training introduction; another on how to set up sprint training on Endomondo and Strava, as well as more detailed info on interval protocols, with references to technical papers and other topics such as the Borg rating of perceived exertion (RPE).

"Using Smartphone Apps With Interval Training" is the first in an Inside Sports Tracking series of concise briefings on training and sports tracking apps.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Buying Gone On Kauai And Other Perry Books On ITunes

Gone On Kauai and other books by me are available on the iTunes bookstore. Here are links to finding them there:

The new Karl Standt crime novel Gone On Kauai. Here is a synopsis of this fiction book.

All the rest of my books on iTunes, including Fitness For Geeks.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Iron Nutrition For Women And Vegetarians

I decided to look into this issue because my teenage daughter, who's a fitness buff and vegetarian, made an inquiry over the holidays. Do vegetarians need iron supplements?

Iron is an essential mineral because you must obtain it from your diet. The body doesn't "make" iron. The mineral is a constituent of hemoglobin, the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. Hemoglobin represents about two-thirds of the use of iron in the body 1.

"Hemoglobin and myoglobin are heme-containing proteins that are involved in the transport and storage of oxygen. " 2

Myoglobin is a protein that is used in muscles. It "functions in the transport and short-term storage of oxygen in muscle cells, helping to match the supply of oxygen to the demand of working muscles."  3

Most people in the developed world who eat a healthy diet (note the qualifications here), including meats, fish, eggs, nuts, and fresh, green leafy vegetables, will probably get enough iron without supplements. (The rich sources of iron, in organ meats or beef, for example, derive from actually eating the leftover hemoglobin in animals.)

However, iron deficiency is rampant, the most common nutrient deficiency in the world, affecting almost eight of ten people. 4 Perhaps three of ten people actually have iron-deficiency anemia.

Nutrition sources

For example, an adult woman aged 19 to 50 must get about 18 milligrams (mg) of dietary iron per day. Grass-fed beef delivers about a mg per ounce, so a decent-sized steak would get you most of the way–two thirds if you ate twelve ounces of beef–to the recommended iron intake for an adult woman for the day.

Beef or chicken liver would be better (although some people find it gross), as well as oysters–a small serving of oysters, only 42 calories worth, gives you more than two mg of iron.

Oddly enough, 100 grams of high-cacao chocolate (up to 85 percent–I eat 100 percent cacao Ghiradelli's almost every day, for the taste not the iron), provides a whopping 12 mg of iron, but probably of the nonheme variety.

There are two kinds of dietary iron: heme and nonheme. Beef, fowl, fish, organ meats, and shellfish provide the more easily absorbed heme iron. This is what becomes problematical for vegetarians and vegans–they only eat the nonheme type of iron sources.

Because fatigue is associated with anemia or iron deficiency, the signs of not getting enough iron are not subtle, and you can test for it by having a common blood test that detects your hemoglobin levels.

Here's a god quote from page 274 of Fitness For Geeks that derived from a nutritional review in a science journal:

“The high incidence of iron depletion among athletes is usually attributed
to inadequate energy intake. Other factors that can impact iron
status include vegetarian diets that have poor iron availability
, periods
of rapid growth, training at high altitudes, increased iron losses in sweat,
feces, urine, menstrual blood, intravascular hemolysis, foot-strike hemolysis,
regular blood donation, or injury…. Athletes, especially women,
long-distance runners, adolescents, and vegetarians should be screened
periodically to assess and monitor iron status…. Because reversing irondeficiency
anemia can require 3–6 months, it is advantageous to begin
nutrition intervention before iron deficiency anemia develops

It's interesting that very active runners can become iron-deficient via "foot-strike hemolysis," which is the bursting of red-blood cells that occurs from the repetitive trauma of running.

As a "veggie," my daughter, who achieved a black belt in Kenpo karate but will touch no animal food of any kind, eats a lot of eggs to remain properly nourished. Yet eggs, as otherwise "a vitamin pill in a shell," provide only about 1 mg per egg of nonheme iron.

The iron is in the yolks, which contain the good stuff in eggs.

Maybe the farm eggs we eat from Vermont provide a little more than that, but the point is that even consuming healthy, full-fat dairy probably doesn't provide nearly enough iron for an active female vegetarian. One cup of whole milk provides only 0.1 mg of iron.

Eating a very nutritious overall diet–meaning adequate vitamins A, C, B12, among other biochemicals–helps increase the absorption of iron from nonheme sources.

Cooking in an iron skillet, such as with a vegetable stir fry, will add some valuable iron to a vegetarian's diet.

The Linus Pauling Institute fact sheet on iron recommends that because of the lower bioavailability of nonheme iron (you probably absorb only about 10 percent of the iron consumed), teenage vegetarian women should achieve a daily iron intake of 26 mg per day.

I've concluded that it's pretty obvious that a vegetarian must consume a high-quality iron supplement–and not supplement too much. "The bioavailability of iron from a vegetarian diet is only 10%, while it is 18% from a mixed diet."