Doctors in Action

On a flight yesterday I had front row seats to watch two physicians spring into action. An elderly lady in my row fainted when she stood up to go to the bathroom. There was an immediate call over the intercom for any physicians, nurses, or medics on board. Within seconds, two passenger doctors were by her side, checking her vitals, asking her questions, and trying to figure out what happened.

The affected passenger didn't speak English especially well and her voice was understandably quite faint as well. To further confound the sleuthing process, when they asked her if she was on any medication, she pointed to her bag but each of the pill bottles was identified only in Chinese. Fortunately, one of the flight attendants could ready Simplified Chinese so together the three of them were able to piece together answers to the diagnostic questions.

At the end of the day, the woman seemed to be fine, but it was a really interesting experience to watch. It was quite inspiring, actually. In today's litigious environment, I wouldn't have blamed doctors for not treating a patient without several pages of liability waivers in place first. But these two doctors, who had long ago taken the Hippocratic Oath, sprung into action with only a care for the patient.

I am often critical of our overly complicated, misaligned-incentive-driven healthcare industry. However, as long as doctors like these two passengers are around, I breathe a little more easily. Thanks to them and to all the others out there who have devoted their lives to healing!


Tarheel 4 Miler Race Report

Last weekend I took second in my age group on a very hilly Tarheel 4 Miler course. This was my second year running this race and I was pleased with the improvement in performance.

Last year unfortunately my GPS watch wasn't working so, while I had a baseline time (29:03), I didn't have any more granular information about km splits, which would have been especially useful for this race because it is so hilly. As such, my race plan called for a specific average pace and then I adjusted it down for downhill segments and up for uphill segments.

I managed to secure a spot near the front for the start - no small feat with nearly 1,200 runners! There I met someone who described me as his nemesis. Oh, hello, it's not every day that you learn that you're someone's nemesis! Apparently he and I had run several of the same races and each time I had overtaken him right at the end. Exciting - now I had extra motivation to run hard and live up to my nemesis status!

After an outstanding rendition of the national anthem, we were off. The 1st km was flat at first and then offered a steep downhill. Between launching hot at the starting line and flying down the hill, my first km split was 3:52 (Yay!) but my heart rate was pretty high (174) for that early in the race (Boo!). My nemesis was way ahead of me but I told myself just to run my own race.

The 2nd km had even more downhill but I managed to moderate my pace in order to finish in 4:06. My heart rate was down to 172, which was more in line with my goal. The 3rd km was more flat so I finished in 4:27 while keeping my heart rate constant at 172 (average).

My pace slowed during the 4th km, which had a long, gentle uphill: 4:43. My average heart rate was down to 171 so maybe I wasn't pushing hard enough. However, knowing what was coming next motivated me to play conservatively here.

The end of the 4th km marked the beginning of the Laurel Hill Challenge - a full mile of steep incline (Time to pay for those early downhills!) with only a few flat segments. There was a timing mat at the bottom and another at the top so runners were scored not just on their overall times but also their splits for Laurel Hill.

The 5th km was a trudge: 5:11 at a 176 average heart rate. The 6th km was pretty rough for the first half and then flatter and even a little downhill for the second half: 4:38 overall but averaging 180 BPM. I wasn't concerned about the high heart rate at this point because there was very little race left. My nemesis was back in my sights now but I couldn't quite close the gap.

The final half km last year went through the stadium tunnel and then finished in the football stadium. Not only was that a very cool experience, it was a very flat experience as well. This year, due to stadium maintenance, the final half km went back uphill almost back to the starting point - oy, not fun at all! I channeled my inner Rocky and left it all out there, finishing this segment in 2:02, hitting a max heart rate of 187. Perhaps best of all, this is where I passed my nemesis - the streak is intact!

My final time was 28:58, only a few seconds faster than last year but on a slower course due to the final uphill. My Laurel Hill split was 7:28 vs 7:47 last year so it seems that I am continuing to improve at running these very non-Houston hills that Chapel Hill has to offer.

I finished #20 overall and #2 in my age group. #1 in my age group was #1 overall (< 23 minutes!) so I have a loooooooong way to go! Still, it was a great race and I'm proud of my progress!


Spring in Chapel Hill

There's no other way to describe it: spring in Chapel Hill is paradise. Cool evenings, warm days, some April showers but mostly sunny - this is the stuff! It reminds me of summers in Lausanne, except that it's not summer yet and there isn't the same feeling of kids off from school, summer vacation/holidays, etc. yet.

After enduring a very cold February and then a March that couldn't quite seem to let go of winter, April arrived and it has been pretty glorious ever since. Beach volleyball, running, and even just walking the dog are true pleasures now. In fact, Smart Office Energy Solutions has set up offices in Chapel Hill and one of the advantages is that walking to work is really nice right now.

It really is neat being back in a place with four seasons as it creates a much more dynamic environment. When we first moved in, we had no idea that we had so many neighbors because they were all hidden by the dense woods between our houses. As the leaves fell, nearby houses began to appear. Now that it is spring, every time we go outdoors there is more and thicker foliage than before. What was a barren forest just weeks ago is now a vibrant green and is teaming with life. Once again our home feels like an isolated treehouse hidden away in the forest.

There's something about the cycle of seasons that just seems so . . . natural. I'm not sure which is my favorite, spring or fall, but I am really loving the opportunity to experience them both again!