Saturday, September 19, 2009

Running Syncope (Losing consciousness after running)

I went for my Saturday morning run today just like any other weekend run in the past. I had planned on running with a small group of people in the morning but thought I had missed them when I noticed their cars were at our meeting spot but no one was around, so I ran on by myself and thought I would see them along the run.

I felt pretty good this morning and had a really fast pace. I haven't been sick this week but I could tell I was just a bit off the last 3-4 days. I blamed it on stress from writing my PhD proposal but now I am wondering. I saw someone running quickly about a full Km ahead of me (it is a very straight and flat course). I thought I could catch them in the next 10 minutes so I pushed pretty hard. I met my goal on caught the runner about the time I veered off to run a different side trail. I hit my turn around point and decided to cruise back to my car. I was only running 6 km in the morning and was planning on a steep and technical 20 Km run in the evening. I was just doing the short morning run so I could run with friends, I typically never drive to a spot to run unless I have good reason.

I started feeling a bit fatigued on the way back to my car. I thought it could be the warming Fall sun or it was because I didn't have a good breakfast. I still felt surges of speed so I would push when I felt good. The last half Km I saw the group I was supposed be running with just starting their run (apparently they had been doing a small warm-up and I had just missed them in the morning so they hadn't even started their run yet). My typical running partner was waiting for me to finish my lap thinking I would want to go again and crank out another 6 Km run. As I got near him I felt extremely tired and fatigued and told him that I feel really tired. It came on pretty fast. I started slowing (a bit fast).

The next think I know I was loosing my vision and my legs were completely collapsing. That was the last thing I remember. Over the next minute I was experiencing what felt like a really realistic dream. In the background I could hear my running partner Rob, who happens to be a Doctor, repeating my name and asking me if I was alright. He sounded very distant and distorted and I can't quite explain the weirdness of the experience. Suddenly his voice and my consciousness began to surface like when you emerge from a pool after a high dive. I opened my eyes and for one split second thought I was still running. I quickly realized I was on the ground when I looked over and saw Rob hunched down to talk to me. I was really confused and then I could tell I was pretty messed up from the fall.

Apparently my chin broke my fall as I face planted onto the asphalt. Somehow my right arm really got twisted up under me and was pretty injured. Both knees were scraped. My Jaw is super skinned and just extremely sore and swollen. What a horrible experience to realize that I completely passed out on my run.

I am very glad it didn't occur until I was near Rob who as a doctor was able to check me out for any major injuries. I was fine just a bit confused and sore from the face plant onto the pavement.

Since coming home and researching the subject I realize there are some concerns I need to address before I shrug this experience off as a fluke. Apparently it could have to do with your heart, or hormones like histamines, or even neurological processes. My main concern is I have a history of light-headedness and "brown outs", or near faints, from getting up too fast, being in too warm a room, and surgery related experiences. This seems to point at an underlying persistent problem. The heart issue is perhaps the most concerning because of the risk of death with athletes who had undiagnosed heart conditions. I have had a ECG that returned abnormal results before so that is also a concern.

Overall this could potentially lead to an extremely depressing and challenging situation. I am going to stay optimistic and jump through the gauntlet of tests to see if there is a problem. Even if I can't diagnose a problem I will have to take care to properly cool down and ensure I stay hydrated and have proper electrolytes during future runs. This could effect how I train and run ultra marathon races. As long as there is no huge increase with my potential of dying I will continue to run and train, as planned, after I get the go ahead from the Doctors. One thing is certain I am not going to risk shortening my life for anything, my family needs me for as long as possible so I will do what ever is necessary to make sure I am not taking any unnecessary risks. The thought of not being able to train, run, and be as active as I have been the last while is completely disheartening. I have worked very hard to train my body to run long distances and I have come a long way since my intestinal surgeries in 2005. I hope everything works for the best but I am depressed about the possibilities.

Hopefully I get into the proper Doctors and quickly so I can plan my running future. Wish me luck!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Book Review - Fire into Ice: Charles Fipke and the Great Diamond Hunt by Vernon Frolick

I just read this book for the second time. My reasoning for reading this biography the second time was to see how my view and understanding of the book changed as I have grown and developed as an exploration geologist and geochemist. The first time I read this book I was in my third year of University working on my Bachelors.

This book looks at the eccentric and driven Canadian geologist Charles Fipke. Fipke is responsible for the discovery of the diamond fields in the Canadian shield surrounding Lac De Gras. This book follows Fipke through his career as a mineral exploration geologist from the tropical rain forests of Papua New Guinea and Brazil to the frozen tundra of the Northwest Territories.

My first thoughts as I read his adventurous and almost fiction like adventures is that I wanted to live a life very similar to Fipke, following my dreams as a geologist through the bush in forgotten and dangerous corners of the globe. Perhaps what appealed to me the most as I read about Fipke was his ability to think outside the box and to research and apply geologic thought in new ways or places. I feel this aspect of Fipke's character is something that I currently strive to do. I find that I am always thinking of new areas worthy of exploration because they seem to fit other models for mineralization. The only way to do this is to have a firm understanding of ore forming processes and a vast knowledge of global geology at various scales. When you read something about the geologic setting of a large ore deposit your mind begins to crank through many other places that have these characteristics. This is some of the most exciting research. These pursuits are paying off and I am learning the challenging side of developing properties and taking them to market. Additionally I feel that I have come up with new ways of exploring in much more dynamic and inexpensive ways through the use of technology, and I am still honing in the process as I write this. This is similar to Fipke in that he was using new ideas and technology to guide exploration, and it was these ideas that gave him an advantage.

After reading the book a second time now I find that Fipke also paid a dear price to accomplish his goals. It appears that his family was stressed and ultimately his marriage ended in divorce. It is hard to say if this divorce was purely because of his months and years away from home in the field but you can't help but think that was a major contributing factor. I think it is challenging to really excel in any one aspect of your life and not have it affect other facets such as family. It is a fine line between reaching ones potential, and placing all your eggs in one basket, or striving for balance and essentially not fully realizing your potential in any one area of your life (thus being average or achieving mediocrity in many areas of your life). The effects of obsession and greatness can be seen in the personal lives of many people whether it be athletes (in running it is sometimes called the selfish runner syndrome), musicians or geologists. I may never experience the successes Fipke achieved, because ultimately I am not willing to pay the price that is required, that being said, I will definitely try my hardest to achieve greatness and push my potential within the limits that a healthy family life permit. It is quite a paradigm it seems, you can try to reach your potential in one area of your life and "specialize" to becomethe best at that one thing, or you can simply balance out all facets and never reach your full heights in any one area because you are not devoting the time necessary to achieve that greatness.

The book has another interesting side through the description of the geography and the anthropology explored through the eyes of Fipke as he pushed into some of the last corners of the world yet to be modernized. I really liked some of the questions explored as the reality of modernization started to push the borders of the stone aged cultures further and further back. It was nice to realize that not too long ago there were still places without the internet, cell phones or strip malls.

The geology in the book was described on a very basic level and well written in a way that a non-scientist could grasp how these deposits were formed and what exactly was leading Fipke to find these various deposits.

The highlights of the book were the many adventures Fipke experienced such as; helicopter crashes, stone age warriors in Papua New Guinea attacking him in the bush, crossing through Uganda and Zaire during the 70's, tropical diseases and parasites, being charged by grizzlies the list goes on.

Ultimately the book climaxes on his discovery of what would become the Ekati mine, the first economic diamond mine put into production in North America. What an amazing find. I think Fipke is worth some 800 million + dollars because of his perseverance and hard work. He lead a very adventurous life and had many rewards and accomplishments along the way. I know he donates to education like UBC's satellite school in his hometown of Kelowna.

Ultimately the first time I read this book I was ready to dive head first into the Jungle or tundra looking for the next big deposit no matter what the cost was, the second time around, I find I am not willing to do some of things that had to be done to achieve these discoveries. I will have to be happy with the potential I am able to achieve in my career within the limitations I have placed on myself to insure a happy home and a more balanced lifestyle.

This book is well worth the read, it is a modern day Indiana Jones tale. I think all of us can use a little more adventure in our lives and the life of Fipke seeps with adventure and reminds us that we can achieve great things through hard work and determination.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

PhD proposal

I have finally came to the point in my graduate degree where most of my course work is finished and I have played with my experiments and now it is time to start into my thesis. This is a time where there is a shift in my education from the usual show up go to class take exams format, to a much more show up set up your own experiments, crunch your results, and write your thesis format. To kick it off I first have to write a PhD proposal. Unlike a Master's proposal which is basically a degree to prove you can do research in your field and write a nice thesis, “A thesis for the PhD must form a distinctive contribution to the knowledge of the subject and afford evidence of originality shown by the discovery of new facts and/or by the exercise of independent critical power.” Yikes! I have some serious pressure to preform.

I now have my committee, and in preparation for my first committee meeting I have to write this proposal and convince the members of my committee that I am researching something meaningful, that I can do research, and that I will be able to accomplish what is outlined in my proposal. It is a bit stressful and my running mileage has slipped as a result of the stress and time crunch of the approaching deadlines. I have been quite focused on my proposal for several weeks now and it is coming together but it is a battle. It will roughly be 20-30 pages when complete. I hope in the end that the proposal is well written, coherent, and accomplishes my goal of convincing my committee that I am worthy of pursuing the research and the subject I chose is worthy of pursuing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fun with photoshop Vintage photos of old creepy Cabins

I really like taking photos of creepy abandoned cabins that I have found in the middle of nowhere. I don't exactly know where this strange obsession came from but I have dozens of photos of random cabins I have found in Utah's forgotten mining camps and hidden canyons or mountain ranges. I don't like the photos to look like I just took the shot, but instead I like the photos to look old, vintage and creepy. I think that I just really like moody pictures that combine history with nature and that is why I like the subject of abandoned cabins in the bush so much. I spent a few minutes yesterday taking four different shots of cabins that I have taken over the years and enhanced them to look old. These are the before and after shots. They are actually supposed to be torn on the edges but I loaded some as JPG and some PNG and I am unsure how blogger handles the torn edges so they may have a white a checkered background behind the tattered edges.

My life according to Depeche Mode

I usually don't do these type of dumb things but this one sounded somewhat amusing so I gave it a whirl. It is my list of answers to some random questions according to Depeche Mode song names.


Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. You can't use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. It's a lot harder than you think!

Pick your Artist:
Depeche Mode

Are you a male or female?
Boys Say Go!

Describe yourself:
Just Can’t Get Enough

How do you feel:
Enjoy The Silence

Describe where you currently live:
Miles Away (In My Secret Garden)

If you could go anywhere, where would you go:
World In My Eyes

Your favorite form of transportation:
Behind the Wheel

Your best friend is:
The Sweetest Thing

You and your best friends are:

What's the weather like:
Dressed in Black

Favorite time of day:
Waiting for the Night

If your life was a TV show, what would it be called:
The Landscape is Changing

What is life to you:
I Want it All

Your fear:
The Sinner in Me

What is the best advice you have to give:
Everything Counts (in large amounts)

Thought for the Day:
Get the Balance Right

How I would like to die:
Leave in Silence

My soul's present condition:

Most Faithful Companion:
Sweetest Perfection

My motto:
Nothing’s impossible