Those are the 3 Rs of a post-race week, right? Ok…maybe the one in the middle doesn’t belong. But since I did little this week outside of work, I thought I’d give you a short description of my research instead of a short description of my runs. The pictures aren’t as pretty though.
I felt pretty ok Sunday after the race – then pretty exhausted Monday. Shocking, I know. I expected that post-race, but I also haven’t really been getting enough sleep since the semester started. Averaging 7+ hours a night probably works for the average person…but I can’t sustain that for more than a few weeks without feeling the effects. Chronic fatigue has made my tolerance for sleep deprivation all but non-existent.
This week I did a good job of getting to bed, and then actually falling asleep. I don’t (often) have insomnia – the trick to actually falling asleep is just that I have to put my book down. I’m not someone who can fall asleep while reading (nor would I want to). I managed to put the book down by 10:00 most nights. And sleep 8+ hours. I feel only marginally more well-rested, but it’s a start.
This is the first week of the semester where my schedule has accommodated running a lab experiment, so no rest extended into my work days. I teach Tuesdays 8-2 and Thursdays 10-12, 2-3, which makes Wednesday the only day I can start an experiment. I spent Monday and Tuesday afternoons prepping everything so I could get the experiment set up as quickly as possible Wednesday morning. Once everything is set up, sampling starts – but let me back up a bit and explain what I’m even doing.
I am researching the possibility of using reactions between iron and nitrogen to remove selenium from water. (Here’s a brief explanation of the hazards of selenium pollution.) While I normally work with bacteria, I ran an experiment this week with no bacteria to determine whether some of the iron-nitrogen reactions I think the bacteria are catalyzing could be purely chemical.
I use colorimetric assays to measure iron and nitrogen in my experiments – this means mixing the sample with a reagent that reacts with the compound you want to measure and changes color. (Fluorescent pink for nitrogen and purple for iron, in case you were wondering.) You can then measure how much light is absorbed by the colorful solution and calculate the concentration of whatever you are measuring. Because I have 3 of these assays to run (I’m measuring 2 types of iron), each round of sampling takes ~2 hours. It goes something like this.
9:00 – prep tubes for sampling and reagents for assays.
9:15 – start sampling.
9:35 – finish sampling, iron assays start incubating, add samples to nitrite assay.
9:45 – nitrite assay starts incubating, acid preserve selenium samples (I analyze these on a machine later), clean up work area.
10:15 – measure nitrite samples.
10:35 – measure first set of iron samples.
10:50ish – finish measurements (the second set of iron measurements happens 24 hours later).
So on Wednesday I took samples every 3 hours (9, 12, 3, and 6). Combined with miscellaneous other tasks, it was basically non-stop 8am-8pm. Thankfully, I only needed to sample once a day for the rest of the week. I may not have been quite ready to relinquish my summer schedule (um, “schedule”), but this week’s whirlwind tore it away!
…in quotations thanks to the research schedule. Lots of sitting and repetitive motion is not exactly conducive to soothing achy joints and muscles. Fortunately, my muscles weren’t are sore as expected – but my joints were worse. Running fast on a rocky downhill turns out to be harder on your joints than running easy on a dirt downhill.
When I got up Monday, the top of my right knee and the outside of my left knee and hip all hurt when I walked. I avoided stairs as much as possible – my right knee especially was not appreciative. I had planned on some restorative yoga Monday evening, but wasn’t sure my joints would even appreciate that. Things were feeling much better Tuesday, and the yoga happened then instead.
Everything seems almost back to normal now, except that the pain in my left knee comes back when I sleep on my side. Which I do every night. I’ve actually occasionally had the same pain after sleeping before, so I guess it’s time to do something about it. Do I have to change my sleeping habits? Ugh. That sounds like a lot of work.
Speaking of sleeping habits – for the past couple months, I’ve been doing yin or restorative yoga in bed before I go to sleep. Not every night, but probably 3ish times a week. I confess I usually read while doing it….which I realize is not how you are intended to do yoga. But I got in a couple more nights of yoga this week, which hopefully helped with recovery. Then I went to a yoga class Friday, which was the first day I felt like doing any structured exercise. I discovered that my legs were not quite recovered from the race….so running will happen this week sometime, probably.
Do you read before bed? How do you convince yourself to put the book down?
Have you ever had sleep-induced knee pain?? How did you fix it?