Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 39 - Dr. Cheryl Keller Capone - GENOME SEQUENCING - Part 1 of 3

That's really why I got into triathlon is I wanted to build resilience in myself and you know try to have an avenue forward. So, now I’ve expanded from running and I do swimming and cycling and I also do strength training several days a week and that actually made it such a huge difference to some of the problems in hindsight that I dealt with being hypermobile.
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 39 - Dr. Cheryl Keller Capone - GENOME SEQUENCING - Part 1 of 3

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“That's really why I got into triathlon is I wanted to build resilience in myself and you know try to have an avenue forward. So, now I’ve expanded from running and I do swimming and cycling and I also do strength training several days a week and that actually made it such a huge difference to some of the problems in hindsight that I dealt with being hypermobile. Interestingly, and they said I never would have put two and two together but my eye-hand coordination improved. Suddenly, I'm better at throwing darts and playing pool and small things like that just throwing, playing catch with my son.” This episode of the Smart Athlete Podcast is brought to you by Solpri, Skincare for Athletes. Whether you're in the gym, on the mats, on the road or in the pool, we protect your skin so you're more comfortable in your own body. To learn more, go to JESSE: Welcome to the Smart Athlete Podcast. I'm your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today has her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology. She's a former collegiate runner at the College of New Jersey, currently an amateur triathlete, and moving up in distance, so hopefully, we'll talk about that eventually. She's also a certified personal trainer. Welcome to the show, Dr. Cheryl Keller Capone. CHERYL: Thanks so much for having me, Jesse. JESSE: I waffled on whether to add the doctor there. We talked about that before we got going but I decided to go for it. Which is nice. I'm glad-- So, anybody watching on YouTube versus listening on iTunes or SoundCloud will see this nice stack of what looks like research folders behind Cheryl so it's like a nice backdrop to a professor's office, I assume. CHERYL: Yes. There you go. JESSE: So, you ran in college you were telling me, before we got going, we're kind of talking about this, I’ll say contentious topic of your college’s name was changed. What happened there? Why did they change it? CHERYL: So, when I went to school there it was called Trenton State College and Trenton being in New Jersey has not had the grace-- People would think of Trenton New Jersey and they kind of had a thought that was a bit of a negative connotation towards the school. So, they went with something the College of New Jersey. But those of us who graduated when it was Trenton State College were, of course, unhappy about the name change. And they don't offer us new diplomas with the name change on, I'm pretty sure that everyone who graduated when I did absolutely refused. We've stuck with our old diplomas. JESSE: So, they went back and tried to like retcon all the old diplomas and give you new ones? CHERYL: I mean it's really hard to even find-- Now they actually are selling even some old alumni gear with Trenton state on it, but it was really hard to find for a while. ?? 03:07> JESSE: But that just seems odd like the college my dad went to, they changed their name, I don't know, maybe 10 years ago now and he went there much earlier than you attended college. And he definitely didn't get anything that was like, “Hey, let's replace your university degree with something that has the new college name on it.” It just seems odd. I understand rebranding, but I don't know why you would go through the paperwork like that. CHERYL: Yeah, I don't know that they wanted to erase it. I think they were just offering it to people if they ?? 03:40> JESSE: Okay. Okay. Okay. I'm with you now. So, you ran then, I think you mentioned before we got going and I think I read in the bio you sent over that you kind of dealt with injuries over the years and you kind of moved to triathlon. Was that predicated on just being injured running and you needed more cross-training type stuff or what kind of predicated the change? CHERYL: Well, there are several factors. First is I’m hypermobile. So, I always tended to have a lot more joint laxity. And that then can predispose you to more injuries just because it is actually harder to control all your body movements. And strength can actually help quite a bit with that, but I hadn't really been aware of that, or information was not quite as easily available as it isn't how when I was growing up. And so I never quite realized what might be a good treatment or a lifestyle way to help address that. But I did wind up getting injured quite a bit. And the other actor in hindsight was I found out about a decade ago that I have a spondylosis thesis, which is in the lumbar spine. And what that really means is my L4 vertebrae is translated anteriorly, shifted forward a little bit on L5. And so that is actually a kind of a common injury in gymnast and in which usually result as a child, if it happens as a child, what happens is the-- in the sort of stress fracture that occurs in part of the spine, usually in the lumbar region. And it often is a result of like a repetitive lumbar hyperextension, which is why you know, gymnasts are always in that kind of hyperextension. For me, it happened when I was 13, I was doing a karate class. I've been taking karate for a number of years and we were doing these bilateral leg raises, a lot of them. And honestly, I just did not have the strength and control to control my lumbar spine, my pelvic, lumbopelvic area. So, instead of actually just doing leg raises it wound up being more like repetitive hyperextension of my lumbar spine. And so I wound up with a really bad back pain and it lasted for many years. And I really never got appropriate treatment for it. This was back in the early to mid-80s and although my mom took me to a doctor, it was not-- They were just kind of like “Oh, you're fine, it's just the muscle.” In hindsight, ?? 06:23> many years later, and then they didn't have MRIs back then, but you could see evidence of very old cars fracture, which is what it's called on the MRI. And then over time, it has slipped forward some. So, that also likely plays a role in a lot of my pain and injuries because I've had a lot of sciatica and some back pain, you know, even as I was growing up all the way through high school, college. And I didn't really let it stop me, I just kept running. Eventually kind of caught up to me in around 2009-2010 after my son was born in 2005, I started to get back into running and I was increasing my mileage, was increasing my distance, I was doing great. And then kind of the injury started piling up again. And I went through sort of a really long number of years of chronic pain, which I had to completely take a break from running. And when I returned, and I think as many runners really associate themselves that that's their identity, right? So, I'm a runner, and after not being able to run for many years I felt like a part of me was sort of stripped away and I could not, I really struggled with that. And that’s when I got into strength training, and really build up my strength and it made a world of difference. And I really had to sort of face reality and try to move forward and think you know what, I don't want to be in a position again, where If I can't run, I am not prepared emotionally and psychologically to deal with that. So, I decided that I wanted to take on some other sports like swimming and cycling, I'd never swam as a kid so that was really challenging. But I really felt you know what, I'm going to give myself some other avenues. This way if I can't run for whatever reason, I can bike and I can swim. And I'm just a very competitive person in terms of sports, just psychologically I like to compete, and that gives me another avenue to get those endorphins and really push myself. So, that's really why I got into triathlon is I wanted to build resilience in myself and you know try to have an avenue forward. So, now I’ve expanded from running and I do swimming and cycling and I also do strength training several days a week and that actually made it such a huge difference to some of the problems in hindsight that I dealt with being hypermobile. Interestingly, and they said I never would have put two and two together but my eye-hand coordination improved. Suddenly, I'm better at throwing darts and playing pool and small things like that just throwing, playing catch with my son, just having a better arm and I realized that I just did not have I guess the coordination. So, in strength training, not only you know, you build strength, but you're really training like the motor, the nervous system, right. And I think that going through really focusing heavily on technique and form and really training those basic motor patterns was such a benefit to me not just recovering from chronic pain, but also it's kind of the underlying hypermobility. So, that's kind of an odd way of getting into triathlon but I celebrated. I kind of used my first triathlon, it was just a sprint tri really small, local sprint tri. But I used that as-- I considered it to celebrate my recovery from chronic pain. And since then I've been going pretty hard back at it and I'm having a lot of fun with it. JESSE: Yeah, I think sometimes it's hard for like, I definitely had an identity as a runner. And I think sometimes I still do although, I think I finally made the transition after several years of triathlon to thinking of myself as a triathlete. That transition was very, very hard. And for people that don't have that thing like that, I think it's hard to relate having that identity stripped away. Not voluntarily, being like, you just can't do this thing anymore. ?? 10:45> but that's the thing that makes me who I am and you know the story that I tell myself about who I am. So, what am I now? And I know I kind of went through that even though I was still competing. Like, I was in a crash. I think you may have heard me talk about this with Cecilia on that episode, Episode Six. I was in a crash, I broke my collarbone and that kind of stopped my pursuit of trying to become a professional triathlete. And that was an identity I'd held basically from the middle of College all the way through a couple years ago. So, almost an eight, nine-year period of just intense focus day after day after day. And then it was like, hitting the pavement and it was all over. Only-- Yeah, psychologically like, yeah, I was broken. I mean, even after I recovered, I don't-- I think only now maybe where 18 months on from that injury ?? 11:50> starting to feel like maybe I'm more like myself again. I mean, it's been-- it's definitely even a year after I was like, I'm better but I still noticed being more positive now. You know, being more motivated to like know I'm still competing, though I'm not after a pro card, but just more interested in being competitive and what I do for work and working out and all that kind of stuff. So, I can certainly sympathize with the issues going through that where that's like, taken away from you, and then you have no idea what to do from there. CHERYL: Sure. JESSE: So, I’m just kind of curious like, you-- So, when you were young and in that karate class, was it like an acute injury, like a moment where something happened and you could pinpoint to that? Or how were you able to pinpoint it to that particular activity, I guess? CHERYL: Sure. That's a good question. I think every time we would do them, we would do them routinely, I’d go to class, I don’t know, maybe two days to three days a week. It's kind of hard because it was a while ago. But we would routinely do these leg raises and you know, you kind of put your hands under your but a little bit right, to kind of say to support your back but you know, I remember being my back being a little sore. But I do distinctly remember one class where afterwards I just had very severe back pain to the point where I was having trouble sitting and standing and doing anything and I was 13 years old. And if a child of that age has pretty severe back pain, nowadays they take it seriously. And back then it just, I don’t know, people really didn't give it much consideration that it was going to be serious. It was so sad, right? I mean, have I gotten appropriate treatment back then I could-- might have been able to avoid a number of injuries and pain growing up, but that's where things go sometimes. JESSE: Do you ever really on your tri bike, do you use Aero bars? CHERYL: I don't. I actually have a road bike. And I thought about getting a tri bike with the spondylosis thesis, it's great to which means there is at least about a 25% slip of L4 forward on L5. I'm actually not sure that's the greatest idea. But actually, I like flexion, it's really extension that bothers me more than flexion. So, I think I would not have any pain, that way being in a flex position, but I don't know if that's a little bit too aggressive in terms of like a long-- any long term strain. I do still work with a physical therapist. So, I had a couple last fall I had had kind of a little bit of an aggravation of symptoms, and I'm still training and so forth. But I'm working with a great physical therapist. And so I'm going to run that by her on that because I’d really like to get a tri bike. But right now, honestly, for me swimming is my ?? 15:03>. I'm actually a pretty fast runner and I'm pretty strong on the bike you know for riding like a road bike session, but unless-- JESSE: I did that for years and still was like, complicated ?? 15:16> so you could definitely do it. It's not that you can't do it. CHERYL: Yeah, yeah. I mean it may-- it does make a difference. I mean the bike a lot of times it's ?? 15:23> but if I can't complete a 70.3 swim then really, shouldn't I be focusing more on that than worrying too much about getting an arrow? My swim has improved a lot but I mean, I-- and I'm not afraid of the water. You know, I grew up in the Jersey Shore going in the ocean and swim in swimming pools, but I never really learned to stroke until-- so I'm 48 now I was about almost 45 I think when I first started trying-- deciding I was going to take some swim lessons and learn to stroke properly. I mean, I really struggled with just putting my face in the water, which is funny because I'm actually certified or I was a certified scuba diver, right. So, like scuba diving down 80 or 100 feet and yet I'm like, “Haha, my face is in the water ?? 16:14>. But I think it’s obviously, it's more of a mental thing, but I was really determined that I really wanted to try to transition to triathlon. I was like, “Well, like, you know, unless I'm going to do a do duathlon I got to get a handle on this and I sort of forced myself to overcome those fears. I have done some open water swims in sprint distance and you know, I tend to start on the outside and you know, let people kind of get going, you know, but I for like an average, you know, hundred meters or 100-yard time. Yeah, I'm not terribly slow in the pool. I mean, I'll do repeats in like 140 or something 400 yards, but you know, it's not fast. But it's not super slow either. So, I feel like I'm getting much more comfortable and slowly we're going increasing my distance. So, I'm going to try a tri Olympic this year. I’ve already signed up for Escape the Cape. Have you heard about that one in New Jersey? So, you actually jump off a ferry, just sort of this way. So, it's the Cape May-Lewes Ferry, and they take you out. So, it's a 1,500-meter swim and you literally jump off the ferry, it’s a 12-foot jump, and then you swim to shore. So, you know, might as well go full forward. JESSE: Yeah, I mean once you're off, you're off. There's no going back. It's like the same format as-- I haven't raced this either, but Alcatraz does a format like that where they take you out on the ferry and then you jump off and you start from there. There's is, it's not an Olympic distance. I can't remember what exactly the distances are. But it's a very swim heavy race. So, like one of my coaches, I think she won it one year. She's a former All American Swimmer at Stanford, so that makes sense. But yeah, I kind of funny, I wonder if it's the same series because it's an escape from Alcatraz, Escape the Cape. I wonder if it's the same race directors doing both. CHERYL: I don't think so. Because I think that the one that’s the Escape the Cape is like ?? 18:19> it's like a Delaware, New Jersey... But, yeah, it seemed interesting. And they make sure to drop you off. So, you're swimming with the current. So, it'll be fun ?? 18:34>. JESSE: What's the water temperature like, do you know? CHERYL: That's a good question. It's mid-June, I think it's June 14th and they say that the water temperature could be as low as the low 60s but is often in the mid to upper 60s. JESSE: Well, then you should be able to be wetsuit legal CHERYL: And I'm actually fine if it's warm enough, I'm fine swimming without a wetsuit. You know, that's ?? 18:58>, but yeah, you know wetsuit and this salt water should be enough buoyancy, I think. JESSE: Yeah. Have you done open water swims in salt water yet? CHERYL: Yeah, I did. Last summer we took a trip down to Virginia Beach and the water was like glass. And yeah, I spent some time swimming back and forth and you know, as long as-- Once-- Again, there's not that many waves, so I guess that's the big thing that some people get a little bit seasick and you know, but hopefully, that won't happen. JESSE: Yeah, I just-- The reason I asked was the first time I did it, so I'm in the Midwest, so it's almost all lakes. I mean, I travel but predominantly, I'm not dealing with salt water. So, the very first time I did one in salt water, like the salt was so overwhelming, just hitting you the face and in the mouth. And you're like that's strong. You don't deal with it here. You know, you got muddy water and stuff, but that's completely different to that. So, I was just curious if you'd been through that before. CHERYL: We don't have a lot of oceans here in Central Pennsylvania. So, most of the swims I’ve done in open water are lakes as well. But having spent some time down the shore, I’ve tried to take advantage of that. But yeah, you really kind of want to just have a glass of fresh water after. JESSE: Gotta rinse your mouth out. CHERYL: Yeah. Go to Part 2 Go to Part 3

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