Friday, June 7, 2013

SLEEP 2013 Meeting, Baltimore – Day 2 (Tuesday)

I was up early again today since we needed to be down to the convention centre by 8am. Had a good breakfast at the cafe in the hotel and the walk downtown was beautiful! It's was much cooler with a breeze and it stayed like this until we left which was great. The weather network has been pretty accurate at predicting the weather in Baltimore compared to Halifax (where you don't really know what the weather is like unless you actually go outside) which was great. Unlike Halifax lately, when it said it was going to be sunny, it wasn't raining lol.

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{Very grateful the sun was out this morning! This is the view from a hallway in the convention center where you can see the other side. There were lots of outdoors tables (which you can kind of see here) that was great}

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{Wonder how long those have been there?}

My first couple of lectures this morning were on the co-mobidity between chronic pain and insomnia. Afterwards I made my way downstairs to the Exhibit Hall and Poster Area. The area downstairs is HUGE and there are tons of exhibitors. The majority are about CPAP and OSA with different companies that produce CPAP machines, masks as well as treatment alternatives such as dental appliances. Very cool stuff. The Philips Resperonics Exhibit was by far the largest with a covered area with iPads where you can watch instructional videos (using Beats by Dre headphones of course). Very fancy!

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{Small part of the Respironics booth}

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{ResMed at the #1 brand of CPAP masks. They're booth was very very cool}

I took a quick walk through the poster area but was underwhelmed. I thought it would be a bit more professional looking like with the rest of the conference but the posters were clumped very close together in a back area on old looking poster boards. It was still educational to walk through and read some of the research studies.

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In the afternoon I attended a symposium Health Care Services: Public Policy and Research. The lectures were very interesting, especially the one examining the transition of a high school to a later start time and its impact on both the students health and performance in school.

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{This is what part of the convention center looks like, most of the lectures were down these hallways. I think I took this in the evening because most of the day these hallways were flooded with people!}

The seminars ended around 4:30 then I headed back downstairs to take another look in the poster hall since our lab was presenting a poster. At 6pm we met for supper and were joined by one of my supervisor's colleagues and his post-doc. We ended up a bar/restaurant called Mother's. I was a little hesitant at first at what the food would be like, especially considering there weren't many people there while the restaurant next door was packed. I got the tilapia fish tacos with pineapple rice and, although the service size was huge (hello United States!), it was actually quite good.

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{There was also a sign on the wall beside us saying that Mother's was voted "The Best Drunken Hook Up Bar". A very appropriate place to eat supper with your supervisors and their colleagues! HA}

We made it back to the hotel just before 10 and by that time I was exhausted. Learning really takes it out of you!! :P


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

SLEEP 2013 Meeting, Baltimore – Day 1 (Monday)

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Monday was the official start of the full conference, beginning with a welcome address by the SRS and AASM at 7:45am (I was NOT excited to get up at 6am today :S). The first of the opening lectures (following the awards ceremony) was on insomnia and it was quite interesting. The speaker did a great job adding a lot of jokes which was helpful early in the morning. Afterwards, I headed to the symposium entitled "Neurobehavioural and Physiological Effects of Sleep Loss in Humans" which focused on the effect of chronic sleep restriction (CSR) in humans. I recognized a lot of the speakers, a few of which I have referenced in my poster!

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{This is the road that led straight up to our hotel on W Franklin Street (about a 20 min walk). We had some crappy weather on Sunday although it wasn't as humid as I expected which was great. Good news is the convention center is very well air conditioned :D}

I had a break in my schedule right after the CSR symposium so I headed to the little market which I'm pretty sure is the only place you can get food in this place (besides the Starbucks where the staff are not very efficient, minimum wait for coffee is about 20 mins, no joke!). They had a chicken stir fry which looked awesome so I got that and a coffee! I don't think coffee really affects me physiologically but psychologically I feel dependent on it with all these early mornings!

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{Messy and delicoius!}

After lunch I attended some lectures at the "Sleep, Circadian Rhythmicity and Metabolism: The Inseparable Triad" symposium followed by the "State of the Art Symposium on Drowsy Driving: Impact of Sleep Deficiency on Real Motor Vehicle Driving Perofrmance and Perception of Drowsiness" which was incredibly interesting. Something upwards of 1,000,000 accidents occur each year in the US related to drowsy driving (that about one every 25 seconds!).

I ended up having to go back to the hotel around 4pm for a nap since we still had to attend a Narcolepsy Symposium put on by a big pharmaceutical company (I didn't want to be dozing in my chair at a narcolepsy seminar!). They served dinner at the symposium around 6pm and it was delicious! We started with a mixed green salad with cheddar cheese crouton and garlic lemon dressing followed by a spinach stuffed chicken breast, roasted tomatoes, brussel sprouts and garlic mashed potatoes. Dessert was some kind of lemon mouse with chocolate ganache which was amazing. It was absolutely worth the price (FREE!).


{It's hard to see here, but they had a stage set up similar to a talk show where the experts discussed issues and audience questions after giving lectures. They had this elaborate white backing and two huge screens on other side (include those rows of silver plates which were weird, I'll never truly understand decor design…). You could tell this symposium was backed by BIG money}



The symposium lectures were quite interesting too, as narcoplepsy is not something I know much about. Throughout the lectures they also asked the audience questions (most of which were aimed at physicians and how they handle certain treatments, etc. so I just guessed – and got most right!). It was definitely worth going to and nice to have Sam and Kazue with me as well. I have to admit, it gets a bit lonely during the day walking around by myself.

It was almost 10pm by the time we got back to the hotel so not much time was left to go through the program for Tuesday's seminars before we needed to go to bed. Tuesday would be another 6am morning!


Monday, June 3, 2013

SRS Trainee Symposium – Sunday Recap

Sunday was the series of lectures for the SRS Trainee Symposium. I got up at 6:30am since I needed to be down at the convention center by 8 for the first workshop. The complimentary breakfast at the hotel was much better than expected (I had low expectations). They had a variety of hot dishes including french toast, eggs, sausages, hash browns and bacon as well as cereal, yogurt, coffee, tea, juice, etc. Not too shabby! Oh and they also had grits, which I guess is like porridge but made with corn? I had her put some on my plate and I tried it but it was a little weird. She said most people put cream, sugar, salt and pepper on it. Seemed too complicated for me so I just stuck with the eggs and hash browns!

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The lectures I attended were: Understanding underlying mechanisms of sleep and sleep homeostasis through animal models, Sleep deprivation and human performance, Interactions between sleep and metabolic disorders and obesity, and Pediatric OSA.

I found the Pediatric OSA lecture quite interesting especially when she showed a video of a child presenting with obstructions and snoring while asleep. I think he was originally brought in due to bed wetting, not realizing he actually had severe pediatric obstructive sleep apnea! The rest of the day has been filled with other lectures, the last few I attended were on the locus coeruleus and the effect of sleep deprivation and fragmentation. Interesting stuff.

There was another HUGE rush of people Sunday night since there must have been another Orioles baseball game (so much orange everywhere!). I wanted to do some walking around (since I missed out on Saturday) but huge rain clouds were rolling in so I made a last minute decision to go back to the hotel. It was a good choice too since just before I got there it started raining followed by super loud thunder and lightening.

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{The intersection right by the converter centre. It was totally blocked on Saturday night after the baseball game and police had to direct traffic. Lets just say there was A LOT of honking!}

I met up with my supervisor last night since her flight got in around noon yesterday. Although we mostly do our own thing during the day, it's nice to have other people here that I know! Our post-doc Sam is around here somewhere… just haven't seen him yet lol

Oh and they have a bunch of these "anti-dumping" pet adds near the convention centre. I think Halifax needs some of these!

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Hello, Baltimore

Made it without a hitch to the Mount Vernon Hotel, the shuttle ride was very efficient! I was a little hesitant on what the room would be like after reading some online review (they're about average), but it was much better than expected. First, the a/c is super powerful thank god, second the beds are big and comfortable and third, the bathroom looks beautiful with a huge mirror above the sink. It's definitely not the most sauve place for for the price and the building (it's a pretty old place), I think it was a great deal. The wifi seems pretty good as well so far which is great since I have no cell service as Rogers isn't a carrier in the US. Which is great actually so I won't accidentally send any texts/calls that will cost me heap loads.

So I ended up relaxing at the hotel for a bit (I was super tired earlier but fell asleep on the plane from Philadelphia to Baltimore right when I got on and woke up just before landing so that was a nice nap) but I still needed a little break. I didn't really have enough time anyways to do some exploring since the plane was delayed and it was just too hot anyways.

I headed down to the Baltimore Convention Centre to register and get all my SLEEP 2013 goodies. There were flocks of people heading toward the Harbor so I'm assuming there is a baseball game tonight since I passed the HUGE stadium during my shuttle ride into downtown.


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{Registration area where I picked up my badge and things inside the Baltimore Convention Center}

At 5pm the Trainee Symposium started on the Hilton Hotel next door to the convention centre.

Insert Note: OMG I just saw someone with a Forever 21 bag, totally forgot that I'm in the states and can go shopping there!!! Now, the question is how much room is in my suitcase….?

I arrived to he opening lecture about 10min early and was the only one there! People finally started pouring in around 5 and we got started a little late. There was a good turn out of people, I would say over 100 out of the 250 that will be participating in the symposium lectures on Sunday. The opening lecture was alright, it was on genomics and the human genome project which was very interesting but he didn't really make the connection to sleep research which would have been nice. A couple of people also presented their data during the Datablitz which was made up of quick 3 minute talks. Only four people participated so it would have been nicer to hear about a couple more projects (which was what I was expecting).

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{The empty auditorium before the Trainee Welcome Reception}

I initially wanted to do some site seeing around the downtown area afterwards but ended up just heading back the hotel. First off, I was extremely tired having been up since 4am and gaining an hour through travel. Second, I just wasn't sure how safe I felt walking around by myself. A lot of the area around the hotel seems deserted with a lot of boarded up restaurants/buildings. Needless to say, it was the right choice since I have to be up at 6:30am Sunday morning.



LIVE from Philadelphia International Airport

Half way there! I'm currently sitting by my gate waiting for my connecting flight from Philadelphia to Baltimore (which is running about 45 minutes late :S). My first flight here went very smoothly. After the awkward walk through security and customs where I can just never seem to do the right thing, I boarded the very tiny plane. There were some empty seats so it wasn't too crowded and the plane was nice and cool. Everything went according to schedule too, so that was great. I've booked a shuttle to take to the hotel from the airport when I land in Baltimore, so I'm hoping they'll still take me even though my flight was late (I don't want to waste my $15!)

On a different note, the Philadelphia airport is huge! I got off my flight from Halifax at Terminal B which was incredible. Not only did it have the usual coffee and food paces, but it was practically an entire mall with the Body Shop, a Pinkberry (one of my fav things about visiting the states!), Brooks Brothers and tons more! It was probably even bigger than the mall back home in Bridgewater.

My flight is leaving from Terminal F, so I followed the signs to the shuttle that would take me there. As we approached there was a huge sign saying, "Terminal F is expanding!". So I figured I had already seen the spectacular part of the airport – and I was right. Terminal F just looks like your average airport with a few essential shops, nothing too exciting.

Going to "kill" some time and maybe watch a Hannibal episode (haha). My friend Ali told me about it and now I'm hooked!

Will do another update later on hopefully with some pics :)


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ready for an adventure!

So I'm off to Baltimore Saturday morning for my first conference! I'll be attending the 2013 Sleep Meeting and will be presenting a poster of my research. I'm super excited to attend the lectures and meet lots of people doing research in a similar area to myself. I'm going to bring my macbook with me so I can fit some blogging in along the way since I have been slacking lately. Running has been kind of on the back burner while getting all of my research together and a poster made. I'm excited to get back into it once I get back, I miss it! I never though I would miss sweating but it feels surprisingly good :)

So stay tuned over the next week and I'll try and add some daily updates!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Complete Bluenose Half Marathon – Check!

So, I have officially completed my first Half Marathon! I'm extremely proud that I can finally say that :)

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{Me the night before trying on my Bluenose running shirt! The years slogan was "Run Like Your'e 10 Years Old" since they were celebrating 10 years running}

What an amazing experience – the crowds of people, the huge number of volunteers, the people all along the way cheering us all on and my family and friends all made yesterday so incredible. I honestly couldn't have done it without all of your support and am extremely grateful! Interested in a recap of the run yesterday? Here it is :) (Sorry for the lack of pictures, I haven't got pics yet from my family and I didn't have my phone with me but I will add some in later on).

So I got up around 7am and having laid out everything the night before I was well prepared and able to head out at 8:15am to the START line. I was so glad to see that the weather wasn't as bad as I imagined (I was prepared to step outside into freezing weather), but it was actually great running weather – cool but still sunny. Matt and I met up with my Mom, Dad, Katie and Alex and were able to watch the end of the 5k as they ran along the citadel as I was waiting in the start line. Goodlife fitness did a little warm up before we went which was great cause I was so nervous I almost forgot!

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{Just before moving to the START line}

The thousands of people were a little intimidating and, as this was my first ever race, it was a bit overwhelming. But once the countdown began and the gun went off it was a lot of fun. I started off with a bunch of people around my goal pace (I started out near the 2h:20m pace bunny) and when we made our way around by Citadel High there was the first water station. It was really neat to see all these people waiting with water and gatorade to hand right to us as we ran by. I thought about stopping at the portapotties there since I had drank a lot of water before the race to stay hydrated but thought it would be better to wait until the next one. Well, I guess that was everyone's idea because at the next water station there was only two portapotties and about 10 of us lined up. I knew it was either wait now or risk feeling uncomfortable and not knowing where the next stop would be. So, I was sad to give up about 5 mins waiting in line but it was definitely worth it. Note for next time though to go RIGHT BEFORE the race starts. (I have a lot of these notes to self for next time lol). After that I was good to go and the next 6 or 7 kilometres were awesome. Around kilometre 10 or 11 things got a bit hard. There were a surprising number of hills in this course (another note to self, run at least part of course before hand to see what it's like) so my legs definitely got a work out.

Kilometers 13 through 18 were through Point Pleasant Park and I have to say those were the hardest. There were a lot of hills and I find the gravel tougher to run on. I could really feel myself slow down at this point too. I still ran most of it but took a lot more very short walking breaks. And as I don't have too much practice running past 14 or 15k my legs were starting to get pretty sore (Note: do more 15k+ long runs before hand). The funny part was it hurt more to walk than to run so I think that was what kept me going for the last couple of kilometres. The last stretch was downhill on Cogswell street to Brunswick which was great and as soon as I could see the finish line I pushed it to the end. I finished very close to my goal time (2 and a half hours) with a finish time of 2h:34m:32s. Since my original goal was basically just to finish, I am pretty happy with this time. The winner only beat me by, oh and hour and a half lol But I know each time I do a run, I can shave off more and more time and yesterdays time was a great start for my very first race.

It was so cool to see all of the people waiting at the finish line to cheer people as they passed the end and I felt such a sense of accomplishment when I was finished. After you were done, volunteers gave everyone a Bluenose 10th Anniversary Medal which was a nice bonus :)

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One of the things I loved the most was the whole spirit of the event. All the way through the course people were cheering me on whether I knew them or not and, because many of us had our names on our bibs, I heard many people shout "Go, Shannon, Go!" which was so motivating to hear. It was nice when I did take a walk break people would yell out "keep going!" which helped a lot with keeping the breaks short if I was having a hard time. I must say I ran the majority of the race and kept my walking breaks to max 1 or 2 minutes which I am super proud to say :D

The major downside is the soreness that is running through my whole body lol Right after the race, it was as if I had aged 50 years. I could barely walk and my entire body was stiff. It was like that for the rest of the day with the worst being after sitting down for a while or when I woke up after my much need afternoon nap yesterday. Although I am still a bit sore today, it's actually a lot better than yesterday. I used my foam roller on my legs which seemed to help a lot.

All in all, I had such a great time yesterday and running the half marathon was a fun and rewarding experience. I had trained enough that although it wasn't easy, I didn't feel like dying by the end! :) I can't wait to run another race and hope to find another Half Marathon to run again soon (and by soon, I mean maybe after a couple more months of training so I can get a a better time and have lots of time to recover from this one). 

Thanks again to everyone that supported me through out my journey training for the run and to everyone that sponsored me to help raise money for HSHC. I'm not sure of the exact total but the ten of us that participated in the Bluenose Marathon for HSHC collectively raised over $3,500 to build the new exam room at the clinic! :D

To all my family and friends – thanks for coming on this journey with me. Keep checking the blog as I plan to still make updates as I continue to run and train for whatever is to come next!