Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Finally!!

Whoo Hoo!!! Finally my blood pressure is down to where it should be. It's taken quite a while to get it there - now to make it stay. I've been watching what I eat and guarding it closely and gently exercising. It's been slowly coming back down so this morning I was pleasantly surprised by these beautiful numbers!!

This struggle is real! It's difficult to not get frustrated when you are doing everything right and it refuses to come down or just inches down. Just a real reminder that I have to stay on top of symptoms if I want to keep doing what I love to do.

To be totally honest, I was very worried last week that my running days were over. My heart rate kept spiking and at the weirdest times. It would shoot up to 120 while I was sleeping!! Not like that's super dangerous or anything - just odd and frustrating. I got on the treadmill for a walk and it would shoot up to 180 and be all over the place up-and-down-and-up again. Then last week it started settling down a bit and I was able to get a couple of walks in.

Earlier this week I got to run 2 gentle miles and I think they were the sweetest miles I've ever covered in my life!! You think I'm kidding? I started very slowly and did a super long walking warm-up with a constant eye on my heart rate. I had no palpitations so that was good. Last week my heart was leaping around in my chest like it was doing the aerobic exercises. That's when I had to quit and kind of start over or reset. And I was eating right - it was just all wrong.

Once I got warmed up I tried some light jogging and my heart rate held steady - and stayed in my normal range. It acted just like it was supposed to. I decided to just do 2 miles to avoid any chance of an overdo - even though it wasn't long - it was sweet. This week, I've been gradually adding in more gentle exercise and should be back to running the rest of this week.

I'd really like to ignore all this like it didn't exist. I'm super jealous of all my running buddies who can just go and go. I hate that I have to stop and let my body recover from time to time. I want to train for a marathon (and haven't given up yet!!) but about the time I get going real good my body says "no" and goes into shut down mode. But don't count me out yet!!! I'm a fighter.

I learned some things about myself last week when I thought my running days were over. I learned I don't give up. I already had some plans in my head and was figuring out ways to exercise and be fit even if running wasn't allowed. And I surprised myself by maintaining a really positive attitude.

All that doesn't matter now - as I am back up and running - quite literally. I'm moving forward ever so gently after this stark reminder that I do have to be careful. I do have to monitor a lot more things than most of my running friends. But I am still moving forward....and every step's a victory!

Monday, July 25, 2016

A True Love Affair

I found this picture on my memories on Facebook this morning. It's my second race ever. My nephew, Jakob, came down to Louisiana from Oklahoma to run it with me. He had been at my first race the month before and figured he could do that too. So he did!

When this picture came up this morning 7 years of memories flooded my mind! I had no idea at the time that I would still be running today. The future was actually very fuzzy at that time and I was barely making it day-by-day. My son and I were staying in a nursing home in a small town nearby and I honestly had no idea what to expect. I had just found running and had fallen in love with it. I'm happy to say that we are still involved in quite the love affair. lol

I didn't know I'd reestablish myself and build a home back in Oklahoma and become a full-time caregiver for my son. I didn't know I'd face my own health issues in the coming years. I didn't know I'd run 20 half marathons. I never dreamed I'd finish a full marathon either.

I remember seeing a guy running around a lot before this race, and thinking to myself if I run to warm up - I won't have anything left for the race. That's so funny to me now and I think of it often. Now I know he might have needed 5, 10 or even 20 miles to meet his training plan for the day. I've done the same thing too - just a couple weeks ago I did 2 miles before a 5K because I needed 5 miles to make my planned miles for the week. My how things can change.

Even though I can't run as hard or as fast as I did back then (I'm a little chunkier now) - and even though I have to use much more caution in my training - I'm still running. I'm still moving. And I have no intentions of stopping now.

As one would expect, I've faced injuries (including a chipped knee cap from a fall). I put 10 miles on that "broken knee" before I got an x-ray! I've pushed way too hard after learning of heart issues. I've had to take time off to heal, to let my body rest or to regain my focus. But I'm still moving.

This picture is my motivation for today. Not only to get out there and get some steps in - but to do it smartly. It's a good reminder to NOT overdo so I can keep doing what I enjoy. I also like this picture and I'm glad it came up on my timeline because this year I purposed to do more running with others instead of just for myself.

My daughter and I have done two 5Ks together this year. We did the Cowtown 5K together and then I did the half the next day.









In this one, we pushed Chris, my son for whom I'm a caregiver, in a racing chair.










And I did the OKC half marathon beside a young woman who is a friend and fellow martial artist.








And I have to say - it's been super rewarding! I've enjoyed running and walking along side others. It gives a race more significance in many ways to spend that time with someone else rather than just running for myself. While running is its own reward - there are many, many other benefits.

I have no idea how many miles I've run over the last 7 years. I may be slower now - fatter now - but I'm more persistent and dedicated now too! I've run races in 6 states so far and hope to cover a few more soon. Yes, I do have plans! I may not be as fast or as strong as I was back then - but I'm still stepping. And every step is still a victory!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Working it Out

So I have taken this week off after the great overdo of last week. I have walked a couple of miles here and there but have kept it real low key. I'm happy to say my blood pressure is back within a safe range, although it's not perfect yet. My weight hasn't changed in 3 days (and that's monumental); and my heart rate has stopped spiking. It settled down about Tuesday but I'm still being nice.

I've been changing my diet over the last few weeks. I've done some experimenting and testing to see what really works for me and what doesn't. We are all individual and have to figure out what does work for us. Even those of us with similar conditions have to figure out our own bio-individuality. So my conclusions include these tidbits:


  • Salt is a no-no, period.
  • My body cannot handle prepared foods, at all.
  • Fast food is poison to me.
  • I can live without a lot of grains/breads.
  • I can eat whole grains like rice and whole oats.
  • I do well with more fruits; and I don't do well with meat.
Over the last few weeks I've been able to make the move off sugars and I think that has helped me a lot. The last few months I've learned to cook and prepare all the foods I enjoy without using salt. I can now make my own salsa, humus, and spaghetti sauce. I'm sure there's other things I just can't remember them now. I think I'm winning for the most part - or have at least set myself up to win when it comes to food. But exercise? That's where I'm stumped.

I know for those of us with conditions like CHF exercise can play a key role in helping maintain our health. What's frustrating is not being able to be consistent with it. For me, I can run a half marathon one day and feel wonderful. But the next one my heart rate is all over the place and I feel like I'm trying to move through sludge. And sometimes - there's no way of knowing what you are going to feel like when you get there. Other times, I do have some subtle clues (like my resting pulse or my bp) that let me know to be more cautious. Honestly, it's very frustrating.

This time, I added too many miles and more intensity too fast. I think. So I have to figure out a plan that is going to work for me and keep me running without getting sidelined like I was this week. I won't give up - I may mess up - but I won't give up!

I'm rolling a lot of things around in my head. Maybe just 3 runs a week - one short, one medium and one longer - with breaks in between. Maybe run one day and rest two? I've thought about taking a week off after every two weeks of running; but that really frustrates me and if I overdo it on the running weeks I'll be right back in this spot. There has to be a balance that works right for me. I will find it....

Thanks for listening to these crazy thoughts running around in my head. I'll let you know what I decide but for now I'm still resting even though I feel better. I want to give my body time to fully recover from the overdo. For the rest of the week I will be walking some, might try some yoga and maybe a gentle ride on the stationary bike to give me some easy cardio. No matter what - I'm still upright, still trying to figure this all out, and still moving forward. Because no matter how slow, fast or how frequent - 
Every Step's A Victory


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Race Gone all Wrong!

This weekend I did a 5K that served as a stark reminder that I do have a heart condition and I do need to take it easier than I really want to. I really don't even like admitting I'm dealing with CHF or any kind of heart issue. I've tried to talk all my doctors out of that diagnosis and no one will budge off of it.

Saturday's race has helped me refocus and I'm spending this week resting and regrouping. Here's how it all went down.

My blood pressure has been running a bit high and was up a little at my cardiologist appointment last week. He didn't offer me any meds for it as he knows I want to manage it, if possible, with diet and exercise. I was also given some paperwork for being overweight. That kind of hurt my feelings. lol. But I am barely at that marker and if I lose one pound I'm not in the overweight category. (Side note - I've lost 5 pounds since then! lol) Some of it can be water retention - which should also be a clue I pay attention to.

But I chose to ignore all the clues my body was giving me and pushed myself to meet the miles lined out in the training plan I had selected. So when I got to the race Saturday morning I hadn't had a decent night's sleep in a few nights, I was carrying a bit of water weight, my blood pressure was running a bit high and my heart rate was higher than normal. I thought if I would do an easy mile or two before the 5K it would level out. It did not.

As soon as I got out moving around my heart rate went through the roof. I walked a lot hoping it would come back down. It might come down a bit but if I picked up the pace a little it would shoot through the roof again. No worries - the first mile is often the most difficult and it takes a bit for my body to adjust my heart rate to accommodate. One mile down - heart rate not down! Second mile done - heart rate still up there. I considered calling it quits and going about my day - but I'd signed up for the 5K so I decided to go ahead and do it. (I know - bad idea.)

I had no luck on the 5K as my heart rate just would not come down to a normal range. By the turn around point it wouldn't even come down when I walked - not even hardly budge. So I did finish the race - but I was determined to finish it upright and so I walked the last half. It was a brisk walk - but a walk. That's so frustrating!!!!

I figured once I got in the air conditioned car, it would settle down. But for about an hour and a half my heart rate was all over the place. I'd feel it jumping around in my chest and it would shoot up real high and then settle back down to a normal range. I thought about stopping at the ER but I figured resting would be my best bet anyway. It did finally settle down - and I mostly rested for the rest of the day.

Sunday morning though my bp was through the roof and on Monday I called the cardiologist to confess. I was given some meds to help get it back under control and then I can try to manage it with diet and exercise again.

So...what did I learn? Usually if I think I might be overdoing it - I probably am. I've got to go slower and easier than I want to. And I'm not invincible like I would like to think I am. This week is a total rest week - with just a few easy walks before I get back to running. It's so frustrating when you get going real good then get sidelined. But - my heart rate is not spiking as often as it was - my weight is down by about 5 pounds and I'm planning how to move forward. Slowly, of course.

I'm still upright. I'm still breathing. I'm still moving forward. I'm okay - but I'm not okay. I'll be okay. This was a harsh reminder to take it a bit slower - be more patient and watchful over my heart and body. I know at this point I have to treat processed foods and fast foods as poison. Because I know these were factors. I had gone mostly fresh but I have to go all the way at this point. I was allowing a here-and-there "cheat" meal. (I had done one of those on Friday night after eating all clean for the entire week.)

So here I go again - starting over again. So frustrating. But I remind myself I can do this. Maybe I can't do it just like I want to - but I can still do this. I'll guard overdos a lot more now. I'll just have to do less than I think I can and less than I really want to. Here's to starting over one more time. But it's okay --
Every step is a victory!


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My 7th Race-aversary!

Over the weekend I did a local 5K. I really didn't think about it at the time, but after I got home I realized it was the weekend I'd done my very first 5K 7 years ago. My first race ever was the Peach Festival 5K in Louisiana. I left that race to go straight to the computer and find another one. I was in love!

This was my 84th 5K. I've now done 137 races altogether. That includes twenty 10Ks, twenty half marathons and one full marathon.

Considering the life-challenges makes each finish line I cross just a little bit sweeter. This race was HOT! I figured they didn't know what they were doing when I saw the race didn't start until 9 o'clock - in the middle of June. That's a winter race time - not the middle of the summer race time! I was right too. And..they didn't have a drop of water on the course; not one water stop. It was also billed as the "Bands on the Run" and the whole reason I signed up for this race was they said they would have live bands "all along the course." Yeah right. There was a live band playing at the start line - and gone by the time we got done. And there was a poor lonely guy playing a saxophone at the turn around. It was sad. lol. But I lived.

The heat was the biggest challenge for this race. I really don't need to run in the heat. But with all points considered I did well. The first mile was good but after that I could feel the effects of the heat and pulled back a lot. They didn't give out the standard awards, but I would have placed second in my AG.

 I have purposefully been focusing on hydration over the last few weeks. It's one of those things that's real confusing to me. The doc told me to limit my fluid intake if I'm not running, and to increase it if I am. Well, if I watch my sodium intake and exercise at least 30 minutes every day I don't seem to have too much trouble with water retention. I'm also taking a small dose of a diuretic each day to help. So it's confusing - I think my solution is to just run everyday. That way I'm running - and I should hydrate! lol.

I'm doing much better with my eating under control; and I'm starting to feel LOTS better. And I even have more energy to boot. Today I go do blood work to prepare for my cardiologist appointment next week. I've put it off for a month but the nurse called last week and told me to get in and get it done! So I am.

I think running with a chronic condition makes me be much more aware of my body. I have to do more reflecting on why I do the things I do. And honestly, I've had to cut a few things out. I have to think about every thing I do and every thing I eat - Is this going to help me?  Or is it going to hinder? 

Even though I've struggled the last few weeks - with fatigue and blood pressure issues - I'm beginning to surface back out on top. I look at my medals and think of all I've come through and each one of them represents lots of victorious steps in my life. So today as I start year 8 of running - I smile. No matter how fast, how slow, how sluggish or energetic I feel -  every step's a victory.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Today's the Day!

That's it!! So I have been stepping up the miles this week as well as my activity in general. I've also been watching my sodium lots better this week. Last night in a weak moment I finished off the last of the ice cream. Today's the day to go totally clean.

As a health coach, I know what to do - but even with the training and knowledge, it doesn't make it any easier. Add to that all the other many factors of having a condition like CHF, and it is an uphill battle. Personally, I battle depression and emotional eating. Am I a failure? Nope. I figure I'm in a better position to help others because I really do understand! Kind of like teaching math. Not only am I good at it - I'm gentle and patient with my students because I also struggled in math. The struggles make us stronger in the long run.

With that being said - I am going to the store today and my son and I are both taking the leap. We're going to eat totally clean and raw - as much as is reasonable and possible. Since we are all individuals and very different in our needs, he has dietary needs that I will meet, but will do so with healthy, whole, and natural options.

The last two days I've had wonderful runs in the morning and left the treadmill wanting more time to run. Today it was like running through sludge, my blood pressure was up and I just wasn't feeling it. I only did one very easy mile and might get more in later if I get everything all leveled out. This is the frustrating part of having to listen to my body. I'd much rather drag it up on the TM and tell it to do 2, 3 or 4 more miles. And I would feel like a champion for winning.

But then I take the chance of an overdo and wind up out of the game for recovery time. So instead, I listened to my body, got in an easy mile and survive to run again. I remind myself that whether it's 20,000 steps, 3,000 steps or just a few - every step's a victory!

And when I listen to my body - and do what it needs - I am winning the war one battle at a time.

So today is it. I'm headed out to get some grub that is going to set me up to win even more. I anticipate sugar withdrawals and have no recourse but to suck it up and get through it. But it's time to do it; and it's got to be done.

I'm kind of excited - as I always welcome a challenge. I've made enough small changes over the last few weeks that it's not that big of a difference from here (except the sugar part).

Change is never easy. But it is welcomed as I embrace a hopeful and healthier future. What is your biggest challenge? Do you struggle with cravings? Is there anything you know you need to give up but are afraid to? Or are you like me and just don't want to? lol. Tell me about it.

Keep putting one foot in front of the other - and remember every step is a victory!

Monday, June 20, 2016

2 Races - One Weekend!

This past weekend was lots of fun. On Friday night, I pushed my son for the first time in his new racing chair. My daughter and I had pushed him in a borrowed one a few weeks back, but this was our first trip out in his own chair.

First off, it was hot, hot hot. (We won't do that again!!) It was actually too hot to be safe for either of us and if my friend hadn't helped I would have probably overdone it. Secondly, Chris' chair kept malfunctioning - I gotta make some adjustments for sure.

I knew I had to take it easy as the heat and I do not get along any more. My heart rate ran quite a bit higher than I am used to and it stayed up. It wouldn't come down to my "normal" even when walking - even though it really wasn't dangerously high. A lot of it was due to several factors:


  • I have not trained in the heat this year - only on the TM inside
  • I have not been eating right
  • I have not been training right
  • I've gained a little weight back
  • I had not practiced pushing the chair at all
Lesson learned. I have since gotten my act back together and am taking steps in the right direction once again. You know, I know this stuff - and I know what I need to do to maintain and to be able to continue enjoying the sport of running. Why is it so difficult

One problem I have in particular, is that I do a lot of emotional eating. Right now, I've adjusted my game plan so it's not an issue. Mornings start a lot earlier which means I got to bed earlier - and that alleviates the late night temptations. Also, I just flat don't keep anything in the house that I shouldn't have (except ice cream - but it's low sodium). 

My second race this weekend was a 10K early Saturday morning. I have not been training, as I mentioned before and what I have done has been on the treadmill. I didn't know how it would go - especially after such a rough 5K on Friday night. Turned out - we had a nice little cold front come through on Friday night and a rain storm So the weather was about as perfect as it can be during June in Oklahoma. But I still went out easy and just enjoyed a gentle run through the rolling hills.

My goal in doing the two races back to back was to sort of give myself a re-start. It's got me back in training mode and I'm looking forward to getting back into the groove. I have another 5K coming up this Saturday and I'm planning on pushing my son in this one too. 

It feels like I have to start over all the time. I get more frustrated with myself than with anything. But once again, I've come back to start and I'm ready to kick this thing. Plus, I have a cardiologist appointment next week and I want to be in good shape when I go. Gotta get the BP back down and keep it in a safer range, keep the salt under control. I have not felt well lately and I'm sure it's 99% because I haven't been sticking to the plan.

Deep breath... suck it up... adjust and proceed. I had a nice 4 mile run today and a 6 miler scheduled for tomorrow. I have to remember that literally everything - either helps or hinders my progress. I'm still moving - and I'm barely still winning. So for today - I just have to remember

Every step (in the right direction) is a victory!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Done is done, right?

This one sneaked up on me. I knew I wasn't feeling my best, but boy did my body give me a run for the money this morning. After I got off my meds last month I gained about 8 pounds and have only been able to lose a little bit of it. So, it looks like I may need to talk to the cardiologist about going back on the diuretic. I may give it one more week with some major changes to see if it helps first.

I felt like I was running (if you wanna stretch and call it running) through mud this morning. I had a spurt or two of feeling "okay" but never did feel good during this race. I kept an eye on my heart rate and it never spiked, but it seemed to have a more difficult time coming back down. It was running a bit higher than normal and taking forever to slow down when I'd start walking. I ended up walking A LOT! Frustrating.

The Go Girl itself was very well organized and as always - very well done. Except they changed the course from last year and I swear they did it so they could incorporate every.single.hill in OKC on this 13 mile course. That was actually one minor factor too that just didn't help me out much today.

I'm glad this bad experience is behind me, which means my 19th half marathon is done and the OKC Memorial next month will be my 20th half marathon. I'm also really glad the Cowtown was one I felt very good doing - that way I KNOW it's possible. I just need to make some adjustments.

I know a lot of it is about attitude, and right now mine probably stinks. But a bad race (I know everyone has them, don't they?), just gets to you when it takes so much just to get there. One thing that nags at me is watching all my "running buddies" and I use that loosely - keep improving, losing weight, looking more fit, trying new things... etc. And I feel stuck. There has to be a way. Today I really felt like a heart patient (I am coming to grips with the fact that I am one whether I'm having a good day or a bad day.) I actually thought of a T-shirt design today that says "As a matter of fact, I AM running with CHF!" I was whiny and unhappy today.... but I do have a plan.

First thing is to get my eating back in check. I've done pretty good with the salt (can do better), but I've been eating too much overall. I also eat lots of carbs - beans and nuts have been major sources of protein (and cheese - which is one of the problems actually). So I have a new dieting plan I've been toying with in my head for a few days and now it's time to implement it. Starting tomorrow I'll be following it and we will see how it goes.

Second thing is I KNOW I need to exercise (at least) 30 minutes every.single.day. I haven't been doing that. But I can tell it really helps my circulation - even if I'm just walking or stretching. So I'll be shooting for 30 minutes of something every day. I already know I have to be careful to avoid an overdo and balance out TKD and running. But I haven't been running - and last week I didn't even do TKD or running much. I notice a really big difference when I stop running or walking every day.

Thirdly, I have to get more sleep. I'm burning the candle at both ends and trying to keep up with work from a variety of angles. I find myself staying up until midnight, and sometimes later; but I'm still getting up at 5:30. I have to remind myself I can only do so much in a day period. Do what I can - but I gotta start getting some sleep. Gonna shoot for 10, and hope to hit 11! lol

That's the three areas I simply have to get a good grip on one more time. It sure seems like today's race - uphill both ways - trying to keep up with everything. But I'm determined. (I think I need to find an accountability buddy or something - maybe I'll think about that next time.) For now - I got another half to get ready for - the OKC Memorial in April; and I have a 10K in between, and a TKD tournament, and a TKD belt testing.... Just the way I like it!

Even though this morning's race was a real wake-up call - I did it. More slowly than I wanted to, but pretty much as carefully as I should have. And even though it felt like I was dragging myself through thick mud, every step's still a victory!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

One Happy Heart Patient!

Okay, fine. I guess I'm just going to have to be a happy "heart patient." On one of my last visits with my PCP, I argued that I wasn't one, but she just told me we could disagree on that point. Today, for the second time, I asked the cardiologist to reverse the CHF diagnosis. No surprise - it was a "no" again.

His nurse did tell me I have the better kind of  CHF though and she agreed with me that it is mild - but must be managed. So I suppose I will just concede and be content to be a heart patient....at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital. Sigh.

But there is some real good news today and still a few modifications to be made. He had all the results from my tests they did last week. The worst of it is not really all that bad - but several things that just need to be closely monitored. I guess I'll be making more trips out to OHH. I do have a leaky valve but it's not bad - just gotta keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't get worse on me. My blood work also indicated that I am "pre-diabetic" which translates to me to tighten my diet up more (ie - get rid of the other white stuff - sugar.) Those were the big, little areas among a few other ones that just need to be monitored to be sure everything stays in check.

But the good news? My bp was perfect - and I was even AT the dr. office - I think that's a first! So- I talked him into letting me try going without the diuretic. He agreed - with the understanding that if I start retaining water I can't just start taking it again - I have to call the office. He told me I am not allowed to be my own doctor. (He already knows me well.) And for the first time I was told to watch my water intake  - if I'm not running. On running days I can drink more - but on non-running days the nurse said not to drink too much.... acting like I have CHF or something! lol Honestly - that was a little weird...not supposed to be real...for me.

So basically, I am learning to control the symptoms with diet and exercise. But I'm not off the hook - and actually have to be more diligent about it going forward. I realize if I don't monitor everything closely and stay on top of it all that I could have to go back on medications - so the plan is to be super good so I can stay off. Hopefully I won't need them.

The staff is very supportive of my running and some of my blood work and other stats they say are due to it. So in some ways the running is very helpful. Of course that's as long as I don't overdo it.

You wanna know the funny part? I explained to my nurse (she said I could use her name - but I told her I'd need this in writing!) how I've been monitoring myself and managing symptoms. I told her I weigh every morning that checks for water weight gain and if I gain more than 3 pounds  then there's no running. I take my BP and pulse every morning to be sure it's staying in my normal range. And I monitor my heart on the run even in taekwondo since I figured out how, as well as wear the compression socks all the time. The nurse kept affirming that I am doing everything I should - she said, "we are going to get along good -you're so compliant." And, "you're going to be a good patient." I just laughed and asked her if I could get that in writing - she said no but I could use her name! lol

I guess it's good to know my own customized monitoring system is what I'm supposed to be doing. and I'm happy I'm off everything but aspirin for now! It's still early on in the journey but I'm feeling better about it. I feel like I'm being taken care of very well. That should help me be good! lol I'm a happy heart patient who is still running with CHF where....

Every Step's a Victory

Monday, February 29, 2016

Cowtown Challenge Done!

This was one awesome weekend! I did finish the Cowtown Challenge by doing a 5K on Saturday and a half marathon on Saturday. In between I rode bikes around with one of my friends. I enjoyed the camaraderie of all the runners and the general atmosphere around the Cowtown is just awesome - Oh - and I met Jeff Galloway himself! He is so kind and encouraging - just like Mark Bravo.

I really felt very under-trained for this particular event. I hadn't run much in the last two weeks and had only done one 9+ miler in the last month. I usually have a few 10 milers in, but not this time. But - it all worked out.

One of the biggest struggles I have is simply not knowing what my body is going to do on any given day. I have to keep my attitude straight and just be "okay" with whatever I have to work with. Doing a race while traveling adds another struggle - trying to eat out without taking in too much salt. Hey- the struggle is real! One night we ate at Chili's and I asked for them to not add any sauce to my steak - it was so salty I couldn't even eat it! I gave up and had peanut butter back at the room - I'd brought it with me. I can opt for most salads (but not the  night before a race!)

The 5K was a double cool day because I decided to run with my daughter. I ran at her pace, walked at her pace and just generally took it easy - it was so cool to cross that finish line with her! That was the highlight I think - because we did it together.

The morning of the half I felt fine - but was nervous about my lack of training. So I didn't play music, wore my heart rate to keep a close eye on it and went out slowly. I have learned how to monitor my heart and interpret what it's telling me. For instance, if it runs higher than my "normal" I know it's working harder than it should be. But it didn't do that yesterday....it stayed in its normal zones perfectly.



By mile 5 I was feeling really good and making decent time. I held back since I still had a ways to go. As I crossed the half way mark - in the Stockyards, I felt really good - but I also knew I had two good sized hills coming and they can be challenging. But my heart was still hanging in the right zones so I kept going forward, but I didn't push it.

Once I got past the huge hill - dreaded mile 9 - I took awhile to catch my breath and by mile 10 it was flat and I was ready to go. I thought, "I only have a 5K left to go!" I turned on my music and took off. I felt great - better than I EVER have at the 10 mile mark. By 11 I was still cooking - still running Galloway's  3:1 intervals. What amazed me was that I was still running! An I wasn't dragging at all..... crossed the finish line and checked my stats and mile 12 was my fastest mile! lol - how did that
happen? Mile 12?? that's cool.



So I have decided staying with a healthy diet is essential....and I think I have a well rounded workout schedule right now. I am going to continue what I'm doing since I feel more fit and had a great race when I didn't expect it at all!

I do have a cardiologist appointment in the morning - but I expect nothing but a good report on the tests I had last week. Maybe he'll take the "CHF" diagnosis back too! lol

Every Step's A Victory
...and I feel it right now!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Atmosphere is Everything!

I did this local 5K this morning - mostly because it was to raise awareness of heart disease, and partly because I really liked the shirt! It was a very well done race and had several tables set up all geared to help educate about healthy lifestyles and heart health. They even had a cardiologist from the community who gave "heart healthy tips" every few minutes. And the atmosphere was wonderful - lots of dancing and laughing and families enjoying being outside and being active. I loved it.

This race was significant for me since I have had some symptoms this week after being free from them for several months. As they cropped back up this week (all mild) I had to remember how bad they used to be and the things I've learned about listening to my body. Actually I started getting shortness of breath early this week after a 9 miler on Sunday. Not sure if it's to blame, but that's the first time I've had it in a long time. Blood pressure was running high too - not bad - just higher than my new normal. I took my son to the doc on Tuesday - we have the same doc - bad idea! lol

As I was getting him situated the shortness of breath was awful and I had to sit down. I think the nurse checking him in told my practitioner because she started asking me about how I was doing after she had seen to my son. She gave me some "gentle reminders" about not overdoing it and risking "setbacks" in my training. It was a good lesson - and helped me stay focused the rest of the week. Sometimes it's good to remember where I've been so I can stay on the straight and narrow....

So I started thinking about what I'd been doing that could have caused this episode. I know I've been cheating some on my diet - not eating enough green! And I had stopped exercising every day. It's really hard to find that perfect balance between resting and exercise. I have definitely noticed that when I do at least 30 minutes of cardio (can be super easy) every day my circulation and blood pressure are noticeably better. So I started back to just 30 minutes a day running, walking or biking. It doesn't have to (or need to) be all out effort - just enough to keep my circulation in good shape. This and wearing my support socks all the time are helping with the swelling particularly in my ankles.

Yesterday I did a little over 2 miles on a trail here close to my house and felt like I was trudging - walked a lot too. When my Nike app announced my speed I was doing about a 14 minute mile. This morning I decided that I was so early for the race I'd get a couple of miles in before the race - took it easy - but ended up doing about a 12 minute mile. I felt about the same while I was running. (even though my blood pressure was back down to a safe level and I felt better overall.)  The weird thing was that I felt the same yesterday and today; but was running 2 minutes per mile faster with no effort. I don't get that.

I then ran the 5K and did about an 11:30 minute mile on average - never got close to a 12 minute mile. I walked some and pushed it a bit. When I was running around this little loop before the race I remembered when I first started doing races and I was so shocked at other runners who were running before the race! lol - I remember thinking that the 5K was all I had in my tank and I might not be able to make it if I ran before the race. That was kind of cool because I actually did well and felt well doing the race after a gentle run. I liked that.

I had time to go by the store on my way home and stock my fridge back up with "green stuff." I'm glad to say I am back on track and determined to stay there. (except for those m&m's I snagged - but hey - they were peanut so there's some protein - and each package only has 20 mg of sodium! )

So for now - I am moving forward and doing pretty good. I feel better today but plan on taking tomorrow off of running. I'll try some biking for cardio and stretching/kicking exercises for taekwondo. I've got three halfs, a 5K and a couple of 10Ks coming up - so I have to be good. I'm ready to see how I can manage symptoms and "being good" so I can keep running at this pace. I keep reminding myself - no matter how slow - how fast - walk, run or crawl -

Every Step's A Victory!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Who Knew?

So I did my first ever trail race this morning. It was a 4-miler but more like 4.33. It was really cold like 27 and stayed at that temp the whole race even though I warmed up quite a bit. I think about mile 3 I could feel my toes again. Lol. I did trip a couple of times, but I only fell once - minor scraped up knee but no biggie.

I think I'll try to find some more trail races - but I am pretty sore right now so I might take that back when I try to roll out of bed in the morning. My heart rate ran a little higher than usual, but not dangerous. I'm sure it's because my diet has been a little loose - I'll be tightening it back up starting tomorrow for sure. I figured some of it was from pushing it a little harder since running trails is a little more work - but lots of fun for sure.

This race was part of the "Oklahoma State Games." What I didn't know is if you medal in your AG you automatically qualify to take part in the Games of America in 2017. I thought that was really cool since i don't usually "qualify" for anything.  I'm looking in to doing them  but we shall see.

I've done a lot of thinking  since the cardiologist appointment on Monday. I've been wearing the support socks all the time and they seem to really help keep the swelling down in my ankles. I think that's probably good.

I had a low mileage week this week, but my goals for this coming week are to get back on my diet - lots more veggies for sure. I also need to drink more water I think I've been a little dehydrated lately. These are just a couple of things I need to really work on. I'm also working on trying to get more sleep - even though it really bothers me to spend more than 6 hours in bed, I think I have to admit I need more.

So today was another win for me and I feel like I conquered a new frontier. Honestly, my biggest challenge when I start feeling better is to stay inside my strict guidelines. After seeing the cardiologist earlier this week and he suggested "more exercise" I was excited. But I have really been tired this week, and pretty lax on working out. Now it's time to settle down and follow all the "rules" again even though I have been doing better. It's like this fine balance between not overdoing - but doing. Pushing - but not pushing.

Overall, I am very happy where I am right now. I think I'm making progress and learning to push - but not push too much. And learning when and how to rest... it can be frustrating to keep track of everything. I just have to remind myself that it's necessary to be very conscientious about all of it and listening to my body at the same time. For now - I'm still up and running - have signed up for 3 half marathons this spring and might add another trail race in there in April... we shall see. All I know is I'm managing symptoms right now (but I can do better) and ...

Every Step's A Victory!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Cardiologist Update

So I guess I'm just going to have to get used to going to cardiologists and doctors. My primary care sent me to a cardiologist at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital. I think I like this guy (as much as I can like docs). He was very kind, and looked me in the eye when he was talking with me and I liked that.

Of course I gave them my standard "abnormal but not bad" EKG. I also explained about my meds and how the other doc wouldn't call me back. He told me not to trust a doctor who didn't call you back. (I was surprised.) He said it's an integrity issue and it sends the signal that they don't care when they don't call you back. I agreed. At the end of the appointment - he gave me a gentle hug and promised to take good care of me. That was nice I thought. (Even though I'm not too keen on "being taken care of.")

My blood pressure was great- didn't even mention taking meds for that. I have to say that's a HUGE win. I believe the drastic changes to my diet have been beneficial in that arena. I still have to take the diuretic though - and the aspirin. I did try to talk the nurse into erasing the "CHF" diagnosis. She wouldn't play.

He asked me if I needed to exercise more. I said, "I'm training for a marathon and have signed up for 3 half marathons this spring, do you want me to do more?" He laughed and said"no" and to keep up the good work... now THAT I liked. I also found out the nurse and some of the other office staff are doing the relay at the OKC Memorial - that was very cool too.

My ankles are a constant reminder of how important it is for me to pay attention and take care. He asked if I wear support socks and I told him I do when I'm running. He wants me to wear them "all the time." Not sure how I feel about that. If I eat right and keep my feet up through the day they are not that bad.... I'll clarify with him at my next appointment.

I do have to do two more tests, scheduled in February and they are doing all the blood work again. I get these tests done the last week in Feb. Then I'll go back for another appointment with him the first week of March. He says he wants me to take some anti-anxiety meds. Not sure how I feel about that either. I know I'm kinda high strung - I will see. He says it can help keep the chest pains at bay. I told him since there's no blockage I am not really worried about that... he doesn't argue well - we'll have to work on that. lol

So overall I was really happy with this cardiologist. I love it that there was no hint of discouraging me from keeping up my current regimen. I also like it that the office staff are training for the OKC Memorial. I have two half marathons before that one though. I did only sign up for the half at OKC - if I can increase my miles safely by then I can switch to the full - if not - I'll continue adding miles slowly and sign up for a full this fall as long as it goes well - as it has been.

I'm really learning to listen to this ole body; and I'm seeing the value in it. When I pay attention and stay on top of the symptoms - I get to run more - run faster and run stronger. This is a far cry from where I was two years ago at this time. It's certainly been a difficult battle, but one I am finally able to say I'm winning - one step at a time.

Every Step's A Victory!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

So I was able to sustain a 46 day running streak. On one hand I was sad to end it; and on the other was a bit of relief. I had started with a few symptoms so yesterday I felt like it was better to stop rather than my body stopping me down the road. I think it worked because today I was able to get outside for a couple of very nice miles and I felt fine. But it's time to rest....I think.

I learned a few things during this run streak - the longest one I've ever done. I learned if I take it easy I can do a lot more than I thought. And that I have learned to listen to my body - but that's not enough. Not only is it important to listen to what your body is telling you - it's equally as important to respect what it is telling you. That's actually more difficult than listening...but not only is it do-able; it also means there'll be more running days ahead.

One thing that's really surprised me over the last few weeks is that I've felt so good. But I've also taken it really easy and didn't take chances by pushing it. Last year was crazy and after the initial diagnosis I had tons of crazy - crazy thoughts as I worked through processing this new information. I drove my running friends crazy too - quite literally. I finally left the group I had been involved in for three years because I felt like I had gotten on their nerves so much. So I'm running solo once again; and it's okay. Not best - but okay.

Another thing this run streak helped me accomplish is encouragement. I am actually planning on another marathon now and I never thought that would be in my thoughts again! I have a half next month and hopefully another half in March. Then I will either do a half or a full for the OKC in April. We will see. I'm okay if I need to plan the full for later this fall - and I have my eye on a couple I'd like to do too. It's all about making the wisest choice from where I am today and then moving toward that goal.

Speaking of goals I've set a few for myself this year and they include - but are not limited to:

  • Run another marathon
  • Run 1000 miles 
  • Do more Cross Training
  • Learn how to fuel my run right
Over the year I'll probably share more details about each of those goals - that'll keep me focused on them. But for right now I'm just happy to have been upright and still moving ever since I got out of the hospital in October. I am trying to make an appointment with a new cardiologist - hopefully he'll be on board with my running and I won't need to make too many changes. But hey - we gotta be adaptable in order to keep doing what we wanna do, right?

I did run a NYD 5K and did pretty good I thought. I felt real good and that's really important! Next up on my schedule is a 4-mile trail run. Which reminds me of a change I've made this year. Some of my local running buddies are doing both the Winter Series and the 8-mile trail run. Usually, since they are doing the 8-miler I'd switch to that one - and I wouldn't miss the local winter series. But I'm actually okay with only doing the 4-miler at the trail run - hey - it's the smarter decision since it's my first ever trail race; and I'm quite alright with sitting out the winter series and setting my sites on some bigger - and new races this year. 

Maybe this series of health events has helped me mature as a runner and a person. That's really what is all about anyway I think. I should be challenged to change, right? As I am changing and growing as a person - every step is a move in the right direction - and every step is one more than I've taken before. What's your latest challenge and how are you tackling it?

Every Step's A Victory