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!