Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year in Review

What a way to end the year!! I started the Runner's World Run Streak on Thanksgiving Day and did the last run of the year tonight. Tomorrow's 5K will be the last official day of the Run Streak - but I've already crossed over 100 miles just during the streak... I honestly can't believe I'm still in it - I figured I'd overdo it at some point and not be able to run. I did certainly learn the power of the easy run though! I'm very happy with that.

At the first of this year I was struggling so much physically and even emotionally. I was so unsure of what the year would bring and how much running I would be able to do. I've had several times when it was really tough-and-go and I've had a few forced vacations. But I'm finishing the year on a strong (and happy) note.

The challenges I faced this year have taught me a lot - really about myself; and they make this moment of victory just that much sweeter.

Let me start with what I have learned. I've learned my body can do a lot more if I treat it right; and that I'm worth it. This is my "race" and I'm the only one who can run my steps - easy or difficult - they are all mine. If you stick with it - you can do anything - maybe not the way you thought - or planned - or even wanted to do it - but you can still do it. Hope is still alive - even in the midst of pain - and sometimes you just have to stop. Stopping doesn't mean it's over. It means you look around and find another way - a different way - but a way! And when the struggles are harder than you imagined and complicated by multiple facets--- victory brings tears of joy. They just remind you that every step is a victory!

I think on this last day of the year I can honestly say this year - I won. It might not have been pretty or fast and maybe I didn't PR (on any race this year) but I won. I finished. I'm still going. I win.
This year I did only 22 races (low number for me) that was 10-5Ks, 2-8Ks, 5-10Ks, 4-Half marathons and one 11K. I placed in my age group in 4 of the 5 10Ks I did... this was the year of the 10K for sure! The picture of my 2015 medals says it all - Hello, my name is Jeanie and I'm a bling whore! lol

I'm actually looking forward to next year and I'm lining up my races. I'm starting with a NYD 5K and then adding a first ever trail race in January. I can't wait to see what I learn about running and myself in the year ahead! But no matter what - as long as I'm stepping -

Every Step's A Victory

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Last Race of the Year - And a Great Lesson to Boot!

I finished my last race ( not my last run) of the year today. It was a nice 8K up at Lake Hefner in OKC and boy was it windy! I think they said there were gusts up to 45 mph - I can attest to that! This one may go down as one of my favorite lesson teaching runs.

First off - let me say I'm still doing the #RWRunStreak where we are challenged to run at least one mile per day from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. Today was day 25 and it was appropriate to do a 5-miler I thought. Overall I have thoroughly surprised myself with this run streak. It's the longest I've ever stayed with it first of all, and second of all up until a couple days ago I have felt great.

Even though I am barely in the CHF category (meaning it's still very mild thankfully) overdoing it can really knock me on my butt. It's one of my two main goals. One is to refrain from overdoing it - ever; and the second is to manage symptoms. The trouble with overdoing it is that you don't know you've overdone it a lot of times until after the fact. There have been times I've felt fine during a race or a hard run but then woke up the next morning wiped out and end up having a major episode - which is what I want to avoid. Well I'm happy to report that so far there's been no overdo and I'm still streaking (run streak that is!).

The last couple of days I've had a few signs that I could have an episode. I've learned to watch carefully for these. My bp is still "safe" but has been slightly elevated over the last couple of days and my resting heart rate is inching up. I also gained some water weight. So with those in mind I know I may need to stop the streak and rest up a few days. That's frustrating when I'm doing so well - but necessary since I am wanting to win this battle - and do it the right way.

So this morning when my bp was slightly elevated and I had some chest pains I really gave some thought to not doing the race. Instead, I took it as a challenge of another kind. I decided to do the race (using the HR monitor of course) and hold myself back. I knew it would be difficult once I got to the race site because I just get so pumped just to be out and able to run. But I was determined.

My HR did bounce around a bit at the first of the race but I made myself go out slow and held back until the first mile was done. By then my HR was stable but about 15 beats higher than normal. Still in a safe range, but higher than usual. I stayed with the 3 R/1W intervals I've been doing in training and just held myself back even though I was worried about coming in last. That fear was alleviated at the turnaround when there were plenty of people behind me.

I kept my eye on my HR for the whole run and consciously held back to a very comfortable pace. About mile 3-4 I could tell I was pushing it - mostly because I was running into the 45 mph wind and it was making me mad. I purposefully made myself walk more during that part of the course just to make sure I wasn't pushing too much.

So I finish the race - feeling great about accomplishing my very strange goal. I visit with other runners and friends that I see at races. Then on my way out I decide to check the screens for the live results. Typed in my bib number and came up I was 2nd in my age group! -- Turns out the first in my AG was way too fast - I'd have never caught her if I'd tried. The girl behind me was about a minute back with the fourth right behind her. I was so happy with that. There were 6 in all with the slower 5 of us all within minutes.

But get this - I ran at what I thought was an easy - not even pushing it pace - and had a 12:10 min mile avg. That's really good for where I've been this year. It's slow I know - but considering - I'm a happy camper. I had one mile in the 11's and one (the fourth) at about a 13 min. mile.

So I guess I learned a valuable lesson today - I can actually be very happy with myself and reach reasonable goals without hurting myself (I hope - we'll see in the morning). And I beat last year's "same race" time by over 7 minutes. And placed in my AG.... I'm a happy camper.

I have also learned something off the course. That is that I really HAVE to stay on my eating plan and treat salt as a poison. I've been off of it some this week and I think my elevated BP and HR is because of that. Today -I'm back to being very good. Hoping I didn't mess up my streak - but very willing to stop at this point if I don't feel well tomorrow.

I will do an end of the year post here soon as I reflect on this year - and set new goals for next. I am pretty sure a marathon is in the mix.... yup. I just need to do another one - really thought I was one and done - but I have the itch. I already have a walker friendly race picked out too! See you on the course where

Every Step's A Victory

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hills are My Best Friends

Things are rocking along real well for me right now. I have all my symptoms under control and I just finished day 20 of the Runner's World Run Streak that stretches from Thanksgiving Day to New Year's Day. I did a 10K a couple weekends back - and placed first out of six in my age group. I admit I pushed it in that race. I really did. But I was feeling so good and going at a really good pace for me - I honestly thought the race experience would be worth it even if it meant I had to take a week to recuperate! But I was pleasantly surprised to realize I didn't overdo it at all. What's up with that? I've now been running for 20 days in a row and logged more than 50 miles - with absolutely no overdos. I'm happy with that.

I think I'm learning how to listen to my body better - but I'm also sticking to some changes I've made. I've lost 30 pounds this year and have been able to keep it off. I think that's a big factor, really. I treat salt like poison because for me - it is. Now to get off sugar! lol I'm eating fresh and almost no processed foods and I'd like to think for now my body is thanking me by letting me run.

Each day I take it as I get it. Every run I have in the back of my mind that it could be the last run of this streak. My commitment to my self is if my blood pressure goes up, ankles swell and don't go back down or I start feeling fatigued, the streak is over. And for this reason I am learning to take it easy on runs - lots easier than I want, but it can mean the difference between running or not running. I tell my body every day that I am listening and will respond to the messages it sends. I'm off bp meds right now - so many challenges there - but I do return to the cardiologist next week. Hoping that he's okay with continued running. We shall see.

So today I ventured out to one of my old routes. It's an out-and-back route that's right at 5 miles (unless you have to double back to get your timer that keeps you on a steady 3R/1W interval then it's about 5.2) When I started having trouble especially chest pains and shortness of breath when running I not only slowed way down - I also stayed in the park behind my apartment, or stayed on a 2.2 mile loop that made sure I was never more than about a mile from my house. Today is my second run out past that safety net. It felt good - but there were hills that really kicked my butt. However, today I appreciated those hills. Here's why...

Hills are a challenge and for me they represent challenges we face in life. Now I have always loved the challenge of hills - just like I like a good challenge because it makes me stronger. Today's hills helped remind me of the journey I've been on for the last two years. It helped me realize that I'm not back to where I was before all this started, but also that I've made a lot of progress. I used to tuck my head push harder and nearly kill myself going up steep inclines. But today - I walked when needed, ran carefully when I could - but I didn't push it. This is so not my nature.

I normally push those boundaries - or rules! Keeps me in trouble a lot - so to learn that I can still enjoy a run without pushing myself to the limit was enlightening to say the least. It's also in the back of my mind that if I blow it by pushing too hard today - I may not get to run tomorrow. So what I'm learning is to take the hills of life - the challenges - adjust and proceed.

Having to deal with CHF (although I got the doc to admit it's really low level finally! - now to convince the cardiologist!) - is a huge challenge or hill in my life. At first I wanted to barrel through it and charge as hard as I could against it. If I had continued doing that - it would have cost me...a lot. Instead I've adjusted - adapted my plan, schedule and goals - and continued to proceed. Challenges don't mean we stop. They may however, mean I have to do things differently.

Hills reveal what we are made of and the speed in which we take them is irrelevant. It's the fact that we don't stop that is relevant. Hills make us stronger runners - dealing with challenges appropriately and responsibly makes us stronger in character. Now to keep applying this knowledge so I can proceed to outrun CHF!

So for now - I am training for my spring half marathons - and hopefully will get to do the Cowtown in February. At that point - if I am able to continue doing well - and being good - I'm going to move on up toward a full again - looking at the OKC for my next full. Always moving forward - can't give up - no need to - every step's a victory...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Worth the Fight

Whether or not you battle with a chronic condition - every runner has to overcome stuff to get themselves out the door. We have to rearrange our schedules around running, or is that the other way around? lol.

Every runner, every athlete has to sacrifice time they could be doing something else, make dietary sacrifices or adaptations to fuel properly, think about dressing for a run and then showering and redressing for the day. Even though we get used to all the accommodations we make for running in our lives - it's a lot to think about on even the best day. We put a lot into it, period.

I know a lot of runners who started running because of a life event of some sort. Many wanted to lose weight, deal with grief, beat a health issue, or any number of other reasons. But running helps us be victorious at life, IMO. It helps us clear our minds, work through issues, de-stress, empty our emotional bucket and just be more fit. So I have to say that no matter why we run - the reward far surpasses the sacrifice.

Running became such a staple in my life that when I thought I was going to have to give it up I was devastated. But by slowing down and finding a new way I'm still able to get out there. This last week was trying for me. But the good thing is I ran an slow, steady and strong 7 miles last night! That made my day - and with no over-do!!! I am going to have to admit that resting more is key for me. I hate that part - I feel like I get so much from running I don't want to take a day off. But many times I HAVE to take today off so I can really enjoy running tomorrow.

This week meant another trip to the doc for me. I've gone to the doctor and the hospital more this year than probably my whole life put together! lol - sheesh. I had to see my primary care because the cardiologist would never call me back about my medications. I got another referral. I have to admit for right now I'm sort of on my own with my meds. The doc won't override the cardiologist - the cardiologist won't call me back - and the referral to a new cardiologist is taking some time. Turns out - the new meds the cardiologist gave me are in the lisinopril family; and I can't take those. I can't take a lot of meds - I'm just not normal. But we already knew that. So I just monitor my bp a little more closely and self-medicate..... for now.

I tried to get my doc to take my side and erase the diagnosis of CHF from my record... she didn't buy it. However, it's in a very mild state right now - if I can be good and manage my symptoms I'm up for miles and miles and years and years of running. Being good is not my strong suit - but I am committed to the journey. I realized today after my 7-miler last night that I am really feeling good. I'm still very active compared to most but I'm learning to take it easier and not push. That's one of my keys - I can still do - I just have to do easier than I want. I did that 6+ miler a couple weeks back too and I honestly pushed it a lot more than I should have - BUT - I never had an episode - and I didn't overdo it. Not that I want to take that chance again any time soon - but learning how to rest in between seems to be working well.

This really helps my attitude. I think of all those I know who cannot run anymore or are on injured reserve and I am grateful. For now - I am still working toward full training. I am hoping with the most recent modifications I've done I can still continue toward that goal. I'm looking now at my spring halfs and trying to move slowly in that direction.

No matter what - every runner deals with something to get out there day after day. You know a marathon isn't really run in a matter of hours - it's run in a matter of months and sometimes years of training. Such is life - each moment is a culmination of all the other moments you've ever lived. (something to think about - make every moment count!) No matter what you have to overcome to get out there and run, walk, fight, ride, etc - it's well worth the fight. Why? Because......

Every Step's a Victory!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Finding Balance

Now that's the face of a happy camper right there! I already did a race report on the 11K I did Sunday but this picture pretty much tells it all. It was a good race - and I enjoyed it AND I didn't hurt myself in the process. lol

One of the biggest things for me to learn to deal with is finding a balance. I'm kind of an all-or-nothing person and when I'm all in - I'm all in. I used to run every day and rarely take breaks. Granted I was running shorter distances, but still....I'm having to learn how to rest in between and not push it so much. That's just not in my nature - I push every limit. And sometimes it costs me a lot. What can I say?

But this week has been wonderful even though I have only two runs in and only one more planned. I've spaced them out and this seems to help manage CHF symptoms. Sometimes I'm totally overwhelmed by all the changes I have to make - and I don't adjust too well to change. But if all my races can be like this one -- I'm changing away....

I rested Monday after the race, that's a rarity. Did a super easy 3 miler on Tuesday and yesterday did a 30 minute circuit style workout; but nothing intense just going easy. Tonight I will go back to taekwondo and then another run on probably Saturday to finish out my mileage goals for the week. Using more discretion is making me feel a lot better about setting realistic weekly goals as I continue to increase my mileage in small increments. I think I'm finding some balance and it feels good. I'm trying to use this awesome race experience to offset my emotions when I get frustrated because I want to go out full throttle. Maybe a little restraint is a good thing sometimes... but you didn't hear me say that! lol

So learning to rest in between but fully enjoy the run again is just one of the things I'm balancing out - it's a big one for me though. I have my diet totally under control and you're never going to believe this - I have chocolate bars someone bought me Monday - and they're still sitting on the cabinet. I have munched away at the dark chocolate one though and I think I have one more chunk of it to go. In times past I'd have eaten all of them in one setting -- well they're a little small.... really.

I also have my daily habits down that help me manage my exercise and my symptoms. I weigh myself every morning to check for water gain - I'm still losing weight so that's really good. However, one morning I did have a 3 pound gain - that's my first warning to take it easy that day. I also monitor my heart rate and my blood pressure. It seems like a whole lot of stuff to do, doesn't it? yeah, to me too. But I'm trying to look at it more like a way to get to run - than something to keep me from it.

As much as I'd really like to just ignore all this and let it just go away - I'm coming to grips with the fact that I have to stay on top of it if I want to have great runs like the one I had Sunday. So - I'm still in the midst of change, but finding a nice balance. And it still makes - every step a victory!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Take That!!

Another race under my belt! This one was a real test for me. Mentally I had so much going on prior to the race and I was so nervous. I just never know how I'll feel on race day. Today I felt good so that helped a little bit.

This race was one of the most disorganized races I've ever attended  - and even though it was advertised for an 11K and says so on the medal - it was barely 6 miles. That was disappointing - and relieving all at once. I could have made another mile! But I was pushing it near the end.

So I am a member of this running group hosted by Coach Jenny Hadfield. We are a tight knit group and they look out for me. I promised them today I  would use a timer to ensure I stuck with 1 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals. I must say it started out as one of the most frustrating races I've ever run. Just about the time I get settled into a pace the stupid thing beeps for me to walk. I was not happy - but I had promised... so I did that for the entire race.

However, if there's a way.....

Yup- I figured if I was going to make any time at all I'd have to run harder during one minute and walk faster during the other.. and that's what I did. The timer was supposed to keep me at a 13 minute mile - but I busted it and ended up with an average of 12:24 min/miles. Not bad for a fat old lady who just got out of the hospital 2 weeks ago! lol

 My hope is that by pushing it I didn't overdo it and that's just something I won't know until tomorrow. For pure prevention I have nothing planned for exercise for the next two days - that will give me some recovery time. I'll probably do some easy stuff but no running or TKD.

I guess I proved to myself that I can still do this and can still have fun at it. It was really fun - but it was only 6 miles and I could have easily gone for another! lol I'm guessing I've totally underrated resting - but it's so difficult for me. I am learning to make modifications that will keep me running (and doing other fun things) for years to come.

I had a lot of time to think while I was out there....I thought about the last 7 years a lot - the time I've been a caregiver for my son. It's not been easy, and sometimes it's not fun - but like running - it's worth the effort. In both arenas I've done more than I ever thought possible.

My race year is winding down - and I'm actually pretty happy with it. There has been a LOT of struggling this year. I've had such a battle with depression and I'm still in denial about CHF... it just can't be so.... it can't be me. So I will continue to push forward (cautiously) and not let it define me. With that being said I will also be mindful of managing the symptoms. This week has been a good week - and I've met my goals. Now to continue to watch for signs and make adjustments as necessary.

I'm actually encouraged that I can still do this. I may not be as fast as I was - but I'm still moving. I am going to move toward my halfs next spring. And I'm still looking at another full marathon in the future - it will take a lot more patience than what I exhibited today - I must say I got very frustrated with that timer. The people running near me probably think it's programmed to "beep-beep-cussword." But it did keep me honest. I'm willing to do what is needed to continue to move forward. Because with CHF.....

Every step's a Victory

Friday, November 6, 2015

Just a Lot of Thinking

So I've been out of the hospital for 2 weeks today and last night I returned to taekwondo. I actually did pretty good and was really disappointed in myself that I wasn't more consistent with training so I could test up with everyone else this weekend. I was actually closer than I thought I was.. but that's beside the point now. Next week will bring a new session and I'm dedicated to keeping up with it and practicing more at home from now on.

Sunday I have my 20th race of this year and my 122nd race ever. I've still got 3 or 4 more races I'd like to do before the year ends; and I'm already planning next year's races and my spring halfs. The metal rack on the left are the metals I've won just this year. I'm pretty happy with that since I started out this year with my CHF diagnosis; which I'm still slightly in denial about...okay a little more than slightly... but I'm working on it, okay?

I have to say that it's been a really rough year and lots of ups and downs. I've had some really rough runs and races and some really good ones too. My trouble seems to be when I start feeling good, I overdo it and then I crash and burn. I'm still working at balancing all that out. I've also found lots of resources to use to help keep me on track, my color chart for example. I want to live in the green!

So I did TKD last night and I am mostly resting (nothing super strenuous, maybe practicing my forms or yoga) for two days. That's hard on me since I feel really good and I have lots of stress! lol - need a run - but will save it until Sunday. It'll be sweeter then....

I'm hoping that adding the extra rest in between harder workouts will help my body adjust and I'll have better runs and races. But now, I have all these emotions leading up to every single race. It's been there all year long. It's an equal amount of anxious anticipation and determination. Part of the determination is to listen to my body and do it right.... and I fear I'll feel bad or have an episode on race day. As you can imagine, my emotions are all over the place! But I'm not ready to give up yet! I'm determined to do it....but to do it right.

I've always been a problem solver - I just need to find the right formula. And I just don't have an "equals giving up" for a solution. For today I'm trying resting... lol... hopefully this drastic change will give me what I need for Sunday's 11K.. if not.. it's gonna be a long, hard, slow run.

every step's a victory

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

More than A "Better Runner"

So this week I'm taking it easy at the urging of my running buddies. They are tougher on me than my cardiologist or PCP, but I respect them. They are experienced and are looking at my present health issues from an objective point of view. I, on the other hand, are raring to go! That's what makes it wise to listen to others - there's a proverb that says there is safety in a multitude of counselors. I'm seeing the wisdom in that - even though I'm squirming to get back out there and see what I can do!

So, now that I'm feeling better I have had a lot of time to think. The trouble with feeling better (not that I mind...) is that it makes it easy to forget how sick you were. I'm trying to sort everything out - my head, emotions, running, my life....

Earlier this week I decided to get online and find some evidence that would support me NOT having congestive heart failure. I mean, really, does it make any sense that I would have CHF and not have heart damage or something blocked? It all seems to be functioning good on the tests. Why did my cardiologist send that diagnosis to my doc when it doesn't make sense to me? (I am not sure he cared about that part of it! lol)

So I sat and searched for about an hour. I found this chart and realized that not only did I have every.single.symptom.... I was in the red zone before I sought help last week. Well, actually I'd been dogging the doc for a few days before I even went in.

I still find it confusing and honestly I'm still in straight up denial. This really cannot be happening.. ot to me. It can't be real. Maybe it's something else - maybe it's nothing at all. But I know I am going to have to figure out a way to adapt and move forward. I saw a saying one time that said Adapt, Adjust, and Advance. That's where I am  right now.

So I can at least say I'm running with a chronic condition. It definitely keeps coming up over and over. I keep overdoing it and having to start over and that's where I am again. So I have learned some things that I can take with me as I proceed.

First of all, I know I can still run - the last 10K I did was great. It was the 2 miles I did after that got me -- and not really even that - but the 5 I did just two days out. I have to change some things up - and when I do a longer run I have to give myself a couple of days to rest period. Do I like that? Not one bit. But for now - if I want to run - and I do - that's the way it's gotta be.

I also think I need to go back to a run/walk interval run. That gives my body a chance to rest every so often. I got off of that as I started to feel better. But now I understand that I have to make a plan that is reasonable and smart - then stick with it even when I feel good. That's going to be really tough because you get out there and feel great and think I can grab one more mile. But I am determined to develop a reasonable plan - and I think I can do that. The difficult part will be sticking to it, especially when I want  to do more.

I really can't afford a lot of trial and error as any errors can really backfire. We're not talking running on a sprained ankle or with a pulled muscle - I can't run at all if I "pull" my heart! lol So I have to proceed cautiously as I go back into running in the next couple of weeks. But I am determined to do this and to do it right. That means I have to go a lot slower than I want - but - it means I am going.

Time to suck it up- figure it out - do it right... and keep moving. This running with a chronic condition is rough on the head, I'll tell ya. It's hard on the attitude too.... I'm guessing maybe I'm developing more character in the process. ... I hope I'm becoming more than a "better runner" during the process of working through CHF - I really want to be a better person.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ready! Set! Reset!

They told me I HAD to wear a gown so I did. As you can see I spent a few days in the hospital this week. I really don't want to go through that again...ever.

I had all the classic CHF symptoms.I was having lots of trouble trying to catch my breath if I got up and around at all. Extreme fatigue had set in and then I started having chest pains. They weren't bad - just annoying. They were enough to wake me up at night - I'll have to admit a little bit scary.

And the worst part is I just kept trying to run. I wanted to keep up with my schedule and plan. I kept thinking I'd feel better. Boy am I paying now.

I went in with chest pains but because of my past and my failed stress tests they wouldn't let me go even though my cardiac enzymes were okay. I ended up having a couple more tests on my heart. Actually, my heart is not in real bad shape in spite of my stupidity and stubbornness. So I dodged the bullet on this one. My cardiologist wanted to be sure I hadn't damaged anything. I didn't.

So he has allowed me to run but I have to go "slower" he said. He really doesn't understand running or me I think. He didn't give me specifics. He told me no long races until after I see him again in a couple months. Not too thrilled about that either. I also have to get back on my blood pressure meds. If you remember I ditched those a few months back. My heart rate and pressure are "all over the place" he said and he wants them to "settle down." ha - I was in the hospital that's not a fair assessment! lol

So the good thing is I'm still in the game. The bad thing is I gotta start all over. This is humbling to me. But I really can't take a chance of overdoing it again. I'm starting with just walking this week and I'll see how it goes. I'm still "okayed" for at least half marathons right now. But I must say I was really worried he was going to tell me no more running. And honestly, it would have been fair. So on that hand I'm thankful.

ON the other hand it's time for me to come totally clean and reassess everything as I move forward. This week is all walking. (sigh) Not an easy place to be - stressed out and I can't use my main tool for dealing with it. Well, that's my own fault. I have to somehow find a way to accept where I am so I can get where I want. This week, I'll be reassessing my goals. I have to put my health up front.

I have to start being honest with myself about how I feel and how to manage running inside certain boundaries. This week I have to find some ways to entertain myself so that I don't go stir crazy. Tonight I played a full game of football... on the Wii! lol That's my competition for today....

So here I am starting over -again. My biggest challenge? Keeping my attitude straight. Seriously. I'm frustrated, upset, a tiny bit scared....but mostly - I'm determined. I just don't have the makeup to quit. That can actually be a bad thing! lol - Now this is the real test - I can't quit - but can I start over? Do I have the character to submit to wise counsel my friends have given me and just reset? I hope so - we'll see.

So here we go - now we get to see what I'm really made of.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Walking a Thin Line

What a week - and it's only half done. So last Sunday I did a 10K and did very well - I placed third in my age group and was proud of that. Don't get too excited, that doesn't mean I was moving too fast at all. But I felt strong and I felt great the whole time. Miles were real close to 12 minute miles and I like that. It gave me hope of getting back down to an 11 minute mile eventually.

So after the race I had some time left and grabbed a couple of very easy - barely running miles. It felt so good to be out in the sunny but cool weather. And I especially liked not having any difficulties.

Tuesday I decided I'd get out for a couple miles. In my heart I knew I better keep it slow, easy and short. But the weather was so nice.... I just kept going until I was at a little over 4.5 miles. I felt so good and enjoyed it so much....then came the afternoon. I bottomed out - not sure exactly what happened but my body sent me some definite signals that I'd overdone it. Fatigue sat in and I'm still trying to shake it.

I'm in such a frustrating spot. For one, I am making progress but have to sit out a day or two. I also don't know what overdoing it looks like until it's too late. Well, if I'm totally honest with myself - I knew to hold it to just a couple miles and do longer runs later in the week. I walk this fine thin line between trying to be smart and flat giving up.

Seriously, do I have what it takes to do another marathon? If 4 or 5 miles knocks me on my butt what would a marathon look like? On the other hand, I've done half marathons and done well. There doesn't seem to be any reason to not try a full - with the proper training. Which isn't going well at this time. Normally I would push past it all and go for a run to shake it out - but I can't risk overdoing....again. So here I sit between give up  and push through. Tough spot for me.

I'm thinking there has to be a balance in there somewhere. I don't like being sidelined - I don't like having to admit I have a chronic condition - I just want to run. Starting to feel like a caged animal. and I don't like it.

Giving up is really not an option. So I will move forward...slowly. Somehow I'll find the right combination. I will keep going and I will win...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Lots going on in my mind today. I ran a 10K this morning. It's the first I've done of this length in awhile. Overall it went very well. There was plenty of time before the race so I did a slow and easy .8 mile so my miles for the day would round out to 7. Actually, this race felt very good. I think it even surprised me. I'm getting a little faster (not really the primary focus) but I am feeling better while doing it (the primary focus)!

I'm on track for the half next month if I get to do it. Then I will keep my miles up after that to continue preparing for a full marathon. I'm pretty happy with my progress though it's been slow. Progress is progress after all.

So this week has been a rough one for me. I've gotten myself into a tight spot and I'm trying to make the best choices I can with what I have to work with. I had just about talked myself into quitting taekwondo. So a good friend came over this week and we talked it out and she got me to thinking.

It comes down to the fact that I feel like I'm no good at it. I feel old, fat and slow. The kicks are way out of my abilities and honestly I just started thinking I couldn't meet the requirements for obtaining a black belt. Seriously? It's not like testing is tomorrow.

From there I thought back to when I first became single and started back to college as a single parent of two young children. I was scared then too; and afraid of failure. I asked myself what I did. I worked harder. I knew I was at a disadvantage - just like I am in TKD. I had been out of school for years and not that good of a student when I had been in school years before. So I tightened up my belt and studied more than most felt necessary. I had to make up for the lack (which actually only existed in my own mind). I worked hard and kept my mind in the game until I got my BS in Education.

Same thing when my son had his wreck and I knew I had to make a living from home to be able to take care of him. It was a difficult situation but I kept working it until I eventually had my own business and am still eating! lol

My point is that when it gets tough - I just get tougher. I roll up my sleeves - take on the challenge and hit it hard. So..... I think I'm going to stay with taekwondo for awhile. It really fits nicely in my lifestyle and is perfect XT for running. So this week I have to double up my classes to catch up and give it the ole college try! to get where I want to be - I have to work hard...harder.

So overall I'm feeling LOTS better - feeling more healthy and more fit.... I decided today my new motto to go with my old one is : walk it or rock it - but finish it.

Every step a victory!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

No More PPPs for Me!

Finished up a local 5K this morning. It was the Brookhaven Run's 30th year and more than 1000 signed up for it. That's pretty good for a local race. I hope race directors take notice that if you build a good race and stay consistent runners will come!

This was a definitive race for me. I started by having a personal pity party (PPP). My mind was running through all of my struggles and challenges. Sometimes it seems like I have more than my share to bear in life and most of the challenges are not removable; some I literally cannot do anything about. Except overcome them.

I got a nice pace going and felt like I was actually holding back a little to use the first mile to rest and then when I got to the first mile my Nike app told me my time was 11:49 - I sure didn't feel like I was doing a sub 12! That actually encouraged me to hold that pace. I got close to it too as the official time showed me at a 12:01 average pace. It ended up being my fastest this year - and since my CHF diagnosis. That makes me smile.

Once I got past the first mile and realized I was feeling so much better and moving a lot faster than I felt, then I decided to get my mind straight. I thought there are 1000 runners - and 1000 of them overcame their own challenges to be here running this race today. There were several wheelchair athletes, and one man running with a prosthetic leg - those were visible. No one knows all I had to do to make sure I was there this morning - and I don't know what others endured to be there. But we all have our own challenges. I started thinking about all  the others possibly fighting invisible illness like mine maybe some are diabetics, cancer patients or survivors, or dealing with any other variety of illness. And maybe there are other caregivers on the course, or someone going through major life changes like a loss of a loved one, losing their job or going through a divorce. We are all dealing with something - and yet we run!

I thought about how this time last year I was grounded and forced to rest. I felt good today. I felt strong (for a fat old lady!). I felt proud. I'm enduring. I may have to adjust, adapt and advance; but I'm moving forward. This was nowhere near my actual PR for a 5K - but it was the best I've done since I started getting ill almost 2 years ago. I'll take it as my second PR! lol

Let me share one other thing. I had a friend - a true friend - who called me last night. She asked me a question about my health and my answer told her a lot. She "yelled" at me without ever raising her voice. She asked me some hard questions and I honestly felt like a kid caught with their hands in the cookie jar. I appreciate my friends who see past my "I'm okay." She ended up getting a full blown confession out of me - about how lax I've been with my eating of late. I don't mind taking correction from a true friend who doesn't play any games, don't take my surface blow-off answer and digs past all that to find out what's really going on. Accountability at its finest! lol

So today is another new day for me.I'm recharged and ready to go once again. I thought about how all our Bible heroes faced challenges too. Actually, every Bible character had their own set of challenges and difficulties - there's not even one that didn't face struggles. That's why we admire them - they held to their faith even in the face of adversity. They kept moving until the race was run. I can do that.

Progress is progress- and every step's a victory! 
(Oh - and I'm winning)

Monday, August 31, 2015

My Brain is my Greatest Foe

Okay so I tested up a belt in taekwondo over the weekend but it brought some emotions with it that caught me off guard. I actually bottomed out after I got home. Of course I was nervous about testing, but I've been told that just shows you care. I did okay and got the new belt....but I got really depressed afterwards. Why? I don't guess I know.

The blue belt is the lowest rank of the advanced belts and just one step closer to a black belt. But for some reason instead of encouraging me - I found the opposite to be true. I began to doubt I could get a black belt. Honestly, I just bottomed out. I still have a long ways to go and many things to learn so I have no idea what was eating at me so.

I really just felt defeated; with no justification for it. I also keep stalling out on my marathon training but mentally I'm still pursuing it. I know it's going to take longer than it does for most but I am determined to do it right this time. I really think I tried to cram a few longer runs in too close to my first marathon. In October I have a half marathon on my schedule. I also have a few 10Ks, a 12K and a few 5Ks to take me to the year's end. Once I finish this half in October (and more if I can find them local) then I want to continue to increase my miles. That's my focus for now is to get ready for the half; then continue to build on that. I want to do a full either in February at the Cowtown or for the OKC Memorial next spring.

Another thing I am itching to do is a Spartan obstacle race. I know, I know. I have thousands (not much of an exaggeration) of questions that start running through my head like:

  • you do know you are 55, right?
  • you do have some health issues you have to deal with
  • you can't afford an injury
  • you don't have time for training, now do you?
This huge mental battle ensues. Taekwondo, running and Spartan training? Am I crazy? Probably.

So this morning I started. I can't start anywhere other than where I am, now can I? So I took this 55 year old body into my home gym and I did a very light WOD. 30 minutes later I'm ready to kick butt! lol.... I feel fine I am refocused and ready to go. It may take me longer to get there than it does for others - but the tougher the battle - the sweeter the victory!

As far as the CHF diagnosis I am feeling very good. I have learned to listen to my body - and it's a daily thing. It's also a challenge to know how to push just enough without overdoing it. That is a process of learning that I'm doing a little better at. My blood pressure has been really good when I've taken it and I'm actually not retaining the water I was. My little secret is that I am doing an experiment this week. Since my ankles are not swollen at all - I am trying to go without my diuretic. I'm strictly adhering to my low sodium diet with no cheats.... just gonna try it - if I start to swell back up I'll take the stupid pill. I hate taking meds.

Overall I think things are going well. I feel so much better overall - just have to fight through the mental stuff. But I'm still headed in the right direction- and plan on getting there no matter how long it takes. Until then....every step's a victory.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Starting to Itch

I've been running but sort of been on a hiatus from racing. It's been a nice break actually but it's been more of a financial decision. But now I'm starting to itch...ready to get back out there. I was looking at my fall schedule and penciling in some fall races - hoping to get back to a few half marathons this fall.

As far as full marathon training, I'm still there mentally, but have a long (very long) way to go physically. I'm hoping for some good half marathons this fall to get my miles back up there so I can slip right into full training. That's the goal anyway.

Right now, I've made adjustments and I'm actually doing well - even though I'm not doing a lot of long mile runs. This is very frustrating to me - but life happens. I heard a long time ago that delay is not denial. But I am getting older here. I'm set my goal now on next year's OKC Memorial Marathon I think. That gives me plenty of halfs between now and then. Now to get to work on those! lol

It's hard to find that perfect balance I think. There's a point when running is fun - but if we are not careful it becomes work.It loses the fun part. I really love a half - but want to take on the challenge of another full. But of course, with my present medical condition (which seems to have leveled out nicely of late) I have to make each step purposeful. I can't get to the pushing it too far spot. So I'm going slow...but I am still going! lol

I guess I'm learning that this is what life is about - constantly moving forward. We know that time doesn't stop for any reason. No matter what situations we face, or circumstances we find ourselves in time just keeps on ticking away. It's up to us to embrace life's moments and try to not miss anything in the process.

There's always a place to give up if that's what you want. Excuses abound. Here's my personal list:

  • illness (CHF)
  • mom- early dementia
  • daddy- cancer diagnosis
  • son - TBI
  • finances- self employed....
I'm tired. But instead of using these as excuses - how about turning them into an impetus that thrusts me into running instead of holding me back? That's kind of my view on things. Life is going to happen - it's how we deal with it that determines our personal outcome. 

I've in no way been idle - but I'm ready to get back to racing. I need the thrill, the atmosphere- it keeps me going in between. We all have to find what works for us - and then stick to it. To thine own self be true!  Who said that? lol- It's called being real today I think. 

I have to be honest and real with where I am if I want to take it to the next level. There's no skipping, no cheating and no short-cuts in life. It is what it is and life is really about how we choose to deal with it all. Psalm 55 is an interesting passage where David talks about all the trials he is facing. But the last verse says this I will trust You. Even though I deal with my emotions while pounding the pavement - ultimately my trust is in God. He is the strength of my life. God keeps me going - keeps me moving. There's God....then there's running! We make a good team.

Every step a victory.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Can I be Your Running Buddy?

The other day my grandson and I took an impromptu tour of a couple of playgrounds close to my apartment. He decided he wanted to run with Gigi. So we ran! He also got tired and rode on my shoulders for awhile but then was all rested and ready to run again. It was a fun, active evening. Times like those seem like they are so purposeful and meaningful. Unlike many of the training routines athletes cling to. It was so enjoyable to just run with my grandson and have fun without feeling horrible physically. By the time we were headed home he asked me if he could be my running buddy. Of course I told him he could! Who could say no to that face? Here's to many more miles to run!

The last few weeks for me have been very discouraging to be honest. (I usually am!) It seems like it's been one thing after another. As most of you know I am a caregiver for my adult son who has a TBI and he suddenly got sick and ended up in the hospital for a few days. Since he is nonverbal I don't leave him for a second. The good thing was that my daughter and a friend supplied food for me so I didn't get stuck eating any prepared or high sodium foods during our stay. But it sure sends you for a loop!

After a couple of nights without sleep and just trying to get over such a disruption to our schedule, I have struggled. This all followed my birthday of course where I decided to have a couple of cheat foods. Well, let me tell you - it's been difficult to get back on track and stay there. My blood pressure is back to normal though and my diet has leveled out. It's not so hard to get back on track but it sure is difficult to stay there. 

None of us are strangers to adversity and I feel like I have more than my fair share. I'm not looking for sympathy here.. that gets me nowhere. Actually, one of the mantras I heard early in my caregiving journey says tears will get you sympathy, sweat will get you success. That's when I rolled up my sleeves and started figuring out the new normals of my caregiving life.

Running and caregiving are tied together to me because I started running when I started taking care of my son. We were in the hospital for over 4 months and again - I never left. But I did start walking and then running while they were bathing him each morning. Not a glorious running start - but a start nonetheless. In some ways it's certainly easier now but training can get interrupted so easily. I recall one year he was in the hospital during the OKC Memorial Marathon. My friend came to relieve me that morning at 4:30 - I ran the half marathon and came back to shower and stay another 3 days or so in the hospital with him. lol.....

I can do this. I won't quit. Adversity has a way of making us stronger and I choose to embrace the adversities in my life and become a stronger person and a better runner and athlete in their midst instead of using them for excuses. I've redone my exercise log without specific goals. This is very difficult for my Type A personality and my OCDness. seriously... But I just wrote "run" on the days I want to be run days and I penciled in TKD or bike. No distances set, just do it. I know I need a longer run on one of these this week - I have to get some long runs in. This was my problem when I trained for my first marathon. For now I am not even sure when I will do my second - but I am still steadily moving toward that goal. I'm taking my time. And I'm okay with that.

I'm determined to beat adversity - maybe I can't make it all go away. But I can scream I won!  in it's face....and I will.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Testing My Limits

Tonight's 3 miles was shorter than I had planned for the day but I got caught up in work... hey, what can I say? I like to eat! However, it was a significant run for me. Here's why....

I have started setting goals for my runs and setting weekly workout goals as well. Plus I also started a "run streak" 5 days ago. I'm planning on seeing how long I can go and for right now I just have to do a mile a day to keep it alive. I'm also allowing myself to walk that mile for now as I gain stamina and momentum. Later on I hope it will become all running - but progress sometimes has to go slow. I'm learning to be okay with that.

So tonight's run was day 5 of my running streak and puts me at 10 miles on the streak so far. Secondly, I was finally comfortable enough to run with one of the pre-programmed runs on my TM. I've been hesitant to try it since I've been run/walking it so much. But I chose a slow (yes even for me) pace and a very low incline. I hit start- all I walked was the first 2 minutes of warm-up. After that it was an easy, easy, I-can-go-all-night run or a nice jog for the entire 3 miles. This is really significant progress considering the events of the last year.

One thing I thought of while I was running tonight is how I have to be so tuned in to my body now. I used to just get mad and push it when it didn't act right. I'm sure now that was a lot of the problem. But now, I listen and tonight it purred away. I'm okay with that!

I remember back when I bruised my wrist so bad and I could watch the bruise go away--- every day it got better and looked better. But I can't see my heart. I do have some things I can measure it by like blood pressure, weight gain and my pulse. But I can't just look at it and tell I'm getting better like other injuries. I really have to pay attention to any warning signs.

So even though 3 miles is short of my daily go for today - it definitely helped me meet other goals.How will I know I'm getting better if I don't test my limits? If I'm always too nice I'll be stuck somewhere in between. I'm ready to move on forward, and I've picked up my training and cross training schedule to help facilitate progress. But the one thing I have to work on is going slow and remembering that progress is progress. Just like the bruised wrist healed over time, my body will continue to heal ever so slowly. I have to be patient and make the necessary adjustments. One slip up can mean a major setback. I don't want that - planning on being "good" for a long time!

Thanks for following - thanks for reading..... and remember every step is a victory!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Uphill is the Best!

Guess who got in a few outside miles today? I am a very happy camper. I didn't know an aide was coming and she called a little too late to try running outside in the heat (chalk that one up to a lesson learned!) so I hopped on my bike for a few. It was wonderful!

I have started over again this week. Last week was full of mess-ups and failures. Even though I didn't do anything super bad I just didn't watch my diet too much. I'm still trying to get the little I did do out of my system. The bp has been up a bit - but not "high." And the ankles stay swollen. I'm eating melons to help get rid of the excess fluid I decided to collect. lol

So this week I decided to ramp my training back up. I am starting a streak and plan to run or walk at least a mile each day. Today it will be a walk I am sure. I am feeling so much better and now I must be careful to not overdo it. So I will go forward with great caution. And I'm still winning!

Today I seriously enjoyed the ride outdoors. There's so much more to enjoy outside than on the stationary bike. I'm thankful for my indoor bike as it gives me a chance for great XT and gives me a break from running. But outdoors has so much more to offer. Just a few of the things I was thinking about while riding through the park by where I live:

Loved the wind resistance!
Enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine on my skin!
Smiled at the thrill of the downhill ride --
And felt triumphant at the top of the hills I conquered!
Took in the beauty of the various colors of nature.
Even had fun watching the guys out playing the disc course-
and hearing their good-natured chatter.
Watched a couple of girls trying to hang a hammock between two trees! 
Fun to watch the doggie chasing a frisbee.
And loved the burn of my thighs as I dug in to get up the hills!

I wondered which I liked most - experiencing the free-ride of the downhill or the thrill of victory at reaching the top of the next hill. I loved them both. But I think I like the top of the hill better. How can that be? It's harder to go up a hill than to relax going down! There's nothing to conquer going down the hill - and I am very competitive by nature. Knowing I conquered something that could take me out - is more exciting than getting to relax for a bit. 

In life it's those up-hill battles that make us stronger and develop character in us. This is why I'm trying to embrace adversity and let it change me into a better person...just like the hard stuff trains us to be better athletes.

You cannot build muscle without resistance - and you'll never know your own character without struggles. I'm changing as an athlete. I'm becoming more well-rounded, building more stamina, and learning where the limits are - and where they are not.  I'm still beating CHF - and I'm finally up by a few points. 

Thanks for reading- and remember every step's a victory! 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Change of Vocabulary

I just finished up a 5K and had a blast! I was a little concerned about the heat tonight but it broke right before the race started and there was a breeze so it didn't end up being much of a factor. This is the first race I've done since I stopped taking the blood pressure meds. And you know what? I felt great!!!

One thing I wanted to do was listen to my body and I really don't know how it's going to act  until I get on the course. I walked quite a bit and went out slow. Once I got warmed up and crossed the halfway mark - I experimented with pushing it a little. I think this is the first race in the last 18 months since all this actually started that I had absolutely no issues. No shortness of breath, no chest pains, no dizziness, no chest tightness, no left arm pains.. nothing, nada, zero lingering signs of congestive heart failure.

As I was pushing along I thought about my mantra - every step a victory I kept my mind on it as I thoughtfully felt for each step to pound the pavement underneath my body as they carried me along. I think my heart smiled. I am not going to say that I have CHF anymore. I know I cannot ignore it and I do still have to deal with it - but I'm still winning. I'm just changing my vocabulary. Now I'm going to say I'm beating  CHF.

With that being said, I will continue taking the diuretic - I know I still need help with the extra fluid. (for now) And I'll still weigh in every morning as that tells me a lot about how my body is handling fluid. Plus I'll continue to check my bp regularly and listen to my body too. But I did not refill my bp meds and I will only take my bp a couple times a week now instead of every day. I am trying to relax without relaxing! I've been very strict with my foods and don't plan on changing that. I'm feeling so good - almost -but not quite back - to my old self.

Finally, I feel like I am moving forward - can set some new goals and push for them. What an ordeal this has all been and I've really learned a lot about myself. Coming across the finish line feeling like I did tonight was great. But you know I'm already looking forward to my next race. I'm ready to step it up. But one thing I have to remember is to listen to my body. It really is necessary for each journey to the finish line. That's what it's all about - finishing.

My mind goes to a couple of scriptures the first one in Ecclesiastes 9:11 that says the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. The other one is 1 Corinthians 9:24 that says run so you may obtain the prize. I know I'm never going to come in first- but I plan on always coming in!

While I was running tonight I thought about all the people I know who are battling illnesses - and it's a lot! Some people may run effortlessly but many people struggle to just get to the race and finishing is just shy of a miracle every single time. But for these who struggle through even though they may not be "swift" but still every step is a victory. We keep running....we keep finishing.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

I'm Ahead by 1 Point!

I hope your screen is big enough to see the faded out 1 - that's an 11:19. That's pretty slow for some of the young pups I know - but for a fat old lady diagnosed with congestive heart failure - it's good to see those double ones out front again.

After nearly a year and a half of not feeling good, I'm finally feeling so much better. I'm still off my blood pressure meds and feeling wonderful still. I've been taking it easy but am feeling well enough to push it just a bit. How will I know my new limits if I don't?

Three weeks of my meds and actually, my heart rate is still too low some nights to even take it according to the cardiologist. His orders were to not take it unless my pulse was at least 55 but most nights I'm running around 51 or 52. My blood pressure is totally fine too. No spikes! I'm so happy - and being so so good. I don't think I've ever used "happy" and "good" in a sentence in a positive connotation before! lol

I've got a good handle on my diet and I'm holding on tight. I know any slip-ups can mean I have to look at taking meds again or having an episode. And I don't like having episodes! So - I've given in to being very good and keeping it that way!

After my 10-miler last week, I didn't get any more runs in but I did two back-to-back taekwondo classes on Thursday and felt GREAT! I'm just so excited about feeling good. So tonight I grabbed about 3 miles on the TM. I am still trying to not run on taekwondo days - and tomorrow is class night. So I wanted to get some miles in early this week. I did push it a little bit. I stayed with a 4 minute run and 1 minute walk intervals for the whole run. But on the last minute of the run parts I kicked it up a little speed-wise. I worked my way up to running a 12 minute mile - which I hadn't seen in quite awhile. Then the last couple of run intervals I went on up to 11:19.. and it felt so good! I don't think I have overdone it either... I can't wait to kick it up a little more - I will be back! 

One thing that I am struggling with is this dark cloud hanging over my head. I am winning - but always waiting to see what a day will bring. It's like wondering all the time when an episode is going to happen. I'm still trying to ignore the thoughts and I am planning on arguing with the cardiologist at my next appointment to see if he'll take his diagnosis back. Since I'm working on being totally honest with myself right now - I have to say I'm still in denial. But I am winning.

I've got my blood pressure under control with minimal meds - mostly diet, my energy is back and I'm starting to pick up my running game once again. But I know I still have to proceed slowly and be careful. When I feel better - it's easier to ignore what the doc said - so I'm trying to stay focused on moving ahead slowly. But I am moving ahead....ahead of the game.

Onward with marathon training - one step at a time - every step is a victory!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Passing One Test at a Time

Well, it's off and in the mail on its way to the cardiologist. I called the nurse today and she had me send my blood pressure and pulse for the last two weeks in so the doctor can look it over. I confessed that I never started the blood pressure meds again even though my pulse came back up. I promised to monitor my blood pressure closely if he will "okay" me staying off the meds. Fingers crossed and hoping!

The second test came when I jumped on the treadmill this afternoon to get in a 10 miler. I lived! Actually, I don't know when I've done that many on the treadmill before but I did it today. I felt pretty strong for almost the whole run and still feel fine now. This was a big test for me - of course I don't always know until the next day if it's an overdo or not -- have to wait 'til morning.

I can't believe the energy I've had and been able to maintain. I've also continued to take it a little easier than I would want to but for right now it's just the way it's got to be. I've been nearly a saint with my eating. Even today after running 10 miles I was a little tempted to eat some enchiladas in the freezer - but it was fleeting. It's just not worth it from here.

A friend said something today that keeps ringing in my ears. I told my online running group about sending the info to the doc and waiting to hear back. She stressed how important it is to be honest with myself about this whole thing. My mind still says I don't have CHF. I'm not really accepting it yet. I think it's a misdiagnosis and I'm setting out to prove it! lol But it really is important to be honest with myself.

As I thought back today about this journey and where I was a year ago, I realize how important it is to tell myself the truth. Back then I was lying to myself, telling myself it wasn't that bad. I was trying to deal with symptoms from a position that nothing was wrong. All the time my ankles kept swelling up horribly. I did a race last year about this time in the heat of the summer, ankles hugely swollen, and having chest pains all along the way. How stupid was that? I can't do that kind of stuff again if I plan on beating this thing - and I'm planning on beating this thing! I have to see my symptoms in an honest light as I evaluate and reevaluate my health all along the way.

Isn't that a large part of life? We have to grow as we age and to grow we have to learn. But it has to be done in an honest light. Otherwise it is not true growth. I want to grow as a person. Hopefully, I am learning to truly listen to my body and make the necessary adjustments. To be honest, I don't know what I'll do if the cardiologist has a problem with me being off the meds....cause I really feel better and I had no idea how bad I had actually been feeling.  Waiting......

But for today - I took 10 miles worth of steps- and each step was a victory!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pleasantly Surprised

I'm happy to report that my pulse and blood pressure have been holding steady inside the normal range. I've been more than religious about sticking to a healthy, clean and low sodium diet and I'm starting to realize the impact of these changes. However, I'm still moving forward with lots of caution and taking it easy to make sure I don't overdo it. Once I see the changes are working and I'm feeling better, it takes more discipline to hold back than it does to "make" myself exercise. I'm learning how to balance out resting, active resting, working out and running to my benefit.

Yesterday I did an easy 5 mile run on the treadmill. I have started walking for 5 minutes to warm up and allowing myself time at the end to cool off. I also take at least the first mile very slow and easy. If I'm feeling off in any way I keep it slow and easy. When I feel pretty good I gradually increase and play with my speed. I was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt during and after my run yesterday. I can't wait to get a longer run in this weekend.

Tonight I went to taekwondo for an hour. Again, I take it easy during warm-ups so my heart rate comes up slowly without spiking.Tonight I don't think I got dizzy at all and even if I got a little out of breath, I recovered quickly. I was once again pleasantly surprised at how good I felt.

One of my online groups has a biking challenge going on this month to coincide with the Tour de France so I pledged 100 miles for the month. After I got home and ate (I was starving!) I hopped on the bike for a very easy 5 mile ride to get the challenge started. I like to read and have tried to find more time to read lately and so this worked well for helping me meet two of my goals.

I have not had my blood pressure meds for about 10 days now and I don't report back to the cardiologist until next Wednesday. I'm hoping my bp and heart rate hold steady so I can build my case to stay off of them! We will see.

Throughout this process I'm learning a lot about myself and life. I had to admit to a friend today that "being good" does have some benefit. I've always been one to push the limits and I don't see that changing any time soon, However, I am not willing to jeopardize my forward progress and the increased energy I'm feeling for a salty snack.

Still training for a full -Actually, I had this thought last week as I was trying to get my body balanced back out. I talked to my primary care and the cardiologist and while I have several stipulations to running - neither of them told me I couldn't run.  That helped me gather myself up and get back on the treadmill earlier this week. I'm anxiously moving forward one step at a time - where each step is a victory!

Monday, June 29, 2015

I've Never Done that Before

My weights and other exercise equipment (yes, there's more in my room!) are going to be my new best friend and running buddy. How do I know? I'm dedicated to the journey.

Change is not the easiest thing for me because in general I am a very structured person. Most of my life I could organize things like I like them and then leave them there for...well, forever. After my doc visits last week I have been put in a position to really do some soul searching once again and determine what I want as a runner, an athlete and just as a person in general. I have found some major change is necessary. What sounds simple is very difficult for a Type A like me.

So far my blood pressure has been good - a little on the high side of normal but not bad. And my pulse has been good too. It now runs in the mid 50s. My diet has been totally inside the zone (except for some cake and ice cream yesterday at my sister and mother's birthday party- but those are still low sodium, right?) Seriously I have my diet under control and am not even tempted to cheat when it comes to watching the salt. I am maintaining my weight right now with literally no water weight gain in about 3 days so that's all good. I think I am more determined and I'm so close to being off these meds I want to do all that I can to stay off. But - I also have to be content to go back on a lower dose should that be necessary. Which means I have to pay more attention than ever to my body. I've never done that before. 

This morning when I was working out I was aware of other changes in my thinking taking place. I'm kind of high strung in case  you hadn't noticed and my brain goes a hundred miles an hour - I wake up thinking about lots of things all at the same time. But I think I am learning to slow myself down. For example, I set the timer for 10 minutes - that's all the strength training I'm letting myself do right now. My goal is to go forward very gently and easily. I caught myself pushing to see how many times I could make the rounds in my little weight circuit. My breathing was crazy because I was so out of breath. My heart was beating out of my chest, lol. I stopped to catch my breath. Then I realized I had automatically started slowing myself down inside and out. I took the pressure to perform off myself and became content with just doing whatever was reasonable for me to do in 10 minutes. I've never done that before.

As I've made the dietary changes and attitude changes as well - I actually feel like I have more energy. Which is challenging because I want to go and push those limits. But I contain myself. I'm seeing my whole way of thinking change. I'm changing. And I'm actually okay with it.

When I was on a missions trip to Jamaica years ago one of our mottoes was change is my friend. While I am usually and naturally resistant to change, I think I am liking the changes I'm seeing in myself. I think I have myself together once again to move forward with my training. Onward toward the next challenge, slowly of course. But no matter how fast or how slow every step is a victory.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Had to Call this One

Tonight I was supposed to run the first 5K of one summer series I wanted to do. Well I had to opt out and to say I'm frustrated is a huge understatement. I had to go with what I felt was the wisest decision - the one that would be more likely to keep me running for a long time to come. It certainly hasn't been easy but at least I'm still vertical and no one's told me not to run.

Here's how it all came down. As you know I've been struggling with running and just kept pushing forward unwilling to accept my diagnosis but trying to make adjustments to allow for it at the same time. Crazy right? Well - this week my charade caught up with me.

I decided to go to the doc and tell her that I was trying to deny I had CHF. Basically, I went in and came clean with her and aired out my frustrations with the cardiologist who didn't call me back. Well, I certainly got busted. But it's going to work out for the best if I'm good. And I plan on being good!

My pulse when I first sat down was 47! The nurse was not happy and took it again. Even though I came clean and told her I was hoping she'd argue with the cardiologist about the diagnosis and tell me that it wasn't that bad (to which she shook her head), she was really not happy about the low pulse. My ankles were swollen too - even though they were WAY down from last week. We argued a little about that but I let her win! lol - She did add that stipulation to my running; if I am retaining water and swollen I can't run.

I told her about the "episode" I had last week where I gained 8 pounds overnight. We discussed it at length and I agreed to call the cardiologist back as part of the new treatment plan, which I did. They were really upset that my pulse was running in the low 50s and upper 40s all the time. I told them it was rarely over 52. Then his nurse went nuts. She said I am not allowed to take my meds if my pulse is not at least 55. Now that's a turn, scary but good I think. So I'm to monitor my blood pressure and pulse for 2 weeks and then get back to them. I promise not to ignore these orders like I did last time.

So I'm two days out and my pulse has yet to be high enough for me to take my meds. My blood pressure is very good, I've lost even more weight and I'm not retaining water. Of course I got lectures from both doc's offices about my diet - which I am adhering too from here on out. (I have to admit I can already tell the difference.) And about keeping my feet up. I can't live in the recliner! I won't live in the recliner!

So my goal is to be so good that I don't have to start taking the meds again. I think I can beat this- but my biggest chore is to be honest with myself and admit I have to deal with a chronic condition. I may hate it - but I can't ignore it. So in light of all this I chose to sit out tonight's race. I just didn't want to take a chance with the medication changes. I will try out the ole treadmill later today and wear my Pear heart monitor so I can see what it is doing and how it reacts without the meds.

I know it's a wise decision but it feels like I'm losing. If I can get off the meds or even reduce them I will be better off. I certainly intend to do all I can. But it starts with admitting I have a condition I must deal with and not ignore. To be honest I'm still fluctuating between I can handle this  and I don't have this. Hopefully I will actually find some resolve soon so I can adjust and move forward.

There is no reason to not continue going forward with every step a victory. But I have to be honest in order to address issues. This is going to turn out good....if I pay attention! I plan on it.

thanks for reading....

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Adjust, Adapt and Advance

Whew! It's been a crazy few days but I think I'm over another major hurdle. I shared last week about my episode and now that's it is behind me and I can think more clearly I think I have come to some conclusions.

First, my last 3 runs have been awesome! And I had a great time last night at taekwondo. No chest pains, no dizziness and even though I took it easy I had no difficulties at all. Well, except the fact that this fat old lady got her big toe caught in the pant leg of her uniform and jerked a toe out. Why can't I have normal injuries or at least noble ones? lol

I've been spreading out my runs and it seems to be helping. I only run two days in a row. Overall my new strategies seem to be working but it's all new. I'm committed to the journey at this point and determined to be fit in the midst of personal struggles and physical roadblocks.

I'm a thinker and a problem solver. Of course this leads to overthinking most of the time. But over the last few days I've been thinking and sorting through my situation to come to some realistic conclusions. Where I started was with the things I feel that are common to pretty much all runners. Here's some things all runners can feel or have shared that I deal with as well:

first miles are a real struggle
there are runs where you are just going to struggle
there are runs that are better than others
some days you feel like you're flying
some days you feel like you're running through peanut butter

I feel the same things other runners feel and sometimes I try to imagine that I don't have a heart condition. But there's always a wake-up call. It's usually just enough to keep me from ignoring it. When I can't get the swelling to go away in my ankles, am totally out of breath just from walking to the kitchen or I'm totally fatigued for no reason I just can't ignore it. But I can make changes and adjustments. That's what I'm doing going forward. 

First of all, I'm going to go to my doc for a consult to get an expert opinion. I'm a little afraid of that because I worry they will make me cut back some. I don't want my miles to be "illegal" because I have not intentions of stopping. Secondly, I am going to tighten up my eating once again. I just can't keep my nose clean it seems. But I will. I can't allow the little stuff to sneak past me anymore. From now on I'll be watching and counting sodium intake I just can't let it slide any more.

Commitment is about keeping moving toward your goals. It means not quitting even when you have to make adjustments to keep going forward. My problem is it seems like I've been making adjustments like crazy and not making enough progress to keep myself happy. But I'm determined to adjust what needs to be changed, adapt  my attitude and actions to ensure success and advance toward my goal of completing another marathon.

I must remind myself that no matter how slow - how fast how difficult or how frustrated I get every step is a victory.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Who Said "Hindsight's Always 20/20"?

What a week this has been! My take-away from the last 7 days is that hindsight is not  20/20. My experiences have fostered more questions than answers this week. First - on a good note- I did pass my testing and am now a purple belt in taekwondo. One more testing period (8-10 weeks) and I'll be an advanced belt! Who thought this fat senior would ever get this far? lol

I will have to admit that I had a rough time this week in taekwondo - just didn't feel good. My instructor babysat me though. She kept an eye out for me and kept reminding me to sit out if I didn't feel well. Like I'm going to sit out. I made it.

So I have been doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm taking my medications exactly as prescribed, I don't like that but I'm doing it. I'm taking my blood pressure almost every day and it's been within the right range - a little at the top of the "okay" range - and I'd like it down a bit more - but not high by any means. (side note- that's the one time I'm told I cannot run is when it is high - so I'm watching it closely) I'm watching my salt intake pretty close - okay so I'm hitting about an 80% on that area - My goal going forward is to be in the 90% range - gotta tighten that up just a little bit. But overall I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

This week outta what seemed like nowhere comes this horrible episode. I've had worse, I will admit - but I haven't had any in awhile. Well, actually I haven't felt at the top of my game for the last couple of weeks. Stress, little sleep and life have disrupted my plans. That all adds up to higher bp and physical problems. Some of that I can fix, some I can't.

I was actually pretty surprised that I did so well after the half on Sunday - since it didn't go too well itself. By Tuesday I was ready for a run and grabbed an easy 3 out in the heat. Then that evening I pushed my son in his wheelchair through the park and evidently that was the "too much" I needed to avoid. It was a struggle from there on out.

Wednesday morning I woke up with an 8 pound weight gain. That's right - overnight - BAM!  I was short of breath, fatigued, had chest pains, was dizzy and my ankles were swollen all day. I sat with my feet elevated for a lot of the day and nothing helped. It was so frustrating. I did't dare try to run. By last night I was better and ran 2 very easy miles. I was happy with that. Today I had lost the 8 pounds plus an extra pound which made me happy (but is very dangerous). Then tonight I grabbed 4 easy miles again - and really enjoyed it! That was really cool AND it put me over 20 miles at 22.5 for the week. That's the first time I've been able to get over 20 miles in a week in a very long time. So take that CHF!

So looking back, I still don't know what caused this episode. I think that is the scary part. I already feel like I run with this dark cloud over my head. Trying to plan races without knowing how I am going to feel any particular day is frustrating for the Type A personality! Even not being able to make a solid training schedule is frustrating - but I'm getting there. I really want to build stamina, especially for the marathon. So the only way to do it - is to do it! As I go forward with a little bit darker cloud over my head - always nagging that I'm not going to be able to do this - I really don't know what to change.

I can tighten my eating up a little more and get more fresh with it. And even though I don't eat much of what others call "processed" foods - there is still room for improvement in that area. I really don't want to go talk to either my doc or the cardiologist (who didn't call me back this week btw - so he blew that trust - I quit - He's out.) because I'm afraid they will tell me something I don't want to hear.

For today - I won again. That's all I can do is keep doing. I'll keep moving forward as much and as fast as my body will let me. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other - and I'll let my body be the judge on how fast we do that each day. But we will do this thing! Because every step is a victory  and this week - I got 22.5 miles of steps. I like winning in the long run.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Now that I have settled Down...

So I had a rough race, who doesn't now and then, right? Not really any big deal in the long run. (pun intended!) But running with a CHF diagnosis hanging over your head can really weight you down. It just makes a rough run more difficult to sort through - especially emotionally. But I'm done whining and griping and kicking myself. It's time to find and fix my mistakes, suck it up and move forward.

My emotions have been all over the place and my thoughts went with them. I vacillated from one end of the spectrum to the other. If I couldn't even finish a half in a decent fashion what made me think I had any business training for a full? All the way to But I just did half a marathon - I'm already half way there - pretty or not. Finally I decided to settle in the middle. I may not be ready for a full today, but I won't let that limit my tomorrow.

I got out today for a three mile run and totally enjoyed it except for getting a little hot. There was a day I didn't run for a week after I finished a half. I took that to be a demonstration that I am in better shape and I am more "fit" going forward. With that in mind though, I really need to make some major changes.

My first change is in my eating. I've been eating a lot cleaner overall but I'm leaning back toward my old vegetarian ways. I will likely include chicken and fish occasionally but will be eating totally clean, fresh and whole as much as I can. Speaking of that - I'm down another 2 pounds this week! It's holding good, and not fluctuating much at all which means I'm not retaining a lot of water. That makes me feel really good even though that's not really my primary goal. My goal is to feel better doing what I do. And my other goal is to get off my meds and reverse CHF...I'm gonna do it too - you watch!

The other major change is in my training plan. Right now I am planning on running 3 times a week - one long, one medium and one short run. Along with that I have Taekwondo workouts twice a week. And I'll probably mix in a little weights and other workouts too here and there. I also want to do more yoga ( please suggest a new program or app - I am bored with the one I have - there's no flexibility in the lessons -- pun intended again! lol)

I also did some research on heat and congestive heart failure - mostly because I've been having a lot more chest pains when I run - at least at first. I may start wearing my heart monitor so I can keep a better eye on my heartrate at least while I'm warming up on a run. Ends up CHF and heat really do not mix. Heat is probably enemy number 2 - right behind salt. I will be doing most of my training inside on the treadmill this summer anyway as I don't have the opportunity to run outside much right now - so that should work out okay anyway.

OH! And the really good thing about this week? I feel great - actually had too much energy today - thinking that the bad race was not an "overdo" or I'd still be feeling it. When I overdo it I can't function hardly at all for a week. I definitely don't feel that - so it was more just a bad race like everyone has now and then.

Now that it's all sorted out - I feel good about training, and even about myself. I can move forward and push it a little...not a lot. I have to be ever mindful of this stupid diagnosis - but still work around it without hurting myself. I'm a problem solver - I used to teach middle school math - I'll figure it out eventually. And until then - every step will be a victory.