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!