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