Week Five: A Slow Start

This is the week my new iPhone Xs Max was scheduled to arrive. When it shipped I had a delivery date of Friday but at the last-minute I got a notice it would arrive on Monday. That kept me in the house because I had to sign for it. It would be my luck that UPS would show up early and I’d miss them while I was out running. He didn’t show up until after 2 P.M. but I had no way to know. Tuesday was already planned as a rest day because I had a bunch of stuff to take care of and I needed to get an early start.

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I look like I’m in pain! LOL!

It was Wednesday before I got out to pound the pavement. I started out with intervals: 3 minute run + 2 minute walk, 5 minute run + 3 minute walk x 2, 3 minute run +2 minute walk. Once that was out-of-the-way I ran three miles. Another post CABG milestone making it to 3 miles. Add the intervals it was probably more like five miles. My goal was to run the three miles at a 12 minute per mile pace but with the hills along the way 13:43 pace was the best I could do. And, it was pretty warm out too.

Thursday was just a short 1.25 mile run at an 11:05 per mile pace. That’s pretty fast for me right now. I was just going for under a 12 minute per mile pace. You know, I typically don’t worry about my pace and just run the way I feel. Using the Nike app has got me keeping track of my pace more. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad–just an observation. After the short run I headed over to Anytime Fitness to do some strength training.

When I got up on Friday I was a bit sore and unsure if I’d workout or not. In the end I decided to take a rest day. I turned on the TV to watch the Ryder Cup and I didn’t move much after that!

Saturday was a short workout. Intervals again. Almost exactly like Wednesday except the 5 minute runs ended with a 2 minute walk instead of 3 minutes. My split times were very consistent. The first split was a 10:37 pace, the next two were 10:40 pace and the last split was a little slower at 11:08. The last split had a little more incline that the other three. More Ryder Cup and college football on the TV was the main goal for the day.

I’m writing this on Sunday while watching USA getting stomped by the Europeans in the Ryder Cup. It’s starting to get painful to watch. I plan to head over to Anytime Fitness to get on the rowing machine at some point today. I feel like I should be working out a little more often but I’m still making forward progress every week. Guess I shouldn’t complain.

Monday, September 24th
Rest

Tuesday, September 25th
Rest

Wednesday, September 26th
Intervals:
3 minute run + 2 minute walk
5 minute run + 3 minute walk x 2
3 minute run +2 minute walk

3 mile run: 13:43 per mile pace

Thursday, September 27th
1.25 mile run: 11:05 pace

Strength training

Friday, September 28th
Rest

Saturday, September 29th
Intervals:
3 minute run + 2 minute walk
5 minute run + 2 minute walk x 2
3 minute run +2 minute walk

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Oh Yeah, I’m Running in a 5K on Saturday

In my last post I forgot to mention at the very last minute I signed up to run in a 5K on Saturday. It should be no surprise when I tell you I’m in no frickin’ way ready! But it’s for a good cause. The Friends of Euchee Creek 5K Fun Run supports the construction of the Euchee Creek Greenway Trails. I believe this is part public, part private endeavor. Once completed it will be close enough for me to walk from my house to the trail. I wish I knew how many miles the trail will run but I don’t. I’m guessing 25 miles. At the trail end, it connects to another trail that runs along the Augusta Canal for another 12-15 miles. My house is probably close to middle of the trail. The trail will be constructed for walking, running and cycling.

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I have zero expectations for this 5K. It will be what it will be. I’m not sure how much of it I will run or how much I’ll walk. At this moment, I’ll say I plan to find an easy pace and run as far as I can before I start walking. After a triple bypass and only a few weeks of very short running distances I have no clue what the final outcome will be. I’m anxious to find out and I’ll let you know shortly after crossing the finish line.

10K Training Starts Now!

Just 94 days ago I had my chest ripped apart and had three arteries added to bypass blockages to my heart using a vein in my right leg. Kinda gross when you think about it that way but that’s the real truth of coronary artery bypass surgery.

IMG_4419Today I probably did my last 5 mile walk for a while. Now its time to starting training for a 10K race in early December. During my walk today I mixed in a half mile run with an average pace of 11:34 per mile. The walk was a little over five miles so once I hit five miles I ran to the finish. I ran .29 miles at a 9:28 per mile pace. I think I’m ready to get serious about running now.

On Friday I joined the Anytime Fitness gym located in Riverwood Plantation in Evans, GA. The recovery from triple bypass made me realize I’ve got to pay attention to strength training and not just running. I’ve neglected my strength, especially my upper body for far too long. Using the weight machines at Cardiac Rehab have made a huge improvement in my recovery. Quite a bit of the aches and pains from surgery are gone now. I still have a few quirky pains and some nerve endings that are a bit touchy but I’ve come a long way in the past four weeks. So yes, the focus will be on more than just running.

I’m looking at my 10K training as if I’ve never ran in my life. For the first few weeks I’m going to use the 10K Runner app from Fitness22 and the Nike+ Run Club app. I’m going to try to merge the two programs together at least for a few weeks, maybe a few months. Once the mileage goes up I’ll have to decide which app to let go. I’ve used several of the fitness apps from Fitness22 and I really like them but, I think they are little overpriced.

I plan to visit the gym three times a week for strength training and on my own at home work on a series of exercises to strengthen my abs and core. My my non-running days I still plan to do a 2-3 mile walk on those days. I hope I’m not overdoing it here. I think I can manage it. Now that I’m retired I have more free time.

I’d say the first thing I need to start doing is to get busy and focused on working out just as soon as I wake up. I’m a morning person for sure. Since surgery I’ve been getting up leisurely, not worrying about the time too much. Drink coffee, eat, read some, surf the net, whatever. The problem is the next thing I know its going on 9 a.m. and I really haven’t done much. Today for example, it was 69 degrees out when I got up at 6 a.m. By the time I got out for my walk it was around 9:45 and the temperature was 75 degrees. For Georgia at this time of year that’s still pretty nice but by the time I finished it was 88 degrees. Honestly, there was no reason I couldn’t have had my five-mile walk out-of-the-way before 9 a.m. Gotta work on that one.

Ok Jingle Jam 10K, registration starts around Labor Day and I plan to be one of the first to sign up. I just hope I’m ready for you in December!

The End Game

Since April the University Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute in Augusta, Georgia has been my home away from home. On Monday my cardiologist told me I’m doing great and he wants to see me in a year. Today, I graduated from Cardiac Rehab! God willing, no more visits to the hospital for quite a while now.

Dealing with knowing I needed a triple bypass and then waiting several weeks before I actually had it wasn’t easy. The surgery definitely wasn’t easy. Recovery after CABG surgery wasn’t easy. Rehab has had its ups and downs but thankfully, mostly ups. Everyone I’ve worked with at University Hospital has been great. The doctors, nurses, specialists, therapists, and admin staff have all been professional, helpful and caring. I don’t think you could ask for better care than what I received in the past few months. Just awesome.

I want to thank my surgeon Dr. Beecher, my cardiologist, Dr. Rahman, my primary care doctor, Dr. Fischer and of course their support staff. They have been great. I want to especially thank the Cardiac Rehab Team at University: Norma, Joy, Bob, Kit, Lauren, Jeff, Mary Kay, and Lorraine. I’m really going to miss them all. That group is a perfect example of teamwork. Their guidance, encouragement, and smiles really helped making the rehabilitation process so much easier.

Ok then, rehab is officially over. I retired on the 1st of August and honestly with all the rehab and doctors appointments I haven’t felt like I was retired. It’s just felt like a continuation of the convalescence. Now it’s time to start another chapter of my life and I’m looking forward to it. Time to get into retirment mode and I’m excited I can start running again. I really miss it. It’s going to be kinda like starting all over again but that’s OK. In time, I know this will pass and I’m hoping the end game will be I’m a better runner than before my bypass.

14 Days of Retirement

IMG_4287The day after my 62nd birthday, I officially retired. Has it really been 14 days since my first day of retirement? Where has all the time gone? Honestly, with cardio rehab three times a week and at least one doctors appointment every week I really don’t feel like I’m retired yet.

The first five days all the family celebrated by going to a cabin in the North Georgia Mountains. It was great to have the kids and grandkids all together for a few days. The cabin was awesome. And the view! Oh my, it was gorgeous. It rained a lot the first day and a half but by the weekend we had enough sun to sit out at the infinty pool to soak up the sun and enjoy the view.

Next week is my final week of rehab so things will change a bit once that is off my plate. I believe after next week the frequency of my doctors appointments will reduce too. Yeah!

I haven’t felt the need to post much right now because it’s the same old, same old. Three rehab sessions each week and on non-rehab days I walk five miles. I will say I’m feeling better and stronger. The use of the rowing machine and weight machines at rehab have been a big help. Oh! and NO FEVERS in over two weeks now! The doctors never could figure out the cause but they are gone so I don’t really care anymore.

In the past week I have added a little bit of running to my walks. Just short 30 second sprints and each day I add one or two more. I’m up to six sprints now. Once I get up to twelve I’ll probably start trying one minute sprints. On my last walk I placed all six sprints within the same one mile split. My split time for the mile was 14:39. Just before I found out I needed a triple bypass, at times I was logging running mile splits slower than this. How did I not know something was wrong back then? Well… I guess I did realize it but never would have guessed it was a heart problem. A mile split of 14:39 with only three minutes of running included is pretty impressive to me right now.

On Labor Day weekend I plan to consider rehab officially over and will begin training to run a 10K in December. Registration for the local Jingle Jam 10K opens right after Labor Day and I plan to sign up. It’s a course with quite a few hills so I’m not sure how ready I will be, but it’s a goal. Hey, if I can’t run the whole thing–so what! At least I’ll plan to be there.

I’m considering a gym membership too. We have a small gym in the clubhouse of my neighborhood but the equipment is somewhat limited. I’m really going to miss the Concept 2 rowing machine and the muscle specific weight machines available at rehab. We have an Anytime Fitness gym within walking distance of my house so I plan to go check it out next week and then decide.

So far, retirement has been great. Super busy right now and so far I’m not really getting much done that I thought I would. Where does all the time go and how did I get anything done before? Crazy! Unless there is a drastic change of some sort this will likely be my last post concerning my recovery from open heart surgery. The next time you see something from me it will be about my preparation for my next 10K!

 

Last Two Weeks of Work

I had to think about what I wanted to title this post. I could have picked, “First Two Weeks Back to Work” since its the first two weeks back after having a triple bypass but instead, I went with the title above because it’s my last two weeks of work before I retire!

Officially my last day is July 31st but since I do work for the federal government you have to deal with red tape before you can do anything. Friday was my last work day. Monday (my 62nd birthday) and Tuesday I’ll be out-processing.

I must say the past two weeks have been difficult. I had 60 mL of fluid removed from my chest cavity in the hopes it would stop my frequent fevers. But nope, that didn’t do it. I was put back on 400 mg of Motrin twice a day to help but it wasn’t really working. Granted, no fevers but I still had headaches and flu like bodyaches as if I had a fever. So for much of the past two weeks I’ve felt down right awful.

The doctors have pretty muched ruled out infection. I did see a infectious disease doctor since my last post and I’ll see him again in a few weeks. He was honest with me from the start and said since it had been eight weeks since surgery it was highly unlikely an infection was involved with my fever. In the past two weeks I’ve also seen my surgeon who had released me from his care and has given me the go ahead to do anything I feel physically able to do. Saw my Cardiologist and I’ll see him again in a few weeks and he’s in agreement with the surgeon, do whatever you feel capable to do. He’s sticking with this advice to go ahead and sign up for a race around the end of the year because I’ll be ready. My goal is to begin running again in September. It will be just like starting over once I do and at this point I’m not sure if I’ll start at the beginning of September or late in September or somewhere in between.

For the most part all the Doctors are telling me they don’t understand the cause of the fevers but they all seem to be saying this is something I will need to work through and eventually it will go away. I get it but when you feel like crap its not very comforting.

high-fever-clipart-1

 

On Thursday I decided to change things up a bit. I stopped taking the Motrin. It didn’t take long before I saw the low grade fever return. I decided to take only Tylenol or aspirin but if I can get through the fever without it I’ll do it. Thurday afternoon: fever. I sweated it out through the night but the fever broke and I felt better. I was little tired because I’m not sleeping all that well but overall once the fever breaks I don’t feel too bad. Friday afternoon: ditto, fever again. Sweated it out again and discovered using ice packs on my head seem to help just about as well as Tylenol or aspirin. On Saturday morning I actually went out for a four mile walk! For the past two weeks, other than my Cardio Rehab sessions I haven’t done anything so this is an improvement.

At the time of this writing it is late Saturday afternoon, early evening. I do have a low grade fever again. I’ve used ice packs twice and lowered my fever by one degree anyway. At this very moment, I have sweat rolling down from my forehead. Right now I’d rather have to deal with a night of fever so I can have at least eight to twelve hours of feeling almost normal during the day.

I’m not sure where this is leading but sometimes you have to listen to your body and do what you think is right. I can only hope this will pass very soon because it is beginning to wear me down. I feel like another phase of my life is about to close and another exciting adventure is about to begin. I can’t but wonder where this will go.

Seven Weeks After Surgery: Progress & Milestones

driving-car

Seven weeks down since my triple bypass and this week my surgeon gave the all clear for physical activity and driving a car. Yeah! There’s a milestone for you. Main thing is, if it hurts–stop. The low-grade fevers continue but not nearly as bad as last week. My surgeon has scheduled me for a thoracentesis on Tuesday. This is where they make a small incision in my back and then run a cath inside my chest cavity and drain fluid trapped inside. This is the only thing they’ve found that could be the source of my fevers. As a extra precaution I’m getting referred to a infectious disease doctor. I hoping the thoracentesis clears things up!

Monday, Wednesday and Thursday were my cardio rehab days. I don’t know all the names of the equipment they have me use so I’m not going into detail on that. I’ll just say it’s a mix of cardio and weights.

Since the fevers weren’t as bad this week I did get more walking miles in. It felt good to get back out there, even on the hot days. Well, everyday is a hot day when it’s July in Georgia but some days are better than others. Next week I’ll be back to work so my walking miles will drop again. That’s OK. Only two weeks until I retire!!!

This will be my last post that will be titled as a post surgery update. Since I’ve got the all clear from the surgeon the next phase will be rebuilding. It looks like my cardio rehab will continue until Labor Day anyway. I’m pretty optimistic that by Labor Day I’ll be able to start running again. Fingers crossed!

So here’s the recap for the week:

July 8th – Sunday

Nothing. Fever finally broke but I felt too drained to do much.

July 9th – Monday

Cardio Rehab.

July 10th – Tuesday

5.01 miles       1:33:20           18:37 pace

July 11th – Wednesday

Cardio Rehab.

July 12th – Thursday

Cardio Rehab.

July 13th – Friday

4.93 miles       1:40:47           20:27 pace
I stopped several times to talk to people and forgot to pause my watch. Pace was probably closer to 18:30

July 14th – Saturday

5.00 miles       1:37:30           19:29 pace
Don’t know why but I got a bit of a sunburn on my face and shoulders.