One year ago today I was admited to University Hospital in Augusta, Georgia to repair my broken heart. Well… I guess my heart was fine, just the plumbing was bad. At least until the moment they knocked me out on the way to the operating room I can remember that day very well.
I remember being scared as crap for one thing! Yet, I was also hopeful that a sucessful triple bypass would mean a new lease on life too. I was disappointed that I couldn’t run anymore but also excited about getting back out there again in a few months.
I remember feeling so blessed and loved by my family. I needed their support much more than I realized at the time. Even though we were all hopeful and praying for a sucessful surgery there was still some fear and as much as I tried not to, there were tears shed by all just before they wheeled me off to the operating room.
I really had no clue what lied ahead after surgery. For the first few days just walking 200 feet might as well have been a full marathon. It was extremely difficult and exhausting. But I was determined!
In less than two weeks I was walking a mile or more and my stamina started returning. One mile became two and within six weeks or so I was walking five or more miles everyday of the week. Several months went by before I started running again but I was running and just a few weeks ago I ran in a half marathon. I’m proud of the accomplishments in the past year but I’m mostly greatful.
Greatful to be alive. Greatful I can sit here and babble about my progress and sometimes setbacks of running. May 24th, 2018 will be a date I will always remember. If you keep reading this blog–I probably won’t let you forget it either. God bless. Have a great running day!
Ten days on the road and I’m still catching up a bit. One of the highlights was running in the Indy Mini. Unfortunately, I had to cancel this event last year because of my heart issues. I waited until two days before the race to cancel. That was an expensive cancel. I had to cancel my non-refundable airfare and because I waited too long I had to pay for one night of lodging too. Ouch. After the fact I found out I could have entered this years race for free had I given them a statement from my doctor but I didn’t know until much, much later.
WOOHOO, back at it this year and I did it. But what a day it was. When I went to bed the night before it looked like the weather would be dry and in the mid-fifties which would be ideal. The first thing I did when I got up at 5:30 a.m. on race day was double check the weather and overnight it changed completely. The forecast was rain starting around 8 a.m. and continuing all morning and this time the forecast was correct. UGH!
I had hoped to watch my grandson run in his first official 5K but with the extra prep needed to get ready for the wet conditions there was no way I could watch him at the finish and still get myself ready. His start time was 7:00 a.m. and my start was 8:00 and I needed to be in my corral fifteen minutes before. If the start and finish were in the same place I might have been able to make it. Hated missing it but he understood the deal.
After a little breakfast it was time to start lubing up for the rain. I put body lotion everywhere to start and then I used a combination of Glide, TriSlide, and 2Toms Blister Shield. At the Expo and packet pickup I bought a lubricating wipe made by 2Toms called Butt Shield. Those things are great and now really wish I would have picked up more of them.
Left the hotel about 20 minutes before the start. It’s really nice to be staying close to the start line but it is a little pricy for sure. Anyway, the rain had already started by then. It wasn’t much more than a drizzle at that point but it still sucked.
The crowd of spectators was huge as usual and the pre-race challange was for me to find my daughter and grandkids before the start. I wanted to strip off my rain poncho and my pullover and hand them off to them. When the temp is 55 or under my hands get cold so I wasn’t going to give up my gloves. The forecast was pretty much 54 to 56 the entire morning. Luckily we found each other just moments before the start.
Wave 4 was scheduled to start at 8 a.m. and things got started right on time. Before I get into some of the details here are my offical results and the result from my Apple Watch. Total time between the two only varied by eight seconds but the distance on my watch was a little further. I tried to take the apex of each turn but maybe not as well as I could have.
Honestly, my primary goal was to just finish. My secondary goal was to finish at around a 12 minute mile pace. For the first eight miles I was pretty close to doing just that (according to my Apple Watch). I don’t know why the official results didn’t give me a 5K and 15K split. It sure would be nice to compare that to my mile splits on my watch but oh well.
Rain Would Not Go Away
A mile or so into the race it was raining fairly hard. Not in buckets, but far from a drizzle too. Just before mile two I decided to get my Clif Blocks out of my SPI Belt and put a pack in my short pocket. By then everything and everywhere I was soaking wet. I had to take off one glove to get it done. I didn’t realize somewhere in the process I had dropped the glove on the ground. There was no way to go back and get it so I just had to hope my hands didn’t get too cold.
I like to run listening to music but it was raining so hard I had trouble keeping my earbuds in. Finally by the 10K mark I turned them off and put them in my pocket. Hated it but it wasn’t too bad cause I keep the volume low anyway.
Heart Rate Jumps Up
If you don’t already know, the course turnaround is on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway After mile eight which is near the end of the two and a half mile loop on the track, I noticed by heart rate was getting into the 160-165 bpm range.
Let’s do some math here. 220 – 62 (my age) = 158 (maximum heart rate). According to that calculation I was exerting my heart over 100%. Now, since my bypass last year I’ve gotten used to running with a high heart rate. I can run at 100% and still talk. Ok, I’m not going to speak paragraphs but I can shout out sentences without a problem. Really weird but that what it is. Honestly, I think my medication has my heart rate too low and I probably need an adjustment when I go back to my cardiologist in August. It’s not uncommon for my resting heart rate to register in the 45-50 range.
I also know it’s going to be hard for me to finish the last five miles at that heart rate. I had to start walking some. I’d walk until my heart rate was below 140. On mile ten I found a pace that kept my heart rate at 155 or lower but by mile 11 my heart rate was over 160 again. So more walking. That’s pretty much how I had to finish.
I also noticed around the ten mile mark my hands were very swollen and had a purplish tone to them. My hands were not cold even though I no longer had my gloves. In the photo at the top of this post I can sure tell my hands are swollen but you probably can’t. In that photo my fingers look like the marshmellow man! No idea why. Probably lack of blood flow to my hands. Something I need to watch for in the future.
My average pace ended up somewhere in the 12:36 to 13:00 per mile. Slower than I wanted but I’m not disappointed about it one bit. I finished AND finished three minutes quicker than I did in 2017. To be fair, I spent more time enjoying the motor speedway in 2017, so if I hadn’t stopped on the track so much I’m quite sure my time would have been faster then. This year the rain was coming down hard while on the track so I just kept on moving. At the end I had some tired and wet feet but for the most part this was the best I’ve ever felt after finishing a half marathon.
Even with the rain, it was a great event. The spectators are everywhere and very supportive. My bib had my name on it and it was nice to hear people calling you out by name supporting you. If you’ve never ran in the Indy Mini you should consider it.
I have to admit I’m tired of training for half marathons. I’m ready to get out and just run for the fun of it. I do have a 5K trail run coming up but it will be for the challenge of the course. After this, I have no plans to sign up for any events for a while. Let’s see how long that lasts!
Awesome, a new Taylor Swift song came out today! Taylor sure likes to hype thing up a bit and she sure did with the new song called, “Me!” I’m a fan of Taylor Swift but I’m not sure I like this one. Guess I need to listen to it a few times.
No, I’m not posting today because of a new Taylor Swift song…
One year ago today I went in for a heart cath thinking they might have to put in a stent or two to open the arteries to my heart. Now that was my worse case scenario. Honestly, I went into University Hospital on April 26, 2018 thinking I’d walk out from the procedure knowing it was just a false alarm.
Boy was I wrong. I needed open heart surgery–a triple bypass.
I was in shock. My wife was in shock. Hell, everyone was in shock. I think my cardiologist was even a little surprised too. I didn’t look like a heart patient. I didn’t act like someone with a heart problem. How could anyone who is active and a runner need open heart surgery? Well, it happens. For me, it was mostly genetics. My body produces too much cholestrol. I’ve taken statin drugs for years and they probably have helped and most likely delayed the need for a triple bypass for a few years anyway. But come on, I’m only 61 years old! Trust me, if it happened to me it can happen to you too.
April 26th, 2018 was a game changer for sure. I was just a few days from running the Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathon which I reluctantly cancelled. I really hated hearing the news and honestly I had no clue what layed ahead.
Let me say I’m blessed to still be here today. I guess God’s got something planned for me. I survived the surgery, the recovery, the rehab, and now by my own choice I’m retired. It’s been an adjustment for sure. Honestly, I’m still adjusting a little. Overall, things are great though–just different.
I’m looking forward to hitting the road in a few days to visit family along the way to Indianapolis to attempt the Indy 500 Mini Marathon on May 4th. I haven’t had a run in a couple of weeks now because of a head cold and the longest run in my training has been ten miles. Not quite where I wanted to be right now but I think it will be fine. Thankfully, Indy is pretty flat.
Tonight I’m runnin in the “Til the Cows Come Home 5K” and this will be my first run in two weeks. Just going to go out and have fun and I’m thinking about not even starting up my watch and just go with the flow.
Anyway, I felt like today was worthy of a blog post. Enjoy your April 26th!
That’s right, less than three weeks until the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon in Indianapolis and I’m feeling pretty good about it. Funny thing is, I’ve run the fewest miles ever in preparing for this one. And honestly, the week before I’m running in a 5K and then I hit the road for five days before the race. So really, training tapers after this week.
I logged about 55 miles in March. Even this is more than I’ve run in quite a while but still not close to my usual half marathon mileage. For a while there I was posting photos of me running here on the blog and on Instagram and I haven’t for quite a while now. Mainly because photos of someone running on a treadmill is kinda boring. That’s right, the vast majority of my training this time has been on the treadmill. I’m not going to lie to you, it’s boring! Once I discovered the treadmills at my gym had interactive routes you could choose so the TV displayed a scenic beach, mountain road, or a meadow and things got a lot better. Why the treadmill? Partly because of weather which is kinda why it started. Then I started thinking that running on a treadmill is much safer. No dogs (not that I had a problem with that where I live now), no cars, buses, trucks, no hills (unless I want them).
I’ve learned to enjoy the treadmill and will continue to use them more often now but anything more than 90 minutes is a bit much for me. The week before my two-hour run was on the road and boy did I enjoy it. The weather was a little warm during the last 30 minutes but overall it felt good. Even the hills didn’t bother me much.
I didn’t get my long run in this past weekend. I managed to pickup a head cold from hell. Starting to feel back to normal but not quite ready to run. I’m not too concerned about it, I feel like I can go the half marathon distance without too much trouble. The unknown will be the finish time. The head cold has changed my training plans but no matter I’m started to get excited about Indy.
I can’t believe how fast the days go by anymore. How did I do it all when I was still working? It’s been a month since I posted but it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. Life has been busy, especially in the last two weeks of October. The past ten days or so have been very quiet and not much going on–including my training. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been in a bit of a funk and haven’t been running much. The weather has been chilly and wet and that hasn’t helped much either.
I never mentioned it but I hurt my shoulder while I was in cardio rehab. I never mentioned it because I thought I could work it out. Well… that didn’t happen. This all started probably around the end of July, first of August and it just wasn’t getting better. So a couple of weeks ago I decided to take a break from lifting weights until my shoulder improved. I’m happy to say I’m now seeing quite a bit of improvement. This week I hope to start lifting light weights to see how things feel.
Since my last post you know I have switched from using a Fitbit fitness tracker to an Apple Watch. Let’s just say I’m getting used to it. There are things I really like for sure but the Apple Health and Activity apps just don’t compare to the Fitbit app. Even with a third party sleep tracker installed on my Watch, the Fitbit sleep tracking is far more informational. While the Nike Run Club app doesn’t show you your final split time unless the split ends at a mile marker, the Apple Workout app does!
Looking at this screenshot, this isn’t one of my best performances–in fact probably my worse in quite a while. It was pretty chilly that day and I didn’t take the time to warmup before I started. I like having all the split times, and cadence which is something you don’t get with the Fitbit app. I was surprised by my cadence because I thought it was a little faster than that. I’ll have to work on picking that up a bit. Swiping the screen also give you your heart rate recovery information. As a CABG patient that’s important to know. A little more detail on the route map would be nice but it’s not the end of the world for me anyway. I just learned but haven’t tested it out yet is you can double tap the Watch screen to get manual split times when I use the Workout app. The manual calls them segments. I’ll have to try that soon and let you know how that goes.
You may recall I’ve signed up for a half marathon in February. The Augusta University Half is on February 23rd and my original thoughts were I would run this and see how it goes before I commit to anything else. If you are a regular reader you know I was supposed to run in the Indy Mini Marathon the past May but I had to cancel due to 80-100 percent blockage in three arteries to my heart. It was very disappointing for sure and that’s when the reality of the situation started kicking in too. Guess what?
Here I Come Indy!
I went ahead and signed up for 2019! It seems to me if I don’t do this, I’ll regret it later. So here I come Indy! See you on May 4th. When I signed up the other day I learned if I had sent them information from my Doctor last year I could have gotten a deferment for the 2019 race. Oh well–win some, lose some. I’ll remember that but I hope there isn’t a next time.
That about wraps things up. I’ll try to do better about posting next week.
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.
Today 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!
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.