False Alarm, To a Certain Degree

In addition to scheduling me for a nuclear stress test my doctor also prescribed blood pressure medication. I really hate taking it but it is what it is.  Also, no more running!

The stress test was scheduled first thing the following day. I’ve never had a nuclear stress test so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. It started out pretty simple by just answering a few questions. But before filling out the forms to answer the questions they insert an IV in your arm and shoot you up with heparin. After about 1/2 an hour they attach electrodes in various locations on your body and have you lie down so an x-ray machine that takes a series of 64 x-rays of your heart. After that, they took me to another room and had me walk on the treadmill. I think every three minutes the elevation would rise on the treadmill. I lasted almost 9 minutes before they stopped the treadmill. They tell me most patients with heart problems can’t even make it to six minutes so I felt pretty good about that. I have admit though the treadmill portion was more difficult than I expected it to be. I was breathing pretty hard at the end but I recovered very quickly. The EKG done at the same time indicated I had not had a heart attack. So I was really happy to hear that. Finally, they had me lie down again and they take another series of 64 x-rays.

After that they sent me home and told me my Doctor would call me by Wednesday with the results. Now I have no idea what any of the terms in the results mean. The one thing stressed the most was “left ventricular ejection fraction was calculated at 48% at rest. They tell me it should be around 55%. Now my doctor refers me to a cardiologist and he was able to get me an appointment in just a couple of days. I had a pretty good idea this would mean I would end up having a heart cath to find out if and where there are any blockages in my arteries. That’s exactly what happened!

The cardiologist told me one of three things could happen during the heart cath.

One: the stress test was a false alarm and he would to send me home.
Two: if he found blockages that were easily repaired he would go ahead and put stents in at the same time. Also, I would have to spend a night in the hospital.
Three: if the blockages are severe he would send me home but schedule me for heart bypass surgery.

Still, no running until the cath results came back. The heart cath was scheduled for a week later on April 25th. I’ve got to close for now but I’ll have you all caught up in a few days.

 

So am I Still Living?

I can’t believe it’s been over three months since my last post. It’s been a very eventful time for sure and I’ll try to get you caught up but it will probably take two or three posts to get through it. The first part won’t be very exciting but you need to know what has been going on so you know where I’m going in the future.

I started my half marathon training right after my last post to this blog. Since my break from running was much longer than I anticipated, I decided to gradually build up my running miles. The first few weeks I kept my miles down to about 2 to 3 miles per run. The weather in January and early February was pretty crappy so most of my running was on a treadmill. Not my favorite way to run!

By mid February I was up to running three times a week for about 4 miles each And by March, my weekly long run was over five miles. As my runs got longer, I was noticing for some unexplained reason it was more difficult to run. Almost to the point where it wasn’t even fun anymore. No, I take that back, it wasn’t fun anymore. Also, my running pace had slowed down dramatically from last year’s running season. Now I’ve never been a fast runner but I was finding my running pace wasn’t much faster than my walking pace– especially uphills. This is probably the biggest reason I haven’t posted anything in so long. I’m a little embarrassed about my results. Since returning to running my progress hasn’t been anything to brag about for sure.

By the third week of March I was nearing my scheduled semi annual checkup with my doctor. I used to have high blood pressure but with diet and exercise I managed to come off of it. I’ve been taking statin drugs for high cholesterol for years– probably close to 30 years. Over the past several months I had noticed my blood pressure was slowly creeping upward. To the point I stopped measuring it because I didn’t want to know the results. But since it was close to my scheduled appointment time I figured I should start taking blood pressure readings for my doctor to review at my next appointment.

Okay, you are probably starting to see where this is going, right? Over the course of the week, I took blood pressure readings at random times during the day. I would imagine anyone reading this blog knows what a normal blood pressure readings should be, but just in case, a normal reading would be 120/80. I’m not going to explain those numbers so if you don’t know what they mean just “Google” it. My first measurement was on March 19th with a reading of 139/92. Not good by any means but not high enough to be overly concerned. As it turns out, this was one of my better days. From there I had readings ranging from 139/92 for a low, and 171/102 for a high! Now this concerned me enough to call the doctor to ask if I should come in now or wait until my scheduled appointment on April 17th. My doctor scheduled an appointment for that afternoon.

Once I arrived at the doctor’s office, they asked their usual 20 questions, got my weight, and took my blood pressure. I don’t remember the exact BP reading but it was something like 190/100 something! My doctor knew I was a runner and talked to me about my issues with blood pressure and my other concerns and difficulties in running. He ordered up an EKG right then and there in the office. Within seconds of the nurse getting the EKG readings she immediately called in the doctor.  I jokingly said to the doctor, “So am I still living?”  My doctor said “You are, but it looks like you’ve had a heart attack!”

Now my reaction was something like, “What? No way! If I did, I sure didn’t know it.” He told me to stop running immediately until more test can be done and I was scheduled for a nuclear stress test for the very next day.

I think I’ve built up this story enough to close it out for now. It’s should be pretty obvious I’m still alive and kicking but the story gets more interesting for sure. Honestly, I need a little more time to reflect before I continue writing. Stay tuned, I promise I’ll be back to post something in the next few days.

I’m Back!!! Kinda. Sorta. Maybe.

It has been a long time since I posted on my blog. I didn’t really tell most people but I took a break from running during the summer. I didn’t stop running completely but my miles totaled nine or less per week.

I had full intentions of starting back up in mid-September. In fact, I did slowly get back into it again for a few weeks until…

THE RESPIRATORY ILLNESS FROM HELL

I got a cold in the first week of October and honestly, I think it was bronchitis, I couldn’t shake it so I went to the doctor and he felt it was allergies. Now, I do suffer from springtime allergies but I’ve never had fall allergies. I even told my doctor that but it seems it didn’t change his diagnosis.

A week goes by and things are still not any better so I go back again. This time he puts me on a Z-Pac. After a week of meds I was actually starting to feel better. I even went out on a couple of short, slow runs.

Within days, I had a head cold like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I was really aggravated and frustrated now. On top of that, I had one week to get better before I had to board a plane to Japan. Mucinex DM, hot steamy showers, and I even agreed to use essential oils to help get over this cold. Things were no better a week later and I really wanted to reschedule my trip to Japan but it just wasn’t possible. Too many other events along the way. It was either now or never.

I didn’t do much on the plane other than sleep, sit there motionless, take my cold remedies and tried not to cough and hack all over everyone else. It was a fifteen-hour flight from Atlanta to Seoul, Korea for the first leg and the first ten hours were OK anyway. After that, it was all shit. I had sinus pressure and a headache that felt like it was killing me. I’ve never had a migraine but I’ve had a few hangovers in my life. This was worse! It hurt to move.

With almost a 24 hour layover in Korea, I was hoping some rest would help but it didn’t. Very little sleep, still a very painful headache. Nothing seemed to work. Thankfully, the flight to Naha, Okinawa Japan was only about two and a half hours. Once there I was hopeful a good nights sleep would help me recover. I did sleep better but I didn’t feel any better. So off to the emergency room!

After a chest x-ray to see if I had pneumonia (negative), I was given a new set of medications and off I went to try to enjoy my two weeks in Japan the best I could.  I had a great time and even got a short and slow two-mile run in on my last day there.

Ok, I see this story is getting WAY TOO LONG. Let’s just say I survived the trip home but the coughing and hacking still hung around. I ran a couple of times hoping it would knock the crud out of me but finally had to give in. No more running until things cleared up.

So we are fourteen weeks into this mess now. I probably could have started running a week ago–maybe two but after taking this much time off it has been hard to get back into it. Then on top of that–, I’m about 20 pounds heavier than I was this time last year! Let’s just say I’ve got my work cut out for me.

So today is my first official day back to running. It’s cold out and I think for now I need a pretty controlled environment so I went to the treadmill. Only 20 minutes. I really don’t have a game plan yet so I’m just going to take it slow and give myself a few weeks to figure out where I want to go from here.

I’m back but its a struggle right now. I know it’s not, but it sure feels like starting over. Stay tuned, I’ll probably post an update in a couple of weeks because honestly, there isn’t much going on in my running life right now. Wish me luck.

 

Indy 500 OneAmerica Mini Marathon

I’m really late getting this out–I’ve got to do better but the time just seems to fly. We departed Nashville in a blaze of heat but by Monday morning the weather was getting a little chilly in Evansville. The winds were really blowing too. Somer and I went out on a short run and the wind along with the stiffness from Saturday’s half marathon turned an easy run into a not so easy run. We kept the pace down and ran only about 2.5 miles. Since we were going to run another half marathon none of us wanted to push it during the week. The weather got a little colder every day. I drove to Versailles, KY for a couple of days to visit my mother and sister. I didn’t do any running but I did go for a little walk on Wednesday morning before heading back to Evansville. Kentucky horse country is so beautiful so I had to take a few photos along the way.

I would have like to have gone on a run while I was there but there are so many hills around my sisters house that I felt like I should take it easy and just go out and walk to stretch my legs and get some fresh springtime air.

After my walk it was time to get cleaned up, go out for a little lunch and then hit the road back to Evansville. It was good to see Mom and sis again but the stay was short. Oh yeah, I got to have chicken noodles with mashed potatoes too. Yeah, if you’re not from a small section of Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky you probably think eating two starches is crazy. This stuff is good! It’s carbo loading to the max for sure.

Thursday and Friday in Evansville was even colder than the first few days. I wasn’t prepared for the chilly weather and the forecast for Indianapolis on race day was looking pretty bleack as well. They were calling for temps in the low 40’s and rain all morning. The percentage of chance of rain seemed to change every hour but it wasn’t looking good when I got up on Friday.

But wait, it gets worse. I guess due to the chilly temps my muscles and tendons really tightened during the night on Thursday. When I got up I had pain and tenderness in my right Achilles’ tendon. As the day went on, it only got worse. After the three plus hour drive to Indianapolis things seemed to tighten even more. I managed to move enough to get through packet pickup and dinner but it was painful. I spent the rest of the evening soaking my heel in hot water followed by massage, stretching and ice. I also took a double dose of Aleve. 

We were up early on Saturday morning and the pain and tightness in my right Achilles was even worse. At this point I wasn’t even sure I could make it a mile. I ate a light breakfast and swallowed a couple more Aleve. Our motel was close to the OneAmerica Mini Marathon start line so we didn’t have to get up quite so early and it was a short walk to our starting queue. Just before heading out I tried doing a little run up and down the hall of the motel. It felt better running than it did walking that’s for sure but it hurt! The temperature was in the low 40’s and we had a light drizzle which continued at our 8 a.m. start time. The forecast was for continued rain all morning.

I had to change my foot strike to avoid some of the pain but by the time we hit the two mile mark my Achilles was feeling like it was loosening up. I was so focused on finding a way to continue that at first I didn’t notice the rain cleared out. By mile four, the sun was starting to shine! For this Georgia boy it was still chilly so I kept my top layer on as well as my glove but by mile five the gloves came off.

Brian and Somer ran together and I was on my own. Somer wanted to use run/walk intervals so we pretty much took turns passing each other. I didn’t know it until after mile four that Brian had to stop for a potty break and I lost sight of them for quite a while. I wasn’t really sure what was going on. I entered the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at approximately the 5.5 mile mark. 


   

 

If separated, we agreed to meet up after turn four heading toward the main straightaway. I’m not sure how long I waited. Maybe two minutes before they caught up. Right away we had to get some photos together and then head to the row of bricks to indicate the start/finish line.

     

I don’t know how much time we spent taking photos on the main straightaway. I’m guessing 5-8 minutes. After kissing the row of bricks it was time to finish out the next five miles. As we left the track you could still thousands just making their way to the famous raceway. The first mile or two after leaving the track the course was a little tight and crowded. My right foot was feeling fine but I wasn’t going to push my luck. One thing about the Mini Marathon course is it’s very flat. It seemed weird to never be able to see very far ahead of you. I only recall one very small hill. Can’t remember where but I think it was around mile eleven. A very short hil and really didn’t take much extra effort.

The last mile is pretty exciting. The crowds are larger and the shouts of encouragement seem to be much louder. Brian Somer and I stayed pretty close to each other during the last five miles. Once we got within site of the the finish we got together so we would finish at the same time.


Our official chip time was 2:53:19. Considering how my Achilles felt at the start of the race I’m just happy about just finishing. Once we got to the finish and received our medals. I joked to Brian and Somer, “Where’s ESPN so I can annouce my retirement from half marathons?” I was only half joking because I really was thinking my half marathons days were over. But after a few days of rest and some time to think about how much fun the course is, I went ahead and signed up to run the Indy Mini Marathon again next year!

St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Half Marathon

We did it. Two half marathons in seven days! It wasn’t always pretty–especially the half in Nashville where the temps were unseasonably warm. That was a difficult day. It started out warm and only got hotter as the run progressed. The half marathon in Indianapolis was the exact opposite–chilly and sorta damp. Indy could have been awful but the weather reports were wrong about the rain. Thankfully!

Things got started on April 28th; the day before the St. Jude Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Half Marathon. My wife and I flew from Augusta, Georgia to Nashville where we met up with my daughter Somer, and my son-in-law Brian. The three of us ran this event last year so it helped we sorta knew the ropes going into this one. My training and Somer’s training leading up to Nashville hadn’t gone as we hoped. Last year our goal was to run in under 2 hours, 30 minutes. If not for a necessary potty stop we would have made it. This year, our expectations were lower. I was going to be happy with anything under 3 hours. Brian on the other hand had higher expectations so instead of us running together this year he was going to run on his own. Because of the heat the race start time was moved up by 30 minutes. The temperature at start time was around 75 degrees and only got warmer very quickly. I didn’t think to find out the temp at the finish but I’m pretty sure it was around 85 degrees or warmer. Brian finished with an approximate time of 2:08. Somer and I on the otherhand walked more than we ran on the last five miles and finished around 3:14.

None of us had the finish we expected because of the heat. I still think it was a success though because this year I entered as a St. Jude Hero to raise money for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. My goal was to raise $2620 which comes out to $200 per mile. I had over fifty donors from fourteen states help me not only reach my goal but to exceed it. In all, I was able to raise $2665 for the St. Jude kids! Thanks so much to everyone who helped me help St Jude.

After the race we found some shade around the Nissan Stadium and enjoyed our chocolate milk and ice cold Mich Ultras and did some stretching. Unlike last year we are staying an extra night so there wasn’t a big rush to get back to the motel to check out. Once we got back to the motel we were ready for a shower and something to eat! We wanted to try Hattie B’s hot chicken but the line seemed like a mile long out the door and by then it was at least 90 degree’s out. So we settled on a Tex-mex place called Chuy’s. Service was great and the food tasted pretty good too. The rest of the day/evening we just relaxed and hung out together then got up early on Sunday to see my wife off since she was flying back home and we got in the car to head to Evansville. My next post will be about the Indy 500 OneAmerica Mini Marathon. Hope to have that one posted before the end of the week.

Ready for Nashville

Just five days until the Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Half Marathon. I logged my last long training run this past weekend. I’m ready! I’m starting to get pretty excited too.

I’m starting the week trying to stay hydrated mostly. Concentrating on a more high protein, high fiber through Wednesday and then I’ll focus more on carb loading Thursday and Friday. I do have a short run planned for Wednesday and Thursday. Short runs at this stage are tempting to push the pace but I intend to make them nice easy pace runs and avoid the hills around my neighborhood.

The wifey and I will fly to Nashville on Friday instead of driving. Once we get through airport security in Augusta, GA things should be relatively stress free. The hardest part of the trip will be finding a healthy place to eat lunch. After lunch we’ll meet up with my daughter, son-in-law and the two grandkids at the motel. We’re hoping we can check-in early.

Brian, Somer and I will head over to packet pickup as soon as we can. Last year we were rushing a bit to get through packet pickup and get to dinner at an early time. We’re hoping to eat dinner a little earlier this year so there’s plenty of time to layout our gear and get a good nights sleep. I tried to get a reservation at an Italian restaurant near the motel but theyv’e been booked up for over a month now. Now we have to get somewhere early enough so we won’t have a terribly long wait. Eating a running friendly meal will be a challenge too. Since we’re flying instead of driving it’s pretty hard to supplement our food. Which reminds me I need to find a grocery store close to the motel.

Temperature for Nashville on Saturday is looking a little warm. There is a chance of rain but it looks like it shouldn’t interfere with the run. Last year we had about a 45 minute delay due to thunderstorms. Fingers crossed–no rain and hopefully a few degrees cooler than the forecast.

That’s it. I’ve done all I can do. Some parts will be easier this year because I’ve done it before. Other parts will be harder for exactly the same reason. Like remembering some of those not steep but very long hills. I had hoped to finish with a faster time this year but a few minor health issues forced me to cutback some of my training. That’s Ok. I’ll enjoy running with Brian and Somer and hanging out with 30,000+ runners for a few hours. All is good.