The First Week Back to Running

IMG_4421My first official week of training for a race since the first of the year. I had to scratch my training and running in the Indy Mini Marathon because of the heart issues but now I’m no longer on the mend and looking forward to running again.

I know it will be a slow start. Not quite, but almost like starting all over. I realize the importance of including strength training into my workout routines now so the time and effort is going to increase as well. That’s Ok. I’ve got the time now that I don’t have to go to a real job anymore!

By Wednesday I was so stinking sore! Sitting down or getting up really hurt. It could be from the running but I think it’s mostly from the weight training and the bodyweight core workouts. I haven’t done any core workouts in a long time and I’m going from one set of each weight machine to three sets. That third set is sometimes a struggle. For someone that has no butt, I sure can feel mine now!

On Thursday I ran my first full mile since March 18th of this year. It was supposed to be an easy 12 minute a mile pace but it ended up as a 11:42 pace and none of it was easy. But I did it! My first running milestone after triple bypass surgery so I’m very happy about that.

Friday was an easy four mile walk day.

On Saturday I woke up really early–3:30 in the morning. I tried going back to sleep but after over an hour of tossing and turning I went ahead and got up. Decided to surf the net for a while and then I realized it was the first day of registration for the Jingle Jam 10K on December 1st. So… I just signed up for my first race after bypass surgery!

Training was pretty much a repeat of Wednesday except I flip flopped the half mile recovery run and changed it to a half mile warmup run.

All in all I think it was a pretty good start.

Training Recap

Monday, August 27:
Three minute benchmark run using the Nike+ Run Club app.

1 minute run/1.5 minute walk x 6 using the Fitness22 10K Runner app.

Strength training at Anytime Fitness.

Tuesday, August 28:
Walk 2.67 miles and bodyweight core strength training.

Wednesday, August 29:
1 Minute Run + 1.5 Minute Walk x 8

I got the split times today!

IMG_4457

The odd number splits are the runs, the even numbers the walks. The first split was slower I’m sure because of the soreness in my legs and it took some time to loosen up. Split 11 was slow because it was all uphill. Split 15 was mostly uphill. I have to say I’m very surprised about the split times. Much faster than I expected for sure.

Half Mile Recovery Run
I tried to keep the pace at about 11:45 per mile pace. It ended up being a 11:34 pace.

Strength training at the gym.

Thursday, August 30:
Ran 1 mile and bodyweight core strength training. Milestone: 1st mile running since before triple bypass. Pace for the mile was 11:42.

Bodyweight core strength training.

Friday, August 31:
Easy four mile walk.

Saturday, September 1:
Half Mile Warmup Run

1 Minute Run + 1.5 Minute Walk x 8

Split times were:

IMG_4477

Split 11 kicked my butt. Split 13 and 15 were both slightly uphill and after split 11 I never really fully recovered.

Sunday, September 2:
Rest day.

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.

Six Weeks After Triple Bypass: A Bit of a Setback

Hard to believe it’s been six weeks since my bypass surgery. Overall, things have gone very well. You may recall my daily boughts with low-grade fever. As a precaution to another issue I was taking two Motrin twice a day and guess what? The fevers went away along the my annoying right shoulder pain. I can’t remember if I mentioned the shoulder thing but I think I did. The Motrin dosage was for two weeks. Shortly after going back to my normal medication routine, the low-grade fever returned.

On Tuesday, just a few hours after my five mile walk I started to feel bad. Headache, body aches and a low-grade fever. At first, I started with Tylenol to help. It helped some but didn’t really get rid of the fever. On July the 4th, I pretty much just lied around watching Wimbledon and sleeping. Later in the evening I took two Motrin and then I sweated the night away. By morning the fever had broke.

No Cardio Rehab on Wednesday because of July the 4th but on Thursday I wan’t feeling my old self but good enough to do my rehab for the day. I got held up to leave because my heart rate was too high. When I woke up I noticed my heart rate was higher than normal. I guess the fever had caused my heart rate to go up some.

In just a few hours after rehab, guess what? The fever was back. I contacted my Surgeon and another chest x-ray was ordered. I haven’t heard the results yet but if this x-ray doesn’t show somthing I think I’m getting referred to a infectious disease specialist. In the meantime, I’m back to the Tylenol and resting. That was pretty much my routine thoroughout Thursday through Saturday. No walking. Not eating much. Just watching tennis and sleeping.

I don’t know why exactly but around 11 p.m last night (Saturday evening) I decided to take two Motrin to see what happens. Well… for the next four hours I sweated my butt off and the fever was gone! I got up this morning feeling much better than I have in days. Things were fine all morning but my early afternoon a very low grade fever started again. I’m pretty confident two Motrin will kill the fever but until I can find the cause of it I don’t want to stop it completely. I took a couple of Tylenol in the early afternoon and I’m about to take two Motrin this evening. After that, I’ll just wait and see what happens.

I already have an appointment scheduled with my Surgeon on Wednesday. This is supposed to be our last visit where he releases me, I go back to work and work with my Cardiologist in the future. With the fever thing I’m not sure what’s going to happen.

Not much happened in week six after bypass but here’s the workout rundown for the week:

July 1st – Sunday

5.15 miles        1:34:55          18:26 pace

July 2nd – Monday

Cardio Rehab: Too much to keep track of the machine names. I did it!

July 3rd – Tuesday

5.17 miles       1:32:57           17:38 pace

July 4th – Wednesday

Not a damn thing.

July 5th – Thursday

Cardio Rehab: Again, I did it!

July 6th – Friday

Not a damn thing again.

July 7th – Saturday

Nope. Still didn’t do a damn thing.