Catching Up!

I haven’t posted anything since the middle of November and I wasn’t posting much in the month of October either. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started a post and never finished it. Why? Well, mostly life just got in the way. It’s affected my running schedule as well but I’ve never stopped running–I just stopped blogging.IMG_0416

Thankfully, life has settled down again. Ah! The relief. I guess I’ll begin by giving a rundown of my running life the past four months:

December

On the very first day of December, which was 191 days after my triple-bypass surgery I ran in a 10K. I was really kinda down on myself the week before the Jingle Jam 10K in Evans, Georgia because I knew I hadn’t been training to the expectations I has set for myself. I just wasn’t ready for it. It’s a fairly hilly course so I decided I’d run the flats and descents but walk the inclines. I did exactly that but it was more incline than I though. The organizers essentially reversed the course route. I think it made it harder, not easier but maybe it was just because I wasn’t trained up enough. I finished but at my worse time ever! It was so bad I didn’t even write it down. It was something like and hour and 20 minutes. Really awful finish time.

Like I said, I was down on myself all week but once I got out on the course all I could think about is how grateful I am. Here I am at 62 years old and gone through open heart surgery just six months before and running in a 10K road race. That’s quite an accomplishment isn’t it? I think so. Sure, I wish I could have done better but don’t we almost always feel that way?

January

The month of January started with going with friends to Hilton Head, South Carolina to celebrate the new year. We spend five days and the first two were a bit wet but the last three days were beautiful. Anytime I travel I like to find a place to run and Hilton Head is a fantastic bike and pedestrian friendly place. We stayed in Harbour Town which is a little more secluded and we could see this historic landmark from our condo. Anyway,

Harbour_Town_July_2007

I got one run in on New Year’s Eve. It had rained during the night so it was very humid but a nice mid-sixties temperature. Got a little over 3 miles in.

Of course, I ate a lot of seafood there. Mostly raw or fried oysters. It was New Year’s Eve after all so I also drank a bit too much but no hangovers anyway.

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Love ’em Raw!

Just seven days after our Hilton Head trip we were on the road again. This time to St. Augustine, Florida. Actually, this wasn’t our final destination, it was just the first leg. Final destination? Keep reading. HAHA!

It was chilly! A cold wave starting coming through Florida the day we hit the road. No shorts or beach for this portion of the trip anyway. On our first full day, we drove over to the World Golf Village and the World Golf Hall of Fame.

As you can see in the photo above I’m not wearing a jacket but that was only because it would interfere with my golf swing. Trust me, just as soon as I finished trying to get close to the pin (wasn’t even close), my jacket was back on again.

st-augustine-tour

Our second day we spent mostly in the historic part of St. Augustine doing the usual tourist stuff. I didn’t do any running in the historic part but I sure did walk a lot! We did the Historic Tours of America thing in St. Augustine. If you’ve travelled in the U.S.A. you’ve probably seen them before. They’re open-air bright green and orange trolley’s and you can get on and off wherever you like all day.

After a few days in St. Augustine we were on the road again heading down I-95 to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Still windy and chilly though. The winds made driving a little hard sometimes but we made it safe and sound.

Just like St. Augustine, this isn’t our final destination. Hold on, I’m about to tell you. On our first full day we headed to the Port Everglades to catch a ride on this baby:

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Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas

Once on board the ship, we get settled in and just before sunset we headed out to sea for two destinations:

Key West, Florida and Havana, Cuba

This was with a group of people I went to high school with Indiana. Even though it was sometimes chilly, sometime cool, rarely warm we had a great time. Our ship was smaller than any other cruise ship I’ve travelled on and no running track. I did get to the gym 3 of the 5 days on the cruise. We were at the port in Havana for a day and a half and looking out the windows in front of me on the treadmill I had a great elevated view of Havana while I ran. So technically, I’ve now ran in Havana, Cuba! HAHA.

February

Things are starting to get back to normal again! A few months ago I signed up for the Augusta University Half Marathon scheduled towards the end of the month but I wasn’t ready so I didn’t even go. I did run for an hour on the day of the race! Monthly mileage still isn’t quite where I would like it but it’s better than it has been. For the month, roughly 37 miles. The longest run was for just shy of 5 miles. That’s no where close to half marathon distance.

March (So Far…)

So far this month everything is going pretty well. I’m on track to log over 50 miles this month. On Saturday I ran seven miles and that’s the longest run in a long time. As in BEFORE my open heart surgery.

I’m 47 days away from running the Indianapolis 500 Festival Mini Marathon. You may recall I ran this one week after the St. Jude’s Half Marathon in Nashville, Tennessee in 2017 and was supposed to run it again last year but the heart issues caused me to cancel. I’m pretty happy with my conditioning at this stage. I’ve lost 19 pounds since the 1st of January! I’m only about a pound and a half from my race day goal weight. Maybe I’ll have to reset my goal before then? Looks like I’m well on my way to being ready. I’ll try to post more often now.

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Whoops! Where Did the Time Go?

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.

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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!

IMG_0131Looking 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.

 

 

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!

 

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.