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Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Arizona

Marathon Training Week 16 Recap: Running Scared

16 by  Karen_O'D from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

16 by Karen_O’D from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

If you’ve been following my journey towards running my first marathon, you know that a few weeks ago my cardiologist diagnosed me as having 2 holes in my heart. He said I can keep training and do the race as long as I can manage the symptoms and I don’t have a stroke.

Knowing that I have a potentially serious cardiac condition makes me nervous about running, but not enough to make me stop. I am much more mindful about where I run because I don’t want to find myself getting into trouble and being more than a few miles from home or my car. I’m more likely to choose a route that involves running loops close to home or running on the treadmill or elliptical. I definitely never leave the house without my Road ID on my wrist.

My Medications - Dizziness WarningsOne of the challenges of having this condition and being on my medication is I never know how I’m going to feel day-to-day. Last week I ran over 20 miles, and I felt like I could have run another 5 miles if I needed to. A few days ago, I had to stop running after 1.5 miles on the treadmill and finish my workout on the stationary bike because I was too weak to run anymore. Some days I feel great and other days I’m weak and prone to dizzy spells. (I recently noticed that all 3 of my medications have dizziness as a side effect.) I really hope I don’t have a bad day on race day, because there’s a good chance I’ll be riding the golf cart to the finish line.

Every time I suit up to workout, part of me is afraid of getting to weak or tired to finish my run or worse. I prefer not to collapse or have a stroke. I don’t need road rash or a treadmill burn on my face and I’m clumsy enough without adding in a semi-permanent weakness in half my body. I wonder how being on a beta blocker impacts my workouts, since I think it’s keeping my heart rate from rising like it would in a non-medicated person. My teammates warn me to “Listen to your body,” but they know I’m stubborn and it’s hard not to push through when I can. But I know the big goal is to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, and that might mean I have to take it easy a bit in my training to make sure I make it to race day.

2013 Post RaceThis week I opted to ride the stationary bike at the gym for an hour while reading my book and checking social media for cross training. It was pretty boring but I cranked out 15 miles. (I can’t wait ‘til it’s warm enough to ride outside again.) It made me miss the aerobics classes I used to take when I belonged to a gym. I’d buy a day pass for an intense step class. (I’m sure my cardiologist wouldn’t support the idea of me taking an intense step class, but it’s fun.)

I have good news in regards to race prep – I ordered my base shirt so I can have Brand X make me another custom running shirt for the race. They did a great job with my Masochist/Run Bitch shirt the last time I ran a half marathon.

Weekly Totals:
Running:  5 miles
Elliptical:  20 miles
Biking:  22.5 miles

Marathon Training Week 14 Recap: Getting Back in the Saddle

14 by Steve Bowbrick from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

14 by Steve Bowbrick from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

For those of you who have been following along, my marathon training program for Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona 2015 has not been going to plan. So far there has been chest pain and night sweats, medical testing, finding out I have 2 holes in my heart, 2 new medications, and walking my mile for the last 3 weeks. Many of my teammates have suggested that Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona 2015 isn’t my race, but it looks like my race might be salvageable.

Last week had a disappointing start. I tried to walk 5 miles on Tuesday but I was so tired and weak that I could only manage 3. I didn’t even bother trying to walk the 9 miles on my marathon training program on Wednesday.

Thursday morning had me back in my cardiologist’s office for my test results. That’s when I found out that I have 2 holes between my atriums and he put me on a low-dose beta blocker and referred me to another cardiac specialist to determine if having atrial septal defect is causing my problems. He also said I could run again. I managed to run/walk 5 miles on the treadmill that evening in just under an hour.

I was scheduled to run 14 miles on Saturday and my plan was to run on the treadmill at my complex again so I wouldn’t be far from home if it got too hard to I started having chest pain. To my dismay, both treadmills were not working. (What are my HOA fees paying for again?) I opted to do my miles on the elliptical in 2 sets of 7 miles. My toes were numb and my legs were a little wobbly by the end but otherwise it was fine. I finished in just under 2 hours. My pulse never felt like it was getting excessively high.

I’ve become such a wimp about the cold. Earlier in my training I was off cross training on my bike at sunrise, but now it’s chilly in the morning. It was sunny and warm by the afternoon but unfortunately I had other obligations then. (I should probably adjust my schedule when I can if I want to work out outside.) Instead I hit the gym at my condo again and did 7 miles on the elliptical.

Next week, I’m scheduled to do 2 5-mile runs, a 10-mile run, and a 20-mile run. My plan is to run/walk all of them in the real world, but I’m considering finding some type of loop for the 20-mile run so I won’t risk getting into trouble and being 10 miles from home.

Totals for the week:
Running/Walking/Elliptical: 29 miles
Biking: 2 miles

New Mystery: Why Does My Chest Hurt?

My new drug of "choice."

My new drug of “choice.”

As many of you know, I’m training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Arizona in January. Unfortunately, I haven’t run a step since November 29th. I feel fine when I run but I started having chest pains after my long runs. After the second time it happened, I felt like a giant lumberjack stomped on my chest while wearing his work boots and then kicked me in the ribs. The night sweats are a bitch too. I woke up soaking wet halfway through the night last night.

I saw my general practitioner who referred me to a cardiologist. They couldn’t get me in for a week so I had to walk last week’s miles. Do you know how boring it is to walk 8 miles?

My friend Bill warned me that I would look very out of place at the cardiologist’s office – and he was right. The only person who looked close to my age was a woman who was there with her father. All of the patients were at least 25 years older than me.

My doctor seems like he knows what he’s doing. He asked a ton of questions, took lots of notes, and listened all over my torso. To my dismay and frustration, he didn’t have any answers for me yet, and if his has any hypotheses regarding what’s wrong with me, he didn’t share them. He created a solid-sounding plan of action to figure out what’s going on:

  • Ultrasound of my neck and heart
  • Stress test (that’s the one where you’re on the treadmill)
  • Heart monitor for 24 hours
  • Prescription for Prilosec in case there’s an acid reflux issue
  • He told me to switch from ibuprofen to acetaminophen (Tylenol)

I think taking me off ibuprofen is evil. Every woman I know (except those with stomach issues) swears by it. It’s the cure-all for everything – headaches, cramps, sore muscles, etc. I was not happy to hear that instruction. When I filled my prescription, I bought the biggest bottle of acetaminophen in the store. Between the headaches I’ve been having and the pain I get in my legs from working out, I’m going to need it.

My doctor echoed my general practitioner’s instructions that I can walk but I shouldn’t run until we figure this out. All of my testing is this week, but I won’t have my follow up appointment to get the results until next week. So I will be walking for the next 10 days – including the 18 miles I’m scheduled to do this weekend. 18 miles of walking?! This is going to suck.

Since I deal with the world and my life through blogging and social media, I’ll be documenting this whole process.