Friday, June 20, 2014

I Keep A Close Watch On This Heart Of Mine



Last weekend, I finished up a long run and afterwards had some weird tightness in my chest. It eventually went away for the most part, but it bothered me enough to where I wanted to get it checked out a few days later just in case.

I didn't think it was that big of a deal at the time I went in, but let me tell ya.... mention "chest tightness" to anyone in the medical field, and it is treated as an emergency and you are put on the top of the list for evaluation. I can't lie. It totally freaked me out about how severe of a situation they made it out to be.


 
Needless to say they immediately got me in and I had an EKG and a few other tests done.


CliffsNotes version: 
I have what they are calling moderate left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH). Basically my left ventricle wall is bigger than its supposed to be. It has problems pushing oxygenated blood through and doesn't hold as much blood as it should, since the wall is thicker than normal.
 
 Exhibit A: 
 
 
 It's an underlying factor that sometimes people can go their whole lives not knowing they have. 
Because I am what he called an "endurance athlete" (thanks for stroking my ego, there, doc!) my ventricular walls are probably a little thicker than a typical person's ventricle to begin with. The heart adapts physiologically to what you put it through -- in cases of more "extreme" sports, it will get a little thicker naturally. In my case, I've probably always had a slight case of LVH, but now that I run marathons it has put my wall thickness into a "yellow zone" so to speak.
 
I am at a higher risk for developing further disease later in life, but that would be dependent on a number of factors including lifestyle and diet. In my case it just needs to be monitored (via annual physical) to make sure the ventricle wall doesn't get any thicker and get into the "danger zone". 



No, Kenny. I am no Maverick.

There's nothing I can really do-- the doctor said he would typically tell people to lose weight, stop smoking, eat healthier, or start exercising -- because I am already healthy, it's just something I have to live with and be cognizant of.
 
Other than my ventricle wall being a little thick, my heart itself is strong, and heart rate is good. I am allowed to continue endurance exercises as I normally would, as long as I'm asymptomatic. The stronger my heart, the easier it will be to pump oxygenated blood through. 
 
Lay off the 'roids, left ventricle. You're freaking me out.
 

This is the first symptom I've ever had since I started distance running 4 years ago which is a great sign. He said that I may only have symptoms once in a blue moon from here on out. 
 
If I can make sure to remember to breathe properly, I will have less trouble too. The more oxygen the better! Yay Oxygen! 

Anyone wanna hit the bar with me this weekend?


My life mantra has always been "just breathe". It just so happens that now my mantra has a little more meaning. 







Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What The Hill?


Flights are confirmed. Hotel is booked. Vacation days are submitted.

Ragnar Wasatch Back is official. 



All I can keep thinking is....what in the good Lord's name am I doing?!

It all started in 2012 when I serendipitously met a bunch of crazy fools who called themselves the "Saints and Sinners". They were a Ragnar team that established in 2008. I hopped onto the team as a rookie for Ragnar Key West a few years ago (recap of that experience here) and have been running with them ever since.

It just so happened that in 2009, a year after we established the Saints and Sinners team, that Ragnar came out with a new "double medal" concept: run 2 races, get a special medal. They called it the "Saints and Sinners" medal, and it required running Ragnar Wasatch Back and Ragnar Las Vegas in the same year.

Wasatch Back runs through the mountains from Logan to Park City Utah, while Las Vegas runs through the Red Rock Canyon.


If you flip the medal upside down, it says Sinners. I know, so cool right?! 

Obviously, our Saints and Sinners team had to make this double medal a bucket list item. 
Our fearless captain decided 2014 was gonna be our year....so here I am!

All the logistics are finally coming together. I have 3 weeks until I get on a plane to Utah.
Now all I have to worry about is...you know... the race itself. 



If you hadn't remembered, I live in the flattest state in the country. 
Yes, it's even flatter than Kansas. Google it, y'all.

Besides being altitude-challenged, I'm also recovering from a torn tibial tendon that left me sidelined from January through May.

But hey, who needs conditioning for the mountains of Utah?! That'll be a piece of cake!

Yeah OK Mary, maybe a piece of cake made of titanium alloy. 
 
My first leg has a little over 1,200 feet of elevation gain. Put into perspective: the Clearwater Causeway is only 80 feet high. I'm essentially running the equivalent of 15 straight bridge inclines over 7.4 miles along a dusty gravel mountain road.
 
This leg even has it's own nickname -- "What the hill?" 

A leg with it's own nickname. How nice. I am so lucky.  


And that's only my first run of 3.  But let's be real. The scariest part of this leg is not the elevation. It's that I have to run across cattle guards. Does anyone realize how klutzy I am?! I can barely even walk across grated street vents without twisting my ankle! I am sooooo done.

What's funny (OK it's actually not that funny for anyone except for me) is that my legs are literally some of the easiest on the team. I got the injured runner's special! Thanks y'all!

Over 196.4 miles, there is 15,896 ft of elevation gain and 13,769 ft of elevation loss.

That's 29,665 ft total change.

From a team that trains at sea level.  

Hey, at least we'll be super cheap dates at the finish line! 
2 beers + 7,000 ft elevation = :) :) :) :) :) :)


If anyone needs me the next few weeks, I'll be out in Clearwater doing bridge repeats until I collapse into the Gulf of Mexico. 




No, really. Call it. I need one.




















Monday, May 12, 2014

30 Is The New Black

With a sea of emotions, the big milestone birthday has almost officially arrived.

 

That time where I always thought I'd have life all figured out and everything would be perfect.

 Should I rejoice that the awkwardness of my twenties are over? Or panic as I kiss my youthfulness goodbye in return for a world of 9pm bedtimes and wrinkle creams? 

I accomplished some amazing feats in my twenties. I've traveled all across the country and grown exponentially in my career. I've turned myself into a marathon runner and represent a fantastic brand due to my successes on the pavement. I've modeled luxurious European headpieces. I've done things some people don't get to do in an entire lifetime.

But it wasn't an easy decade.  

As I reflect, I'm fairly certain that your twenties is the equivalent of going through puberty.


At 20, I was a small town college girl with big hopes and dreams, but not a lick of sense. I had no idea what it meant to be responsible. Or to be a good friend. Or how to love. Or sacrifice. Or how to take care of myself.

I was barely 21 when I packed up as much stuff as would fit into my Jetta and moved into a city I had never been to. After a while, I found myself broke and alone. I had two choices: give up and move back to Alabama, or pull myself together, figure it out, and move forward.
So I worked multiple jobs -- one to begin a real career, the others to supplement my career dreams so that I could do things like feed myself and put gas in my car.

I learned responsibility pretty quick.

Through those jobs, I became friends with some incredible people from all facets of life. They took me for who I was, never passed judgement, and was the best support group I'd ever had.

They taught me how to be a good friend.

There are certain inevitable things in life that you can't be prepared for at any age, and death is the hardest of them all by far. When I was 22, I lost my dad to cancer. I found myself at a crossroads again: succumb to a world of sadness, or live happily in his memory and make him proud.

In life and in death, he taught me how to love.

My mid twenties became less about trying to decide what bars to go to every night and more about building a life for myself and taking care of the people that meant the most to me. 
I met Prateek when I was almost 24. He's taught me what it means to sacrifice and prioritize and that sometimes the right decisions are the hardest. 

I find myself now in my late twenties, turning 30 in a few days, surrounded by a solid group of great friends and family with a wonderful job, a handsome boyfriend, and a really cute puppy. 
  
The feelings I've been having of aimlessness, inadequacy and insecurity over a stupid number?! What is wrong with me? I should have way bigger fish to fry than that.
   
I don't believe that learning how to be responsible or how to love or how to be a good friend ever really stops. You are constantly discovering yourself, no matter the age. 
I think that maybe your twenties is where you truly learn some of those life principles, and your thirties is where you can actually execute and benefit from them. 


  Growing older is a privilege, not a curse -- and a person's potential has no expiration date.

So, maybe it's not that I'm young or old. Maybe I am just where I need to be.  

Bring it on, 30. 


 




Monday, May 5, 2014

That One Time When I Blogged....

Admittedly, I have been a major social networking BUST so far this year. 
I unintentionally kind of put blogging on the back burner. 
Like, waaaaaaay way back there in the back of my closet.
 Next to the pants from high school that I swore one day I would fit into again. 

Needless to say, I decided to resurrect the blog and give away the high school pants. Let's be real, those things don't stand a chance.

When 2 Chainz talks about the girl saved in his phone under "big booty", he's actually referring to me. I am collecting royalties as we speak.

I figured now was as good of a time as ever to try and get back with it. I love writing and kind of miss it! So, here's a quick update of life's highlights so far in 2014. It may be only 4 months in, but there are plenty of things to share. 


I have a new baby.

Everyone, meet Bandit. 

Baby Bandit

Prateek surprised me with him when he was barely 8 weeks old. He is a magna cum laude graduate of puppy class and has just started taking the intermediate class. 
He is, of course, a smart and nerdy student just like his parents. 

Tween Bandit

We think he's some sort of Belgian Malinois/tazmanian devil mix. And he has really cute satellite dish ears.
 

I smelled the roses.

 This boondoggle really deserves a post of it's own.
 
Getting to the National Championship Game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena was a true test of God. But once I was there, it was all worth it.



Summary:

  • Find out at 10pm the night before our flight that our 6AM leg from Tampa to Atlanta had been cancelled.
  • Called airline. Weighed options: fly stand by, fly out of another city and miss part of game, not go at all.
  • Thought of one more option: DRIVE TO ATLANTA and then get on the plane there (mind you Prateek had not packed yet...yes...it was 10pm the night before. Welcome to our life.)
  • Confirmed that the 8:30 AM Atlanta to LAX flight was on time. 
  • Packed, rented a one way car to Atlanta, and drove 8 hours through the night
  • Pulled into the Atlanta airport with about 2 minutes to spare and got to the gate as they were boarding the plane.
  • Got off the plane at LAX, went to In N Out (duh), then went straight to the Rose Bowl
 


The game was one of the most amazing experiences I've ever had. Even though Auburn didn't pull through with the win, it was worth every sleepless minute it took to get there.
 I was so proud of them I almost cried. War Eagle, y'all.
 



I injured myself. Like, really bad this time.

I've had running injuries before. But nothing that has kept me in a sedentary state for THREE AND A HALF MONTHS. A strained tibial tendon may sound minor. After a month in a boot, another 6 weeks in an ankle brace, and then being limited to only "low impact" activities for another 4 weeks, I officially respect my tendons.




My waistline (and my sanity) can't wait for me to fully heal.

Thankfully, a resurgence is near. I ran my first pain free mile last week. I was so happy I cried. It was slow and I had a side stitch the whole time and I kind of wanted to throw up at the end, but it was the best mile I've ever completed in my running career thus far. Bring it on, recovery! I have new Oiselle duds that need to be worn!



I sold the first "big girl" thing I've ever owned. And then purchased the first "big girl" thing I've ever purchased.



 I sold one of the loves of my life -- my 2002 Honda Civic with 190,000 miles on it - and bought a new car. I cried when the Honda sold. Then I cried again when I signed the paperwork on my Audi.



I think maybe I cry too much.




I am the greatest fantasy football commissioner and player to ever exist in the history of time.


OK, not really. But I did kinda love being commissioner. And I did in fact win two of the three leagues I was in this year (and came in 2nd in my other one). 

Had hit records on my demo..did y'all boys not get the memo?

Oh, and I went on to win the March Madness office pool as well.
I think everyone at work hates me. It's tough at the top, y'all. Haters gonna hate.



I got Bollywood Fever. 


This also really deserves a post of it's own.



  


 Everyone knows I'm no stranger to a packed social schedule. I've been fortunate to have attended hundreds of concerts and shows and events in my lifetime. IIFA, however, tops the list of them all.



The IIFA Awards are Bollywood's version of the Oscars, and had been hosted all over the world but never in the United States. This year, Tampa won the bid to host the awards and Prateek and I were so lucky to attend all of the events and their respective after-parties.

 

Imagine mixing the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, a Broadway musical, and Cirque du Soleil. That is what the IIFA production was like.



I've never seen anything like it and probably won't ever again.
The show was taped and will air sometime in June to over 800 million viewers worldwide. Incredible! 





And that brings us to May. 

The month that I have been simultaneously looking forward to as well as dreading since around this time last year.

But I'll save that for another blog post.









Wednesday, November 27, 2013

An Open Letter to Auburn Fans



Figured I'd add to the spirit of Iron Bowl week and share this recent post I read.
War Eagle, y'all. 




It's hard to watch your team go 13-0 and miss the chance to have a national title.

It's hard to finally get that championship and have the NCAA and media breathing down
your neck the whole time. 

It's hard to watch your team go winless in the SEC and 3-9 overall, and then see your beloved trees ripped from the ground because one of your detractors doesn't know the difference between rivalry and hatred. 

It's hard to see your program's rich tradition and moments of greatness denied by a never-ending chorus of haters who don't care what it means to believe in Auburn and love it.

But it's also hard to think of a greater memory than Tommy Tuberville leading the perfect team out arm-in-arm onto the field.

It's hard to find a better pre-game tradition than an eagle circling the stadium to the soundtrack of 90,000 people united in our rallying cry.

It's hard to find a fan base that could take the death of another tradition in the wake of a terrible season and turn it into a picturesque celebration of everything Auburn.

It's hard to catch a ball you can't even see, to juggle the weight of an improbable comeback and an improbable year, and then carry it into the end zone like you meant to do it the whole time.

It's hard to find a better coach than Gus.

The truth is, I'm not too worried about this Saturday. We are the underdogs, and it'll be hard work to pull off the upset. But hard work is exactly the kind of work we believe in. And no matter how easy it might be right now to just roll with the Tide, I will look back when it's all settled and know that the hardest moments and how we dealt with them are just part of why it was, is, and always will be 
GREAT TO BE AN AUBURN TIGER.

 - Tim Tyler, via All Things Auburn