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 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 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.