Happy Feet – a year later

Finishing a training run in my Mizuno Wave Riders.

Since the beginning of April, I have logged 750 miles, or an average of 47 miles a week.  Running higher mileage like this for an extended period of time is new to me and I didn’t think that I would be able to hang onto this higher volume.  Doing a few double runs has helped me to build but looking after my feet has made a huge difference.

Many older runners will tell you that their feet start to hurt when they reach a certain distance.  My Mizuno waveriders gave me the support that I needed until five years ago when, at age 49, my feet would start to ache as soon as I reached 15 miles.   Thinking it was just the shoe, I tried a few other brands but kept going back to the waverider; I knew the sore feet were not caused by the shoe but, simply, just my getting older.  But, stubborn like a marathoner can be, I trained through these aches for the Buffalo, Chicago and Boston marathons, with my feet hurting more and more each time.  Now aches are common with many distance runners but they are that much more pronounced in older runners as our feet tend to have less fat.  Determined to not walk away from long distance yet, I needed to find a solution and turned to a chiropodist, Dr. Werkman.

I saw Dr. Werkman last August and he designed a more supportive insole for my shoes – not an orthotic, but my mizuno insole with the addition of poron, which provides more cushioning under the balls of my feet, the point of impact when I land.   It took a few adjustments to get them “just right” but they have made a huge difference in how comfortable my feet feel.  Since they aren’t traditional orthotics, this is also a much more financially reasonable solution.

My worn-down insole on the left vs newly constructed on the right.

Last week, I went to see Dr. Werkman as I knew that I was pushing the limits on my last pair of insoles.  He built this pair for me in March and, by mid-June, I could tell that they were well-worn because the balls of my feet were starting to hurt a little, something that I haven’t had in almost a year.  When Dr. Werkman saw how flat my insoles were, his eyes popped.  “How far have you run in these?” he asked.  The man is a magician.  He took my Mizuno insoles from the shoes that I purchased in June, lined them up with my old insoles (also Mizuno) and replicated them.   They felt exactly the same but the true test was my long run on Sunday.  After 18 miles, I complained about the heat and I complained about the hill at Mile 16, but I did not complain about my feet.

The 12 weeks ahead in preparation for the Chicago Marathon are not just about logging the miles.  They involve a lot of self-care; looking after my feet is just one part of that, one step to keep me chasing my dreams.

 

Review: goodr sunglasses

Back in April, I first saw goodr sunglasses on Instagram and instantly fell in love with the fun colours.  However, l have learned that there are many things that I see on the web and can’t find in Canada, so I just oogled over them from afar and became more and more envious of every runner I saw sporting them in an Instagram post.

It wasn’t long, though, until The Runner’s Shop  posted that it is the only Toronto retailer selling goodr glasses.  My heart jumped, my fingers twitched and typed, and I soon had my own pair in my hands.

So why Goodr?  First, I love the colour; it is fun, bright and cheerful.  I also love the reflective lenses because, when I am outside and  talking to students at school (or dealing with the odd issue that can come up), it means that students are drawn towards the bright pink frames, but they can’t see my eyes.  As a teacher, this is a true benefit of the glasses and should also be mentioned with the other details on the box.

As a runner, I really like that the glasses do not bounce or slip.   I do, though, sometimes have difficulty with the lenses.  When I wear goodr sunglasses running on the road only, I can see well, but I have trouble differentiating between the sidewalk and road when I am wearing them and running from one to the other*; I always feel compelled to slow down so that I don’t fall flat on my face (because I have done that before and it was disastrous).  I don’t know if this is due to the reflective lenses, but I don’t have this problem with other sunglasses that I wear while running.  (I should point out that I have the same trouble when I am running under different types of light, such as moving between shade and sunlight, which I am told is due to aging eyes.)  So, when I am wearing my goodr glasses and running, I stay on the road and adjust my pace when I need to move on or off the sidewalk.

Goodr makes an affordable pair of sunglasses that is giving me my money’s worth.  At $39.99 Canadian, I can wear them to school, while I run at lunch, at the pool, walking the dog, driving….the list goes on and on…and I don’t worry about them.  I dropped them once, a lens fell out and I popped it right back in; there wasn’t even a scratch on the frames.

Pink Sunglass Day? Who knew?

In my house of boys and men, I love my Goodr sunglasses.  And I love that I got the pink as I don’t have to worry about someone accidentally wearing them – unless it happens to be Pink Sunglass Day.

 

Disclaimer: the views and opinions mentioned above are solely the opinion of the author’s.  No form of compensation was provided.

Raising Runners – or not

A strong start.

Last week, my twelve year old and I took the Go Train to Toronto.  Initially, I had planned to spend the day alone, visit with a friend and wander aimlessly through downtown Toronto.  But the dude asked if he could come with me.  At first, I hesitated because it would mean that he would be taking the day off school (mine was a legitimate personal day), but he really hadn’t done much in class the week before other than play outside and watch movies.  And here, I had a twelve year old boy who wanted to spend his day with me – away from all distractions –  and I probably don’t have many days like that left, so I gave in.  Together, we headed downtown.

“Mom,” he asked while on the train, “Can we do the Runway Run again this year?”

The Three Amigos, Runway Run 2016

This came out of the blue.  The Runway Run is a 5K at the end of September on the Pearson International Airports tarmac.  We ran it a few years ago with two of his buddies and, for boys who love planes, it is a very cool event.  We ran past planes, had the option to go inside a few of them after, hung out in a hanger and, basically, just had a fun morning.  But my son didn’t run well; despite a good start, he started feeling sick and ended up walking/running the last half of 5K.  I thought he was going to be turned off running forever, and I was genuinely shocked when he asked if he could run this race again.

“Yes!  Let’s do it!”  Then, I realized it was just a few weeks before the Chicago Marathon and worried about my own goals so added, “I may not race it, but I’ll run it.”

“That’s okay,” he said.  “The boys and I want to do it again.”

We spent the afternoon walking through the downtown core.  We visited the OVO store, Drake’s flagship store on Dundas Street (which he had been itching to visit since fall) and bought one very expensive t-shirt.  We went through Trinity Bellwood Park and I had a lovely reminder that he is still a kid when he asked if we could stop to play at the climbers.  We walked back to Union Station, stopping at Harvey’s for a hotdog, fries and chocolate milkshake along the way.  Then, we went home.  That was our day: a total of 10 walking kilometres, a t-shirt, and a hotdog and fries.

On the train back home, I asked the question that had been on my mind all afternoon.  “Do you want to run through the summer?  I mean, do you want to train with other kids?”  My club, Toronto Olympic Club, has a fantastic program for juniors, and I have been hoping that, one day, one of my own boys would run with me there.

“No.”  My shoulders dropped.  “I’m not really interested in running.  I just do it for fun.  I play manhunt, capture the flag and soccer, and I know I’m fast.  But I also like basketball and scootering.  Don’t worry, Mom.  I’m going to stay active this summer.  I want to play outside.  I just don’t want to run with TOC.”

I felt deflated but proud at the same moment.  As much as I hope that my boys will also become runners, I was relieved to hear that this one would rather spend his summer outdoors than gaming or watching television.   And he does want to run; he just doesn’t want to commit to it and I am totally fine with that.

How can I be sure that I do have a runner in progress?   Before we got to Harvey’s, he complained, “Mom, I’m starving and my legs hurt.  I feel like I’ve run a marathon.”

Parenting done right.

 

The Pacing Game

You know you’re a runner when you watch the countdown on a microwave, see 3:45, and immediately think “marathon time”.  And you know you’ve raised your 12 year old well when he looks at your playlist and exclaims “Mom, you have enough music to run 3 marathons!”  I’m not planning on running with music when I marathon but I’m pretty impressed that (1) his math was that quick and (2) he knows my marathon goal.

Like most runners, I often wonder about time.  How fast can I run a 5K?  If I run 5 seconds faster per mile/kilometre, how will that change my marathon time?  You want me to run how many repeats?  How much rest do I get?   Am I on pace?   Pacing is the one that is always on top of my mind.

For years, my running friends have called me a human metronome. During a 10K or half-marathon, I can quickly lock into a 7:30 mile pace.  At the end of a run with friends, when the goal is to log miles and chat, we like to guess what our average pace was, and we are usually right within a few seconds.  Even on the track, which I am absolutely no expert at, I can usually guess what my 400 metre repeats are within one or two seconds.

My friend, Monica, and I use to joke about my pacing during a long run: 7:57, 7:58, 8:01, 7:56….my miles were all where they needed to be, surrounding the 8 minute mark – until this year.  Somehow, I have lost all sense of my marathon pace.  Perhaps it has been due to the faster running that I have been doing in general, but that 8 minute mile has become elusive.   For the past few weeks, my long runs have been faster than I want them, which might sound great, but I know I need 8 minute miles so that I don’t blow up at Mile 22 in Chicago.  I also know that I need 8 minute miles when I am running continuously and don’t have a break whenever I hit a traffic light.

photo credit: W. Menczel

This weekend’s heatwave in southern and central Ontario that has given us higher temperatures and humidex levels than I can ever remember.  Yesterday, the thermometer reached 40 degrees (which is 100F); in this part of Ontario, that use to be unheard of.   While many are complaining about the heat, it is exactly what I need right now so that I can get back to the 8 minute mile.

Yesterday, I headed out for my long run at 6:30 with three goals:  10 miles, a half-marathon or anything longer than 15 miles.  With weeks of 18 mile runs behind me, I felt that I could run that distance again – if Mother Nature cooperated and if I paced it properly.  No matter how far I ran, I knew that I had to be slower if I wanted to reach any of the goals.   Well, there is nothing like a heatwave to force the pace down as all of my mile splits were predicitable and well-timed: slow to start, faster miles on the downhills, slower on the ups and into what wind we had.  At Mile 10, I was feeling good; at Mile 13, I was feeling strong; but during Mile 14, on a favorite but challenging uphill, with the sun high, I noticed my heartrate starting to climb and I thought “This is crazy.  I have kids to worry about.”  So I called it a day at 14.1 miles.

Cooling off after 14 miles on a hot, hot day.

When I got home, I was mad at myself as I probably could have run at least one extra mile before “common sense” took over.  Then, I started to think about the pluses: I got out and ran, and I ran more than 13 miles; my pacing was good as I averaged a 7:57 mile;  I didn’t feel drained at the end of my run and had the whole day ahead of me.  As I saw other runners post their 30K runs, I had to keep reminding myself of my positives.

The temperatures this weekend and in the days ahead are extreme but, in terms of pacing, they are exactly what I need.  In the same way that running through the cold and icy winter made me stronger, this hot weather is forcing me to really focus on pacing and find my inner clock again.

The Power of Time

Getting back to work after running at lunch always leaves me feeling on top of the world.

In Grade 12 English, one of the themes that kept popping up again and again was the power of time.  “Time has the ultimate power over man” was how my teacher phrased it.   As a seventeen year old studying world literature, that idea made perfect sense but it wasn’t for many years that I truly understood those words.

More recently, I was complaining to a colleague about my huge to-do list at work, to which she gently reminded me that “we don’t own our time.”  Memories of Grade 12 resurfaced again.  “No,” I replied, “which is why we need to learn to control the time we are given.”

I do manage my time well; as a working mother who is running high mileage weeks, I have to if I want to get everything done.   One way that I have been able to do this is to run during my lunch break.  I have exactly 50 minutes, which usually means 45 by the time I get out the door, but really leaves only 35 minutes so that I can clean up and change before I put on my teacher hat again.   In my running life, it means that I can run 3.5 miles a few times a week to keep my mileage up; once or twice a week, I can creatively find time for another mile.

My secret to a quick clean-up: Wet Ones!

In January, my coach said that he wanted my mileage over 40 miles a week.   I initially thought that he was insane and doubted that I could really run that kind of distance over a long period of time, but I took his advice to heart.  Adding in a few easy lunchtime miles has made what seemed to be a lofty goal almost effortless; in fact, I feel stronger than I have in years.   Running at lunch has the added bonuses of letting me escape the drama that breeds in a Grade 7 classroom, fills my body with fresh blood and gives me the mental strength that intermediate teachers often need.

With summer holidays less than a week away, I am planning my time – time with the family, time to write, and time to run – and I realize how much I really enjoy my lunch runs and plan to keep them as a part of my training. And now that I have a bit more control over the time that I am given, I’ll use it to build on the base that I set over the past six months, keep chasing my dreams, and catch that unicorn

Coming Out Of My Comfort Zone

Last week, the clocks finally moved forward.  I had been looking forward to daylight savings time for weeks for no reason other than I don’t enjoy running at night.  It is too hard to see where my feet are landing.  Add snow and ice, and I need that much more will power and stubbornness to get out the door.  Despite a winter that had all of the above, I somehow managed to keep my road mileage up.  My speedwork, though, was non-existent.  Anyone who knows me at all will agree that speed work in the dark/snow/slippery conditions is just a recipe for disaster.

So when the clocks moved ahead, I was happy to have an extra hour of daylight during my “happy” hour.  And I have actually been excited about turning up my training a notch with the addition of speed work.  The only problem is speed work scares me.

Solemate Monica
Solemate Kelly-Lynne

I’ve never been great at the fast stuff.  When I was in high school, I was unable to earn a spot on the track team but our coach handed me the 1500m, the race that nobody wanted to do; I finished last.  At university, a friend tried to convince me again and again to run cross country with her but memories of being the slowest on the track haunted me.  By the time I started running distance in my late 20’s, I was happy to run on the roads at my own happy pace; if I wanted to do a speedier workout, I just ran faster.  And I continued to run and train like that for years – actually, decades – until I started to run with Toronto Olympic Club a few years ago.  It wasn’t soon before tempo, intervals, broken miles, and ladders all became a part of my weekly vocabulary.   But, I am still slower than everybody else, partly due to my running history and partly due to the fact that my training partners weren’t even born when I graduated from high school.  So, speed work scares me.

Last week, Coach sent me my first workouts of 2018.  I had weeks to mentally prepare for this week (After all, we all knew that spring would eventually come, didn’t we?)  but I was still anxious.  How much would I be able to push myself?  How much would it hurt?  Most of all, though, I worried about what the numbers on my watch would show.  How slow am I? Really?

On Tuesday night, I parked my emotions and headed to the track.  Done.  On Friday afternoon, I headed out the door for my second workout of the week, pushing myself up hills and into the wind  for some quick intervals.   Mission accomplished: two workouts on Week #1.  And I surprised myself; I wasn’t as slow as I expected.

Out of his comfort zone. There is no going back now.

As I cooled down on the way home, I thought of my youngest who crossed his own barrier last week.  After a winter of snowboarding at Glen Eden, he finally got off the bunny hills and used the chairlift.  I booked a lesson for him and up he went – no friends, no family, just him and an instructor whom he had just met.  I told him on the way home that I was  proud of him.  “When you do something that scares you, something that is going to make you better,  and it doesn’t matter what that is, you’re growing.”

Cooling down, I realized that the addition of a few workouts to my running was doing the same thing.   Sure, they are intended to help me get stronger and faster,  but they are also forcing me to come out of my comfort zone and helping me to grow not only as a runner, but as an individual.

It’s easy to turn away from something that you don’t like; it’s hard to do something that you don’t.    And when you do something that scares you, you can only grow faster.

 

 

 

 

Run Like the Devil

Last Sunday morning, I listened to my husband tell me that I should wear my race bib to the Chilly Half Marathon upside down.  “Be 999,” he said.  “That’s a fun number.”

“No way.  This is the number that I was assigned so this is the number that I am going to wear.  Besides, now if I have a bad race, I can blame it on the number and everyone will understand.”

Even though I had the worst number imaginable, I didn’t really care.  I actually thought it was a little funny.  In fact, it helped me to relax a little; I knew that this wasn’t going to be one of my faster halfs, but I did want it to be a respectable race.  In November, I squeaked under 1:40 on a downhill course (1:39:59), and I raced in 1:42 on the Chilly course last winter.  This year, anything under 1:40 would be good.  Maybe Bib 666 would let me run like the devil.

Post-race: with my participant’s medal and AE3, Athletic Energy Nutrition.

Knowing how a lot of people react when they see or hear ‘666’, I wore my jacket to Burlington and I kept it on as long as I could while warming up.  Just before the start of the race, we listened to race director Kelly Arnott, the mayor of Burlington who welcomed and thanked Kelly for the fundraising that her event does for the city, and a minister who wished us a good race.  I was tempted to ask the minister to bless me before I ran, thinking a bit of divine intervention might counteract the devil’s number.  Instead, I just took off my jacket and hoped that no one would notice.

My race plan was to go out at an 8 minute mile pace and bring it down to 7:30 by the 3rd mile.  Even with a windy start, my first mile was 7:38.  “Too fast,” I told myself.  “Bring it down.”  The next few miles were under 7:30 but I was feeling strong.  On this out and back course, I was really looking forward to turning around when the wind would push me home for the last 5 miles, but that did not happen.  If anything, the wind seemed stronger; surprisingly, my mile splits stayed fairly consistent.  I was having a good day.

I picked up my pace quite a bit in the last mile, dropping down to 7:19.  When I made the last turn before the finish line, I could barely see the time on the clock change from 1:36 to 1:37.  I was excited that I was finishing under 1:40 but also knew that I had some work to do if I wanted to keep my time under 1:38.  I tried and, while my legs felt like they were turning over faster, they were just holding steady.  Regardless, I finished in 1:38:12, fast enough for a third place finish in my age group and 88th of 1200 women.   I was especially happy as this was the fastest half marathon that I have run in a long time; maybe there is a bit of a speed demon in me after all.

 

 

What’s in a Bib?

Last Sunday was the Chilly Half Marathon in Burlington, Ontario.  This race has become a staple on the winter running scene in southern Ontario and, with a few thousands participants, it has also become quite competitive.  This year, it was the half-marathon championship race for the Ontario Masters Athletics, a few Olympians (Reid Coolsaet and Krista Duchene) and other national level athletes like Lucas McAneney were on the line, as were hundreds more who were looking for a challenge and a fast time.

Race Ready: Nothing Can Stop Me.

Me?  In December, I wanted this to be a goal race, one in which to push myself to achieve a certain time.  But winter’s dark, Mama N’s ice and cold, and my nasty bruise from slipping on the ice put that plan on the backburner.  I still had the race in sight, but my goal changed to finish while feeling strong – and I was totally okay with that.  For me, the Chilly Half had become a ‘no pressure’ race.

On Friday night after work, I hustled to Burlington to pick up my race kit and bib.  When I got there, I stopped to chat with Lucas McAneney from The Running Room and told him that I needed to find my race number.  Lucas told me that they had been emailed but, somehow, I missed it.  I was directed to a girl with a terminal who told me “6, 6…..6.”

“What?”  I questioned.  “Are you kidding me?”  She passed me the terminal and I saw my name with 666 below it.  I could only shake my head and laugh as I went to pick up my bib.  The ladies handing them out stood still when they saw my number, looked at each other and were speechless until one commented “You could always wear it upside down.”

A couple of speed demons: Lucas McAneney and me.

I went back to visit Lucas and told him that I liked my number better before I knew what it was.  “Ya, I don’t have a very good one,” he said.  “I got 13.”  At least I wasn’t alone.

When I got home,  Dave told me that he could have saved me the trip to the expo and picked up my kit when he was in Burlington the next day.  “Are you kidding?
I asked.  “Getting this number myself totally made the drive in rush hour traffic worth it.”    When he saw it, Dave also suggested wearing it upside down.

At yoga that night, my friend, Monica, suggested that I ask the race director to exchange my bib for another number.  “No way,” I said.  “This is the bib that I was assigned so this is the number that I am going to wear.”

And I did.  On Sunday morning, I got dressed and pinned my bib to my singlet, ready to race.  But that is another post.

 

Fall Seven Times; Stand Up Eight

A few weeks ago, Mamma N and Old Man Winter got together and decided to curse runners with a dreadful winter: wind, snow, “something-stupid” below zero temperatures and, most recently, ice.  Now I’ve been able to handle most weather that’s been thrown at us but ice?  That is another story.

I am terrified of ice.  Two years ago, while running to the Rec Centre to meet some friends for our Wednesday night workout, my left toe hit some frozen slush on the road; I went flying, my jaw hit the ground and, as my friend, Amanda, likes to say, I broke my face – in four places.  I spent 6 weeks off work and developed a near paralyzing fear of ice.   So now, when there is any sign of it, I simply don’t run.

Post dreadmill: glad to have that run done!

Last week, Mother Nature gave us three days of ice and unpredictable footing so I had to modify my training plans.  On Monday, I went to yoga; on Tuesday, I gave in and visited the treadmill at the Rec Centre for the first time in over two years (yes, I was that desperate); on Wednesday night, I napped.   By the end of the week, the thermometer reached temperatures in the low teens and I was thrilled.  The only problem was the warmer weather  led to rapid melting; that, combined with the next day’s drop in temperatures and freezing rain, left us with even more icy roads on Saturday morning.

After our interval workout on the previous Saturday in -24C weather.

My friend, Monica, and I agreed that we should run with our club, Toronto Olympic Club, in The Six.  There, we had a choice of workouts: intervals with the Juniors or a distance run with the Seniors.  We opted for a long run along the waterfront trail, a pedestrian/cyclist pathway that the city always clears of snow and ice, and joined the guys who were heading towards the downtown core.   It wasn’t long before the men pulled ahead, Monica ran behind and I pushed to keep her in sight.

When I got to Ontario Place, about 4 miles from our start, I watched the guys run away from the main road towards  Lake Ontario.  I followed them, not really sure where they were going and not wanting to be alone.  “Hey!” I yelled in my head as there was no one around to hear me.  “It’s icy here!”  Of course, it was icy.  We were right next to the lake and that was frozen.   I slowed down, watched my footing, making sure that I stayed on concrete, and tried to keep my eye on Monica’s black ponytail in the distance.  Just as she turned out of sight, a piece of ice jumped from the sidewalk, grabbed my toe and pulled me into the ground – hard.  Somehow, I managed to roll onto my hands and knees; then, I sat down and wanted to cry.  I was angry.  My knees were sore and  I could already feel my thigh starting to throb.  Monica heard me fall and came back.   I got up and started to run, then stopped and cried, not because I was hurting but because I was so mad about my fall.   I went to Toronto so that I could escape the ice and there I was in the middle of it, desperately wanting to click my red Mizunos three times and go home.

Instead, I regained my focus, and Monica and I started to run.  Even though my leg was sore, I really had no choice as it was minus something-stupid and there was no other way to get back to our car.  I think that was actually good for me as the run forced the blood to move through my legs rather than pool in my thigh.  Wearing my winter tights which had compression, something that is always good for injuries, likely helped too.

24 hours later

By the time I got home, I felt fairly confident that I just bruised the muscle;  any type of fracture would have made running 5 miles back to the car impossible.    The bulging egg-shape surrounded by what seemed to be blood travelling to my thigh to protect it told me that my body was looking after itself.   Under the advice of many, I went to the hospital the next day, where a doctor confirmed that it was “just” a bruise.

A friend once told me “Don’t get upset about the things you can’t control; do something about the things you can.”  Falling was out of my control.  It was my bad luck and I am angry about that, especially since I did try to control the surface conditions that morning.  But this did not break me.  It might slow me down for a while but it will not stop me.  “Fall seven times; stand up eight.”

No News is Good News

During the summer, my doctor decided that I should have my breathing reassessed, simply to make sure that there were no changes.  We know that I have a few allergies, dust being the big one, and that I am asthmatic.   After an unhealthy last winter of colds, bronchitis and near-pneumonia, we both felt that something different may have started to surface.  So during the fall, I saw an allergist who declared that I had no new environmental allergies and a respirologist who put me through two sessions of asthma testing, only to conclude that I still have asthma.   I thought everything was status quo until a third breathing test was requisitioned, one which compared my breathing to my heartrate.

Fast forward to the end of November when I am being prepped for the cardio-pulmonary exam.  The technician checked the usuals – height, weight, pulse, blood pressure – then hooked me up to an ECG.  “Oh, look,” she said.  “You have a lot of inversions.”

“A lot of what?”

“Inversions.  See how the lines on the graph drop.  See those spikes.  Those are inversions.”

I really had no idea what she was talking about and I didn’t even notice when she walked out of the room.  But when she returned, one of the respirologists was with her, and she checked my wrist pulse, poked around my neck, and proceeded to interrogate me.  “Have you ever had a heart attack?  Do you have heart disease?  Does anyone in your family have heart disease?  Have you ever had a stroke?  Do you get dizzy?  Do you ever pass out?”  And the questions continued.

To each of these, I answered a firm ‘no’, eventually followed by a “What is going on?  Am I okay?”  The doctor didn’t want to test me as the inversions  are indicative of a heart attack; she didn’t want to do the test.  “Something could go wrong” and the respirologist didn’t want to take responsibility for it.  After finding a cardiologist who agreed on the exam, she relaxed a bit.

“Um,” I said.  “I think I’ll be okay.  I’m running cross-country nationals this weekend so I’m in pretty good shape.  And, if anything happens today, I’m already in a hospital so I’m in good hands.”

The following week, I met with my respirologist who said that the cardio-pulmonary exam was normal.  I just have asthma.  Then I asked her about the inversions, the upside-down spikes that sent people into a tizzy.  She was concerned about them as they indicate a problem with blood flow – possibly, a blood clot – and ordered an ultrasound of my heart.  “It could be nothing but let’s make sure.”

The internet can be a great tool but searching for information through Dr. Google can be terrifying.  I stayed away from it, but shared the results with two of my co-workers, to which one commented “You’ve had a silent heart attack.”

“A what?”

“A silent heart attack.  My dad went through this too.  He is okay but he needs to be monitored.”  Now I had new information so I went to Dr. Google who confirmed what the doctor and my co-worker told me.  Dave and I talked about it.

“In retrospect,” I told him, “this does make some sense.  I do get tired during the day and sometimes think I’m going to drop.  And you know how I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air – like something startles me?  Maybe it’s not an asthma attack.  Maybe my heart is jolting me awake.”

“Oh, you’re going to die in your sleep then.”

“Probably, ” I snorted.  “My grandmother did.”  And that was the end of that conversation.

Last week, I had my ultrasound and will go over the results with my own doctor in a few weeks.  “A few weeks?  That’s crazy!  What if something is wrong?” asked Dave.   I reminded him that if something is really wrong, we’d be called back to the hospital right away; we’ve been through that scenario before.  Anything minor can wait and, maybe, it is just an anomaly.  Only time will tell.

Just try to stop me. photo credit: Doug Smith

Since the first discussion that surrounded my heart, I have run an 8K national cross-country race, a 10.8K race with brutal hills, the Boxing Day 10 miler in freezing temperatures and I have continued to run status quo.  No one told me that I can’t run but, at the same time, I am being a bit more cautious with my timing and intensity.   I am trying to find more me-time:  rest time, quality time with my boys and time to relax.

Am I worried?  Not really, but I am aware that there could be a problem so I am always thinking about it.  But I also know that I’m healthy and fit, and that speaks volumes to me.  If this turns out to be something more than an anomaly, I’ll deal with it then.  But until I have something concrete to go by, I am going to keep chasing my dreams.