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Posts Tagged ‘positive thinking’

A week ago I completed my Cardiolite Exercise Test at the cardiology lab. My heart rate was a little elevated so I reached the 85% of max a little sooner than I usually do. No worries… it stands to reason after having two interventions in as many months, not to mention running on a 14% incline is nothing to sneeze at.

On the weekend things took an interesting turn. On Halloween I was taken to the ER at Hamilton General with similar symptoms as before when I had a 90% blockage. Let me say that the ER is a very strange and unusual place on Halloween especially when there is a full moon and a time change causing the nurses to have to work 13-hour shifts amidst the craziness. On Sunday I was transferred to the cardiac ward and scheduled for an angiogram to see what was causing symptoms that the doctors believed to be unstable angina. At first I shrugged off the discomfort and figured it was from running so soon after coronary intervention.

This brings us to Monday evening post-angio. There was nothing wrong from a cardiac perspective and anxiety had also been ruled out as well. The two places where I have stents are “widely patent” which in layman’s terms means that they are clear and blood flow is really good. The one bit of scarring that has caused a blockage they can’t do anything about is “well collateralized” which means I have new arteries handling the blood flow. That’s a good thing. So what was causing this pain? It turns out, or so we suspect, that I was experiencing a well-known side-effect to a blood thinning medication called Brilinta (ticagrelor) although there was some differences of opinion between my doctors. I started on this medication three weeks prior by the same doctor who I ended up reporting because he didn’t take my heart condition seriously. This certainly didn’t help my confidence levels that the medicine was the right one for me. On Tuesday morning I discontinued the Brilinta against the wishes of the doctor on the cardiac floor at Hamilton General. Instead I took a loading dose of the blood thinner that I was on up until early October. With that, the pain has completely vanished and I feel better than I have in months.

Once again there were issues with having to be aware of my condition and voice concerns to a doctor from the cardiac ward. He was going to prescribe a medication to help with the symptoms rather than remove the medication that was triggering the issue. The thing is what he wanted me to take lowers heart rate considerably. As a runner, my resting HR already sits around 50 bpm and if it were to be lowered further that could be actually a bit dangerous. When I spoke up the doctor realized his mistake and agreed. This puts me back at the realization that so many people would have just done what the doctor said without question. Being educated about my disease and advocating for myself has proven to be such a vital thing.

I came home after that, on Tuesday, and called my cardiologist, Dr. J.’s office. His assistant spoke to him about my refusal to take the Brilinta, my return to the other blood thinner, as well as the results of my Cardiolite Exercise Test. Yesterday morning when I was having tea with a dear friend I got that call that he felt going off the Brilinta was a wise choice. She also relayed that I had done very well on the treadmill, my heart is stable and I can resume running, cycling and most things at the gym in a few weeks. The only reason I can’t return immediately is that they did the angio on Monday via my femoral artery and I need a bit of time to heal. I can also resume weight training in late November or early December.

I have a few tidbits of running news.

I’ve signed up for the 5K distance at the Mercedes 10K race in Oakville on April 24, 2016. My husband Bryan will be running the 10K and it we will so some of our weekday runs together.

The other bit of running news is wonderful and it involves another Spring race… but I can’t share the details just yet. As soon as I am able to make things public I’ll post my news. What I can say is that a tremendous and exciting opportunity to make a difference has sprung out of the heart health hurdles I’ve had to jump these past months. I’m going to take this wee bit of down time to make a realistic training plan with the mind and there may be some shoe shopping… oh and my running playlist could use an update.

It’s all part of moving forward with strength, courage, and strong spirit… i mua.

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Yes, this is a race report. It has been a long time coming, hasn’t it? Now that you’ve picked your jaw up off the keyboard… grab your beverage of choice (I’m having Hibiscus tea) and get comfortable because this is going to be a bit of a read. Before I get into the summation of the event I will give a bit of a preamble for those who haven’t followed this journey of mine.

Where to start? Well, I suppose the last races are as good a place as any.

In October 2013 I participated in three events. The first two were on the first weekend of the month. Run for the Toad was a 12.5K leg of a trail relay on a very hilly course at Pinehurst Lake Conservation Area. The next day I completed a 5K Colour Run on the trails in Christie Lake Conservation Area. I felt unwell that weekend. The third race, later in October, was my first and only one that started but didn’t finish. I panicked halfway through the course. I was consciously worried about breaking my ankle but there was also a deeper level of anxiety. Ironically a few weeks later I broke my toes. The deeper anxiety, in hindsight, was that I was a running time bomb with an artery that was almost 80% blocked.

the hospital stay

the hospital stay

As you may have read, I had a procedure to fix that in March of 2014. Luckily I didn’t have a heart attack nor did I cause heart damage. Running had saved my life and I was determined to pick up where I left off in late 2013.

Recovery was tough. I ran but not the way I used to. Physically there was nothing holding me back. I had the all-clear from the doctors to run, train on hills, weight lift and whatever else I wanted to tackle. To be honest, I was terrified. I signed up for races and bailed over and over again. A full marathon, half marathons, 5Ks, 10Ks, all came and went. Race day would arrive and I would lose my nerve. Training suffered over the year and anxiety became the norm. I’d hop off the treadmill every 10 minutes during a run to check my blood pressure. I’d run a handful of times each month but training had gone to the wayside. I could bike 10 to 20K at an all-out pace at the gym but to run for even a few kilometers was stressful. Sure there were a thousand reasons why it was so hard, after all I had lost my base, but the bottom line is that I was scared. It takes a lot for me to admit that the thought of running at a race was so crippling to me. Fear and anxiety took over.

There was a breaking point. A month ago I dropped out of the Niagara Falls Women’s Half Marathon. I wasn’t trained but I had agreed to run part of it. My friend Carla had signed up just after I had and I wanted to be there to support her like she has done for me over and over. A family issue arose and I had to cancel. In doing so, I felt that I had really let my friend down and I felt horrible about it. That said, I was relieved that I wasn’t running despite what was going on here. Fear had reared its’ ugly head yet again and regret crept into the mix. Letting myself down is one thing but letting a close friend down was really upsetting. I don’t have words for how bad I felt.

About a week before the Niagara event I signed up for Long Point Eco-Adventures’ Smugglers Run Trail Race near Turkey Point, Ontario. There were three distances but because it was trail run and my running base was shot, I chose the smallest of the three which was 6K. For weeks before the event I wrestled with whether I should run it. What if I had more heart problems? I could injure myself, after all I hadn’t worked on a solid running base. What if I was last? What would people think? What if the cardiologist was wrong and I had a heart attack on the course? What if something happened with the kids while I was out running? What if? What if? I was overthinking everything and being a little dramatic.

I resolved that I was not going to back out of this race. I was going to brave the start line and that even if I had to walk the entire race, I would cross the finish line. It had been 21 months since I had completed an event. 21 months! Time to suck it up and move forward. With the support of a great circle of friends I prepared for race day.

And… finally the race report.

pre-race selfie

pre-race selfie

I arose at 5:20 am and groggily got ready to leave. Bryan and I had an hour drive and wanted to meet our friend Mandi, around 7:30. The morning was gorgeous and the drive out was a little foggy but nice. We drove through the countryside and made our way to Turkey Point arriving at Long Point Eco-Adventures around the time that we had planned. Long Point Eco-Adventures is a wonderful facility. There was an observation tower, zip lining and all sorts of other things. The property was directly across from the Burning Kiln Winery.

We explored for a bit and had a snack. I was in capris but at the last moment decided to change into my running shorts because it was warming up considerably. Mandi was kind enough to share some homemade bug repellant that she had created and then we headed to the start line so we could cheer the 18K and 12K runners as they took off on the trails. In all there was about a hundred runners. I was mentally prepared that the worst case scenario would be a lovely walk in the woods. My mantra was that “forward is a pace”.

the cool race bib

the cool race bib

The race officials sent us out 10 minutes early which was great because I was raring to go. The course wound around and down a bit of an incline. So far so good. Then we got to a boardwalk and there was a right turn in the middle of it. No big deal, right? Well, it was quite a step down into eroded and uneven ground and it faced the steepest hill I’ve ever seen. Yes, steeper and longer than Skeleton Hill at Run for the Toad. Goodness gracious. Mandi and Bryan had run ahead so I was quite happily running on my own. I was dead last but I had the second and third last people in my sights. As I crested the hill and came around the corner into the fields, there was Bryan. He was waiting to run with me and he had picked a wild Brown-eyed Susan which he handed to me when I ran to him. I tucked it into my Bondi Band and off we ran.

© Wilson Photography

© Wilson Photography

He was determined to run the rest of the course with me. We spent quite a bit of time walking as the hills were brutal. Did I mention it was really hilly? Parts of the course had two-way traffic and it was quite narrow so there were pauses to let the runners doing the 18K pass by. Every once in a while he’d swat a mosquito on my back. I suppose I should have worn a light coloured shirt and used bug repellant on my torso. Oops.

Just around the 5K mark Bryan had an epic wipeout. He tripped on a root and his shoe went flying down a steep embankment and his iPod went in the other direction. Bryan landed right in the damp dirt. We were only a few meters from the paramedics when they heard me yell to see if he was all right. Bryan was a bit embarrassed and his toe is very badly bruised. We lost a few minutes while he retrieved his gear but this race wasn’t about time for us and the wee break gave me a little umph for a stronger finish. I was determined to finish even if I was dead last, but my chivalrous husband made me go ahead of him. I crossed the finish line with the flower still in my headband.

The best way I can describe this course is that if you were to take a 12.5K loop from Run for the Toad and condense the elevations there into 6K, you have the Smugglers Run. Holy technical and hilly—the kind of hills that chew you up and spit you out. My lack of training was evident and I had to walk more than I wanted to. The time on my Garmin time read 01:10:34 and my official chip time was 01:12:19.

the casks

the casks

After we crossed the finish line we collected our commemorative glass mugs that were given instead of finishers medals and headed over to Burning Kiln Winery for our complimentary glass of wine. I enjoyed a most delicious Cab-Franc as the awards were given out.

Would I run this again?

You bet, but I’d actually train for it next time. Long Point Eco-Adventures hosted a fabulous event. There was great volunteer support on the trail with water stations every few kilometers. The route was stunningly beautiful.

I am so happy that I went out and braved the start line. Of course, I had the typical post-race high and during that booked to run the same distance in another trail race named Chase the Coyote in Mono Cliffs Provincial Park. The race is at the end of September and that gives me time to get some decent hill training in. I’m running the Oasis ZooRun 10K in Toronto a few weeks before and that course isn’t exactly flat either.

I sure do things the hard way as this wasn’t exactly a moderate course for my first race after such a long sabbatical, but adversity met perseverance on Sunday and it feels great to be back! The crippling fear has been conquered and laid to rest.

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As I embark on some serious training for the 2014 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, I realize that many of the people who read this blog or follow me on twitter may not realize why I chose such a name.

So often in my life I have felt or been made to feel that things are impossible and had people encourage me to give up. In 2012 I first mentioned my want to run a half marathon and was greeted with “why would you bother?” and “you are just setting yourself up for failure” from someone I was close to. After my heart issue that same person said “we were just waiting for you to have to give up this silly running business” and ” I hope you realize now that you can’t do this”. It is a lack of support that I had grown accustomed to but the difference is that I am a runner now. Running has made me realize that the only limits I have are the ones I place upon myself.

Why the name Finding My Inner Possible?

This is a phrase that reflects my getting in touch with that part inside of me that makes what I strive for… well… possible. My Mom always called this “intestinal fortitude”. From the outside my dreams, goals, and aspirations may seem, to some people, way beyond my limits but I have the belief and inner strength that I can do anything as long as I put my mind to it.  Inner possible is about how having a positive mindset and drawing on inner strength can help me to believe in myself when others don’t and to realize my full potential.

We all have an inner possible. I encourage you to find yours and embrace it. If you are training for your first race, whether it is a 5K or 100 miler, please feel free to train virtually alongside of me via twitter and use #innerpossible so we can encourage each other. I’d love to see how you use your inner possible to do things you once thought you never could.

If you want to connect on twitter just follow me @innerpossible.

Life is short… go out and embrace it!

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I’ve been under the weather with a nasty cold-flu-like bug for a week so this is a bit late in coming.  Here is what has been going on with my heart…

My Healthy Heart

Friday April 11th finally arrived. A mere two weeks after my heart procedure I sat in the office of the cardiology lab anxiously awaiting a consult with my cardiologist. While I had tests and had been in the hospital, Dr. J. and I actually hadn’t seen each other since August. There was a lump in my throat and I was feeling very stressed about the whole thing, yet I desperately wanted answers. I reminded myself that I could handle any news, good or bad, and took a deep breath.

The nurse came out and escorted me to the back so that she could check my vitals, weight, abdominal measurement, and run an EKG. Shortly after, I went to the consult room and Dr. J. joined me. He asked me how I felt about my family genetics catching up with me. I half-joked and said, “I wish I could punch my family genetics in the nose!”

A tear rolled down my cheek and I braced myself for the worst.  Dr. J. looked at me and said. “Your heart is strong and healthy. The two overlapping stents you’ve got are not going to be an issue. Given the condition of your heart from the running and cycling you could have ten stents and it would still be better than a single stent in a damaged heart. The valve issues are mild at this point and nothing should deter you from being active. In fact, I’d would like to have you back to running by the end of the month but first I’d like to do a myocardial perfusion so we know where you are at with blood flow. Oh and you can take that nitroglycerin patch off. You don’t need it.” He also decided against sending me for Cardiac Rehab because I had already walked more than 42K since being released from the hospital.

The word “shock” just doesn’t encompass the surprise I felt when I heard him say that I would be running again in mere weeks. I looked at him, somewhat puzzled, and said “I should probably rethink running the marathon in the Fall. Right?” His reply was, “if you want to run a marathon there is no reason that you can’t fulfill that dream. Which race?” So I told him about the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and about my recent social media role with Canada Running Series for the Toronto Yonge Street 10K.

Speaking of which…

The Un-Race Report

a little warm-up run

a little warm-up run

Fast forward to Sunday April 13th. I don’t think I have ever been as excited about a race I wasn’t able to run. I made so many great running connections during my time as Digital Champion and I had decided that no matter what Friday’s outcome was with my heart, I was going to be there Sunday to cheer everyone on. My fellow Digital Champions had been an amazing support during all the health issues and I wanted to show them that I appreciated that.

We awoke uber-early on Sunday morning. Our friend Carla met us at the house, with coffee in hand, we strapped Kaia into her car seat and off we went. The horrible forecast had changed for the better and it looked like it would be a dry but windy race. The drive was pretty uneventful and parking was plentiful near the start line because we were a bit early.

A few days before I had exchanged messages with Krista Duchene and we were able to meet briefly before the race. I also met Robbie Watson. They were doing an East-West challenge so I wished them both a great race. It was great to meet both of them.  One day I will have to share a funny story about my first encounter with Krista about a year and a half ago. Meanwhile, Kaia and Bryan were running around near the start. This was going to be her last race in the stroller and she was raring to go. I’ve never seen a little girl so charged up about running as Kaia is and it isn’t every day I can let my child play in the middle of Yonge Street.

The Justice League

The Justice League

I waited at the start line and took photos of runners leaving the gate. I was using my Android and there was a glare on the screen so some of the shots were rather accidental. I did get a shot of The Justice League taking off which was great. I screamed loud encouragements to other friends as they started. I won’t sugar coat it, this was very hard for me. When I heard the gun go off and the announcer building up the excitement, I had to hold back a few tears. It was emotional for me on many levels but knowing that running is still possible for me, kept it from being anything more than damp lashes.

Then, after the last competitor was out of the gate, my friend Sheryl and I headed to the finish line. That didn’t exactly go as planned and her husband Ric had already finished by the time we got there. Oops. In hindsight we should have headed to the finish much earlier. We found a good spot and waited for Bryan, Carla, and Kaia. Sheryl and Ric drove Bryan back to our Jeep while Carla, Kaia, and I hung out at the awards ceremony. I met up with Andrew Chak, Jodi Lewchuck, and Mahnaz. Hugs all around. Then later I met Batman aka JP Hernandez and Spiderman aka Mark Sawh. Oh… and I met Alan Brookes as well. Can’t forget Alan! Everyone had hugs and it felt really great being there. I forgot how much I missed that beloved sense of community among runners.

It was a great day for a race. Rest assured that I WILL be crossing the Toronto Yonge Street 10K finish line next year. Maybe even as a Digital Champion! What do you think Mr. Brookes?

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This morning Daniel, an awesome photographer and avid Bruce Trail hiker, posted about gratitude on Facebook. It inspired me to write a little about what I am grateful for today and share that with you.

Since November 2012 I’ve been getting rid of a lot of the negative influences in my life and that has made room for some very positive aspects to move to the forefront. I often reflect on all the wonderful things in my life and I try to pull the lessons out of the not-so-great things that have happened. Doing so keeps me grounded and my outlook focused where it needs to be.

I am grateful for…

  • Bryan
  • my darling children — Tobias & Kaia
  • love
  • true friends
  • our dog Thomson
  • coffee
  • camping trips
  • naps
  • my bike — I love our family bike rides
  • Tobias being a great big brother to Kaia
  • air conditioning
  • my friend Laurie dropping in to say hello
  • story time with my baby girl
  • my camera
  • wildflowers
  • our local trail network
  • hugs from Stephanie
  • my running playlist
  • the full fly on our tent
  • simple pleasures
  • running in the woods
  • listening to my kids play, sing & be silly
  • sunscreen
  • swings — they bring out my inner child
  • freezies — brought over by my sweet neighbour when she spots us coming back from a bike ride

So, what are you grateful for today?

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Tapering is runner-speak for a gradual reduction in running distance and intensity for a short period before an event. That’s what I am doing right now. I have a ton of things on the go including the cookbook so the extra time is productive. I’ve also got a big old case of pre-race jitters.

You see, I’ve come a long way to get to this point. I’ve battled being morbidly obese and I’ve struggled with diabetes and heart issues.  During my training my Mom passed away, and the kids got sick, and life happened. Losing Mom, hit me hard and there were days I didn’t want to train, but I picked myself up and did it anyway. Sometimes the tears would stream down my face.

I’ve managed to continue training even with many time obstacles facing me, one being the wife of a guy who travels a lot. I did miss a few workouts and I managed to stay pretty much injury free. I did have some calf pain due to low sodium levels or a footwear issue. My husband, Bryan, and I worked together and with the support of some really awesome friends, I was able to complete my training and I have two small taper runs left followed by some carb loading. Then that will be concluded with a couple days of rest before the big event on Sunday morning.

Am I scared? Hell yes! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.

but…

My coach has faith in me. My friends, many who have run these kinds of distances and have followed my training, believe in me. I’ve run a single distance of over 19.5K in training and had a few runs at 17.5 K. I’ve done hill repeats and speed work. I’ve paid attention to nutrition and learned what works for me on these long distance runs.

I’ve booked a hotel, started packing my gear and making a list of things to remember, arranged to have my race kit picked up, chosen my shoes, had a pep talk from my coach, and arranged for the grandparents to babysit. Another friend, Carla, has offered to run alongside me to make it more enjoyable.

and…

As nervous as I am… I believe in myself. I’m looking at this run as fun and I will finish upright and smiling. I may not be fast but I am determined!

One last thing…

Believe – Suzie McNeil

“It’s like I’m falling through my own fears
They used to haunt me but now they’re not here
There’s no looking back
My future is clear
No giving up and I’m holding on when it gets rough
‘Cause you can get through most anything

If you just believe you can move mountains with dreams
The higher you climb the better it gets
‘Cause you will see things you’ll never forget if you just believe”

B(e) positive.

PS I’ll post a full race report sometime next week!

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The idea for a wordle from my blog was inspired by my son’s latest school project. He was asked to create one for his novel study and I thought it might be fun to make my own.

click to enlarge

click image to enlarge

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