Sunday, March 8, 2009

Catching up

I am way behind! I have a lot to write about but so little time. I will divide each section up for easy reading!


The EKG

I saw a doctor on Monday for a routine physical. I jokingly told the nurse that I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to kneel over during marathon training.

Well, I shouldn't have said that!

When the doctor asked if I had any special concerns, I mentioned that I have heart palpitations once every week or so, most likely due to anxiety. I also said that at the end of my runs, it seems like my heart skips a beat--or two!--then plummets down to a normal rate, even as I am walking quickly to cool off.

She ran an EKG as a precaution and it was abnormal. When she sat down with me and told me she had faxed a referral to a cardiologist and that I was to make an appointment with him as soon as possible, I felt like a deer caught in headlights.

I quit smoking for good last August, have been getting 8 or more hours of sleep a night, eat better than anyone I know, and have maybe two glasses of wine a month, and this is what I get?

Once home, I immediately made an appointment with the cardiologist. He was fully booked until March 18th. Great! I need to wait that long? I am not one to sit on my hands and patiently await information. First, my husband called my doctor to see if I could keep running.

I have a 10k--my first race!--coming up and my training for it had been going very well. No way did I want to suddenly stop running.

Next I took a closer look at the EKG. It says sinus bradycardia at the top but I paid that no heed. I looked at the squiggly lines carefully. I couldn't see anything wrong, but what did I know? My husband took a photograph of the EKG, leaving out all the text at the top. I knew a couple nurses so I figured I could ask them to take a look.

Long story short, a nurse and a former paramedic each confirmed the sinus bradycardia--slow heartbeat--and also noted that it looked like a chamber of my heart was trying to throw in an extra beat in between the regular beats. It is not a big deal; athletes often have abnormally slow heartbeats.

The palpitations are probably genuinely anxiety-related, as I had suspected, and the skipped beats at the end of runs are probably due to inadequately cooling down. My doctor got back to us and said yes, you can run, I am just sending you to a cardiologist as a precautionary measure since you are training for a high-altitude marathon.

And so, I had a joyous three-mile easy run, then a wonderful 8.3-mile run on Thursday. After each run I did my best to monitor my heart. If it began to skip a beat, I would break into an incredibly slow jog and that did the trick. Two minutes after each run, I checked my heart rate and each time it was in the mid-80's.

I think everything will be okay. Hey, better this than a heart rate that is too fast!


The Show

There is a very good possibility (forecast says 90% chance) that I will be showing Limerick on April 5th!

I was definitely not expecting to show her so soon. However, another boarder at the barn--whom I was planning to go to shows with--told me about a laid-back schooling dressage show, in an indoor arena, at Fields and Fences in Wadsworth.

I think it would be a perfect opportunity to see how Limerick is at a show environment. Being in an outdoor show is a whole other ballgame; there are many more places for the boogeyman to hide, after all! So this would allow both Lim and I to become accustomed to a show environment without the added stress of outdoor distractions.

On Wednesday we plan to ride the dressage test patterns for the first time! I really have no idea how Lim will do. I haven't been able to ride her much lately (today included, due to nonstop heavy rains and the subsequent flooding) but I had a wonderful ride on her last Wednesday. She was energetic but not spooky and carried herself in a nice, collected frame even though I was not asking for one.

The only way I would not show Limerick if she becomes injured (knock wood!) or behaves so badly during the month that showing is hopeless. But from what I saw last week, I doubt that will be the case.


The Group Run

A couple weeks ago the local running store sent out a mass email inviting women to a "Women's Fun Run". I am not a social creature and almost passed but had to take a second look. A goody bag was being offered as well as coffee and bagels post-run. Hmmm! I am a sucker for free things so that did me in.

The run was yesterday morning. I drove to the store and parked. There were what seemed like hundreds of women (probably only a couple dozen) milling about outside the store. Yikes. I went into the store and walked towards the back and pretended to look at the shoes on the shoe wall. There must have been 50 women and everyone seemed to know someone else. Many of the women seemed to know entire groups of a dozen or so.

It was utterly nerve-wracking!

At one point one of the store employees stood on a chair and spoke but I had no idea whatsoever what she said. I figured I'd just do what I always did in situations like that--follow the crowd.

After what seemed like an eternity of pretending to be interested in shoes and lycra clothing, I realized I had to use the bathroom. I asked the woman immediately behind me where it was and she pointed to the back with a smile.

When I emerged, everyone was beginning to file out the store for the run. Good timing! Eager to get moving, I slipped outside and found myself in the middle of the pack. The sky was heavy with clouds but I had checked the radar earlier and doubted it would rain much.

I was wrong! Five minutes into the run, it began to pour. And hard! Many women were not dressed for the conditions and quickly became soaked. But as one that loathes treadmills and runs outside whenever possible, day or night, rain or shine, I had put on a lightweight jacket and a baseball cap just in case it rained. I was happy in the rain but hoped that it let up soon.

My hearing aid is OK in rain for a few moments but thirty moments of torrential rains could damage it.

I ran around clusters of women and found myself between the two packs at the front. In front of me was a woman in a Boston Marathon '07 jacket. She was wearing shorts and I could only admire her calves, which were enormous and strong. No kidding! You need to qualify in a qualifying marathon before being able to run the Boston Marathon. She looked to be twenty years my senior and it gave me hope for my future as a runner.

The further we ran, the harder it rained. I finished at a sprint, exhilarated by running among others, by the rain. We went up some stairs to a room above the running store. I was soaked to the skin.

Then my hearing aid began to beep weakly. I recognized the beep--it wasn't a dead battery warning beep, it was a Help me, I'm wet and about to malfunction beep. I looked around the room. Bagels and coffee were on a folding table at one end, and chairs were everywhere with coupons and freebies. The wet runners were chattering and taking off their wet outer layers and shoes. More wet runners were tromping and squishing up the stairs to the room.

I saw no point of staying, so I left. Once a lone wolf, always a lone wolf, I guess. It was not a good social experience but it was a fantastic run, and that's what was most important!

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I am glad your heart is OK that is always a little scary!