Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My VO2 Max Is Bigger Than Yours

Actually, that's probably a lie.

First off, let me apologize for my hiatus (again). The past seven weeks have been so busy, and I've been traveling almost every weekend (except for the one when I was down with a sinus infection).

Nearly a week ago I had my Metabolic stress test that I had mentioned my Cardiologist wanted me to have. In honor of this occasion, I felt it was necessary to pull out my old Penn State Kinesiology Club shirt...

I have to say, the test went relatively well! I arrived a little early, and it wasn't long before they came out to the waiting room to get me. I believe it was an exercise physiologist (maybe a nurse), however, I didn't ask for her title. She brought me back and explained what they were going to be doing with me, I was very familiar with the treadmill portion of the exam, they were going to have me do a Bruce protocol. The treadmill would start off slow (1.7 MPH), but I would be walking at a 10% grade. Every three minutes the treadmill would get a little steeper and a little faster. The goal was the run until I felt I physically could not go anymore.

Before the treadmill portion of the test I was required to do a handful of breathing exercises. I was handed a mouthpiece and instructed to put it in my mouth. She clipped my nose closed with a clothespin type device, and told me to breathe normally through my mouth, then she told me on one of my inspirations take a large breath in and blow it out forcefully and keep pushing the air out until a green bar came across the computer screen. This exercise I did three different times, and all three times I was within normal limits on the low side by one unit, so that was not so great.

The next was the ever so wonderful hyperventilation exercise. Ironically, when I was taking a break from the first breathing exercise I had told the woman in the room that I remembered doing some of these exercises at Penn State, and I especially remembered the hyperventilation exercise because of how light headed I felt afterward. She laughed and said, "Well, you'll have to do that one next!" I completed that exercise with no problem, but was definitely dizzy.

She had me sit for a brief moment after that exercise to recover, and wait for the cardiologist to come in. While I was sitting there she handed me a paper with a list of TV channels on it, and asked me what I wanted to watch. I looked up, and sure enough, above the treadmill was a flat screen television. Not really knowing what is on during daytime TV, I just requested ESPN. The cardiologist came in, introduced herself, and it was time to start the treadmill portion of my test.

During the exam I was also required to wear the mouth piece and the "nose clothespin" to monitor my oxygen in and out. To ensure the mouthpiece would stay in place, and so I didn't have to hold it, they attached it to this ridiculous headband, I must have looked like a bionic woman! In hindsight, I wish I had asked them to take a picture of me so I could post it. So, with the mouthpiece monitoring my oxygen along with my exercise was used to calculated my VO2 max. One thing I found difficult about this test was the fact that I was NOT allowed to hold on. For safety reasons, I figured it would be a requirement, but no. Not holding on adds difficulty because you have to balance yourself and keep yourself near the front of the treadmill against the hill. The signal for me to stop (since I was wearing the mouth piece and unable to talk) was to grab on to the handle on the treadmill, and they would stop the belt.

I was disappointed I only did a little over 9 and a half minutes. The one thing I did note was that my breathing was not labored, it was my legs that forced me to stop, they were ON FIRE! I never run hills when training (but I really should), and ultimately it killed me. They slowed the treadmill to a stop and then had me sit in a chair to recover. I was finally able the take the mouthpiece out, and nose clip off and and breathe normally. They both stated I did a great job, and that my heart is not the issue. In the end it actually came down to my lungs. After my open heart surgery, it sounds as though scar tissue has formed in the thorax, which does not allow for my lungs to expand and fill completely. Unfortunately, I don't think there is anything I can do to change this.

They handed me a packet with a bunch of values and graphs on it, (not that I have any idea what half of it means) and the top number was my VO2 max. It ended up being 40 mL/(kg·min), so I can deal with that. Now that I know the issue is not my heart, I can continue training and I'm sure my VO2 max will only improve.

This weekend, I'm running the color run with some friends and coworkers. I ran it last year with a few friends and we had an absolute blast! I'm definitely looking forward to it this year with more friends joining in! I told my friends I'd make us all tutus, so I need to get to work on those since I will be busy the next two evenings!

QOTD: Have you ever had a metabolic stress test? Ever ran a novelty race like the color run?

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