Tuesday, December 8, 2015

runDisney's Wine & Dine "Half of a Half" Marathon: Part 2

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. It's one of my favorite holidays. Food, family and football, what's not to love?!

I apologize for the delay in posting the second half of my race recap. Life has gotten away from me lately, but it's time to get back on track. Last I left off, Lily and I walked down to the bus stop on time and were feeling better about things after the fiasco of getting to dinner on time, etc. Once we were on the bus we could breathe a sigh of relief. However, it was not over. Like I said, Fate was trying to tell me something.

We made it to the ESPN sports complex in no time at all, and made our way through the security bag check. We made our way over to the gEAR check, and got rid of our bags, then found a place to sit and relax while we waited to head to the corrals.

(Wilderness Explorers are ready for a 13.1 mile adventure!)

After a while we decided to hop in line for the port-a-potties so we would be ready to go once we headed to the corrals. While we waited in line we commented on all the neat costumes we saw. We saw two people dressed as churros, they were super cute. We also saw some other Wilderness Explorers, some even had full on backpacks with pots hanging from the back. Now that's dedication! I have to say, that the churros may have been the best costume we saw. As we waited, out of nowhere the wind began to pick up. Although it felt nice because the humidity was so high, we knew it was not a good sign. It couldn't have been 10 minutes later, that the runDisney announcers told us that there was severe weather in the area, and that we needed to be evacuated to the ESPN stadiums until further notice. Of course there was a mad rush because people started to freak out.

Lily and I made our way to one of the stadiums, and decided to head to one of the bathrooms in there since we never made it up to the port-a-potties, then we made our way to the bleachers and had a seat. While we waited, the people around us were watching the weather Doppler on their phones. Of course there was this big orange spot over us.



Finally after about an hour, they let us go back outside, and it had never even rained. We made our way back to where we were originally waiting, and people started making their ways to the corrals. Lily and I jumped in line at the port-a-potties one last time. We were trying to rebuild the momentum that we had lost while sitting in the bleachers. While we waited, the couple behind us was checking facebook and told us that because of the weather delay, runDisney was shortening the course. They posted the new course, and we calculated it out to be about 6 miles of the race. They decided to cut out all of the Animal Kingdom. We were both disappointed, but there was nothing we could do at this point. At least they didn't cancel it all together.

We went to the bathroom, then made it to our corral, where we quickly made some new friend while we waited to start. So, let's fast forward a bit. Lily and I finally crossed the start mat at 11:23 pm, and we maybe made it about 3/4 of a mile and we were both DRENCHED in sweat. Since it hadn't rained, the humidity level was still at 85%. We trudged along, and unfortunately because of the shortened course, it was SO congested the entire time. Before we knew it we were heading into Hollywood Studios and right through the Osborne family spectacle of lights!

(Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights)

We snapped more photos, but this one is my favorite from Hollywood Studios. We waved through Hollywood Studios, and before we knew it we were running out the front and along the water towards Epcot. I think by this point, Lily and I were over this race, and just ready to finish. We ran along the boardwalk and finally into Epcot. We ran past spaceship earth and weaved our way back out of Epcot and towards the finish line. I gave Mickey a high five, and Lily and I crossed the finish line together. THANK GOD that was over! Our clothes were completely saturated. We separated to go through our respective gEar check lines to grab our dry clothes, and met back up after. Then we made our way through the drink line and finally out to where we could breathe.

(The smiles... I think we're just happy to be done.)

This next part is a little sad. We slowly made our way back toward the after party at Epcot and made it through the bag check line.Once we made it inside, I ran into Chris, so I said hi and chatted with him for a few minutes. We must have been right by each other in the bag line because I was walking in JUST behind him. Chris went on his way and Lily and I slowly made our way past Spaceship Earth and towards World Showcase. We made it to the Cranberry bog and we both literally had had enough. We were both so tired, still soaked, and just didn't know if we could honestly even make it around the World Showcase. So, yes, we turned around and left.

We slowly made our way back to the resort buses, and thankfully there was a bus there waiting. We climbed aboard and plopped into a seat. It felt so good to sit down. Once we finally made it back to our resort, I hopped in the shower first, and it was ridiculous trying to peel my clothes off. I threw them in a pile on the floor and decided I would deal with them in the morning. Once I got out of the shower, I crawled right into bed with the box of leftover pizza from dinner, then it was lights out. It must have been after 2 am.

Sunday morning we took our time getting up and getting around. We certainly were in no rush to get to Magic Kingdom because we also had tickets for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, so we were going to be at the park until around midnight. I threw my medal in my bag, but wasn't all that thrilled about wearing it since we didn't actually run the half marathon. I still had Lily snap a quick picture with me wearing it, then it went in my bag for the rest of the day.


So there you have it. The mess that was supposed to be my great half marathon comeback. All in all, Lily and I still had a good time even though the weekend didn't go as we planned.

QOTD: Have you ever had a race not go according to plan? Ever have a race completely cancelled on you?

Friday, November 13, 2015

runDisney's Wine & Dine "Half of a Half" Marathon: Part 1

Yes, you read that right. If you're a runDisney enthusiast, then you probably already know that this past weekends Wine & Dine half marathon was shortened, but we'll get to that in my next post. Basically the only way I can summarize this race experience is with this: Fate was trying to tell me I was not meant to run this half.


So let's start with the Expo. Not that anything really went wrong there, but that's basically where it all started. Lily and I decided to wait to go to the expo on Saturday morning. The race was that evening, and we didn't want to waste any time on Friday going to the expo so we could get in as much park time as possible. Once we got to the expo, we went directly to packet pick-up, then we were directed to the Jostens center to pick up our shirts and gEAR bags. On the way over to the Jostens center we stopped at guest relations so Lily could pick up her race gift card. Mine had arrived in the mail, but hers did not. Luckily, they were able to deactivate the one that was mailed to her and activate a new one for her.

Once we got to the Jostens center we walked to the back where the race shirts and gEAR bags were. After we picked those up, we walked over to the Official runDisney merchandise area. Basically EVERYTHING was picked over. Lily and I did end up buying the unisex "I did it" shirts. Then Lily got in line at KT Tape, so I told her I was going to walk back over to packet pick-up and see if there was any runDisney merchandise there. Sadly, there was very little to choose from over there too, but it was worth a check. I'm glad I went back over there though, because I wanted to sign a few people up for runner tracking, and that's where that was located. I walked right by it the first time without even taking notice. After that, I walked back over to the expo to wander around.

(Countdown to fun!)

Maybe it was because it was the last day, but the expo was very underwhelming to me. I mean, it was better than what they ever had to offer at the Expedition Everest Challenge. Fit 2 Run took up a good majority of the expo floor. I honestly had no interest in buying new running gear while I was on vacation, but I did cave and buy a new pair of compression socks to wear to bed since I had forgotten mine. After I made my first round, I went back to check on Lily. She had moved maybe halfway through the line. Unfortunately with KT Tape, if an individual buys their own roll of tape, they will tape anything and everything you want taped for the race.

(Everyone in line at KT Tape be like "Tape Everything!")

I waited with Lily for a little while, and then I decided to make another round at the Expo. I wandered over to Sweaty Bands to pick up a few Sweaty Bands for a friend, and then to Sparkly Soul. I did see a Sparkly Soul that I wanted, but they didn't have the band thickness I was looking for, so I'll look online. They were wonderful and told me if I e-mailed them, they would still offer me the expo discount if I bought more than one. I did another lap and then went back to check on Lily. She was much closer, so I waited until she was done. Her entire wait was probably and hour and a half. After she was done we walked around the expo once more so she could see what they had to offer then we decided to head out. By this point it was after 2 pm and the expo was set to end at 3 pm. We stopped at Wetzels on the way out to grab a pretzel (mmm, carbs) to snack on while we rode the bus back to the resort. As we walked down the sidewalk we had to grab a quick picture by the Wine and Dine 1/2 sign with our race bibs.



Our plan to lay by the pool was a bust by the time we got back to the hotel seeing it was getting a little late for that, so we just went back to our room to rest. We threw on some College football and took a power nap. I had set my phone alarm for 4 pm so we could catch the bus for our dinner reservation at 5 at Disney Springs. Here is where things really started to take a turn for the worse. We got down to the bus stop and looked at the estimated arrival of the next bus. We waited, and we waited, and watched the time slowly creep up. Before we knew it it was 4:35 and the bus was just pulling up. We still had 25 minutes to get to our reservation, so I wasn't going to freak out just yet.

Once we boarded the bus we noticed that there were 2 motorized scooters on board. Lily looked at me and goes, "Those are going to have to get off at some point." I sighed and nodded my head. The bus stopped at the next resort hotel on the loop, and sure enough both scooters were getting off. By this time it was 5:45, so I decided to call the restaurant to let them know we were going to be late and to make sure we could still come. They were very understanding and said it wasn't a problem, they'd be able to seat us when we got there. Perfect! The scooters finally got off, and there was another scooter waiting that needed to board. I don't even remember what time it was once the scooter fiasco was over and we were finally on our way.

While we were sitting on the bus, it felt like quite a long ride and it seemed like I was looking at different scenery than what I remembered from going to Disney Springs (Downtown Disney) on previous trips. Sure enough, I was right. The buses bring you in from the other direction now, and drop you off. It may be because of all of the construction they have going on down there. I had mentioned to Lily that there should be a stop at the West side of Downtown Disney, so we could get off there and it would be closer to the restaurant. Nope. The only bus stop is now at the Marketplace. By this point, it was already after 5, and Lily and I had to weave through the crowds to get down to the restaurant. We finally walked in at 5:35. It took us over an hour to get there, ridiculous.

The restaurant seated us immediately, and we were ordering within 5 minutes. We both ordered pizzas, and were surprised at how quickly they came out. After all that, I was thankful and began to relax a bit as I munched on a few slices of pizza. While eating I text my friends and told them everything we had just gone through to get to our dinner reservation and that fate was trying to tell me that I was not meant to run this race. I sat there thinking of what else could go wrong. I mean this was my first half marathon after my open heart surgery 6 months prior. Maybe it was a sign of worse things to come...

We grabbed take out boxes for the remainder of our pizzas, paid our bills, and I think we were out of there right around 6:00. Unfortunately, we had to weave back through the crowds to get back to the bus stop (horrible idea, Disney). We had to have walked a few miles to get down there and back. So much for trying to save our feet for the race... Our wait to get back on our resort bus was minimal, and luckily we were the first stop on the resort loop. I believe we were back in our room getting ready for the race by 7 or 7:15. Our plan was to walk back down to the bus stop at 7:45 to catch the 8:00 bus to the race start, so now we were back on track.

So what happened next? Stay tuned for part 2 of my post to find out!

QOTD: Have you ever had a perfect storm of things go wrong for you on race day?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Monster Scramble 10K and 6 Month Post-op Follow-up

MS Monster Scramble 10K:
Sunday, October 18th, my friend Lily came out to Rochester so we could run the MS Monster Scramble together at Mount Hope Cemetery. We had never run together and with our half marathon fast approaching, we desperately needed to get in a test run together. We also agreed that running more than a 5K was needed for both of us. I have not been training as rigorously as I should be considering all that's been going on lately. We also decided to test run part of our Wine and Dine half marathon costumes.

It was FREEZING that morning, and snowflakes were even floating in the air. Lily met me at my house that morning, and we drove up to the race together. The website had us park off site and we were shuttled to the start, which was hassle free. The event had packet pick-up at the start location, which is really one of my only beefs about this race. Pick-up lines were divided, the top half of the alphabet, and the bottom half. Once we got our packets, we pinned our bibs on and ditched our bags they gave us in a tree near the start. Then we found a sunny area to stand in while we waited for the race to start.

(Love a good candid... not)

The Monster Scramble offered a 5K option and a 10K option - which we ran the 10K. I have to admit, early that morning when I woke up, I was really regretting that decision because it was so cold, but ultimately, it ended up being perfect weather for running. The race started at 10 AM, and both the 5K and 10K runners started at the same time. The 10K route was 2 of the 5K loops. The good thing about that was that Lily and I knew what to expect the second time around.

Of course right at the start of the race was a HUGE hill, and I was definitely not looking forward to running that again. There were a few other hills throughout the remainder of the course, but nothing that we couldn't handle. There were also some areas of the course that had old cobblestone instead of pavement, so that was a little dicey. Overall it was a beautiful course, and I would definitely run it again.

(Certainly not the best shot, but whatever)


Overall, I feel Lily and I did well. We finished the 10K in just under 1:18:00 (because there was no timing mat at the start), and we averaged 12:37 min/miles.

(Course map and elevation details)

I really enjoyed this race, and like I said I would run it again. It was definitely something different for me as I have not run at Mt. Hope Cemetery before so it was different scenery, and it was perfect for a Halloween themed race. My only complaint about the race was the packet pick-up the morning of. I honestly didn't know that the race had pre-race packet pick up, and this is my fault as I had been so busy with other stuff the week leading up to the race to even check into it. I'm sure it was held at Fleet feet.
(Pre-race selfie in the sun)


Pros:
Price: It was cheap for a 10K. If I remember correctly, it was $25.00.
Water Stop: The race itself had one water stop (which since the 10K course looped twice it was 2), which I think was plenty for a 10K.
Volunteers: There was an adequate number of volunteers, and they even joined in on the fun and dressed in costumes.
Refreshments: Your typical spread, post race refreshments included fruit, bagels and water.
Shuttle: It was great that the race offered a shuttle from the parking area (it was necessary) The wait to catch the shuttle to and from where we parked was minimal.

Cons:
Race Day Packet Pick-up: I hated that this was held at Mt. Hope Cemetery so we were unable to ditch our bags in my car. I wish they had held it at the Al Sigl building where we parked. Again, my fault that I wasn't paying attention to pre-race packet pick-up.

6 Month Post-op Follow-up:
A few weeks ago I also had my 6 month post-op follow-up with my NEW Cardiologist. I found out who my new Cardiologist was going to be when I called to tell them I found out my new valve was leaking. So then I went right to the URMC website to look him up. I have to say, just reading about his training (residency and fellowships), I was quite impressed.

Once I met him and we started talking he mention that he had been going through my old Cardiologists notes to get to know his patients but he also wanted to hear from me about how I thought things were going, etc. So of course I went into the story about I had volunteered at RIT for the echo students so they could scan me as see some pathology, and that's when I found out it was leaking. I told him that the valve looked like it had more than a mild leak, but it wasn't quite moderate, etc. Then I mentioned that I was a sonographer, and that's how I knew. He mentioned he saw that on my patient information sheet, and we continued talking. He and a student that was shadowing him for the day listened to my heart and lungs, and then he said he wanted to get another echo just to compare it to the post surgery echo I had the day I was discharged from the hospital. He said even though I will have read the echo, we would reconvene after to discuss.

The lead sonographer came to get me from my exam room and she walked me to her echo room. I mentioned to her that my valve was leaking, and that I knew there wasn't any post surgery. While she did my echo we chatted, then after she walked me back into an exam room so my cardiologist could come talk to me once again. He agreed that the valve had a mild leak, but that it wasn't uncommon for all valves to leak, and most of them do directly out of surgery. He said my pulmonary pressures hadn't changed, and that he believed that this would be my "new normal." He said I have no physical restrictions, so I can still run, etc, and if I feel there are any changes I can call him. If not, he wants to see me back in 6 months so we can re-evaluate just to make sure that nothing changes. All of that sounded good to me. He doesn't feel comfortable setting me up for annual visits just yet, and that's fine. I'd rather he be thorough.

Aside from the Monster Scramble and my follow-up, I've been keeping busy. This past weekend I ran another Halloween themed 5K (which I'll be posting about in the near future), and I also had a Halloween party which was a lot of fun. Tomorrow morning my friend Lily and I finally leave for Disney for our half marathon!



QOTD: Did you run any fun Halloween themed races this year?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Cardiology is awesome, but I'm kind of selfish

As of last Friday, I am officially 5 months post-op! So what exactly has been going on since my last post? Well, for one thing, I turned 29. I enjoyed a fun birthday weekend with my friends and family.

I haven't been running as much as I should be, especially when I have a half marathon in 35ish days. I've been getting little runs in here and there, but honestly, it's been bad. Can I also say that I'm so excited that it's fall. I love summer, but fall brings football and tailgating. In September, I spent two weekends in State College with friends going to the Penn State football games. Of course, lucky me, it poured during both games. All that aside, I still had a blast, as always.


(Nita, Eric, Me and Matt before the rain set in for the day)
("Nails")
(Tailgating with my girls, Dani and Kristen)
(Home: 103,000+ Stripe-out under the lights in Happy Valley<3)

Okay, so that's been my last few weekends. Let's get on with my 5 month update. So like I said, Cardiology is awesome, but I'm a little selfish. As much as I LOVE Cardiology, I'd be lying if I said I didn't go into the field of Cards without my own interest in mind. Last week I was feeling a little short of breath and noticed my heart rate was hovering around 105 bpm at rest. I received my flu shot on Wednesday, so I thought maybe it was a side effect of the shot hitting me, or possibly I was trying to fight off a virus that was trying to set it. Nevertheless, I had my coworker do another echo on me to make sure that nothing was actually going on.

Here's what we found:

My new Pulmonic valve is in fact leaking, which annoys me. There's not much I can do about it though.



(Lovely Pulmonic insufficiency)

My pulmonary pressures are mildly elevated. However, if the RV is remodeling and function is improving, it is possible for my pulmonary pressures to be elevated due to the fact that the ventricle is able to produce a pressure. Makes sense, could also be explaining my shortness of breath.

The gradients through the conduit also seem elevated to me. To be honest, I'm not even sure what the mean and peak gradient for my RV-PA conduit should be for the size and type, and I've searched journal articles high and low for values, but come up empty handed. So that will be something I'll have to keep in mind when I go back in November. Hopefully someone will have an answer for me.


(Gradients through the conduit)

Either way, like I said, I'm supposed to have a follow-up with pediatric cardiology in November. I'll keep an eye on things, and if I continue to get worse, then I'll call them sooner.

Moving on. This past Tuesday, I went to RIT in the evening to help a friend out with a lecture he was giving on Pulmonic Stenosis with Intact Ventricular Septum pathology. Though my pathology is a little different, he asked me to stop by so the students could scan me. It was a lot of fun, and the lab at RIT is beautiful. The students took their turn scanning me which took about and hour. My friend asked them questions while they were scanning. "Why does that structure look like that." "What does this measurement tell us?" Etc... It was great to be able to help out and have the students see a little different pathology than I'm sure they're used to.

Any way, that's about all I have for now - nothing too exciting.

QOTD: What's do you like most about the fall?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Run for the Red Twilight 5K Recap

This past Thursday I ran the Run for the Red Twilight 5K at Sonnenberg Gardens in Canandaigua, NY. This is the second year in a row that I have participated in this event. Last year I ran the 10K, this year I only ran the 5K. This race is an even race that benefits the American Red Cross, and has a great after party.

Thursday afternoon it started to get pretty dark outside and the weather channel had said the area was going to get hit with a pretty rough thunderstorm. It did pour pretty hard while I was at work, but it started to clear off by the time I got out of work. The race director had sent an e-mail earlier in the day stating that the race would go on if it were raining, and be canceled if it were thundering and lightening, but that the "post-race party" would still go on because they had a lot of food and drink and would not be able to reschedule the event.


After I got out of work I ran over to Red Robin to meet some friends for a quick dinner. Alex's Lemonade Stand was doing a fundraiser and I didn't want to miss it. I wasn't sure how a cheeseburger and fries were going to treat me during the 5K, but I guess I would soon find out. I pulled in just before 5, and Nita and Matt were already there waiting for me. Just inside the door there was a small lemonade stand set up with free samples of Red Robin's Freckled Lemonade. There was also a small jar for donations and rubber ALSF bracelets.




We were quickly seated and ordering. I decided on a Red's Tavern Double and Sweet Potato friends. Sadly, I had to inhale my food and run (literally) to get to my race on time since I still had to drive to Canandaigua, which is about a 40 minute commute, and I wasn't certain what traffic would be like. Traffic ended up being okay, and luckily, the friends I was running all arrived around the same time and were parked within the same row.



(Pre-race selfie with Linda, Court and Sara)

It was still drizzling a little bit, but we headed through the swampy mess the storm had left, over to the race tent to show the volunteers our ID's so we could get our over 21 bracelets. Then we made our way to the start. It wasn't long before we started, and thankfully the rain had cleared completely. I had forgotten my headphones, so I was running without music but I wasn't disappointed. Sonnenberg Gardens is beautiful and there was enough to keep me distracted for 3.1 miles. The race course took us around the Mansions gardens and the old VA Hospital. The course then took us through some of the neighborhoods in Canandaigua past some very large and beautiful homes.



(I couldn't find a course map, so here's the map from my watch)

I stuck to my intervals and was cruising along, glancing at my watch every now and then to see how I was doing on time. Throughout the race I wondered when that cheeseburger and fries was going to come back and haunt me, but it never did. Before I knew it I was about 400 meters from the finish. Since I didn't have my headphones, I heard people talking about a rainbow, so I glanced up, and they were right. It was beautiful, but it wasn't even raining and hadn't been. I made it to the entrance to the gardens and started to pick up my pace and made my way past the finish line. I stopped my watch and heard my friends yelling to me. I went over to where they were sitting and I told them I thought I had broken through my 11:00/mile barrier. I went back into my watch history and clicked on Thursday's date. Here's what I saw:



(Yes, I saved this from my SnapChat)

I had done it, my average pace was 10:45/mile and I had finished (according to my watch) in 33:33 (pretty funny)! I eventually went to the race website to look up my chip time, and they clocked me a 33:31, I'll take it, 2 seconds faster! And yes, I'm well aware that 33:33 is not a fast 5K time by any stretch of the imagination, however, considering my first 5K time ever was like 45 minutes, and my average time for a 5K prior to my surgery was roughly 36:00-37:00, I'd say I'm doing well!

We decided to stroll over to the food tent and grab ourselves a little post race grub and an adult beverage to refuel. They had a pretty good spread, pizza, hot dogs, coleslaw, fruit, cupcakes, cookies, etc. They also offered beer and wine. After we ate we walked over to where they were hanging the results, and as it turned out, Linda placed second in her age group, and Sara and Courtney placed second and third, respectively, in their age groups! We hung around for the awards, but for some odd reason they skipped over Sara and Courtney's age category when handing out the medals, so we decided to head out. Hopefully the medals get mailed to them.


Overall race review:

Pros:

Time: I love that this race is an evening race. Personally, I run better in the evenings because I've had a chance to hydrate throughout the day.
Price: I waited a little too long to register, so my race fee was $30.00 plus a processing fee, and I registered as a team with my friends. Individual fee was $35.00 during the last price increase.
Post Race Party: I do not know any other race that I run that throws a party like this one that is actually included in your race registration. There was a lot of free food and drinks (alcohol included)!

Cons:

Water Stops: Again, the only water stop I noticed on the course was about .5 miles from the finish of the 5K. Whether this was the only water stop for the 10K or not like it was last year, I don't know, but I would be happier with one more stop should it be needed.

QOTD: When do you feel you run better? Are you a morning runner or an evening runner?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Women Run the Roc 5K Recap

Today I'm officially 16 weeks post-op, and it's so hard to believe how far I've come! Saturday, August 8th, I ran the Women Run the Roc 5K for the second year in a row. This race is sponsored by Fleet Feet and run by Yellow Jacket Racing, and is a race specifically for women (and one lucky guy). Friday night I actually stayed in a hotel on the east side of the city because my cousin and his fiance got married on Saturday, so my brother and I had a room for the weekend for the wedding. My coworker, Linda, and her daughter, Trish, picked me up at the hotel and we rode into the city together.

This year the race was actually moved to the Rochester Museum and Science Center. In past years it was held at Frontier Field. We parked just past the RMSC on the road and walked over the where race day packet pick up was being held and just hung out for a bit. Trish decided to go for a light jog to warm her muscles up, and Linda and I decided to take a walk around the block. Once we got back it was almost time for the race to start. We snapped a quick picture and jumped in the sea of women and waited.


(Selfie before the race)

The race started right at 8 AM, and Trish took off! I hung out around the middle of the pack and stuck to my intervals which I'm so used to (1 minute run : 1 minute walk). It was a beautiful morning and already starting to heat up. I was thankful that I took my warm-up off and tied it around my waist before I started the race.

The course had a few small inclines, but nothing horrible, just enough to let you know you were working. About halfway through the race I started to feel a little tired and very warm with the sun beating down on me, so I changed my intervals to 1 minute run : 2 minute walk and felt comfortable with that.



I finished the race (according to my watch) in 34:37. I'll take it - it averaged out to be 11:01/mile. I'm SO close to breaking through that 11 minute mile barrier! I'm slowly improving, and I'll be honest, I haven't been training as consistently as I should be. Shame on me, but now it's seriously time to get back on track because the runDisney Wine and Dine 1/2 is roughly 85 days away (yikes!). Trish, the speed demon, placed first overall, and Linda placed 4th in her age group!


(Another pre-race picture)

After the race we hung out and waited for Trish to receive her award. While we waited we grabbed a small bite to eat from the spread offered by the race. Bagels (with cream cheese or peanut butter), bananas, carrots, and cookies. After Trish got her award, we headed out in search of some coffee. Then I had to head back to the hotel to get ready for my cousins wedding. I always enjoy running with Linda and Trish. They're both so fun and encouraging, and I strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle that they have set for themselves.

Pros:
Race location and course: Not that I haven't enjoyed the course in years past, but the new location offered a change of scenery which I thought was great!
Price: As long as you registered by August 5th it was $22.00, which I think is one of the cheapest races I've run in a few years. If you registered the day before the race it was $25.00, and race day it was $30.00 (still not bad).
Post Race Food: The food was provided by Mario's Cafe which is located within the RMCS. Not that the spread was anything special, however, some races don't even provide a post race treat.

Cons:
Cotton T-shirt: This is seriously my only complaint. In years past, the race swag was a Women Run the Roc Sweatyband, and I LOVED that because it was different from other races. This year they gave out a women's cut cotton tee. I like that the shirt is a women's cut, so it actually does fit me, but mine also has a hole in it. And it's cotton...

All in all, I would highly recommend this race to my female friends looking to run a race - especially a first timer. Especially with it being female focused, it's not as intimidating as other races could seem.

16 Week Post-Op Update: As I stated above, I have not been running as consistently as I should be, especially considering I'm training for a half marathon. However, I have noticed improvements in my running. My speed is slowly improving. I've also noticed that while running, my legs don't cramp up as much as they used to, and during my run/walk intervals, I've noticed my heart rate recovering much quicker than it used it.

I had my co-worker do a quick echo on me last week (mainly because my Attendings were curious) to see how my heart was recovering, and if it was normalizing in size and function. My right heart is now within normal limits for size, however, my right heart function is still just mildly reduced.

(Normal in size)

Unfortunately, I tried to upload a video of my heart, but it won't work. Boo. :(

QOTD: Ladies, have you ever run any women's specific races? Guys, have you ever dressed up as a princess for a race?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Status Post 12 Weeks and runDisney Wine and Dine Training

Surgery was 12 weeks ago today, and honestly, it's really hard for me to believe. I figured it was time for an update on how things have been going since I posted about the Brighton 5K a few weeks ago (and maybe even further back).

So, I never mentioned this in any of my previous posts, but I've been back to work for 4 weeks now. I'm not going to lie, when I walked into work that Monday I broke down into tears to my supervisor because I wasn't sure how things were going to go. The previous week I had been battling awful sternal pain that would keep me awake at night. It was to the point where I felt as though I had just come out of my surgery, and I was honestly worried I had re-cracked my sternum or done something else. My first few days back were slow and gradual. I came home at night exhausted and pretty much kept my personal schedule to a minimum so I could go home and crash on the couch. At status post 8 weeks when I returned to work, I still wasn't feeling my best, and I ached constantly, especially when I woke up in the morning. I was stiff and sore, so I'd be popping Tylenol even before I crawled out of bed.

Over the past four weeks I've noticed a dramatic improvement from my first day back to work, and I rarely have any pain now. The NP's and PA's I work with even said to me that one day it would feel like a switch went off and I'd magically feel better, and they were right. I can't tell you exactly when I felt better, but I'm sure glad I do. My co-workers have been amazing too. If I need help moving a patient or lifting something, they're right there for me.

Now that I've been feeling better I've slowly starting getting back into my routine of running after work with my co-workers. Linda and I have been able to run 3 times now I think, and hopefully soon we'll be increasing our weekly runs. Everyone is so busy now that it's summer, finding one day a week to run after work with my co-workers can prove to be challenging. This past week when Linda and I went out for our run, we ran our usual 3 mile route and we ran it in just over 35 minutes. I was pleased with that time because it was probably the 8th time I've run since surgery, and it proves that I didn't lost a lot of my cardiovascular endurance. Not only that, but I've noticed over the past few runs how much better I'm starting to feel. My legs don't ache like they used to. I still do interval running, but during my walk intervals, I feel myself recovering much faster than I used to.

I've also started back at our weekly RWB runs. I've only been to 2 or 3 since my surgery, but our Wear the Eagle Wednesdays is one of my favorite nights of the week. Last week a lot of my teammates did a 4 mile run as part of a Team RWB virtual run. I was running late, so I met up with them. I ran at my own pace, and only ran 3 miles (I was not registered for the virtual run), then met up with everyone at the end so we could venture back to the park together. Nita had snacks ready for all of us at the end (orange slices, bananas, watermelon and brownies)! As per usual, we always take a group picture as proof that we ran.

(Such a great turnout that Wednesday!)

Then, of course, Nita and I had to get silly...

(Pretty Fly Eagles - with orange slices)

Aside from getting back into the swing of running with my friends and coworkers, runDisney's Wine and Dine half marathon training started last week, so it is definitely time to kick it up a notch. Currently the training schedule is light. 30 minutes twice a week with a distance run on the weekend. The weekend runs right now are between 2 and 3 miles, then after a few weeks it will start to pick up.


This past Saturday, I met Linda early in the morning to go for a bike ride. Unfortunately, our bike ride did not start out as planned. I was putting my bike together, and when I attached my front wheel, it acted as though the disc brake was active. It would not allow the tire to move backwards at all, and would move forwards with some resistance. So Linda and I loaded my bike back into my car and drove to the nearest (open) bike shop. The employees at the bike shop were wonderful and more than happy to make the adjustment my bike needed so I could get back on the road. We were in and out within minutes, and then back on schedule. Linda and I rode just over 9.5 miles, and then treated ourselves to a delicious breakfast at the Village Bakery (this has become somewhat of a tradition when biking together).

(Sun, biking and food = life is good.)

Aside from work, running and biking, life has slowly been getting back to normal for me. Team RWB has also be doing a New To Yoga class at a local yoga studio (which I will get to in another post after the class ends). The current leaders of our Team RWB chapter also asked me this past Tuesday if I would like to be the chapter's Running Director! I am so excited for this opportunity, and am looking forward to working with the rest of the chapter leaders on upcoming events. This weekend I have some stuff to do to finalize my position (lots of reading).

QOTD: What have you been doing to keep active this summer? Do you have any post run or bike rituals?

Monday, July 6, 2015

Brighton Chamber of Commerce 5K Recap

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July! I had a great and very eventful weekend. I had a long weekend because my employer observed the 4th of July holiday on Friday, July 3rd. Saturday, July 4th I ran in the Brighton Chamber of Commerce 5K. This is the second time I have run this race, and I still enjoyed it as much as last year. Going into this race, I honestly did not have a goal in mind considering all that I've been through over the past three months. However, Friday, July 3rd marked 10 weeks from my heart surgery! I haven't been training, and I've been very lackadaisical with my running lately. More so because I'm still sore, and not feeling up to it. All of that is about to change though because Wine and Dine 1/2 training starts this week!

The Brighton 5K started at 8 am this past Saturday, and my running group wanted to meet for a group picture at 7:30. I met a few of my friends in the parking lot of the school around 7:15, and we walked down to the spot where we were supposed to meet up. As we waited for other members of our group to show up, we chatted about what our plans were for the day and the rest of the weekend. A few minutes after 7:30 and everyone who had responded to the race event was there and we were able to get our picture.


(Team RWB)

After we grabbed our photo we walked back to the school where the race was set to start. As we waited more and more of our friends began to show up.


(Mel, Nita and me)

Our friend Krista arrived with her baby, so we had to get another group shot with the newest Team RWB member!


Then we all made our way to the start and headed out. Like I said I had no real goal in mind, I just figured I would do what I could do, I just wanted to finish the race in 40 minutes. I started out just running and not even starting my timer, then eventually I started my timer and did 1:1 run/walk intervals. The race started off on S. Winton and had runners turn right onto Westfall road. I did my first mile in just over 11 minutes. From Westfall we turned onto Avalon Drive and weaved through the neighborhood until we made our way up to Elmwood Avenue.

Around mile 2, I started to get tired, so I changed my intervals to 1:2 run/walk, but looking at my time I was doing relatively well, and thought that maybe I could finish the race in 35:00. The race had us run about one block on Elmwood Avenue before turning right back into the neighborhood onto Bonnie Brae Avenue. Runners stayed on Bonnie Brae Avenue until we turned left onto Danbury Circle North. Danbury took runners back to S. Winton where we turned left and headed straight for the finish.




When I turned onto S. Winton and headed towards the finish, I looked at my watch to see I was awfully close to 35:00, but I knew I wasn't going to make it. I continued to trudge along, soon I came up to the loop in front of the school, and I saw 3 of my teammates there cheering for me. Nita yelled out to me that she had a glass of water waiting for me (thank god). I finished, stopped my watch, and looked at my time, 36:03. Dangit, Hey, at least I tried. All in all, I'm really happy with that time considering I've really only run 5 times since my surgery in April. I walked back to where my teammates were cheering and watching the other runners come into the finish. Once all of our teammates had finished, a few of us decided to head down to the Starbucks on the corner to grab a well deserved iced coffee and breakfast sandwich.



QOTD: Did you run in a 4th of July event? What's your favorite 4th of July tradition?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2015 Stroll for Strong Kids

Good morning, I realize it's been about two and a half weeks since my last post. Let's just say, once I was able to drive again, I've been on the go! My Stroll for Strong Kids recap is long over due, and I feel terrible that I have not posted this yet because it is my favorite event of the year. I will also update you on how recovery has been going the past few weeks.

As you know, I had my open heart surgery at the Golisano Children's Hospital at the end of April, I've actually had all of my surgeries there. This hospital holds a special place in my heart (literally) because they've done so much for me and my family. Every year I fundraise for the Children's Hospital and the Stroll for Strong Kids. The funds raised over the past several years have gone to the construction of the brand new Children's Hospital which is set to open next month! I had a tour of the new facilities a few weeks ago, and to say it is beautiful is an understatement! I will fill you in on that in another post though.

I woke up Saturday May 30th, and it was a beautiful day! We've been very fortunate the past few years that the weather for the stroll has been phenomenal! Nita met my mom and me at my house, and I drove because the Stroll is held in a park close to my home. We headed up to the Stroll around 7:45 AM so we could hit up the Sandy Store before the 5K and stock up on Sandy apparel before it got picked over. Every year I spend hundreds of dollars at the Sandy Store, and this year was no exception. I purchased 5 Sandy Under Armour shirts, and a Sandy key ring! Nita and I ventured back to my car to take care of our purchases, and once we got back to the park it was almost time for the 5K to start.

Nita and I met my mom near the back of the pack, and we also saw some familiar faces from back home. Mom and I both set our watches, that way if we got separated we would have our own times, etc.


(Before the Stroll 5K!)

The race started, and mom and I stuck together for about a mile and a half before I started to pull away from her. I had my timer set for a 1 minute run to 1 minute walk interval. I was feeling pretty good, and I kept trucking along the course. There were some areas of the course that had no shade, and no breeze, and that was hard, there were also a few times where I would run 1 minute and walk 2 minutes. Before I knew it, I was turning the corner to the last 1/10th of the race. I jogged along the course and made my way towards finish. I saw Nita cheering near the finish line, and she snapped a picture of me!


(Rocking recovering and running towards the finish - 5 weeks post-op!)

I crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. I had finished in just over 39 minutes, I'll take it!! Yes, I have some work to do, but considering I had just finished my 2nd post-op 5K, I was really happy (and I wasn't last)!! Mom wasn't too far behind me, so after she finished we walked back over to the center of the park to enjoy the festivities.

The Stroll itself started at 10:30 am, so we watched the start of the stroll. There were so many teams there to celebrate different Strong Kids. Families there to celebrate their child being healthy, to celebrate their children's life, and even to celebrate having such an amazing Children's Hospital right in our back yard. So many smiles and tears. After the stroll started we walked over to the Abbott's truck to get some ice cream (yes, dessert first). We ate our ice cream, then got temporary Sandy tattoos and a Sandy sticker. After that, the food tent had opened and we grabbed a bite to eat before all the strollers finished.

After we finished eating, we walked over to watch the stroll participants finish. Luckily, we saw our friend, Mel, so of course we had to get a picture of the 3 of us together!


(Yay for friends!)

After we saw Mel, we decided to make our way back to the car to head out. On our way out, Nita and I noticed there were some children coloring on the side of a Lexus in the center of the park. We stopped to watch for a minute, and a woman monitoring the car asked us if we wanted to color. Of course!! Nita and I go way back with coloring, so we grabbed a handful of crayons, and the woman pointed us to some open flowers on the front of the car.



(Oh, you know, just coloring a Lexus, no big deal)

(Our work of art!)

We asked about the Lexus, and how it ended up at the Stroll. We were told that Lexus donated the car to the cause for the kids to color. There were certain areas of the Lexus that were able to be colored, as it had a film covering the car. We were also told that the car would be making its way around the area, then it would eventually be covered with a coating so that the color would not come off. Finally, it sounds like the car will be auctioned off at the Children's Hospital Gala this coming fall! Very cool! After we finished coloring we made our way to get a few goofy pictures at the photo booth and then made our way back to the car to head out.

It was another successful year for the Stroll, and no matter what happens I always have a blast at this event. This year was even more special to me because I was actually able to participate despite the fact that I was recovering from my open heart surgery (and I was feeling great)! I owe many thanks to the amazing surgeons, physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, patient care techs, and any and all staff involved in my care while I was in the hospital recovering. There's still time to donate to the Children's Hospital, if you're interested you can go to my fundraising page and donate now!

Post-Op Recovery Update:

I'm now 7 and a half weeks post-op, and things are still going well. I still have aches and pains that come and go. Currently I'm dealing with quite a bit of mid-sternal pain which I'm sure is due to the activity from this past weekend. I went to my friends for dinner Friday evening and was lifting her nearly 2 year old son. My muscles are not used to doing any type of lifting over the past 8 weeks, so I'm definitely paying for that. Saturday morning, I met my co-worker Linda to bike to canal path. We ended up biking close to 10 miles, and that felt great, but I have a feeling I'm paying for that as well.

I'm also going back to work this coming Monday (June 22nd)! It's hard to believe, but yes my 8 weeks of recovering at home are coming to an end. It went fast, especially these last few weeks that I've been back at my home. I'm nervous to return, and feel like I need to study to go back! Everyone assures me that it comes right back, I'm hoping they're right.

QOTD: Do you have a special event that you look forward to every year? (Running or not running)

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Color Run Recap

As of yesterday, I am officially 6 weeks post op, and starting to feel more and more like myself each day. I'll get to that in a bit, but first I want to recap the color run that I wasn't even going to participate in. So as you my have already read, I was back at my house for Memorial Day weekend. My parents went to Canada, and so they dropped me off at my house. I still was unable to drive, so my friend, Melissa, so kindly picked me up to take me to the color run so I could see all my coworkers.

I had registered for the color run earlier in the year thinking that my surgery was going to be sooner than it was, so I honestly wasn't planning on running it anymore. The morning of the color run was sunny, but very cool, so I threw on a pair of my running tights, a long sleeve tee and a jacket to ensure that I would be warm enough watching my friends from the sidelines. Melissa, Sam and their friend picked me up around 7:30 and we were headed to the run. There was so much traffic, but that provided a lot of time for us to catch up. Once we finally got there and got parked, we met up with some of our friends. My friend Angie was already at the race, but no one could get ahold of her, so I was hoping we'd run into her at some point during the after party.

(Melissa and me before the run!)

I still wasn't planning on running, but Melissa asked me to run with her. Luckily, the week prior at my 3 week follow-up appointment my doctor said I could start working on my cardiovascular endurance. As you know I had been going for walks with my mom. So I agreed to do the run with Melissa, and we decided that we would do intervals. We joined the sea of people in the start corral at the race and slowly made our way to the front, and then we were off.

(The group before the race)

We started off slow and to the side of the course so the faster runners could get past us. This was my first time running since my surgery, so I was not out to break any records, and to be honest, I was worried how it was going to go. Before I knew it we were rounding the corner and running into the first color station. I was feeling great so far which was exciting considering surgery was a month prior, and I could remember a time when just walking around my house would increase my heart rate to >110 BPM.

We took our time doing run and walk intervals as we both needed them, and it was a lot of fun! It gave Melissa and I plenty of time to catch up, and I could hear about what was new at work. We rounded a corner, and started heading up a hill to a point where the race doubled back and we passed runners who were on their way back towards the finish. As luck would have it, I was watching the runners coming down the hill on the other side of the road and I saw Angie! I shrieked, "ANGIE!" She stopped in her tracks and I gave her a hug. I know I surprised her, I could tell by the look on her face. Melissa and I continued on, as I looked back and saw Angie giving me a look... A look of confusion. I would explain to her later, but I was so excited to literally "run into her". 

Melissa and I made our way through the course getting splashed with color, and it started to warm up. I had to admit, I was feeling great, and it really surprised me! It also seems like every year they change the course a little for the color run, which keeps it exciting. We were about a quarter mile from the finish, and a guy passed us holding a condiment bottle with orange corn starch in it. He looked us and said, "Oh hey, girls!" And then sprayed us with more orange color! Haha! We finally made it to the finish where they were throwing glitter on all the finishers. We made our way through the finishing chute, received our medals and each a bag of glitter and color to throw at the after party. Then weaved our way to the water table. It wasn't long before our friends finished, and we celebrated together by throwing our packets of color. 


Shortly thereafter, Angie did track me down and I was able to catch up with her, and explain why she saw me on the course.


We hung around the finishers party for about an hour before we decided to head out. By this time it was beautiful out, clear blue without a cloud in the sky!

6 Weeks Post Op:

It's hard to believe it's been 6 weeks since my surgery, the time has really flown by! Like I said, I'm feeling a little more like myself with each day. I still have some pain, but it's better than it was when I reported 2 weeks ago. The majority of the pain I have is on my right side in my pectorals. It's still a little painful to lay on my right side in bed, but I can for awhile. My incision is looking even better, and I think the Mederma may be helping. I've also been using the Mederma on the spot where they had an arterial line in my arm, and it's helped to reduce the appearance of where the sutures held the line in.

In other great news, I am also back at my home! I was given the go ahead to start driving again last Thursday! I'm not allowed to take long trips, but this works for me. As long as I can drive around town to do the things I need to do, that makes me happy. I'm slowly getting my independence back. I still have a few questions for my doctor which I will email in about this coming week. For now, I'm feeling pretty good, and happy things are progressing.

QOTD: Have you run a Color Run with friends? Do you have a favorite race you like to run with a group of friends?