Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What the Doc Says

Today I had an appointment with my cardiologist to review my recent tests and discuss my heart rate issues. He began the discussion with the results of the tests I had taken which included an Echocardiogram, Holter Box, and a Stress Test. Good news, he says, I have a healthy athletic heart. Nothing wrong. Ok, good. Also, good news, I am not going crazy. Even though the tests came back as "normal", they did confirm that I experience abnormally high heart rate upon exertion or exercise. The Holter Box (measured by heart rhythm and heart rate in a 24 hour period) showed that my resting heart rate while at sleep was 41 bpm but also showed a high of 176 bpm while I was running. Doc says I have a very strong athletic heart.

He sympathized with my frustration in training with such a high heart rate... explaining that my heart is very senistive to adrenaline and that my heart acts as if I'm running a 50 yard dash when my body is actually only running at a marathon pace. He noted that it appears that I don't have a zone 1, 2, 3 and that within minutes of exertion, my heart rate is at zones 4 or 5. Because of this, I experience discomfort and shortness of heart can not go any harder or faster; I have essentially maxed out within a short time frame. Imagine running a sprint and how you feel, winded and out of breath, right? Now imagine having that feeling for 3 miles, or 6 miles even though your body is only moving at a slow pace. That's what I feel. I have my good days and my bad days; but apparently, race days just aggrevate the situation even more.

Doc says he wants me to see a guy who works with athletes and heart rate/zone training. If that doesn't work, he said there is a 50% chance he would have to put me on medicine (beta blockers). It was kind of funny, cause' at that point I showed him my heart rate numbers for the Sprint. His eyes got wide and he exclaimed, "Wow, 220 bpm!" He then change my chances of taking the medication to 80%.

I also told the Doc that I had low iron (a fact I had forgotten to tell him during our first meeting). I've been repeatedly rejected to give blood due to my low hemoglobin count (low iron). My Dad is considered to be anemic which could be genetic. I'm going to have my blood drawn to make sure that I'm not anemic (high heart rate upon exertion is a symtom).

Well, that's my medical update for now. More to come later, hopefully I can get a handle on my adrenaline monster.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Naperville Tri Sprint Results

The first triathlon race of the year is over. And I'm happy that it is done...cause I just want to move on. It was a "D" race for me. I didn't train specifically for a sprint; it was merely a stepping stone for what lies ahead. This was my fifth year doing the race and my slowest result:

Swim: 13:32
T1: 5:15
Bike: 46:57
T2: 3:19
Run: 33:21
2008: 1:39:12
2007: 1:40:18
2006: 1:38:38
2005: 1:38:11
Race Morning (It was gorgeous weather) :

4:30 am Alarm went off
Got ready per plan
Lost car keys
Stayed calm, looked for 5-10 minutes -- decided to use spare set
Loaded Sharkie* on my bike rack
5:10 am Drove to race
Bike fell off rack while driving
Stayed calm, picked up Sharkie and apologized, loaded bike back on rack
5:40 am Found good parking spot
Unloaded Sharkie to discover chain fell off
Stayed calm, fixed chain
5:45 am Found good spot in transition area
Laid out all my gear
Took Sharkie for a test ride, doing fine
6:10 am Found Waddler in transition
Both agreed that we should have just did a training ride today, but too late now
6:10 am --7:52 am Fretted about not wearing a wet suit (about 80--85% of the racers had wetsuits), water temp was 71ยบ
6:55 am Wish Waddler the best as she gets in her wave (#4)
7:00 am Race starts and the pros are off
7:12 am Waddler's wave starts, as always she has a big smile on her face
7:46 am I'm in the corral waiting for my wave start, look down at my HR HR is 211 bpm! (Yes, it was 211 bpm, this is not a misprint). Ok, I'm breathing fine and I'm not in any panic mode. Is my watch faulty or did I just get a huge jolt of adrenaline?
7:50 am Our wave is moved to the start line, I jump up and down in the water...trying to acclimate myself to the coolness of the water. I wave to number one fan and supporter. (He says since he's not athletic he might as well be an "athletic supporter".)
7:52 am The gun goes off and my wave starts. I put my face in the water, and have trouble breathing out. I don't panic. Still shallow water, so I just stood up and ran a little in the water. I tried again, with better results. The swim was what I expected, lots of thrashing, kicking, and elbows flying. I did my best to find open water, that's a difficult task (the course is zig zag with 5 turns).

I felt a bit exhausted coming out of the water, I wanted to walk up the beach and through transition but I jogged instead. In hindsight, it might have been a good idea to walk. I took my time in T1. I was winded and just wanted to catch my breath. I got on Sharkie and took off on the bike. My goal was to just keep a good steady pace. My HR monitor was showing my HR to be 178 bpm. 16- 17 mph---I wasn't even pushing myself. What is freaking going on? Eventually, my pace got up to 22 mph and fluctuated between 17 and 22 mph for the length of the course. (There was a bad headwind on the way back in). My heart rate stayed steady around 173 bpm. I felt as if I just couldn't push myself any faster, I was too winded. My legs wanted to go but my chest said "no way".

I finished on the bike, with no mechnical problems. That's always a good thing. Change to running shoes in T2, and feeling like crap. I want to walk. I want to walk badly. I push myself instead to start running. I'm running slow, really slow and I don't care. My HR still hasn't come down. I just want to finish this stupid race and stop running. Why didn't Waddler and I just go biking today? My ankle is hurting too, the darn timing chip strap is digging into my skin. (Later, I discovered that the strap had broken skin, and I was bleeding)

1 mile down, I wanted to walk; 2 miles down; I wanted to walk, 3 miles this race over yet? A lady who had been following my slow-turtle like pace the entire distance, comes up besides me and tells me that if it wasn't for me, she would have walked (I guess she liked the pace I was doing). That's funny, cause I really, really wanted to walk. She is now encouraging me to keep the pace going. I feel myself fading or either that, she's picking up the pace. I can't keep up with her. It's too hard. She looks back and waves me I'm trying to keep up with her and finish this damn race. I see Ed, and he cheers me on, then I see the finish line and make a dash for it. I cross the line, thankful it's over.

My HR registered an average of 174 bpm with a max of 22o bpm. I didn't want this race report ending up to be all about my heart rate but unfortunately, that's what it has become. These are ridiculous numbers. I don't know when the 220 bpm happened, I suspect at the start of the race when the gun went off. Before, ya'll write that I need to see a doctor...well I have seen one already. I've had multiple heart tests taken and all have come back with "normal" results. Doctor (Cardiovascular) says my heart might just be "sensitive" to adrenaline. You think? In a few weeks, I see him again for a follow up visit. I just want to get some control over this heart rate issue, it's driving me crazy and it's inhibiting my racing.

On the good side of things, I found Ed, Waddler, IronSnoopy and Moose all at the finish line. It was great to see all of them. Thanks IronSnoopy and Moose for coming out and cheering us on!

Great job Waddler. This weekend, let's just ride.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Outseason Complete and R&R Time

My 16 week Outseason training is done as of last week. Here are my final numbers:

Bike (42 minute Time Trial which includes 2 minute recovery at the 20 minute mark)

Week 1:

Weight: 147 lbs
Distance: 13.72 miles
Speed: 19.6 mph
LTHR: 166 bpm (Lactate Threshold Heart Rate)
FTP: 177 watts (power)

Week 16:

Weight: 144 lbs
Distance: 16.96 miles
Speed: 24.2 mph
LTHR: 160 bpm (Lactate Threshold Heart Rate--Avg HR during test)
FTP: 225 watts (power)


Week 1
Weight: 147 lbs
Distance: 3.1 miles
Time: 33:10
Pace: 10:42/mile
LTHR: 174 bpm
vdot: 27

Week 16
Weight: 144 lbs
Distance: 6.2 miles
Time: 1:06:40
Pace: 10:45/mile
LTHR: 169 bpm
vdot: 28

Well, got to say, that I'm very happy with my bike numbers and not so much with my running numbers. I'm showing a 19% improvement on bike speed and a 21% increase on power. That's not too shabby! My numbers on the run (regarding pace) are not showing much improvement at all but there is one significant improvement I see with the run. My heart rate is lower on average. My first week's run, I averaged 174 bpm for 3.1 miles. It's tough to run with a high heart rate... it isn't real pleasant and it's something I been struggling to control (if there is even a way to control it). At week 16, I ran 6.2 miles with an average heart rate of 169 bpm. To me, lowering my HR by 5 beats is a good start. I want to see this number keep going down to a more comfortable level.

So far the EN plan is working for me. I've completed the 16 week Outseason plan and now I get to have a little R&R (no structured plan) for another week. I've been swimming a bit at the Naperville Centennial Beach (man-made beach) in preparation for the Women's Naperville Sprint this Sunday. The water has been in the mid-60's --can you say "frigid". Whew! I've been doing my best to brave the cold water temps; I really don't want to fuss with a wetsuit for a sprint distance tri.

Tonight, I might just go for an easy 30-40 min run or do an easy spin on my bike. Not sure yet, that's what's nice about a rest week. I'm looking forward to the Sprint this's a great race to start the season.

This past weekend, I did nothing as far as running or biking. I was on vacation from training. Ed, Kate, and I went to Cincinnati to see the Cubs play the Reds. Unfortunately, I ended up in the first aid office at the Great American Ball Park; I got hit with another killer migraine. Ughhh! I'm not sure what is worse, the excruciating headache or the nauseating stomach. Put them together and they make for a killer team. I didn't let the combo ruin my day, however. Luckily the Advil and the Cherry Coke kicked in by the 5th or 6th inning and I was free from my misery and enjoyed the rest of the 11 inning game.

A little side note: While I was lying down in the first aid office, ice pack on my head, white as a ghost, hovering over a waste can, crying and making sounds like a dying cat, a little boy came in with a toothache. He was crying too. He looked over at me with wide eyes and all of the sudden, his pain seemed to disappear. He stopped crying, took some Children's Tylenol and wanted to get the heck out of there. Two more adults came in with bad "headaches"; they looked at me and said "Wow....I guess it could be worse"...and wished me well even though I was a Cubs fan.

Sunday, Ed, Kate and I explored Cincinnati on a Ducks (water/land) tour. We were given little yellow bills that quacked when you blew into them. We quacked on the Ohio river and quacked to the song of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" when we went by the Stadium. (Sorry, no pics).
Later we enjoyed a nice seafood lunch on the Kentucky side of the river. It was a nice little "getaway". I'm going to enjoy the rest of this week...there won't be much "vacation time" on the horizon.