Tuesday, July 23, 2013

At The Heart of it All... (Or "Why I won't let pain steal my long run.")

It seems like most people who are training have their long runs on the weekend...  I know with my family's schedule, it works best for me to get that done Sunday morning.  This last Sunday was to be my longest distance ever.  I don't know why, but I suppose I look to each Sunday now with a little bit of trepidation.  "Can I go that far?"  "Will I fail?"  "Will I have to give up and call my hubs for a ride home?"

Granted, maybe 8 miles isn't much for some.  But I was also excited and looking forward to the challenge.  "I CAN do this!"  "Here's to all the doubters and people who told me I couldn't..."  "Here's to my bum knee and other issues that have tried to hold me back..." etc.

Perhaps I worked myself up a little too much?   Whether anxiety or a physical issue or a combination of both, I woke up earlier Sunday morning than I had intended.  I was going to get up at the crack of dawn to beat the summer heat...  but I didn't plan on waking up to searing chest pain.  This was grab-your-chest-and-moan type pain.

What the hell?

Deciding it best not to wake the husband, I tried to sneak out of the room and woke him anyway.  It became very obvious to him fast that this wasn't something to mess around with.

He is a trained "first responder" at his job and went through his checklist with me.  My heart rate seemed normal, I wasn't sweaty or clammy.  I looked pale, but I had just woken up (very rudely too).

What I didn't have going for me was this terrible chest pain and pain deferring down my left arm.  I felt like my left shoulder had been bashed with a baseball bat.  It was very clear to me that it hurt much worse with every intake of breath.  Was that a heart attack?  Or an anxiety attack?

Having 2 out of 5 symptoms was enough for him to call 911 and I realized he was being more than cautious when he started to stutter at the operator's questions.


If he was losing his cool, this was more than just a little acid reflux or panic about running in the heat.

It seemed like he had just hung up the phone when the fire fighters started walking up the driveway.  They recommended an EKG in an ambulance... while on my way to the ER.

"Okay."  I wasn't able to think much between stabs of sharp pain.  Just do whatever you need to in order to make this stop!

After the first few blood pressure readings and a 12 point EKG, I was instructed to chew some baby aspirin and dissolve nitro tablets under my tongue.  This is not the breakfast of champions and I do not recommend it.

On the way to the hospital and getting an iv bag placed on a bumpy road, I couldn't help but stare at my feet and think, "Well, crap!  There goes my long run."    
At the hospital I had another EKG and chest x-rays.  My nurse was a trooper to commiserate with me on how terrible it was to not get to go on a planned long run when on a tight training program.  She did however know that some runners might like to over do things a bit and not take well to being sidelined with an injury or illness.  "You already went 8 miles today.  IN AN AMBULANCE.  Why don't you take the day off."  

She had run 8 full marathons herself, but her favorite distance is half marathons and has done "too many to count".

Between tests and checking on her other patients, she told me bits about her marathons.  Victoria was her favorite , simply because the people were wonderful and her worst marathon was the Marine Corps Marathon.  With a slap stick sense of humor she relayed to me all the mishaps of the race... including the water stations running out of cups, so runners dipped their hands in the water barrel.  Eww.

After the tests and hanging out in my room on oxygen, the Doctor came in to let me know that it was what he anticipated all along.


That increasing, terrible pain with each breath?  Inflamed cartilage in my rib cage.  Seems that this was the after affects of a little virus I had last week.     

I still have a lot of research to do on this, but it seems that for some people it can also be brought on by stress, as well as viruses (such as something simple like a common cold).  Nice.

Still a bit sore 2 days after the ordeal, I've decided that I'm not going to give in to it.  I'm going to "listen" to my pain and not over do it, but I'm not going to just give in to the temptation that this is a perfect excuse to stop.
Stop training.  
Stop trying.  
Stop running.

No.  Stop listening to that negative voice in your head that thinks you can't do this.  You already have done it.  7 miles last Sunday.  6 the Sunday before.  What's one more mile this week?  So, after discussing the pain with the Doc, he said go out and run.

Monday morning I pushed that voice that tries to derail me away and laced up my shoes. And I did it.  I ran.  8 miles.  I'm ready to do it again.  And when I've woken up since then with that stabbing, sharp pain that makes it nearly impossible to breath?  I no longer have that impending sense of doom and know now that it's something funky with my cartilage attached to my breast bone.  
So weird.

What obstacles, physical or mental, do you have to hurdle over?  How do you overcome?  

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