Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My heart 9 months later....

Reece & I at the Dirty Dash!

When I think about my life journey and reflect on the importance of 9 months it always brings me back to endless possibilities.  Once I watched a funny movie called, "Nine Months", which albeit full laughs further terrified me about the though of becoming a father.  As soon we found out Tristin was finally pregnant with Reece, I was full of overwhelming joy at the thought of meeting this child in 9 months that would carry a piece of us. 

Nine months ago after heart surgery

During the last 9 months I've learned to deal with taking my blood thinning pills called "warfarin" everyday which is key to keeping me healthy.  When I had heart surgery I had to decide whether to go with a biological or mechanical valve.  After weighing the pros vs. cons I opted to go with the mechanical valve, although with this decision came relying on taking a blood thinner the rest of my life and testing my blood every week.  This process has been an adjustment and sometimes a hassle but compared the alternative it's something I must stay consistent with in order to avoid clotting.  A normal person would have an INR or blood thickness of 1, however my blood is now 3x thinner than normal.  I've only experienced one bloody nose and several bleeding cuts to the shins, however now the my INR is stable I'm feeling much better about the situation.

Benefit of being the coach!

Somedays I almost forget I have the St Jude mechanical mitral valve and then I'll hear the tick, tick, tick or sometimes Tristin will hear it too.  It's crazy to think about the thought that a device the size of a quarter that open and closes with every beat is keeping my alive. 

Reece & I after heart surgery


Once again I find myself reflecting back on the last 9 months since heart surgery with many lessons learned and feeling completely blessed to be healthy again.  I've had several people ask me through this experience how I've been able to stay so positive and maintain my spirit?  I've done some serious sole searching since I literally placed my life in the hands of another.  It was through this process I learned to appreciate all the wonderful things in my life.  I connect with the power of god in my life and through this journey I've learned to trust the path that is chosen for me.  I've realized I don't have to have all the answers, although I can ultimately control my attitude and work each day to inspire others.

I've come to realize that god does answer our prayers and although we sometimes don't have all answers immediately to the why? or why me? thoughts, I realize that in time all things do become clear if you maintain the faith.  I truly believe god has plan for all of us.  In my situation, I feel that I have been blessed with the physical gifts and given a 2nd chance to share those gifts and inspire others to live a healthy life.

Team Blaze IM CDA 2011

Did I feel I'd be running again?  Most definitely, however I had no idea I'd be able to run at the level I use to run.  I had prepared myself and learned through this process to appreciate the opportunity to just be active again.  As I've spent the last 9 weeks specifically training for the Portland Marathon on Oct. 9th it has brought me back to where this fitness journey began in 1998.  At that time I was probably in the worst shape of my life as I had gained 40 lbs since swimming in college and even though I didn't realize it at the time I was already following the words of Ironheart Racing Team and "Racing for my life!"

During the last 9 weeks I've realized just how resilient the body can be with consistent and specific training.  As I began training in July, although I'd just completed the IM CDA my fitness was no where near where it use to be. At this time I came to the realization that I needed to focus on where I was going and not where I had been.  As a lifelong athlete and someone that has always been very competitive (especially with myself) this was difficult to do.  The training has reinforced to me how truly blessed I am as I'm now running times and distances in training that I ran before heart surgery!

Reece & I at Chelan Tri 2011

 I recently completed a block of training running 46, 51, 53 miles in three consecutive weeks and realized that I'm healthy again!  During the time I was reminded of the importance of maintaining the bounce during the long run.  This is significant in running as anyone that has run a marathon, half marathon or long distance triahtlon soon realizes that once the "bounce" is gone from the stride and you begin to shuffle, you're done!  Next time you're out on a run and start to fatigue just remember to "run with a bounce" and you can fought off the dread shuffle.
Nine months after heart surgery!

I'm so thankful for all the supportive friends and family in my life.  I'm blessed to see life as place I'm going with lessons learned based on the experiences and challenges I'm overcome.  Ultimately, I realize the one thing in my life I control is my attitude!

Remember to enjoy the journey and live an inspired life!

Thanks for reading!