Special K Days and My Cardiac Conscience

Days 16 (again)-18:  Well, Sunday night I had exactly one minute of running on the treadmill before I had to revisit the bathroom, which lead me to question how much I actually had to drink during the day. What I really need on race day is for someone at the water stations to smack the cup of water out of my hand.  I had headed to the gym after dinner, which in hind sight probably did not help matters.  The bloating and pressure against my already stressed bladder only served to add to my misery.  It was only a small dinner, but apparently of the expanding variety. I tried to run every few minutes but my discomfort and overall dissatisfaction with my ability to stay dry eventually led to a full abandonment of my running effort in favor of a less stressful speed walk. My goal had been to clock 4 miles in 60 minutes with my run-walk combination.  I don’t really know if I achieved this because sometime after 10 minutes I inadvertently hit the stop button on the treadmill’s screen when I intended to use the toggle lever to slow back to a walk.  How accidental this was could be argued. All of my stats were lost to that point.  After that incident I managed to keep the machine on, and I resigned myself to a tolerable 4 mph speed walk.  I vowed to try for a better running effort next time.  During that stretch of speed walking, I managed 3 miles in 45 minutes, which was extremely disheartening because there was only a 5 minute difference with my best run attempt.  In total I probably achieved my goal.  It just didn’t count as a victory.
     On Monday, I revisited my Kegels with renewed fury.  My days filled with obsessive compulsive Kegels have become known to me as my “Special K” days, and Monday was extra special.  I threw in a Jillian workout, even though compulsive Kegeling alone really ought to count for something.  By Tuesday, I was better prepared to face the treadmill again, with my usual mid-day timing and eating pattern reestablished.  As I entered my age and weight into my chosen machine, I found myself wishing it would ask me if I had any incontinence issues and whether I had previously been in heart failure.  There should be allowances for that. It could ask me periodically how I’m holding up and whether I need a break.  At the minimum it could make the allowable time for a “pause” longer, as the bathroom is on the other side of the gym and I currently have to race the 2 minute timer to see if I can make it back before I lose my statistics.  So far, I can’t.
    The miles dragged and I fought to keep attempting my run.  Enter my heart doctor.  My runner’s conscience has developed a face, and it is that of my cardiologist.  When I was in heart failure, I told him that I  had to stop and rest after climbing up a flight of stairs. He asked me why, and my answer was that it felt like I had no blood going to my arms or legs, or my brain, and that I would surely die if I didn’t.  A year later I was still struggling and I told him I could only manage a jog for a minute or two.  He asked why, and again the answer was that I felt like I would die or pass out if I continued.  Now, when I want to stop running, I see him standing beside me in his white lab coat asking why I feel like stopping.  My knee jerk response is that I hate running, the treadmill, and him for asking.  Then I feel guilty because he saved my life and he’s just doing his job. I try to tell him politely to go away, but he doesn’t.  When he finally vanishes, he always comes back.  The real answer is because I feel so excessively uncomfortable in one way or another, but no longer because of imminent death.  I do a cardiac reality check when I want to stop and most of the time I find that my heart feels fine, pounding away as it should.  The joy this revelation triggers should not be underestimated.  It is a powerful motivator to push myself just a bit more, just a bit longer.
     During my 3 miles Tuesday, I was bound and determined to perform better than my laughable effort on Sunday.  I intermittently tested out slightly higher speeds of 5.5 and 6.0 mph., and in a mad panic that I might not surpass my prior times, I sprinted the last 3 minutes at 6.5 mph.  Turns out that my 2 weeks of training has not yet prepared me for speeds of 6.0 and higher, as evidenced by my emergency button stop and doubled over form while I heaved for air.  I did, however, successfully beat my best prior time by a whopping 15 seconds.  I also realized that any difference between 5.0 mph and 5.5 was imperceptible, so I will likely try for the slightly higher running pace on future treadmill days.   Overall, I’m content with Tuesday’s effort and I guess I’ll have to settle for slow and steady gains.  I’m used to that, but it doesn’t make patience come any easier.

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