Ironman after crisis: My heart and courage are put to the test

When I compare my self of today to my self of 2012, when I was in peak condition, I feel like I have failed myself.  I promised myself back then that I would never be back here - unfit, overweight and unhappy in my body.

Yet, here I am - unfit, overweight and unhappy in my body - and apparently my body is not terribly happy with me either.

At this point I would normally hide myself from pictures and people.  However not now.  I am accepting the me of today, and am putting myself out there for the entire world to see, to bare witness on my transformation and to hopefully continue to inspire others to grab a hold of their health and take ownership of their lives again.

Exiting the swim - HOLY JELLYFISH!!!

Husband Mike and the other half of Team Mathletes really enjoying the ride

Running to the finish - it was HOT, HUMID and I negative split the run by executing smart!

Team Mathletes - 40 minute 70.3 relay PR!  BOOM!

I am on a continual journey - as many people are - however I know that I will find success this year as I am re-framing my point of view, and choosing to look at this as a mandatory change of lifestyle. No more excuses because I do not have that luxury any longer. 

I have taken a few months to write up the my feelings because I am still trying to figure them out.   Here we are a few days out from IM70.3  Ohio, just 2 months after IM70.3 Gulf Coast and so much has happened but not all in a good way.

First off a positive is that Mike finished his first ever ultra-endurance cycling event, the National 24 Hour Challenge!  I am so proud of him and he truly shows what it is like to race with heart.  I admire his goals and his passion for cycling as a lifestyle change.  We are doing endurance sports not for glory but for life.

When we got back from the N24HC, I went to my doctor to get a physical to just get a baseline on my journey back to heath.  What I got was not a high 5 and atta-girl for all of my hard work,  instead I was in a hypertensive crisis with a BP at 179/125 and was told that I am benched until we can figure out my heart issues as I was on a verge of Heart Attack or Stroke. 

The irony is that I was on my way to do a 1.5 hour run after the appointment, so if I had NOT gone to the Dr, then I may have had a stroke or heart attack during my run.  Needless to say this was a real wake up call as I felt perfectly normal - no symptoms, and had just done a 1.2 mile swim and 13.1 mile run in extreme heat a few weeks prior! 

How long have I been in crisis?  Why now?  What does this mean for my future as an endurance athlete? Will I be able to race at IMFL in November?  Will I be able to do IM ever again?

These questions and so many more crossed my mind in a panic as I tried to wrap my head around the doctor's news.

After emergency intervention we got my BP down to 153/108 within 10 minutes and now I am staying pretty much below 120/80 all the time.  Within a week I got cleared to get back into training however not at intensity - so basically be active but be smart and do not push myself as increased HR increases BP and until we understand the scope of this issue we do not need to be testing my cardiovascular limits.

I adjusted my training for IMFL and am currently learning how to train and race while being cautious - this is totally new to me.  I am now monitoring my BP twice every day - upon waking and at bedtime - as well as before and after my training sessions in order to gather more information on how my training will affect my BP and overall heart health.

At my last recheck 2 weeks ago, I was told that I can start to ease back into intensity but he wants me to ease into it slowly over weeks if not a month or more.  I am trying to work out what that looks like with my coach, so in the mean time I am just staying in Z2 work and adding in a touch of Z3 work on occasion to see how it affects me downstream. So far so good!  My doctor feels confident that I will be back at intensity and effort in the near future, so that makes me happy!

I know ultimately this is not about the IM or any race - it is about my life and health long term.  But realizing that the flab I have added to my midsection and the sedentary lifestyle I had adopted in recent years has had a real tangible and scary effect on my life is not even just eye opening, it is a literal game changer.  Is this what they mean by becoming woke?  Because if so I am woke AF.

So what does this mean?  It means that I am more aware of my daily choices and how they add up to my overall health.  I am re-engaging my focus on health and well-being and am adjusting my lifestyle to be one of thriving, not just surviving. 

So, follow me as I turn my own health around right before our eyes - all for the world to see!


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