Like life and a training season, I’ve had a bunch of ups and downs for the last few weeks. The head games continue as we try to figure out why I had pulmonary emboli in the first place. Everything has come back negative, which is good and bad. It’s good that I don’t have the scary stuff they’ve tested for, but it’s bad that I’m left hanging.
I’ve met all sorts of people who either had something related to PEs, are or were on Coumadin, or know someone who is. After each conversation, I try to apply it to my situation. I then extrapolate that out into the future and think about how it will affect me. Will I be able to ride a bike on the road? Will I be able to put in hard efforts in any sport? Will I be able to work out for more than 30 minutes?
One person, a father in perhaps the most intelligent family I’ve ever come across, was a professor of physiology. He suggested effort caused the problem. The thought of not going for a long run or ride, or not doing hard intervals, was depressing. I love that stuff. I use to go to the track early in the morning, descend intervals, set a goal for the last one, and when I reached it, have a little celebration. I badly want to do that again, but don’t know if it will be possible. After further consideration of his theory, it doesn’t add up, but that doubt still lingers.
Another person broke her hip after doing three marathons in a month (!!), was on Coumadin for a year, and likely won’t get back to that level of running. She did most of her running on trails, loving every moment of it, and could relate firsthand to the possibility that I won’t compete like I used to. She had good advice for me, saying I need to mourn the loss if that is indeed what happens.
I got up early one morning while on vacation last week. It was stunning outside. Clear sky, the sun was just coming up, it was nice and warm, and it was quiet- the world wasn’t up yet. I really wanted to go out for a few hours and run or ride, leaving everything on the road (figuratively speaking). But that isn’t in the cards yet. I have been doing some shorter runs, however. I’m going about 3.5 miles at a 9 minute pace. I generally feel fine. In the pool, I'm up to 2600 meters.
After three days in a row of running, however, I had some chest pain, so I figured I should take it easy the next day. I went for a walk, and when I got back, realized I had time for some golf. We stay about 200 yards from the first tee, so I grabbed my bag and headed over. I kept moving along, only taking one warm-up swing at a time, and finished nine holes in just 1:07. When I was done, I was told I just missed the record- 48 minutes by a 60 year old (that doesn’t sound like “just missed” to me). I had no idea there was a record. You can take the man out of the competition, but you can’t take the competition out of the man. I showed up the next day, ran with a full bag of clubs, a finished in 47 minutes. It’s actually a great workout. Although on a very different scale, I felt like a biathlete- they cross country ski really hard, then need to calm down enough to take an accurate rifle shot. Two days later, I finished in 42 minutes. Since then, I’ve learned the real “speed golf” rules (the most significant being that you carry between one and six clubs vs. a full bag), and will give it another shot over Labor Day weekend.
I head to Boston on September 10 for the next phase of doctor work. I feel really good about the doctor I decided on. She’s experienced and has very good credentials. Importantly, she has also been an athlete herself. So she can relate to my desire to get back out there. “Coumadin for life” won’t be the easy way out for her. It might be the ultimate answer, but not until the traditional and cutting edge work is exhausted.
I’ve been told it takes six to eight weeks for clots to clear. This Friday is eight weeks. Something tells me that deserves a bit of a celebration.
You know the rules....keep yourself safe, put a little joy into your life and those around you who you think may merit it, and never ever- that's never ever- pass up an opportunity to kiss someone you love.