This year is off to a pretty awesome start with a 13th, 8th, and FINALLY a 2ND!! Despite the Phoenix, AZ Spartan trip that is. That was a mini nightmare with an unexpected outcome and a lot of rude awakenings.
Last year, I ran the entire season with an undiagnosed heart condition that’s been plaguing me for over seven years. Palpitations, constant tachycardia, and super frequent episodes of syncope were a normal occurrence. My training and daily living were suffering. Walking up a flight of stairs would often cause my heart rate to go through the roof and me to blackout. Trail running for the past year has been a huge struggle. My heart would average about 180 bpm, which physiologically, is not a good thing. There is a only so fast that the atria chambers in the heart can passively fill with blood. If the heart is beating over 180 bpm, there is simply not enough time for the atria to fill with a large enough volume of blood to effectively pump out and supply organs with oxygen. My legs constantly felt like they were suffocating and my heart would viciously pump and palpitate. Not exactly comfortable when you’re trying to train at a world-class level.
The last year has involved a ton of testing including stress echocardiograms, multiple holter monitor tests, ekgs up the wazoo, and ultrasounds. Thankfully I found (finally) an incredible cardiologist, who identified what was going on. I suffer from Autonomic Insufficiency. For whatever reason, my body does not like to hold on to salt and my pacemaker cells don’t always like to regulate themselves because of this. Also, I don’t retain enough water, so my body is constantly running in a dehydration mode. The first solution we tried was salt-loading my diet with 4,000 to 8,000 mgs of salt a day. I tried taking shots of salt water (SO NASTY!), dumping salt on my food, taking some types of salt pills and electrolyte tabs, but it wasn’t quite enough. For 3 months (which is where my last blog left off) I felt better than I had, but not nearly as healthy as I had years before. Thus, he started me on Corlanor. Though I do still take about 6,000 mg of salt pills a day, too.
Corlanor is a pretty awesome heart medication that regulates the K-current (aka: Funny current). To put it simply, the pacemaker cells have their own ionic depolarization method by which they automatically fire off and contract 60-70 times a minute. When my heart starts to go too fast (over 110 usually, which is when the sympathetic nervous system takes over and screws up everything), the drug works directly on the funny current channels to actively suppress the acceleration. The harder my heart works, the better the meds work to control it and keep it slow and regular. Thus, I don’t feel like I’m suffocating and dying. It’s amazing!! My resting heart rate before Corlanor was about 85. Now it rests around 53. During exercise it would be around 185, now it’s around 140 - right where it’s supposed to be. I feel like a BOSS!
So back to the races! Phoenix was indeed an eye opener to a couple things:
My heart feels a lot better but, damn, I was out of shape!
NEVER DRIVE 15 hours the day before a race!!!
Make sure the hotel room has towels and toilet paper before you get settled...even if it’s the third room they put you in already.
No matter what, don’t get psyched out if people pass...I’ll kick their asses on the obstacle
Time to get back at it and hit Beast Mode
The Spartan Austin was a ton better! After taking a full month to revamp my workout patterns and train my ass off, I felt way healthier and more confident going into the Austin Spartan Sprint. The biggest changes were my diet, weekly routine, and my new custom orthotics!!
PS: Aside from a heart problem, I also have congenitally deformed feet. Because of this I have extremely crooked knees and I have suffered years of pain. I have had surgeries to release mechanical pressure in my knees and I’ll probably knee both replaced in the nearer future. Not to mention I’ve torn oh so many ligaments and both menisci over the years. I am extremely religious about doing physical therapy exercises and focusing of fully functional strength and endurance training. My prescription custom orthotics help tremendously and my latest ones are incredible! I haven’t had knee or hip pain since I put them in my shoes!
Thus, Austin was awesome! I came in top 10 and felt incredible the whole race. My heart felt rock solid and my energy never caved. I definitely could have pushed harder but I didn’t want to burn my energy too quickly. It set me up though for the Kansas City Battle Frog which turned out to be by far the hardest race I have ever done and the best one to boot!! I got my first podium!! But that’s a different blog…. ;)