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Exciting News!

31 Jan

So, my exciting news is:

Ellasport are very kindly sponsoring me for all my running and triathlon races! Ellasport are an exciting US brand of women’s technical apparel which both look and fit great! Can’t wait for my lovely new running outfit to arrive and try it out on the seafront.

You know the feeling that everything is fitting into place? I have that now. Today I ran 11 miles in 1:46, not super fast but the best I have ever run! I am so pleased that my newly fixed heart is allowing me to run sub 10 minute miles and feel so good at the same time. I can’t believe I had been running for 4 years previously, not understanding why I had never improved. I have a lot of gratitude for all the things that are going right in my life, but also am a firm believer in positive thinking. Determination to succeed cannot be undermined.

2011 is so far proving to be the successful year I had hoped for. Not only hoped for but have been working very hard at! After an extremely busy December, I found it difficult to prioritise what I would like to achieve in 2011. After much discussion and consideration, things are becoming clearer!

The 4 main areas in my life that I am aiming to improve are:

  • Sporting goals – running, triathlon and general fitness
  • Personal career goals – launching success coaching website and training
  • Business goals – Continuing to build the empire!
  • Ongoing life goals – Material possessions, experiences, travel etc

In each of these areas I  have made headway this month. With my running, I am now on track with my marathon training and achieving the distance and times I hoped for.  The majority of my triathlon races are booked in and I can’t wait for the summer. Business is going well, but is absorbing a LARGE proportion of my time. Improvement of my time management is much needed. Of all the areas, my life goals are suffering the most. I can’t remember when I last had a day off!

Exciting news, exciting times!

9 Miles – First Long Run Of 2011

16 Jan

Supposedly 3 weeks into marathon training, today was my first ‘long run’ of the year. After a slow but successful 7 mile run last Sunday with no gliches, I felt up to the challenge of a 9 miler today. After working until 4am last night, I expected to wake up groggy and not all motivated. But, ping! my eyes were open at 11am and I was raring to get out. Having run round Bournemouth and Poole a LOT in the past, I didn’t bother to plan a specific route but took  my Garmin. I also made the effort to strap up the heart rate monitor, despite having problems with it rubbing on my scar in the past.

I set off at a steady pace, with the aim of maintaining 10:00 – 10:30 min/miles. As a glanced down at the Garmin, I kept slipping back to 9:30! Pre heart op, this just did not happen. I am almost in disbelief. As I ran down the beach at Bournemouth, I was feeling great. I had my iPod on after several runs without music. My mood took a turn for the worse as I turned onto the seafront and faced a hideous headwind, blowing sand and rain everywhere! It was one of those stretches of a long run that tests you to the limits. For the next 4 miles, I looked down, dug deep and fought the elements whilst trying desperately to maintain my pace. Finally, at the end of the beach, I headed through Poole and back home. Again, the endorphins kicked in and I felt on top of the world. I finished in 91:00, an average of 10:07. So pleased.

With many more weeks of marathon training ahead of me, I am determined to keep my commitment and focus directed towards the sub 4 goal. Some might say this is ambitious after having a long stretch off after my operation but I believe if I am careful and sensible, I will reach my goal. As I have been reading about recently, it is mental strength that often leads you through difficult times. In an endurance race, whether triathlon, marathon or anything else, your passion for succeeding will carry you to the finish line. My tactic of focusing on how fortunate I am to be out running when others can’t, is the ultimate kick up the bum when you physically start to tire. Try it! Sometimes, guilt is good!

I celebrated my small success with a delicious cinnamon and raisin bagel plus a banana milkshake. Next week I have a photo shoot for a piece about me running the Brighton half marathon – my first race since my heart surgery. I am also getting some shots of my scar as I feel it is important to share my experience with others (male and female) who might be going through something similar. Pictures coming soon!

Happy Sunday :)

Heart Surgery To Ironman – The Next Chapter

3 Jan

So then new year has finally arrived – for me, 2011 signals the continuation on a journey to the ultimate physical and mental challenge of an Ironman. Reminiscing about 2010 today has made me realise the strength I gained from a trying year inspite of the obstacle of being diagnosed with a heart condition. The experience has made me even more grateful for the ability to exercise and the excitement of entering races to push my physical boundaries.

I started 2010 bursting with enthusiasm for exercise and had entered many races; running and triathlon. I was enjoying being part of the local triathlon club, had huge plans for new business and generally felt great…apart from a few nagging symptoms. I had been to see my doctor on new year’s eve as something told me that was a serious condition underlying. Lucky that I did as 2 weeks later, I was diagnosed with a hole in the heart. On new year’s day 2011, I sat discussing that year that has passed and tried to pinpoint the positive parts that stood out. I identified moving house, employing a first member of staff, enjoying having family over in the summer, signing up to a coaching course. I was a little sad to not have achieved the sporting and business aims I had set out in January 2010.

Aims from last year are now being carried over to 2011, with an added few, including a half Ironman in September. My journey to Ironman is not only following heart surgery but  also as a novice triathlete. I had just a year of training in the 3 disciplines before doctors told me to stop all exercise. This was a frustrating time, leaving me feeling helpless. My focus on the future kept me going, as it does now. When I lack the motivation to run, bike or swim, I imagine myself back in the hospital speaking to the consultant who told me my heart was failing. The previous day I had run 16 miles!

Speaking of heart failure, my grandfather has recently been diagnosed with this condition after a history of angina, heart attacks and coronary artery bypasses. We share stories of scans and consultant visits , laughing about the similarities. Coronary heart disease is all around and this makes me passionate about spreading the message about the importance of a healthy lifestyle. The cardiac history in my family has always been a concern to me, and maybe was one of the reasons I started running regularly. When studying to be a nurse, I chose to write  my dissertation on cardiac rehabilitation and found it amusing that I ended up attending these classes myself, age 27!

Now that 2011 is here, the long term goal of an Ironman in 2012 feels that much closer. I just can’t wait!!

Happy New Year! :)

Amazing What The Body Can Do In 4 Months

28 Oct

y1ephoto

From open heart surgery in June, to achieving a target of running 6 miles in 60 minutes. This is one snapshot into my journey back to recovery after repair of a congenital heart defect. To many athletes, 10 min/miles is barely a recovery run. To me, it is a small achievement that allows me to track progress back to my previous level of fitness and beyond. I am not a bionic woman, just very determined and prepared to work hard! My run today was hard, hurt all of the way but meant a lot to me. The desire to succeed is far more powerful than a nagging tiredness. You have to REALLY want something if you are going to aim high. I have REALLY wanted to get better!

Many of my friends and family have become accustomed to having the ‘old Corinne’ back. I, however, do not take any of my physical efforts for granted. Each time I push my heart and legs just a little bit more, I remind myself of how lucky I am to be able to exercise.

16 Weeks Since My Heart Surgery

13 Oct

To start with this week,  a link to someone who has inspired me on my own journey to Ironman – Kyle Garlet.

Kyle Garlet – Heart Transplant to Ironman Hawaii

As Kyle puts it, anything is possible! This week, and for the last few weeks since I began training again, I  have had such incredible support from the Twitter community. From Kona athletes, age groupers and local women runners and triathletes, I had received the most lovely comments, all of which have spurred me on. I have been constantly reminded that my recovery has been quick and successful as I was back running after 12 weeks. Now, 16 weeks post my surgery, I am feeling great and excited about the future.

Reading and watching stories about the Ironman championships in Kona at the weekend, should be enough to motivate even the biggest coach potato! Or is it just me, with my obsession with all things triathlon and the magic of the race? The most heart wrenching stories emerge from race reports and sheer human effort is apparent in all cases. This week, I have shared my experience with someone who is about to go through similar heart surgery. I hope he has found it useful to chat about fears, expectations and returning to Ironman training. Remember, (my motto of the month) – anything is possible!

On Twitter, I set myself a October wish – to complete 6 miles in 60 minutes. So far, I’m not there with reducing my min/miles although I’m seeing an improvement on each run. Persistence and patience are required! I am so excited to observe my potential speed increase over the next few months and surpass any of my previous records.

Scar news: I have no red areas now and all seems healed. Soon, it will be a fine white line and much less obvious. I get a couple of stares but no more than the usual male ‘boob glance’!! :)

Thanks for reading!

2 Steps Forward, 1 Back!

29 Sep

Had a rather frustrating week, which is to be expected at this stage of my recovery. Two steps forward, one back at the moment! After the excitement of getting back in the pool and back on the bike, my chest has continued to ache during and after exercise. After 10 lengths of the pool, I had to get out. After a 14 mile bike, I was in pain for 2 days afterwards. Even after a gentle 3 mile run, my sternum bone is very uncomfortable. I guess my body is trying to tell me something! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a moaning minnie – I am extremely grateful that I am back training again. I just got a little carried away and I have learnt my lesson!

Referring back to my heart surgery ‘manual’, I read that if an exercise causes pain or discomfort then I should stop for 2 weeks before re-trying. This made me smile, I thought exercise was always meant to cause pain and discomfort! The difficulty I have when applying these principles to my condition is that I am 30-40 years younger than most heart patients. My previous level of fitness is allowing me to return to higher levels of exercise than is routinely expected. As a result of this (and after discussion with my hospital consultant), I have decided to take the lead from my body day by day. For the last few weeks I have been training every other day. If I need extra days of rest, I’ll take them. Sound sensible?? Pre-heart surgery me finds it hard to stay put and out of the fresh air.

As I mentioned on my previous post, I have recently been speaking to athletes planning their trip to the world Ironman championships in Kona next month. I am fascinated by what goes into training for this event. Having such an exciting long term goal as finishing a long distance triathlon outweighs any of my short term aim niggles.

Lessons I have learnt this week:

  • Don’t run on an empty stomach (if like me, it makes you dizzy and sick!).
  • Don’t push too hard too early on in recovery from major surgery.
  • Listen to your body and let it dictate the length or intensity of a training session.

Of course, there are plenty of occasions when you push your body to the limit and I fully intend to get back to this level of training as soon as body says ‘OK, let’s go!’ :)

The Beginning Of The Rest Of My Life!

22 Sep

BeachNo longer will I be posting about my recovery weeks – the official 12 weeks is over! So what now? The beginning of the rest of my life.  The excitement of the future and acceptance of events in the past. My mourning for months lost, finances lost, confidence lost is slowly easing and my focus again shifts to I can do. The easiest way for me to measure success is exercise. Every day during my recovery I kept a diary of how far I walked, starting with a tiddly 7 minutes and round the block.

Today I ran 6 miles, at a slow pace (12 min/miles with a couple of walk breaks) but felt good. The distance was no problem. If any slight nagging voices came into my head about wanting to run faster, I cast them aside. Right now, I’m lucky to be running and want to enjoy the joy of getting out in the fresh air and soaking up the scenery like this morning’s run (see pic!). I am great at sticking rigidly to training plans and getting psyched up for faster times and results but now is not the time to do this. I get the odd bout of chest pain if I raise my heart rate above 150/160 or push that bit too hard. I have plenty of time to work towards my goals in triathlon and running in 2011.

Speaking of which: here is my race plan options for 2011!:

Jan / Feb – Rempstone Roast duathlon series

20th Feb Brighton half marathon (got place)

March – Either Mad March triathlon in Dorset or Bournemouth Bay half marathon

17th April London Marathon (have my beloved place!)

8th May Try a tri, Dorset  or maybe New Forest Olympic on 1st May

June – London to Brighton bike ride (have place), Bournemouth pier to pier swim, maybe Summer Sizzler tri in Dorset

July – Bournemouth Olympic, London Triathlon (have place)

August – not sure about this one. Maybe Hyde Park on 6/7th or Swanage on 14th

September is 70.3 time! Options are New Forest middle distance 25th Sept, Vitruvian. Depending on pennies there are some M-Dot events abroad (New York, Mexico, Canada, New Hampshire!!!)
Have entered pre-reg for the Great North Run as well

All very exciting.

The above plans were jotted down for this year but my heart had a ‘mechanical’, so to speak! My mind never stopped believing in my ability to achieve, hence the endless frustration and disappointing times despite good training. I have many people around me who provide great inspiration. These include my friend who ran the London marathon for the first time this year, despite injury and an age 0f 63. We run together regularly and she really keeps my spirits up. Also, a new training friend inspires me – she has taken up triathlon despite health problems. It’s great to have strong people around you. I love following stories on Twitter about people who have gone from overweight and unfit to triathletes qualifying for Kona world championships! When in the pool, on the bike or out on a run, I imagine I am Chrissie Wellington and all seems effortless and easy! Role models are amazing motivation.

Check out this for motivation:

For most people, it is difficult to make a living out of sport unless you are gifted and have the determination to work excessively hard. But everyone can use sport to improve the rest of your life. Like holidays, sporting events give you something to look forward to and work towards.

From Heart Surgery to Ironman. Weeks 10 and 11

6 Sep

To those who have been reading this blog don’t get too excited, I haven’t gone out and done an Ironman!! Until now I have kept this blog post as a diary for my progress following heart surgery in June. From now, I will be recording my journey returning to the sport of triathlon and in particular the ultimate challenge of Ironman.

Over the weekend, I watched a programme on the UK Ironman race. This inspired me to begin serious research into training for the long-distance race. Which Ironman, when is realistic, what training will I need. I have begun looking for a triathlon coach as I feel I will need structure to my training and good advice to keep me on track. Through Twitter and Triblogs I have come across some great people, from local novice triathletes to train with to expert coaches from the US. I fully intend to utilise the powers of the web to aid my training!

The reaction I have had from friends, family and online acquaintances has been mixed! My brother thinks a screw has come loose. My friends understand my obsession with extreme challenges. Friends on Twitter have given me great words of encouragement which really spurs me on. The Channel 4 programme on the UK Ironman showed several participants who had a ‘story’ such as a young guy who had fallen 100ft in the ski accident and was in a wheelchair for months, a Canadian women in her 60′s on her second Ironman and countless others. Whenever I watch footage of a long distance triathlon the strength of human nature is obviously abundant and this reduces me to tears and goosebumps every time.

So what is my personal reason for wanting to do an Ironman? My heart surgery set me back in my marathon and triathlon training. I had set out goals for each year up until 2012 and as a result of my heart condition, didn’t seem to be getting anywhere fast! My aim for a sub 4:30 marathon went by the wayside in 2009 as my symptoms worsened. I couldn’t understand why my running was slowing rather than improving. Doctors in March 2010, when they heard the word triathlon, told me to stop training (other than a gentle jog or walk). I found this disheartening and frustrating so tried to carry on working out for a few more weeks. Finally, I was forced to give up exercise. I was told by my cardiologist that I would never be an elite athlete (although this hadn’t been my aim). At this time, my way of getting through was to focus all my energy on ensuring I focus on the future and making sure I had the required surgery as soon as possible. This strategy worked and carried me through the tough times.

Here I am now, nearly at the golden 12 week date. 15th September to me is the start of my future as a triathlete. On that day, I will celebrate the end of my recovery period with my first cycle and swim in the pool. I have a long way to go with my training as over the last 6 months I have obviously lost fitness, have put on weight/body fat and just a little bit of confidence.

My aims for the next few weeks:

  • x 3 runs a week, slow pace (no quicker than 10 min/miles), distance between 2 – 5 miles
  • Gentle workouts at the gym, 1-2 x a week
  • Yoga x 3 a week
  • Massage or reflexology once a month to help with lingering sore neck
  • Ease back into swimming, depending on how my chest is feeling
  • Set-up my turbo and begin gentle cycle sessions x 2/3 a week
  • Research a triathlon coach
  • Record my weight/body fat and exercise sessions to keep a log

I love following a training plan and I will start looking into marathon plans that begin at the end of 2010/Jan 2011 but will not follow a plan at the moment. This is because I need to listen to my body while I resume exercise again and make sure I take the necessary rest. There is plenty of time to focus on sub 4hr marathon, olympic and 70.3 triathlon plans!

Brief race plan for 2011 – 2012.

April 2011 – London Marathon. Aiming for sub 4 hours.

Spring 2011 – Sprint distance triathlon as warm-up race

Summer 2011 – 2 or 3 olympic distance races (including Bournemouth and London)

August, September or autumn 2011 – half Ironman.

2012 – Ironman!!

Stats today:

Weight: 9 st 1 lb, Body fat: 25.8%, BMI: 20.4, Waist: 26”, Hips: 36”

9 Weeks – Recovery

25 Aug

My second week training has gone well. Last week I managed 2 runs and 1 gym session and felt great! Today I attended my second cardiac rehab class and enjoyed the company. It was humbling to hear the stories of others who had suffered heart attacks. Several people described the psychological impact of coming to terms with an unexpected cardiac event. I compared my experience to theirs and certainly feel lucky that my heart condition was easy to resolve. I know I did nothing wrong in terms of lifestyle, diet etc to cause the defect so there is no guilt for me to deal with. All my focus has been on returning to my level of fitness. I am so grateful that I have no heart disease and hopefully never will have!

My main concern this weeks is a very sore neck. This is likely muscular pain following my surgery and is a bit of a pain! I have reduced most of my painkillers down and I am keen to stop them completely. I had a reflexology session on Monday which was fascinating and very accurate about my problems! I am trying Indian head massage on Friday so I am hoping this will relieve the ongoing pain.

I have dropped back on my walks in favour of runs, I completed 2.3 miles today. The endorphins I get from running are incredible. I almost had forgotten what they felt like! It all feels real now, and I am not afraid to tell people I am training for a marathon and fully intend to have a good triathlon season next year. I have even had my first offer of sponsorship from the cardiac rehab team.

3 more weeks until I can get back on my bike and into the pool!

44678_10150259220800343_694765342_14303770_1276627_nMe and my healing scar!

8 Weeks – First Run!

20 Aug

This week I hit my 8 week date, 2 months since my heart surgery. This for me meant I was able to go for my first run in 5 months.

I started the day with my first cardiac rehab session at the local hospital. I had almost been put off before attending, wondering what I would get out of the session and if I would look out of place. Still, always curious to learn more about exercise, I went along and really enjoyed myself. I got chatting to many people with varying heart conditions. I was the youngest there but could still relate to others who had gone through heart surgery. As I told my story, I felt pride at what I have been through and humbled that my return to normal life and exercise has been fairly smooth.

The circuit of cardio exercises and stretches was fun and I was able to push myself in a safe environment. This gave me the confidence to push my heart rate on my first run.

Again, to feel safe, I used my friend’s treadmill with the door open and safety key firmly attached to my shorts! I gingerly warmed up and gradually fell into a jog. Over the 30 minute session I did 2 minutes running followed by 1 minute walking. I remembered the Borg scale taught to me the cardiac rehab class and kept my exertion to 4/10 in order not to push my heart too much. On future runs, I will wear my heart rate monitor to keep my heart rate below 164. I covered 2.2 miles in the session and felt good afterwards. I had no chest pain, discomfort or shortness of breath but my legs did ache!!

After a busy few days with family down and lots of walking, I have decided to limit my runs to one more this week, on Sunday with my friend. This will allow me to recover in the meantime and start out fresh for run no. 2!

I have read about others who have returned to running quickly after heart surgery (some after only 2 week!) but I felt I should follow doctor’s orders and stay within my limits. With a tough marathon time to work towards, there is plenty of time for the pain, strain and sheer exhaustion that accompanies running. For now, I am focusing on little and often, slow and steady :)