Tag Archives: Swimming

The New Sensible and Responsible Corinne…!

11 Oct

It’s almost 6 months since I visited my cardiologist and received news that my planned season of triathlon was not to be. One by one I cancelled my races in 2013, feeling the financial pain of the situation as well as the physical! Watching all the races was fun but each piece took a little piece away from me. Being honest, I had to almost switch off and ignore anything to do with Roth in July, as pulling out of that hurt so much – hence the holiday to Greece!

After seeing the specialist, I made an effort to reduce my training down, in volume and intensity, incorporating some yoga and gym work to keep me busy. But soon the lore of triathlon was back as I entered a local sprint tri in August. My training was back up to doing two sessions of each discipline every week. A few faster runs, an extra mile or two per hour on the bike, and regular sea swims. All of a sudden, and not surprisingly the chest pain returned – warning signs to slow down. I felt annoyed and frustrated, I was only training for a slow ‘sprint’  and my body couldn’t even manage that??

Those close to me asked me to stop training. I was running myself down and being grumpy most of the time! Letting go of such a big part of your time takes time and a great deal of patience – certainly not my forte!

I’m back to see my cardiologist in two weeks, fully expecting to be told off and given what for, again. I’ve learnt my lesson this time and this dodgy heart of mine is only going to get TLC from now on! Since my surgery 3 years ago, I have completed 3 half marathons, 2 marathons, several 5 and 10k’s, probably 10 Olympic distance tris, 4 half ironman and obviously Ironman Austria. Even though I was told my heart would be as good as new (maybe incorrectly), I don’t think the doctors could have predicted I’d go on to do all that!

Deep down, I felt invincible after my op, like it was a second chance to do whatever I wanted. In a way that’s why I’m not finding it hard to let go or give in. I feel cheated of all the things I still wanted to do and have a feeling that I have much more to give.

Having said that, I think I’ve finally accepted that tri is off the agenda, at least for the foreseeable future. I can’t trust myself to train sensibly so I’m better to have an almost complete break. As to running events next year, I still have hope but we’ll see. Ultimately, there is life outside of triathlon (shock horror). I have so much to look forward to and be grateful for, being selfish is just not an option.

Breaking my toe last week I’ve been told is a godsend, actually forcing me into resting. You may still catch me occasionally sneaking a few lengths in, eagerly pacing around the beach or lifting some weights in the gym, but that’s it.

Here is the new sensible and responsible Corinne. The one who puts health and the future first, not merely thinking of the here and now or giving in to the dreaded training guilt.

Just keep me away from the apple crumble please!

Bournemouth Race Report – One Year On

4 Jul

The year anniversary of my heart surgery was 23rd June. The day came and passed without much occasion. The following day, I went to the hospital alone to speak to the consultant. With my Ironman plans becoming more real, I wanted to be absolutely sure that all was ok inside! An ultrasound, ECG and examination confirmed the ticker is good as new and normal sized. I made sure the doctor understood what I am about to undertake and I was relieved to hear a non-hesitant ‘Yes’!

I wandered past the cardio-thoracic ITU and felt a funny feeling that I couldn’t put my finger on. I’d almost forgotten about that week in hospital and it was strange to walk around there one year on.

Today I raced the Bournemouth olympic distance triathlon, a race I first did in 2009. My expectations weren’t high after missing a lot of training recently due to crazy work schedules and the fact that I didn’t actually get to bed on the two nights preceeding the race!

A 7am start meant I had time to catch up with friends from the tri club and twitter before heading down to the water. I felt a little shaky with nerves beforehand but nothing too spectular. Getting to the sea with a large mixed wave was fun, lots of running and splashing! I held back to let most of the pack go before timidly starting swimming. Soon, I settled into my stroke and felt strong. My goggles started to leak and I had to tread water a couple of times to empty and re-adjust. During these short stops, I managed to lose most of the group. Heading to the first buoy, I could only see 3 or 4 other swimmers ahead. The rectangle course meant that on the last 750m, we were swimming directly into the sun. The combination of non-tinted, leaking goggles and blazing sun meant sighting the last buoy was very difficult! By this point, there was only one swimmer around me and I struggled to stay with them. Soon, the next wave of swimmers overtook me and I was caught up in a mass of hands and feet! Finally exiting the water after 43 minutes, I felt drained. A run up the beach was challenging!

Onto the bike, I struggled to get clipped into my new pedals quickly enough on the main road. A bus made it’s way behind me and made the pressure even worse. Once off, I was fine and got on with the 25 mile course. As I was tired, I felt cold but pushed as much as I could. There were no women in sight! One by one, male athletes overtook me and I made it my mission to catch them up. Man with blue shoes, Cervelo boy; I named them to keep my mind distracted from my hurting legs! The busy main road of the course meant we were always in danger and unfortunately one guy got hit. I was determined to stay safe and concentrated on getting back as soon as I could. I finished in 1:33, 3 minutes slower than my 09 time.

Once of the bike, I downed some water and headed off onto the run. The morning had heated up by now and the beach was packed! I found that my legs were running ok but just slowly! No jelly legs but I could not get up any speed. I was motivated to run as fast as I could, had taken on fluids and gels with caffeine but it appeared my body would not allow that last push. Friends along the course cheered me on which was great, but still I had no energy. Once I hit the half way point on the run, I thought it would be downhill from there. The last 5k seems to go on and on! My run was a slow 1:03. I felt disappointed but I have never been so glad to finish a race.

Positives: I’m alive, well and injury free! I have the ability to exercise and take part in amazing races. I finished the course despite having no sleep. Seeing friends along the way was brilliant and I felt so well supported. The race has spurred me on to train harder. 3:24 is a 6 min PB! On year on, I am lucky to be at this stage.

What have I learnt? I need new goggles! Doing the London triathlon at the end of the month might not be an option as I will be unable to sleep beforehand and that doesn’t make for a pleasant experience. Sleep is very important! I need to work on swimming faster. Try not to let work consume ALL my time, as improving at triathlon is important to me.

Tomorrow is Ironman entry day…. !

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!’ :)

12 Weeks Ago Today My Heart Was Stopped For 39 Minutes

15 Sep

12 weeks ago today, I had heart surgery for a large hole in my heart. My heart was stopped and I was put onto a bypass system during the operation. I woke up in intensive care sore and feeling very sick. I spent 8 days in hospital before returning home to spend the next 12 weeks recovering.

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Last night, re-running this in my mind kept me awake. Since my operation, all my focus has been on getting better and the future. I never let myself think about the lead up to surgery, my time in hospital or any pain during recovery. I can now admit it wasn’t easy. It hurt. I was scared. I saw my cardiologist last week who told me I would have died in 8 -10 years if I hadn’t had the surgery. At the time, I laughed this off. Afterwards I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach! This information has only made me more determined to achieve now. Achieve in business, in triathlon, in running and my life in general.

Niggling fears and doubts are starting to bug me! Two of my hospital consultants have told me that it is ok for me to train again. They both know my aims to return to triathlon and running (ironman hasn’t been mentioned though!). Both were quick to tell me I wouldn’t be able to be an elite athlete. This hasn’t been an aim of mine but why is it when someone tells you you can’t do something, it makes you want it even more!! I am now questioning why not. Physiologically, can my heart not stand intense exercise? I’ve been told my heart is as good as new now so this doesn’t make sense. Should I be scared to push it on a lone 20 mile run or 50 mile bike ride? What if I feel like I did after the Berlin marathon last year (hideous!). Feelings of sadness have filled me this week. Sadness at what I have missed in terms of races and at what my body has gone through.

There I’ve said it. I admit to feeling rubbish this week. However, I have had the best training sessions. Running on the treadmill with the occasional 1 minute walk have felt great.  Cycling on the spin bike at the gym was such as relief to get back on the bike. The best feeling of all was getting back in the pool. Lengths felt so easy, I was shocked! No breathlessness or chest pain, not so much as an ache in any of my chest muscles. My sternum has now healed, yipee!! I am finally at a stage where I am going to overtake my progress before my operation. With some trepidation I am starting to believe in what I may be capable of. I  am excited to think of the personal bests that may be ahead. All the frustration of not achieving the times I thought I should in relation to my training is now behind me.

Although my heart was stopped 12 weeks ago today, it has never worked as efficiently as it is now. For that, I am very grateful! Coming soon is my list of 2011 races :)

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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”