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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

December Athlete of the Month

This month's featured athlete provided me and STOPTHECLOT.org with the article you will find below. 

This is an exceptional read and I hope you enjoy learning about Alexander's journey as much as I did.

I would never ride as fast as he can but I hope to race with him in the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots some day!

Read on...

Out Sprinting” a Silent Killer”
By Alexander Rapavi
Alexander RapaviImagine being an hour and fifty minutes into a three hour solo training ride in rural Virginia – a region with spotty cellular telephone service, of course – when out of the blue, you begin to feel dizzy, disoriented, significantly short of breath and start having sharp pains in your chest, uncontrolled coughing, and a debilitating ache deep within your right calf. Definitely not a pleasant thought. A better description might be nightmare scenario. The script of a very bad dream, to be sure.
Two weekends ago that’s exactly what happened to me, and it wasn’t just a bad dream.
My thoughts raced. Am I dangerously dehydrated? Having an allergic reaction to something? Did I tear a calf muscle sprinting up that grade? Am I having a heart attack?
Luckily, I was able to get to the emergency room for treatment. I ended up hospitalized for five days and hooked up to a host of monitoring equipment. The doctors and nurses who took care of me at INOVA were fantastic. So was my wonderful fiancĂ©e Nancy – she didn’t leave my side for one second, sleeping on a makeshift bed in my hospital room every night. I can’t express in words how unbelievably thankful and fortunate I am to be with her.
My morale was high, despite the circumstances. I knew I was in good hands.

So What Happened?

As it turns out, I had blood clots blocking portions of two veins in my right calf. Clots in the lower extremities are known as Deep Venous Thrombosis or DVT and are extremely dangerous if not treated properly. That’s not all, though. Portions of the clots in my calf broke away, ultimately lodging in my lungs, effectively compromising my pulmonary function. When clots travel to your lungs, it’s called a Pulmonary Embolism or PE. PE’s are life threatening. They preempt normal lung function, starving vital organs and tissues of oxygen.
PEs are sneaky, too. They mimic the symptoms of other health issues including bronchitis and asthma. Consequently, diagnosing PEs can be quite difficult. Thousands of people die from PEs every year – including athletes.
PEs are silent killers.

Hitting a Wall

Interestingly, my training had been going quite well the last couple of months. I increased my functional threshold power from 295 to just over 300 watts for 20 minutes and my five minute power was through the roof; my time trial field test times were decreasing, I was able to get my weight down from 185 to 177, I routinely ensured I was getting adequate rest, and was decidedly eating clean.
I had an especially awesome breakfast that morning (my without-­‐a-­‐doubt-­‐soon-­‐to-­‐ be-­‐famous cold muesli). It was so good I actually found myself looking forward to breakfast the following morning. Prior to starting my training session that day, I remember feeling positive about the 2014 race season, my prospects for setting some solid personal time records, and possibly hitting the podium at the Mid Atlantic Championships having missed the steps by one place in 2013.
About an hour and a half into my session, my heart rate began to skyrocket while my power numbers declined. Trying to maintain 300 watts for ten minutes felt more like trying to maintain 1000. Every pedal stroke felt labored.
I simply couldn’t get through my prescribed 10 and 15-­‐minute intervals. Not even close. Not possible. Even backing off to power zones one and two in an attempt to recover brought no real relief, just frustration and concern. I hit the wall, totally fatigued.
Was I just having an extraordinarily bad day on the bike? If so, why? It just didn’t make any sense.
A bit further into my training ride, as I plodded along at a meager 17 miles an hour at barely zone 1 trying to figure out why the heck my output was so out of whack, the chest pain and shortness of breath started. So did the deep pain in my right calf. Fortunately, I was at a bail out point along my training route and was therefore, able to get back to where I needed to be in a relatively short time, and to the medical attention I desperately needed.

DVT/PE in Endurance Athletes

Apparently, DVT/PE is more common in endurance athletes than you might think. I had the opportunity to do a lot of research on these conditions during my hospital stay, and have continued my research while convalescing at home. Below are some of the risk factors for DVT/PE in athletes. The factors in the list apply to anyone, really, but athletes and especially endurance athletes should commit the list to memory. Please note, the list below is not all-­‐inclusive.
  • Traveling long distances to and from competition by plane, bus, or car;
  • Dehydration during and after strenuous sporting events;
  • Significant trauma (Pro cyclist Chris Horner developed a PE after suffering trauma from a crash during the 2011 Tour de France);
  • Immobilization (brace or cast);
  • Bone fracture or major surgery (broken collarbone and related surgery anyone?);
  • Hypertrophy of muscles (constricts veins);
  • Excessive use of caffeine (caffeine is a vasoconstrictor with diuretic effects);
  • Performance enhancing drug use (yes, pharmaceuticals to include Erythropoietin (aka EPO) which thicken the blood, and stimulants which constrict veins and increase blood pressure can contribute to clotting, development of DVTs and PE).

Here are some things athletes (and everyone else) can do to help prevent DVT/PE.

  • Stay mobile, move around on long flights; stop, get out and move around during long road trips to and from races;
  • Consider staying in a hotel before and after races instead of driving to and from within a day. I have driven to and from races in a day a multitude of times and yes, it is definitely cheaper, but could cost a heck of a lot more in the long run;
  • Stay hydrated, stay hydrated, stay hydrated;
  • Wear compression socks;
  • Consider taking an 81mg aspirin every day. Aspirin helps reduce the body’s clotting mechanisms. Check with your health care provider prior to going on an aspirin regimen;
If you exhibit any symptoms of DVT/PE, don’t wait. Athletes are more likely to explain away symptoms that might be key indicators of something more insidious than a pulled muscle (DVT can mimic muscle or tendon trauma) bronchitis, or asthma (PE can mimic these health issues). Don’t wait.
Waiting could cost you your life.

Looking Ahead

It’s appearing more and more like I will have to remain on anticoagulant (blood thinning) therapy for life. I have to undergo more testing in the coming weeks to determine if I am genetically predisposed to hypercoagulability (increased clotting factors). As of this writing, I’m 90% certain I’ll be on anticoagulants for the foreseeable future.
As you can imagine, anticoagulants and mass start bike racing tend to get on poorly with one another. In short, if I’m involved in a crash, the impact could cause organ rupture, internal bleeding – and worse.
Regrettably, by necessity, I am now officially retired from mass start bike racing.
There is a silver lining, though. Notice I said I’m retired from mass start bike racing. I didn’t say I’m retired from racing Individual Time Trials. Far from it. In fact, once I get back on track, I fully intend on training for, and competing in time trials across the Mid Atlantic and Northeast regions again.
No matter the situation, there is always a bright side.
At least I think so.
I hope to see you on the road soon.

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, December 05, 2014

CLOT BUSTER - DVT Survivor Athletes - NEED YOUR INPUT!!!

Calling on all CLOT BUSTER - DVT Survivor Athletes!
 
Calling on all CLOT BUSTER - DVT Survivor Athletes!
 
Calling on all CLOT BUSTER - DVT Survivor Athletes!

Please take a moment to help with your thoughts on the link below.
 
Help Gather Information on Venous Thrombosis in Athletes?


Calling on all CLOT BUSTER - DVT Survivor Athletes!
 
Calling on all CLOT BUSTER - DVT Survivor Athletes!
 
Calling on all CLOT BUSTER - DVT Survivor Athletes!
 
 
Your help in providing your opinion is very much appreciated.
 
Thanks for reading,
 
The Clot Buster

Friday, October 31, 2014

November (and also October) Athletes of the Month

Doing it a bit different this month and the previous one as it is time to highlight the individuals (blood clot survivors and friends) who will be running in the 2014 edition of the NYC Marathon spreading the word about blood clots and blood clotting disorders!

All of the athletes participating this year are running to show that blood clot survivors can indeed overcome their blood clotting challenge...

All of the athletes participating this year are running to celebrate themselves but also loved ones (family and friends) who are suffering and suffered from blood clots...

All of the athletes participating this year are running to raise funds to support the National Blood Clot Alliance - NBCA - STOPTHECLOT.org and their mission to create awareness against blood clots and blood clotting disorders...

If you have it in you and you think you can donate please check out the following link...

It is simply AMAZING and INSPIRING what these guys are doing to get ready for the marathon.

Please read on to meet half of the Team STOPTHECLOT and a little bit of their personal story... ENJOY AND BE INSPIRED! If they can do it so can you! Anything is possible!
Natalie Smoliak


Chances are that you or someone you know has had a blood clot.  Blood clots do not discriminate.  They affect healthy athletes, babies, children, adults, anyone.  The National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) sees a future in which the number of people suffering and dying from blood clots in the United States is reduced significantly.
In 2011, I suffered from a blood clot and discovered that I have a genetic blood disorder.  This is something that will affect me for the rest of my life.  It is something I have to think about and manage every day.  The experience inspired me to start my own foundation, The Garnet Foundation, and to proudly support any opportunity I have to help spread awareness about blood clots and blood disorders.

Brittany Connor


Chances are you, or someone you know has had a blood clot.  It may have been called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a pulmonary embolism (PE), but nonetheless, in everyday terms, it was a blood clot. And, there's a good chance it was very serious, maybe even fatal.  
Two very important people in my life have passed away from blood clots. One of my best friends, Ashley Medlin, died at the age of 16 on December 3, 2006. She was brilliant, hilarious, and way too young. My former softball coach and mentor, Keith "Poppa" Tuck, died at the age of 52 on November 7, 2013. He no doubt helped me become the person I am today.
Blood clots have impacted my life and the lives of a lot of my friends. I am running this race in memory of Ashley and Coach Tuck in order to raise money for a cause I truly believe in. This will be my first marathon and I couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of such a great team.
Take a look at profiles of people of all walks of life who have been affected. Some of our stories are stories of survival – often against great odds of misdiagnosis or simply being unaware of the signs, symptoms or risk factors.  Others are stories told by family members whose relative’s lives could not be saved. All have asked us to share their story in raising awareness of the impact of the public health challenge imposed by blood clots.  

Chris Kaiser



Chances are you, or someone you know has had a blood clot.  It may have been called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a pulmonary embolism (PE), but nonetheless, in everyday terms, it was a blood clot. And, there's a good chance it was very serious, maybe even fatal. 
Be it a baby, child, teenager or a young adult, or perhaps a person in the prime of their life or a senior citizen – blood clots do not discriminate. They can just as easily affect athletes as well as those less physically fit.  They affect men and women; rich and poor – blood clots do not discriminate.
I am one of those people.  I am 25 years old living in Ventura, CA. I love running and athletics and “play” as much as I can. September 18, 2013 I was riding my bike home from work and was hit by a car that ran a stop sign exiting the freeway. I hit the vehicle head on, rolled into the windshield and then to the ground. I suffered a Tibial Plateau Fracture and a Grade IV separated shoulder. By some miracle, my head was untouched. My knee would require surgery to place three screws across my tibia and my clavicle will “poke” out unless I have surgery to correct.
One week after my knee surgery, I began to have calf pain. I thought maybe I accidentally stepped down with my recovering leg and aggravated my calf. I saw the doctor exactly one week after surgery and complained of this pain and showed him bruising on the back of my knee. He dismissed it quickly saying that I just had surgery and I will have some discomfort and that I am Young and Healthy. Young and healthy, perfect, all I wanted to hear. That night, I went to bed with some discomfort in my stomach, specifically ribs. I woke abruptly at 2 am with horrendous pain now in my ribs. I could not breathe deeply, nor lay on my back without tensing up. I called my mom. My family lives in St. Louis, MO so they would not be able to take me to the ER if need be. And of course, this night, my two roommates were out camping. I am in a wheelchair and cannot drive. I told her I thought maybe I had a collapsed lung from slouching in the wheelchair or something? She told me to go to the ER immediately. I’m the kind of guy that disregards most pain, but something was telling me this was serious. I called a taxi and went to the ER. No collapsed lung, so I did the CT and found that I had a Pulmonary Embolism. They located where the clot originated in my calf and showed me on the ultrasound. No doubt about it, that vein was completely blocked.
I had to give myself shots of Lovenox in my side until the blood thinning medication reached therapeutic levels. This turned out to be two months and I took only the pill for one more month until I was cleared, saying the clot was completely gone.  My doctor said that I will most likely not be able to run like I used to and I may have knee complications the rest of my life. No way, I’m not hearing that. The second I was cleared for physical therapy, I was on it. I would ride the bike while I was still in my wheelchair to build strength for the day I was allowed to walk. For months, everything I did was aimed at getting back into shape.
A goal of mine, from before the accident, was to run the NYC Marathon. I’ve been dreaming of this since I went to school in NY and watched my friend run it one year. In January, I started running again. I ran for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 2 miles, 3 miles and got to a half marathon February 2, 2014. My buddy had run for a charity when he did NY, so I browsed the site and stumbled across Team Stop the Clot. Wow, this hit home with me. I went to the National Blood Clot Alliance website and read all the stories. Prior to my accident, I had no idea what a pulmonary embolism was, or how common blood clots are. And yes, they DO NOT discriminate. Had I known more about blood clots and PE’s, maybe I would have pushed the doctor to do a simple ultrasound that takes 5 minutes to see if that bruising and calf pain was due to a blood clot. I want to get this knowledge out there and raise as much awareness as I can, because again, blood clots do not discriminate. I couldn’t be more excited and thankful to have this opportunity to run the NYC Marathon with such a great organization, the National Blood Clot Alliance.

Amaris White (also the featured August Athlete of the Month)



Two years ago I nearly died. I was 25. As most of you know,  I was diagnosed with a massive blood clot spanning from my left ankle to my heart–I had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolisms (PEs).
I’m lucky I’m alive and didn’t lose my leg.
After the initial shock, the worst news I received was from the doctors, who told me that although my life would be mostly normal, I should probably come to terms with the fact that I would never run again. Even though I had never considered myself a runner, I was devastated.
DVT left the veins in my left leg a scarred and clotted mess. I couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes without excruciating pain. And because I had been bedridden for so many months, the muscles in my leg had atrophied.
But I was determined to regain use of my leg.
It was slow work, but I started going to the gym. Sometimes my workouts consisted of no more than walking down my stairs and to the gym a few blocks away, but these walks slowly became five minute walks on the treadmill. Soon I could slowly jog 100m on the treadmill. And then 200m. And then 400m.
What I did not realize was that the more I ran, the more my body worked to compensate for my activity. Although I did not have use of my deep leg veins, my body created a web of new veins (collateral veins) to meet the demands I was putting on it. The harder I ran, the harder my body worked.
Six months after I was told I would never run again I ran the Brooklyn Half.
I’ve run more than a dozen races since then, including five more half marathons.
This is where the marathon comes in.
A marathon was something I thought impossible two years ago when I was healthy. A marathon was impossible a year and a half ago when I was in the hospital. A marathon was still impossible when I signed up. But by training for and running the NYC Marathon, I want to prove to myself (and hopefully to you) that anything is possible.
I also want to use my first marathon as an opportunity to spread awareness. By sharing my story, I have already been able to warn all of you about the signs, symptoms and dangers of a blood clot, but I’m hoping that you will help me spread that awareness even further.
TEAM STOP THE CLOT for the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon is raising money to spread awareness and save lives. Each team member is running 26.2 miles with a common goal: Raise funds and spread the word to STOP THE CLOT.
I’ve spoken with and worked with the National Blood Clot Alliance and every cent I raise will be used to STOP THE CLOT (I do not have a charity bib, so none of the money will go to New York Road Runners or another intermediary). The funds you help raise will create awareness for the general public and hopefully prevent more stories like mine from occurring.
Thank you all so  much for all your support over the last two years. Without support from friends and family like you, I would not be where I am today. Marathon training has already paid off -- I'm faster today than I was two years ago (I recently set a new personal record time for the half marathon), and I cannot wait to run on November 2. :)
If you donate to my campaign, I will RUN WITH YOUR NAME on my shirt during the race. No donation is too small, and any amount will help STOP THE CLOT.
Let’s take this TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!

John Posthumus

Chances are you, or someone you know has had a blood clot.  It may have been called a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or a pulmonary embolism (PE), but nonetheless, in everyday terms, it was a blood clot. And, there's a good chance it was very serious, maybe even fatal. 
Be it a baby, child, teenager or a young adult, or perhaps a person in the prime of their life or a senior citizen – blood clots do not discriminate. They can just as easily affect athletes as well as those less physically fit.  They affect men and women; rich and poor – blood clots do not discriminate.
Take a look at profiles of people of all walks of life who have been affected. Some of our stories are stories of survival – often against great odds of misdiagnosis or simply being unaware of the signs, symptoms or risk factors.  Others are stories told by family members whose relative’s lives could not be saved. All have asked us to share their story in raising awareness of the impact of the public health challenge imposed by blood clots.

Here is wishing all these athletes THE BEST OF LUCK ON RACE DAY!
ENJOY IT ALL! It is a remarkable event.

ENJOY THE SWEET PAIN OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENT once you cross that finish line!

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster 

My 60th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 60th Triathlon Finish !!!
First Time ever My Son got to cross the finish line with me. Without a doubt a Wonderful Experience