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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

October Athelete(s) of the Month

Doing it a bit different this month and next 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 - 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!

Amy Kearbey

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.  
I am one of those people.  At the age of 29, I was diagnosed with a PE – a blood clot in my lung.  It was actually a bunch of blood clots that combined to make for a very serious and very scary situation.  My symptom was back pain – severe, electric hot back pain in one spot that radiated.  Never in a million years did I think I had a blood clot. By the grace of God, my doctor connected the dots and insisted on testing to see if I had a PE.  By the end of the day, I was in the hospital experiencing a pulmonary infarction. Months later, further testing would reveal that I was at continued high risk for blood clots and would be on blood thinning medication for life. In the years since, I have come to learn how very lucky I was that I went to my doctor and that he insisted on testing me for a clot.  With the care and support of an amazing team of doctors, I have also been able to bring two amazing little boys into our family, with no clots and no complications!  My gratitude runs deep, and it is time to give back.

Carolyn Leslie
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.  
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. One night in late March of this year, I started experiencing pains in my ribs as I'd breathe in. I didn't think it was anything serious, and went to my chiropractor the next day thinking he could "adjust it" away. He thought it was intercostal neuritis and sent me home with some biofreeze. That night, the pain became so bad, I felt like I was being stabbed in the ribs and could not breathe. My husband took me to urgent care in the middle of night, even though I was stubbornly reluctant. The doctor there diagnosed me as having Pleurisy, and sent me home with some Vicodin. The pain continued for the next day and a half - which I spent propped up with pillows all day and night. I knew Pleurisy was painful, so I put up with this pain as long as I could. Thankfully I went to my GP when I was not getting any relief with the Vicodin. When he saw my symptoms, he sent me straight to the ER and ordered a CT.  Within minutes they came back and informed me that I had several blood clots in both lungs. Wow. It did not even occur to me that this might be the cause of my pain! 
Thankfully, they found them in time, and as soon as I started taking the blood thinners I started to feel some relief. If I hadn't questioned that Pleurisy diagnosis, and just toughed it out, I could have been in serious, serious trouble. 
I had some other warning signs that I was oblivious to at the time. I had a major calf cramp shortly before the rib pain. I thought it was just a sore muscle from running. 
The reason I am so passionate about this cause, is that some simple information and awareness can literally save lives! There are things you can do to lower your risks and there are warning signs that can alert you to see a doctor. I just want everyone to know these things, and that is why I was so excited when I discovered Team Stop the Clot!

Samantha Shelton

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.  
I happen to be one of those people. As an 18-year-old avid soccer player, I had reconstructive knee surgery after tearing my ACL, MCL and meniscus. Unfortunately, that surgery led to the development of seven blood clots in my left leg—putting me at high risk for a heart attack or a stroke. Fortunately, we caught the problem in time (the immense amount of pain gave it away) and walked away with a year's worth of blood thinners and a varicose vein.
Then, 3 weeks before I began training for my first marathon—the New York City Marathon to fundraise for the National Blood Clot Alliance—I discovered I would need leg surgery once more: this time to fix some (not all is reparable) of the serious vein damage left behind by the clots, remove my varicose veins and improve blood flow in my leg to reduce the risk of future clots. 
While some would say this is all rather unfortunate, I'm glad it happened—it led to my diagnosis of a rare genetic disorder, Factor V Leiden. Five to eight percent of Americans have this disorder, but very few even know about it until it becomes a major health risk, like what happened to me. I can no longer take any hormonal medications, and at the time of diagnosis, I was told I likely wouldn't be able to run more than six miles at a time due to my vein damage. 
Six years and 10 half-marathons later, I'm proud to say I've disproved that notion about running. When I met with my surgeon just a few months ago, the one thing he said likely saved me from having more clots: running. Funny how things work out.  And now, I'm ready to run my first full marathon. While doing so, I want to help those who have also been affected by blood clots.

Stef Rubino

In the Fall of 2013, we nearly lost my sister, Meg, to multiple pulmonary embolisms - only 10 days after she gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
After battling increasing pain over the course of an evening, Meg woke up in excruciating pain at 2am, gagging and unable to breathe. Her husband (a SWAT officer) was able to stabilize her until she was transferred to the ER. An emergency CAT scan found multiple clots in her lungs and a lower right lung infarction - clots that could easily have killed her, leaving her newborn baby and 2 year old son without a mother.
The NIH estimates that 300,000 to 600,000 people are affected by blood clots each year - and approximately 30% of those cases are fatal.
On November 2nd, almost a year to the day since multiple blood clots almost killed Meg, I'm running my first marathon (the NYC Marathon!) to raise funds for, and awareness of, the National Blood Clot Alliance - a group dedicated to significantly reducing the number of people suffering and dying from blood clots in the US.

Rachel Jemison

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.  
I am one of those people.  At the age of 23, I was diagnosed with a DVT – a blood clot in my leg.  After being laid up with a respiratory infection, I had been having pain in my calf that began to radiate through my back for over a week.  I initially thought I pulled a muscle and later thought I had a bladder infection.  Thankfully, I had an already scheduled follow-up doctor appointment from being sick and mentioned this pain.  I was lucky that my doctors felt the lowered pulse in my ankle and suspected a DVT.  They put me in an ambulance and at the ER I was diagnosed with a clot that ran from my ankle to my groin.  I was in the hospital for a week and was put on blood thinners for a year. 
Further testing revealed that I have a genetic mutation called Factor V Leiden.  Men and women with Factor V are at an increased risk of blood clots.  About 3-8% of people with European ancestry carry this mutation.  Women with Factor V are at an increased risk of blood clots when levels of estrogen are high – birth control, pregnancy and estrogen therapy all increase this risk.  Having Factor V and taking birth control pills could have been a deadly combination for me.  I am blessed to have 3 healthy daughters – through each pregnancy I was required be on blood thinners.  I credit my healthy pregnancies to having the knowledge about Factor V – many women don’t know they have it and suffer recurrent miscarriages or clots during pregnancy and post-partum. 
I will be running 26.2 miles on November 2nd with Team Stop the Clot to raise awareness of DVT and PE – to let people know that blood clots do not discriminate – that they can happen to anyone – good or bad health, men or women, young or old.  I am raising awareness so people know of risk factors and symptoms. 

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 ACCOMPLISHEMENT once you cross that finish line!

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster 

Friday, October 03, 2014

From the back...

The view of a race is far different...

The people around you are very different...

The people around you get the chance to talk to you...

The people around you are much more nicer...

This year I've been both at the very front of some races but also in the very back... I mean DEAD LAST in one case...

But regardless of how last I was I NEVER GAVE UP...

Perhaps because I am older now I can process the frustration of falling behind but at the same time continue to move forward...

Perhaps because I am older now I want to make sure that I get my money's worth of everything the race has to offer...

Perhaps because I am wearing the CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots I feel that if I don't keep going I am not honoring those blood clot survivors who are truly battling to overcome the challenges of their clotting incident...

I tell you what wearing the polka-dots always keeps me honest and provides an additional level of accountability from which I cannot shy away...

There have been a number of races this year that smacked me on the face...

Perhaps my preparation was not on point...

Perhaps I got hit by a car...

Perhaps I drank too much of an energy drink that I was not used to..

Perhaps I suffered 7 flat tires in the course of 20Miles due to poor equipment selection....

In the end each and everyone of the races in which I battled myself left behind a mountain high pile of lessons learned from which I know I can draw pointers and improve.

There is plenty of room to improve.  However, one thing I don't need to improve is racing in the polka-dot kit because it definitely gives me wings... Not necessarily to fly but to just keep going and finish.

Not much racing left now in 2014.  Just a couple of more running events for me and a lot of tweeting and blogging about clot survivors running the NYC Marathon and other endurance events before the end of the year.

For now it is time to prepare the roster for my oldest son's 1st Grade Soccer match and see if we can remain undefeated...and of course rest so that my body can heal and recover.

Looking forward to racing and spreading the word about blood clots and blood clotting disorders in 2015.  Definitely some of my luck HAS to improve next year.

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, September 05, 2014

September Athelter of the Month

2014 has not been my year as it relates to my various bikes...

I am fortunate, a million times over, to have the "various" bikes that I own and even more lucky to be able to ride them as much as I get to. 

However, this year has been rough.  First in in June I got hit by car during a local triathlon which caused some damage to my newly renovated triathlon racing bike; the today as I was attempting to commute from home to work my commuter "work horse" bike finally could not keep up any more and gave up about 3 Miles away from work... After the better part of 7 years of commuting at least 3 times per month weather permitting losing this frame is a significant set back for my training expectations...

But really how can I speak / write of "set backs" on material stuff when the month of September is upon us and it is time for the September Athlete of the Month post.

It is rather foolish of me to have a "pity" party over the loss of my work horse bike when I should be talking about REAL, LIFE ALTERING "SET BACKS" due to blood clot incidents...

So, with that mind, please allow me to introduce to you the following blood clot survivor who did have the life altering blood clot incident that re-shaped his life and has propelled him down the road of MAJOR and INSPIRATIONAL accomplishments.

Please meet MARTIN SCHNEEKLOTH and read on about his story...

1)  What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
I have two true loves when it comes to sports, soccer and ultrarunning. Growing up in Germany, I've been playing soccer since I was 5 years old. However, I haven't played since my ankle surgery and the associated clotting incident 19 months ago. I also having been running for general fitness for the better part of the last 15 years. I got involved in Ultrarunning just 5 years ago and it has been my passion ever since. Ultrarunning (also called Ultramarathoning) is described as running any distance over the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles.

2)  How did you get started in that sport?
I was getting ready to run a local 15K road race in preparation for running my first marathon, when I recognized a guy I had played soccer with in a local men's soccer league. We started talking and when I explained to him why I was running this race, he said "why don't you just run the Dizzy Fifties 50K with me and my buddies, instead? It's barely longer than a marathon." The rest, as they say, is history. I was hooked as soon as I crossed the finish line of my first 50K trail race.

3)  What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?(Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did)
My biggest athletic achievement to date was the completion of my first 100 mile trail race. It took me nearly 28 hours of continuous forward movement to cross that finish line and when the race director handed me my very first 100 mile belt buckle (traditional finisher's award for 100 mile ultramarathons), I was crying, both from complete exhaustion and from complete elation, all at the same time. You do learn a lot about yourself, physically and mentally, when you complete such a demanding event.

4)  Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
In December 2012, I sustained an ankle injury playing in the final soccer match of the season after turning to chase down an opposing player. I felt a sudden sensation of pain in my left ankle and knew something was wrong. Unable to walk, I was helped off the field and the next morning, I made an appointment with a sports orthopedist to have it checked out. Unfortunately, the initial diagnosis missed the true nature of my injury and rather than scheduling corrective surgery right away, my left leg was placed in a boot and I was prescribed physical therapy. The traumatic nature of my ankle injury combined with having to wear a boot to stabilize my ankle caused a severe clotting episode, which exhibited itself fairly suddenly with severe chest pain 5 weeks after the initial ankle injury. 3 hours after arriving at the ER and after undergoing extensive tests, I received my devastating diagnosis, multiple DVTs and multiple bilateral PEs. This was definitely the scariest moment in my live as doctors would not even give my wife a prognosis at this time. Luckily, I did recover after I spent the following week in hospital receiving treatment multiple times a day to prevent the clots from growing further and to allow my body to slowly break down the clots.

However, leaving the hospital a week later was only the first step in my recovery. I still had to receive reconstructive ankle surgery to address an ankle fracture and tendon tear that had initially been diagnosed as an ankle strain, but that could not proceed until my blood clots were under control. I was put on blood thinners (initially Lovenox injections followed by daily doses of Coumadin, later I was placed on Xarelto after discussing the ease of use of this newer drug with my hematologist). I had to be taken off blood thinners and undergo surgery to receive an IVC filter before they would be able to proceed with the actual ankle surgery, followed by another procedure to remove the IVC filter. Once all of these procedures had been completed over the course of 4 weeks or so, I was placed on a daily dose of Xarelto for another 4 months. Since none of the extensive blood tests showed any genetic predisposition to blood clots, my hematologist and I decided that I would be taken off blood thinners once this treatment cycle had been completed. However, any new clotting incidents would mean blood thinners for life.

5)  When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?
While on blood thinners, I was able to start rehab pretty soon after surgery, but I was constrained to the PT office and a local indoor pool. Once the ankle cast was removed, I was allowed to start walking right away, but nearly 6 months of immobility in my left leg had caused severe atrophy. However, having been given a second chance, I was determined to not only get back to walking, but to get back to running as well. While on blood thinners, I mainly did my rehab on the treadmill, but as soon as I was cleared to try to begin running again, I was out shuffling through my neighborhood. I toed the starting line of my "first" trail half marathon after recovery 12 months after my clotting episode and it felt fantastic, like an immense load was lifted of my shoulders. I immediately started setting my next goal, finishing another 100 mile ultramarathon. Since then, I have completed 8 ultramarathons and multiple shorter road races setting PRs at every distance. I've been training hard for the goal of finishing another 100 miler for the past 6 months and I plan to toe the starting line for this race on November 1, 2014.

6)  What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? (Bike brand, running shoes, perhaps a running singlet or the Clot Buster's Running Polka-Dot Technical Shirt...)
There are two things I rely on when toeing the starting line of an ultramarathon, my Clot Buster tech shirt (I'm already on my second one as I've literally worn out the first one I owned) and my Altra running shoes, which have literally eliminated my "Morton's Neuroma", a foot issue I've experienced in long distance events.

7)  How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week)
When you train for a 100 mile ultramarathon, you have to make a serious commitment to training, which often means running 7 days a week and running very early in the mornings to avoid the heat of the day and to try to minimize the impact of your training on your family. However, a commitment like this also requires the understanding and support of your family.

8)   What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
My wife and I have this weekly ritual. She's also caught the running bug having completed a few half marathons and a triathlon and is currently training for her first marathon. After every long run on Sunday mornings, we reward ourselves with a huge breakfast at our favorite local spot that consists of banana pancakes, omelette, home fries and biscuits. Other than that, I prescribe to a pretty "clean" diet.

9)  If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
These days, almost every place I want to visit is tied to some type of amazing endurance event. In fact, I'm still working on a bucket list of places to go and experience. On the top of this evolving list are the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) 100 mile foot race in the Alps of France and the Marathon des Sables (MdS) 150 mile foot race in the desert of Egypt.

10)  What would like to say to someone who is going through a clotting episode, perhaps very similar to yours?  How can people return to do what they enjoy? Tells about your concerns and what you look out after as you got back.
Never give up, no matter how devastating your diagnosis might initially seem. Reach out to others with similar experiences to help you through this, answer questions you will have and point you towards other helpful resources. I found the most effective way to get back to what you want to do is to make sure your doctor understands your goals. If he/she does not understand them or makes no effort to help you get there, find another doctor. No matter how big or small your goals, make sure you come up with a plan and find people (both health care professionals and friends) who will help you get there. I found my biggest challenge to be not physical but mental. Even though my doctor assured me that I would likely make a full physical recovery, in my mind, there still is that fear of a relapse, both of re-injuring my ankle and of experiencing another blood clot. And then there is the occasional phantom pain in my chest. But I try to look at the positive of this experience. I have received a second chance and I plan to live life to the fullest. Finally, be sure to share your experience with others and show your support for the National Blood Clot Alliance in any way you can. We as blood clot survivors should be the biggest and strongest advocates for this cause that, in my humble opinion, still does not get the attention and support it deserves.
This guy is a MACHINE!!!

Simply amazing that it is possible to recover from a significant blood clotting incident and get the body turned around to thrown down in Ultramarathons.  And on top of all that be competitive at them.  Just browse on over to Martin's own site and you can see for your self that this guy is a top performer.


I need Martin to become my personal runner coach so that I can break through my barriers and unlock some of the speed that I know is somewhere deep inside... It may not be in ultras but in the marathon it could be a possibility.  2015 will be a new year and since I am running out of bikes to ride then I guess running will be it...

You can be sure that tomorrow I am running not only because Martin's inspiration but all those blood clot survivors who are crafting their very own come back story.

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