Get YOUR very own CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dots


PLEASE HELP US CELEBRATE CLOT SURVIVORS and spread awareness about blood clots and blood clotting disorders.
If you are a CLOT SURVIVOR you need polka-dots to inspire others and CELEBRATE that you are Survivor.
If you are a FAMILY MEMBER or FRIEND of a blood clot survivor you need polka-dots to spread the word, create awareness and CELEBRATE your Survivor's Accomplishments!
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Monday, December 23, 2013


Here is wishing all of you the VERY BEST on this season.


Looking forward to 2014.

2014 will be start to the CLOT BUSTER's "Redemption Tour..." returning to some races in which I did not go so well and I need to rectify the overall outcome.  Now older, wiser, and more "aero" on top should make all the difference... Be on the look out for the STOP THE CLOT - CLOT BUSTER polka-dots racing along side you...

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

P.S. >>> Not too late to get your very own polka-dots... Cycling Jersey and/or Triathlon Top ALL SIZES available male and female.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

December Athlete of the Month

This is certainly the season of giving.

I am VERY LUCKY to have come across this very special person.

I am VERY LUCKY and now you are lucky as well because this clot survivor is about to unleash a whole lot of giving as she gets to share her very unique story with all of us...

Catch the inspiration and don't let go of it.

But I will move aside and let you read and enjoy this story...

" Hi, my name is Alisa Dunlap and I am honored to be the ClotBuster Athlete for December 2013.  I’ve been an endurance athlete since 2007, the year I ran my first half marathon, and an athlete my whole life.  I grew up in the pool and played water polo in high school and part of college.  I took up recreational running at the end of high school and never stopped!  I enjoy challenging myself and pushing to my limits.  In 2009, I started triathlons and just a few short weeks ago completed my first 140.6 distance in Arizona. 


I am happy to report that I am thriving post-DVT!  While I still have to be careful, I am not on blood thinners any longer.  I am however still sportin’ awesome compression gear, pretty much all the time.  I do notice my right leg if I have to do excessive standing or sitting.  I am mindful to keep my leg elevated when I can and to take short walks throughout the day.  I still get nervous about traveling but have made the cross country trek once and have traveled in a car on multiple trips.  My travel tips are: compression and hydration.  If you’re hydrated it will force you to get up and walk about an airplane for the lavatories or to stop at rest stops if traveling my car.  If you’re reading this and you were recently diagnosed, it does get easier and you’ll learn what you need to do to thrive.

I found the ClotBuster blog and community in June 2013, right after my own DVT diagnosis.  Knowing that there were other endurance athletes with clots thriving in their sports really helped me through my own recovery.  I had always thought of blood clots as something that ailed only the elderly or those that hadn’t taken good care of themselves---not endurance athletes.  Come to find out, blood clots are something all endurance athletes should be mindful about.  Educate yourself my friends and I hope that you never have to go through what I went through.

To learn more about me and my journey visit my blog:

The ClotBuster himself asked me to share a little bit about my clotting episode, so, here it goes.

On May 4th, 2.5 miles into a long run, I stepped on a lip in the road, fell and broke my 5th metatarsal on my right foot.  My husband actually had to carry me about 2 miles back to the car as I couldn’t put any weight on my foot.  About a week later, we took a trip down to California to visit our family, little did I know that traveling without a lot of movement with a broken foot, while on birth control may not be the best idea. 

Arriving in California, I certainly felt like there was something off about my leg but I thought maybe I had pulled some tendons when I broke my foot and that the pain was just now showing up.  When I got back to Portland, I contacted my doctor and while he said it was possible that I had a clot it was unlikely.  So, I continued to rehab my foot. 

I was still on crutches and while the pain in my foot was getting better the pain in my leg was getting worse. In fact, my foot was well enough to go crutchless 4 weeks after my break.  However, three days after ditching my crutches I woke up to throbbing pain in my calf and behind my knee.  While I could bear weight on my foot I couldn’t on my leg, I ended up having to crawl to the bathroom that night and on that long crawl to the bathroom I decided first thing in the morning I would call my doctor.  I got in right away and he did a rudimentary scan on my leg with a mobile ultrasound.  You know it’s probably not a good sign when he calls in three other doctors to take a look.  After three different docs reviewed the screen they sent me straight to the hospital for a full ultrasound.  And on that day, June 7th (5 weeks after breaking my foot), I was diagnosed with multiple blood clots (one in every vein in my right leg: femoral, popliteal, posterior and anterior tibial, and the peroneal.)  As I did more and more research on clots, I got more and more scared.

I was immediately put on blood thinners.  For 12 days I had to self administer (well, Justin did the first couple), lovenox injections.  After 12 days, I switched to oral warafin, the generic for coumadin.  Being an endurance athlete training for their first 140.6 race I had all kinds of questions for my doc.  She was great, so patient with me, answering everything I wanted (NEEDED) to know.  How long would I have to be on thinners?  Did I have to stop eating my coveted kale salads and smoothies?  How long would the pain last? (that was probably my first question) How long would I be out of training commission? (that was probably my second question as I had already spent 4 weeks on crutches really only able to do some core work, pulling in the pool and seated arm weights)  Were the clots going to limit my ability to train once the pain went away? Was the ironman out of the question?  Could I cycle outside?  What was my bleeding risk?  The questions went on and on and on.  The most scary of course, how serious is this and is there a possibility of an embolism and could that lead to death?  The answer to that last one is what kept me up at night.  It was serious and yes there is always a possibility of embolism which could in fact result in death----ahhhhhhh.  However, my doctor reassured me that I was doing everything right and that my risk, while certainly higher than the average person, was in check, especially now that I was on thinners.

I stayed on blood thinners for a little over 5 months.  In that time, I was outta commission from training for about 2 months.  During my 4 weeks on crutches, I really only pulled in the pool and did arm weights in my living room.  When I was able to ditch the crutches I started taking short walks around my neighborhood and eventually got on my bike trainer for 30 minutes at a time.  9 weeks after breaking my foot and 5 weeks after my DVT diagnosis, I went from my first test “run.”  I ran for maybe 5-10 minutes, in spurts of 30 seconds at a time.  I slowly worked my way back to sport.  I cycled outside for the first time about 6 weeks after my DVT diagnosis and ended up completing two century rides while on thinners.  I consulted with my medical team (both my doctor and my warafin nurse) every time I tried something new.  They encouraged me to keep at it but to stay safe in the process---I ALWAYS wore my helmet, I tried to cycle on roads less traveled by cars, I cycled with friends when I could, I always took my cell phone and I bought myself a new RoadID with my diagnosis and medicine clearly listed on the bracelet.

I took good care of myself and on November 17, 2013, not only did I finish my first 140.6 I did well, exceeding the time goal I had set for myself.  If you’re reading this after being recently diagnosed you CAN get back to your sport and succeed!  My advice to those reading with recent diagnosis: listen to your body-you know yourself  best, use your medical professionals as a resource—stay off of Dr. Google!, slowly ease back into your sport, set ambitious but realistic goals for yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help and probably most important, stay positive!  While clots are something I will always have to be aware of they aren’t going to hold me back from dreaming big and pursuing my goals."
What do you think?
These stories never stop inspiring me nor amaze.  How was she able to do an IM? I can't even get through a half without grimacing and wondering how on earth would I double what I just did...
Alisa's dedication to not let blood clots stop her or slow her down earns all of my admiration.
Watch out for this lady on a course near you... as she will be blowing past all of us if we don't shape up.  The only thing missing is her very own set of polka-dots to allow the STOPTHECLOT message to spread even farther.
Here is wishing you and all those with you THE VERY BEST HOLIDAY SEASON.  May the new year bring you all the happiness, joy, good health and fortune you can handle!
Thanks for reading,
The Clot Buster

Friday, December 06, 2013


Did I really do this race this year?

Can't hardly believe that I was actually there.

It seems like a dream...

So here are some more photos to prove that I was actually there and that I races ALL of the 26.2 Miles...

Without a question AN AMAZING experience...

Now if just these nasty toe nails would finally move on and return to normal from their current state of black I would be thrilled...

These photos are chronological as to how my race progressed.  Luckily nobody pictured the crawling towards the end of the race... which is how I felt I should be going after Mile 23...

Thanks for reading,
The Clot Buster

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November Athlete of the Month (#StopTheClot #MarathonTraining)

Team STOP THE CLOT accomplished something remarkable during the first weekend of November...

Outside of raising funds (and I mean ALOT of mula) to continue NBCA's mission to create awareness against blood clots and blood clotting disorders something very remarkable happened during the first weekend of November...

The TRULY remarkable thing I am talking about was the fact that 5 blood clot survivors completed the 26.2 Miles of that windy Sunday race after each of them faced the incredible challenge of dealing with their own clotting incident and coming back to do something that pushed them to the limit.

I've wrote this before but I am writing it again, I am very fortunate to have had the chance to run in the marathon representing the STOP THE CLOT cause but I am even more lucky to have had the opportunity to meet all of the 5 clot survivors and better yet with this post get to share their inspiring story with all of you...

Please allow me introduce to you SUSAN GRAHAM who has been kind enough to take sometime and share her story of survival and come back with all of us.  Without a question another inspiring story that certainly can get anyone going.

Go ahead and read on about what Susan had to say to my usual set of questions...

1) What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
Triathlon (swim/bike/run). I like the chaos of transitioning from one discipline to the next, the camaraderie of training with friends and the sense of accomplishment at the end of each race.

2) How did you get started in that sport?
In March 2008, I was finding my bearings around New York City, having moved there nine months earlier. In the midst of a cold winter and workout funk, I wanted to switch up my lackluster gym routine. That is when I discovered Asphalt Green, a not-for-profit sports and fitness organization and athletic complex that houses an amazing 50-Meter Olympic pool. While signing up for a swim membership, I noticed that Asphalt Green also had a Triathlon Club and I joined the Asphalt Green Triathlon Club (AGTC) that same day and have been a member ever since. That summer, I finished my first tri, the Mighty Hamptons Triathlon in Sag Harbor, NY.

3) What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve? (Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did)
I just fund-raised $2,700 for the National Blood Clot Alliance (NBCA) and completed the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 3rd along with my amazing Team Stop the Clot teammates! My next goal is to complete a full Ironman distance Triathlon (2.4 mi swim/ 112 mi bike/ 26.2 mi run) sometime in the next two years.

4) Tell us about your clotting episode. Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
I suffered a bi-lateral Pulmonary Embolism (PE) in July 2009, just days away from competing in the New York City Triathlon. I had numerous blood clots in all five lobes of my lungs. Currently, I am not on blood thinners, despite having one copy of Factor V Leiden, the gene that causes the blood clotting disorder. I bounced back pretty quickly and began running again two weeks after my PE. My recovery period included five months of blood thinners, so I did stop cycling during that time. I was very lucky and I am grateful every day to be alive and well.

5) When were you able to get back into your activity? How did it feel that first time?
Two months after being hospitalized for my PE, I joined a team of eleven runners that competed in Reach the Beach, an adventure running race across the state of New Hampshire from the mountains to the beach. The following month, I did the swim portion of a relay team for the MightyMan Montauk Half Iron Triathlon in Montauk, NY. I was scared to do both, but I knew I had to get back at it.

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...)
These days, I’m partial to my Asics GEL-Nimbus 15 running shoes as they practically ran themselves through the five boroughs of New York City!

7) How much are you getting out doing your sport? (Every day you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week)
For the Marathon, I trained five days a week—three maintenance runs, one long run and one Vinyassa Flow Yoga class (day before long run). The other two days I rested.

8) What is your favorite food? Either generally or after a workout. For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
A Chipotle [Veggie] Burrito ranks high on my list too! My favorite food was ice cream, though we needed to break up—our relationship was just not healthy!

I follow a pescetarian diet and eat pretty much everything (on the healthy side), but land animals and birds. I try and take in a combination of protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of finishing a workout as it helps the body recover faster from the stress and muscle breakdown. I like low-fat plain Greek yogurt and a banana.

9) If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
I often dream about cycling in the Swiss Alps.

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.
My best advice is to always listen to your body and modify your activities accordingly. Be proactive about your health. Since my PE, I have completed three Half Ironman distance Triathlons, three Century (100 mile) bike rides and one Marathon—it is possible to return to do what you enjoy! I am always concerned that I could have another blood clotting episode, but thanks to organizations like NBCA, I know the signs to look out for.

Susan THANK YOU for sharing your story and your experience.   I know that you will do that IRONMAN you are looking to accomplish in the next two years.  Reading about how you have been able to recover there is no question that your drive, dedication, and discipline will get your there.  I just hope that you can bring us along because your inspiration to push the boundaries can lead many others to achieve their own story of survival.  

Thanks for reading,  

The Clot Buster

Friday, November 08, 2013

#StopTheClot #NYCMarathon

Although I read many reviews on-line the experience throughout the 26.2 Miles blew me away...

It is very difficult to put in words the fact that I got to participate on this event and what I felt during it.

Without a question I have to start with a THANK YOU.

THANK YOU to all who were kind enough to donate to this fundraising effort. 

THANK YOU not only for the donation but also for the encouragement and support. 

THANK YOU 1 Million times over.

While on course I was not alone...

First I had the spirit of all the blood clot survivors with me with their names on my shirt the entire length of the course.  When the going got hard around Mile 16 and Mile 23 I looked down at the names on my shirt and I could some strength from knowing what each and everyone of them has been through with their clotting incident.

Second all of the spectators lined up throughout the length of the course.  I was and I still am in awe of the number of people out there who were cheering as loud as they could.  During the first few miles of the race I lost track of where I was because I was distracted by the sheer number of people everywhere. 

I've been to my fair share of races in my years of racing and I have to confess that experiencing the spectators in NYC tops them all.  I truly enjoyed that aspect of the race.

Now, there were things I did not enjoy...

The wait.  The long 4 hours I had to wait before the race could start.

Looking back now I can't help but think that, although I did everything I could to save my legs during the wait, that I try to manage my eating so that it was there when I needed it and not too soon, and that I huddled with hundreds of others under the available tents away from the cold and wind, my legs were starting this race in disadvantage and with fatigue that I would normally not have.

Looking back also I could argue that I should have dialed it back a bit during the early miles so that I could be "fresher" towards the end... knowing myself I can't buy that.  I know all to well that if I don't put the hammer down during the early miles and I still struggle towards the end I can't feel satisfied with my strategy.  Somehow, I can put my mind at ease if I put the effort down during the early miles and hold on until the end...

Hold on is what I tried to do last Sunday.  If the cramping would have not started on Mile 23 I was on pace to come away from NYC with my best time in the marathon.  The left groin cramps left me walking at times which slowed me down even more. 

It is very interesting how in retrospect I can go back and re-evaluate the race step by step trying to figure why I cramped so bad when I did when during training I did not have that problem.  Not sure if I ever will be able to solve the issue but I will keep trying so next time I am prepared...

But regardless of my analysis I AM OVER THE MOON with getting the chance to participate and finish.  More so, I am even more excited that all of us from team #StopTheClot finished.  Without a question that during our waiting period our reason for running surfaced so we were also able to spread the word about blood clots and blood clotting disorders.  I know one of our runners discovered that a lady running next to him had a PE not too long ago and this was her first event back.  How about that?!?!

So the NYC Marathon is behind me.  What is next? What race/races should I consider in 2014? At this point anything goes... into consideration...

As the soreness from the legs dissipates some more I hope that some clarity on what I want to do in 2014 will come into view.

Stay tuned as you never know when the CLOT BUSTER polka-dots can be toeing a start line near you...

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

 P.S. = As more pictures from the race surface I will add them accordingly...

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

#StopTheClot #NYCMarathon #MarathonTraining IT IS TIME...

3 Long months of training...

Attempting to figure out this 26.2 Mile puzzle...

I don't want to walk or even slow down...

Just hope my legs can hold on and handle the pounding...

Can I be patient enough at the start and not go out too fast...?

Can I handle the 4 hours of waiting that I have ahead of me prior to the start..?

How am I going to stay warm until my start at 9:40AM...?

Keep looking to find an edge that will keep me running the entire length of the course...



The last item I have resolved... I do have the edge that will keep me running the length of the course. 

I will have with me on my polka-dots the names of all of the CLOT BUSTER Athlete of the Month folks that I have featured on this blog along with many other names of blood clot survivors that I know that I want to celebrate during the 26.2 Miles. 

I know that the polka dots on my shirt will not be enough and I don't want them to be enough to names all of the survivors that I know.  But someday with so many Clot Busters running out there we will have plenty of polka-dots to represent them all.

Follow my twitter feed @clotbuster so that you can see the progress I am making to get my jersey ready for Sunday.

Also if you are interested on how "well" I am doing on this journey you can check out the following link that provides several options on how to keep track of me >>>

I have a goal time in mind but I don't want to make it public as I may jinx myself and I want to give myself the best possible chance to meet that goal time.  I am shooting for Personal Best because that is the only way I know how to honor all those survivors that I know.

Finally, THANK YOU to all of you donated to my fundraising effort.  Myself and all of NBCA appreciates your contribution very much.

Can't believe that it is here...

Time to get my polka-dots on and see if I can make it.

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Saturday, October 12, 2013

October Athlete of the Month (#StopTheClot #MarathonTraining)

Less than 4 weeks to go as I write this post...

Hard to believe that it is almost here and that I've been training all out running for well over 3 months...

Can't wait to toe the line in NYC and carry with me in each polka-dots the memory of a clot survivors that are not only an inspiration for me but to many others fighting their clotting incident.

There will be SEVERAL of us running on November 3rd which means a whole lot of polka-dots will be seen throughout the course.

Over the years some of the members of Team STOP THE CLOT have been featured on this blog.  Amongst them you have =

August 2012 - KAREN KHODADI

October 2012 - ERIC O'CONNOR


And now October 2013's CRYSTAL GORDON!!!

Through the magic of the internet, once more, I've been able to cross paths with Crystal and even through email you can feel the contagious energy that a blood clotting incident could NOT bring down.  Her drive and enthusiasm certainly has allowed her to recover and be training for the NYC Marathon.  I am looking forward to finally get to meet her in person and maybe get some of that energy and drive rubbed off on me so that I can finish the 26.2 Miles close to when she finishes as I am sure she will leave me in her dust...

Please read on below to learn more about Crystal's background, her clotting incident story, and her inspiring words of wisdom she is so kindly sharing with us...

1) What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? Running. I love all that running has to offer: an escape from the daily grind, the mental and physical challenge, the training, the races, friendship and that feeling you get when you cross the finish line. It has helped me to escape all the thoughts that goes through ones mind post PE.

2) How did you get started in that sport?
I've ran off and on for over 10 years now but what really got me to become a runner is when my father was diagnosed with colon cancer over 5 years ago. After getting that news I decided to raise money and run my first 5K in his honor. After that first race I was hooked. 

3) What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?(Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did)  
I've been training for the NYC Marathon to run along side you (she means me The Clot Buster) and the rest of Team Stop the Clot at the end of this month.  Post PE I said I'd never run another marathon and well now here I am getting ready to run my first marathon since that day.

4) Tell us about your clotting episode. Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
My clotting episode happened after returning from a vacation out west with my husband. I had just ran the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon and had been feeling weak since. After a few days of not being able to return to my normal workout routine I decided to visit my doctor who suspected the pulmonary embolism. I was diagnosed with bilateral pulmonary emboli with infract. I had over 8 blood clots in my lungs.

I have blogged my experience from that day here:

Here is my story one year later:

I was out of commission for quite a few months. My doctors really gave me no limitations and just told me to listen to my body. So from the very start I'd push myself as much s I could. The first 3 weeks it basically took me everything I had just to walk from one point to the next. I was slow but never gave up. I noticed doing nothing made my mind wander. I disliked very much yoga and pilates but because it was something I could do I started there then slowly built my way back.

After 6 months on blood thinners they took me off and discovered that I have a severe from of protein S deficiency (a clotting disorder). I was placed back on blood thinners and will be on them indefinitely.

5) When were you able to get back into your activity? How did it feel that first time?  
About 2 months post PE I went out for a small run with a group of friends. I struggled and knew I wasn't quite ready but just being back out there for the brief period of time gave me hope. It was really this past Jan-Feb I was able to up my mileage and gradually add speed. I'm still not as fast as I was but I'm working on it.

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...) 
Asics running kicks, my compression socks and my Bryce Canyon tech shirt. My tech shirt reminds me that no matter how strong we think are in the end we are still flesh and blood. We can break. Our support systems (family, friends, fellow clot busters) and inner strength are what carry us through.

7) How much are you getting out doing your sport? (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
I run 4 times a week. a long run, tempo, speed and recovery run. I also have a great trainer/bootcamp classes and include weight training multiple times a week.

8) What is your favorite food? Either generally or after a workout. For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
Gosh thats tough I like all food! Post run I like avacado and eggs. In general my fav is pretty much anything that has Nutella , peanut butter or pumpkin in it.

9) If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
Australia. I'd love to run the Sydney Half Marathon do some off road exploring in the outback with my husband.

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.
To anyone going through a similar experience I would say stay strong it gets better. You will come back to the strength and endurance you once had and you might just come back better than ever. Reach out to support groups they help. Facebook, The Clot Buster blog, Blood Clot Recovery Network, National Blood Clot Alliance and so many more sights have great stories, advice, and tips on recovery, blood thinners and more. I've never been an emotional person so for me learning that I almost lost my life brought me to tears many times. Once I realized that I needed this breakdown before I could become stronger, I stopped feeling weak. Realize that this is serious and your body has been through a great deal. It takes going to take time, even years to heal both physically and mentally.

After getting back into my sport and life in general things I make sure to exercise, eat right (vitamin K balance), stay on top on my INR, and stay very well hydrated.

I am so THANKFUL to Crystal for her willingness to share her story and perspective.

Without a doubt she brings a great deal of inspiration to all of us and I am rooting for her to make it to the finish line in NYC, Australia, and anywhere else she wishes to race. 

I know that she will be fast on November 3rd and SHE WILL SMILE EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.

I am truly honored to be racing alongside Crystal and all the other clot survivors in the STOP THE CLOT 2013 Running Team.

Get inspired!

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, October 11, 2013

If I am not training for the marathon...

... I am playing around in magical places.

There is plenty of walking and standing around to satisfy the need for training fatigue...

Great times all around!
Now, slowly returning to the swing of life here at home and to running form... hopefully.
Thanks for reading,
The Clot Buster

Friday, September 27, 2013

#STOPTHECLOT #MarathonTraining

The count down is on...

Can't hardly believe it but the NYC Marathon is just around the corner.

I am VERY THANKFUL for all of the donations I've been able to receive so far.


I am racing with the thought that Every Single Polka-Dot On My Jersey Represents a Blood Clot Survivor.  That inspiration gets me out of the door, in my running shoes, gets me to track, and up or down the stairs with sore legs after a long training run..

If you know of anyone else who may be interested in donating please pass along the link below...

Just this past week I learned that I co-worker of mine who I've known and worked with for years is a multiple blood clot / PE survivor...After seeing some of the literature around my desk he finally opened up to me about his story and I was blown away that someone I would have never suspected was in fact a survivor and on blood thinners for life...

Just one more polka-dot to designate on my jersey as additional motivation...

Not much left now.

A few more short weeks.

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Sunday, September 01, 2013

September Athlete of the Month

Sadly the summer is coming to an end...

As Labor Day is coming around next Monday all of our outdoor pools in Ohio will be closing and with them closing I will lose the chance to continue to work on my tan...

But seriously it is sad that coming up fall is almost here and after that the dreaded winter... I simply cannot warm up to the cold of the winter...

Now, not everything is doom and gloom.  Definitely for SEPTEMBER's Athlete of the Month every day is a new opportunity that he will take and enjoy to the max.  The perspective of this individual after his own blood clotting incident is a true inspiration to all who is going through a similar issue.

Please allow me to introduce to you ROLF ARANDS who is making his own come back and sharing his thought with all of us...


1) What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
This is a hard one to answer but today's answer is swim/bike/run although I am not doing tris at the moment. Stay tuned though :-) 

2)  How did you get started in that sport? 
I swam recreationally in college, starting freshman year to relieve stress and also because the pool was conveniently right across the street. I met a triathlete and jumped into tris, did them through 2000 or so. After 3 Ironman races within a 12 month span, I burned out, hung it up and did a little running over many years, a race here or there but nothing worth writing about. More recently, after my mom passed away a few years ago, I cleaned up my diet, lost a lot of weight and began to run really well, setting new lifetime PRs 10-20 years after I first set them. 

In recovery from my surgery, DVT and PE issues, I have resumed swim/bike/run and realized I love all 3 and there is a reduction in injury risk this way. 

3)  What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?(Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did) 
After losing so much weight and really focusing in on my diet specific to an unrelated disorder I have (reactive hypoglycemia), I began to run really well. I started taking down lifelong PRs set some 10-20 years ago, at age 45-46, and beating speedsters I was never even close to before. I don't know if or when I can get back there, but that was pretty cool. The coolest was running a smart race at a 10K, making a decisive move at mile 5 to pass a guy, and ended up that pass got me first ever 10K age group win!

4)  Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
I tore two ligaments in my left ankle in June 2012, running trails. I did what any runner would do … ignored the pain until it literally dropped me to my knees. An MRI confirmed the tears in October 2012. While the northeast was recovering from Superstorm Sandy and power was being restored, I was having surgery on said ankle in Somerset, NJ on 11/2/12. I had a cast from kneecap to toes for 4 weeks thereafter, the immobilization being the primary cause of my DVT/PEs. 

 My trouble began on Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012, 11 days after surgery and in the high risk window for DVT from lower leg surgery. I felt something funny in my calf under the cast, but couldn't get my fingers to it to check. The blood was surging much like water shoots past a finger blocking a running hose. That of course was the initial DVT. 

Later that day, I was supposed to have a conversation with a friend by phone, but canceled because I started feeling pretty crappy. I had a new odd back pain, very low on right side, and writhed around overnight trying to get comfortable but couldn't.

On Wed, Nov 14, by mid-morning, things got worse in a hurry. Suddenly, moving around got difficult, I could only gasp a word or two on a breath, small efforts had me panting for air, and the pain became sharper in my lower right back. I called my doctor, and he directed me to the ER. He knew from my voice … pulmonary embolism.

The memory of the rest of that day is fuzzy, like being between two worlds. I had to get my basic stuff collected (ID, keys, phone), and waited for help. I was home alone, and we had left the front door unlocked every day specifically for this type of emergency, but today it was locked for some reason. It took me about 15 minutes to crawl about 10 feet to open the door, and then back. 

Fast forwarding to the ER, the DVT had hit both lungs and I was now facing very large bilateral pulmonary embolisms. The first hours in my 3-day hospital stay were fuzzy (morphine fog?) but I recall hearing … "lucky" … "few more hours and" … "oxygen good despite how bad" … and "big". 

Had I not gone to the hospital when I did, just hours later would have been it. Lung cancer took my mom in about 2 years. The PEs could have taken me in less than 2 days. Unreal how serious and fast these things move. 

I could only pull about 1.5-2 liters of air at full breath that day. Today, I can draw about 6 liters … gives an idea of how far these things reached. 

I did 2-a-day Lovenox injections from 11/14 to 11/24, and Warfarin from 11/14/12 to ~May 1. I was on leave from work from 11/2/12 to essentially 1/2/13. 

5)  When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?   
I was able to weakly pedal a stationary bike by mid December, was overjoyed and in tears at doing SOMETHING aerobic again. My first solo walks took 1/2 an hour over a distance I now cover in less than a minute running. I was back in the pool in January 2013, somewhat comical as I hadn't been in a pool in 10+ years plus the loss of fitness. Running took a while, as I fractured a bone in the other foot on the day I was cleared to run. Oy! 

More to the question, I ran my first 5K since all this happened in late July 2013. I never fist-pumped and smiled as big as I did finishing a 5K as slowly as I did. Nope, the last time I did that … I finished my first Ironman!

Anyway, resumption of activities have slowly phased in since January 2013. 

I just felt slow and out of shape, but the excitement of exercise kept me encouraged. Swimming was instrumental in really pushing air through the lungs, a key element in PE recovery. 

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...) 
Compression socks … I didn't start using them until many weeks passed into 2013, but they have been a godsend to keep the lower leg swelling down (man it was bad early on) and easing my worry of another DVT (although my risk is low). And they look rather comical above my rainbow New Balance running shoes :-) 

Outside that, my Barracuda swim goggles. I wore them for my 6 Ironman races and most of my swimming days. They are large and clunky, and make a statement!

7)  How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
Running is back to about 4 days a week on average, varying from 20-30 miles a week (down from my typical 45-50 mostly due to ankle, but hey I am alive!). Biking is a couple hours a week, and swimming is usually 2x a week, 2000-3000 yds each time. The ankle is the primary limiter of activity, not the lungs. I don't have my former aerobic capacity, but that is coming around steadily as I work through each week. 

8)   What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
Salmon with avocado, quinoa on the side and a Corona beer with lime. Doesn't get any better than that!

9)  If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
Sweden … spent many days there long ago, but really want to see more of that beautiful country and my extended family there. Next summer we're going!

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.
Guilt and self doubt … deadliest enemies. I mentally ran myself into the ground day after day, feeling like I did something wrong, that I let people down, let myself down, blah blah blah. 

I didn't do anything wrong. Sometimes, bad things just happen and that day, my number happened to be called.

When all this happened, I got home from the ER on a Friday after 3 hellish days. Barely two days later, my wonderful and incredible sister Lisa dropped her life in Washington, flew cross country and was here to make sure I stayed out of trouble. She sat in this house with me for 5 days, bored out of her mind but just amazing. 

People are amazing in times like these. People will be there, and you can trust them. Learning to ask for help is one step. People won't get angry and they will help.

Learning to trust yourself, that's a biggie. 

DVT/PE is fatal 33% of the time the two come together. Unbelievable. But I am still here. My body has cleared out the clots in my lungs, my ankle is healing. I am running, swimming and biking and living life still. How cool is that! On Nov 14, I faced death and today I can do all these things. 

When these clotting events occur, it's easy to compare today to how you were before the clot occurred. When these events happen, there is a new starting point. Yeah, I ran 19:34 for a 5K and now run 7 minutes slower. Who cares! New PRs ahead!

On 11/29, I couldn't even walk. I couldn't draw much air. Now I can swim 3000 yards, bike 40 miles and run 8 miles in a stretch again. 

Trust yourself, your body. It will heal, and if you listen to it carefully, it will not let you do anything beyond what you should be doing. That for me is a huge takeaway. Being more attentive and careful in training, backing off more often if I get worried or feel the need. 

Finally, victories and recovery come a little at a time. Focusing on the daily ups and downs will frustrate you, but as long as the overall big picture is showing improvement, riding the little ups and downs gets a little easier. 

What else is there to say!?!?!

Other than, I  have a sneaky suspicion that Rolf will be back to racing triathlons sooner than we think...

Rolf - THANK YOU for your willingness to share your story and provide very much needed inspiration to many others out there.

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, August 30, 2013

Making Progress

Slow and steady...

Slowly I am reaching my fundraising goal.  Steadily climbing to make it to the goal line.

If you would like to donate please check out the following link...

Also slowly I am gaining endurance to endure the 26.2 Miles that are just around the corner.  Almost less than 2 months to go...

Last weekend I got the chance to run in the Emerald City Half-Marathon in Dublin, OH and much to my surprise I ran pretty well.

It did not feel that good specially after Mile 12 in which I slowed down considerably but all things considered I felt fast... Well indeed I was fast! Last Sunday I was able to clock my fastest Half-Marathon EVER and I beat my old best time y 7 seconds... I could not believe my eyes when I was comparing times last night.

So, following my training program is working.

Feeling very positive about where I am right now.  Need to keep working and following the stepping stones on my program.

Now, let's see how positive I will be tomorrow morning after I attempt 20 Miles...

Here is hoping that this next step on the program goes well.

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, August 09, 2013

August Athlete of the Month

How is your summer coming along?

Having a good time whenever possible?

Squeezing every ounce of fun you can get out of every weekend?

There is no question that we are doing that each and every day simply because there is no reason to stay inside.

Speaking of staying inside I know someone else who I've had the pleasure to meet just recently who is more than willing to find herself outside doing everything that she can to return to form as she went through her very own clotting incident. 

Please allow me to introduce to you LAUREN WOOLEY who has been kind enough to share her story with all of us and provide us with an enormous amount of inspiration to get us through the "dog days of summer" and finish up the summer getting everything out of it that we can.

Go ahead read on and get inspired...
             1)    What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
I’m a runner and triathlete. I like the energy I feel after a good run or race.

             2)  How did you get started in that sport? 

I started running with my dad when I was 13 years old. We would run a mile to the gas station, turn around, and run a mile back home. Now we run marathons together.

3)  What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?(Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did) 
The last large milestone I achieved was completing an ironman distance triathlon and coming in second place in my division. I’m hoping to run the Boston marathon again in 2014.

4)  Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
My blood clotting story starts with training for the 2012 Boston marathon. While training, I injured my hip and a year later decided to have surgery to repair my torn labrum. Following hip surgery, I noticed what felt like a bad cramp in my calf. I first felt the pain going up and down the stairs on crutches, but over the next three weeks the pain got worse and moved into my hamstring. The pain was intense and I mentioned it to several of my doctors, but no one recognized the signs of a blood clot. I was unable to stand up without pain or lift my leg to get into the shower without using my arms to physically lift my leg up. A month after surgery I attended a conference for work and was considering skipping my physical therapy appointment by the end of the 3rd day because I was so tired and in pain. Luckily I went to my appointment and my physical therapist sent me to the ER where I discovered I had a DVT that ran from my ankle to my upper thigh. I was put on heparin that evening and transitioned to warfarin about 10 days later. I was advised to stop taking hormonal birth control immediately and a month later I learned I’m homozygous for Factor V Leiden, which also put me at increased risk of blood clots.

I have been on blood thinners for about 6 months.

I still have a residual clot in my thigh and ongoing pain that runs down my leg. I’ve been diagnosed with deep venous and superficial venous insufficiency. Although the venous valves in my groin and behind my knee are permanently damaged, allowing blood to flow in the wrong direction, I’m hoping to decrease the pain by determining if I’m a candidate for stents to unblock the veins.
5)  When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?   
I was able to return to running and biking short distances about 3 months after my clotting episode. It feels great to be back outside on the road, but I also feel like I have a long way to go to get back to running marathons and completing triathlons. As I returned to physical activity I quickly realized that my other hip was in pain, so in a few short days I am starting the process all over again by having surgery on my other hip to repair the labrum. I’m hopeful that the lessons I’ve learned about the signs of a blood clot (swelling, pain, and discoloration) and risk factors (hormonal birth control, hip surgery, and Factor V Leiden) over the past six months will make the second surgery go much smoother and be blood-clot free.
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...) 
I am a big fan of anything made by Lululemon because it is so darn comfortable.

7)  How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
I am out on the road a few times a week running and have going to yoga about once a week. I find that any more frequent than that and the pain in my leg starts to creep back up.

8)   What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.  For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
My mom’s spaghetti is the best pre-race food and chocolate ice cream is a good reward.

9)  If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
I’m still a little nervous about travelling, so right now I am content exploring Boston and taking advantage of all the fun local events and activities.

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.
One doctor told me I would have to give up training and racing completely. My advice is to always get a second, third, or even a fourth opinion and surround yourself with supportive friends and family who you can turn to when you hit bumps on the road to recovery.
Lauren - MANY THANKS for your willingness to share your story with all of us.

Here is WISHING YOU ALL THE LUCK on your upcoming hip surgery to get you all evened out... For sure with the knowledge that you already have about blood clots and blood clotting disorder and all of your previous symptoms you can be on the lookout and be able to react.

The CLOT BUSTER community out there will be looking forward to hear from you and learn about the success of yoru surgery and that your recovery is on track and that soon enough you will be racing again and keep making those polka-dots look AMAZING!

Here is wishing everyone some more fun during the summer.

Thanks for reading,

The Clot Buster

My 95th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 95th Triathlon Finish !!!