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Friday, May 17, 2013

May Athlete of the Month

Where is the time going?

I can tell you where is going.

Is going towards THE BEST part of the season and that is RACING season all summer long. 

As you have seen on my previous blog my summer is pretty much all planned as it relates to racing.

I am very excited about the racing that I will be doing but even more exciting to me is the racing that other VERY SPECIAL FOLKS will be doing this summer.

These Special Folks OF COURSE are Blood Clot Survivors from across the world.

One of those blood clot survivors racing this summer will be CARLA McADAM STEWART who has an inspiring story that will get you off your feet and going. 

Carla has been kind enough to share her story with us.  Here it is for you to read and to draw on that motivation you need to find your next taregt and achieve it.

1) What is your sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?/How did you get started in that sport?
I started in running back in 2004 with my husband as a way of doing something active together. We started with a target of finishing a 5k race that year. After completing our 1st 5k, we continued targeting a number of other short distance 5/10k races & eventually made the jump to 1/2 marathons and marathons. The active lifestyle quickly became a passion for both of us, and we started looking for more. This is how I got turned on to Triathlon! I eat/sleep/drink triathlon these days…why? Since 2004, I’ve always been drawn to the longer distance events, Triathlon offers this like no other through 70.3 & 140.6 events. I love the variety of activity it offers, the immense feeling of accomplishment when I cross the finish line, & the amazing people I’ve met along the way. The first time I heard “You are an Ironman” will stay with me the rest of my life, & it keeps me coming back for more. I have since become a 3X Ironman Finisher in recent years.

2) What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve? (Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did
This past weekend was my first race back in over 14 months since my PE in early 2012. I completed the Mississauga ½ Marathon only 8 minutes short of my Personal Best! On a larger scale, I have two triathlons scheduled for this summer as well that will put the final stamp on my return to my pre PE baseline. I’m currently training for the Welland ½ Iron Distance race in late June, and Ironman Mont Tremblant in August of this year.   I did sign up for Ironman Mont Tremblant just when I started running again, I knew there was a chance I wouldn't be able to handle to training but I knew I had to at least try.  I needed a big goal to focus on istead of all the anxiety and needed something to make me feel normal again. So far training is going well.

3) Tells about your clotting episode. Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
I suffered a massive saddle pulmonary embolism early last year. To this day, we’re not exactly sure the route cause. I was hospitalized for 6 days after fainting in my chiropractors office and taken to hosptial via ambulace. Prior to the fainting I did notice my heart rate was feeling faster than normal and my husband and noticed I was breathing a little heavier than normal.I brushed it off, I knew nothing of blood clots and didn't think much of it.   I certainly learned my lesson and will no longer ignore.  I also never had any pain which seems to be a common symptom.   I had numerous doctors and med students parade through my room to see the patient with the  large PE.   Nothing like making me feel comfortable about the situation! The first night in the ER my resting heart rate was hovering around 140 BPM, due to the constrictions and how hard my heart had to work. I was told a number of times that I was extremely lucky to be alive and lucky I had a strong heart. My initial options for treatment were a “clot buster” treatment with a 10% chance of a brain bleed or going on a combination of daily injections and warfarin in pill form. With the help of my husband giving me the injections, I chose the combination of medications over the more aggressive clot busting option.

For the last 14 months I’ve been taking Warfarin on a daily basis and recently had a follow up with my specialist. We had discussed briefly beforehand that I’d likely be coming off Warfarin at that time and beginning on Aspirin going forward….well that changed slightly. During the time between my previous visit and this one, a new drug was approved in Canada, Apixaban. The largest difference between that and Warfarin is that I no longer have to monitor my diet for things that would counter the drug(like in the case of Warfarin).  My doctor felt that with the seriousness of my case, it was a better “step down” going to the new drug for another year, then we could revisit moving to aspirin after that. I was also cleared to ride outdoors, with the caution of avoiding major impacts to my head…., so here I am turning another page in my long recovery back to racing.

4) When were you able to get back into your activity? How did it feel that first time?
It’s been a slow process and gradual build from short walks around the neighbourhood in the early days after my PE to run/walks, light swims in the pool, indoor trainer rides to where I am today with no restrictions on my training. That being said that journey has been filled with lots of anxiety along the way especially when I endeavoured to try something new for the first time, even to this day…not to the same extent as early on but it still happens…I always had in the back of my mind “what if this causes another blood clot or I have a heart attack”, even though the likelihood of something happening while on blood thinners was quite low, it played on my mind. I’m sure as I continue to push the boundaries in the coming months preparing for my next Ironman I’ll deal with more anxiety, but that’s exactly what I’ll do…deal with it and not let it control me to the point that I’m afraid to be the person I used to be.
5) What is your favourite piece of gear for your favourite activity? (Bike brand, running shoes, perhaps a running singlet or the Clot Buster's Running Polka-Dot Technical Shirt...)
It has to be my KSwiss running shoes, first shoes to never give me blisters.

 6) How much are you getting out doing your sport? (Every day you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week)
Over the last few months I have been returning to my former training levels. I am currently training 6 days a week, some days with two a day workouts & averaging 10-13 hours per week. That will be increasing as I approach my Ironman in August to likely 15-18 hours per week.

7) What is your favorite food? Either generally or after a workout. For me there is nothing better than a Chipotle Burrito...
Sushi is my absolute favourite.

 8) If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
Hawaii, I love hot weather and the beach.   Can't wait to go one of these days.

9) 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.
I would say in the early going be patient, don’t rush things. You’ve been through an extremely serious episode…RESPECT it, and when the time comes OWN it. Be vigilant with your health and taking your medication, research as much as you can to help you understand what you’re going through, align yourself with a support group in the early months to help you answer some of those questions you couldn’t think of when you were in the moment or in front of your specialist, & last but certainly not least follow this blog! I can’t say enough how much this blog has helped my confidence in persuing my goals during my recovery, seeing other people who have gone through similar events as I did returning to racing and their former active lives.

Hang in there, it will get better!  Don’t let your anxious thoughts control you and you will have your day again where you strap on your race number and cross that finish line one more time!
All the way from Hamilton, CANADA I feel the inspiration.
Just to show you how small this world really is in 2011 I raced in the Welland Half Iron Triathlon which is the same race Carla will be doing in just a few weeks.  Simply AMAZING how without knowing both and Carla and I were there in 2011 and it is perfectly reasonable to think that during that race she saw the polka-dots I was wearing for that race and she knew nothing about their meaning.  A year later she has her clotting incident, beats it, and this year she will be racing that very same course.  The CLOT BUSTER polka-dots will be represented showing once again that blood clots CANNOT BRING US DOWN!
Carla, THANK YOU for sharing your story with us.
Take the CLOT BUSTER polka-dots to the finish line both Welland and Mont Tremblant and make us proud...! You technically made us all proud already as you are signed up and training for those events.  Keep it up!
Please make sure you pay attention to Mont Tremblant as I am going to need to find a race in which I can do my first Ironman... Someday I will be lucky enough and will have to be epic...
Thanks for reading,
The Clot Buster 


Crit said...

Awesome story- way to go girl!

Unknown said...

Call it fate, or whatever you will, but someone just posted your site on a blood clot awareness group within Facebook and to my amazement, here you are talking about my hometown, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada!

I used to be an athlete, but after multiple clots, Vasculitis, and venous leg ulcers that won't heal, I am left with a dysfunctional body, but a strong mind.

I'm happy to have found this blog, such an inspiration to the rest of us :)

Please feel free to come visit my FB group and share your stories, I look forward to reading them!

Blood Disorder Network

Martin R. Lemieux

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!