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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...

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!