HAPPY JUNE EVERYONE!
Let the sun and warmth push you outside.
These days I am outside as much as I can... I feel pretty energized this time of the year.
The training is picking up and my time in the CLOT BUSTER @TeamSTOPTHECLOT polka-dots is very much increasing both training and racing. Let's see how my body is able to hold up... you know my mind wants to go but the body has some limitations. Certainly my recovery takes a bit longer and the aches are coming up in places in which I did not have them before. But I am making adjustments so let's how those will work out.
You know that this movement of spreading awareness about blood clots and blood clotting disorders expands beyond the USA. I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to be in touch with folks from many parts of the world. It is very cool to hear from people in Europe, South America, Australia, and even Asia. It is truly a blessing to be able to have this sort of relationships.
This month's Athlete of the Month comes to us from the UK!
Please allow me to introduce Mr. TONY.
You just never know who will cross path with along the way. Quality inspiration is for sure available across the Atlantic Ocean. You will want to read this post because it is a good one!
THANK YOU Tony for sharing your story which for sure is going to make a difference for someone who will need it down the road.
Read on and get inspired!
What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?
My current activity of choice is running which I love. Always start my runs at a slow pace, even it feels slow I slow it even further until my breathing adjusts then just relax and enjoy it. I prefer outdoor runs and just love the awesome feeling when I'm cruising along at a steady pace with my breathing deep regular and smooth allowing any worry and concerns to clear and simply enjoy every moment.
How did you get started in that sport?
I was a competitive cyclist from 12 years old until 22 years old until an inherited form of arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) stopped me in my tracks. It had gotten to the point that my back was quite literally seizing in position on the bike and would take a considerable time until I was able to stand upright after climbing or occasionally falling off the bike. Effectively I couldn't train anymore so my performances dipped drastically and my realistic dreams of riding professionally were utterly shattered. The AS continued to flare up over the following 8-10 years but I was able to return to non competitive cycling and coaching by my early thirties. I had a custom built frame that effectively reduced the length of the top tube and increased the handle bar height which significantly increased comfort but meant I was a mobile wind breaker, great for other riders to draft behind but no longer competitive.
I always enjoyed running as a form of cross training during my racing days and ran 2-3 times a week, usually 5 milers with a local running club in the off season winter months for cross training. I was tempted into a couple of marathon events as for some odd reason the AS didn't cause me much discomfort running and found that my airobic fitness transferred across pretty well, recording a 3:13 on my first attempt having started conservatively and running 1:25 for last half !! Paced it better the following year recording a 2:25.What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?
Post clots I've stopped cycling as I experienced so many close passes from motorists in my cycling days including plowing head first through a hedge to avoid an on coming car on the wrong side of the road that I consider the risks to far outweigh the benefits due to the high risk of internal bleeds on anticoagulants. Running is now my main choice and I'm pleased to say I don't miss cycling as much as I expected too as I get a similar satisfaction pushing myself and enjoying the rewards especially that sense of oneness mentioned earlier. I've far exceeded my expectations during recovery but the competitor in me is never far from the surface, current aim is nothing at all to do with pace except for trying to keep it slow and steady as I'm intending to test the water a little up to the end of June this year before committing to run the David Goggins 4*4*48 challenge, 4 miles every 4hrs for 48hrs to coincide with World Thrombosis Day this October to raise as much awareness as possible. Being in the UK I'll switch between my extremely eye catching 'Stop the Clot' singlet and Thrombosis UK one raising funds for Thrombosis UK.
Tells about your clotting episode. Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission?
2 Sub Massive Bilateral Straddle PE's with infarcts in both sides, July 2015 and Nov 2017.
Pleased to say I learnt my lessons from recovery from the first incident and 2nd time round it was more straight forward. Activity of choice has remained to be running and nearly five years on I'm still improving and have far exceeded my expectations. For me the key difference has been that I'm now on daily anticoags (I refuse to say 'lifer', I'm not a covict !!) and was fortunate to be in a position to hand in my notice at work and take 6 months out to recover and find more suitable employment. I had found the previous 2 years to be a battle of will against my former employer with my need to get up from my desk to move about on a regular basis which I pig headedly stuck to despite their constant protestations so I was delighted to hand in my notice. I now work night shifts which unfortunately prevents me from entering many running events (more later !!) but I no longer have any employment related anxiety at all as I'm constantly moving about all shift average 8-12k steps each shift occasionally topping 15K. My recovery hasn't stalled, over the past year my half marathon time dropped from 2:34 to 1:26 simply by gently pushing to run inside my previous best average pace every 4 to 6 weeks. Current focus has switch to distance rather than time and pace but I'm looking forward to ripping one again soon and seeing what I can do.
What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity?
Favorite gear without any shadow of a doubt is my Garmin watch, personally I tracking heart rate is excellent way to ensure I am not over doing it, helps tremendously with pacing and is an excellent way to manage improvement. Conditions and courses vary but average pace/time against average heart rate is an enlighting metric. I'm not a slave to my Garmin, most runs are by feel alone for pure enjoyment but the occasional blast does satisfy my competitive nature.
How much are you getting out doing your sport?
I tend to run or go to the gym every day unless my body is literally telling me not too. If I don't exercise most days then my resting heart rate can drop to 32-36 bpm which means if I'm sat reading or watching TV for anytime then I will be constantly fighting off falling asleep even when I'm not in the least bit tired, a walk does help but only temporarily as it doesn't raise my heart rate enough but 20-30 minutes exercise at Zone 2 makes the world of difference as my hear rate will usually be 50+ afterwards for a few hours at least allowing me to enjoy a good read without fighting drooping eyelids !!
What is your favorite food?
This one goes back to my racing days, simply creamed rice pudding with a spoonful of jam, high slow release carbs that is easy on the stomach. After a work out it's all about the protein so I often go for a high protein shake.
If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
In 2010 I tried to cycle the Manali to Leh highway through the Himilayas in India but after an incident with a petrol tanker that reversed into me damaging my bike beyond immediate repair on only my 2nd day on the highway I had to abandon. If it wasn't for the anticoags and the extreme altitude, it is the highest road in the world you can cycle on at close to 18,000 feet then I'd love another go !!!
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
I'm a very positive character and try not too be concerned about further clots, impossible I know but at least it's very manageable. I've reasoned that I didn't fight my way back from the days in hospital dependent on oxygen to breathe and not being able to leave a hospital bed without it to spend anymore time than absolutely necessary worrying about it, life is far to precious for that. I keep active, hydrated and manage my weight and fitness to minimize the risk and improve chances of future recovery and keep active in the numerous online groups to stay abreast of any new medical information or treatments but more importantly I try to share my own experience of recovery to try and inspire others.
For sure I am rooting for Tony to get back on the road for his cycling adventure.
BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN DO ANYTHING!!! You have made an incredible recovery and you are making remarkable improvements in your fitness. There is no question that you will be completing some incredible achievements along the way.
NEVER STOP GOING FOWARD!
Thank you for reading,
The Clot Buster