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Wednesday, June 08, 2022

June Athlete of the Month

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.

 Recovery from the first incident was only partial, started by increasing short walks every 60-90 waking minutes to keep moving to increasingly longer walks, then introduced walk/run intervals using my Garmin watch to keep in Zone 2 before eventualy getting back to continual runs up to 10 mile. Once I came off the anticoags after 7 months I did make use of local shared use cycle paths but found lack of fitness frustrating. Improvements seemed to stall at around 12 min/mile pace which is clearly well short of pre PE levels. I also returned to regular works outs in local gym about the same time I introduced the walk/run intervals for variety with CV being the prime focus, which was 2 weeks after leaving hospital. I probably pushed too hard to begin with, all CV activities were kept to no more than 70% but I woke one morning with both myself and all the bedding covered in deep red blood I must of coughed up whilst sleeping. Needless to say I spoke to GP and backed off a little but was soon back on it.

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.

 2nd in line is now my 'Stop the Clot' singlet, recently received thanks to Roland, excellent communication and prompt delivery. Love the design and hoping to generate as many chances as possible to raise awareness whilst wearing it with pride both outside and inside on the treadmill.

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

Friday, May 06, 2022

May Athlete of the Month

Getting to do this blog since 2008 has been one of the coolest thing I have ever done.

Getting the opportunity to meet Blood Clot Survivors in person and virtually continues to be an outstanding experience that I very much appreciate and enjoy.

Getting inspired by these stories is an incredible gift.

Over the weekend while traveling to Oregon I got the incredible fortune to meet up with the "OG" Blood Clot Survivor on this blog Cheryl who I featured back in 2008. It was wonderful to get the chance to catch up and feel the energy that this survivor continues to have despite facing some devasting adversities over the years. I came away from Oregon supercharged and ready to keep going because every story of overcoming the challenges of blood clots matters. It matters to celebrate the survivors but it also matters to give hope and inspiration to others who are just starting their journey to overcome their very own blood clotting incident.

As the path forward continues to wind around at every turn I am ready to engage with someone new who was a story to tell... Please allow me to introduce to you Lisa. She has been generous enough to share her story of overcoming her own battle with a clotting incident. Lisa will supercharge you because she is a perfect reflection of BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN DO ANYTHING! 

There is such a thing as Blood Clot Survivor INSPIRATION POWER... This inspiration power has help me overcome some dark places in training and racing. There is NO question in my mind that after you read Lisa's story you will be ready to take on anything.

Please read on = 

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 

My main sport has been running since I was about 9 years old, (I'll be 50 in July) but I also love road cycling, mountain biking, and hiking. I started something called Eat The Frog Fitness right before my blood clot and bilateral pulmonary embolism and I've really been getting into that H.I.I.T training, strength training and range of motions/agility exercises. One thing I am trying to do post-clots is become a more well-rounded fit person, not only with strong legs and heart, but also gain flexibility, balance etc... and these classes are helping a lot.

How did you get started in that sport? 

I started running 10k races in the early 80's with my dad and did varsity track and cross country in high school. I got into triathlon and cycling when I was about 20, but since I detest swimming it didn't stick :)  

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?

December 2021, about 3.5 months post clot I did the Scottsdale Half Marathon with the finish time that I wanted. It was not a personal best but within 10 minutes of my "good times" so I was super happy.  April 30th, 2022 I just completed my first 50+ road bike ride since the clot and PE's and got to wear my polka dots which arrived in the mail the day before.

Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 

I had a dvt blood clot and bilateral pulmonary embolism in August. I'm 49 and in good shape so when I felt my calf was sore and swollen I figured it was either my HIIT class workout Friday night, my 3 mile run with my dog, Saturday morning or mountain biking Saturday afternoon.
I had done all 3 things within a 20 hour time-frame. I thought blood clots were only something elderly or sedentary people got so I had no idea even to think that might be the cause. 
I was super dizzy and out of breathe on the mtn bike ride, my friend had to carry my mtn bike up the side of a hill so we could ride the road the last 3 miles back to my dads house.
I figured I was just dehydrated from my run before then. 

I had a half marathon one week later, flying from AZ to Oregon to race. So I totally rested my leg for 6 days and did nothing. The swelling went down a lot.
I hiked a little the day before the race and my calf was still a little sore. I wore compression calf sleeves and got through the Half Marathon, disappointed
 in how slow I had done and how easily out of breathe I got. I attributed it to a hilly course. It was a lovely race, Bridge of The Gods and goes from Oregon to Washington.
I flew home the next day and my leg was getting more and more swollen even without exercising. 4 days later I was hobbling around my office, and was kept up at night form the pain,
so I slept on the recliner in the living room and decided I better go to the doctor.  

Since my doctor was booked up for weeks due to Covid, I decided to make an appt at Urgent Care and drop by after work.
When I got there the doctor told me I needed to go to ER for an Ultrasound.  I had superficial thrombosis on my left inner thigh the day I flew home, but it didn't hurt. It
looked like I had 2 small mosquito bites on my inner thigh. I had superficial thrombosis in my arm twice twice before when donating blood, and the doctor had put me on antibiotics,
 so I was not concerned about it was that combined with my symptoms that made the Urgent Care physician tell me I needed to go to ER.
When I got to the ER they found the DVT in my left calf and did the CAT scan with the dye to find the bilateral pulmonary embolism.

I wasn't really out of Commission for more then a couple days. I got home from the hospital, deep cleaned my house and was walking the dogs a couple days later.
I will be on blood thinners for life (Eliquis) since I am heterozygous Leiden Factor V. I was really disappointed when I heard that and saw a second hematologist and got the same answer.
So I decided to do the things I love (road cycling and mountain biking) and just be as careful as possible. I am still trying to decide if I feel safe enough to motorcycle again. 
My Ninja motorcycle is getting dusty in the garage.

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?  
I spend 2 days in the ER to get the blood thinners into my system and was able to get into my primary care doc a week later. He told me I could run, exercise etc... but to take it a little easy the first month. So I was able to run a week later though I was super anxious and paranoid about every single ache and pain.

What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? 
I LOVE my new women's cycling polka dot jersey and can't wait to wear my sleeveless running singlet at a 5k race in a couple weeks!

How much are you getting out doing your sport? 
In January I started a body fat loss challenge and amped up my exercise. It was only 8 weeks but I lost 9 pounds and gained muscle so I've been keeping it up. I exercise 6 days a week, running a couple days a week, my Eat the Frog Classes about 4 times a week, bike when I can squeeze it in, and lift weights at lunch a couple days a week.

What is your favorite food?  
My favorite "naughty treat" is french fries. Maybe I need salt after a hard workout but salty french fries are so good. I'm usually good though and have a protein shake.

If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go? 
My bucket list places I want to go are Alaska and Costa Rica

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? 
What I think is most important is to realize that while we all went through similar experiences, everybody's story is different. Everyone's recovery is different. And everyone's timeline is different. I had not realized until I read others stories on the National Blood Clot Alliance site how lucky I was/am. I think we all need to know to love ourselves and work forward but to be easy on ourselves too. We have to find doctors we trust and sometimes it's not the first doctor we get. I had to find a second hematologist that was better at listening and explaining things. She answers questions I didn't know I had before I can ask them. And this is the hard part for me, that I am still working on. Learn to trust yourself on how you feel. Because I ran a half marathon race and didn't know I had blood clots, I am trying to find a balance between explaining away every ache and pain and becoming a hypochondriac.

With time there is not question that you will find that balance Lisa. This is a new journey for you in which you WILL overcome and be the best that you can be in the end.

Anytime you want share on a basket of fires I AM IN! 

But learning to trust yourself is a critical part of this journey where past experiences can be a guiding light to overcome what you presently feeling and thereafter be able to continue on.

May your journey take you where you want to go and keep wearing the CLOT BUSTER @TeamSTOPTHECLOT polka-dots PROUDLY!!!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

Friday, April 08, 2022

April Athlete of the Month

April showers bring May flowers... I mean... April Athlete of the Month Posts bring SUMMER TIME AND BEYOND INSPIRATION!!!

I say "Summer and Beyond" because BLOOD CLOT SURVIVORS CAN DO ANYTHING and the inspiration from their accomplishments can last FOREVER.

Regardless of the background and level of competition/intensity every story of overcoming the challenges of blood clots keeps you going. It shows us all that YOU CAN do it. Every story of overcoming starts with the first step. Even if it is a tentative and scared firs step it is a step towards getting your "normal" back whatever that normal ends up being. Nobody can take that away from you once you start going. It is not going to be easy but as long as you have your goal insight and you are working towards it nothing else matters.

As I am training for the upcoming Eugene Half-Marathon I need to keep the focus. Some training days are better than others. But I am locked in on the goal of getting to the finish line. I don't have a clue how the race will turn out but you can be sure that I will give it my best try. There are several of us that are going to be getting the CLOT BUSTER @TeamSTOPTHECLOT polka-dots racing in Eugene. Also, I know of at least two Blood Clot Survivor MICHAEL - FEBRURY 2020 that will be competing in his first Boston Marathon. Also Blood Clot Survivor KIM - JANUARY 2022. How about that?!?! I know that Michael has been crushing his training as of late and for sure he will be successful in Boston but I also know that Kim is a speedy runner so she will be throwing down the hammer as well. I can't wait to see how they do.

But for the April edition of Athlete of the Month we have a very special individual who is currently holding the reins of the STOP THE CLOT Sports and Wellness Institute and he is leading the effort for this part of STOP THE CLOT organization to continue to grow and develop. TOM is of course a blood clot survivor and we are very thankful for his willingness to share his story so that we can all continue to be inspired to overcome!

Please read on to learn about Tom's story...

What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it?

My first love is running, I have been a runner since I was 12.  Injuries and my 2 rounds with PEs have led me to take up cycling which I do both outdoors and on a Peloton that I bought 2 months after my PEs in 2020.  I love running since I'm competitive but it is also something you can do anywhere in the world with just a pair of running shoes.  I've run in many places including crossing the Drake Passage on a treadmill on a ship!

How did you get started in that sport?  

From a young age I was always racing kids in the neighborhood.  I went out for the track team in 7th grade as that was the only team 7th graders could join.  From there I was hooked!


What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?

My latest achievement on the bike was riding 500 miles in the Blood Clot Awareness Month Charity Fundraiser for the NBCA.  My next running goal is the NYC Marathon in November, but I've got to get training.


Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 

I've had 2 bouts with PEs, first in 2017 and then in 2020.  The first time I had no idea what was wrong with me, I finally had to go to the emergency room after trying and failing to run a mile and then not being able to walk up a flight of stairs.  That was hard to deal with, but I eventually started running again, but my Doctors told me I didn't need blood thinners.  Then, in 2020, I started having trouble breathing on a run and I knew exactly what it was.  Spent 4 days in the hospital, then took a month off. I am on Xarelto now....


When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time?   

This time around it was very hard to get back to running since I was out of commission for about 4 months, that's why I got the Peloton which has enabled me to build back endurance and strength which makes it easier to run.



What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? 

Running Polka-Dot Technical Shirt...My running shoes are the key piece of equipment.  I have been running in Asics for about 25 years.  Biking, I have a nice carbon fiber Trek Madone.


How much are you getting out doing your sport?  

Right now I probably exercise 5-6 days a week.  I'm out for 45 minutes+ up to 90 minutes either biking or running.


What is your favorite food?  

My favorite food is probably pizza. Living in Brooklyn I have lots of choices and we usually like to try as many as we can.


If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?  

I'm fortunate to have been to many places around the world, but I really want to go back to Italy and explore Rome more than we did the last time.


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 returned to action. 

The first thing to do before returning is to get clearance from your doctor.  In my case I was really concerned  about my heart, so I wore a Heart Rate Monitor for a week and everything was normal.  I always wear a Heart Rate Monitor when I work out.  It gives me a level of comfort that I can track and compare workouts and fitness based upon my HR.  I still have PTSD especially when I run, in my local Prospect Park, where I relive my shortness of breath.  It happens when I am by myself but running in a race or with others distracts me and I don't dwell on it as much.  I will also say that it took me a long time to get back to a reasonable amount of fitness - its been 18+ months and I still have a ways to go to get to where I want to be.  But I am able to exercise and I do not compare myself to my pre PE me.  I now celebrate my post PE PRs, which gives me the chance to just be happy to be out there doing what I love.


Indeed Sir let's CELEBRATE every new milestone.


Here is hoping to see Tom getting after the NYC Marathon in the CLOT BUSTER @TeamSTOPTHECLOT polka-dots of course! There is no doubt that Tom will be there and crush it. Can't wait to see it all come together.


Never Stop Going Forward.


Thank you for reading,


The Clot Buster


My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 100th Triathlon Finish !!!
#100 TRIATHLONS