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Thursday, February 28, 2019

March Athlete of the Month

Here we go March... 

March is BLOOD CLOT AWARENESS MONTH

During this month is time to leverage our experience and knowledge to find someone who does not know anything about Blood Clots or Blood Clotting Disorder and let's educate to make them aware.  We know that it could save their life... As a minimum we can let them know about the resources available on STOPTHECLOT.org from there the evolution of education due to curiosity can take over.  It is my hope that we find as many people as possible so that we can spread our message of #STOPTHECLOT.

It is never too late to find a sport that you enjoy.

It is never too late to overcome the challenge of getting fit and putting one foot in front of the other.  

It is SO INSPIRING to read a personal account like the one we get to experience on this month's edition of the athlete of the month.  

Aaron found a deep connection with running that only has grown stronger as a result of his blood clotting episode.

Please read on to learn some more about his experience but also some advice that all of can use down the road...


What is you sport/activity of choice? Why do you enjoy it? 
 I am a runner, but I always hesitate to call myself that. I guess I enjoy it because it’s like meditation to me. Some people meditate by sitting cross-legged and reciting a mantra, some people just breathe in and out. But for me, running allows me to clear my head and process thoughts, with the added bonus of getting a workout.



How did you get started in that sport?
When I was younger, going back to even high school, I used to walk the “mile” in gym class. I wasn’t what you’d call a “fit kid”. I hated playing sports while at the same time wishing I could. Running always seemed amazing to me, like, how is it even possible to keep an activity like that up for an entire mile? I tried several times in my 20s to start running and always gave up because it was too hard. In 2013, in the summer before my 33th birthday, I was motivated by a friend of mine to become more physically active. I started with a walk/run in an old pair of crappy sneakers I had. I downloaded one of those couch to 5k apps and registered for my first 5k. That summer I completed and ran my first 5k and was hooked from then one. The next summer I would run close to 20 races, including 2 half-marathons.

What is the latest milestone you achieved or plan to achieve?(Long bike ride, some race coming up or that you did) 

Before my episode, I had been training for my 4th half marathon which would have been big for me, as I’ve recently gotten into the best shape of my life and aiming for a PR. Unfortunately, 3 weeks before the race is when this all happened. Although, I was ecstatic when on Jan 1 of this year (2019), I did run my fastest 5k ever (29:13) and fastest mile (8:47). My goal for this year is to run my first marathon. I applied for NYC, but didn’t get accepted. I’m still undecided on which to register for now. This year I also plan to start running more trails with the idea of getting into ultra-running. I would eventually like to run a 50k, 50 miler and maybe even 100 miler, but I don’t want to get too ahead of myself.


Tells about your clotting episode.  Are you on blood thinners now? How long were you out of commission? 
Oct 9, 2018 was like any other morning. I woke up and got ready to go for a run. I noticed my right arm was aching, but I figured I slept on it wrong. I got my running clothes on, sipped on some coffee and my arm wasn’t getting any better. In fact it was swollen and red. Odd as it was, I thought nothing of it and went for a run. During my run my arm got extremely tired and I couldn’t understand why, so after 3 and half miles I called it quits. I came in, showered and decided to go to urgent care. I thought maybe some antibiotics and on my way. When the doctor saw me he didn’t give it any second thought and told me it looks like I may have a blood clot and I needed to go to the ER. Of course now I’m nervous, and with an anxiety disorder already, I’m freaking out. So I drive to the ER and wait, sitting in the waiting room wondering if I’m gonna die out there. Finally I get into a chair. Not even a bed, but a chair inside the ER. They bring me in for an ultrasound on my arm then a CT scan on my torso. When the doctors see me they confirm that I have what they called “deep vein thrombosis” or DVT in the subclavian, axillary and brachial veins of my right arm. Not only that, but they also found a few, what they called a bilateral pulmonary embolism near my heart. They were amazed that I was even breathing normally, let alone went for a run that morning. To be honest, other than my arm, I felt totally normal. With all that said, I was now told I had to be admitted. Once admitted now to the oncology ward (which made me even more nervous), I was hooked up to a heparin drip until therapeutic. I was very lucky to only be there a day, until the next evening, because at this point In my life, I was without health insurance. For the next couple of days while I recovered at home, I had horrible anxiety. Every night when I went to sleep I thought I wouldn’t wake up. That the clot near my heart would somehow kill me. I wasn’t able to breath and would get winded just getting out of bed. They never told me how horrible I would feel when I left the hospital. They actually told me I could run the half marathon I had scheduled in 3 weeks. But seriously? I felt like I now had a serious case of PTSD because of my episode. For a good month a half I didn’t want to leave my house. Every time I went out I thought something was going to happen. I thought for sure I would never be able to run again. That this had somehow caused some permanent damage and I was now scarred for life, physically and mentally.

I’m happy to say, I’m almost 6 months out now and I’m feeling better than I was before my episode. I’m almost done with the six months regiment of Eliquis they’ve had me on. I had my follow-up ultrasound on my arm that came back clear and I’ve declined to have another CT scan on my torso to confirm that my PE has cleared as well. All in all, it took me about 3 months before I was really able start feeling like myself again, which in hindsight, is pretty quick. I’m nowhere near back to the level of running I was prior, but it’s a process as it has always been.

When were you able to get back into your activity?  How did it feel that first time? 
The first time I ran again, actually, after my episode was on Thanksgiving 2018. I did a 5k Turkey Trot in Princeton, NJ. It was about 5 degrees outside, too, so I must have been nuts. I was extremely nervous because I was still in the phase of my recovery that I wasn’t sure what was going to happen if my heart rate got too high. But, I did finish the race, freezing cold and as hilly as it was, in 34:16. One of my slowest ever, but one of my most proud. 

What is your favorite piece of gear for your favorite activity? (Bike brand, running shoes, perhaps a running singlet or the Clot Buster's)
I don’t know that I have a favorite piece of gear. I’m currently running in Brooks Ravenna 9’s and use a Garmin Forerunner 220. If anything, I can’t live without the Garmin. I’m a stats nerd. I can’t help but track my miles, elevation, pace, splits, etc. It keeps me motivated to always strive to be a little better than before.

How much are you getting out doing your sport?  (Everyday you do some training, 2, 3, 4 times per week) 
I’m currently side-lined due to an inflamed nerve in my right leg. I developed an issue late last year where I couldn’t lift my right foot up off the ground (think lifting your toes up). It’s pretty difficult to run when you can’t lift your foot. Normally, I try to get out at least 3 times per week, preferably 4.

What is your favorite food?  Either generally or after a workout.
My food tastes are always changing. I went completely plant-based at the beginning of 2018 so I’m always experiment with new things. I’m currently obsessed with all things beans. I never knew I loved beans as much as I did. My go-to easy meal lately has been this Spanish-Style Stewed Beans in Tomato Sauce (https://www.nomeatathlete.com/upgraded-meal-plan/) and a Powerhouse Potassium Smoothie (https://www.parsnipsandpastries.com/powerhouse-potassium-smoothie/) every morning, with added flax and whatever else I feel like throwing in.

If you could go some place to visit and explore, where would like to go?
New Zealand. I’m a gigantic Lord of the Rings nerd. I hear there’s this 2-week camping adventure you can take where you travel and camp along the route they filmed the movies. Plus, I hear it’s just a beautiful place to begin with. 

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?
One thing I can say to somebody who’s going through something like this is that it will all be ok. I know it’s such a stupidly simple and uncomforting thing to say, but it’s true. I thought my life was over. That all those years of beating on my body were finally giving in. Time for old age (I’m only 38, btw). But people kept telling me that it gets better in time, and they were right. I was motivated not only to feel better, but to get back to what I love, no matter how much it hurt. If you find yourself in a similar situation, struggling with a clotting episode, please know that your life isn’t over. Recovery is slow, but recovery is possible. Take the time to rest, because your body needs it. And when you feel ready, take that extra step towards doing what you love. Don’t let anything stop you, whether it be running or not. 

THANK YOU so much Aaron for sharing your story.

There is not question that you have the fire and tenacity to overcome any challenge.  Here is hoping that the power of the beans can keep you going so that you can conquer that marathon the future as well as that ultra that you are looking to achieve.  Now we just need to think about getting you in some CLOT BUSTER #StopTheClot polka-dot gear so that you can make an even bigger impact!

Blood Clots CANNOT stop you not even contain you!

Thank you for reading,

The Clot Buster

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My 95th Triathlon Finish !!!

My 95th Triathlon Finish !!!
WHAT A JOY TO SEE THAT SMILE!