After such a nice run last Saturday, I was expecting another nice run Monday when I showed up at the running trail in Babbitt for a run out to Birch Lake and Back with my wife. There was a really heavy wind out of the east and the temperature was hanging right around 40 degrees. After being spoiled the past weekend with warm enough weather to wear shorts I was still wearing them and I quickly wished I would have worn some winter running attire. My muscles were refusing to warm up. They seemed to get colder the farther I ran into that head wind and even my joints started complaining. I made it out to the lake and back running a 10 minute pace for the fastest portion, finishing around five miles before getting back in the truck and turning the heater and heated seats on high for the ten-mile trip back home. I seriously misjudged my running attire and had a lousy run because of this. I felt slow and tired for the entire run. In the future I will error on the side of too hot because you can always shed layers if it becomes too much. Tuesday I was back in the gym for a total body workout that actually left me feeling pretty good. Wednesday came along and turned out to be a gorgeous spring day that was sunny and warm with temps in the 60’s. After leaving work I went straight home and quickly changed into my running shorts before heading over to the Kugler Ridge Road with Heidi for an intermediate run, and the first run of the year out on Kugler Ridge now that its no longer snow covered. The road is an old forest road that twists and winds its way through some of the rugged Northeastern Minnesota forest in the area surrounding my house. My plan was to run no more than 6 miles, at a 9 minute per mile pace. The hills are short but steep which really raised my heart rate on steepest ones, but once over the top, the run down the other side seemed to give me a chance to somewhat recover and catch my breath before hitting the next hill. It didn’t take long to run the six miles, and It felt great. I would say this was about the most enjoyable run I have done since I began training for Grandma’s Marathon. I was actually surprised at how fast I was able to cover some of the hilly sections without becoming overly fatigued or experiencing muscle/joint complaints. Thursday found me back at the gym doing another total body workout, and Friday was a scheduled rest day prior to Saturday’s 20 mile run. By the time Friday rolled around, I began checking the following days weather hourly and was considering driving three hours south to make that 20 mile somewhere warmer then at home. The National Weather Service was forecasting Temps three hours south of here to be in the 70’s with sunny skies while here at home the forecast was for temps in the upper 30’s to low 40’s, along with the possibility of snow changing to rain, before turning heavy with up to an inch of rain forecasted. There was no way I was going to the let the weather chase me inside for a 20 mile run on the treadmill so after weighing all my options, I tentatively planned on driving a few hours south if that’s what it took, how ever once Saturday morning rolled around, other then being downright cold with an even colder east wind, it looked like the rain was going to hold off for a at least a few hours. At this point I figured I could get my run in before the rain started so I hurriedly got dressed, picking some pretty warm workout clothes appropriate for winter running. Heidi was going to ride her Bicycle, meeting me around the 6-7 mile mark with some water, and then follow me for the rest of the run from there as a mobile water stop. I sent some lighter cloths along on Heidi’s bike just in case I got lucky enough to experience the weather miraculously turn out sunny and warm before finishing this run and needed to shed some of the heavier winter clothing I was now wearing. This would be the longest I had ever ran non-stop. My plan was to try keeping it around a 10 minute pace but even this turned out pretty tuff and my average pace ended up being 10:23 per mile due to a very slow finish. I ran a 5 mile section of soft dirt both ways, with a strong and cold head wind all the way back. This took a little more out of me then I had counted on, making me feel very fatigued early on and progressively slowed my pace over the course of the run. Turns out I never did need those lighter cloths I had stashed in Heidi’s bike and was in fact very happy with my choice of heavy warm cloths. The headwind I encountered around miles 13-18 was not only cold, it was strong enough to scrub at least a minute of my goal pace while really fatiguing me out. I really had to dig deep during those last few miles. It was a bit of an emotional moment once I finished my run and momentarily reflected back, seeing how far I had come since experiencing the initial heart attack that led to the sudden cardiac death, followed by the pace maker placement before going round two with a Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. It had been less than two years since I had ran my first 5K, and here I was running 20 miles while training to run a marathon. This elicits a very different vision in my mind then the vision that was burned into my brain the day I woke up on the intensive care ward, informed that I was suffering from congestive heart failure and had just experienced sudden cardiac death because of it. My life drastically changed in that moment. From then on, I would live life with an implanted cardiac defibrillator, and would carry a box around containing 13 medications for each day of the week along with some of the unwanted side effects. Thinking back to all of this brought to mind all the unfortunate people who are still experiencing heart disease and dying from it. One out of three Americans are currently dying from Heart Disease in this country. Heart Disease is the number one killer among us, killing more people than any other disease. I will always be grateful I was somehow spared from this tragic disease and given the opportunity to become a healthy and positive example to the people still suffering and dying. Heart Disease can be defeated. We no longer need to allow Heart Disease to define us, or dictate our lifestyle for that matter and the twenty miles I just ran using a wounded heart is solid proof.
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