It’s been eternity since I last blogged. I’m not even sure where to start with this post…
Since DNF-ing IM-CDA due to an increased heart rate for an extended period of time, I have seen my GI doctor and I have been undergoing a series of test with my cardiologist in Boulder.
As a human being, wive, daughter, sister, and friend, I am not willing to risk my life while racing. And while most of my team felt that the acid reflux and the hernia were to blame, we (Michael and I) wanted to make sure that we uncovered every single stone to make sure that It was not a heart issue and that I was not in any danger while racing.
The past few weeks, I have undergone a series of tests on my heart just in case my heart rate issue was not brought on by the hernia/acid reflux.
My heart is normal and my awesome cardiologist can not seem to find anything wrong with me. In fact, I proudly broke the treadmill stress-test…lol! My final test was this past weekend. I raced the Steelhead 70.3 with a “event monitor”. It’s sort of like a portable EKG. Since I never seem to have a heart rate issue in training or in every day life…and since I only have a heart rate issue while racing, we decided that this was the best way to test what may be happening to me.
I went into the race a bit tired. I did some fairly heavy training coming into this race. And while Coach C. rested me 5 days out, I really could have used another day…or two. I wasn’t excited to race. I was grumpy, short tempered, and sleeping 11 and 12 hours at my home stay. As a professional, I knew better than to come to the east coast time zone race less than 48hours before-hand. And I knew the amount of stress that I was under being at home. When I leave for a race, I seem to leave all of that stress behind. Not only was I a bit tired, but I was a bit grumpy about wearing the “event monitor”. I was annoyed about everything about it…after all, every single test had come out perfectly normal. However, I was still annoyed. I was grumpy about the outfit that I had to wear in order to hold it in tightly, and the duck tape that was strapped around my belly in order to hold everything down. I had to let all of pissed feelings go and just get on with it. After all, no one likes a whiner, especially me. I knew what this race meant for me. I had to just get on with it.
ML came out to the race because he worries about me. He wanted to make sure that if I had another “event” that he would be there…
All of the pro women started at 7:02. It was a wetsuit swim (thankfully, as the outside temperature was quite chilly!). I believe we all had a fair start. As usual, I was quite timid…I following Sam Warriner into the water. She and Leanda probably had 5 feet on me before they even dove in. Nevertheless, I had a nice little group to swim with. I sat on Erin O’Hara’s feet for a while until someone else pulled through to take the lead. I knew I was in good position as I held onto 2nd and third in our group. My bestie, Terra was beside me the entire time. And that sort of gave me a calm…
As we entered the beach, I was third. However, once we hit transition, I put on the afterburners as I knew that I would be in transition longer than normal, attaching my event monitor. I sprinted through transition, ML fastened the monitor, duct taped my entire chest and belly, and I was off. I believe I was fifth out of T1 in our little group of about 10. However, we were 4 minutes down from first.
My legs felt nasty and tight. I pushed on, trying to get them to come around. My belly and breathing were completely uncomfortable as the duct tape was cutting into me. I went off course at about mile 6 or 7. I believe the oxygen to my brain was being cut off as the duct tape was so tight…lol! Actually, I was just so uncomfortable, I just couldn’t breath or focus…So after a minute or so, I pulled my shit together, got back on course and ripped the fucking duct tape off. Even though I was grumpy about it before hand, I was lucky to be wearing a tri outfit that held the little electrodes on well enough. Plus I figured that if I had an “event”, that I would just stop and hold everything on so that it could record.
I rode through the field a bit annoyed. I could not actually believe that I went off course and wasted precious time…grrr. I just feel like there is no excuse for something like that. It’s unprofessional.
I drank my EFS and ate my bloks. I had mild acid reflux an hour into the ride. I took about 6 tums throughout the bike to settle the acid reflux. It wasn’t really working. I didn’t bring my heavy acid meds…probably a mistake. But I was able to consume about 340 calories during the bike. I knew that this wasn’t really enough and that I would need to eat on the run. I entered T-2 with Amy and Nina. We all exited together. I took into account of how my body was doing. My acid reflux was severe. And I didn’t bring my hard acid medicine on the run either. I brought tums because they are supposedly fast acting…um–not! Anyway, I knew that by mile 5, I would have to make a decision to eat or not. I didn’t feel bouncy, I didn’t feel great. I felt average. I was running anywhere from 6:40′s to 6:55′s. I approached mile 5 with major acid reflux. I made the decision to not eat. I knew that if I ate as little as half of a gu or a sip of gatorade with the amount of acid reflux that I was having, that I would have a heart rate spike and that I would be running 8′ pace or slower. I was now in fourth place and I was in the mix. I didn’t want to take the chance. I didn’t eat the entire half marathon. My acid reflux eventually did settle at mile 11.5. At that point, I still didn’t want to take any chance…I just wanted to finish. I eventually finished 5th in a stacked field. And after starting the race really grumpy, I finished fairly happy. After all, an off day was 5th for me…I couldn’t have done that 2 years ago…

My husband can not believe that I got through a half ironman with 340 calories. And a small part of me can’t believe it either. But I did it. I did not bonk. I did not feel great or spunky, but I got through it. And I did not have a heart rate spike.
I’m not convinced, however, that the reason that I wasn’t spunky was because I went into the race a bit flogged. Honestly, it’s probably a bit of both.
As I tell my husband time and time again when he tells me what to do: every single person is different and what works for one person won’t work for another. For example, 340 calories isn’t enough for ML for one hour much less, 4.5hrs…lol.
Now that we all feel confident about the culprit to my heart rate issues, I look forward to getting on with racing and training at a high level again. I’m not sure what is up for me next and I’m not even sure that I will be able to control it (acid reflux/hernia) again. But for me I just have to keep fighting the good fight and hope that I come out on top.
My GI doctor has given me several different way to help prevent the heart rate spike from happening. Some of these include not wearing a heart rate monitor (it hits the hernia directly), no caffeine race morning (it relaxes the hernia), and taking tums. I followed all of the protocol race morning. I’m sure there are a few that I am forgetting right now…
He also gave me some “vagel” maneuvers to help control the heart rate spike if it happens again. They are a bit weird and interesting to say the least. And I hope I don’t have to use them anytime soon.
Lastly, I received several e-mails regarding heart rate spikes that happen to people in everyday life as well as racing. I really encourage those people to see a qualified cardiologist that gives them proper answers. Triathlon is awesome. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of. But it’s best if you can enjoy it when it isn’t dangerous to you…
Good luck!