A Diagnosis: Atrial Fibrilation

Posted on Nov 29, 2015 under Health, My Running | No Comment

Finally a diagnosis and next steps! While the Stress Test was inconclusive, wearing an event monitor for one day provided conclusive evidence and a diagnosis of Atrial Fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow to the body.

During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two upper chambers (the atria) beat chaotically and irregularly — out of coordination with the two lower chambers (the ventricles) of the heart. Atrial fibrillation symptoms often include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness.

Episodes of atrial fibrillation can come and go.

I had 2 episodes in less than 12 hours of wearing the monitor.  The monitor is a 3-lead EKG monitor that has 3G technology and functions in two ways.  First, when you feel an event you trigger the monitor which then sends a segment of data back to the manufacturer which then reviews the data and forwards it to the doctor.  The second function is that the monitor itself watches your heart rhythms and sends data back to the company if it detects anything abnormal.

I had 97 episodes during the entire time I wore the monitor and only one of them did I submit.  The first one, was while sitting on the couch at home watching TV!  I didn’t get the opportunity to review all of the the episodes, which would be interesting to see when they were happening and if there was a pattern that correlates to my activity or behaviors.

So now that I have a diagnosis, what’s next?

The first step is medication – Metoprolol  a beta-blocker, blood pressure medicine.  And an Aspirin daily, even though my stroke risk is a 0, they still wanted me to take an Aspirin as strokes are a risk of AFib.

If Metoprolol doesn’t work, there are other medicines that could be used.  Given my age and overall health I am also a candidate for cardiac ablation – a catheter procedure to change the heart structure to prevent future Atrial Fibrillations from occurring.

October Goals

Posted on Nov 01, 2015 under 30Days | No Comment

October is over and it is still nice outside! October seemed to go by in a whir.  Fall Break and two other non-student days meant that the work weeks went by fast, but definitely not some of the days!  I switched to a clinical supervision plan for my Social Work license which means I now have 4 hours of supervision each month outside of my normal work schedule, plus a class I’m taking through the school district.  Time is sure getting filled up.  I ran and biked a couple of times throughout the month.  One morning I had to wear tights and a coat and then this past weekend I ran in shorts and a light rain jacket.  Weird weather, but glorious fall weather!

Drinking only water proved to be an interesting task.  I was pretty successful and only had 3 non-water drinks.  I could easily have just had water but incidentally they were all beers in social occasions in the last week.  Oops.  I have some observations that I’ll share later – though none are life-shattering! And I’ve already had 3 non-water drinks today (11/1).

Crossfit has been going well and I hit a PR in the Deadlift this past week doing a heavy 2 rep lift.  So that’s pretty nice. I should also be able to easily PR on the Shoulder Press.  We’ve been working on my form a lot with the squat, changing the bar position, so I’m not sure how that will go.  The CrossFit Total final event is November 9. I’m still pretty much only doing mobility work when I work out…

We actually went on 3 dates this month!! Yay!! The kids had two sleepovers and we got a babysitter one night to go see To Kill a Mockingbird at the Guthrie Theater.  It was an excellent performance!

For November I had two goals.  I’m going to cut one of them again.  I had planned on trying NaNoWriMo where you write some ungodly number of words a day and end up with a novel at the end of the month. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea, so I threw it in the schedule.  It was the one goal that I thought about a lot in January and had some trepidation about.  I even came up with a plan that I wouldn’t set a goal of words per day or even plan on writing a long book, but a collection of short stories.  As we rounded the curve into October and the realities of life settled in I’m realizing that to try and pull this off with any real sense of rigor would definitely have a negative impact on my family.  I mean I can’t even consistently write a blog post and I’m going to sit down every night and write something…   So I’m going to cut this one and probably let it go for good…

My other goal which is now my primary goal will be to do the Plank Challenge again.  I don’t think I will necessarily follow the plank challenge app.  I might throw in something else for spice like a Tabata plank workout or something!

How was your October? Ready for November?

Exercise Stress Echo Report

Posted on Oct 18, 2015 under Health, My Running | No Comment
20150916_152611I think I’ve written before about how much I dislike treadmill running… Well taking a treadmill stress test is much worse! Not a casual walk in the park during the test you are essentially hooked up to a EKG monitor the whole time running on a treadmill and not being allowed to take your hands off the rail except to have your blood pressure and pulse oxygen taken every 3 minutes.  Try running all out uphill with one hand being held by a technician. And they are trying to get you to talk to them!
During the setup time she told me that the maximum length the test would go for is 21 minutes.  Using the Bruce protocol at 21 minutes you are running at a 22% grade at 6 mph pace.  The pace isn’t super intense but the hill is brutal.  I thought to myself that I’d like to hit the time limit, but didn’t make it.  I ran for 16 minutes which put me at 20% grade and 5.5 mph pace.  I think if I hadn’t done 5×5 squats that morning I could have lasted a little bit longer!
20150916_154148Oh yea, one last hard thing – the second the test is over you have to turn around and lay down in the exact right location to get an ultrasound of your heart. While panting and out of breath, they ask you to hold your breath to get a quality image.
All of that and I didn’t have any “episodes” during the test, though there were some minor things but nothing that the cardiologist on duty was concerned about.  My pulse did hit 190+ for at least 4 minutes which is pretty high.


Patient Name:   NICHOLAS H CROSS Date of Exam:   9/16/2015
Type of Study: STRESS ECHO 2D Echo/Doppler/Color Doppler.
Indications: Exertional palpitations
 1. Normal stress echocardiogram with no inducible wall motion abnormalities at stress.
 2. LV function is normal. The visually estimated ejection fraction is 60% at rest.
 3. Mildly elevated pulmonary pressure estimated at 25.6 mmHg plus right atrial pressure.
 4. PSVT in recovery at about 140-150 spontaneously resolved.
 5. No anginal symptoms with exercise.
 6. Dyspnea with exercise.
 7. Target heart rate achieved.
 8. Normal exercise capacity.
History: Patient with a history of No cardiovascular risk factors. Special Considerations: Lung CTA and No Murmur. Multivitamin daily.
Exam Protocol: Bruce stress protocol. Predicted maximum heart rate is 186. 85% percent target heart rate is 158.
Patient Performance: The patient exercised for 15 minutes and 35 seconds to stage VI of a Bruce protocol, achieving 15 METS. The patient developed dyspnea and leg fatigue during the test. The resting heart rate was 88 beats per minute. The resting blood pressure was 102/78 mmHg. The peak heart rate achieved was 192 bpm, which was 103% of the predicted target heart rate. The peak blood pressure during stress was 158/70 mmHg. The double product achieved was 30336. The stress test was terminated due to target Heart rate achieved and leg fatigue. O2 saturation at rest is 99% on room air. O2 saturation with stress is 92% on room air.

EKG: Resting EKG showed sinus rhythm and freq premature atrial contractions at a rate of 88 beats per minute. The patient developed no ecg changes and PSVT > 6 beats during exercise.

Left Ventricle: The left ventricular size is normal. LV function is normal. The visually estimated ejection fraction is 60% at rest.
Valve Findings: Mild aortic valve sclerosis. The aortic valve is trileaflet. Trace aortic valve regurgitation. No evidence of significant mitral valve regurgitation. Trace tricuspid regurgitation.
Right Ventricular Systolic Pressure Estimate: The estimated pulmonary artery systolic pressure is mildly elevated at 25.6 mmHg plus right atrial pressure.
Exercise Data:
:Stage        :HR :BP    :Comments                                     :Initial:
:Supine       :88 :102/78:Stiff muscle in left shoulder and upper back :GD     :
:             :   :      :at rest, frequent to bigeminal PAC’s,        :       :
:             :   :      :occasional PVC’s at rest                     :       :
:I            :106:122/70:no symptoms and O2 sat 98%                   :       :
:II           :124:136/70:no symptoms and O2 sat 98%                   :       :
:III          :145:144/72:no symptoms and O2 sat 99%                   :       :
:IV           :174:148/70:Slight leg fatigue, O2 sat 95%.              :       :
:V            :192:158/70:Mild shortness of breath, O2 sat 92%, rare   :       :
:             :   :      :PVC and leg fatique.                         :       :
:VI           :192:-     :Mild shortness of breath, leg fatique and    :       :
:             :   :      :rare PVC.                                    :       :
:Post 1 min   :145:-     :Mild shortness of breath and rare PVC’s.     :       :
:Post 3 min   :114:130/70:O2 sat 98%, 2-3 beat bursts atrial tach-no   :       :
:             :   :      :symptoms.                                    :       :
:Post 5 min   :111:120/60:No symptoms and 2-3 beat bursts atrial tach, :       :
:             :   :      :frequent PAC’s.                              :       :
:Post 7 min   :108:112/70:Rarre PAC’s, waiting on heart rate to        :       :
:             :   :      :decrease and no symptoms.                    :       :
:Post 9 min   :102:-     :No ectopy and no symptoms.                   :       :
:Post 9:39 min:99 :-     :Rare PAC and no symptoms.                    :GD     :

September Recap

Posted on Oct 04, 2015 under 30Days | No Comment

I don’t really know what to say about September.  Working back into the flow of normal life.  Seeming to be always tired. But hitting the gym and getting stronger.

My main September goal was to read a chapter from the Book of Proverbs each day.  I did end up reading through the entire book, though it seemed like most days I was reading 2 chapters to try and catch back up.  There are so many good little nuggets of wisdom in that Book.  There are also some fairly odd verses as well.

I made it to Crossfit 13 times in September which is a record number for this year!! I’ve really focused in and while I was trying to go 4 times a week, that hasn’t happened.  I’ve been going consistently 3x’s a week.  That consistency has also helped my mobility numbers reach the 2nd highest for the year at 25 times in a month.

My other goal was a quarterly goal of hitting Inbox and Tab Zero.  I was pretty much no where close to that with something like 12 tabs and 25 e-mails…  Oops.

I have officially given up on my running and biking goals for the year.  It just isn’t going to happen.  I think I ran twice throughout the month. Most of the spring and summer I forced the kids to ride in the stroller while I ran and that doesn’t seem too exciting right now and with going to Crossfit more, I’ve reduced the number of times I can run without pushing them.  I’ve been biking to work less since I’ve been going straight from Crossfit to work (yes I shower in between).

That being said, my primary goal for October was to run or bike daily.  I thought about changing that to exercise daily, but I think right now I’m just going to ax that goal completely.  Which leaves me with my secondary goal of only drinking water for the month. When I wrote the goal in January, I thought about needing to drink something to supplement my work outs.  I think we will play that by ear still.

How was your September? Any plans for October?

Movie Premiere: Run Free True Story of Cabllo Blance

Posted on Sep 21, 2015 under Information, Trail Run, Training, Video | No Comment

Displaying Run Free JPEG Poster Large.jpg

“Run Free: The True Story of Caballo Blanco,” as feature-length documentary about ultra-running legend Micah True will premiere at the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis on Monday, November 9 at 7 p.m. The one-night-only event is co-sponsored by Minneapolis Running and the TC Running Company.

Micah True, better known as Caballo Blanco – the White Horse – was the focal character of Christopher McDougall’s 2009 best-selling book “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen” about the Tarahumara Indians of northern Mexico. Also known as the Rarámuri, or Running People, they are some of the best long-distance runners in the world.

Caballo Blanco was an enigmatic visionary who lived and ran with the Tarahumara after moving to remote Copper Canyon in the 1990s, and who created the fifty-mile Copper Canyon Ultra-Marathon to honor their running traditions and aid in their sustainability. Now in its thirteenth year, the race attracts hundreds of local Tarahumara to the village of Urique to compete alongside some of the best runners in the world. All race finishers receive five hundred pounds of corn, which the international runners traditionally donate to the local Tarahumara, commemorating the spirit of sharing, or “kórima,” which is a way of life among the natives of Copper Canyon.

The documentary is directed by Sterling Noren, a filmmaker from Seattle who met Micah True in 2009. Most of the material for the film was recorded in the weeks leading up to the 2012 race. Shortly after that race, Micah True disappeared in the Gila Wilderness of New Mexico during his daily run, prompting ultra-runners from all over the country to drop everything and join in the search. His body was recovered several days later, found on a trail in a deserted canyon by some of his friends.

“We wanted to tell the story of Micah True in a way that was exciting and authentic, so that viewers could get a sense of what an amazing and inspiring person he was,” said Noren, of Seattle. “Micah’s vision lives on and his legacy is honored in this film. The film shares Micah’s compelling message of love, hope and kórima with the world while helping sustain the people and culture that meant so much to him. We’re honored to be part of this project and are committed to keeping Micah’s mission alive.”

“Micah’s genuine passion for honoring the sacred running traditions of the Tarahumara people was the essence of his being,” said Maria Walton, executive producer of the film and Micah True’s girlfriend at the time of his death. “We made this film to share Micah’s vision of hope for the Tarahumara culture and empower people everywhere with his joy of running.”

The 90-minute film recently won the 2015 Bud Greenspan Memorial Film and Video Award, presented by the Track & Field Writers of America. In addition, the film also was named winner of the prestigious Award of Excellence from the IndieFEST Film Awards, which recognizes film, television and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, contributing to profound social change. The IndieFEST Film Awards said of its latest winners, “The IndieFEST is not an easy award to win. Entries are received from around the world from powerhouse companies to remarkable new talent. The judges were pleased with the exceptional high quality of entries,” of which Run Free was singled out for its creative excellence.

Most recently, the film was named the Best Documentary at the 2015 Arizona International Film Festival.

A percentage of the film’s profits, including from DVD sales, will go to benefit Norawas de Rarámuri (Friends of the Running People), the non-profit agency founded by Micah True to preserve traditional Tarahumara culture. Norawas de Rarámuri works to provide maize, non-GMO seed corn, and cash awards for participating Tarahumara runners, both men and women alike. On this way, the organization offers Tarahumara families nutrition during drought and support for a tradition of small farms necessary to both physical and cultural survival.

Tickets for the event are $12 in advance at www.imathlete.com/events/runfree or $15 at the door the night of the show, or can be purchased at either TC Running Company location for $11. The TC Running Company, the Twin Cities’ premier running specialty shop, has locations at 6405 City West Parkway in Eden Prairie and at 12862 Bass Lake Road in Maple Grove. For more information, go to www.tcrunningco.com.

The Riverview Theater is located at 3800 42nd Ave. South in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis Running is a website created in 2012 as a virtual clearinghouse for all things running in th Twin Cities. Its motto is to “motivate Minnesotans to become strong runners while living happier lives.” For more information, go to www.minneapolisrunning.com.

For more information about the film, go to www.runfreemovie.com.

Anatomy of a DNS

Posted on Sep 06, 2015 under Uncategorized | 7 Comments

DNS… Three nasty letters that I’ve never had to use before (at least in the running sense).  Did Not Start… DNS…  In my mind I know that a lot can happen between signing up for a race and actually reaching the starting line. A percentage of people get hurt during training, travel snafus, etc…  In my 20 some years of running I can’t recall ever having a DNS next to my name. I can definitively say that I’ve never had one in my post-collegiate career. 

So why after 20 years did it occur?  That’s a good question and not really an easy one to answer. It was a combination of things that really culminated in one simple answer.  It wouldn’t be a wise decision.

I felt some reluctance to not start and even though my wife and I talked about it over a week before the race I couldn’t bring myself to announce it to anyone beforehand.  I felt bad for my 1st Covenant – Team World Vision teammates, I was their captain and I wasn’t going to be racing alongside them. I felt bad for my 2015 donors who had given to support me and brought clean water to people in need.  Honestly, I did feel a little bad for myself too – was I a quitter? 

But it was the right decision and being at the race actually confirmed my decision.  They day was significantly better than last year, but still warm, humid, and sunny.  Those conditions plus the shadeless, rolling hilly course wouldn’t have been ideal for me. 

So why didn’t I run? Simply put I wasn’t in shape to run a half marathon on August 1. That’s the easy answer.  But why wasn’t I in shape?  I’ve been doing Cross-fit, running, biking, hiking, etc.  The fitness should have been there.  But it wasn’t. Why not? I wasn’t being super-consistent with my training but I did the long runs, pushing my kids even. 

Ok, let’s roll back the clock. For a period of time now while running I’ve gotten these weird sensations in my chest and my heart has been beating like crazy.  Don’t freak out.  My wife, a nurse, and my doctor have both already grilled me.  I wasn’t having a stroke or heart attack. When this happened I would back off the throttle and let my heart rate come down a bit and be fine.  Sometimes this would take awhile and it would usually come with a loss of power for a bit.  Some of you who have ridden or run with me might remember some of these random instances. I didn’t really think anything of it. 

Looking back it has never occurred during a WOD at Cross-Fit or while taking a spin class at the YMCA.  It seems to happen when I pick up my pace while running or biking, or after a long period of exertion.  I haven’t consistently worn a heart rate monitor over time but when I have nothing seemed out of the ordinary.  In April I rode the Dickie’s Scramble 75 mile gravel (and hill) grinder.  It was a brutal ride and I had some trouble with some of the hills, when I pushed hard my heart rate went up.  I wasn’t watching my heart rate monitor but after the ride I remember that it said I had a Max HR of 238.  I mentioned it to the guys at dinner and we all agreed it had to be an equipment mistake. 

So why did I sign up for a race? Remember, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.  Something that would improve with conditioning. I trained, doing long runs and as long as I controlled the pace or maintained a steady, comfortable pace I was fine.  Ok, let’s come back closer to the present time.  On my July 11 long run several odd things happened that kind of messed up the routine. That was the day of the Lifetime Triathlon which makes it really hard to get to where the Team World Vision group runs meet.  No worries, I parked nearby and was going to wait for them to come down.  I even got to cheer a few people I knew racing the triathlon.  As I waited and waited I decided they might actually have gone a different way, so I took off.  After stopping at the porta-pot for Nadia they actually caught up to me. 

My usual running partner was racing but I’ve run with some of the others so I fell in with them.  Chatting along the pace got a little faster and I felt my heart speed up, so I slowed down. I was pretty confident I knew the 10 mile route and wasn’t too concerned.  I don’t remember the whole run, but I do remember it was warming up and I was getting tired.  Sure mental games that we all must endure, so I endured.  Some of the group in front of me turned around and passed me heading the opposite direction.  Odd, but they are training for the marathon, I kept going.  Somewhere in there I had another “episode” or two, but kept trudging along.  My run took forever…  And I screwed up the 10 mile route and only ran 8.5 miles (probably a good thing).  I ended up running an average of 10 minute pace which is pretty slow for me, even pushing the kids.  My last run with the kids was 7 miles at 8:49 pace.  

Ok, so I had a bad run.  Chalk it up to a crappy day.  I had actually remembered to wear my heart rate monitor for the run and when I looked at the data it said Max HR 238 and average HR was in the 170’s.  Possibly, still an equipment error, but I felt horrible.  It took over an hour for my HR to come back down into the resting zone and by the afternoon I felt like I’d run a marathon.  The next morning, I still felt horrible like post-race horrible.  Not an easy 8.5 mile at 10 minute pace should feel.  That’s when I decided something might be up.  The culmination of all of those things happening at one time made it clear to me that I needed to go find a doctor to check me out. 

Understandably my wife got a little freaked out.  Asking lots of questions, getting out her stethoscope.  I do have a low-grade heart murmur and she says I have an occasional arrhythmia. The doctor did his work… And of course everything was fine and normal while at the clinic. He had to listen carefully to hear the murmur and I didn’t have any irregular heart patterns while he was listening. He did do an EKG on me and had some blood work drawn.  He said the EKG looked perfect and my blood work was all in the normal ranges.  So next step is to see a Cardiologist.  He wants me to see a specific guy who doescardiac electrophysiology, or studies how the heart’s electrical system (rhythm) works.  Unfortunately, I can’t see him until mid-September. The doctor who did the exam said that I would be fine to continue working out – running, biking, and Cross-fitting.  But to be careful. 

So a DNS, being careful.  Knowing a hilly course and that I’d want to push the pace and “race” or at least PR the course. Knowing me, a DNS was the right choice.  Yes, I’m a little more concerned now than I was over the past few months. I’m being more careful about pushing the pace, running hills, etc.  And I’ve started to pay more attention to what is going on with my ticker.  

I’ve started wearing my heart rate monitor on more workouts and wearing my RoadID bracelet more often.  I definitely don’t like talking about this kind of stuff, but it has been good to talk about it.  I’ll keep you updated as I learn more. 

August Recap

Posted on Sep 03, 2015 under 30Days, My Running | No Comment

August felt really short and really long.   The short part was that we went camping for a few days and then boom, I had to start back to work.  The transition back to working seemed harder this year.  It could be because it was earlier in the calendar and maybe also the fact that my work day now starts at 7:30am.  The good side of that is that it ends at 3:30, well is supposed to end at 3:30!

It was a good month overall though.  Camping, my family visiting, rode in Powderhorn 24, had a friend from college visit, reconnecting with co-workers, and doing a short triathlon at the last minute! I didn’t do any blogging, though I wrote some posts.  We continued to work on getting our house unpacked and settled!

My running and biking stats might as well be non-existent.  It seems pretty much unlikely that I’ll hit my goals.  I’m at 50% of my running at 43% of my biking goal so unless something dramatically changes – which won’t because I’m going to focus on Crossfit for the next 8 weeks. I was much more consistent at getting to Crossfit now that life has gotten more routine.

I did manage to get outside for 15 minutes or more every day but one this month.  I can’t remember why, but August 19 I didn’t make it outside for any chunks of time.

My goal for September is to read one chapter out of the Book of Proverbs in the Bible.

How was your August?

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