Thursday, July 17, 2008


About a month ago I had my yearly checkup, and when I mentioned to the doctor my plans to run the marathon next year, she said, oh, we have to do a stress echo test on you. So, today was the day. Before I write about it, I still don't know my max. LOL But I am not as concerned about it anymore:) All the doctor could do was get my HR up to 175, and since I saw it at 191 this past Sunday sprinting into the finish at the 10K, I know it's higher than 175, but the test was AWESOME!!!!

I got there about 15 minutes early, they took me right away, and they hooked me up to the EKG thingys and blood pressure. The nurse was shocked when she took my blood pressure, it was 90 over 62. I told her that's normal for me, she wanted to do it again though, so she left the room, got another BP thingy, and strapped me into it, and this time it was 89 over 60. I told her, she shouldn't have had me sit while she searched for the blood pressure thing. At this point, she just laughed. I've never had a patient with such low blood pressure. I told her mine has always been low, and that my resting HR when I wake in the morning is about 50. She made her notes to her file and told me the doctor would be in momentarily.

Sure enough, he came right in. Nice looking guy in his 60's. Very fit. I started to get excited. Figuring he might be a runner, and that I could really ask him to push me on this test. We talked for awhile about his running background, he ran the NYC marathon 5 times, but hasn't run it in over 10 years, but still jogs 6 miles every day. I knew I was in good hands. I told him my background, and he commented on my low heartrate, and then said, you ready, I said yes, and I jumped on the TM.
The test was interesting. He said, I hope you're not expecting to run. I want you to walk. I looked at him with a puzzled look, and he laughed, and said, don't worry, you will run in the last stage, but we will start you at 1.7 speed, with a 10% elevation.
The 5 stages were as follows:
Stage 1 - 1.7 speed, with 10% elevation for 3 minutes
Stage 2 - 2.3 speed with 10% elevation for 3 minutes
Stage 3 - 3.0 speed with 12% elevation for 3 minutes
Stage 4 - 4.7 speed with 14% elevation for 3 minutes
Stage 5 - 5.2 speed with 14% elevation for 3 minutes

I said, ok. Sure enough, he plugged in those numbers and I started walking. I didn't like the 10% elevation, but I wasn't going to complain. He had me do each stage for 3 minutes. I walked the first 3 stages and felt great. I could feel it in my calves, but I wasn't huffing or anything, and my HR didn't go above 125. The nurses were looking from me to the doctor wondering aloud if the machine was working. LOL apparently most people that take this test are either overweight or old, and they say they don't usually make it to the 4 stage, and the numbers are usually beeping and bouncing all over the place. Not mine, they were steady at 125. Then I finally said, come on doc, crank it up. So he said you sure you feel ok? I said, we've been talking this whole time, you can clearly see my HR, and I'm not even sweating, come on. He said ok, I don't usually have patients that go into or complete the 4 stage, but he plugged in the numbers and I was running at 4.7 with the 14% elevation. Finally my HR started to rise, but slowly. But again, the 3 minutes were up and I was only at 155. The doctor wanted to stop the test. I said, you have to be kidding, I'm not even winded, and he looked at me, and cracked up and said, true, but we've never gone to a higher level. And I said, could this be the first time, I really want to push it, cause I know I can do more. He said ok, and plugged in the numbers for Stage 5: 5.2 speed with 14% elevation. Well, now I was starting to feel it, but not bad. The HR steadily went up, but then it stopped at 175, and just stayed there, and I was running. I was started to breathe a little heavier, and he said, can you last another minute, and I said sure. Couldn't we go higher. But he wouldn't let me:( I was disappointed, because though my legs felt dead from the elevation, I definitely could have gone longer. I have to thank him though, if he was a regular Cardiologist, and not a runner cardiologist, I don't think he would have allowed me to push as much as I did. But let me tell you, when I was running that last minute he was watching me, shaking his head in disbelief. He agreed I could have continued, but said, he couldn't do it, cause he'd never had a patient go this far. LOL I said, Next time, we need to keep the level down a bit, and let me run faster, and I'll go even higher. He laughed and said probably, and you know what, I'll probably let you.

As soon as this part of the test was over, he pushed me onto the table, and had me lie on my left side, so the nurse could do an ultrasound of my heart. This was very cool. I told him, are you nuts, don't you know that after you run you're supposed to walk around. He laughed and said, you are right, but I'm trying to shock your heart. I said gee thanks, as I was sucking air now. And the test was over. LOL Through the ultrasound he took several still shots, and told me my heart was in phenomenal shape. He explained that over time, many times his patients have shown that with the test, as it goes on, their heart shows damage. He said with me, my heart seemed to get stronger and stronger as the test went on. I said to him, see, I could have gone further. He concurred, and said if we ever do the test again on you, he will make sure we go longer. Apparently my heart is in great condition, and he told me that I'll have no problem finishing the marathon. He even went so far as to say I will probably run the whole thing. I said, don't get ahead of yourself. I haven't run the distance yet, but I'll be sure to come see him and give him the update.

Interesting, that when everything was over, he stressed how important it is to train. He said, too many times people don't train and get the mileage behind them before they run the marathon. He kept stressing every Sunday add 2 miles to your long run, and don't go over 16 or 18 for the long run. Said you don't need it. I told him I was planning to follow the Hanson's Marathon training, and they teach running 16 as their longest run. He said perfect. Well, I don't know how things will turn out for me, as I am still 15 + months away from running the marathon, but I think I have a pretty good foundation, and knowing that my heart is in great condition is just icing on the cake:) Guess I'm not going to worry about my Max. Obviously whatever I am currently doing is working.


D10 said...

I am so glad to hear the stress test went well. I know how you felt about wanting to really push yourself. I had a stress test back when I was in college. I just remember when I had to take my shirt off to get all hooked up the nurses and doctor administering the test said, we may be here a while. They were use to seeing people in their 50's, 60's and 70's.

I felt shorted because I wanted to go longer and plus a whole medical staff was there, right?

You are taking all the right steps to be successful next November.

Have a great weekend. I hear your husband will be hanging with his college friends this weekend. Make sure you keep those boys in line.

Running To Stand Still said...

How cool is it that he was a runner?? That made something you wanted to do even better than expected!!