The Story So Far

These are the part of my story that are relevant. I’ve tried to limit the emotional drama.

I was a pretty casual runner from about 2003 to 2013. I did maybe 12 miles a week, a couple of 5ks, and a 10k. I flirted with the idea of one day running at least a half marathon, but never seriously trained. In 2013, I got pneumonia and was hospitalized for four days. After a few weeks, I felt pretty close to normal and got back on a treadmill.

I couldn’t run for more than a minute. Thinking it was just because I hadn’t really recovered, I took a few days off then tried again. The next time, it was a little bit better, but not much. 63 seconds.

After a slew of cardiologist visits, I was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy. Basically, a virus came in, fucked up my heart, then left. My heart was operating at 30% of normal, and I was told it was going to be like this from now on. I was told explicitly not to run anymore – I was at an elevated risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Based on family history, I was pretty darn sure this was going to happen, and I only had a couple of more years to live.

In late 2014, against doctor’s orders, I started running again, and it felt great. My rationale was that if I was going to drop dead, dropping dead doing something I thoroughly enjoyed was an acceptable was to go out. My first run was 2.25 miles, and I pushed it to almost 10 miles a week. Knowing I wasn’t going to squash this bug, I got an implanted heart defibrillator to shock me back in case I did keel over unexpectedly.

Shortly after that, my wife discovered the ketogenic diet, and we went on it together. I had crept up to about 190 pounds post-diagnosis. Keto dropped me down to 157 after eight months. At that point, I decided it was now or never to check at least a half marathon off the list. I was leaner and cardio-wise, felt great. However, conventional wisdom said that long distance running doesn’t go with a carbohydrate-free diet, and from keto’s perspective, you shouldn’t do cardio. Therefore, I decided to go off keto and focus on the running.

On January 21, 2018, I achieved one of my goals, finishing the 3M Half Marathon in Austin, Texas with a time of 2:07. My goal was to 1) Not die 2) Finish 3) Not walk. All three were achieved.

Later that year, as I trained for 3M again, I discovered Orca Running, a local race promotion company. They put on multiple races per year ranging from 5Ks to full marathons. If you run any three of their races, no matter what the distance, you get a swanky special medal of an orca tail. I needed that medal. Therefore, I’m doing four half marathons in 2019.

I finished 3M this past January with a time o 2:04, better than last year and feeling like I can run at least an extra five miles. I did the Tunnel to Viaduct 8K in February with a pace of 9:04, but that was a mess. I’m not doing fun runs again. I’m in the final stretch of training for San Juan Island Half Marathon in a couple of weeks.

I’ve decided to go back on keto after this race. San Juan will be fine, but I’ve been dodging a bullet with crappy eating. I’m not sure what my weight is. It’s definitely closer to 157 than 190, but it’s not ideal for running. My ankle has been giving me problems, and I’ve been going to a physical therapist. I’m sure the extra ten pounds do not help with joint issues.

So, heart issues + keto + long distance running. Because I’m going against what my cardiologists, keto evangelists, and running experts say, I feel like it would be helpful to document these efforts.

TL;DR – If you want to do something, do it sooner rather than later. You never know when the ability will be taken from you.

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