Sunday, August 27, 2017

The Night From Hell

I was wondering if I should even write about last night but I guess I should.

After some deliberation I decided to do a parkrun on Saturday. I ran my 3 miles towards Cabinteely as a warm up and got there in good time. I had a chat with Niall, whom I had not seen in ages and who was helping out as a volunteer, and then it was time for the start.

The legs did not feel great, to be honest, but that can change when the gun goes off. However, within a few seconds I knew immediately that today would not be a day fro racing for me. Despite the run featuring a downhill start and me taking it reasonably easy (certainly not 5k race effort), my breathing immediately got out of whack, so I decided to take it easy. I won't say I was jogging it because that would be disrespectful to the other runners, but I ran it as a short 3-mile tempo effort.
very bored

It's a damn hilly parkrun and you have to climb that hill 3 times, which can be hell. However, with me taking it relatively easy I never felt that acid burn in the legs and there was no suffering to be had - however, my breathing was very, very laboured. One cheeky chap overtook me right at the finish line with a sustained finishing sprint which left me in 15th place in a very, very modest 21:45, the slowest 5k I have run in over 10 years by quite some margin, but hey.

I jogged home, had a shower, and went to spend the rest of the weekend with my family who had come up from Kerry. Or so I thought. What did actually happen was that I still felt a pressure on my chest 3 hours later, which had me worried enough to go and seek medical advice. As Niamh had predicted, if you turn up and complain of chest pains they immediately send you to hospital, which is what they did, after taking 2 ECGs and giving me some medication that miraculously lifted the pressure within 2 seconds - it felt like a balloon stuck inside my chest was deflating rapidly.

extremely bored
After a fun ride in the ambulance to St. Vincent's it was time to wait. And wait. More ECG. Blood tests. Chest X-ray. And waiting. 6 hours after the first tests, another round of ECG and bloods. And the refusal to let me go home despite feeling perfectly fine, ever since that medication hours earlier (stating that the rapid relief of symptoms actually indicated heart troubles). I had to stay overnight in A&E, which meant I heard the old confused guy screaming at the nurses having to go to the toiled but refusing to go to where the were trying to get him, I saw some guy clearly under influence of various substances falling about, I heard an old lady with a broken hip screaming in pain (that one was particularly distressing) and of course some guy throwing up violently, this was A&E on a Saturday after all.

Every time I saw a new nurse or doctor I had to explain that my HR was so low because I was an endurance athlete. That happened a lot.

the things you do when you're bored
What I did not get was sleep, especially since I was hooked up on a cardiac monitor that sounded an alarm every time my HR dropped under 45, which happens to be higher than my resting HR, so every time I did manage to drop off I was immediately woken by an alarm, until I figured out at 2 or 3 am on how to re-program the alarm, which I'm sure the doctors and nurses would not have approved of. Oh, and they woke us at 3:30 to move us from trolleys into beds, surely only in order to massage their statistics on trolley use by patients.

Oh, and no dinner. I had Niamh smuggle in some food for me or I would have starved!

I'm not making any of this up.

In the morning I eventually was met by the cardiologist who said my tests came all back perfect, I had zero risk indicators and whatever happened the day before could not have been heart related. He suspected Exercise Induced Asthma (which was what I thought it was back in Cabinteely), though explained that it was actually a misnomer as it's not asthma. Oh, and he cleared me for running, without restrictions.

So basically, according to the doctor there is nothing wrong with me. That's the second cardiologist I've ever seen to tell me that.

Except that I need some sleep now!

I'm tempted to say that the lesson learned was not to go to a doctor with chest pains but - yeah, there is a fairly obvious problem with that approach.
24 Aug
8.3 miles, 1:12:19,8:37 pace,  HR 148
   incl 6 x 8 sec hill sprints
25 Aug
9.15 miles, 1:15:28, 8:15 pace, HR 146
26 Aug
9 miles, incl Cabinteely parkrun in 21:45, 7:00

pace, HR 166


  1. Tom, your are a nut (in the best possible way). A tough night alright. Glad you are ok. Resetting the heart rate monitor? They must have loved that ;-)

  2. Doctors and nurses def won't like you for doing that, haha
    Glad to hear you;re ok after all that

  3. Glad to hear your ok.... But I'd Deffo ask for a second opinion.. "So basically, according to the doctor there is nothing wrong with me." Really? Really? ;-)

    1. 4 ECGs, 2 x-rays and 2 sets of blood tests seems thorough enough to me. And the exact same verdict as 3 years ago. So yes, really.

  4. Thomas, you have a breathing issue not a heart issue, though it can also eventually affect the heart. You breathe far too heavily and this varies throughout the year depending on a lot of other factors, then you feel particularly bad like Saturday.....and there is very poor awareness amongst the running community and also sadly the medical profession...but for those of us who experience it...its both very real and reversible

  5. That was a bit of a drama. Maybe there was some pollen in the air which brought on the breathing difficulties? Anyway, be careful if you have similar symptoms while running.