Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy 6 Month Anniversary, Heart Valve!

What has it been like coming back to CrossFit from open heart surgery? Surprisingly enjoyable.
I don't mean to say that my physical state was not completely sucky for quite a while, but considering the alternative scenarios of this situation, it could have been a lot worse.

It has been enjoyable with the main reason being that I have had the best care possible. I had full health insurance associated with the best hospital and surgeon on the West Coast. My family was there for me every step of the way and my friends were unbelievably supportive.

I was inactive for merely 3 months and my recovery has been relatively easy. I would be willing to guess that a lot of people would not go back to their previous activities after a major operation, but the CrossFit lifestyle is what made my surgery easy and what makes my life enjoyable.

This whole thing has been enjoyable in the sense that the experience moved me beyond what I thought I was programmed to do. I feel I have achieved something unexpected. Heart surgery created a sense of novelty in my life, in that the challenge has become greater than before. I can look back and know that I have grown, maybe become more complex.

The hardest thing I have faced is myself. I have high self expectations. The biggest expectation I hold is to continue to live my life as closely as possible to my pre-surgery physical state -and eventually- better than before.

I'm lucky that I can participate in the things that I love and I'm lucky to enough to be able to work towards getting back on the podium. I'm lucky that this has been easy and that I can look back and call it enjoyable.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Blowing up the comfort zone

Three drastically different deposits this week.

Thursday was the breakdown/suckitup/walkitoff/toughenup/learn/grow/perspectivesetter. I set some new PR's to start the morning because they were movements I've never tested before. The following metcon set some baselines as well in terms of "hard" and what will qualify as "worse" in the future. The most bankable aspects were that I kept squatting even through the choked up feeling and that I did every damn rep, no scaling, no modifications. I learned that I'm still not a quitter. I banked 300 reps, in sets of 2-3-4-5. I broke through my comfort zone and into that unhappy place and made it my sunny day, even though the sun wouldn't come up for another half an hour. And then I went home, ate steak and raspberries and coconut juice, showered, slept, ate sausage and eggs, and moved on with my life. No pity party, victory hug only for having completed it.

Friday was the shakeitout/letitgo/breathedeep/havesomefun/weekendwarmup. Got back onto the rower for the first time in Texas, but the lack of a monitor on the SicFit erg means that we just rowed for 250 strokes. I actually really appreciated not staring at a tiny demeaning computer and was able to think about technique and the potential power output. Went through the motions on some skills, including the always exciting sledgehammer tire strikes. I like to think of myself as a woods-woman when I'm hitting the tire, maybe wearing a plaid top, jorts, and boots, splitting wood to take home on the 4-wheeler to cook freshly dressed venison (holy shit I've been living in Texas too long to actually think that is acceptable.) Moving on I realize that that ridiculous fantasy probably just stems from my love affair with the BFT because the next exercise with tire flips with jump-through.  The flips/jumps were hard, I got really dirty and I loved it.

Also did rugby fitness testing Wednesday night.
1 min anchored sit ups- 46
40m sprint- 5.7
max push ups- 31 (not chest to deck, 90degree elbows)
300m run- 1:09 (50m shuttle style)

Big rivalry week ahead. The Horns are gonna hook Tech tomorrow, then I will be wearing every single piece of UCLA gear that I have throughout the week until the Bruins come to Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium next Saturday after Fight Gone Bad 5!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Putting Money in the Bank

It has been a little over four months since the sternotomy and we recently had a little goal setting session at one of the CrossFit Central Fall Semester Coaches Classes. I had come up with a list of physical goals that I want to check each month and developed some generic life goals as well.
"Get a Muscle up before Movember." "Three outside class workouts per week." "Dial in nutrition and maintain body composition." "Be proactive." "Know when to be patient." "Grow competitive spirit." "Straight A's this semester, never miss a class."

However, marinating on this subject after the class and after group WOD's, I came up with a more specific goal.

"Put money in the bank."

To me this means making deposits emotionally, physically, and materially as well. I need to look at situations as bankable experiences, even if the outcome isn't terribly successful.  Every WOD, class, assignment, project, meal, conversation, will be an investment towards the future.  I am also looking for employment to make actual financial contributions to my bank account.  This mindset of seeing the bankability of activities has created a positive outlook on recovery, purpose in school, and life here in Austin.

Recently I deposited:
7 Rounds of Cindy in 12 min
1:19 for 400m run
4x 75# Press
5 Days On, 2 Days Off
165# Front Squat
105# Bench Press
3 Sessions Muscle Up Practice
4x 4 mixed grip dh pull ups, 5 man makers 25#- 11:24

Longhorn Football Game
9/11 Memorial Service
Early morning walk around Town Lake
Chicken and waffles
Subsequent IF experimentation
Website project brainstorming
Quizzes in all three classes

Saving up for when I need to check my account and make transfers and withdrawals later...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Starting September Off Right!

Some recent delights in my CrossFitting adventure:

max rep dead hang pull ups- 6
max reps kipping handstand push ups- 6
max squat snatch- 115 (lifetime PR)
3x power clean and push jerk- 135

AMRAP 6 min
10 thruster (65#)
10 pull ups

4 rounds + 2 thrusters

3x with about 3 min rest
5 weighted pull ups (round 1-10# vest, round 2&3- vest + 12# DB)
5 DL (225#)
15 sand bag slams (25#)
round 1- 1:04, round 2- 1:09, round 3- 1:09 

I also got in a 2.5 mile run in 19:13, averaging a 7:53 minute mile- as the 3rd leg of a relay.  Not my best ever, but I'm pretty sure it's the farthest I have run without run/walking post-op. My team was incredible with THE Lindsey SmithTHE Carey Kepler, and THE Jessica Estrada pulling more than their weight to take 5th in the Women's Open division. Not bad for a bunch of CrossFitters at the Zilker Relays!

A little nervous before the LONG distance RACE!
My team- Lindsey, Carey, me, Jess.

The CrossFit Central Crew at the Relays.

Managed not to completely freeze for about 25 minutes of swimming eeeearly Saturday morning at Barton Springs. The water is like 68 degrees and there is all sorts of wildlife in the pool, but I managed to keep warm and only got blue fingernails after I got out...

We do heaps of toe push ups, jumping/negative ring dips, kipping pull ups, and pistols practice. I feel like I'm working on my weaknesses and getting in a lot of necessary reps. Although I haven't touched a rower or a jump rope since I've been in Texas...

I actually had to hit the books this weekend as school is fully in session, despite only having 50% of my classes this week due to Labor Day.  The long weekend was really fun, thanks to development of my social life through Megan and Aaron. My football teams went 1 for 2, got to see Showout and Chardonnay (my training partner) in action when Meg and I joined the Central crew on 6th St. And I watched the Austin Tri from the water station at one of the turnarounds before finally officially welcoming Chelsea and Trey into their new home. Fantastic!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


We finished the final 2/3 of the CrossFit Total this morning with Press and Dead Lift.

I was pleasantly surprised with a 90# press and 250# DL, with the 195# squat that makes my total 535! I had absolutely no expectations of marks to hit going into this and I'm stoked to see that my strength is decent. Now I can stop worrying about being able to handle weights and work on metcon and gymnastics. The rings are still pretty tricky, but my push ups felt stronger today and Coach Jeremy even noticed that they looked better.

I'm learning a lot about my body still and what "better, well, fine, and healed" all mean. The only thing I'm not "allowed" to do is contact sports. The things that "hurt" are holding in the rack position, push ups, dips, probably bench press (which I will continue to avoid like the plague), and handstand push ups. At this point there are things that "I don't do well," but there is nothing that "I can't do period."

It's a weird thing, this whole being alive situation.

Just posted on the new brog, Fight Gone Blog. Check it out for some light  pleasure reading prior to the big Fight on September 25!

Monday, August 30, 2010


 Today was a nice change of pace from those ridiculous 400's of last week. I'm feeling much better about CrossFit in general now that I have mapped out a little timeline for myself. I put down some reference points that I would like to achieve. If I don't hit the marks, no big deal. It's just a way of comparing where I was last year to where I am now. However, I am going to take these marks into consideration as indicators of preparedness for competition. My ultimate goal is to make the CrossFit Games. My other goals are to make it through sectionals and to place well at regionals. But I'm not going to put myself into an event when my body isn't physically ready for it and by meeting these standards that I have set for myself, I will know where I stand in terms of competitiveness. I'm hoping to find a coach or another athlete who will go into an accountability program like I had with Michael Stanwyck last year.

We started laying out some baselines today, which will continue over the month. First we did back squat. I hit 215 back in January and did some reps of 155 over the past few weeks.


I'm really please with my effort today. Not so much with my form, but I'm sure that will develop. My goal is to be able to hit 2 reps of 225 by December, as suggested by my coach this morning Michael Winchester. Sounds good ya?

Speaking of Coach Mike, he had a great post about accountability on his blog. I'm going to borrow from him, even though I'm not in the Wolf Pack, due to my lack of testicles.

"I will take ownership. I will take ownership of my thoughts, words and actions. I will take ownership of my diet. I will take ownership of my lack of flexibility. I will take ownership for not training strength. I will take ownership for the decline in my METCON. I will take ownership for my commitments and responsibilities. I will take ownership for myself and my wolf pack. I will take ownership of my integrity. I will take ownership of my financial situation. I will take ownership of my goals and dreams. I will take ownership of my relationships to my family, friends and loved ones. I will take ownership of my ownership.

I will commit. I commit to pushing my potential. I commit to achieving that potential. I commit to being my best every single day and giving my all in each and every situation. I commit to taking opportunities presented and converting them into successes. I commit to creating something from nothing. I commit to turning dreams and goals into realities. I commit to this life, this world and the rest of eternity."

 Do it to it.

Some hard stuff.

Dear Dr. Saeki,

June 1, 2010

I recently had the pleasure of seeing your patient, Ms. Ingrid Kantola in a clinic for follow-up. As you may recall, Ms. Kantola is a 24 year old woman who presented with mitral valve vegetation and endocarditis and was found to be in congestive heart failure. On May 11, 2010, she underwent mitral valve repair with a pericardial patch augmentation of the anterior and posterior leaflet and a 28mm Cosgrove Edwards annuloplasty band. Her postoperative course was uneventful and she was discharged home on May 17, 2010.

She returns today to clinic for follow-up. She states she is feeling well and denies fevers. Her appetite has normalized. She is able to walk without difficulty and has no shortness of breath.

On physical examinations, she is afebrile with a heart rate of 60 and regular and a respiratory rate of 12. Her blood pressure is 121/65. Her cardiac examination reveals a regular rhythm. Her chest is clear to auscultation and her respiration is non-labored. Her submammary incision is healing well. Her lower extremities are without edema.

Ms. Kantola is recovering well from her mitral valve repair with a pericardial patch augmentation of the anterior and posterior leaflet. I recommend continuation of Coumadin for 3 months for her prosthetic annuloplasty ring. I defer to you and further judgements in her medication as well as her enrollment in cardiac rehabilitation program.

It certainly has been a pleasure to participate in the care of Ms. Kantola. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely yours,
Abbas Ardehali, M.D.

Description of Procedure (ammended)

Patient was brought into the operating room and after satisfactory anesthesia the chest, abdomen, groins, and legs were prepped and draped in the usual fashion. Submammary incision was made, the incision was carried out, and a flap was created overlying the sternum. Median sternotomy was completed. Pericardium was opened.... With adequate ACT, the patient was placed on cardiopulmonary bypass and cooled to a temperature of 32 degrees. Aorta was crossclamped, a dose of antegrade cardioplaegia was given which resulted in arrest of the heart. The right atrium was opened... There was significant destruction of the A1 and P1 segment of the mitral valve leaflet, furthermore there was a hole in the anterior leaflet. This area was debrided in it entirety. Then I used a piece of autologus pericardium and it was sewn to create a patch where the anterior and posterior P1 and A1 segments of the mitral valve. The valve was tested and appeared to be quite competent and the patient was rewarmed. With a dose of warm retrorade cardioplaegia followed by administration of warm blood... After normal de-airing manuvers, the aortic crossclamp was removed. The heart resumed regular activity. With optimal hemostatis and hemidynamics, the patient was successfully weaned off cardiopulmonary bypass.... The sternum was reapproximated with wires and cables. The muscle layers were used to cover all the wires and cables.... The skin was closed in subcuticular fashion. Sponge and needle counts were correct. Estimated blood loss: unknown.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

trying to be beast mode about it

Today I got worse.

Standard Warm Up
PVC Shoulder Dislocates
20 squats
15 push ups
20 twists
400m run
Dynamic drills (High knees, butt kicks, lunge twists, over/unders, inch worms, kareokas, etc)
KB- Farmers walk, rack walk, OH walk- both arms

4x 400m run (rest about 2:15 in between)
1:28, 1:33, 1:37, 1:44

Tabata Push Ups
8x 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest
7, 7, 7, 7, 5, 5, 5, 6

4x 400m run

1:55, 2:04, coach benched me, 1:40

Nearly last on every round. And running is one of my favorite things!