The RunRunLive 4.0 Podcast Episode 4-323 – Adam – Running with a Heart Transplant

(Audio: link) [audio:]
Link epi4323.mp3

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -

Hello there my friends, this is Chris your host and this is the RunRunLive Podcast Episode 4-323. 

Got a calculator?  What’s 323 X 60?  That’s 19,380 minutes, 323 hours, 8.075 straight work weeks, 40+ straight 8 hour work days.  That’s a big pile of narrative.   Isn’t that funny?  How you can just start doing something, a session at a time and pretty soon it adds up? 

And that’s without any compounding of the interest.

Try this experiment.  Every time you go for a run put a penny in a bowl.  Or maybe pick up a rock and put it on a pile at the trail head.   See what it looks like at the end of the year. 

That’s the power of practice. That little bit adds up.  That little handful of sand becomes a mountain to your perseverance.

It’s the same concept with time and money.  Anything can be done through daily or frequent little bits of practice.  I’m working through a book right now.  I don’t find the book particularly entertaining but I feel I need to know the content.  I’m trying to give it 20 minutes a day. 

I did the same thing when I wrote the MarathonBQ book last year.  I laid out the chapters in a table of contents format and worked on a chapter every day for a month – and just like that it was done. It took another 5 months of futzing around and editing, but I got it done. 

Some people call this ‘chunking’.  Take something that seems overwhelming and chunking it down into bite size bits that you can chew off every day. 

My training has been going very well.  I’m working in some consistent speedwork and tempo and building up my distance.  It’s not perfect and I’m still feeling out the paces but it’s progress and I feel strong. 

We love the cool, dry fall weather, Buddy and I.  Even though we’ve lost the sun it’s ok.  I’m no stranger to running with a head lamp in the woods.  It’s a bit hard to stay on the trail when all the leaves fall and obscure the ground.  But that’s why I have Buddy.  He knows the way and can see in the dark better than I can. 

He’s doing very well.  The cooler weather helps.  I’ve also started him on a regimen of joint supplements which seem to be surprisingly effective.  He used to barely be able to get up the day after a 6 miler in the trails but now he shows no sign of stiffness at all.  The product is called GlycoFlex by a company called VetriScience.

I met the guy that runs their supply chain at a conference.  We got to talking and it turns out he’s a veteran marathoner from Vermont.  I sent him a copy of my book and he sent me a bag of supplements for Buddy.  See how this networking thing works out?

Today have an awesome interview with Adam the @transplant runner.  I met Adam on twitter.  I saw his twitter handle and asked a simple question “Are you really running with a heart transplant?” When he said ‘yes’ I had to get him on the show.  Super cool - Super inspirational.  I love this guy and his attitude.  Reminds us that we really shouldn’t be whining and that you can really do anything if you have the right attitude. 

In the first section I’m going to rant about speedwork again.  Just because I’ve been doing more of it and remembering all the benefits first hand.  In the second section I’ll give you some random advice on Blogging. 

Little things every day.  They count. 

I’ve been in the office the last couple weeks.  I don’t have to go to the office but I like the structure and the privacy of an office.  When I use the common rest room outside my office I notice the paper towels.  Specifically I notice the paper towels on the ground next to the trash receptacle.

I think the scenario is that some guy before me washed his hands, (always a good habit) after using the rest room, then took a length of paper towel, dried his hands and tossed it towards the trash.  However in this case the used wad of toweling was off the mark and ended up on the floor. 

In my head I wonder why they didn’t pick it up?  Is their norm such that the effort to get it into the trash is the same as actually getting it in the trash?  Is this their way of ‘sticking it to the man’?  “I may have a crappy life but at least I have the power to throw paper on the ground!”

Seems odd.  But I don’t know what other people are thinking.  I’m in no position to judge. 

I’m not saying this because it somehow makes me mad, but it does make me curious.  Curious as to the thought process.  Are they too rushed?  Is it somehow a health hazard to pick it up and try again?  Would they leave it there if there was someone else in the rest room to witness? I don’t know. 

Going back to our opening thought, if everyone left one towel on the ground we would all be up to our knickers in damp paper towels before long.  And it seems to be contagious.  As soon as there is one on the floor that seems to lower the threshold and then there are many.  The paper on the floor becomes a negative social proof. 

This is the classic broken window syndrome.

You can probably guess what I do.  I pick up all the paper towels on the floor and put them in the trash.  It’s no extra effort for me and I feel like I’m giving some sort of gift to civil society in the process. 

Do you know what else I do?  When I see the janitors I say hello and I thank them for doing what they do.  

Because the way I see it when I pick up those towels and lay down those thank yous I’m putting bricks into a castle.  A castle of karma.  I don’t want anything back.  It’s my gift to those aim-challenged office workers and underappreciated sanitation engineers.

It’s karma.

How’s your aim?

On with the show!

Section one - Running Tips

Speedwork saves the world -

Voices of reason – the conversation

Adam – The Transplant Runner

A Brief History Of Me

Hello Readers!
Follow me on Twitter @xplantrunner

Most people reading this will have probably followed me here from Twitter, where I have somehow amassed a brilliant troupe of followers! So this first blog is basically going to introduce me in a more in depth way, give an insight into my history, and a look at what running means to me! So let's go!!

My heart transplant is obviously a big part of my life, so i'll start here, and how I came to need a heart transplant!

When I was born, it was pretty obvious I was going to be trouble, I wasn't screaming and I was a strange shade of blue, I was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot , in simple terms, oxygenated and non-oxygenated blood were mixing in the heart, and then being pumped around my body.

At 9 months old I underwent my first surgery, a Waterman Shunt. They took arteries from my right arm and used them to 'fix' the defects in my heart. This was a stop-gap surgery, carried out purely to give me a chance to grow a bit and become strong enough for further, more complex surgery.

At 2 years old I went under the knife for a 'full fix' to complete repairs to the heart and give me a normal lease of life. The surgery was initially successful, but 6/7 days later my natural pacemaker stopped working, deemed to be from the surgery. So I went under the knife again that week and had an Artificial Pacemaker fitted.

Surprisingly I was pretty well for 5 years! growing and developing normally as a child should. Just before my 8th birthday, on a routine hospital check up, the pacemaker needed replaced. It is effectively a battery, and it was out of juice! So the next day they fitted me a new pacemaker and I was good to go!

All Going Wrong

Shortly after my 9th birthday, it became apparent that things weren't quite right. I had no energy, very little appetite and basically wasn't myself. After a particularly lacklustre summer holiday my parents took me to our GP, who had me admitted to the local hospital. After 3 days in hospital, they decided nothing was wrong, perhaps I had a virus.

Not trusting the diagnosis, my parents took me to The Freeman Hospital in Newcastle (where all my surgeries took place) I was immediately poked, prodded and x-rayed, and then the bad news came.

My heart was 3 times larger than it should have been, and was operating at about 3% (pro athletes run at about 40% - its an odd measurement!) what they didn't know, was why.

They assumed that the pacemaker had malfunctioned, and determined it was its proximity to my heart. That the signals had somehow become 'confused' and gone awry! I underwent another pacemaker replacement, and it was placed in the now common place of beneath the skin in the front of the left shoulder.

Sadly the replacement didn't solve any problems, my heart was done, I was dying.


The choice to undergo a heart transplant was mine. The Dr's told me the facts, I had less than 12 months without it, and possibly an extra 5-8 years if I had one. The choice was simple, and in my head, it was just another surgery! So I was assessed and placed at the top of the transplant list, I was the worst case on the list, so I would get first dibs on any heart that became available.

1 week later the phone rang - they had a viable heart. Cue mad panic and lots of tears! An ambulance arrived and off we shot on the 90 mile journey to the hospital. On the way there however, the call came in that the heart had died on route, and they wouldn't be able to restart it.

Another 6 weeks passed and then the phone rang again, they had another viable heart. We made it to the hospital and started the pre op routine. By midnight I was being wheeled into the theatre, very drowsy, but still awake.

8 hours later I woke up in intensive care, the op was a success and the heart had restarted first time. I was the 21st child recipient in the UK

A massive amount of thanks goes to the donor family, the donor was only 12 years old and I wouldn't even know how to imagine how harrowing that would be, to then allow the organs to be used for transplantation defies understanding, all I know is that I am eternally grateful to them. (In all, 8 people received organs from this donor - truly amazing)

And Now?

Fast forward almost 21 years to now, and its 2012! The 5-8 years I might have got from the transplant have turned into something more than anyone at the time would have thought possible! Obviously I am not the longest post op transplant recipient, there are people who are almost 30 years post transplant but it still feels pretty good to be this far out!

Pretty much since my transplant i've tried to live a life that would hopefully make my donor and his family proud that I was the recipient. Nowadays, I use my running to help with that!

I started running properly in April 2011, 7.5 miles (bearing in mind I ran maybe 2 miles once a month before hand!) over 3 local mountains. It took me about 4 hours, I was covered in cuts and bruises from slips and falls on the trails, I was caked in mud, ridiculously dehydrated and fairly peckish! I had no idea what I was doing! That same night I experienced DOMS for the first time in my entire life! Every time I sat down, I struggled to stand up again! And staircases were a massive no-no!

So that's a fair old chunk of what makes my internal engine tick! In future blogs i will delve into my running more, and how living with a transplant affects me and what i've done since that night in 1992...

Section two – Getting going with a blogging habit!

Outro - Closing comments

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -

Well, my friends, thank you for your continued attendance.  I appreciate it.  Thank you.  We have been transplanted to the end of episode 4-323 (see what I did there?)

My training has been going well.  I laid low for the month of September with all the travel but I started working in some speedwork.  I let coach have a break – and just to squelch any rumors – I’m not fighting with coach or anything dramatic like that – I’m just experimenting with some more intensity to see how my body responds. 

If we add up the plantar fasciitis vacation and the Afib episodes I haven’t been able to get a decent training cycle in since 2011! 

The first thing I noticed is that my paces are off by a full 30 seconds a mile from where I used to be – some of that is due to age, but a lot of it is just being out of practice.  The speedwork feels hard and foreign to my body.  I’m like 3 weeks in now and I’m starting to see the results. 

I started with 5 days a week to see if my body would be able to recover.  Sunday long, Monday recovery spin, Tuesday speed, Wednesday recovery run, Thursday Tempo, Friday recovery run and Saturday off to do house chores.  

This put me in the mid-30’s in terms of mileage.  I made sure to really focus on doing the stretching, warm-up, cool-down and maintenance core work. 

Nothing really hurt, except the plantar fasciitis flared up at the end of the first hard week.  I thought I was toast.  (this was last week).  It was super sore after Friday’s run.  So – I got the splint on for sleeping, I took my Saturday off, I taped the foot for Sunday’s run and I got it under control… so far. 

I think I isolated the problem.  I was wearing an old pair of ASICs E33’s (basic neutral cushion shoes) to get a better feel of the track for speed work.  I don’t keep very good track of mileage in shoes but I remember I wore these for two marathons a year ago – so they are probably toast. 

We’ll keep an eye on it.  I can always swap out the Friday recovery run with a recovery spin instead. 

This Sunday I’ll be volunteering at two local races. The Baystate marathon in the morning and the Groton Town Forest Trail Race in the afternoon.  If you’re running either of those say ‘hi’. We’ll be at the 7 mile water stop at Baystate – just before the bridge. 

I was coming back from getting tires on my Camry this past weekend.  I was sitting in a long line of cars at a red light.  I did what we all do at red lights.  I checked my phone.  Of course the next thing I know there’s the blaring of a horn and the guy behind me is freaking out because I let a 20 foot gap expand in front of me. 

I look in the review mirror and this guy is swearing at me and waving his hands – he’s quite apoplectic.  My first reaction is to give him a big passive aggressive smile and wave.  I also feel that drip of adrenaline as my dinosaur brain prepares for a fight.  Can’t help it. 

As I think about it I wonder what is so wrong with this guy’s life that he has gone off the deep end over 20 feet of pavement?  I just want to say “It’s ok.” 

I’m as guilty as the next guy.  It makes me super stressed out to get stuck in traffic.  Even though I know it has nothing to do with the traffic – it’s me getting me stressed out because of the way I think about time.

I think time is scarce.  In my mind I can only be successful if I get stuff done in the time I have.  How often do we think about time in this way?  I don’t have enough time.  I don’t want to waste time.  Is it worth my time? 

My revelation is that this is all scarcity thinking.  As much as I talk about abundance I think in terms of scarce time.  That is a disconnect between thoughts and beliefs.  That’s an incongruence between a belief in abundance and thought of scarcity.

I wonder if you’re not doing the same thing?  What if we thought of time as abundant? How would that change the way we approached adversity?  What abundance cold that bring into our lives?

And the next time you’re running late and you lean on that horn, I’ll see you out there.

MarathonBQ – How to Qualify for the Boston Marathon in 14 Weeks -


Direct download: epi4323.mp3
Category:Running -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT





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