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The Power of Running, Part I

March 25, 2011
by

Terri, mom of 3, taking her victory lap in the 15k.

Quick note: Today, we wanted to share two of the amazing stories that have poured into our inbox over the past year. Terri is the first one, then keep reading for Angie’s story.

During my second pregnancy, I started having heart palpitations, and, I was diagnosed with Atrioventricular Nodal Reentry Tachycardia (AVNRT).The doctor tried conduct an ablation to fix the AVNRT, but he couldn’t get to it. Over the next two pregnancies—I miscarried once—I was on and off beta-blockers so I could keep myself and my babies as healthy as possible.

On Monday, October 6th, 2008, I went in for another shot at ablation. Long story short: I now have a pacemaker and have been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, or heart muscle disease. I have to have my pacemaker checked every three months, and have an echocardiogram (eco) every six months. Every six months my eco reads a little bit worse, and every six months I say it will be better at the next reading.

In November, 2010 I began to show negative symptoms again—shortness of breath, fatigue—and I thought, what am I going to do? I don’t want to die yet. Not yet.

I started running.

The first two weeks I told myself, “You can’t do this you have heart disease. You’re in congestive heart failure.” But I kept going to the gym. It got easier. I was thinking I was starting to feel better.

A hug Terri + Beth will both remember forever.

Wait… I was feeling better. By January I was feeling good. Wait….I haven’t felt good in two and half years. Did I just think I was feeling great? I did! Now what? I just ran four miles. 4 MILES!!! I told Beth, my best friend who has been by my side through weddings, births, recovery, that I’m going to run the Mini-Heart Marathon, a 15K. She said, “Then I am too.” Of course she was running with me; where else would she be? So we ran. We gave it everything and when she crossed the finished line and she crashed into my chest, that moment registered as significant as my wedding day and the days I gave birth. I shocked and impressed a lot of people (I ran a 10:32 pace).

I have to run different than most people. I wear a heart rate monitor. I listen to my body. I know when to let up and when I can push. I run because it makes me feel amazing. I run because it makes me feel in control. I run because it makes me feel strong.

But I run scared. I am scared of my heart. I’m scared I’m going to push too hard, yet I need to push to strengthen my muscle My doctor loves that I’m running but he told me I can’t ever run alone. Still, I have to run. I have told myself if something happens (God forbid) at least they—my husband, my kids, everyone in my life—will know I never gave up.

38 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2011 5:21 am

    Oh what a tear jerker ladies…my little one was born with ventricular tachycardia (diagnosed when she was 3 weeks old). It is such a scary thing – the heart – so quiet – you just never know. I am so so unbelievably proud of this woman. WOW!

  2. March 25, 2011 5:54 am

    Wow, that is so inspiring! WTG, Terri! I have a much less serious heart condition — mitral valve prolapse — where one of my heart valves does not close correctly and allows blood to regurgitate back through the valve. My last pre-running echo was a few years ago and at that time I had significant regurgitation through the valve, which put me at serious risk of endocarditis. Then I started running. My most recent echo was last fall and no more regurgitation! I don’t know if running caused that — there is no real way to fix the valve itself without surgery — but I am convinced that there’s a connection and that my body wants me to run!

  3. Jamie M permalink
    March 25, 2011 6:06 am

    Wow. Terri is an amazing woman with an amazing story. She should feel like a hero.

  4. March 25, 2011 6:25 am

    Wow. So impressed that you decided to do something instead of just resigning yourself to be defined or limited by your diagnosis. Running is amazing and so are you! What a great story about not giving up. Keep taking good care of yourself!

  5. March 25, 2011 6:29 am

    Wow! What a way to start the morning…such an inspirational story! I pray that you are able to keep running until you are old and gray 🙂

  6. Cathy permalink
    March 25, 2011 6:51 am

    This is so inspiring. Amazing, truly.

  7. Sue permalink
    March 25, 2011 6:53 am

    Wow, Terri, what in inspirational way to start my day! You are a courageous hero. I, too, was diagnosed with a (much more benign) heart condition a mere 3 months after my first child was born. Thanks to the amazing cardiology team at University of Pennsylvania, I was quickly given the green light to start running again and have not looked back since. However, like you, I run with fear. Elevators make me dizzy. Stress makes my heart beat funny. I refuse to go on roller coasters, skydive, or bungee jump 🙂 My second pregnancy was extremely high-risk and I worry that I might not be able to have another child. My intense marathon training scare the bejeezus out of me. Thanks to stories like yours, though, know that there are strong, tough, wonderful women out there like you who overcome greater challenges than mine to be healthy and better mothers, wives, and people. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your story! 🙂

  8. March 25, 2011 7:01 am

    Wow! Terri I am blown away by the strength of your spirit! Reading your story was a great way to start my morning. Take care of yourself!

  9. March 25, 2011 7:37 am

    Oh my gosh, what a strength! I just have goose bumps. Thank you for sharing and showing that nothing can get in your way of a healthy life – even an unhealthy heart!

  10. Christina permalink
    March 25, 2011 7:55 am

    Wow, what an amazing story! Thank you.

  11. Keri permalink
    March 25, 2011 8:08 am

    Thank you for sharing your story. I passed it along to my mother and her husband. He is having trouble with his heart, he also had ablation and it seems to not be working. I think this will encourage him. It also encouraged me. I have bad genes and heart disease is in the lineup. I started walking and changing my lifestyle. I still may get heart disease but at least I tried my best. You are amazing! Way to face your fears.

  12. Rachel permalink
    March 25, 2011 8:17 am

    Terri, what an inspiration you are! thanks for sharing your story. You have great physical and mental strength! Congrats on all of your accomplishments.

  13. Bente permalink
    March 25, 2011 8:33 am

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I imagine this will get a lot of us out the door for a run today. You are truly inspiring!

  14. March 25, 2011 9:30 am

    So proud of you Terri! I knew you could do it!

  15. ShelleyMM permalink
    March 25, 2011 9:41 am

    Wow, what an amazing story! Thank you for sharing it with us. This story is proof I take way too much for granted…

  16. Robin permalink
    March 25, 2011 10:27 am

    Wow. I don’t need to say more.

  17. March 25, 2011 11:01 am

    Terri, you are AMAZING!!! My mom has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and my dad has a-fib so heart disease is close to my heart! Thank you for being a prime example of bad-a**. You are an inspiration to me.

  18. Janette permalink
    March 25, 2011 11:11 am

    What an amazing and wonderful story, it brought tears to my eyes. Good luck to you Terri, and thank you for inspiring us.

  19. March 25, 2011 11:22 am

    wow…amazing story!

  20. Terri permalink
    March 25, 2011 11:25 am

    Thank you with all of my enlarged heart. Your stories and comments inspire me as well. We are an elite group let’s own it! Run with heart for our heart! ❤ Terri

    • Angie permalink
      March 25, 2011 8:09 pm

      It is no surprise that a woman as amazing as you would have such an amazing family but my heart still melted reading what your mom, sister, and husband wrote. You and your family are in my prayers. Good luck and God’s blessings!

  21. Kristen F permalink
    March 25, 2011 11:36 am

    You rock! and now I need a tissue for the crying…

  22. Carol permalink
    March 25, 2011 12:45 pm

    Very inspirational. Terri, you ROCK.

  23. AnneMarie permalink
    March 25, 2011 1:39 pm

    Thank you for your story…I think I’ll go on a run now. Your such an inspiration.

  24. Atha permalink
    March 25, 2011 1:52 pm

    Amazing story! Thank you Terri for sharing it with us!

  25. Julia permalink
    March 25, 2011 1:59 pm

    This brought happy/inspirational tears to my eyes. What a great story!

  26. Heather permalink
    March 25, 2011 2:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  27. Angie permalink
    March 25, 2011 2:53 pm

    Terri, you are absolutely and completely amazing. The absolute definition of bad*** 🙂 I hope and pray that you will be running for many many years to come!

  28. Vicky permalink
    March 25, 2011 3:08 pm

    Terri ~ you make a mother so very proud. Yes, you inspire me to “move”, you inspire me to accomplish tasks that might be just a little out of my reach but to reach non the less. My daughter, you inspire me. I love you with all of my heart, mom

  29. Traci permalink
    March 25, 2011 4:49 pm

    For those of you whom this brings to tears, I’m right there with you! And for those of you who saw in this story a certified Bada$$. Well you have no idea! As her younger sister I can completely attest to this! So inspirational t.t. I love you so very much, you are an awesome Mom the best friend any girl could want and the best sister God could have given me. I am so fortunate to call you my friend. Thanks for being awesome! So proud!

  30. Jessica Russell permalink
    March 25, 2011 5:11 pm

    Wow, I will appreciate my strong heart every day. Thank you for sharing.

  31. sheryl permalink
    March 25, 2011 5:17 pm

    Amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing. Women like you who triumph over adversity are such an inspiration to me. My mother was not a runner, but she fought cancer for 12 years and never stopped fighting even at the end. Women like you put perspective in the daily challenges and I truly appreciate you sharing your story. If you are ever in New Jersey, I would be honored to run with you!

  32. Corey (Husband) permalink
    March 25, 2011 7:19 pm

    WOW is right! The moment that I saw Terri dashing for the finish line really caught me off guard. It was one of those emotional times that are few and far between…that what makes us appreciate them!

    She immediatly asked me if I would run the next race and how can I possible say no. I got my first 4 mile in today becuase of how inspiring my wife is.

    I will support you in anything you do…I truely love you more and more each day.

  33. maria permalink
    March 25, 2011 8:27 pm

    Your spirit is inspirational! Keep on being amazing and dont forget that you are. Thank you!

  34. March 25, 2011 8:41 pm

    What an amazing story! I dedicate my long 12 mile run tomorrow (probably in the rain) to you!

  35. Kari permalink
    March 26, 2011 7:22 am

    Thanks for your story. My 12-year-old daughter has the same sort of thing (VT, reentry), and her first 2 ablation attempts were unsuccessful. Her third is scheduled for next month. So far, she has no symptoms from the VT, and is training for her first half-marathon which she will run 4 days before her next procedure. I appreciate hearing a success story from the other side of getting a pacemaker. (Sorry this is so stiff – I’m scared sh*tless.)

  36. Katie permalink
    March 26, 2011 10:30 am

    Terri,

    As a daughter who lost her mother to fear of an illness more than the illness itself, I hope you realize just what an amazing message it is that you are sending your kids. You are a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

  37. March 26, 2011 1:29 pm

    OMG, all I can say is, more power to you, Terri! Wishing you many many miles and many many runner’s high your way. What an inspiration you are to us.

    xoxo

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