My NEW sneaks! A must-have for running season!
Running has become an integral part of my genetic battle plan. It is also something I have grown to LOVE! Running for me is a challenge, and a competition that I have with myself.

I was never a runner, not even as a kid. When the cross country unit came around in gym class I was always scrambling for any excuse to get out of it. The thought of running long distances made me queasy. I could never understand how people did it. Frankly, long distance running was too hard, and I was not interested in it.

That was how I used to feel, anyways. That was how I used to feel when I chose not to run. That was how I used to feel when I decided that I didn't want to run. I felt differently, however, when I was told I literally could not run, or rather that I should not run. Strenuous cardio exercise of any kind tends to be questionable for those of us with robotic hearts. It is not that exercise is a bad thing, in fact it tends to be just the opposite. Exercise is thought to significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, a very good thing in my books. A regular exercise routine has been proven to improve cardiovascular efficiency, improve inflammation/hemostasis and blood pressure, and can have a profound impact on preventing clinical events. Exercising with a robotic heart can be a bit of a grey area, however, considering the average age of pacemaker implantation is 74. I was 18 when my ICD was implanted, so that puts me 56 years off the pace (ba-dum-bum get it? "pace" ? Its both a running and a pacemaker pun...) So I was typically leading a much more active lifestyle. I wasn't ready to give that up, and I certainly wasn't willing to accept the 50 extra lbs my newly enforced inactive lifestyle had bestowed upon me.

I am competitive by nature, and I spend most of my time competing with myself and my own expectations. I don't like to be told I can't do something, and I especially don't like to feel like I am losing. And there was a time where I felt like I was fighting a losing battle against my own body, but running was my way of fighting back. I am not a woman of inaction and I refuse to sit idly by and be beaten. Running gave me my body back, and I felt empowered! I feel like I dominate my genetics and take control of my health every time I lace up my sneakers and head out the door. Even if running is usually hard, and sometimes not even that fun, I always feel a sense of accomplishment when I complete a run.
For those of you questioning the safety of this type of activity for a defective runner such as myself, please note: I wear a heart rate monitor every time I run. As much as I feel I subjugate genetics every time I run, I am not naive - I am fully aware of my short-comings. I will never be a fast runner. My heart rate needs to stay at a steady rate, and my heart rate naturally runs higher than the average person (I run comfortably at a heart rate of 170-185), so I need to monitor it closely. I can only do so much in terms of cardio training, but as the tortoise say "slow and steady wins the race". Every time I reach a new distance, hit a new time, or wake up feeling sore it feels like I am taking control and conquering my health - and its that feeling that drives me.

And this year I have BIG plans to run both a half marathon and a full marathon and show genetics once and for all that I won't be beaten. In the upcoming months I will be going through a bilateral mastectomy with alloderm reconstruction to take preventative action against my BRCA 1 gene (aka the breast cancer gene), and I plan to use my marathon training to regain my strength and get back into shape post-surgery.
2012 is my year, so screw you genetics! Its on! You've been warned!
Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,