Friday, July 6, 2012

Boot Camp Baby!

I am soo excited because . .

I have decided to try out a boot camp fitness program at the local rec center. I think it will be a good compliment to the running and cycling I have been doing.

It is super cheap - only $5 for each drop-in class. I will start next Saturday. What could be better than that you ask? I convinced my mother to go with me! I love the feeling I get when I get others to join me and start their own fitness journey!!

Anyone have any tips for boot camp that I should know before this adventure begins?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Momma said there would be days like this . . .

Today was not the best run. My head was in the right place, but my body didn't cooperate. It was still pretty warm out when I headed out - around 89 degrees. Cooler than it has been. But 10 degrees warmer than my run last Friday (which rocked)!!

At 1.8 miles, my legs just pooped out. I literally had nothing left. So, I called it a day and walked on home.

I am pretty sure I didn't drink enough water before this run. I also had the weirdest thing happen. When I got home, my throat started burning on the left side and sort of feel like it was closing up on me. Hopefully, it is just a fluke and nothing to worry about. I tend to worry, when anything funky starts happening with my throat! I'll keep ya posted!

What did I learn from this run?
  • Wait until it is a tiny bit cooler out to run
  • Drink more water
  • I CAN run fast (just not for very long)! I ran my fastest pace ever (8:25)
  • I may have not made my goal of 3 miles, but I ran the hill (again), I will never walk a hill again. I have proven I can do it!!
  • I will not give up and I WILL be back running the road again tomorrow!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Unexpected discovery!

In order to figure out how to overcome the shortness of breath I experience upon exertion, I thought it would be a good idea to understand what exactly it is about having a paralyzed vocal cord that causes me to feel this way when I run.

Truth be told, I did NOT expect to discover what I did. According to an article on, unilateral vocal cord (fold) paralysis (UVFP) does not have the physiological impact on pulmonary function that I thought (or feel like) it does.

Consider this:
Patients with unilateral vocal fold paralysis (UVFP) often report shortness of breath or a feeling of running out of air. Very little negative physiological impact upon pulmonary function actually occurs in patients with unilateral vocal fold paralysis (UVFP); however, because of the glottal incompetence, they experience significant air wasting and, thus, experience the sensation of shortness of breath and running out of air during speech. In addition, glottal closure is required for individuals to create positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP).

Now I know this is just one article, but wowzer! Who knew?? For some odd reason, it makes me feel better to know it may not be a physiological limit after all. I feel like it gives me a whole new direction to explore.
Sometimes answers bring to light more questions. And this answer brings to mind a few more questions to seek as I continue on my journey:  
  • How do I compensate for the "significant air wasting" to reduce the sensation of shortness of breath? (This is first for a reason!)
  • Right now, how is this "significant air wasting" adversely affecting my running performance?
  • I know I have poor glottal closure and glottal closure is required for individuals to create positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP).
  • What, if any, affect does PEEP have in running situations?
  • Can I improve or find compensation techniques to create PEEP? 
  • Do I even NEED to create PEEP to run well?

For now, the only PEEP I am certain I understand are these little guys!

I feel like the yellow PEEP in the middle, similar but oh, so unique in my own way!

As always if you have any suggestions or thoughts I would LOVE to hear them!!

Feeling a little blue . . .

And wondering "Am I the only one out there?" I have posted in several running forums looking for other runners who have a paralyzed vocal cord.

Results - big, fat, goose egg!!

I am hopeful that I am NOT alone on this journey!! It would be a blessing to learn from others who are dealing with the same things I am.

That being said, I know that I am never completely alone because I have a supportive hubby and daughter who see me through thick and thin. I love them both more than words can say!!

Me and my girl!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Training recap

Had a great week of training last week! I am hoping to do it again this week. I am fighting a little GI bug. . .so will have to see how it goes!!

"A positive attitude brings strength, energy and initiative!"

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Running is 90% mental . . .

Lately, I have been reading up on the idea of what part your mind and thoughts play in the sport of running.

So, I decided to test out the theory that running is 90% mental. Do my thoughts REALLY effect my performance? This test was far from scientific, but validated the theory (at least in my own mind)!

I concentrated on positive thoughts

- I can do this
- I feel great
- My legs feel light
- My breathing is steady

. . . And it worked!! I ran hills without stopping (first time EVER), my breathing was less sporadic than normal and the kicker is . . . I ran it 1 minute faster than my first 5k race!!!

While, this may seem like no big deal, to me it was huge!! Talk about "runners high" . . . Yeah I felt it baby!!

I can't wait to get out there and do it all again!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

So what is vocal cord paralysis anyway?

There are many different types of voice disorders. There are two kinds of vocal cord paralysis: bilateral and unilateral.

I have unilateral vocal cord paralysis on the right side. The paralysis was a result of a PDA ligation (heart surgery to close a valve) when I was 7 days old. I have had this voice since I was a baby. I was "officially" diagnosed by an ENT (Otolaryngologist) a couple years after high school. Up until then, I knew my voice was different, but didn't really know why.

So, what are the symptoms and what is life life with a paralyzed vocal cord? According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology symptoms include:

So, how do these typical symptoms translate into real life?
Both paresis and paralysis of voice box muscles result in voice changes and may also result in airway problems and swallowing difficulties.

Voice changes: Hoarseness; breathy voice; extra effort on speaking; excessive air pressure required to produce usual conversational voice; and diplophonia (voice sounds like a gargle).

Airway problems: Shortness of breath with exertion, noisy breathing, and ineffective cough.

Swallowing problems: Choking or coughing when swallowing food, drink, or even saliva, and food sticking in throat.
(More fun facts can be found at

My personal experience may be differnt from others with VCP, but here is a very brief look at what I experience on a daily basis:


  • Hoarseness - often asked if I am sick or have laryngitis
  • Breathy - soft, not clear/crisp, you can hear the extra air passing through
  • Extra effort on speaking - Often when talking to more than one person, especially in social settings (ie restaurant, on the street, mall, etc.) Voice will feel strained.
  •  "Gargled voice" - I often get excess mucus accumulation in my throat. I take guafinesen on a daily basis to combat this. (Drinking water helps too)
  • Laryngospams - Or vocal cord spasms - no fun what-so-ever. This happens randomly and when I don't take the guafinesen daily.  
Airway problems:
  • Shortness of breath with exertion - this what makes running a challenge
  • Noisy breathing - will sound wheezy at times
  • Ineffective cough - really only have a problem with this when I am ill
Swallowing problems:
  • Choking or coughing when swallowing food, drink, or even saliva, and food sticking in throat - luckily I have only had limited problems with this. The only problems I have had were mostly related to a medialization implant that extruded into my airway. (Another story for another day!) Had the implant removed and not has as much trouble with it since.
I think every person who has VCP deals with it in their own way. I have been through six surgeries. The first one to "fix" my cord and make me sound normal. The other five have been to "fix the fix".

I have tried pretty much every to "fix" medically available at the present time. I am at the end of the line. I am to a point in my life where I am working to not only accept but to EMBRACE who I am and how I sound. I believe God gave me this voice for a reason.

I am determined to acheive great things. Things I never thought possible before!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Greatness starts with a plan!

Well, in my world anyway! I am such a planner. Since running my first 5k in May, I have decided that I wanted to keep going. . . keep improving.

I have been searching the web for training programs that could help me improve. I have finally decided to just create my own and tweak what I have found online to work for my life.

I ran my first 5k in 39:21. It was a cold, rainy, windy day in May!

My Goal: Improve my pace from 12:40 to 11:40 (Finish around the 35 minute mark) I think this is totally do-able!

My Timeframe: 3-4 Months

My Plan:
Monday - XT (Cycling)
Tuesday - Run 3 miles at 11:40 pace
Wednesday - XT (Cycling)
Thursday - Run 3 miles at 11:40 pace
Friday - REST or XT
Saturday - Run 4 miles at an easy pace
Sunday - REST

This is probably not how the professionals would do it, but since I am not a professional, that is ok! I may need to adjust the days around. I want to work on being consistent in my running from week to week. But, the schedule also has to work around my family and work obligations!

I have two more 5k's scheduled - August 11th and September 8th!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

This momma WILL run!

I have a paralyzed vocal cord. That is a fact. It has made me who I am . . .that is also a fact.

Many may assume that when you have a paralyzed vocal cord, it only affects the quality and sound of your voice. For those, who are living with a paralyzed cord, you know that is not the case. It also effects your breathing a great deal.

The old standard “run at a pace where you can hold a conversation” doesn’t hold true for me. I can barely walk and hold a conversation without having to pause during long sentences to catch my breath. I even get short of breath climbing up stairs!

That being said here is the down and dirty on what it is like for me to run for a long distance (and yes I consider anything over 1 mile a long distance!)
A “normal” run for me:
1. Quick, shallow breathes
2. Aching muscles in legs and chest
3. Chest and neck very tight
4. Excess mucus in throat, get congested easily, have to continually clear my throat
5. Expiratory Stridor (Very noisy, wheezy)

For many years having a paralyzed vocal cord and sounding the way I do, has defined me. I have let it limit me in many ways. I am on a journey to accept my voice disorder as it is. After 6 surgeries and little-to-no improvement in either voice quality or breathing, I NEED to stop searching for a fix. To let go of the elusive idea of “sounding normal”. Maybe just maybe, my "normal" is good enough!

Running is not just a challenge for me, it is physically and mentally difficult. For many years I have said “I can’t run a long distance because I can’t breathe”. No more! Now I say “This momma WILL run!”

I invite you to join me on this journey! I welcome your thoughts and insights on how to become a better runner.