Ultrarunner fighting Atrial Fibrilation (AF)

This blog has pretty much always been about running ultras, mostly Hardrock. It still is but now it is also about running after AFib. I was forced to miss Hardrock in 2011 due to the onset of AF but my long term goal was to get back to running milers. And hopefully help any other runners with AF who stumble upon this site. I never made it into Hardrock in 2012, or 2013, or 2014. I didn't have a qualifier for 2015. I ran Fatdog in Canada instead. That was tough. I finished my 4th Hardrock in 2016 and now I'm back to try for the magical number 5.

If you want the history of my AF the heart problems all started back on May 25 2011: http://howmanysleeps.blogspot.com/2011/05/out-of-hardrock.html

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Crap. Never, never, never running that race again. Had probably my
worst ultra ever, competing with Maroondah Dam in Feb 2006 but worse
because it was twice as long and not on a trail. You know you are in
for a bad day when you feel crap 30 km into a 100 km race. I have to do
more training and take these things a little more seriously if I want
to avoid such ugly experiences. And to add insult to injury I have
ended up with an acutely inflamed IP joint in my big toe. This wasn't a
problem on the day. Tiredness. Tight ITBs/glutes and lifting toenails
didn't help. Poor food options. Bad early pacing. Which is ironic as I
went out with Roger Guard who I planned on sticking with because of his
great pacing ability. At the end of the first lap he pronounced that he
had gone out too fast. Bugger. We eased off and ran together on and off
for a few laps. He went on to still score a sub 10. I ran one lap with
Vivian who also protested that we were going too fast so I dropped
behind her to break the pace. She then left me for dead and finished
around 9 1/2. Went through the marathon under 4 hrs and 50 km under 5
hrs. Lack of fruit on the check points became a problem. If I had of
known I would have bought some the night before (late flight in). My
sister and kids arrived around midday with some sandwiches but I was
already off food. I switched to coke and my mp3 player much earlier
than usual but I figured I had nothing to lose as I felt terrible and
needed all reserves. Probably did the last 50 km on coke, juice and
water only. Ran a lap with Hermie before my pace fell right off. Vegie
Girl appeared track side and provided some much needed OJ. I was only
seeing runners as they passed me. I eventually had a little rest
trackside. I think I was actually curled up in the foetal position and
could have gone to sleep. I never really thought about a DNF but
seriously vowed to never return, using somewhat more flowery language.
Dave appeared as I was starting the 3rd last lap and joined me,
eventually completing 2 impromptu laps. This helped keep the pace up to
ensure a buffer for the 12 hour cut-off. Veg came out for the last lap
and dragged me around. I was down to a shuffle on the dark track and
kept wanting to reach up and switch on my headlamp, which of course I
didn't have. I lifted for the last lap of the track but was thoroughly
spent. I had nearly 1/2 an hour up my sleeve but the concept of missing
the cut was a strong motivator. A week later and I still cant walk. I
have a WS2007 qualifier but may have buggered up my training for GH100
in september. Have seriously considered just quitting ultras. If my toe
doesn't improve I might not have any choice.


Spud said...

Man, kudos for toughing it out after starting the suffer so early in the piece when many would DNF.
Get yourself fixed up Andrew and none of this quitting ultra talk right! We're going into GH100 with a full Team Mellum this year, and that includes a certain doc ;-)

undercover brother said...

whippet its the shitty ultras that make u appreciate the good ones.
u toughed it out when u could have just curled up and had a sleep.
flick thru some CR reports from other ultras and youll be laughin in no time.
dont worry about the toe - i can always hack it off.
...with a spoon ... and no anaesthetic of course.
spud u are full of it - go and run some more.

plu said...

What a post. I have no experience with what you are going through but considerable empathy.

Cheers Plu

undercover brother said...

plu - can i please borrow what u just said the next time i am required to show that i care?

Vegie-Girl said...

Damn. I’ve been too busy trying to figure out the new CR and missed this entirely.

Have you seen that episode of Boston Legal where they discussed euthanasia? They make this pact that if either of them gets Alzheimer’s and they are reduced to the brain capacity of a 2yo then the one of sound mind will sit on his mate until he dies. So next time you try curling up in the foetal position, be warned. Forget Dave’s spoon; if I sit on you you will know real pain. Now no more talk of quitting!

Anonymous said...

Thanks veg for the kind words. Your support on the day helped get me over the line. However, I'm not convinced your alternative technique would work quite so well. ;) WM

Vegie-Girl said...

When I was growing up the sitting technique worked like a charm for my older sisters.

Btw, its hilarious that you are signing of an anon on your own blogg! Too funny.