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

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Year in review

Well I kind of lost the plot with the monitoring of my progress leading
into Western States. I guess this is one of the many reasons why I
never started a blog. The injury interrupted lead-up to States didn't
help things. There was a lot of angst and a lot of time spent walking
and doing rehab. But I figured it would be good to do a little
summation of the year as a record of what can only be described as a
good running year.

January: Really primed for a big tilt at B2H but the massive bush-fires
forced the cancellation. Brendan knocked together a Fatass 2 Bays of
around 54km across the Mornington Peninsula. Had a steady, solid run
and met a few new faces.

February: The closest thing to my local race: Maroondah Dam 50+. I was
feeling strong off the back of the high (for me) mileage I was using to
build a base for States. I didn't taper but that didn't seem to hurt
too much. I found myself in the lead in the first couple of kms and
managed to lead everyone into a dead end on the overgrown trail. That
pushed me to the back of the field. With the big climbs up to the 10km
mark I worked through the field, powering up the hills. I didn't
realise I was in second place behind Rob Grey and chased him down for
the company. We leapfrogged for most of the run before David Eaddie
changed gears up the back somewhere and came steaming past. I flew down
Mt St Leonard, determined to hold onto second place. It was a small
field but there were some good runners in the pack so I was pretty
happy with a podium finish and the trophy clock. It was a PB on this
course, despite getting lost at the start.

March: Six Foot Track. A fun weekend catching up with everyone. Went
out fairly solidly, again off high mileage and no taper. Was at the
front of the second wave by the stairs and held a good pace to the
river. Ran with Dog early on but he is very unsociable when racing,
especially when he is struggling. He had Uncle Dave pacing him to no
avail. Sean passed him on the stairs at Caves for one of the moments of
the year. I lost a lot of places trying to take it easy climbing Pluvi.
Started cramping on Black Range Rd again. Spud came past and I ran with
him for a while until cramps got me again. Managed to keep him in sight
until the big down hill and finished just in front of him. Another PB.
I would like to have a crack with proper prep someday.

April: My favourite run: the Prom 100. Some would say I did a Bradbury.
I say running these bush ultras involves more than just running. I ran
my own race and enjoyed the scenery. When I got back to the camp after
80km they told me there were only 2 runners still ahead of me and they
had only left 12 minutes ago. That was my quickest check-point stop
ever. And I ran like a man possessed for the last 20km. I had a bad
fall and my knee kept locking up but I wasn't backing off. It was also
the scene for my famous headlight face off at 20 metres: Paul Monks and
I hit the Mt Bishop carpark at the same time from opposite ends (he had
done the loop in reverse). We both switched our lights off at the same
time and the race was on in earnest. I wanted it more and the high
mileage training carried me home strongly. Only downside was the
patellofemoral condition I had developed.

May: Reluctantly flew to Glasshouse for the 50miler. The later start
time of 3am and my knee injury almost kept me at home. But I needed
another long hard run before States. The knee held out for the first 50
odd kms but left me limping home in a respectable but average time.
Spoke to Bill Thomson about Hardrock and resolved to keep my entry and
see how it all went at States before pulling out.

June: Western States Aussie Assault. Fantastic fun trip. Tough run.
Tougher than I expected and I suffered badly through lost fitness and
blistering feet. Slogged it out for an emotional finish. One of those
great runs that I will always remember. And a great road trip with

July: Drove over to the Hardrock territory. Really struggled on the
training run/hikes. Reluctantly decided to cut my losses and pull out.
Could I have made it? Seeing what I achieved over the rest of the year
I have to admit I now wonder if I could have done it. But I remember
how trashed my feet were, how unfit I was at that point, and how my
knee was still an issue. Maybe I should have tried but there is a
strong chance I would have failed and not recovered to complete all the
other great runs of the year.

August: Bellarine Rail Trail 68km. Boring as bat shit but I needed a
solid run and to test out the knee. Came through OK.

September: I really didn't want to do GH this year. But to miss out on
all that goes with it would have been too much. Then I got sick 2 weeks
out and although I recovered I was really depleted and had my worst 100
yet. But I finished and had fun with the Mellum crew.

October: Wow, no ultras? Did I miss something? Only Brindy that I will
never do again. Had some great bush training runs down in the Otway
Ranges. Must get down there more often.

November: GNW. This is a massive run by any standards. I had resolved
to make sure I got Tim home. I wasn't in any form for racing flat out
for time and it turned out to be a great group finish, adding a new
dimension. I love this run.

December: Coast-to-Kosci. Somehow I got sucked into the vortex that is
C2K. I rationaled that this might be my only chance to get the Triple
Crown and that I was in good enough form to finish so now was the time.
I knew I really only had one shot at it. The surface and distance would
do too much damage to my toes to justify ever coming back. So I never
contemplated not finishing. It was a journey, not a race. Tim had the
crew and allowed me to share so it became a team effort. The sense of
satisfaction is hard to describe but it is a run to take with you to
the grave. Either that or it will take you to the grave.

So that was my year.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

6 Foot Week

There is so much hype attached to this race I find it hard to resist
taking the piss out of people but I guess I exorcise these desires on
the mellum mail loop.
Hmm, I think Jan summed it up for me when he agreed with my sentiment
that there are way too many people out there on the big day to enjoy
the track as it deserves: why run 6 foot when we have 12 foot, he said?
But I am heading up again next week for another bash. I guess after
struggling in under 5 hours last year with a very limited prep I wanted
to go back and have a better crack at it. So instead I am leading in
off my base build-up for WS. I will still be running out of phase. But
I'm hoping the increased mileage (for me anyhow) will allow me to run
the back half instead of cramping up like last year. I have a goal time
in mind but unless you produce the goods it just doesn't count. I get
annoyed with people saying "I know I'm capable of xxx" or "I was in xxx
form, but...". There is no credibility unless the runs are on the
board. So I want to get some runs on the board or go down trying. Yep,
no holding back. All or nothing. I figure if it's only 45 km I can
still limp in if I blow up spectacularly (as I have done at Maroondah
before). And just maybe my increased base coming off a big year last
year will carry me home. One thing is for sure, if I am still standing
when I get to Caves Road I won't be leaving anything in the tank. I
will be trying to keep the fuel levels up this year and despite hating
gels will carry a few and take them at regular intervals. I will carry
my trusty handheld and start filling with coke after Pluvi. I will try
to keep cooler by leaving the skins at home and wearing a sleeveless
top. And I will be getting as wet as I can at every creek. I will wear
the Tevas which are built to shed water so I will test this to the nth
degree. Splits? I'm tempted to just leave my watch at home but then I
find I can use the pace on the garmin to keep me moving when I tire. I
will decide later. But I will know what splits I am aiming for. This
will likely be my last 6'. I still don't understand all the fuss. As
one of our a popular ultra identities said: it's just a race. Gees, I
would really like to post a good time though.......

Friday, February 09, 2007

Favourite trail and tevas

Made the trip down to the Ironbark Basin for some trail miles in the
heat of the day. I had already put in 1/2 an hour with the dogs down at
the river and wanted to get in around 30kms. I was running very easy
and wearing the heart rate monitor, trying to keep it aerobic, so ended
up walking lots of the hills. I really must get down there more often.
Had it all to myself with the odd echidna and rosella. Pausing on the
cliff top climb out of the basin I looked back over the heavy green
scrub to where I had just been on the ridge. It really is a fantastic
place to run, unpretentious, undiscovered, uncrowded and truly magical.
I was trying out my new Tevas. They handled it really well. I got a bit
of toe rub with the toe-box being a bit narrow but they are really
light and responsive. My legs were a little tired initially after
running late last night but tomorrow will be a rest (weights) day
before another long run on Sunday. But by the end I felt really
comfortable which is a promising sign. Pulled up after 3 1/2 hours. You
gotta love a good run in the bush.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


It is hard to describe the feeling I experienced when I opened the list
of qualified entrants for Hardrock 2007. Wendy said she has never seen
me so excited. But there was a healthy dose of fear mixed in there. As
I have said, Hardrock both excites and scares me. It is such a huge
event. To be accepted and actually drawn at the lottery is
unbelievable. It is such a fantastic opportunity. WS will still be my
main focus but I can't help but feel it is dwarfed by the enormity of
HR. My plan is to train for WS as I would have done. But now I have to
be way more focused. And I will need to add some solid walking with a
pack. I have started my base building and have already got my weekly
mileage up to 70-80 km per week which is high for me. The trick is to
maintain this and build in quality slowly without getting injured. I
really want to do well at WS. I am confident that if I stay healthy I
can run a good race. Once WS is over, and presuming I don't come away
injured I will head over to Colorado and hike and camp on the course to
acclimatise. I won't need to run at all but recover and acclimate to
the altitude. Man this is going to be big. No, this is going to be huge.

Monday, January 29, 2007

145 days to go

When you say it like that it can freak you out. Yep, 145 days until
WS100. Shit, I better get organised. I have to do some service of some
sort. I need a new passport, visa, insurance........Oh, and I need to
do some more training. With all the 6' nonsense on CR it is easy to
forget that all these little ultras are just training runs for the big
one. And then there is the added distraction of Hardrock and Kosci
after WS. I need to get some focus back. And some early nights.
Had a split run today. An hour in the morning with Wendy and my eldest
daughter at an easy pace wasn't really enough for the day. So I went
out for another hour and a 1/4 tonight after walking the dogs. It was
surprisingly easy and I found I had to hold myself back as I floated
along the golf course in the waxing moonlight. I am trying to keep my
runs slow and easy to build an aerobic base. And to build a solid base
of mileage. I need to get in some bike miles as well. The little jaunts
into town or to work are not really cutting it. Time. The same old
problem. Making time. Balance. It's all about the balance. And
perspective. I don't want to make hard work of it and lose all the

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Build a base

Slept in this morning so didn't get down the coast for my planned long
run. Managed a solid couple of hours on my local trail and with the
temperature moderate for the first time in weeks, I found myself
pushing a solid pace. I switched to fast walking on the hills as part
of my 6' hill-walk training. It's always a good sign when you finish
feeling better than when you started. So no long run this week but with
2 1/2 hours on Friday backed up with a solid 2 hours today I feel I'm
starting to build that base for later in the year. 4 weeks until
Maroondah which I plan to take fairly conservatively and then just 3
weeks to 6 Foot, where I might have a go. Someone suggested that I go
hard and either A) set a great time or B) crash spectacularly. I really
don't like the taste of those DNF cookies so I think I will settle for
a plan somewhere in between. In fact I reckon if I stick with Spud as
long as I can and then just try to finish off I should do OK. Hang on,
that's starting to sound too much like plan A. Maybe plan C where I
stick with Tim and just outsprint him on the line? :)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Entry is in......

<excerpt><fontfamily><param>Times</param>I have been trail running and
bushwalking pretty much all my life. I am quite comfortable in the
bush with a map and compass. I have backcountry hiked solo for many
years. While I enjoy most trail running my preference is for technical
alpine trail. When I started running ultras I looked at Hardrock as
the ultimate goal but for many years felt it was beyond my
capabilities. Over the last two years I have completed three 100 mile
trail ultras. While the opportunity to run 100 milers (yet alone
mountainous 100 milers) in Australia is obviously very limited, last
November I completed the Great North Walk 100 miler. This is a 108
mile trail race with a 36 hour cut-off. There are only 6 checkpoints
and the course is only minimally marked. This years race was held in
very hot conditions (high 30’s degree Centigrade) necessitating
runners carry up to 3 litres of water, plus food and emergency gear
between checkpoints, which could be up to 5 hours apart. While not run
at altitude, there are 6,200 metres (20,000 ft) of elevation gain and
loss. Of the 28 starters only 10 finished. In those pulling out there
were some very experienced runners including a multiple finisher of
Hardrock (5th place 2001) and several other 100 mile veterans,
including 2 Western States finishers.

When I broke 24 hours at the Glasshouse 100 last September it gave me
great confidence that I could complete Great North Walk 100. When I
completed the Great North Walk 100 miler last November it gave me
great confidence that I could complete Hardrock 100. I feel I have
served my apprenticeship and now want the opportunity to graduate.
Completing Hardrock would for me, be that graduation.


Along with some personal groveling that I have edited, this forms the
basis of my Hardrock application. Posted today. Where are those dice?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hardrock entry

I've wanted to run Hardrock for some time. I'm going to be in the
States for WS and flying home just 2 weeks before Hardrock this year.
It seems crazy not to put an entry in just in case I can pull off a
spot in the ballot and get a start. I've just flicked through some guys
photo journal of Hardrock from 2006 and I have to say the course freaks
me out a little. It is definitely one of those runs that both excite
you and scare you at the same time. What if I get an entry? What the
hell, I'll send in my application and just see what happens. It's all
Dave's fault. I was happy to just let it lie for another year but he
put an entry in and put it firmly back on the agenda.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Building a base

The coach has impressed upon me the need for a solid mileage base
leading into 6 Foot Track. I have a reasonable base but my mileage is
still way too low. So I have been adding some length to my regular runs
and plan to include more long runs. My 2 1/2 run today was slower than
usual but I ran 12km last night and I seldom run 2 days in a row. Plus
I did a brutal weight session on Wednesday night. My legs were like
jelly when I finished. I have been more consistent with my weight
regime so am confident the strength is building and hopefully that will
help resist injuries. I also have started the dreaded treadmill uphill
power walking training. If all these come together as planned I should
be in much better shape than last year. The added incentive of the beer
bet has really motivated me to get out there and put in some really
solid work. Hopefully it will pay off on the day.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

2 Bays Trail Fatass

Headed across the bay to run Brendan's 2 Bays Fatass in lieu of the
cancelled Bogong. Drove around the night before in a howling gale and
slept at the start in the kombi. Didn't get a lot of sleep due to the
wind but it was much better than getting up at 4am for the 2 hr drive
across. There was a good turn-out for such an impromptu run with about
12 doing the full 55km and another 4 or 5 doing the half. I decided to
carry 2 handhelds despite really only needing one, so that I had the
extra space for my phone and gels on the straps. Carried some food but
didn't eat most of it. There is a huge climb at the start and then some
continuous undulation all the way across the peninsula through some
scenic bush and open heathland. Generally good trail under foot with a
couple of sections of gravel road and short hauls of bitumen. I ran all
the way across with Brendan and we leap frogged 2 Ballarat boys. The
highlight was the snake encounter towards the turn-around. The 2 in
front hadn't seen it but had obviously stood on it or kicked it as it
was raised up to strike as I jumped over it. There was no time to stop
as I was so close behind the others and they were freaking out with my
yelling. In fact my yelling caused them to jump and the snake appeared
to pass through Brian's legs. It was at least 4-5 foot long and very
thick. Needless to say we were very attentive from then on. The 4 of us
arrived pretty close together at the turnaround. Julliet was there with
fruit-cake and water. And I bought a pepsi. I should have bought
another and filled one of my bottles for the return trip. The Ballarat
boys left well ahead of us and when I realised Brendan was traveling a
lot slower than I wanted to, I gave him a wave and took off in pursuit.
I eventually caught them with the aid of the pepsi rush. We had some
cooling rain on the way back and I almost got cold in my bike shirt. I
pulled away from the guys until the sugar wore off and I tripped and
face-planted indignantly. No damage but they ran serenely by. Forced a
GU down and ate all my ginger bears and picked up. Ran them down again
and took off on the long gravel road. I thought they might catch up on
the climb back up to Arthur's Seat but it never happened. Was feeling
really strong by the time I crossed the highest point again and pushed
it hard all the way back to the finish. Took 3:01 out, 10:04 at the
stop, then back in 3:07. Very even split so I am happy with that. If it
hadn't been for the energy lows through lack of food on the way back I
could have easily negatively split the course. Will need to work on
some portable food options for Maroondah and 6'. Rest day monday and
went out for an easy 7.5 km tonight to loosen up. Feeling fit and
healthy so compared to this time last year I am way ahead of the game.
I can almost taste that 6' beer.........mmmmmmmm

Friday, January 05, 2007

2 Bays horizon

Heading across the bay to run Brendan's Fatass 2 Bay Trail 55km on the
weekend. I've been trying to find some new trail shoes to preserve my
supply of montrails for the lead up to WS but no luck. So I will just
wear my leonas. Went out for a couple of hours of trail this morning
and it was stinking hot. I've started using the HR monitor again. I've
decided to get more serious about my training. I figure if I can run
some ok ultras off a little haphazard training I should be able to run
some good ones off a more structured and solid prep. So I'm building
mileage and strength in readiness for some quality work later in the
year. It will make it hard to run fast at the shorter ultras but I am
hoping that my fitness will allow me to run strongly through to the
finish and more than compensate for any loss of speed and freshness. In
fact Tim has thrown down the gauntlet for 6' and wants me to spot him
1/2 an hour for a beer. You know, I reckon I'm a good chance of pulling
it off and it will sure make things interesting. Especially that long
wait at Caves watching the clock tick down.