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 with AF. I was forced to miss Hardrock in 2011 due to my AF but my long term goal was to get back to a level where I could enter the lottery for 2012. 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 qual for 2015. I ran Fatdog in Canada instead. That was tough. Now back to Hardrock.

The heart problems all started back on May 25: http://howmanysleeps.blogspot.com/2011/05/out-of-hardrock.html

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Last post before the race

July 10 posted this:


Greetings from sunny Silverton.
This place is just buzzing with all the runners in town. With a usual population of 430 adding 140 runners with crew and pacers we are taking over.
Just to update:
Day 12 was technically a rest day being the 4th of July holiday. There was a local 10km funrun that I was talked into entering. After registering at 7am and looking around and seeing NO Hardrock runners I thought I had been stooged. But they turned up in droves and it was good fun. I took it easy and finished just over 48 minutes for a personal worst but enjoyed the trot (winner in 41+). The rest of the day was pretty social.
Day 13 back on the trail with the big section across the highest point at Handies Peak, 14,000ft. This after cresting 13,000ft and dropping into a snow filled basin. The views were amazing. Local favourite, Kyle Skaggs JOGGED up to the peak before turning around and running back down. Look out course record. The day ended with the most horrendous car ride back overa really rough 4WD track with 9 of us squashed into a 5 seater. Say no more!
Day 14: A real rest day. At last. 90km for the week. Time to taper.
Day 16 was the last day of course marking. We drove over to Ouray and up to Governors Basin before hiking up to 13,000+ft Virginius Pass. It was really steep and we had a heap of us up on the narrow pass before taking turns jumping off and sliding back down on the snow. I managed to loose control and spin 360* and filling every crack and crevice, including both ears, with snow. Also managed to butt heads with one of the dogs who was getting excited with all the action. Another couple of glissades and a short jog back to the start. We all headed in to Ouray for a soak in the hot springs before a feed of Mexican. Oh the life.
Day 17 over to Durango for last minute supplies. Then an easy 4mile run.
Day 18 today: Registration.
Day 19 tomorrow: Briefing.
Day 20 Friday (10pm your time) race start.
OMG I can't wait!

Drop bags are nearly all done (6 drops). Have a spare pair of shoes (NB Chilliman) that I will send to half way but probably won't change. Sticking with Montrail Hardrocks, how appropriate (not gortex). There will be online updates of progress through the checkpoints. Regardless of the outcome this has already been the most amazing trip. The camaraderie around this run is unlike anything I have experienced before. So many runners of so many abilities all coming together to prepare for the most amazing race. Thanks for all the support. I look forward to filling you in on the details after I kiss the Hardrock!
And on Independence Day:



Don't have the capacity to upload any pics from here. One guy has been videoing stretches. They wanted to mount his cam on my head and send me down one of the steep trails. Of course I wouldn't be so silly.

Yep, apparently Scotts off the list. There are people here doing all the prep who are still on the wait list. It is really hard to get into and no favours offered.

So what day is it? Thursday here. So Day 10 must have been marking from Maggies Gulch over to Cunningham Gulch. In fact it had already been marked so it was a free run to familiarise with the course. We drove my car out and left it at the "start" which was actually a 4 mile hike uphill to the actual course. As this is the second last part of the course a few of us decided to also run the last part all the way back into town. Wow, what a day. 19 miles and over 8 hours and 3 passes over 13,000 ft and I was totally bagged. I had a hoot tearing down the tight trail into the Cunningham checkpoint. I looked back across the valley today to see where we had been and realised I was on the edge of a sheer cliff the whole way. Oh well, sometimes ignorance is bliss. On the last extra climb I was doubting my decision to double up, especially when the thunder started. It was a really really long climb. Think Bogong X 4 at 12,000ft. But we crested the last peak and headed for home safely, if a little cold and hungry. Only to find the pizza place was closed!
Day 11 today, was the official marking of the last section that we added yesterday. I had already done some of this on my own but it is great fun doing the marking and meeting all the other runners and hearing the war stories. It was an easy 9 miles ending with a soak in the icy stream to cool the quads.

As you can probably tell I'm having a ball. People are starting to stake their goals and I'm sticking to my conservative aim of to just finish. The more I see of the course the more I respect those who have covered it.

More from Silverton before HR

And this from July 2:

Thanks for the encouragement all. Sorry Tugger, I don't think I'll be doing a lot of spanking. I'm more likely to cop some myself. However, I did give them a lesson on downhill running today. Don't tell Bro but I ran down the Bear Creek Canyon trail. And how. I won't bore you with the details but this trail was literally chiselled out of the side of a sheer cliff by the miners over a century ago. Spectacular views up and DOWN the canyon. It's generally best not to look down. Then it opens up above the tree line and there are views for miles of craggy snow capped peaks. And we saw a bear! And man can they move. Bro this one wasn't going for a swim. After we reached the saddle at 13,000ft we got to run back to the start at 8,000ft. What took 3 hours to go up took me just over an hour to go down. What a hoot. So that was Day 9. I have been conned into running 2 sections tomorrow so it could be a long day. Yep, only 10 more sleeps. I guess I should think about a taper at some point. But there are so many trails and so little time............

More from Silverton before HR

This from July 1, 2008


Found an internet cafe over in Durango so thought I would update:
Day 5: Rest day. I needed it. Drove an hour to Ouray (lowest point of the race) to check out the route in and out of town. Walked 3 or 4 miles. Saw a deer in the kids playground. This place would feature on any alpine postcard. Ask UCB who stayed here last year.
Day 6: First day of course marking. We drove a couple of miles out of town to the Mineral Creek crossing that spooked me the other day. There is a rope across it now. (And the course director had been too wary to cross it until the rope was in so I felt better.) We climbed a long way up to Putnam Basin and eventually across the 12,600ft pass and down to the first aid station. This guy RUNS past the 20 of us as we are slogging up the hill. Turns out it is Kyle Skaggs, running with just a bottle in his hand. He is a contender. It was a long slow climb for some of us. Me and another guy turned around a mile before the checkpoint down in the valley and ran back. A solid 8 hour day. When we got back the creek had risen with the days snow melt. It reached my chest and I had trouble holding the rope in the current. They asked me next day how I got across (the other guy is over 6' tall). I said there was some aquaplaning!
Day 7: Drove and car shuttled out to where we had finished the day before. Long climb up into snow country. Lots of post-holing through soft snow. And digging in so you don't slide down the huge snowbanks to the bottom of the mountain. Some spectacular frozen lakes up here. The last climb was on all fours. I was digging my hands into the lose gravel and hanging on. Turned out 4 of us (2 HR veterans) headed too far across the pass then had a tricky traverse. One lady (previous HR finisher) was suffering vertigo so we had to guide her across the ledge. 12,900', straight down both sides. We ate lunch then I had the honour of first over the edge. Holy crap I slid and scooted hundreds of feet before hitting the steep snow bank and sliding further on my arse. What a hoot. Just avoid the rocks! After getting back below the tree line the director let us run the last 2-3 miles ahead to the finish. Some amazing technical single track through the pines. There was only one car at the checkpoint so 10 of us had to run/hike another 3-4 miles up to 11,800' to the rest of the cars. I was stuffed.

That made over 40 hours and 120km of trails for the week.

Day 8: So today is a rest day! No course marking. One of the guys wanted me to go up Handies peak (14,000') today. After running back with him the other day and finding out he has run sub 24hrs at Massanutten I decided to stick to my rest day.
Having a ball.

HR lead up from coolrunning



I was using Coolrunning for my updates while in Colorado but thought I would paste them here to background my race report which is coming:

Posted June 27, 2008

Thought of describing some of my prep and given I'm not big on blogs figured here would do:
So this is day 4 at Silverton. Think old American western movie. Picture the old saloon and boardwalk with dirt streets and the odd horse and cart. A steam train pulls into town once a day. All nestled in amongst some really spectacular mountains. There is a constant stream of tourists on the train, by the busload and on the classic touring motorbikes. If you've seen that movie where the 4 middle aged guys take off on bikes then you can picture the type.
Day 1 I went for an easy 3 1/2 hour run/hike on the final few miles of the course. Unfortunately my course directions are in reverse to the direction I was travelling and I managed several detours.
Day 2 I headed out on the first few miles in the right direction. The first major creek crossing about 3 miles in pulled me up. It will be roped on race day and with the huge snow melt I decided against risking it on my own (and for Horrie who seems concerned that I need to HTFU: there have been 6 drownings in Colorado rivers this summer already plus a lady who fell from her horse into a creek and hasn't been found. So I treat these conditions with respect. ). So I went back through town and out the other way again. I figure I will be doing that in the dark so the more times the better. 4hrs.
Day 3 Given that the course isn't marked yet I chose to hike up the nearest mountain instead. I didn't quite get to the 13,000 ft peak as I was running low on water and food so headed off track to the nearest peak. I just followed a goat track and came across a herd of elk grazing in an alpine meadow. Climbed a few snow banks and got to 12,200 ft. Sat in the sun and enjoyed the view for a while. Most spectacular scenery. Glissaded down a snow bank and then pounded the quads all the way back down the mountain. 3hrs up and one hour down! Total of 5 hours for the day. Waded into the local creek and let the icy snow melt cool my quads down.
Day 4 Was determined to find the pass that eluded me on day 1. Still managed to miss a few turns on the way up and went explorng but eventually found a runner who has done 5 HRs and he pointed me in the right direction. Still hard to navigate. Some of the trail is little more than animal tracks. Climbed high and got just below the 13,000ft pass when a big snow bank (with huge drop-off) and looming thunder clouds persuaded me it was time to turn back. One minute it was warm sunshine. The next it was snowing. Then sun again. Another pounding descent and thigh soaking to finish my run. 6hrs.

Course marking starts on Saturday so I will get out to see more of the course. Can't wait. Trail runner heaven.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

And from July 10, just before the race

Greetings from sunny Silverton.
This place is just buzzing with all the runners in town. With a usual population of 430 adding 140 runners with crew and pacers we are taking over. 
Just to update:
Day 12 was technically a rest day being the 4th of July holiday. There was a local 10km funrun that I was talked into entering.  After registering at 7am and looking around and seeing NO Hardrock runners I thought I had been stooged. But they turned up in droves and it was good fun. I took it easy and finished just over 48 minutes for a personal worst but enjoyed the trot (winner in 41+). The rest of the day was pretty social.
Day 13 back on the trail with the big section across the highest point at Handies Peak, 14,000ft. This after cresting 13,000ft and dropping into a snow filled basin. The views were amazing. Local favourite, Kyle Skaggs JOGGED up to the peak before turning around and running back down. Look out course record. The day ended with the most horrendous car ride back overa really rough 4WD track with 9 of us squashed into a 5 seater. Say no more!
Day 14: A real rest day. At last. 90km for the week. Time to taper.
Day 16 was the last day of course marking. We drove over to Ouray and up to Governors Basin before hiking up to 13,000+ft Virginius Pass. It was really steep and we had a heap of us up on the narrow pass before taking turns jumping off and sliding back down on the snow. I managed to loose control and spin 360* and filling every crack and crevice, including both ears, with snow. Also managed to butt heads with one of the dogs who was getting excited with all the action. Another couple of glissades and a short jog back to the start. We all headed in to Ouray for a soak in the hot springs before a feed of Mexican. Oh the life.  
Day 17 over to Durango for last minute supplies. Then an easy 4mile run.
Day 18 today: Registration.
Day 19 tomorrow: Briefing.
Day 20 Friday (10pm your time) race start.
OMG I can't wait!

Drop bags are nearly all done (6 drops). Have a spare pair of shoes (NB Chilliman) that I will send to half way but probably won't change. Sticking with Montrail Hardrocks, how appropriate (not gortex). There will be online updates of progress through the checkpoints. Regardless of the outcome this has already been the most amazing trip. The camaraderie around this run is unlike anything I have experienced before. So many runners of so many abilities all coming together to prepare for the most amazing race. Thanks for all the support. I look forward to filling you in on the details after I kiss the Hardrock!  

From July 4

Don't have the capacity to upload any pics from here. One guy has been videoing stretches. They wanted to mount his cam on my head and send me down one of the steep trails. Of course I wouldn't be so silly.

Yep, apparently Scotts off the list. There are people here doing all the prep who are still on the wait list. It is really hard to get into and no favours offered.

So what day is it? Thursday here. So Day 10 must have been marking from Maggies Gulch over to Cunningham Gulch. In fact it had already been marked so it was a free run to familiarise with the course. We drove my car out and left it at the "start" which was actually a 4 mile hike uphill to the actual course. As this is the second last part of the course a few of us decided to also run the last part all the way back into town. Wow, what a day. 19 miles and over 8 hours and 3 passes over 13,000 ft and I was totally bagged. I had a hoot tearing down the tight trail into the Cunningham checkpoint. I looked back across the valley today to see where we had been and realised I was on the edge of a sheer cliff the whole way. Oh well, sometimes ignorance is bliss.  On the last extra climb I was doubting my decision to double up, especially when the thunder started. It was a really really long climb. Think Bogong X 4 at 12,000ft. But we crested the last peak and headed for home safely, if a little cold and hungry. Only to find the pizza place was closed!
Day 11 today, was the official marking of the last section that we added yesterday. I had already done some of this on my own but it is great fun doing the marking and meeting all the other runners and hearing the war stories. It was an easy 9 miles ending with a soak in the icy stream to cool the quads.

As you can probably tell I'm having a ball. People are starting to stake their goals and I'm sticking to my conservative aim of to just finish. The more I see of the course the more I respect those who have covered it. 

From July 2

Thanks for the encouragement all. Sorry Tugger, I don't think I'll be doing a lot of spanking. I'm more likely to cop some myself. However, I did give them a lesson on downhill running today.  Don't tell Bro but I ran down the Bear Creek Canyon trail.  And how. I won't bore you with the details but this trail was literally chiselled out of the side of a sheer cliff by the miners over a century ago. Spectacular views up and DOWN the canyon. It's generally best not to look down. Then it opens up above the tree line and there are views for miles of craggy snow capped peaks. And we saw a bear! And man can they move.  Bro this one wasn't going for a swim. After we reached the saddle at 13,000ft we got to run back to the start at 8,000ft. What took 3 hours to go up took me just over an hour to go down. What a hoot. So that was Day 9. I have been conned into running 2 sections tomorrow so it could be a long day. Yep, only 10 more sleeps. I guess I should think about a taper at some point. But there are so many trails and so little time............

Whoops, this is from July 1 on CR

Found an internet cafe over in Durango so thought I would update:
Day 5: Rest day. I needed it. Drove an hour to Ouray (lowest point of the race) to check out the route in and out of town. Walked 3 or 4 miles. Saw a deer in the kids playground. This place would feature on any alpine postcard. Ask UCB who stayed here last year.
Day 6: First day of course marking. We drove a couple of miles out of town to the Mineral Creek crossing that spooked me the other day. There is a rope across it now. (And the course director had been too wary to cross it until the rope was in so I felt better.) We climbed a long way up to Putnam Basin and eventually across the 12,600ft pass and down to the first aid station. This guy RUNS past the 20 of us as we are slogging up the hill. Turns out it is Kyle Skaggs, running with just a bottle in his hand. He is a contender. It was a long slow climb for some of us. Me and another guy turned around a mile before the checkpoint down in the valley and ran back. A solid 8 hour day. When we got back the creek had risen with the days snow melt. It reached my chest and I had trouble holding the rope in the current. They asked me next day how I got across (the other guy is over 6' tall). I said there was some aquaplaning!  
Day 7: Drove and car shuttled out to where we had finished the day before. Long climb up into snow country. Lots of post-holing through soft snow. And digging in so you don't slide down the huge snowbanks to the bottom of the mountain. Some spectacular frozen lakes up here. The last climb was on all fours. I was digging my hands into the lose gravel and hanging on. Turned out 4 of us (2 HR veterans) headed too far across the pass then had a tricky traverse. One lady (previous HR finisher) was suffering vertigo so we had to guide her across the ledge. 12,900', straight down both sides. We ate lunch then I had the honour of first over the edge. Holy crap I slid and scooted hundreds of feet before hitting the steep snow bank and sliding further on my arse. What a hoot. Just avoid the rocks! After getting back below the tree line the director let us run the last 2-3 miles ahead to the finish. Some amazing technical single track through the pines. There was only one car at the checkpoint so 10 of us had to run/hike another 3-4 miles up to 11,800' to the rest of the cars. I was stuffed.

That made over 40 hours and 120km of trails for the week.

Day 8: So today is a rest day! No course marking. One of the guys wanted me to go up Handies peak (14,000') today. After running back with him the other day and finding out he has run sub 24hrs at Massanutten I decided to stick to my rest day. 
Having a ball. 

And this from July 1 on CR

Hardrock lead-up from CR

I was using Coolrunning for my updates while in Colorado but thought I would paste them here to background my race report which is coming:


Thought of describing some of my prep and given I'm not big on blogs figured here would do:
So this is day 4 at Silverton. Think old American western movie. Picture the old saloon and boardwalk with dirt streets and the odd horse and cart. A steam train pulls into town once a day. All nestled in amongst some really spectacular mountains. There is a constant stream of tourists on the train, by the busload and on the classic touring motorbikes. If you've seen that movie where the 4 middle aged guys take off on bikes then you can picture the type. 
Day 1 I went for an easy 3 1/2 hour run/hike on the final few miles of the course. Unfortunately my course directions are in reverse to the direction I was travelling and I managed several detours.
Day 2 I headed out on the first few miles in the right direction. The first major creek crossing about 3 miles in pulled me up. It will be roped on race day and with the huge snow melt I decided against risking it on my own (and for Horrie who seems concerned that I need to HTFU: there have been 6 drownings in Colorado rivers this summer already plus a lady who fell from her horse into a creek and hasn't been found. So I treat these conditions with respect.  ). So I went back through town and out the other way again. I figure I will be doing that in the dark so the more times the better. 4hrs.
Day 3 Given that the course isn't marked yet I chose to hike up the nearest mountain instead. I didn't quite get to the 13,000 ft peak as I was running low on water and food so headed off track to the nearest peak. I just followed a goat track and came across a herd of elk grazing in an alpine meadow. Climbed a few snow banks and got to 12,200 ft. Sat in the sun and enjoyed the view for a while. Most spectacular scenery. Glissaded down a snow bank and then pounded the quads all the way back down the mountain. 3hrs up and one hour down! Total of 5 hours for the day. Waded into the local creek and let the icy snow melt cool my quads down.
Day 4 Was determined to find the pass that eluded me on day 1. Still managed to miss a few turns on the way up and went explorng but eventually found a runner who has done 5 HRs and he pointed me in the right direction. Still hard to navigate. Some of the trail is little more than animal tracks. Climbed high and got just below the 13,000ft pass when a big snow bank (with huge drop-off) and looming thunder clouds persuaded me it was time to turn back. One minute it was warm sunshine. The next it was snowing. Then sun again. Another pounding descent and thigh soaking to finish my run. 6hrs.

Course marking starts on Saturday so I will get out to see more of the course. Can't wait. Trail runner heaven.