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, July 23, 2011


this was the run
note the flat terrain 
but high heartrate through 
the middle section

There has been heaps of complaining on the Hardrock yahoo email list. It happens periodically but the latest burst has been unusually venomous. It all revolves around the lottery process and entry criteria. All good races suffer from popularity pressure these days. But as a race director it wears a little thin. It smacks of selfishness. You can please some of the people some of the time. But in lotteries those that miss out will often find fault. Me, I have been lucky with the lottery. I would love to have been there this year but things happen. There are people dying of famine, drought, flood, disease and violent causes all over the world. Hardrock, all said and done, is just a race. If you miss the lottery move on.

I have been driving my mother-in-law to the rehab hospital the last few weeks while I have been off work. She had her leg amputated nearly 2 years ago and they are trying to fit her with a prosthetic leg. It is a huge effort trying to learn to walk again, especially given her age and that it is an above knee amputation. Other amputees come and go from the gym while I wait. They are not all old people, far from it. It is a salient reminder of how lucky we are to be able to run.

I ran today. On my favourite trail. It was slow but magical. I felt OK for a change, well relatively speaking. Perhaps it was just the place. I love it down there. I have plans organised for a race on this course but that is on hold until I have the energy to deal with it. I am ever optimistic that I will get over this problem. The tide was coming in but we still made it along the beach with some rock scrambling around the exposed headland. There has been a heap of track maintenance and the surface was great. Several times I felt like opening up on the downhills but know better. But despite taking it very easily my heartrate continued to spike. Even on the long flat beach section. Rapid unexplainable accelerations. And then dropping back just as fast.

On the drive home I was in full-on AF with my heartrate hitting 236bpm at rest. And rather uncomfortable as you might imagine. It continued for some time at home and I was tempted to take a flecainide but eventually it settled. The weirdest sensation after these events is that my heart actually feels relaxed and genuinely tired. Is that physically possible? Almost the same contented tiredness you feel after a solid run. Seems my heart is running it's own race. I just can't keep up with it. One day we will be back in synch. I hope.
this was my heartrate after the run

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