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, October 23, 2011

On the road to recovery I hope

It is now 7 weeks post ablation. Am I cured? No. But I am much better than I was. For that I am very grateful.

After returning to work and having another AF event and really sliding backwards I was worried that I had been through all that for nothing. But the ablation has made a difference, definitely: I have not had another AF attack for 4 weeks, the 'flip-flopping' has all but gone and when I run my heart has behaved for at least the last week. Until today, as if on cue it went ballistic for no apparent reason. I guess it is still 'two steps forward, one step back'. Or more like 'three steps forward, and a half step back'. I will take that. Any forward movement is good.

Last weekend I organised the third running of the Great Ocean Walk100s, 100km solo and 50+50km team relay race on the track of the same name. It was a huge effort to pull it all together. After months of preparation I started the set-up early in the week in case my physical limitations became an issue. I got through the week and a very stressful race day without drama. This was my biggest test yet and I passed that one. Had the race date been a month earlier I would never have gotten through it.

My next big test is the Great North Walk 100miler. I plan to run that in 3 weeks time. I will be off my medication by then so I am hoping that will help. But my lack of training and not having a run longer than 30km since March means I have very little endurance base to fall back on. GNW has been a focus for me. Something to get me off the couch. And trust me, that hasn't been easy. Every run, however ugly, I have thought of myself slogging through 175km of GNW. I have an unbroken streak going there and I want to maintain that. It won't be easy.

My friends, Larry and Beth from Hardrock run the Bear100 regularly. They have run it 5 times each. Must be a record for partners. It was just a few weeks back. Beth told me afterwards she had dedicated the last 25miles of the race to me (each of the first 3 x 25miles she ran for her 3 children), knowing I was sick and not able to do what she was doing. Not able to do what I love doing. It helped motivate her to keep going when things got tough. I was touched when she told me. I have a close friend who is really, really sick. I will be running GNW for her.

So often we use ultrarunning as a metaphor for our lives. We wax lyrical about the journey and the destination. It is easy to overthink these things and make them more complicated than they need be. A friend told me today that we don't really control our lives. I don't totally agree. I like to think we do have some control. Just as I like to think I do have some control over my race coming up. I have been dealt a blow with my heart health issues but I am still running. I have tried to take back some control. Same with GNW. I will be running for the simple joy of being able to compete once again. I will try to control as many of the variables as I can. And in the back of my mind I will be thinking of my friend and how her journey is coming to an end. Way too early. And my troubles will seem insignificant and hopefully I will finish my race with pride, dignity and humility. And simply be grateful.