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

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.