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, June 05, 2016

A date at the Prom

Given I have a trip planned to Hardrock again in just under 6 weeks I thought it was time to resurrect the blog to document the lead-up and the run itself.

Yesterday saw the annual pilgrimage to the Prom. After only managing 70 odd km last year going in off my ankle injury (avulsion with torn ligaments) and then walking a very sick runner out via the short route, I was back for another crack at the full 100.

Trying to work out how many Proms I have run is tricky as the old results are not on the website. First race was 2000 which is the only one I have missed. There have been 2 cancellations (fire and flood) and at least one shortened to 80km due to track closures. I ran 44, 60, 80 then started the 100s. So I think this year makes 9 x 100km from 14 starts. Happy to be corrected.

This year saw the date pushed into June (shorter day, likely worse weather), limit expanded up to close to 200, and the course reversed so we did the 20km loop first before the 80km. (Designed to stop people being able to pull out at the 80km mark-not a fan.)

I have experienced some pretty bad weather at the Prom. In 2003 only 2 of us started. I stopped at 80km borderline hypothermic after being soaked through all day in gale force winds with next to zero visibility after dark in the fog. The other runner, Amanda Allen, went back out in the early hours of the morning and hit snow on top of Mt Bishop. That was the worst year. This years race now ranks second for bad weather.

I have been doing 50km training runs most weekends for a few weeks but this was the first big one for the year. I started at the back of the field, planning to keep it very easy. I followed a procession of headlights onto the Lilly Pilly loop and they went the wrong way, heading clockwise. For many years runners randomly went either direction so I didn't worry, thinking the whole field had gone the wrong way.

Apparently not. The leaders started passing us half way up Bishop. Then we had fast runners coming down with slower runners going up. All under headlight. Not ideal. No views unfortunately and then on the way down my patella locked up painfully. I hadn't had that happen since it happened on the same descent back in 2007. That year it went on to be a major injury leading into Western States. Bugger. A short time later, I did it again climbing over rocks out on Pillar Point. This could be a problem.

Back at Tidal River I stretched my quad/psoas and repeated this a couple of time through the day. Apart from a little restriction all good. Better to discover this recurrence with time to address it.

The day was wet and windy. Very. I was soaked through from start to finish. I wore a long merino top with a full length jersey over that, plus polar fleece arm warmers, plus a windshirt over the top. I had my waterproof jacket on for the first couple of hours, off for the middle part of the day (out of the wind) and then on from afternoon to the finish. I had merino gloves with bike gloves over the top. I had waterproof mitts that I also wore in the night. I had a buff under my cap with the hood of both jackets up over my head all day. The first few hours I had a merino balaclava on as well. Bottom half were dryfit mini-shorts plus 3/4 running tights and long outer shorts over the whole lot. Feet, injinjis and I had my new Altra Olympus 2.0 and they were superb in the sloppy mud, wet rocks, sand, river crossings and hard packed access roads. And I was cold pretty much all day. Really cold.

I ran alone most of the day apart from a few stretches with Anthony Metcalf from Wagga and catching up with Paul Todd who I had helped out last year. Both these were early on. The rest of the day was a solo sojourn apart from passing, being passed or the out and backs.

The track across to Sealers was a skating rink with deep, slippery mud and soft leaf litter. It was really chopped up. After the dodgy knee thing I took it easy. The river at Sealers was deep. The tide was up when Anthony and I crossed. Mid to high thigh deep. What's a bit more water.

Sealers to Refuge to Waterloo was hard work and not much chance to get into any rhythm. But I was making solid progress.

The climb from Telegraph track junction to Roaring Meg junction seemed to take forever. With low cloud, rain and no views and my hood cinched close around my face, the world was a narrow focus of the track right in front of me.

The Roaring Meg singletrack was a river. It was deep and muddy. Impossible to run despite the gentle descent. Approaching the campground the heavens opened. By the time I got my waterproof jacket on I had cold rain water running down my back. It bucketed down. I started thinking about skipping Southpoint (and accepting a DNF) for safety reasons. There were 2 tents in camp. The bright yellow Macpac tent was sitting in a pool of water. When I came back they had packed up and gone despite it being close to dark. Poor buggers.

I headed down to Southpoint regardless and crossed path with a few runners. Susan Keith had just a tshirt on. We stopped to chat and I encouraged her to get her jacket on! Eventually I was at the bottom of mainland Australia. The rocky outcrop with the plaque 39* 08' 21' marking the southern most point was a lonely, cold, windy sentinel. I was glad I came down here. It is a special place, rugged, wild and isolated.

By the time I got back to the camp ground it was dark. I dug out my head lamp and headed for the lighthouse. It took forever to get there. The track past the heli-pad was confusing in the dark with wide puddles and gravel paths everywhere. The wind was howling and the warm lights from inside the buildings were very appealing.

The next section to Waterloo was tough. Overgrown, muddy, slippery and windy. And wet. With my head down I walked straight into a downed tree. Smack, bang into my forehead. I staggered for a bit to recompose and then ducked under the tree only to headbutt another branch on the other side and nearly knocked myself out. I then slipped and nearly went off the track. OK regroup and take things easy but having to look up now was a nuisance as the rain hit my face.

Waterloo beach seemed to go on forever. I am used to running this beach late afternoon. I love this beach. It was very different in the dark, wet, windy. A guy that was close behind me at the lighthouse was on the beach behind me and we leap frogged on the track back to Telegraph while we each had to change lights.

Finally on Oberon Beach, I caught up to Olivia, George and Mark for the 3rd time for the day. They were doing the 60km loop. I walked the beach with them to show them the crossing. It was shallow but really strong. But the wind and horizontal rain was unbelievable. It was hard to stand up yet alone walk into it. Visibility was terrible. I could see the boulders and just headed to the right, knowing we would find the track eventually. Yells of relief when we got out of the wind. I bid adieu getting too cold walking and started running.

I didn't realise there was no-one else still out on the course and that I was last in the 100. It was a quiet unceremonial finish in 17:32 with Paul awarding me a Freddo frog and a lamington. I wanted to wait for Liv to finish her first ultra but I was getting cold. Thank goodness I had a bed in a hut with a hot shower waiting for me.  

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