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

Thursday, July 14, 2016

It's time for the big dance in the San Juans.

Wifi has been worse than patchy at our motel room but meanwhile the Hardrock juggernaut has rolled into town. Runners became more conspicuous. I won't say we now outnumber the all-terrain vehicle fraternity but at least you can feel a little more comfortable in running kit. You know it's real when the actual Hardrock appears outside the gym and you meet Kilian Jornet outside your motel room. Literally.

Monday 11th: while conscious of needing to wind it back still, after getting all cranky after having a rest day on Saturday we decided to go for a short run. We headed back out past Kendall Mtn ski hill along the final few kilometres of the course. I love that singletrack. The sun had just climbed over Kendall and was piercing the tall spruce and lighting up the wildflowers in the grassy clearings. Pinch yourself.

We took a few obligatory pics (will add when I get home) but they never seem to do justice to the scale, the colour, the brightness, the sheer grandeur of the place. We turned around at the white hut. This signifies just 4kms to the finish and I love going past it during the race, knowing I am on the home straight. Well as straight as Hardrock gets. About 8km. Stats 92% O2 & 64bpm on rising. Feeling good. Ready to run.

Tuesday 12th: just for something completely different and to turn the legs over (and burn up some nervous energy) we trotted down to the local athletics track. The term applies pretty loosely. Basically it is a 400m bitumen track with a few weeds growing through strategically on the bends. I jog-walked in true Hardrock style. Spud ran a few wind-sprints down the straights to see how his heart rate compared to his altitude gym sessions back home. I felt breathless watching him and I think he lapped me 4 times. I guess that's the difference between a 35 & 45 hour runner. Easy 4 or 5km. Stats 95% & 66bpm. Importantly heart behaving.

We drove over to Durango for some groceries. And look for any last minute gear additions.

Wednesday 13th: official activities kick off with registration. Tim Olsen wanders past our window. Kilian checks out of our motel to move in with the Salomon team. I say hi to Joe Grant and give his dog a pat to get my dog homesickness fix. I head out for another very easy trot on my own to the beaver dam again. I run into 2 of the legends of the past out clearing the trail with a small chainsaw: Jim Ballard and Rolland Perry. That's what really makes this race so great is the way people come back year after year even when they can no longer run it, just to help out and be a part of it. I chatted for a while until the mossies became a pest and continued onto to the dam. That fresh pine forest scent just filled the air. I drank it in, picturing myself coming through here on Saturday night.

The school gym has been transformed into Hardrock central. I got my wrist band, hiking permit, picked up my goodies bag, purchased some new Altras and spent ages catching up with old trail friends. The hall was a buzz and the energy was infectious. We went to the Tailwind talk and got a bunch of sachets off Gavin and Rebecca who will also crew for Phil during the race. We sat in on the "meet the board" session and were surprised how few attended. But it was a great opportunity to hear about the behind the scenes decision making processes. We caught up with Dale, the RD and had a great chat.

The day ended with a premiere screening of Kissing the Rock, mini doco about last years race. It was a great film capturing the real motivation and sentiment behind a few runners including Anna Frost and Billy Simpson. The prelude was a preview of a mini doco about a winter ski traverse of the Hardrock course. By the end of the 2 films if you weren't freaking out about what you were in for, you hadn't been watching! Stats 97% & 64bpm.

Tomorrow, Thursday is briefing and informal dinner. And drop bags of course. I am as ready as I can be. 4 months of solid training. Incorporating regular pilates under physio supervision to help rehab my back. Weekly massages with Bengt. Solid weekly totals over 100km. As many 50km plus runs as possible. With plenty of double weekends. 2 weeks acclimatisation including a week of solid 4hr mountain hike/runs. There is a common saying that you arrive at the start of a 100miler in you best shape and arrive at the finish line a day or 2 in the worst shape of your life. I have been in better shape but not after the hiccups I have had. So I am happy as I can be with my prep. My pacer pulled out today with a family emergency. But that happens and I kind of prefer to do it the old school way without crew or pacer. Time will tell if that bites me on the arse but that is the nature of this run. There are so many unknowns and it will challenge me beyond comprehension but that is part of the attraction. Here's hoping I can rise to the occasion one more time.

Ed note: I can't edit this due to crappy wifi so please excuse typos until I get home and can edit and add some pics. And hopefully a race report.

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