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A new challenge

Terrigal Trotters gather after their Santa Run
The New Year has brought some additional challenges in my quest to run a last sub-3 hour marathon.  When I started this blog, I thought my goal was possible rather than probable, and now it seems closer to impossible than possible.

Following my underwhelming Melbourne Marathon effort back in October 2013 (see post), my training was consistently around 100km per week up until Christmas and I could feel my fitness improving significantly.  Enough, in fact, to begin plotting my race calendar for 2014, culminating in another sub-3 hour marathon attempt at the Gold Coast Marathon in early July.  I entered races such as the Bogong to Hotham 64km in January and the Six Foot Track 45km in March, optimistic that, barring the unforeseen, I would do well in both.

Unfortunately, "the unforeseen" has arrived.  At the Terrigal Trotters Santa Run, on the Saturday preceding Christmas, I struggled around the 10km course for no apparent reason, breathing particularly hard on the hills.  It was warm and humid, I was wearing an Elf costume, and I had run 37km (comfortably) in training three days earlier, so I wrote it off to a combination of those factors.  Over the next three days, I ran just 10-15km daily, and didn't push the pace, but still felt fatigued and short of breath.  I even walked up a couple of steeper hills, a rarity, and quite demoralising.  I survived a long-planned 35km Boxing Day trail run with friends by running conservatively the whole way, and hoped that successful completion might have signalled some kind of recovery.

Me (centre) getting ready for the Trotters Santa Run,
unaware of my Pulmonary Embolism and how hard I
was going to find the run.
Sadly, two days later, I could only shuffle around the monthly Trotters 10km Hill Time Trial in 56 minutes, some 13 minutes slower than I should have been able to manage.  This convinced me something was wrong, and not getting better.  On returning home, I spent some time Googling my symptoms.  The most likely explanation seemed to be Pulmonary Embolism (PE) a condition that can quickly become fatal and requires urgent medical attention.  I didn't feel "on the edge" so resolved to visit my local Medical Centre the next morning.  The duty doctor thought PE unlikely, since I had no symptoms of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT),  but alarmingly, thought some kind of heart condition probable.  Nevertheless, she took my concerns seriously and prescribed a series of tests to check for heart and lung issues.

Being the Sunday between Christmas and New Year, I had to wait until the next day to get the first tests done and a Pulmonary Angiogram found evidence of PE in both lungs.  Often this would lead to immediate hospitalisation, but since I seemed otherwise healthy and stable, I was sent directly back to the doctor where I was given an injection of the anti-coagulant Clexane in the stomach and prescribed another anti-coagulant, Warfarin.  More tests were prescribed to try and determine the source of the original clotting, which I gather could include cancer, heart problems or injury.

Now, three days later, I'm still trying to come to terms with how this is going to change my life.  After more extensive Googling, it seems the best case scenario is that the clots are resolved by the anti-coagulant and I cease taking the Warfarin in three months and return to my pre-PE life.  The worst case scenario is that the PE is symptomatic of a more serious condition.  I feel healthy, when not running up hills, and have a sort of instinctive confidence that there is nothing seriously wrong.  On the other hand, I strive to be a rational being and know I'm getting older, I frequently test my body to its limits, and some time, barring accidents, a medical condition will lead to my demise.

I'm restarting this blog with the intention of tracking my progress through treatment and towards the Gold Coast Marathon in July.  At this stage, I really have no idea whether I will be running.  Chances are that I won't bother unless I feel fit enough to threaten 3 hours.  Right now, this seems a very slim chance, but I'm keen to try.