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The other side

Running near Moab in Utah in 2012.

There's little doubt now that I will never run another sub-3 hour marathon.  So, you may ask, why is this blog continuing?

I always had at the back of my mind a plan to use these blog posts as raw material for a book that would organise the content more coherently, and hopefully, encourage people to run and explore their potential.  In a perfect world, the climax of the story would have been a sub-3 hour marathon, but life is seldom perfect, and this blog has morphed into a diary of ageing and its challenges to the obsessed runner.

Writing a blog post almost every day is not necessary, of course, but it's a good discipline on me to generate content and it also serves as a diary to record my thoughts and emotions on this part of life's journey if I do ever come to write a book.

Running the half-marathon leg in a relay Half Ironman
with my siblings in Geelong in 2010.

You never know how you will deal with serious health issues when they arrive.  I have had recent first-hand experience of friends diagnosed with cancer and pulmonary embolisms and it's hard to know how they are feeling about their condition, or what to say to them without seeming patronizing or out-of-touch with their reality.  Now I'm starting to see it from the other side of the fence.

One thing that has surprised me is how fatalistic I feel about it all.  Of course, I will do everything I can to get well, run again and have a long life.  But, suddenly, it's conceivable that none of these things will happen.  When you learn that the mortality rate from undiagnosed pulmonary embolisms is 26% and you have episodes when you feel your heart beating at 235 beats per minute (that's nearly four beats per second!) and your blood pressure crashing, a new reality dawns.

A member of the Tiffin Boys Grammar School Cross-
Country team (sitting on the grass) in 1967 in London.

Much to Sharon's concern, I have started getting my life in order, making sure my records aren't in too much of a mess, that my will is current, and that everything important can be found relatively easily.  If the worst suddenly happened, and it could always be an ill-timed truck, rather than a health problem, I want the clean-up to be as easy as possible.

"What ifs" don't figure at all in my thinking.  I have always been an advocate, when decisions arise, of gathering as much information as feasible, making a careful analysis, and choosing the best apparent option.  Once done, no regrets and no looking back wondering "what if".  Although there are many things I still want to do, experience and see, I can honestly say that I have had a full and interesting life.  If the lights went out tomorrow, I would be more worried about the impact on my loved ones than any missed opportunities of my own.

My exercise for today consisted of nine holes of golf with friends, Dave and Bruce, on a beautiful sunny morning.  Sadly, the conditions were not matched by my form.  I played quite badly for the first six holes, and more worryingly, had some episodes when I could feel my heart pounding and my blood pressure dropping while dragging my buggy up small hills.  This was a new and disheartening (literally) experience on the golf course, but my mood lifted somewhat as I parred the last three holes, something I can never remember doing before.