This is the most difficult thing that I have had to write on this website. I have pulled out of the race! What happened? I am not really sure to be honest. The last 3 weeks have been a turmoil of diappointment, worry and heartbreak. I went for an ECG and final medical about 3 weeks ago as required by the race organizers. I have anual medicals as a commercial diver every year and with the huge amount of training I have been doing I did not expect it to be an issue. However the ECG trace showed some irregularities and a missing P-Wave. My GP put it down to Athletic Heart Syndrome - he knows me well, knows the training I have been doing, undertakes my diving medicals and there would be no reason for him to have suspected anything else.
Anyway, I posted the results on the MdS Forums and a couple of the doctors wrote to highlight their concerns. As a result I asked for another ECG. In between I went for a run - the plan had been 8 miles but after about 5 I was knackered. No energy - felt really strange, legs wouldn't work, light headed. The wierd thing was the heart rate monitor. That went up to 165 before I had got around the corner and when I worked a bit harder I toppped 202. Silly machine thinks I, it must need the battery changing. I confirmed in my own mind that it must have been the machine when 30 minutes later after I had "recovered" it was still reading 108.
Anyway, I went to have a further check at another hospital, the plan being to do an exercise ECG to confirm that it was indeed AHS; in my own mind by this time I knew it was something else as I started to feel really lethargic and lacking in any energy at all. Even going up the stairs was starting to get me out of breath.
The hospital confirmed that I had an atrial flutter, the left atrium beating about 150 times a minute, increasing the pulse to about 70 odd. Effectively I had a dicky ticker and the only way of solving it would be to thin the blood with 4 weeks of drugs (to ensure that any clots that might have formed in the ineffective atrium did not flake off and cause problems elsewhere i.e the brain!) followed by a cardioversion, where they stop the heart with a shock and then the sinoatrial node can start it up again at the normal pace.
As you can imagine, I am not really in the right state to run 151 miles across the desert - I wouldn't get past the start line anyway. So, with a lump in my throat I have pulled out. The good news is that all the sponsors have been great and supportive and that I should be able to get a place in next years race in 12 months time. I hope that everyone who has donated will be happy to let me keep their donations for another year - and then I can get to complete what I have started.
Looking on the bright side ... yes there is one .... it could have been a lot worse. The speed of change in my condition has been scary - thank goodness it didn't happen in the desert where my mental state would have forced me to go on no matter what; that might have been bad! I took out insurance for the hefty £3000 entrance fee so should be getting that back so I can pay for another entry fee (there are no refunds!) and I should be able to get a place on next years race given the circumstances of my withdrawal. So really it means I have another 12 months to prepare and train as well as write up equipment reviews. And it also means that I have another 12 months to collect money for charity. As I said on an email to my sponsors - I am still in the game, there is just a bit of a long half time coming up. What caused it? No one seems to know. It could have been the result of training too hard, but it has happened and I am now working towards a new goal which is getting fit again and being able to compete in 2010.