A Very Personal Story of Courage Part 4
New challenges and more heartache
With a number of 5Ks done I set myself the challenge of a 10K, the SheRunsHeRuns 10K at Bluewater, 12 August, 2007. What a hilly race – I don’t like hills and will avoid them at all costs if I can! Liz Yelling was doing this race and I was so lucky that at about the 500m to go mark she came running to find me and encouraged me to finish. The announcer said my name as I crossed the line and said that I was finishing with a smile on my face! I was – I had finished in just under an hour, was absolutely ecstatic and so proud to be wearing my running4women vest. Thank you Liz, you will never know how much your encouragement meant to me that day.
My next race was a Cancer Research 10K at Bowood Park, near Chippenham, in September, which was hilly and very crowded with runners. I finished in 1:04:41.
Finally for 2007 I entered the Running4Women Brighton 8K in October. The family came to cheer me on and to help give out the medals and drinks at the end. I loved this race along the seafront in brilliant autumn sunshine. I was surprised to see my mum and dad cheering me, having travelled down from home. I finished in just under 46 mins so was very pleased. This was the last time that R4W was able to hold this race and I feel very privileged to have been able to take part in it.
So, that was 2007 done running wise. By the end of the year I really felt like me again, running was a huge part of my life – and I had filled in some more pages of my photograph album!
In the New Year I decided I wanted to run another half marathon – I had only done one before, just before my op, so was eager to see if I could do the distance again. I booked a place for the Reading Half on 2 March.
I love running through the winter months and going out early in the morning. The world is such a different place then, less cars, less fumes, beautiful sunrises and, even though I live near to the M25, we do have a few parks and woodland to run through and to see the birds and animals early in the morning is such a lovely sight. My training went very well and race day soon came round.
My family came with me to Reading – what a fabulous atmosphere! I had never taken part in a race with so many runners before, it was brilliant! Local people were cheering us round, offering jelly babies and snacks and keeping our morale up. The course had a few hills in it, but nothing too challenging. I finished in 2:20:30 and promised myself that I would return the next year and better my time!
A week or two after the Reading Half I met up with a girl I had made friends with in hospital. We had kept in touch after we left hospital and supported each other – she had to wear a colostomy bag as well and we used to call each other bag ladies! She had been in hospital for ovarian cancer and had had major surgery and was such a positive person – she was back in the gym before I started running again. Little did I know that when we met in March I would never see her again …
A couple of weeks later she rang to tell me that on her birthday her hubby had taken her to London to see a show and she had tripped up in a restaurant beforehand. She had a very bad back and was having to use a wheelchair as she was in so much pain. It was only after more tests at the hospital that they told her her cancer had returned and spread and they had very little hope of being able to stop it. She had a young daughter, and husband – life really was unfair.
I was determined to keep running, for both of us.
My next race was a local one, the Staines 10K in May 2008. It was good not to have to drive miles for a race, this was literally 10 minutes from home. It was sunny but not too hot. I finished the race in 57:53, my 10K PB! After that I did some parkruns and managed to set a PB of 26:27! (If only I could do that time now!)
Early in June I had my yearly CT scan and everything was fine. Later that month I took part in the Bananaman 10K in aid of Leukaemia Research, held at Kempton Park. It was so windy that day – for every step I tried to run forward I got blown back 3! I finished in 1:01:56.
Losing a friend
My friend’s husband had been letting me know how she was doing – she didn’t want visitors so I respected her wishes and didn’t push asking to see her. Towards the end of June she was moved to a hospice … she was there for less than a day before she lost her battle. I felt so much for her family. Regrettably, her husband didn’t let me know that she had passed away, I didn’t even know when her funeral was. It was only that I happened to ring him and he said he was looking for me at the crematorium and that I was mentioned in her obituary that he realised I wasn’t there – and wondered why. He was absolutely distraught that he hadn’t told me. I tried to tell him that what had happened had happened, in times of such heightened emotions things do get forgotten but I really regret that I wasn’t able to pay my respects to her on the day.
But I remember always how proud she was of me for getting back to running – its funny how someone you know for a relatively short period of time can have a profound impact on your life. Losing my friend reinforced to me how short life can be and I promised myself I would keep running, for us both.
Next time – more races and a much happier end to 2008!