If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on now
‘Cause there’s too many places I’ve got to see
Six years ago I was lying in a bed in Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton wondering what my future was. I had had a cancerous tumour removed from me, along with a section of bowel and part of my rectum. I had tubes coming into and out of everywhere, and I mean everywhere. The canulla in the back of hand was the very worst. Every movement pulled and irritated. My hand was sore, bruised and swollen. Over the four weeks I was in hospital, the nurses tried both hands and were considering where else to put them.
One of the Sisters was a keen runner and I would ask her daily about her runs. The nurses all worked so hard I found it impossible that they could find time for a hobby. Running is more than a hobby though. It’s me time. Time for quiet contemplation. Time for me to with likewise people and chat your woes away. Oh, and it’s also exercise!
This Sister was just what I needed, a Godsend. Her stories of her runs were an insight into the world I wanted to return to and I looked forward to her rounds to hear of her runs but I felt my future running was well away especially as any future for me was far away.
Forward six years to the present. I’m running. It’s a fabulous experience. All those wonderful feelings are coming back. The anxieties of running with other runners, of racing and feelings of being in such company. But most of all, how would my fellow club runners receive me on my return? Sadly, the NHS don’t provide guidance after care. You just seem to be thrown out and without actually saying it ‘get over it’. I was lost to the system for a year and then they asked me why? I don’t blame the nurses but the administration who have to ask questions about themselves and sadly I’m not the the exception.
Running this week was a prime example to my particular problems of running after bowel cancer. To dash into the sand dunes and bushes to defaecate 4 times during a 5 mile run is not normal. It’s embarrassing, depressing and soul destroying. After 6 years it feels there is no possible improvement. I’ve got by in half marathons but can I really run a marathon again? Sometimes I wish my previous pre cancer life was my legacy but it seems I must carry on.
Running another marathon is on my wish list. Christ, I know I will not be as fast as I was but I need to prove to myself and other cancer survivors that there is a life afterwards. It represents one last great effort if only to myself. So I registered my interest in the Brighton Marathon. I’ve ran London plenty of times so I figured let others run that. After all I’m looking for a difference, a fresh marathon to start my holistic rehabilation into distant running although a trail marathon would have been ideal and could still be an option.
The London Marathon was a vision of Chris Brasher, a pacemaker for Roger Bannister’s historic first 4 minute mile, to equal the New York Marathon and improve the standard of marathon and long distance running in the UK. Sorry to say this but now it’s become a freak show for charity runners and it’s charity sponsorship over quality.
I’ve booked myself onto an England Athletics coaches course. Normally the adage is never change unless something is broken but sometimes things need bringing a fresh outlook, a different voice or face or point of view. Tracey Thomas will join me and she has so much enthusiasm for her potential role as a coach. I hope we can provide what our runners need. I’m also working on a Couch to 5k programme to commence in the New Year.
I realise I’m now very cynical probably an age thing maybe but running has to to be open to all and not just for the elite or the park runners. Many good quality club runners have no chance in running the London Marathon for instance and that race is considered the Golden Egg of races.
Park run performs a great purpose in introducing runners and walkers into regular exercise but what about the next step, that’s not really thought about and running clubs have the duty to provide the link. As club captain, I’ve looked into this and no advice is given from England Athletics. It is two seperate enerties it seems.
The onus is forced back onto the club and their coaches and run leaders to try and bridge any gap. This causes a great problem to provide the right progress route for all. Okay there’s no park runs at the moment but our club has been flooded with people wanting to step up this last 12 months and adequate help hasn’t been available.