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Here’s my story.

A few years ago now I had three gorgeous Labradors who kept me busy and fit and healthy.. one by one they passed on and life just wasn’t the same after that.. the daily walks were over, the busy lifestyle suddenly fizzled out, the trips to the pub got ever more frequent and the weight piled on.

One day as the scales almost hit 14 stone I decided enough was enough and I had to get fit and drop weight .. not an easy thing to do at 45 but I had to give it a try.

At the time I was in a very sedentary position at work but I was alone at work.. no one around all night and a huge empty warehouse at my disposal.. so, I decided I’d start running and change my diet.

The diet change was drastic .. I tried all the things that you should eat and more .. with the running and the weights and yoga I was doing, the weight fell off over a period of about a year.. I felt great as I’d dropped down to 11 stone .. a size 30 waist and an Xsmall tshirt .. life was looking good.

It was around this time that I started getting really bad eczema on my elbows and scalp .. and also the time I started with bad stomach cramps and bloating on a regular basis. The cramps in my abdomen felt as if someone had a knife sticking in me and they were turning the blade.. it was really bad. My doctors were baffled for a while and blamed it on my new exercise regime and whatever else they could think of. Finally they gave in to my demands and I was sent for a Colonoscopy, a fascinating experience if you can bear to watch it on the live tv screen as they delve further into your colon. The results were clear of all traces of anything bad so no further forward for a while until one day they decided I had IBS. Ground breaking result from my gp who had been ruling out diverticulitis and IBS for a while, but now here they were telling me I do have IBS.. now go away and live with it. No miracle cures, no medication no nothing.

I ended up researching it on the internet and found the fodmap way .. it was tough at first, getting to know a whole new concept of eating while still trying to stay fit and healthy but one day after another I got there in the end.. through reintroductions and trying new things, I finally have a diet that’s good for me, it will fuel my running needs and even more or less cured my eczema just by cutting out dairy. All this from researching the internet and actioning the new way of life.

So here I am today living and loving life to the full .. almost free of the crap that goes with IBS .. the odd slip up in diet does let me know that I am STILL an IBS sufferer but through determination I have got to this stage.

Through talking about this condition and sharing with fellow sufferers along the way it has become an easier way of life than the suffering I was made to think was normal way back at the beginning of my journey.

So, now aged 51 I feel as if I have got my life back .. on My terms and in my control.

The next chapter in my life is about to start, as I embark on a new challenge.

 


 

A Story from September 2018 Swindon Half marathon.

 

IBS - The struggle within
Sunday 9th September 2018 Swindon half marathon, the event I had eagerly awaited coming round again after successfully running it last year.
As I live local I train on a lot of the route week in week out, put in the time and the effort and was feeling optimistic at gaining a good time .. maybe not better than last years 01:49:28 as, a few months ago I had a torn ACL ligament in my right knee which slowed me down for while till it healed, but I was gaining back my confidence and speed for this local race.

The day started off great, the weather was dry and cloudy..perfect running weather.. I’m not a hot runner, hate running in the heat so what a result for this September morning.
After an almost 3 mile walk from home to the start line, group photos with my running club and various other folks we lined up for the off.
The start went well and was off to a great start ahead of the 01:45 pacers .. I like to start fast and then I know I have time to slow it down later in the race then drop in a fast finish.
The first 4 Miles were a dream.. didn’t even get out of breath, the training had helped no doubt ... I was feeling confident that I’d at least get near my last years finish time.

Coming up to mile 5 I needed to go to the toilet .. at 51 yrs old with an age enlarged prostate , it’s nothing new. Something I’m used to now. Although something else happened along the way .. pressure started building in my left hand side ... something I dread in any race or training run.. it starts off almost as a stitch kind of feeling as most runners have experienced I’m sure.But then it slowly moves along to both sides of my abdomen until it meets with the right hand side.The pressure is so intense it flaws me for a few seconds so I have to slow it down and take in water and walk for a short while. The intense feeling in my guts is now making me feel like I need to empty my colon .How far are the next toilets is all that’s now embedded in my thoughts..any thoughts of picking up the pace again have now gone from my head..all I can focus on is the pain in my guts and if I will actually get to the porta loos in time.
Grumbling stomach and abdominal pains are just the worst thing to happen right now, as is always the case with my symptoms, it’s almost like someone has stabbed me in the right hand side of my abdomen and is slowly turning the knife .. that’s the only way I can describe the awful pains I’m suffering right now.
My pace is now flatlining and any hopes of a good time are dwindling by the very second, but I will not let it stop my race .. I cannot let my head make me stop running.. sure now it’s more of a jog than a run, but I’m carrying on..I’m fighting this condition that’s just hit me dead on yet again .. no warning, no let up, no way of stopping it doing its thing. Something any IBS sufferer will know for sure.
The miles come and go and fellow running club members and total strangers alike, all take the time out out to push me forward, to ask if I’m alright, to care enough that I’m not going to give in or worse, collapse or pass out in front of them.. the running community is great at times like these and it makes me proud to be one of them.
Slow pace now and intermittent walking up the slight inclines and managing to pick up some speed on the downhills..every little helps..The pains haven’t gone away but are subsiding a little. Enough to allow me to keep on fighting, to keep on pushing myself to the limits of what’s left in me.
Feeling demoralised as the 01:45 and 01:50 pacers pass me by along the route.. I knew I was fighting a battle now.. the 01:55 pacers passed me too .. I wanted to give in, I wanted to cry, I wanted to just crawl up into a ball at the side of the road, but no .. that’s not what I came here to do.. I came here to finish and that’s what I’m going to do.. my times weren’t that bad that I was going to give up at this point. Mile eleven was just around the corner, with just over 2 Miles to the finish line .. This is the worst part of the course here in Swindon .. a lot of uphill sections before a hill that I’ve been training on recently, one I know I can do now.. one I can conquer at a decent pace and yet still carry on running at the top..
That point arrived around about 01:48 or somewhere round there..I knew I had to round up all I had left to get me back in front of the 02:00 hr pacers that had passed me a couple of minutes ago.. they were slowly going out of my sight ahead of me .. I wanted them to fall .. I wanted them to give in but that’s not what pacers do.. a pacers job is to help the rest of us runners to keep pace, to keep up, to keep that goal time in sight and in mind.. I know this as I have paced a few races myself.
So the hill arrives, it’s here, it’s what I’ve worked hard on this last few weeks to achieve a finish that I can be proud of..
I set off ... my guts were in a right State by now .. as well as the pain and the discomfort, fear of failing was adding to the whole thing.. there’s no escape.. pull on your big boy pants and give it all you’ve got, I told myself. Step after step I picked up the pace and ever more pangs of pain in my guts.. trying to drown it out in my head, telling myself I can do this, I can do this..
The training paid off as I conquered that hill, I conquered that pain, I managed to blank it out finally.
As I turned the next bend to the flat street my whole self lifted .. the sight of a street full of supporters, some familiar faces, lots of strangers .. hearing your name being shouted at this point is what drives us all forward .. the rush of Adrenalin that this gives you is immense .. it’s what we came for .. it’s what keeps us moving forward.. the downhill section is now upon me.. I can see the 2 hr pacers far ahead of me as I start the descent. Finally my chest opens up enough to grab me some well earned deep breaths as I race downhill as fast as my legs would now take me .. a shortish bend at the bottom of the hill and into the home straight.. the finish line is in sight.. pains aside I can’t do any more than I’ve done already, or can I?
As I get onto the straight I can see the finish line, I can see the 2 hr pacers, I can see the throng of supporters lining the street..it’s intense, it’s crazy, it’s beautiful to finally see that finish line in all its glory.. the pain in my sides, in my legs, in my heart are telling me to give up .. the mind isn’t going to allow me to do that.. I came here to finish, I came here to conquer this race again and today I’m going to have to do this to quash the pains of my IBS. So I look at the pacers.. I’m pretty sure I can catch them up, or at least finish with the two of them .. to finish in a respectable two hour limit, and to try and get ahead of some fellow club members I can see ahead of me on their final descent.
So I kicked my arse into gear .. threw aside the pains and the doubts and I went for it with all my strength, with all my heart and with everything I had left. Finally I gained enough momentum to pass fellow teammates, to pass the 02:00 hr pacers and also a few other fellow runners in my path..I had done it.. 01:59:00 on my garmin watch on my wrist.. I couldn’t breath for a few seconds as I crossed that finish line .. again I wanted to just curl up into a ball in even more pain now but I’d done it..done what I set out to do.
IBS lost the battle with me today

Official time was 01:59:01
Thank you to all of those today who egged me forward, who asked how I was, who told me to keep going, told me get back on the horse. You are all awesome.

Will this stop me ?
It may slow me down but it will never stop me trying to kick it’s sorry ass.. IBS affects so many of us in life..it’s a silent condition.. no one can tell you’ve got it, no one person has the same triggers, the same pains, the same symptoms but we all have that same urge to beat it and keep it at bay.. today it almost won but I will fight it every day.

 

Thank you for reading my story.

swindon half marathon time picture 2018

 

   

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