I got into running about 20 years ago, starting with a Cancer Research 5k back when I was at university. I quickly got ‘the bug’ and signed up for pretty much every event I could find, running mostly 5 and 10ks, but also completing two half marathons and two marathons.
My job as a vet meant that I did not have the most regular hours, and as running is something you can do any time, anywhere, it fitted with my life perfectly. It also gave me some time to be outdoors, and explore areas I wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise seen.
Then 10 years ago I became pregnant with my daughter. The pregnancy wasn’t the easiest, but I stayed relatively active when possible. I had my pregnancy plan all written out, however it seemed my body hadn’t read the plan! My daughter came as a perfect little bundle, but the retained placenta I had left me in a rather bad place.
After nearly losing my life, the surgeons managed to ‘repair’ me, however it left me incontinent. At first I thought “this is what all mothers go through, it will pass”. But it didn’t. This wasn’t simply during a cough, or a laugh, or high impact exercise. It would happen when I stood, walked or even stood still. Every moment of my day was determined by what my body would do.
I did manage to get a surgical procedure done to repair the damage – with the difficult decision that this would mean no more children. But it worked, I even managed to run again! However a year later, there were complications and I am no where I was 9 years ago. I have seen many doctors, undergone many tests, tried several other procedures, but my body is still not where I would like it to be.
For many years, I let it dictate what I did. No running, dark clothes, no skirts or dresses, only going to events where I knew where the nearest bathroom was. Saying no to many social gatherings ‘just in case’. But this year I decided that this was not living.
So I signed up for my first 10k in years. I started running again- alone (I still can’t make myself run with others). I chose my outfits carefully, and always wore incontinence pants. Some days did not go well, and I’d have to stop my run short. But I did not let my body stop me.
When it came to race day, I was nervous. Would I be able to complete it? I knew that my physical level was there- but would my bladder cooperate? Would someone notice what I was wearing? What if I had to stop, what would I do, where would I go?
The whole time I ran, I was nervous- sometimes my bladder gives way after a few minutes, but sometimes it’s after a much longer time- so there was no relaxing. But I was determined. For myself and for my daughter. To show her that you can overcome difficulties. That you don’t have to hide.
…And so, on Sunday the 30th of October, I completed my first 10k in years (and in under an hour, so not too shabby!!) My body may not be what it should be, but it is still allowing me to move. I just need to adapt, and listen to it. There will be bad days. But there will be good ones too!