Last Sunday, I ran my first half-marathon. 13.1 miles of running will never be easy, but thanks to Rural Running Events and Jeff Clark’s Meon Valley Express course, it was stunning.
I am always nervous about the pressure of organised races but six years ago my husband had minor surgery at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, with what was his first ever general anaesthetic.
Within 24 hours he was in A&E.
I awoke the next morning to a text from him saying that his kidneys were failing by 98 per cent and nobody knew why. It was absolutely terrifying.
I had only ever heard of people with kidney failure needing transplants, with no idea that you could recover.
And so started a three-week stint in QA. My husband was pumped full of steroids, had a kidney biopsy (painful and necessitating a long period of lying down, utterly still, afterwards), and then began having seizures.
Constant vomiting, brain MRIs, aspiration pneumonia and a huge dose all round of utter terror.
I arrived one morning to hear that he was having a CT scan of his brain because he had suffered a seizure just before I arrived.
My husband had turned blue and the crash team were called.
That night I was called back to QA only 30 minutes after leaving because he had suffered another.
I rushed back to find him being assessed for intensive care, and I held his hand while he told me he would die that night, and that I must look after our two tiny girls.
The fact that he recovered, fully, was due purely to the staff at QA.
Unless you’ve seen dialysis, spent time on the renal wards, or chatted with a man who’s recovering from giving his wife a kidney, you can’t imagine it.
I entered a half marathon with the intention of raising cash for the ward but suffered a stress fracture that took me out of running for a few years.
Subsequently this was unfinished business.
I didn’t do it for the cash, but for anyone out there who isn’t on the donor register, to please join it.
Feel good all-round with 70km in 70 days for the NHS
As most of us must have realised given the rightful publicity, the NHS is 70 years old this year.
Given the context of my column this week, it seems only right to give a nod to both running and the NHS in one fell swoop.
Rural Running Events have a 70 in 70 challenge that you can enter.
Simply run 70 km in 70 days, from September 1 (you can back-date this), and you will get not only a t-shirt to say that you have done it, but also a very cool glass medal and that satisfying little glow that comes from donating to charity due to a percentage of profits going to local NHS charities.
It’s win-win, and you can say you’ve been there and got the T-shirt after.
A well-organised run in our beautiful autumn countryside
If you want to enter a half marathon, there can be few courses locally as beautiful as this.
The trail that runs from Wickham to Exton is stunning, with autumn leaves tumbling down on the runners as we made our way past fields and streams, the foliage beginning to hang with berries and fruit.
Rural Running Events did not disappoint. It was smoothly organised, with great marshals, well-placed water stations, and friendly and encouraging runners.
In October there is also a torchlight race on the same trail which takes on a fantastic atmosphere after dark.
Rural Running Events can be found on Facebook if you fancy entering. Good luck!