If anyone is wondering why I haven’t done an update, it has been due to the fact that I have been bedridden…… That’s a lie of course, but I do feel that after the shenanigans that was the Manchester 10K, I really ought to have laid myself up for a week! The weeks leading up to the 10K I did put in some serious training and with just over a week to go, I had managed 9K comfortably. I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. That delight didn’t remain for long, as on the Tuesday before the event, I trained with some friends and hurt my hip – and I mean really hurt it.
I saw my doctor, he told me not to run. I had physio – twice: he also told me not to run. All the lovely guys on the Melanomamates Facebook page, told me not to run: my family told me not to run. I ignored all that advice of course, and I arrived in Manchester on a very warm and sunny Sunday morning to meet Team Melanoma UK.
Team Melanoma UK consisted of 14 friends and supporters. I shall mention each one in turn as they were all vital team members:- Mark Culbert, David Wingate, Debra Kirwan, Andrew Oakes, Chris Tuksa, Damian Gilder, Hannah Marshall, Jordan Marsh, Jordan Ingoe, Russell Jennings, Jon Bowes, Craig Barrett, Iain Millward and of course me.
We all gathered in our coloured waves and got ready to go. I was meant to be in the pink girly wave, but the heat was unbearable so I decided I would join the earlier group and I ended up in the blue wave. Still it was going to be hot, as this group was leaving at 11.25.
As I stood in the middle of the crowd waiting for the off, I wondered about my sanity. What on earth did I think I was doing? I am 52 soon, I’ve never done a 10K in my life, I was aching before I’d even put one leg forward – this was not going to end well.
I don’t even remember setting off, I just remember running past my husband Mike, and hearing my friend Joann Wheeldon shouting “Go Gill” – and what did I do? I started crying. I had sunglasses on, so no-one could see me crying, but I was. That week coincided with the 6 year anniversary of Jon Herron’s death – I was thinking of him and many others and it just made me cry. I told myself to get a grip and carried on. I was never very far from tears throughout because the crowds who have come to watch and cheer the runners on, stand very close to the edge of the roads and call out the names of the runners – and that made me cry too.
I managed to get to 3K without feeling too much pain from my hip, but suddenly the pain struck and that was it. It ached, burned, clicked – and yes, I am a drama queen, but truly, the pain was horrible. I kept saying to myself “Get on with it, there are melanoma patients who would give anything to do this – this is nothing” – but it was painful! At about 5k I asked a St John’s bloke for a bag of ice and carried on, holding the ice bag to my hip. I thought I was never going to get to the end, but I had to – I just had to. At 8K, one of my pals who had promised to stay with me stopped at a St John’s ambulance and asked for an ice pack for me. They invited me in and told me to take a seat…… this is where the “fun” started.
The leading man in the ambulance had to take all my details – date of birth, previous medical history etc (I was laughing and crying at the same time, thinking “Come on lad – you’re not auditioning for a part in Holby City, just give me a bloody ice pack”) Once I’d satisfied him that I wasn’t going to need complete hospitalisation, he allowed me an ice pack. I was just about to pull my leggings down a bit to put the pack down them and the leading man shouted “STOP!!!” He pointed to a young lad in the ambulance and said “Leave the ambulance please” - Said boy disappeared quickly, I said “What’s wrong? Why have you sent him out?” In hushed tones he said “He’s only 15, he’s not allowed to be here if someone gets undressed” Undressed!!!! I was shoving an ice pack down my knickers! Scared of being arrested for improper behaviour before a minor, I got out of the ambulance as quick as my poorly hip would let me.
Off we went again and as we got closer to the end the streets were lined with hundreds of people spurring us on – I burst into tears again as I passed an elderly couple who spotted the picture of Jon on my back and I was running so slow by this point, (I like to think I was still running, but the reality was probably that I wasn’t even walking at a pace!) that I heard the lady say “Aw look, so young”
We got to the 9k marker and I realised that the end was in sight. The last few hundred metres were marked along the way and my pal kept telling me “Only 800 left, only 600 left only…..” I told him if he gave me one more marker update, he would be pushed under a moving tram and there would be no St John’s ambulance staff to rescue him.
So, I limped across the finish line, burst into tears again and then began the long walk through the streets of Manchester to find the rest of Team Melanoma UK. Not surprisingly, given the length of time it had taken me, Team Melanoma UK had dispersed…..and there was no-one waiting at the place we said we would meet! If I could have laid down on Deansgate and gone to sleep at that point, I would have gladly done so.
In a very strange and twisted way, I can see how once you have the running bug, it must be tempting to enter as many of these runs as you can – despite the pain that I was in, I did feel very proud as I made my along the route – proud that I was doing it (no matter how slow I was!) proud that I’d got such a great team supporting Melanoma UK, proud that I’d had Jon as a friend – without him Melanoma UK would not exist and patients would not have as much of a voice as they now have.