Most people who do not know me see a person who runs, cycles, and generally appears to be fit and healthy. The former is probably true. The latter, not so much. In 2005 I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I took the news with shock, disbelief, and even rejection. Ulcerative colitis (or UC) is a form of inflammatory bowel disease, in which the large intestine becomes inflamed and ulcerated. This leads to a number of symptoms, complications and inherently increases your risk of bowel cancer. There is no known cause (although various genetical and environmental factors are postulated). There is also no cure, and treatment is largely limited to aggressive immunosuppressive medications and/or surgery.
Living with UC is a great challenge. Being largely asymptomatic since diagnosis, I had a severe flare-up in 2015 which required me to be admitted to hospital. Since then, things have been very unstable. Despite this, I try not to let this disease control my life. The one true solace and route of escapism I have is through running. The past 18 months have been particularly unpredictable. Each run or race I do truly requires a huge amount of physical effort. Not only do I have to compete against the clock, but I also have to battle abdominal pain, bleeding, and chronic fatigue (along with other symptoms). I may not be the most fortunate person with this condition, but am also aware that others suffer much more severe symptoms, and am glad that I can still lace-up my shoes and do what I love.
As this disease is not widely known, very few people will truly appreciate the hurdles I, and others suffer on a daily basis. As a result, I am running 2017 km in 2017, with a goal to raise £2017 for Crohn’s and Colitis UK. I will also be cycling at least 2017 miles and taking part in the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100! The funds raised will be invaluable in helping IBD patients, as well as raise public awareness. I sincerely hope that you can contribute to this goal of mine, and help those afflicted with IBD.
I will be blogging about how the challenge is going throughout the year. The races and training runs I do will also be clearly documented on Strava, and you are more than welcome to follow my progress. Links are provided below. Thanks again for taking the time to visit my justgiving page and for your support. I hope 2017 is an awesome year for you!!
PS: The picture above is from the Bupa London 10,000 in 2015, just before I became unwell, when I ran the course in 37:08. I am really hoping to best this time in 2017.
UPDATE 15th FEB 2017: After a very rocky start to the year, running mileage has been quite low (114km to-date). I entered the new year still quite symptomatic from a flare-up. Things actually settled over the past week, after weeks of what I can only describe as agony. I have begun to commence vedolizumab infusions. This is a biological monoclonal antibody given through an IV line in hospital. Fortunately, I have not had any side-effects yet, and will be undergoing 9 of these transfusions over the next 12 months. I am optimistic that this drug can finally help me maintain remission and wean off the prednisolone I have been taking for almost two years now.
As running mileage has been low, I have focussed my attention on the saddle. I have a place for the Prudential RideLondon-Surey 100 in July, so could do with a little cycling miles! As things seem to be improving with the UC, I am optimistic that I can start to increase my running miles soon.