This was going to be the year I hoped to get seriously fit, trained and prepared for the Lakeland 100 Ultra Marathon Race! I was hoping to have a good first half of the year of running in the lead up and with a couple of things planned before the BIG race of the year I was hoping to be starting it with much better fitness, conditioning and confidence than I have done before...
Until I was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer in the middle of April.
Looking back it had been affecting me for a good year - I went to the doctors around May time the year before with constipation, which I had semi regularly for the rest of the year (actually until they cut out the tumor that was blocking the colon this April!). Symptoms lessened and I was able to run and go to the gym in the build up to the Lakes hundred last summer, but after 45 miles I had zero energy and pulled out at about 83 miles. I was eating fine but was just knackered,putting it down at the time to heat stroke (symptoms for the week afterwards seemed to point to this). I did a couple of other running events in the year but didn’t feel strong or fit at all during them.
My stomach began to get worse towards the winter and would be a problem mostmornings after breakfast. I was wondering if I had become intolerant to a few different foods as there didn’t seem to be any one thing that made it bad. My girlfriend and I both run long distances and have suffered in the past with eating things we shouldn’t whilst running (and day to day) before we were both tested by a nutritionist which showed a few things to avoid (wheat, yeast and gluten not being good for either of us).
We’ve both been broadly following the Paleo Diet for about 3 years now which has been a revelation in how we feel, stopping bad stomachs for both of us and improving our running. So 95% of the time our diet is VERY good and I wasn’t eating anything new or different. Things that I had happily eaten all my life seemed to be triggering my stomach off and would make it feel bloated/ uncomfortable, but these things weren’t bad foods, were natural and certainly not the types that had been problematic before?
I was concerned Christmas at home was going to be bad if I couldn’t enjoy the usual festive foods but it settled down again to make me think it was just intolerances and I needed to look in to what I must stop eating. Then in this New Year it started to get a lot worse, with regular bloating in January that became RIDICULOUSLY loud gurgling noises from my stomach that then developed in mid-Feb to bad stomach pains.
I would have to sit up all night on the sofa to lessen the pain and started to miss quite a bit of time off work. Any food I ate made it hurt and I wasn’t able to sleep when it flared up. Sometimes it would be bad for a day or 2, others it lasted 5 days.
I’d been to the doctors and was told it was a virus and that there was lots of it around, then a blood test didn’t show anything.
At the end of March i did the Votwo Jurassic Coast Challenge (3 marathons in 3 days along the Dorset coastpath) and sod’s law had a big flare up the night before and during the first day! I wanted to do it as there was the usual gang of friends doing it too, and as fitness for the rest of the year ts brilliant. Needless to say the first day wasn’t much fun, but that night I was feeling a lot better and started to hope the doctor was right and that it was virus that was slowly going... Days 2 and 3 went ok and I didn’t have any more stomach problems, though still ate fairly carefully between runs.
4 days afterwards it was back to sitting on the sofa holding my stomach as it flared up again though, so back to the doctors for another blood test (and it felt like ‘fobbing off’) for not much to seemingly come out of it. This continued for another couple of weeks until I couldn’t take it and what something to actually happen so went to A and E in the hope to get some tests done and get to the bottom of it. I was sent home from there (apparently abdominal pain is something you ARE supposed to go there for???) and went to the GP that afternoon, who thankfully thought perhaps it was something serious and admitted me in to Hospital on the 14th April.