Early in October I was carrying out some parenting duties, being the delightfully helpful school mum that I am (insert cheesy grin), when I felt a pain in my hip. After my duties were finished and as the day went on the more the pain grew. By the following day I could barely walk around without pain. Within a week I knew it wasn't something I could fix with rest so I went to the physio. There seemed to be multiple issues going on. With some seriously uncomfortable manipulation and 'bone crunching' (disclaimer: not actually bone crunching but that's what it felt like) and a treatment plan, we started a series of exercises to try and address two of the issues. It didn't solve all the problems. But what remained seemed a mystery.
A new set of exercises coincided with the family holiday to Yorkshire to finish recceing the Spine Challenger route. I still had 80 miles of the route left to cover during the week, and wasn't going to be able to run much at all. There were some very long days out in extremely wet weather - good training as it transpires. It was hard going, but necessary. I needed to see the route, to see what I was going to face, especially as I probably won't see it during the race because it would be dark more of the time than not.
The walking was manageable, although uncomfortable. I went back to the physio after some more rest, and no improvement. He knew I had a race coming up. He told me the sensible thing to do was to forget about it. We sat down and looked at the possible explanations of what was happening in my hip. It wasn't good news. Some of possibilities really knocked me for six. I struggled to get my head around them. It's unlikely he said, but you have to accept that it could be a possibility. The only way to know for sure would be an MRI, and a X-ray for any bone issues. The bottom had pretty much fallen out of my world. Running seemed like nothing. The race seemed like nothing. I just needed to know desperately what was going on. I wouldn't settle inside until I knew.
I managed a few run/walks, plenty of walks, and some snowy explorations in the hills. Mostly these were on my own - good Spine Challenger practice. But I had a few outings with some lovely friends who continued to encourage me to go ahead with the race. My inner turmoil was eating away at me. I did a few video diaries during these solo outings. They are just for my own viewing, but in all honestly I can barely watch them - I start crying within moments.
There was only a few weeks until the race when I emailed the organisers asking about a deferral, even though I knew they couldn't at such a late stage. The promised to keep my place open for me until race day, and I just needed to decide myself if I was up to the challenge.
Christmas came and went. My X-ray was scheduled 10 days before the race. The MRI for 2 days after. Timing is everything!! The X-ray came back clear. That was something. Ticked a few possibilities off the list. Some heavy conversations followed. One week before the race I was 90% sure I wasn't going. I was sitting outside a hospital theatre feeling utterly helpless, with my heart breaking for my wonderfully brave little girl on the other side of the door. That was the hardest day of my life. It wasn't major surgery but I felt so helpless and unable to make everything instantly better. My girl. My heart. There were more important things going on than races.
But what if?
What if I won't be able to race again? What if I won't be able to run? What if I am going to spend the rest of my life in pain when I walk/move? What if I am about to spend a very long time being very, very ill? What if... well the final one doesn't bare repeating.....
Forget the what ifs!! Life is happening, here and now. It is a gift, and only get one shot at it. We have to give it everything we have. So what else was there to do?
It was such a wrench to leave my daughter behind so soon but I knew she'd be ok at home being looked after by her dad, wee brother and granny. And despite the rail strikes doing their best to stop me I set off for Edale. I was mentally and physically worn out but ready to fight the (very) long fight.