Outrunning Endometriosis by Vicky Allison
Well, where do I start...? Sarah has asked me to write a 'short' blog for her website...hopefully I can keep it short!
I have been working with Sarah for a little over 3 years, it all started with a broken foot and a couple of paralysed toes. I was due to be training for London marathon in 2018 after successfully gaining a place in the ballot, (on my first attempt), it was going to be my first marathon after running for about 8 years and slowly chipping away at the different distances I started with 10k ,(that's a story all of its own), then moved up to half marathon and hadn't really considered my next step too much because no one gets into London on their first attempt do they?!
Anyway, in the lead up to the ballot draw we took on a family challenge to walk the Yorkshire three peaks in under 12 hrs. (24 miles and 3 mountains) on a beautiful September weekend ... this is where the broken foot came in. I believe I developed a stress fracture somewhere between peak 2 and 3 but carried on regardless as the boots supported my foot, so I really didn't notice it until the next day. As I recovered, I contacted Sarah for advice as the lack of movement in my toes was unusual yet the foot healed well.
It’s not easy battle training for an endurance event with an inflammatory condition like Endometriosis...although at the time it wasn't confirmed that is what I had. All I knew is that I was dealing with more than just the usual aches and pains that come with a training schedule, as you try to persuade your body it really can do the next run that week or that 18 miles isn't really that bad.
It was another 18 months before I had my condition confirmed and by that time I had trained for and run 2 marathons. It was a battle but I'm so proud of myself for achieving them.
Some days the pain was a ring around my waist front to back, other days the pain ran from my pelvis through my back, the fatigue was ongoing, partially due to anaemia. Some people believe Endometriosis only affects women once a month or it’s only like a bad period but it’s much more than that. I can only talk from personal experience and this condition is very personal to every individual that lives with it. There are treatments that help, I have been in chemical menopause since May 2020 to keep the condition under control. You can help yourself by looking carefully at your diet, for me red meat, dairy and wheat all had an inflammatory effect so I cut them out to help myself.
My endometriosis was at stage 4 when diagnosed, most of my abdominal organs are 'stuck' together due to the endometrial tissue growing where it shouldn't. It’s growing through my bowel wall and there is evidence it has also started to damage my bladder. The disease for me is clearly visible on an MRI although it had already been diagnosed through laparoscopy before the scan. There is no cure, it’s a chronic disease that feeds off oestrogen. As a result, at 40 with the support of my consultant I will be having major surgery for a total hysterectomy, to reduce the chance of it growing back, excision of as much of the disease as they can find and repair to bowel and bladder. Yet with all of this I still run! My last half marathon was New Year’s Eve 2020 to complete my 1000 miles in 2020, (not many races thanks Covid!).
Throughout all my training Sarah has been there to support me and patch me up when I overdo it, even if she occasionally thinks I'm mad :) So it was a real honour when she asked me to help shout about her little business as a sponsored athlete and I'm more than happy to help.
March is Endometriosis awareness month and also the month I get my operation. :) I've been on the waiting list for 12 months and I'm ready to see what life after is like. Yes, I'll be in medical menopause, yes I'll have to take HRT to protect my long-term health and yes there is a chance that the endometriosis will grow back, but I have so many goals that I want to achieve. I've talked Sarah into completing an Ultra Marathon with me, so at some point we will be off up to Arran to complete a 100km 2 day ultra. So much to look forward to and train for and I have a list of events I want to complete including New York and Berlin marathons. I proudly wear Sarah's logo on my running kit and actively recommend her to others in need of help to achieve their goals.
My short-term goal in the build up to my operation is a nice 10-mile awareness run in March for the 1 in 10 women like me who live with Endometriosis, why not join me https://endometriosis-uk.org/awareness-month-2021
More information about Endometriosis can be found here:
“Endometriosis devastates the lives of women and their families. We help them take back control. One in ten women endure unrelenting pain that affects every aspect of their lives each day. Endometriosis UK provide vital support services, reliable information, and a community for those affected by endometriosis”.
Thanks for reading