“Suddenly it was tomorrow…”
This is actually a Kenny Everett quote* and to me it’s comedy genius (which is what Kenny Everett was). If you analyse it, it doesn’t make sense. “It” was tomorrow? What was tomorrow?! And “tomorrow” future tense; “was” past tense. A crumpled mess of grammar and clarity in just four simple words. And yet somehow you know what it means. Brilliant. Tickled me for years, that one has.
Also, by definition, “tomorrow” doesn’t happen suddenly. It kind of takes twenty-four hours, and then when you get there you’re not actually there – it’s suddenly twenty-four hours away again. At which point it resets itself to the next twenty-four hours and doesn’t happen again.
And yet, suddenly “it” was December; suddenly “it” is six months since I last updated this blog.
So, why so long without an update?
Well, remember when I wrote this in one of the last posts before it all went quiet?
Well, oh my – those turned out to be prescient words. Life really does throw turds in your spokes sometimes. I’d just revamped this blog, just promised more regular updates, and then… nothing.
Well, it’s not been nothing (another crumpled mess of grammar) from where I am. Almost from the moment I wrote that, things happened. So I thought my first blog post in ages should be about why this is my first blog post in ages.
Firstly, back in April I gained extra responsibilities at work. A lot of extra responsibilities. That’s a polite euphemism for what actually happened – some very sudden changes that neither I nor the small organisation I work for were expecting. It meant double workload, double responsibilities, long days, extra hours, weekends, lots of pressure. Six months later, with everything much more under control, I’m really enjoying having the freedom to set things up my own way. But it was a pressure-cooker, firestorm few months at first.
So that was a definite ‘suddenly it was tomorrow’ moment for a start, as we hit a brand new reality and frantically adjusted to it. Very little spare time; certainly not enough for blog writing.
But that was nothing, absolutely nothing, to what came up next. Outside work, outside running – and way bigger than any of these things – at home life threw us one of those blindside hits you just never see coming.
My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer.
When it happens, news like this changes everything. Everything. Because it has the power to change everything in your life and about your life.
If ever there was a ‘suddenly it was tomorrow’ moment, this was it. Suddenly we woke up in a whole new tomorrow, one that looked very different to anything we’d ever expected. And we didn’t know what the next tomorrow would be; what to think of when we thought of the future. (You think some dark thoughts in those situations, believe me.) The classic, never-thought-it-would-happen-to-us moment.
But it did.
So the summer of 2017 was a very, very intense time. My wife was very, very strong and the NHS was superb. She had hospital appointments, meetings, consultations – lots of these – a one-day stay for a lymph node biopsy and then a week’s stay for major surgery. And then a major period of recovery afterwards, which is still ongoing.
All around us was support. Both our workplaces were fantastic, giving us time where needed, despite this being one of the busiest periods of my double workload. Family and friends were beyond wonderful; an army of ever-willing help. Our daughter, without her mother for a week and with me doing single-parent duty, stepped up and handled it superbly.
The good news is that there’s good news. Because it was caught early my wife is going to be okay.
But running? Forget it. And I did, for a while.
Back to Running
In fact, even talking about running seems crass and self-centred in the face of something as serious as everything I’ve just talked about, but then, this is a running blog – that’s what you’re here to read – running is a big part of my life, and this is my side of the story.
I stopped running for a month over the summer because there simply wasn’t time to fit it in. I couldn’t get to run club. I stopped using social media for a few weeks because I just didn’t feel like it. But before that little break, and after it too, there have been some successes since my last blog post:
- There have been some PBs; some milestone targets finally hit. I am now a sub-40 10k and sub-90 half-marathon runner, as well as a sub-20 5krunner.
- I’ve run some lovely events/races this year – favourites old and new – in particular Endure 24 for the first time; with running buddies and great friends Charly, Steve and David; and returning to the Bassingham Bash, with Jake.
- I was selected for the ‘B’ team for all three club road relay events. Club racing; a chance to pull on the club vest, the club colours. I only made the ‘B’ team for all three but I love these races. A harder edge than mass participation events. Proper racing, actual racing, for position, for the club.
- I am now part of the volunteer group that puts on Run and Talk twice per month, an England Athletics mental health initiative in conjunction with Mind, the mental health charity, at Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham.
- I was also invited to join the race sub-committee at club, and played a (small) part in helping to put on our annual 10k race in October. I was on the IT side of things, and was also one of the timekeepers on the day. Seeing what’s involved in the staging of a race was absolutely fascinating. It certainly kept all of us on the committee busy during the autumn – partly another reason why no blog posts.
There have been some changes too:
- A couple more injury setbacks to get through, with left ankle/Achilles problems and plantar fasciitis (again), this time in my right foot.
- I’ve been getting a lot of grief from my daughter, saying that she wants to see more of me, that I’m always out running.
- I’ve ‘retired’ from running marathons. In fact, given some of the above, I’ve semi-jokingly said I’ve semi-retired altogether. I’ve certainly had a change in approach and outlook. As soon as I hit the sub-40 and sub-90 goals, which I’d wanted for years, it was as though someone flicked a switch. I’ll talk more about this another time.
And the biggest of the changes is…
You may or may not remember that earlier in the year I posted that I’d been in a bit of a slump. It’s a blog post I’m quite proud of actually, because it articulates quite well some of the challenges and changes of running in your mid-forties, mid-life period. I wrote about entering a new stage of my running, of doing things differently, of contemplating ‘retiring’ and – with years of experience in running – moving into coaching.
Well, a direct result of that blog post was an invitation from my club, Bournville Harriers (BvH), to do just that – move into coaching. They offered funding to support me so in June I headed to the High Performance Athletics Centre at Loughborough University for the one-day UK Athletics Leadership in Running Fitness (LiRF) course and qualification. This qualified me as a licensed run leader, and I was able to join the coaching team at BvH. Since that time I’ve assisted and led in planning and delivering many sessions to anywhere from roughly 15 to 30-40 people, depending on the time of year and whether we’ve split into two groups for the sessions.
They’re also funding me to do my Coach in Running Fitness (CiRF) qualification, which I’m starting in February next year (2018). I’m very excited about this, and very grateful for all the support – not just the funding, but also everything I’m learning from the coaching team at club, and all the advice and encouragement they’ve given me.
Coaching is set to take over from my own running as my big passion.
So again, there’s a whole ‘suddenly it was tomorrow’ moment there.
Which is good, because as I’ve said, things have deviated from plan somewhat. Particularly as regards the Birmingham International Marathon, which took place in October this year and which I was blogging and bragging about (“I’ll do a summer of long runs, including at least three at full marathon distance”) just before I went quiet.
I’ll try to go into more detail about this, and some of the highlights of the year, in my next posts.
In the meantime, my advice is to make the most of what you have while you have it.
Because suddenly it can be tomorrow.
* From a 1980s radio adaptation/serialisation of Captain Kremen (I hope that’s the right spelling). I recorded it onto cassette when I was (a lot) younger. I probably still have the cassette tape somewhere.