Archive for the ‘Surgery’ Category

27 days to go – Milestones

October 5, 2009

Only 27 days until the New York Marathon! I ran 20 miles today.  Which is a long way.  I did some other runs this week as well, so my total for the week is about 42.5 miles.  Which is definitely an improvement. I think the early morning runs and a 10 mile run home from work in the week helped me to do the 20 miles in 3 hours 45 minutes today (it is still a slow time but I am quite pleased with it).

Anyway, that run is an important milestone (as it were) because 20 miles is the longest I will run before the marathon.  And it was the furthest distance I ran in my training last year.

This time a year ago I was just out of hospital after my surgery.   This week I got a copy of the letter the registrar at Charing Cross Hospital sent to my GP about my last outpatient appointment. It reads:

His  scan shows no evidence of popliteal entrapment and we will therefore allow him to do his Marathons and see him in one year’s time…

Very reassuring. Notice the way they have written marathons (plural), though. Sweet of them to think that I will be running more than one marathon before I see them next September. 

One milestone that I haven’t passed this week, though, is reaching even 10% of my fundraising target. Thanks to some very generous people my fundraising is off the starting block. But only just. I need more of you very generous people to support me to raise money for the very wonderful NCT. Apart from all the great work NCT does to support new and expectant parents, it also employs me which I am very grateful for.  So please click here to sponsor me .

Another milestone annoyingly unpassed is getting my weight below 80kg. In fact it went up a bit this week. It seems a little unfair that I ran 42.5 miles, ate cottage cheese and leaves for lunch and put on weight!

I can’t tell you much about my 20 mile run (“hurrah”, you cry) because I had a bit of a hangover, to be honest.  No amusing (or disturbing?) dialogue between two scottish accented voices in my head this morning. It was more a blurry muffled fuzzy hum  – rather like a pirated dvd. Interesting, however,  that I may have discovered the world’s worst hangover cure though!

Drink too much last night? Feeling hungover? Simply run for nearly four hours and hey presto: the hangover’s gone!

However, I know you are just desperate to know what it is really like going running with me. So this week I took some pictures on one of the runs (4.75 miles) I did before work  so that you don’t have to…



This (above) is me just before setting off. It is 5.45 am and I am attempting to smile for the camera.



This (above) is my road as I am about to set off. Note how I can stand in the middle of the road confidently and without fear because there is NO TRAFFIC OF ANY KIND or even any discernable human activity at 05.47.



This (above) is Hampstead Heath at 06.03. Note the majestic beauty of Parliament Hill rolling away to your left.



This picture (above) shows the view across the “fishing-” or “model boating” (as it is sometimes known) pond on hampstead heath. No-one fishing this morning, though!



Fancy a dip? That’s right, it’s Highgate Men’s Swimming Pond (above), but only the ducks are able to swim this early in the morning. Ha ha!



Nearly home and, oh look, is that sky (above) a bit lighter now? Yes it is because it will be sunrise in only 20 minutes or so!



Home in time to get ready for work and feeling quite pleased with myself (above).

Really looking forward to New York now!

This week’s haiku is actually about running:

Early morning runs
mad though they seem at the time
do pay dividends.


Week minus seven – collecting cats

December 21, 2008

“I hate china cats, but that one is actually all right.” Those were the fateful eleven words I said to Helen, my wife, some years ago.  “Why fateful?” you ask. Because ever since that day I have been a “collector” of china cats whether I like them or not (and it really is not).  Helen and our friend Suzanne delight in finding china cats in charity shops to add to my “collection”.  Helen recently returned from a trip to Cornwall with eleven of the little lovelies which she had found. There were tears in my eyes that day, I can tell you. 

So over the years I have built up a couple of bowls full of them, which I mostly put under the bed. So this year to ensure my collection was taken to the next level, as it were, Helen bought me a display case and this week after months of avoiding it, the case was put on the wall and the cats finally put on display for all to see.  And do you know what? Hideous as they mostly are, put on display like that I actually find myself having a little look in the case as I go past and smiling at the amazing weirdness of them. People sat down and designed an produced these extraordinary things.  And I feel a little bit pleased to have them out there now.

“That’s all terribly interesting, Allan,” You may (or more probably may not) be saying, “But what the devil has it got to do with running or fundraising?”  Well not much really.  But last weekend I went running and I had one of the worst runs of my life.  I ran with speed and general demeanor of a wounded Water Buffalo.  This weekend I went running with Helen and we ran together and talked and I ran better than I have since the operation. It was a very short run but it was one that felt OK.

And I have had a lot of support from lots of people during my training for the marathon and since. And people have helped me to get back out there running and encouraged me to stick with the blogging.  So that’s a bit like the cats really.  You know, something terrible surprising you by getting a bit better after all.

Clutching at straws really, I know.  But at least I’m blogging. And I bet you can’t wait to see pictures of the cats! (Next time maybe.)

Hope you all have a great festive season and holiday if you are having one. 

I’ll be back in 2009, hoping to run for NCT again!

This week’s haiku:

“I hate china cats.”
But the cats kept appearing.
Now I quite like them.

Week minus five or something – what next?

December 8, 2008

Sorry for the delay in writing this.

I have been struggling with what to write. I went to New York with Helen, my wife, anyway, even though the marathon was off the agenda. And I had a fantastic time. Saw Paula Radcliffe win the New York Marathon again. We were there for the election and it was great being there for what felt like a very historic moment. I met an old school friend, Nick, who I haven’t seen for 25 years or more (the wonders of facebook). And of course ate at Balthazar more than once. But as we all know from the infamous “mushroom” blog my enjoyable holidays tend to make for a dull post.

I could go into further detail about my medical situation, but I thought that might be too gruesome, as Daffy Duck would say.

And then I read an article about Slow Blogging . Which is a “movement” whereby a blogger only blogs when they have something interesting to say – which seemed to fit my blogosophy (yes, blogosophy). Or is that just an excuse for laziness?

I was finally spurred into action for this blog by the fact that someone left the RunAllanRun facebook group – presumably due to the lack of activity. And why does that matter?  Well many of you have been kind enough to say that you enjoy reading my blog, and well gosh darn it, I rather like that appreciation.  So as you can already see, of course the solution was obvious – a blog about the blog! That old post-modern standby that has served me so well!

So it struck me that I have lost the blogging spirit while I have not been able to run while recuperating from the surgery. However, I am now starting to run again. A little light jogging – but hoping to build up. I also weighed myself for the first time since the operation and was shocked at the amount I have put on in these two months of inactivity. And all of this has got me wanting to blog again. (That and the terrible vanishing facebook group.)

So it seems that blogging and running/training are now linked in my mind in some Pavlovian way. Which is quite interesting really because the blog was not really about the running as far as I was concerned.

One thing in particular about New York and being there on the day of the marathon this year that was “difficult” for me, was being on the Subway with lots and lots of people who had finished the marathon. They were wearing their medals and T-shirts and wrapped in tin foil blankets and I thought that it should have been me! And it made me think, “Well why not next year?”. And then I was able to reply, “Because of the artery thing, you idiot!” To which I could say, “But that’s better now. And anyway it will give me something to blog about for the next 12 months!” To which I was again able to reply, “Yes, but what about the whole artery/surgery/scary death thing?” To which I reply, “But I want to run the marathon…”

So there you go – a bit of internal conflict again. (Still under control, though, no “Kill. Kill. Kill ” voices, you’ll be glad to know.) Looks like I am getting the blogging mojo back!

The couple of runs I have done have been rubbish – like I am starting all over again. You may think the same about the blogging. I agree this is not the best blog posting I have ever done.  (I personally like the Green Eggs & Ham vs Mr Men one.) But like the running, it feels like I am starting again. So maybe next year, if I am still running and still blogging (and you are still reading) you will be able to see a different picture of me at the finish line of the New York Marathon than the one below. (I mean one which shows me having run the marathon, rather than just standing at the finish having taken the subway there.)

NY marathon finish line

NY marathon finish line

I want to write blogs
I want to run marathons
Let’s see what happens.

Week 18 and beyond – Catastrophe!!!

October 12, 2008

I will not be running the New York Marathon this year! I may never run a marathon!

Since I last wrote I have had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from an artery in my leg. This was really very serious and quite frightening.   It started with a sudden cramp like pain in my leg which prevented me doing my training run a couple of sundays ago.

When the pain continued through to the next day and my foot started to feel numb and tingly with cold toes I phoned NHS Direct. They told me to get to my nearest A&E. The A&E Doctor at Hammersmith Hospital looked worried, used phrases like “circulation compromised” and sent me to Charing Cross Hospital with a note saying he couldn’t find a pulse below my right knee!  At this point I was getting very worried indeed. At Charing Cross Hospital I was given a scan and then a Doctor called me into a room to discuss the scan. His first words were:

“It is not good news.”

I thought, “Aaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhhh!”, as you do when a doctor says that sort of thing.

He then said, “You certainly won’t be running a marathon in November.”

At this point I started to see myself like the piano that the jazz cats in The Aristocats are playing when they sing “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” when it goes crashing down through the building…

“it’s not good news” CRASH through the floor.

“You certainly won’t be running a marathon in November” CRASH through the next floor.

I wonder if I will ever run again. CRASH through the next floor.

Or walk? CRASH through the next floor.

Or live?!! CRASH!  “Aaaarrrrrgggghhhh!!!”

Anyway the upshot is I had a blood clot blocking the artery in my right leg. It was successfully removed in an operation the following day. The top theory for the cause of the blockage is that there was a kink in my artery near the back of the knee and the “huge muscle build up” (honestly, their words not mine)  I developed from my marathon training pounded against the kinked artery during my many miles of training.  Although not common, this does have a name: Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome. (So there is a medical term for the back of the knee!)

So you could say that I was having my own credit crunch crisis (which all went crazy while I was in hospital). A “liquidity” problem in my right leg caused the muscles to “go bust” which could have led to a serious physical “meltdown” if the “Darling” team at Charing Cross hadn’t “bailed out” my failing vascular “banking system” with a “multi billion” something “rescue package” to “pump liquidity back into the system” and prevent “Icelandic”[that’s enough now].

I am feeling very lucky to be alive and walking and in one piece after this experience.

However, I am very disappointed about the marathon. In fact, it was all so distressing I tried to pretend that it was not happening to me by growing a beard to make me look like someone else:

me trying to look unlike me

me trying to look unlike me

But it didn’t work.

And apparently, I was also thinking about you all. Shortly after my operation, I said to Helen, my wife, “I’ve got an idea for the blog. I’m going to go all Tristram Shandy. Black Page.” (Helen says this hilarious idea was made even more hilarious by the fact that I was attached to a number of machines which were inflating and deflating various pads and bags around my body in amusing ways and (because it was so soon after the operation) that it took me five minutes to say those 16 words because I fell asleep twice during the telling!):

Tristram Shandy's Black Page

Tristram Shandy


Later as lay in my hospital bed and I stared at the clock on the wall opposite as it ticked slowly slowly slowly round to 3.10 am (I didn’t sleep well in hospital) and the wind whistled round the building outside and I thought about not running the marathon and all the work I had put in to the training, I thought that tumbleweed across the desert might be a more fitting image.

tumble weed

tumble weed


Yes, self pity, I’m afraid. But overall I am feeling very lucky to be alive and walking and in one piece after this experience.  Life is very wonderful.

And many of you will now be thinking, “Gosh, that sounds like a very frightening ordeal, Allan”. Yes, it was thank you. “And I am really pleased that you seem to be OK after all that.” Yes, me too, actually. “But can I ask about the sponsorship money I gave you through justgiving? Now that you will not be running the marathon I sponsored you to run, what happens about my money.” Ahh. Yes. I’m glad you asked me that. Because I checked up that situation. And here is what the justgiving FAQ page says:

“I’ve pulled out of the event – can my donors get a refund?I already have donations on my page…

We can’t refund donations made to your fundraising page because they’re processed immediately and paid directly to your charity. It’s what makes Justgiving so efficient!

If your donors would like a refund, please ask them to contact your charity. We give refunds only in exceptional circumstances, with the charity’s written approval. ”

For some, I guess, that will be “not good news”, as a doctor recently said. So it seems to me that the very generous and kind people who donated money to NCT for my marathon have a few options:

  1. Ask NCT for your money back.
  2. Leave your money where it is but insist/encourage me to do something else, eg, reach my weightloss target of 73kg (which would be about 26lb down from when I started so those of you who sponsored me £1/mile could now sponsor me £1/lb!)
  3. Leave your money where it is in the hope that I will be able to run the New York marathon next year instead (I would like to run the marathon next year, but not sure it will be medically possible – the doctors weren’t encouraging on that point.)
  4. Leave your money where it is because it is really quite impressive that I have run 356.81 miles (574.23 km), (most of them before 6.30 in the morning!) including a couple of runs of 18 and 20 miles,  since I began keeping a record 18 ish weeks ago. And NCT is a very worthwhile charity.

You can vote on your preferred option by adding a comment below.

So this may well be my last blog posting. Unless I (or you) can think of something useful I can do (over and above the 350 miles of running) to justify the sponsorship. So thank you for reading. I’ll let you know if there is more to say…

I have run a lot
I have written a lot too
I hope you had fun.