As I child, I remember my father often used the phrase “Sure it’s good to be able to do it!”. He would never complain about being too busy nor working hard, as he really appreciated that the time would come when he might not be able to, and that all around him were people who couldn’t. In my working life recently, I too have been using this phrase. My work is extremely busy but I would always say “Sure it’s good to be able to do it”.


On 5th April I was diagnosed with an illness that has completely hijacked me. I become breathless and my heart races on the slightest exertion e.g. getting dressed! I also have tremors and overall muscle weakness and soreness, and plenty more symptoms too numerous to mention. I began treatment on 5th April but my liver didn’t like it one little bit, so we had to stop. This means that, 5 weeks on, instead of getting back to normal I am back to square one. The nurse’s prayer goes “God grant that if ever I’m sick, I won’t be an interesting case”. Unfortunately, my prayer went unanswered on this occasion.


Whenever I’ve been injured in the past, I’ve been able to swim, cycle or use the gym to keep myself fit and get the endorphins moving. Not this time. Initially I was well enough to volunteer, so I did so at Griffeen parkrun. However, since stopping the treatment I just never know whether I’ll have the energy for anything, so cannot be relied upon. Therefore I had to withdraw my offer to volunteer at my local Le Chéile 5k in Leixlip. I managed to get out to cheer people on, but that was the limit of my involvement.


I had booked and paid for many races which I have missed, and there were lovely medals to be earned. So far, I’ve missed The Great Ireland Run, Jog for a Dog, Royal Canal Run 10k in Longford, Maynooth Rebellion Run, Leixlip 5k and Patrick Pearse 5k, all of which were on my race calendar, not to mention parkruns.


Next weekend, I’m missing the Terenure 5 Mile. Now, this is a biggie, because I’m from Terenure and I have persuaded 8 of my 9 siblings and some of their partners to do the Terenure 5 Mile this year. They wouldn’t have dreamed of entering it without my persistence. I’ve even provided training plans for those who wanted them. And now I won’t be there.


Now, I know this is one big pity-fest. I don’t mind admitting that there were days when I felt very sorry for myself. On Monday last, I couldn’t even talk to anyone without crying. I am a very active person who works 10-12 hours shifts on my feet all day, and runs at least one parkrun or race every weekend, and here I was reduced to inactivity. And the gas thing is, I look fine! If you met me, you’d tell me I was looking great, you might even notice that I’ve lost a bit of weight. But I’m wrecked.


So what do you do when your stress-buster is taken away from you? You do whatever you can. I’m reading books that have long been on my list and thoroughly enjoying them. I’ve been teaching myself piano and am making some progress, though some days I have neither the energy nor the inclination for it. So I go easy on myself. I keep reminding myself that there will be plenty of races later in the year, and the Terenure 5 Mile will be there again next year. I’ll just have to do the Clontarf 5 Mile in November, and let the July one go. I just have to go with this, and accept that this will pass.


I also remember that the last race I did was the BHAA 2 Miler in St Anne’s Park to earn my Lord Mayor’s Challenge medal. I went to the reception in City Hall to receive my medal and scroll, and…. drum roll….. was totally honoured to receive the Spirit of the Lord Mayor’s Challenge Award. My consultant is blue in the face listening to me about how often I run and how fit I was (let’s face it, I don’t exactly look like a athlete) and he’s promised me he’ll get me back there. At least I expect to be well enough to run the Lord Mayor’s Challenge again next year – that’s not to be missed.


Today is a good day. I have an appointment for treatment on Wednesday. Thereafter, I’ll be radioactive and need to avoid public places for a few weeks, so no volunteering for me. But after about 4 weeks, I should begin to feel better – Woohoo! Now there’s something to look forward to. Can’t wait to get back to work and to start exercising again.


When I restart my couch to 5k programme and ever so slowly get back to completing parkruns and races, I’ll not complain about being slow. I’ll be glad of every step. I’ll be happy to be among my runner friends, comparing notes, getting closer to my 100th parkrun, looking forward to race days. It’ll be good to be able to do it.