Inspirational is a word thats been thrown about quite a bit in relation to my Royal Parks Half marathon. I dont for one bit feel inspiration or strong or any of the other words levelled at me. So after a run that didnt go to plan I am putting pen to paper. Its time to look at what happens when epilepsy interupts life and what was actually going through my mind on Sunday.
Ive left it a few days to write this as I was hoping with a few days perspective I may look at things a bit differently, as they say hindsight is a wonderful thing. Its the case for some areas but not so for others.
Sunday morning started like any other race day, up early trying to force breakfast down wondering what made me agree to these things. Overwhelmingly I was excited, both Ant & Luke were taking part and I was glad to have some company. Having had to drop out last year because of a lack of seizure control I was excited to finally be taking part in Royal Parks Half. We left with plenty of time, arrived at 8am and met with Young Epilepsy and the other runners. I was relaxed and not stressing so I had no clue of what was to come.
I started the race with Luke we agreed not to run together unless our paces suited. I was fine with this, I felt well and Im not new to the half marathon distance. I like running alone it means I run my own race and dont tire too early. For the first two miles myself and Luke played cat and mouse before he pulled away. My last real clear memory is hitting the 5K marker, I checked my times and realised I was running slower than I normally do. I wasnt concerned about time but I should have seen that as my first indicator. Someone who was tracking me later said they knew I was struggling based on times.
After that I started to feel a bit 'funny' nothing I could put my finger on but I knew it meant the epilepsy would possibly come into play. I kept telling myself to stay calm and slowed my pace down, I was almost walking. Ive had experiences of this in late miles of the marathon (24/25) but never at 4 miles and it had never come to anything just my body warning me I was fatigued. On Sunday that wasnt the case, I got an aura my vision went and that was that. Complex partial seizures became my friend, how many I dont know but I do know my next memory was seeing Chris at mile 6, the sights of London were wasted on me.
Chris said he knew instantly something was wrong, he said I looked totally vacant and then it took a few seconds for me to realise it was him. My sister in law was with him and I have no memory of seeing her even though I was told Noah was in her arms. Chris gave me a little talk that I was upright, moving and talking that I was ok. He reminded me that Young Epilepsy were at mile 8 and would see me. What I have since found out was this become the start of my husband dashing about, he called the guys at YE to warn them I was unwell, he then darted across to mile 7(ish), where I remember seeing him and thinking he doesnt think I can do this, he is worried, which in turn made my self doubt scream even more.
Mile 8 I found the young epilepsy cheer point, with a much needed cuddle from linda and jellybabies. I remember her saying Are you ok to carry on and in my head screaming No I just want to stop. Without a doubt on Sunday I would have stopped had someone told me too, and that bothers me.
I was confused, lost all concept of time and had no idea at what mile I was and couldnt even work out how far I had to go. I just kept following the person infront of me like a lost puppy. I carried on walking and attempting to jog when I could. I've been asked what got me through, how I motivated myself and my simple answer is this; I kept telling myself you have done this before you can do it, you arent stopping whilst you can move your legs you dont give in to this. My over riding thought was I need to get to Noah, I need to get back to Noah and so inspite of it all my legs kept moving heading back towards my boy. When the epilepsy gets like that it leaves me confused and despite knowing I was in no state to look after him I have to be with him, I have to know where he is.
My husband appeared again at 10 miles and I was a bit calmer by this stage. Although by now I had my head phones in, I said to him I was finding the crowd overwhelming so was trying to block it all out.
At around 11 miles it was like someone flicked a switch back on. I suddenly was back in the room. I worked out where I was, took my headphones out, looked at the time on my watch and realised it was a lost cause time wise, plus I didn't want to push it and make myself ill again. So I relaxed into it, ran when I could and tried to enjoy the last two miles as much as I could.. At this point I remember thinking Im never running again, Im not doing the Great South Run (Im still debating this!) I dont want my marathon place. Id hit a dark place in terms of my running and my confidence. Then I took a deep breath and thought, you survived 2015 (the year I had Noah) and you survived keppra year - dont let a measly 13 miles break you!
The last 800m seemed like the longest ever but I finished. I have never felt such a relief. Without a doubt Royal Parks had been the hardest run I have ever done and that includes all three marathons. I hated every sorry second of it, thats in no way a reflection of the race because the support is incredible, its well marshalled and well organised! I made my way to the Young Epilepsy meet point to be reunited with Noah, my family and the guys at YE who have given me so much support both on Sunday and over the last few years.
I was a total wreck and I remained so across Monday and Tuesday, its only today (Thursday) that I feel more positive. It didnt beat me, last year I didnt even start, this year I started and finished, if ever I needed to see how far Ive come that was a good indicator. I sit here now half impressed with myself for finishing and half thinking its the stupidest thing Ive ever done carrying on. Sunday rocked my confidence, it flared up my anxiety. It was another reminder that epilepsy doesnt care if you have plans or where you are. It reminded me that it affects not just me but my family. What it also showed me was I have the best support around me both in my family and friends and my purple family. The guys at Young Epilepsy (special mention to James!) who are awesome in their support and what they do, they are one hell of a cause!
Finally a shout out to the guys and girls of St John Ambulance who do an amazing job looking after runners at these events - it wouldnt be possible without them, and as someone who has needed them I take my hat off to you!
As for me, I will finish licking my wounds, pick myself up and carry on running. Im still in two minds about the Great South Run, Im torn between taking a break and getting back on the horse (so to speak!) but what I forever am greatful for is that I am in a position that its my choice, there was a time when it wouldnt have been an option.
My names Faye, mostly known for being a tea addict and keen runner. I'm 31, married and I had my 1st child in June 2015, oh and I also happen to have epilepsy. This is my story of Pregnancy, Motherhood & Epilepsy.