Tag Archives: Half marathon

I was told I may never walk again – now I’m going to run a Half Marathon!

Erika was told eight years ago she may never walk again. She talks about the barriers, attitudes and challenges she has had to overcome from day to day. Now she faces her biggest challenge yet – running a half marathon.

I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and a form of Dysautonomia called Postural Orthostatic Tachychardia Syndrome (PoTS). My autonomic nervous system does not work leaving my body unable to control basic functions such as heart rate, digestion and blood pressure. My connective tissue is also faulty; it is weak and stretchy causing daily dislocations and pain and exhaustion just to name a few. When I was 12 I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), due to this I lost the use of both my arms and legs, I was told I would never walk again.

Social pressures and attitudes

Love it or hate it social perceptions surround us everywhere we go, overflowing our brains like a virus on an unsuspecting computer. Without realising, judgements are made on a person’s abilities and circumstances without real knowledge. Embarrassment, awkwardness, isolation; formed from age old perceptions and misunderstanding, feeding down through generations, effecting perceptions today. You ask why and you’re told “It’s just the way it is”.

The frustration runs through our veins like the harshest river, everyday willing the banks to burst, for reality to prevail and everyone to see we are human too. Constantly having to prove ourselves twice over, opening up our souls to strangers in a futile attempt to prove we are more than a malfunctioning body, more than a pity case, more than our disability.

What do you think of when you hear the word disability?

When you hear that word, what first comes to mind?

“I feel sorry for you.”
“You’re so brave.”
“I’m so lucky I’m not like you.”
“What kind of life is it to be like that every day.”
“You’re not living, you’re surviving.”
“I hope my children are not like you.”

For many it is these six heartbreaking quotes. For too many people, a person with a disability is seen as someone who is surviving, not living. A person saddened and ruined by their circumstances.

However to me, my disability made me the person I am today.

The person who gives everyone a chance, no matter what their past.
The person who works tirelessly every day to achieve my goals.
The person who knows the sky is the limit.
The person who is a dancer.
The person who is understanding.
The person who is training for a half marathon.

It is now 8 years after being told I may never walk again and I am currently training for a half marathon which I will be completing in aid of Scope.

Feet of disabled woman training

A half marathon for me will be an extremely physically and mentally tough journey. I don’t mean it’ll just be a little tiring, I mean one of the toughest things I will ever do!

So, why do it then?

Good question!

I have grown up in a society where disability and illness are a taboo. A vast majority of people assume that illness and/or disability mean you can no longer live a fulfilling life and that you definitely can’t do sport. This made life growing up with a disability hard for me, and even more so when I fell very ill two years ago. I felt consumed by hopelessness, overcome by the unknown, realising the things I would never do. Social perception cemented this belief in my mind, pushing me every day to give up. Telling me it was “just the way it is”.

The thing about disability is it makes us powerful. It provides knowledge of issues much wider than our own. Opens our mind to what life really is and that it is up to us to form our own future. If we are able to overcome what society dictates we should and should not be able to do then we can do absolutely anything.

So I am determined to do this half marathon! Training will be hard for me, I know that. I also know that there will be times that my health will go downhill, I will be scared, upset, angry and want to give up. There will be days when I will think it is impossible.

But I will remember the power I have. And I will remember the little girl with Downs Syndrome I used to teach dance to and the many other disabled children out there with so much passion, enthusiasm and raw talent. And I will do it for them. I will aim to change social perception so that they can grow up with less of a fight, knowing that just because you may be disabled or chronically ill it doesn’t mean you can’t do something, just that you may have to do it in a different way.

Feelling motivatedby Erika’s story? Take a look at some of our challenge events today

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”

In July we introduced you to Team Scope athlete, Mike Jones, as he prepared to take part in Ironman Sweden. The following is an unknown text that he has come across which we’re sure will be very apt for a number of you: 

“In a race and finding it hard, look back, not just at the people who are running behind you but especially at those who don’t run and never will… those who run but don’t race…those who started training for a race but didn’t carry through…those who got to the starting line but didn’t the finish line…those who once raced better than you but no longer run at all. You’re still here. Take pride in wherever you finish. Look at all the people you’ve outlasted.”

These sentiments are even more appropriate for Mike looking back on his Ironman experience.

For those that do not know by now, I got to cross the finish line in Kalmar, however was outside “Lock Down”. But for me that was job done. This was the first time I’d completed the full 140.2 miles of an Ironman or Long Course Triathlon and what an incredible experience. When that moment came to cross that line, and even though it was late, I was given a reception I will never forget.

The people of Kalmar

A little about Ironman Sweden and  I hope to do the event justice. I have to start with the people of Kalmar and the surrounding area. A city that normally has 30 thousand people rose to over 100 thousand on the day. All around the bike and run course there were constant Ironman Parties that went on all day which created an atmosphere I have never experienced. Getting stopped in the street the following day and being greeted as a “hero,” “the man that did not stop” by people just out and about their daily lives is still leaving me speechless.

The course itself

The swim course was one of the most technical I have swum over that distance. Sighting was a little bit of a problem as I was not able to pick up the next turn buoy until late. But the last 1k at least brought you so close to the shore where the support was like swimming in a pool. This probably made it a bit easier as all I needed to do was follow the long line people shouting encouragement in their respective languages. Overall for me not a fast swim, but conditions were not that easy either.

The bike has been in the past for me where it has all gone wrong. I now have a new PB for the 112 miles, taking a massive 2 hours plus off my previous best. As for the course, the roads for the majority of the distance were like a race track (Britain you have a lot to learn).

The Marathon run course was 3 loops of Kalmar and district. It was quite early on when I felt the need to go into survival mode and with the words of Tracy Williams in my head, “every step forward is a step closer to the finishing line.” It took me more than 8 miles just to get into any sort of rhythm.

Determination to finish

At one point I had to sit down to consider if I was going to carry on, when a gust of wind blew me to my feet. It was time to believe – I think by this time finishing had become more important than time. If I was to analyse the run element then the following would be the key point: yes, I had trained for the run, but with past experiences I had not trained enough… surprising how much the mind influences training plans.

The reception coming into Kalmar at the end of this loop was in the words of Burt Le Berock, “unbelievable, just unbelievable.” The encouragement both from the people present and those at home over a thousand miles away was the drive to go on to the last 18k loop. This was going to push me forward. A few safety checks from the organisers and I was allowed to continue, I now just needed to give a little bit more.

The Name of the Game was to cover 140.2 miles and with the support of many this was done. Now is a time to reflect on what I have achieved and what I wish to do in the future. One thing I already know is that I will not be giving into my Neuromuscular Condition.

Future events?

Mike went on to get a great time in the Bupa Great North Run, setting a new PB for a half marathon distance. 2014 will prove to be a busy year for him, taking on the Bath Half Marathon in March, the Eton 10k swim in May and the Outlaw Long Course Triathlon covering 140.6 miles in July to name but a few! We wish him all the best as he continues his fundraising and for his events next year.

If you’ve been tempted to take part in a triathlon or endurance event then make sure you check out what we have to offer.

Will you catch “the running bug”?

Like many of us, Ellen O’Donohoe was more likely to put her feet up on an evening then get out and go for a run. But that all changed when she caught the ‘running bug’ from her housemate and in just three weeks time Ellen will be running her first ever half marathon for Scope at Run to the Beat. Like many of our participant’s, Ellen’s motivations for signing-up with Scope are personal – here’s her story documenting her training, injuries and fundraising over the past few months:

I was never very sporty growing up. I was always happier reading a book rather than playing sports. I surprised myself by getting into running. I was looking for a way to exercise (to lose some weight, if I’m honest) and decided that sticking to an exercise routine would be easier with a friend so I began joining my housemate who liked to run. It took a while, and I didn’t see it happening, but I grew to love running.

A tough Winter

Even so, earlier this year, during the bitterly cold winter months, I was finding it harder and harder  to go running. I decided to sign up for a race, something I’ve never done before,  so that I would have something to work towards. Running for charity made sense to me because I knew it would help to keep me motivated. My cousin had cerebral palsy and knowing of the support that Scope provides to people like her made me want to raise money for them.

The highs and lows of training

I started training right away, I had a long way to go from my two-three miles every week. I steadily increased the miles I was doing and was very proud the first time I reached 10K. Something I never would have believed I could do just a few years ago. Unfortunately, I pushed too hard and pulled a calf muscle. It was so frustrating. I was unable to run for six weeks!

Ellen's Colleagues Limbering Up for their Bleep Test

During that time I focused on fundraising instead. I organised a sponsored bleep test at work and convinced a few colleagues to join me. I planned it well in advance so my leg had time to heal (although it was close) five racers took part, including myself, and together we raised nearly £80.

Ellen's relieved finishers!A dash to the confidence

To help with my training and to get me used to the race atmosphere I signed up for a shorter race. I agreed to be part of a relay team for the Upton Tri in July, running 10k. It happened to fall on one of the hottest days of the year. By the time I was due to run my section the temperature had already reached 30 degrees. It was horrible. I made it half way around before the heat got the better of me and forced me to walk/run the rest. It took me a long time to reach the finish line, so much longer than I hoped. I finished the race disheartened, wishing I could have done better and worried about what this might mean for the race in September.

A little over a week later, I ran 10 miles for the first time in training. It did wonders for my confidence. It was such a difference from my practice race. For the first time I felt that no matter what happened, I would be able to make it across the finish line.

Injury free until race day?

As far as fundraising goes, my friends and family have been very generous. I still have a little way to go to reach my target but I’m hopeful I’ll make it. For now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will stay injury free until race day. Despite all the ups and downs that I now know comes with training I hope, that by race day, I will be strong enough and prepared enough to run the whole 13.1 miles.

If you’d like to sponsor Ellen and help her reach her fundraising goal then do visit her online giving page. We’ll be there on race day to cheer Ellen and our other Team Scope runners along the Run to the Beat course – if you’d like to be there with us then please do volunteer by emailing us at events@scope.org.uk. Or why not take on your own challenge for Scope?

I’m an endurance athlete. With one leg. #100days100stories

We first published Chris’s story in 2013, and we’re sharing it again as part of Scope’s 100 days, 100 stories campaign. Four years after an awful motorbike accident, Chris Arthey took part in his first marathon as an amputee. 

Chris taking part in Run to the Beat 2012Hi, my name is Chris Arthey and I’m an endurance athlete. With one leg.

In 2008 my wife Denise and I both lost our left legs in a road accident. With lots of encouragement and modern technology we’ve been able to get mobile again.

Running was, and is once more, a big part of my life. In 2012 I completed my tenth full marathon. It was my first as an amputee. In this ‘revised configuration’ I’ve also competed in five triathlons and four half-marathons; in one of those I managed an age-group (55+) second place against able-bodied runners, which surprised a few people – me included!

My daughter Miriam was there to cheer me on in the 2012 marathon, and decided that she wanted to run a half-marathon herself. Because I’m a proud Dad I promised that wherever I was in the world I would fly home to London and we would run it together. So we signed up to raise funds for Scope in Run to the Beat and I travelled back from Texas for the event. We had a blast as a Dad-daughter team.

Chris and Miriam at the finishWe wanted to support Scope because of the outstanding work they do for disabled people. When you have a disability it’s very easy to get downhearted and frustrated, but support and resources can transform this.

Denise and I have been very fortunate to survive and put our lives back together. Take a look at our short biographical video. It’s good to be able to encourage others in the way that we have been encouraged. And to be able to build more family memories with Miriam and our two sons. Every day is a gift.

If you’ve been inspired by Chris and Denise’s story to take part in an event for Scope, take a look at what we have to offer on our website.

Find out more about 100 days, 100 stories and how you can get involved