One day I was proud of my run, the next morning I was screaming

I know it’s been a while since I posted, but it’s been quite a week…

There’s a quote by a member of one of my favourite bands that has always stuck in my mind since I was in my teens. When Joy Division singer Ian Curtis committed suicide, drummer Stephen Morris said: “In the evening I was turning up my trousers, the next morning I was screaming.”

It seems like a perfect example of how your life can go from mundane to tragic in the blink of an eye…

What brought this up? Well I’ve got to go back a week to explain.

Regular readers will know that Laura, my wife, is currently seven months pregnant with twins and last Saturday morning we had a bit of a scare.

At 5am, Laura got up, went to the toilet and saw she had some blood, by 5.30, we were at the hospital and heart monitors were on checking both babies, who, thankfully, were okay. Nonetheless, we were told to expect that an emergency C-section might have been needed and we spent the next five hours with Laura connected to a heap of machinery waiting with baited breath.

Luckily, the bleeding stopped, things settled down but they kept her in for observation overnight.

Laura was insistent that I didn’t miss out on running the Royal Parks Half Marathon, so after a night on my own that was pretty sleepless, I phoned her in the morning to check she was still okay and set off for the race.

I met David, my pal, near the start and we handed in our bags and made our way to the pen where our green numbers deemed we were aiming for times less than 1 hour 45minutes.

I’d been thinking about saving myself and not going all out for a PB despite the course flatness – with the Athens Marathon coming up in a few weeks, I’d decided to take it more as a training race.

But given Laura’s condition means Athens now looks like a dream (I WILL run it one day), I decided to push on at a comfortable pace and see where I was at the half way and make a timing decision then.

David was going all out for a PB, he’s a bloody good runner anyway and was aiming for a 1hour 25mins, so when the gun went, he shouted ‘good luck’ and was off.

The Royal Parks route is a gorgeous one, around many of the best sights in London. It starts at Hyde Park, goes past Green Park and Buckingham Palace, down to Westminster, over Westminster Bridge and back before heading back to Hyde Park where it does a huge sweep around before coming back to the start.

I was feeling pretty decent once I got past a couple of miles where it was tough to fight my way through the crowds and I knew I was doing okay when I saw my first couple of mile times, around 7.30 a mile, so I decided to push on at the same pace, knowing it would take me near my PB of 1hr 46mins.

At around seven miles and back in Hyde Park on one of the double backs, I saw David, looking really strong, coming back the other way, and also passed a girl Holly who I know from The Daily Express who was a good mile and a half behind me.

At 10 miles, I was looking good for a 1hr 40mins but began to tire of the pace, dropping off to about 8mins a mile before picking up again for the last mile and a half.

I ended up coming in at I hour 40 minutes and 40 seconds… not bad at all, 999th out of 12,000 people. I then caught up with David who came – gulp – 46th with a time of 1hour 25 minutes, had a quick wash in portaloo and headed to the hospital to see Laura.

Everything was fine, she was okay and I spent most of the day with her and we were told to expect her to come home the next morning.

For most of the evening, I basked in knocking a good six minutes off my PB and got up the next morning, did some work and then, when the text came in from Laura, set off in the car to pick her up.

Around 20 minutes later, I was heading through Vauxhall when my mobile rang. It was my youngest stepsister, Carey, I thought she was calling to ask about Laura and thought I’d call her back when I got to hospital.

But the more it rang, the more something nagged… and when I picked it up, I knew why. Carey was screaming and within minutes, so was I. Carey’s mum, my stepmother of 32 years, Josie, had died.

Carey had just walked in on her mother and found her dead in bed. With the tears welling, I picked Laura up and headed straight down there to find ambulance crews and the police talking to Carey and Nicola, my other stepsister. Josie’s body was lying cold on the bed. I went in and stroked her hair, tears falling fast. She was 63.

We lost my dad four years ago and since then, he had pretty much started to give up. She had one lung, suffered from pneumonia and emphesima and still smoked 40 a day. The oxygen machine she used was still attached to her face; when Carey had arrived it was still on.

Until Saturday she had been in Yorkshire with my other stepsister Sam who had brought her back to London on Saturday afternoon. The other girls took their kids round to see her, they’d not seen their gran for six weeks and they left her, seemingly okay in the early hours of Saturday evening.

Sometime between then and me running around Hyde Park, it seems her lungs finally gave up on her and she drifted off with the levels of carbon monoxide in her blood slowly poisoning her but putting her mercifully, slowly and without pain, to sleep. At last, she’s back with dad…

Over the past week, I’ve not been for a run, it’s all been too much and at times, I’ve felt overwhelmed with it all… I may go out tomorrow or Tuesday…

The next one is dedicated to her…

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