Manbag #19 – Why

Today is World Ostomy Day and in a week’s time I will be, hopefully, a third of the way through the Lakes in a Day 50 mile ultramarathon. I thought I’d try and answer the question.

Why? Why am I doing this?

Partly to raise money for Colostomy UK.

Partly to raise awareness around life with a stoma.

But, mainly because I want to. I enjoy running and I enjoy long runs and a challenge! I have had my stoma for close to 4 years, which in itself is a scary thought. But prior to that I have periodically done long runs. I did a couple of Mountain Marathons around the turn of the millennium and in 2008 I did a long run in Belgium which was 100k but very flat. I’m not fast but I can plod along for hours.

There’s a line in the song Be Safe by The Cribs that goes “I’d like to go and get good and lost in the woods for a while.” That’s what a long run is to me, the chance to escape, decompress. I am absentmindedly mindful when I run. Not completely present but not completely absent either. It makes a big difference to my mental health, being able to run and run for a long time. The fact that I live in the Lake District just makes that so much more enjoyable.

When I had my colostomy it was important to me that I could run, the idea of not being defined by my colostomy, that running would still be a tool in my nest of mental wellbeing. I’ve been lucky in that respect. My stoma has given me some challenges. Leaks being the main one, resolved with additional tape around my base plate. The key, for me, is to make sure that my bag is completely empty at the start of my run.

I’d had my eye on the Lakes in a Day for a couple of years before my operation so it’s not a new challenge, it’s just evolved with the addition of the colostomy. I’ve said before that I didn’t want my colostomy to define me. That leads to my last reason for doing this challenge. There is an internal voice in my head that tells me that by doing this I prove to myself that I am not defined by my colostomy.

For now I can distract myself from the idea of the event by getting ready, it’s all about the preparation in this last week. The training is done. I’ve watched some ultra marathon documentaries on YouTube just to get in to the mood.

Am I ready? I think so but I’ll let you know next week.

If you’d like to contribute to raising money for Colostomy UK you can donate here.

Take care Col

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A 50 something film and digital photographer based in Kendal, Cumbria. Blogging about mental health, mental wellbeing, living with a colostomy and music memories.

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