My Dublin Marathon Dilemma

The Cologne Marathon 2015

It was going to be my first attempt at a sub three hour marathon and my training was going perfect. In April 2015 I ran the Manchester Marathon for training with a target of 3:08 and completed it in 3:06, all was shaping up nicely. Sadly a few months later I was diagnosed with cancer, boom, my life ripped out from underneath my feet, I was only a few months away from attempting something I would never even have imagined or dreamed off before, but now that dream was taken away from me.

When I started chemotherapy and radiation treatment in September of 2015 my specialist all but promised that he would have me back running again by the summer of 2016, so I told my girlfriend that I would take it easy that year when I did get back jogging, and then focus on the Dublin City Marathon in 2017. I still wasn’t going to give up on my dream of running a sub three hour marathon, but I decided to box it off for the time being.

My specialist was right, he had me back running by the summer of 2016 and by December I was up to 14kms and at quite a nice pace too, all was going to plan, I was also about to finally return to work, but then my world came crashing down hard! I relapsed, everything looked to be going very smoothly, it was just so out of the blue, I was in severe shock. When I was admitted to hospital it was thought that I had picked up a tropical virus from my holiday, none of us even considered it was my cancer back, but it turns out it was. My plan to run the 2017 Dublin City Marathon went out the window.

Flash forward to April 2017, I finished my treatment of chemotherapy, full body radiation and a bone marrow transplant and was subsequently discharged. My poor body, it hadn’t even recovered from the first bout of cancer before being forced to go through it all again, even harsher treatment this time, AND a bone marrow transplant. I was under no illusion that the recovery would be fast or easy, however, I made up my mind that I would target the Dublin Marathon in 2018. I feel that making those targets in my head, realistic or not, gave me a focus, a motivation, and a determination to get through the treatment..


During a consultation with my specialist while recovering, I discussed the prospect of running the marathon in 2018 and asked her if she thought it would be possible. She explained that because my body was put through such a severe treatment process after not having fully recovered from the first time she wasn’t sure.

She explained that she had never been asked such a question, but told me that it will have to be slow and steady training when I do get back to it and to just take it as it comes day by day. I was to notify her when I began doing any serious training.

The issue surrounding fatigue would definitely be my biggest possible obstacle. Fatigue isn’t another word for tiredness, it’s so much worse than being tired, it’s absolute exhaustion, pure exhaustion to the extent that it’s so hard to even get out of bed or get off the couch. Fatigue can unfortunately be a long term side effect to the treatment that I went through, twice, so it’s just going to be a wait and see scenario as to whether or not my body would be able to sustain that type of training, running 42.2kms isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but I can’t deny that I love it!

Terenure 5 Mile

I began walking last May once I had started to feel like I had a bit of energy back, by November I had started walk jogging, and in December I managed my first 5k jogging, albeit incredibly slowly, but I did it! I have slowly but surely been building since then, but with many bumps along the way.

The Terenure 5 Mile was on Sunday and I had been looking forward to it so much but thanks to my useless immune system, or lack of immune system it may seem, I picked up an infection last week, I was absolutely exhausted all week and decided on the day not to run it.

I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to running it, how excited I was about running it, or how upset I was to have to say no, how hard it was to pull out of the event, that my body just wasn’t able. I guess for me the upset is definitely magnified as it’s on the back of years of illness, treatment, side effects, fatigue and disappointment. It certainly makes it harder to make those decisions but in the end I always know the right decision to make.


As for work, next month on the 18th of June I will be having a meeting with my specialist about returning to work. I haven’t been in work since August 2015, nearly three years now at this stage. I’ve been told that when I return to work it will be on a phased basis as neither my body or my brain will be use to it, it will tire me out a lot on a mental level because my brain won’t have been switched on for such intense activity or long durations of time since I was in work last.

I can only imagine that my return to work will be in July or August perhaps but I won’t really know until next month, but either way this will also be a deciding factor in whether or not I can run Dublin. The marathon is at the end of October and my exercise will be taking a back seat when I return to work, so the timing just might not be suitable at all, I’ll just have to wait and see. Only time will tell what happens, but work will be the priority.


One of the most important aspects for me during the course of the next few months will be finding the right balance. I need to carefully balance my social life, my work life when I return to work, and any exercise I do. I need to manage my energy levels and be kind to myself and to my body, and that is already a challenge in itself.

I don’t decide, my body decides

I so want this year to be the year, the year I get to run a marathon again, it might not be my year but I so want it to be. I have been set back over and over since 2015 and I’ve been made to wait so long, but at the end of the day only time will tell, and I will certainly take this year with a pinch of salt.

At the end of the day, the decision is out of my hands, I won’t be deciding whether or not I will run this year’s Dublin Marathon, it will be my body that makes that decision. I think many of us have a tendency to show a stubborn side when it comes to training or over doing it every now and then but I can’t afford to be stubborn.

My body will either be able or it won’t, I won’t be rushing my body back, if it’s not ready then I’ll be hugely disappointed, but it just means I will have to revert to my Plan B, which is certainly another exciting prospect. I have not really been able to plan much in my life over the last three years, I have had to cancel so much, so I have learned now that when I do plan or organise anything, I will always have a back up plan just incase.


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