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Step by step, I’m running the London Marathon with bronchiectasis

Wade has bronchiectasis and he ran the London Marathon for us this year. Here's his story. 

Wade and his daughter

If you’d have asked me a few weeks ago what was wrong with my lungs, I still wouldn’t have been able to tell you for certain.

When I was 20, I was told I had asthma. Then, 4 or 5 years ago, I saw the doctor and they diagnosed me with COPD. And I just got on with it. I didn’t know much about it – I thought it was just something a little bit worse than asthma. No one ever explained to me what it was.

A severe infection

But in November 2016, I was referred to hospital and a couple of months later I was told that I didn’t have COPD after all. I was given a few more appointments and put on antibiotics. I’ve been taking them ever since.

Fast forward to this January and I had a severe infection. I went back to the doctors. I finally recently sat down with the nurses and begged them to tell me what was wrong with me. I was finally told that I had bronchiectasis.

It was the initial (wrong) diagnosis of COPD that inspired me to apply to run the London Marathon for Asthma + Lung UK.

I've never done a marathon before

I’ve never run a marathon before, but I ran my first 10K run in May last year. In September I did the Nottingham Half Marathon. But doing a marathon was on my bucket list to be done by the time I’m 50, so here I am.

The training has been hard. I’ve never run in winter conditions and with infections – plus the medication I was on - it wasn’t a good idea to go for too long. I struggled running for any sort of long distances.

Instead, I just did a lot of gym work and did treadmill work. I knew I was strong enough to go out, but every time I did, my chest was always cold and breathing in the freezing cold air just knocked me every time.

Let’s see how far I can go

But one of the best days of training so far was when I just said to myself in the morning: 'I feel good today, let’s see how far I can go.'

I just ran and ran and after 8 miles I still felt good. I actually thought I might be able to do this. I finished after 10 miles and my legs felt great the next day. It was clear that the work I’d been doing to boost my strength was paying off.

Being part of Team Breathe has been amazing. I’ve really enjoyed everything from all the support from Paul and the team looking after the runners, to getting to know everyone taking part. Watching everyone’s ups and down has really struck a chord with me. It can be frustrating when you’re stuck in bed, under doctor’s orders to stay indoors, but the team ethic has really inspired me. 

On the day, I’ll be thinking about getting to the half-way point as slowly as possible. I’m praying my thighs don’t go dead on me and hope I see my family early enough while I’m in good shape. I don’t want my daughter Amelia seeing me struggle so early.

If you’re considering running a marathon I’d say to them that if I can do it at a snail’s pace, they’ve got nothing to worry about. Speak to people who have done a marathon before and listen to their advice. Enjoy the journey . 

Now that I know I’ve got bronchiectasis, I feel more optimistic about running more in the future. I want to improve my time, step by step. 

I know other people living with bronchiectasis who run, and they can go a lot faster than me. That gives me confidence I can go faster one day if I keep going. I only started running 18 months ago, so I’m happy with where I am. I’m making slow progress for life. Step by step, I’ll get there. But I know I'll never walk alone.

If you're inspired by Wade's story, why not take on a challenge yourself? Whether it's a marathon or a Take Steps walk at your own pace, whatever you decide to do will help move us closer to a world without lung disease.

Find your challenge

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16 April 2018