RLG member Rebecca Berzins almost became an also-ran when pouch surgery threatened her passion for running. Then sheer determination took over.

I’ve always been a keen runner, enjoying the buzz and camaraderie of several fun runs, 5ks and a half marathon or two – even during the four years I had a stoma. 

However I faced a much bigger snag in 2016 when I had a pouch operation. Suddenly I began to struggle to get back into my familiar running routine again, sometimes finding the timing of my runs tricky and unpredictable.

I decided that with some good planning there was no reason why I couldn’t take it up again. So at the start of 2019 I signed up for the Vitality 10k – a 10-kilometre run through the streets of London. I decided that I’d be damned if my pouch was going to rob me of my passion for running!

I duly printed off a training plan and to the cheers of my four-year-old daughter, Cleo, shouting “Run faster Mummy”, I set off running again. Despite not being altogether in the best of shape physically I knew that, on the days that I did feel up to it, stepping out for a run would make me feel like me again. Running always makes me feel fit, healthy and alive!

As race day approached friends and family started asking me how they could sponsor me so I decided to use the opportunity to raise funds for the Red Lion Group. Having sat in on the AGM at the annual Information Day in April 2019, I knew how valuable the funds would be.

Sticking to my training plan was tough at times as on bad pouch days I couldn’t run as planned. Yet I tried not to get despondent and kept in mind that I was taking part in a race that was important to me – not simply bettering past racing times.

During my training I ran first thing in the morning before I ate anything as I find that is the easiest approach. But on race day my start time wasn’t until 10.45am so I knew I would need some fuel. I had a light breakfast first thing and left myself plenty of time to empty my pouch and make several toilet trips before the race started (although race day nerves meant I’ve always done that anyway so I can’t really blame my pouch!).

Being a little out of practice and somewhat short of training meant my knees were struggling by the halfway point, but I was pleased not to have to make any toilet stops during the race, which took me a little over an hour to complete.

It was wonderful to be back doing what I love again and I am delighted that I raised £605 for the Red Lion Group.

Finishing touch: Rebecca Berzins with her Vitality 10k medal

Ed: Congratulations Rebecca! We very much appreciate your fundraising efforts

This article first appeared in ISSUE 60: Christmas 2020 edition of ROAR! If you would like to read other articles like this, why not become a member of the Red Lion Pouch Support group? You will receive printed Copy of ROAR! twice a year and have online access to archive ROAR! editions going back to 1994.

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Gary Bronziet