The Vitality Oxford Half Marathon on Sunday, 9 October 2016, will represent 13 huge milestones in recovery from Degenerative Disc Disease for Oxford City AC runner, Charlotte Keen. The 44-year-old mum from Abingdon will be running in her first race beyond 10k following life changing surgery and this is her back story.
Charlotte had been battling the disease since she was 24, which eventually left her unable to walk or lift her own child without pain. Before she was diagnosed, Charlotte enjoyed a fit and active lifestyle and ran for Oxford City running club, then Degenerative Disc Disease took over her life. She was unable to participate in any sport and found herself in constant pain.
The condition worsened seven years ago when she became pregnant with her son and was diagnosed with two slipped discs. Despite the extremely high risks of surgery the decision was made to have the operation to try and improve her quality of life.
Charlotte said: “Before the surgery I couldn't complete simple tasks that every mother should be able to enjoy with their child, such as picking him up when he fell over, playing with him or even walking with him in the woods. It was a truly awful time in my life physically and emotionally”.
Thankfully the surgery was successful and has transformed Charlotte’s life. She started walking in late 2014 and slowly returned to her lost passion for running. Initially she could only manage five minutes around the block but last year completed a 5k Race for Life and then a 10k at Blenheim Palace. She still has to take painkillers but says that when she runs she finally feels 'free' from the pain.
Charlotte added: “The Vitality Oxford Half Marathon will be a hugely important personal milestone for me as the longest race I have done after my life-changing surgery and I will be running to raise funds for the charity, Blue Skye Thinking. It has taken a lot of courage mentally for me to get out there and run as the thought that my back may revert to how it was is always in my mind - but it can be done!”
If you feel inspired by Charlotte’s story and want to join her and at least 6,000 others in the city of the dreaming spires visit the Vitality Oxford Half Marathon website