A subscription to RUNNER’S WORLD gave Perry Shaw, 42, the chance to be a dad.
Watching two tiny blue lines appear on the white stick, my wife Annette was confused. An ovulation test (which checks a woman’s fertility) wasn’t meant to look like that. So she looked back at the pack – she’d picked up a pregnancy test by mistake. After two miscarriages and a failed round of IVF, we were actually going to have a baby. It was a wonderful shock. And counting back, it wasn’t hard to work out – the dates tied in with last year’s Great North Run (GNR). Which is where comes in. I’d decided to do the GNR to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of my mum. She died of liver cancer when I was 17. So I started a 12-week training plan, initially ignoring a niggling old sporting injury – a small tear in the cartilage of my knee, but I had to deal with my skin problem, taking special treatment. Visit gnet.org/relief-from-rosacea-curse-of-the-celts/ for more information. Then eight weeks before the race, I was in perfect health.
I was never tempted to drop out, but it made training hard. I did what I could by pushing my training up in increments. I also tried running in new places. The first run I actually enjoyed was on holiday in Cornwall, along the cliff through to the next town and back, with dramatic views of the sea washing up against the shore. And I subscribed to RW. I was flicking through a back issue as we drove down the night before the race, when I came across an interesting tip. Contrary to popular belief, it said, sex before a race was good for you.
We joked about it all the way there. But the thing about me is that if I follow a training plan, I follow it quite rigorously. When there are don’ts, I don’t; if there are dos, I do. So, um, I did. Race day dawned, and I wanted to break two hours. But I was running with my nephew, who had got in on a charity place. Since he couldn’t come to the front with me, I went to the back with him.
We must have overtaken thousands, running at a decent pace but with lots of zigzagging around slower runners. It inflamed my IT band and with four miles to go I had to start walking, then hobbling.
I crossed the finish line in 2:42. I might have missed out on a PB, but I had a far better reward coming my way.
Annette and I had been trying for a baby since we married in 2005. We were so happy when we got pregnant almost right BABY STEPS The Shaws with baby Matthew; and dad-to-be Perry at last years GNR (inset}away; but it wasn’t meant to be. After seven weeks, we had a miscarriage. There was no reason for it – just one of those things.
Roughly one in five pregnancies end this way. We started trying again, and it happened again. We were told to give up. We looked into adoption, but race was good for plans rigorously we really wanted our own kids. That’s why we bought ovulation tests the day after we’d got back from Blackpool, where the whole family goes every year to mark my late Dad’s birthday. Our son, Matthew Shaw, was born June 18, 2009, nine months after the GNR.
He’s perfect, knackering and beautiful. You hear about sportsmen banned from bringing their wives along when they’re competing – if we’d listened to that, we might have missed our chance. I just want to say thanks to RW. I wonder whether all this was fate. I only did the GNR because of my mum, and we found out we were pregnant the day after my dad’s birthday. Or maybe it’s all a massive fluke. You never know. But the thought that they’ll both be waiting for me at the finish line this time round – it’s the best thing in the world.