Seeing something written down, to be done and ticked off, literally never felt so good! Last year I had two half marathon plans, sadly the second had to be deferred due to chemo but both helped inspire the route to this years biggest challenge….health…no no no…running 30 miles!

Thankfully I had awesome help with my 50K plan, something I would strongly advise to anyone undertaking their first bigger distance run. I for one had put so much more in than I should have given what my body has been going through these last five months. I love plans, organisation – it feels secure, gives me confidence even, it certainly keeps me focussed.
This first week of my training plan has been hard work at times but flowed well with good strong runs. Ticking off the days, sticking to what was needed and not putting undue pressure on myself meant that by Thursday morning and my last run of the week, I felt good both physically and mentally.
Just to cover a little about running and treatment, I want to point out that during chemo I’ve had freedom to just run but with a 10K maximum distance allowed. The reason for that being the perils of fatigue and dehydration on my body. I’d trained so that I didn’t need fluid until after 10K and could complete it in under the hour so my oncologist saw it as a “safe” limit. Chemo changes the body so so much and the more of it in my system the more I’ve needed to slow my pace, hydrate and tend to muscular discomfort. I’m also having hormone injections, as my cancer was so responsive to oestrogen and so menopause was another must back in October 2018. This means I suffer night sweats and the odd hot flush…sometimes it doesn’t matter how well I’ve hydrated the day before, I wake up dehydrated and more tired. My 10K runs have therefore being limited to the two weekends before each chemo cycle, and used as my long runs, to give extra time to prepare for them. The rest of my runs I’ve paced to feel and cover a distance I felt achievable when planning details the day before.
I’ve learnt not to go out without a bottle of water in my hydration vest and to sip even when I don’t feel I need it. I’ve also learnt to stop when I know I need to…not when my mind says “what on earth are we doing/no/why woman why!” but when my body gives me signals. Pacing changes have been the same.
Monday was a 6.5K recovery run, steady and well paced and I flew…free as a bird and big deep belly breaths I felt amazing when I got home. I had huge runners high all day and still had a grin on my face when I had my initial meeting with my Radiologist in the afternoon – lovely man and I feel at ease knowing I’m in his safe hands from the start of March.
Tuesday I went out a little later and the sun was starting to rise, usually a 5.45am runner I’d slept badly so gave myself extra time in bed and it paid dividends. All flowed well again and I got home feeling tired but good.
Wednesday was a different story! Only a runner would understand switching on your headtorch, realising that there wasn’t much light and still going for a run. Between it, car headlight glare and the wind blowing in such a way I was fogging my own glasses up on my out breath I simply couldn’t see properly….for 5.5K including the huge hill…which I’ll talk about at another time. Realising I’d completed the distance needed felt like a relief, the run a chore of trying to see and not panic…trying to remember the words of a book I’m reading – by an Ultramarathon runner he mentions turning his headlamp off and running in the dark so others don’t know where he is in the race, as he’s had the same done to him. I figured if he didn’t get freaked out then neither should I…I never slowed, I kept good pace and I got back.
Thursday was a big day, the day of my last chemo cycle and the first sign of new life in our garden – both giving hope for the days ahead. I have ALWAYS run 6K the morning before treatment and so did again. I felt calm and it showed in my run, but I also felt sad! Outsiders to cancer would see it as something to celebrate, an end to one of the most horrendous things you could put you’re body through. Insiders…we know how sick it makes us and how hard the next few weeks will be. I’d had a delayed reaction to the drugs after cycle five and was anxious of that happening again but everything run like clockwork. Once home I slept, my fabulous fiancé making me toast in the evening and reassuring me through my waves of nausea and tiredness.

Between Friday and today (Sunday) I’ve rested, hydrated as much as possible and eaten a little more each day as the nausea has waned. My skin feels even more dry than normal and I’ve been more aware of needing to drink more water…the water tastes funny though, I know that it’s my taste buds battling in a mouth that feels coated with fuzz. I can taste everything but I’m tasting through the fuzz – its disgusting, which puts me off eating and the loss of appetite and knowing I want to walk a little each of these resting days, plus run on Monday, means I need to feed myself through the fuzz. The one area I’ve been naughty with is my foam rolling and muscle massage, I haven’t done any in these three days and know my legs may hate me for it, lack of energy feels like a poor excuse.
On Friday I watched Running For Good, a documentary on Fiona Oakes…what a woman! I’ve recommended it to my running club but I think Fiona is an inspiration to all really. To achieve so much, to be able to get her body to do what it will given what she’s had to have done surgically and still struggles with, to work that hard day after day for the animals and above all to stay so grounded and human…we should all try to be a bit more Fiona! She will certainly be in my mind as I start the new week.

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