Sunday – My first race event post active treatment with the Longhorn 10K. I felt really strong and stable throughout and coming past the 9K sign just made me feel like I was flying, an intense happiness that built as I came into the last few corners…it felt so right to speed up and sprint finish down the tunnel to the line. That last few seconds is an out of this world feeling hard to describe to non-runners. You literally feel invincible, able to do anything, blood pumping, heart souring, feelings are high and euphoric – the runners high that follows, for me, is intense and lasts a long time!
Post race I had the afternoon with my friends who had travelled on purpose to support me…I don’t think they will ever understand how much that meant! We just sat chatting for hours in the campervan in the makeshift carpark. Leaving them I felt choked up and fought to not cry as I walked back to my car.
I wore my medal all night, nearly the last thing to come off before bed.
Monday – My rest day as I’d not had one over the weekend like usual which made it vital to take a day off. Rest/recovery days are necessary for your health and wellbeing. I will say again, that I see all too often fellow runners saying – “it was my rest day so I only did 2K/ I felt guilty so I walked 8miles”…we do enough, we need to take care of the machine!
I spent most of the morning sat, cup of coffee in hand and feet on the radiator scrolling through the official race photos from Sunday. Then a trip to the GP to discuss my ongoing hormone treatment. I’m thankful it can be administered easily there instead of needing a hospital appointment, it makes organising it for the next ten years so much easier!
I did 40mins of yoga before lunch and was hit by not only a sense of peace and calm but also tremendous tiredness. So I did what was best, sat and rested. I’ve been reading Mark Mansons The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck … I highly recommend it. For me it’s told me what I already knew but needed to see…
That my values need to be realigned and only those that are meaningful, followed.
To ask myself the difficult questions when considering an action and to be prepared to feel bad.
To not always trust my gut…it can’t make a decision for me.
To always do what makes me feel alive…no half measures or worthless deeds.
To remember I’m not special…I’m just me and that’s enough and it’s okay to be true to that.
I entered the ballot for the London Marathon 2020 – not because I NEED to do it, part of me isn’t bothered at all with it’s big busy self when there are so many other infinitely cooler, more fun races to do. However, given I’ve done the worlds biggest half marathon, the UKs biggest full marathon maybe ought to be a box ticked at some point, so we’ll see…if I get a place it means two marathons in a month this time next year – now that really would be a good challenge!
Tuesday – My first run of the week and due to my ongoing abductor problem, I was on orders to run easy, slowly and see how things went…thankfully this was my recovery run so I had no chance of doing anything more, plus I still felt really tired. I will point out at this point that with needing to run easy and calmly I went back to what I love this week…pure road running.
I made sure my warm up was longer and included some deep, held, lunges and side lunges. My muscles in my shin tightened however as I ran my 7K, a clear example of over compensating for discomfort. I massaged and stretched but walking through Buxton mid-morning felt awkward and sore.
I went to the Buxton Museum Hoards and Hordes talk, by a curator from the British Museum. He discussed the Viking invasions and settlement in the East Midlands and how our waterways supported their conquest. It was utterly fascinating and I’ve pencilled a few more of the talks into my diary for the coming months.
This was a double day and so around 4.30pm I readied myself for spin class. My leg again stretched, massaged and warmed up well but I struggled when stood on the bike if needing to move faster. All my sprints were therefore done sat and I made sure to heed advice and keep the resistance on the bike to medium setting for the rest.
Wednesday – The world is such a different place at 5am! It was surprising as I ran just how many other people there were up and travelling around. My efforts to warm up well worked enough to keep the discomfort in my leg to a minimum, allowing me to complete the 11K I set out to and in the time I’d given myself due to the days plans. I will say I threw heart rate running out the window when I realised that if I increased my speed slightly, taking it slowly on any ascent and especially descent, the discomfort in my leg went…it was as if it needed a bit extra speed to keep loose. So I listened to my body.
We had a family day narrow boating from Anderton Boat Marina.
It was great fun, but also utterly relaxing and so nice to just watch the world go by at a slower pace. The drive there and back was the longest and furthest I’ve done yet post treatment…it was utterly exhausting! The morning not too bad but coming back, even though I never got caught up in traffic, really took it out of me. I’ve felt extremely tired all week and this was the peak.
Thursday – Tiredness can do a lot of things to the mind, let alone body, throw into that some physical discomfort and you’ve a nice recipe for an emotional mess. My head wasn’t in the right place before I went for my run and my body certainly wasn’t feeling the best, I felt sluggish, wary as I knew my leg would be sore. It was a challenging 6.5K, of which I really only enjoyed the last 2K…roll back a week and that was all I’d managed. My leg is improving very slowly, keeping the soreness in the same place meant I knew my form was good and I wasn’t over compensating for it.
When I got in I cried all over my boyfriend who slowly went through asking me about the good parts of my run – what the weather was like (rainy and I love running in rain) what I’d seen that was beautiful (the pink blossom on the pavements of the next village) what I’d heard that made me smile (goldfinches as they played in the hedge and the Robin near the pub). A new perspective was all I needed and it worked a treat. I noticed how much I walked around afterwards with my leg felt alright, I did a little shimmy to try and see if it was ok or if I’d hurt myself…I know that sounds odd but it’s like picking a scab!
I had a reiki session at the Cancer Support Centre as my third complimentary therapy, I enjoyed the experience but will honestly say I didn’t get as much from it as I had the reflexology the week before. It was however, wonderful to be able to try something new. It also gave me a chance to catch up on Malcolm…who did fine during heart surgery and is now back home again! It feels a huge relief to know that he’s alright and on the mend.
Another positive was coming home to two very important envelopes…my Race For Life and Manchester Half Marathon numbers had arrived. They inspired and lifted me, but I won’t say I don’t feel hesitant about them both…given my leg and overall state of my body, it takes the shine off things a little and my excitement isn’t as high as it would usually be.
Friday – I felt like I’d hit a brick wall…emotionally, physically and mentally. I know everyone warned of it but I suppose I thought the end of treatment meant I’d be alright, instead I’ve slipped backwards all week slowly. Yet again I feel overwhelmed by life, anxiety and a frustration to be whole, normal, safe.
I did an hours upper body strength training to give my legs a break before setting off early for my Moving Forward Course. This was the second session and was based on Adjusting and Adapting Following A Breast Cancer Diagnosis. There were a lot of tears, both mine and others, the hardest lesson was how much of a brave face so many of us were putting on. We felt as ease to sit and vent, explain the feelings of numbness, guilt, despondency, isolation, loss, anxiety and anger. The psychotherapist, whom my referral is with, led the session…I went to speak to her at the end and her opening line was “Emma I have your referral and I’ve spoken to your support nurse and I want to see you before you move forward in life, we need to make sure you’re okay”. They always say you can’t paint the smile on forever!
I had the afternoon at The Crucible for part of the semi-finals of the snooker, courtesy of Weston Park Hospital. It’s something I enjoy but would never have bought myself a ticket for, making it feel even more special. It was also nice breathing space, away from everyone but surrounded by company. I focused on the match instead of my own thoughts.
Saturday – 16miles…the furthest I’ve ever run and such wonderful headspace! Running is my peace of mind in a world that, at the moment, feels overwhelming and confusing. My body isn’t what it was, what I expected or know how to understand – but at least it can, mostly, do what I ask of it.
My pace was slower, thanks to my niggling abductor and how crazy tired I feel, but that mean more time on my feet, showing my body what it needed to do to endure for longer. As my watch buzzed 23K and my brain said…”now we’re in new territory and going further than ever” my legs listened and tightened up. I didn’t feel as fluid through the extra 3K…as if my being was trying to work out why my body hadn’t stopped. This is natural for new distance and time on your feet, so doesn’t worry me, it’s just a new addition to learn and next time will flow better.
The rest of the day was mainly a family day, as my parents and Stan stopped for lunch on their way home from Wales. As good a therapy as what my morning run was, just in a more huggable way!
Sunday – I’m not sure exactly what today will bring. It’s my recovery day and I do need to take a trip to Buxton, which will mean a gentle walk, I’ll also be ensuring I do a session of yoga. Apart from that however this will be my day to rest, reconnect and recover fully from yesterdays run, but also take time out for me.