I thought it would be a good idea this week to start off with a little update on me, how I’m doing and feeling.
Firstly, and most importantly, I’m starting to feel more at peace with myself…how my body is, the way I look, how I feel and how I’m handling life…all are slowly coming together. I feel I’m caring about myself more and, although I sometimes worry what those around me see when I look at them or when I speak, I’m also making inroads in not changing my behaviour or language to fit what I feel other people need anymore. I realised that I can still be caring, kind, listening, helpful Emma but I also can’t solve everyone elses problems, I can’t manage their struggles and emotional feelings. I do worry that cancer has left me less empathetic…it’s definitely made me less sympathetic! I find it hard to understand others problems now and then and as much as I want to say that saddens me, there’s a huge part of me going “I don’t care”…that feels harsh to write let alone read, but I know I can be there for others but they have to look after themselves…in turn I know those that will always be there for me, but I have to look after myself because I’m the only one who fully knows and understands me.
I’m having less emotional low days and more either neutral or good days. But don’t get me wrong…when I have a low it’s very low and dark and bleak! My anxiety is better but I slide somewhere daily between feeling – happy, nonchalant, anxiety attack…in all their full on literal steps.
Physically it’s a game of two halves:
I’m seeing the difference in my body…filling out clothes in nearly the old way again, seeing muscles improve, enjoying glowing skin, experiencing better energy levels.
I’ve also noticed however, that I’m bruising REALLY easily…which makes me concerned for my blood levels which they tell me are where they’d expect, but that’s not normal person level and I do think something may be amiss. Also, everything has slowed down too…my head hair hasn’t really changed much in 3 weeks, my nails have stopped growing and my diary says it’s about a month since I cut them, plus one of my toenails is discolouring like they did during chemo.
I have a weird, crazy itch on my throat. It was something I gained during chemo and thought it a reaction to something. In the last week it’s worsened and I’ve had to start putting sudocrem on it! I’m seeing my GP on Monday and so shall ensure I discuss both it and the bruising!
Sunday – My Dads birthday aswell as my rest day and so a good excuse to take things gently, eat good food and chat. Given how busy I knew everywhere would be with it being Fathers Day aswell, I cooked lunch and Mum brought cake for pudding.
We had one lovely relaxed day together and given a light pooch walk session mid-afternoon I didn’t even attempt any yoga come the evening.
Monday – My 6.5K recovery run went well but I had to take it slower then usual due to the ache in both my quads. My legs seem able to cope now with any uphill challenge but grumble a lot on, and after, any downhill…mine especially didn’t like the steep downhill back home during Saturdays long run.
I got back from my run and while stood in the shower felt suddenly so light headed, I thought I was going to pass out. It happened again after breakfast and I felt uncomfortably tired. I’d been due to take my sick note into work and see everyone…something I badly wanted to do given we’re now on the countdown for me going back. I daren’t walk to the car let alone get in it and drive and so contacted those I needed to, grabbed my book and a flask of water and took root on the sofa. I spent the morning just reading and sleeping and it was definitely what I needed. I did a session of Yoga For Blood Flow before doing dinner, my body didn’t move as fluidly given a good six days without any practice, but I know it helped. I’d also felt very anxious during the afternoon, concerned about plans for the week, so that time out on my mat helped focus my mind too.
Tuesday – I slept really badly…potentially too tired the day before and not enough sleep during the day, or maybe too much. My hormones were also definitely all a skitter still…I’d woken up drenched by a night sweat at 3am, plus I got up to a huge spot on my chin! I had a bit of a lie in before grabbing my mat and weights for 20minutes strength and conditioning training, with emphasis on skips and squats. Then a session each of Yoga For Deep Core and Yoga For Perspective.
I spent the morning cleaning our house, taking my time as I still felt tired, then the afternoon finishing my latest art project.
I’m more than pleased with it as it’s been my first dabble with oil paints and I’ve found it such an exciting medium to work with – my word does it take a while to dry though.
At spin in the evening I felt like I had a great amount of energy, it was a really good session and I came home buzzing. I had the night to myself and so enjoyed an evening of pasta, chocolate and Sense & Sensibility on Amazon.
Wednesday – As I was doing over 10K, and going away later, I had an early start to have breakfast of porridge, banana and jam before setting off for my run two hours later. 14.5K of hilly trail/path mix with a few hill repeats near the end to strengthen my legs up. I noted the aches in my quads were still there on the downhill sections and so tried to squat a little more as I moved when going downhill. I also power hiked uphill, I’ve been reading up on doing this and the technique and body position needed…mainly from my Ultra Running book by Hal Koerner. I saw a huge improvement from just speed walking up…it was cleaner, quicker, last fatiguing, and most importantly easier to transition from to running again. Anyone considering it but concerned by the “but I’d be walking” demon…please be assured that on looking at my split times you’d think I was running flat, not uphill!
I loved the route going out so much I did a lap of the nearby village and then went back the way I’d come…forgetting how much uphill there was with it!
It didn’t affect my planned hill repeats at the end though and I finished my run feeling positive and fresh.
I spent the rest of the morning lazing around with my fiancée before lunch and setting off on my journey to Lincoln.
I arrived at our small local station to find it decorated with children’s stories and pictures as part of the 125yrs of the Hope Valley line celebrations. It looked so cheerful and I loved the short stories the children had written.
I had a great time catching up in Lincoln with friends and a beautiful meal out that evening…including some amazing desserts.
We talked for hours and it was nearly midnight before I went to bed.
Thursday – With going to bed late and not having my run planned until later in the day, I had a lie in before a relaxed breakfast at my friends sun drenched kitchen table. It was a beautiful start to the day and I had a really relaxing journey back. I felt sad coming home and leaving my friends behind though…it always feels a bit heartbreaking and I miss them!
Once home I had lunch/a second breakfast in preparation for my run a couple of hours later. Then played with my new smartwatch – I’ve upgraded to a Huawei Pro Band 3 from my older Band 2 model. This one has a much longer battery life which should see me right through my Ultra. Plus easier to read screen and upgraded GPS. I charged it and used it on my run and was really impressed with it! My heart rate was a bit up and down but running later in the day, anxiety about being out with more traffic and making sure I got to the doctors to collect my prescription half way, all added to that…plus I’d had a good couple of strong coffees before I travelled. Overall however it was a good, easy run and I achieved what I’d wanted to.
Late afternoon I chatted with The Cavendish Centre about having counselling with them, as per my psychotherapists advice, but they can only offer four sessions. They have advised that given the PTSD it’s not best to start a process that they then can’t finish, and leave me in a difficult situation mentally and emotionally, so I’m best to wait for my appointments to start with my psychotherapist instead. I’m happy with that however, as I’d worried about beginning speaking to them and then needing more help than they could offer. Instead I’ll be sticking to my four reflexology sessions…which I feel will be of just as much benefit to relax and help me over these next few weeks.
Friday – International Yoga Day and so I changed things up a little and did a 10 minute Yoga To Wake Up, then half an hour of upper body strength training before 40 minutes of Yoga For Strength and Stamina.
I wanted, needed, a day of me and therapy. I was booked in for my reflexology mid-afternoon anyway but headed into the City just after 9am so that I could go to the Friday Life Drawing session at the Millennium Gallery. It’s £8 to attend and you got use of an awfully good selection of art materials if you needed them, plus easels. I’d highly recommend going to anyone in the area with time on a Friday morning. I didn’t feel I did as well as I’ve drawn previously…but…I had a male model whereas before I’ve had a female. He held some great poses but there’s something to me more interesting about a female body, the shape and the way it moves.
Once the session had finished I used my John Lewis voucher for coffee and lemon meringue pie before a spot of browsing, then walked to my reflexology session.
Just as before I felt instantly calmed, sleepy and my legs and feet so much lighter. My therapist picked up on the tension I’ve had recently in my back – as my adductor issue hit it sparked lower back pains! Both are now, fingers crossed, nearly mended but I’m being careful to make sure I put in the exercises given by my physio, plus extra core work. My therapist also explained a back and shoulder opening position to use to help relieve tension, so given my running mileage is up I shall be ensuring the extra work is done to keep that tension at a minimum.
Saturday – I’d only run 18miles once before and with a lot of elevation on first going out. The route I chose for my second 18mile run had a bit more elevation but had more gradual climbs combined within it.
My aims were to pace well, be energy efficient and power hike the hills, eat an SIS mini energy bar at 25K to see how my stomach responded and lastly to just enjoy myself. All went perfectly, I felt good and enjoyed the route, and given the time of day the morning air hung with the smell of flowers and sound of birdsong.
I felt so much better than I had on my first 18mile run…no ache in my hips, no absolute wall at 24K! I do think I hit a mini wall however at 19K…it was hot and humid but I’m sure some was psychological too. I was on my way back towards the dam wall near Bamford and just knew something was off that I couldn’t place. I felt tired and every thought was “walk a bit” but I just kept running. Around 20K my flow was back and I felt strong and capable.
I finished a full 4minutes quicker than previously, plus I’d managed to eat my SIS mini energy bar at 25K successfully while speed hiking a hill! I had no stomach pains, vomiting or diarrhoea so we’ll view that as a success….given how many calories I’ll burn I ideally need six gels and one/two mini energy bars on my Ultra…and that is as a minimum requirement to keep my body stable throughout, stave off fatigue and aide recovery afterwards!
At the end of my run I felt like I could have kept going, a hugely positive sign. I spent the latter part of the day reading, sleeping and cooking…but did pop out for onions and came back with them plus a piece of gluten free hazelnut and chocolate cake for each of us too!
Sunday – Did I really run 18miles yesterday…yes my legs have a slight stiffness, but otherwise I really can’t tell! The extra nutrition as I ran, the way I ran and all I did to rest, stretch and dial into good nutrition for refuelling afterwards…it’s all paid off.
THE GREATEST CHALLENGE IN LIFE IS DISCOVERING WHO YOU ARE. THE SECOND GREATEST IS BEING HAPPY WITH WHAT YOU FIND.