Sunday – I knew that my Race For Life day would be emotional but never expected to feel so raw and upset as what I did. There were so many of us there that they delayed the start as car parking backed up and people were struggling to get in on time. I’d been quite near to the start funnel as we stood for the minutes silence, so never realised just how much of a sea of pink there was.
I lined up near the start of the joggers group, determined to keep my pace down…my aim was 9-10kmph but due to the flatter terrain, and atmosphere, I was just under the 8kmph pace throughout. It was a wonderful run, cooler than Saturday and great to be amongst so many – reading the messages on their backs and realising just how many others like me there were there! I’d cried during the minutes silence, and a choir a couple of kilometres off the finish set me off again…then seeing my Mum and Dad as I crossed the line.

It was a wonderful experience, very different from last year and so full of memories – Race For Life 2018 I ran for my Dad, I’d found my lump the weekend before and was awaiting my biopsy. I looked…okay…but I also looked tired, thin, my hair lank and straggly and my skin pale. This years runner was so so much a healthier, stronger version – and I’m not back to full fitness yet.

Monday & the start of my taper – I expected to wake feeling more nervous about going back to work than I did. I had so much going on last week that I couldn’t really give it head space, plus I also realised that it was pointless being too anxious before it was time to be.
I matter of factly got ready and went out for my recovery run. My body feeling really good, no aches or discomfort after a 20mile weekend. My heart rate however was elevated and I had to go really slow, and distract myself with my surroundings, in order to keep it steady and at the aerobic rate I wanted it to be. It was a bit frustrating and that was hard to dial out, even trying to remind myself that my body desperately needed to be going slow and steady, didn’t really help.

Once home it was almost as if I got ready to go to work all the time…I just did it and let the morning flow. One huge help is that each day while off since last October, I’ve gotten up at either 5.30am or 5.45am regardless and had a morning whereby if I had been going to work for 9am, I could have! I’ve in effect each day made sure I’m ready for 8.30am…just with a differently laid out day after depending on how I was.
Walking into work felt great, we have two new staff members in my department whom I’d never met and so got to spend time with. Going over things that I’ve done before felt a little awkward…part of me going “I know this I can do it” and another part of me going “I feel so lost and unsure” It was like putting a blank jigsaw together but someone slowly drawing an image on the parts and not telling you. I had two hours with them and felt completely wiped out by 10am! By the time I finished at 11am it was a relief to leave, have five minutes in the car and head home. My fiancé was off work and so we curled up on the sofa with Netflix and homemade soup at lunchtime, ate and snoozed the day away.
Around 5pm I took a bit of time out while the oven warmed up and tea started cooking, to do 20minutes of Yoga to Feel Your Best…I’m determined to do a bit of practice each day while I taper in order to keep my body supple and stretched.

Tuesday – Taper day two and I know it’s just taperanxiety but as I got out of bed I was sure my right calf felt odd! My legs were definitely tight and my running data said that I wouldn’t have recovered from Mondays run until Wednesday, understandable given the fact that between it and the weekend I’d nearly run a marathon! Therefore it was my upper body that I concentrated on for my strength training, a good 50minute session, then 35minutes of yoga which included Yoga For Runners and Yoga For Brain Power. I really needed that last one ahead of work…I was more anxious about going than I had been on Monday! All was fine but busy and a few things had changed compared to the notes I had from last year. Changes for the better though and good streamlining. I didn’t feel as brain numb as Monday but was still quite tired.
On getting home I never really sat down until gone 1pm, housework needed doing and bins putting out…the silly jobs that I do to keep ontop of things so that they only take minutes. I’d made a batch of soup on Monday and so needing a little nature emersion I took it and had lunch outside amongst the plants.

I was dismayed to find a bird has been digging for worms in my wildflowers…they need to feed themselves and their babies though. I tidied the seedlings as best I could in the hope that one unfruitful trip will mean the birds don’t come back.
The post arrived while I was outside…maybe only a runner would get excited by new socks!

These are literally gold to me and my old pairs both have lasted around three years…basically as long as I’ve been running. But, they’re both becoming worn on the big toe, mid foot and the back of my heel…the first is where my skin is probably hardest from running and the latter where they rub going on and off in my running shoes. Over the last week I’ve gained a blister between my toes, right where the sock is beginning to break down! I want my feet to survive my Ultra as best as possible so out with the old and in with the new!
As amazing natural occurrences go we’ve a corker here in the Peak District…poppy perfection overlooking Chatsworth, Baslow & Hassop. I haven’t been feeling strong enough to go and walk up to them but my fabulous fiancé managed to get us parked just across the road! It was quite wonderful to see what is becoming quite a famous site around here at the moment!

I felt tearful in the evening, glad of small steps forwards but disappointed and eager to just be normal…on my mind the fact that being around normal people again feels so strange, and how much I feel a bit like the odd one out at work!

Wednesday – A chilly but beautiful start and a good slow paced 8K.

It was easier to keep to zone 3 heart rate than Monday, but I still had to really focus on staying calm and losing myself in the movement. I added in a little hill power hiking on the way home…laughing that I could keep my heart rate low going uphill but not when on the flat…it shows how much a flat piece of path makes my mind wander! My legs and body both felt good – but I need that feeling to carry on now I’m approaching mid-taper.
I was excited about going to work and learning more….but still very anxious and by the time I’d had breakfast and walked in nerves had set in a bit. The two hours went well but again I knew an hour in that I was tiring badly, forgetting quickly what someone said and having to double check details…I felt a bit of a dunce but my colleagues were lovely and encouraging.
Once home I had to sleep for an hour and woke feeling groggy, fresh air was needed and so I had my lunch in the garden again. Then pottered a little and sat weeding until nearly dinner time.
Before cooking I decided on trying something new and having a goal to stick to, I’m loving my yoga practice but notice a different when I’ve not done any a day or two, compared to doing a little practice each day. I’ve therefore found a 30 day Yoga Dedication plan through my Yoga With Adrienne subscription on YouTube. My first 45min session felt great, was very concentrated on the breath and I was able to totally zone out any distractions and just relax.

Thursday – I felt sad that it was my last run of the week – my plan showing 16K for Saturday which seems so far off…and also not very far…taper gremlins in my head have been doing the “is it far enough” “should I run intervals” “maybe I should get a bit of last minute hill work in” … all these are normal taper thoughts and the answer to them is simply – yes it’s enough, no speed work or hill training as runs need to be relaxed, easy and leave you fresh…raring for more! It was therefore a smooth and steady 6.5K to end my running week. I stuck to zone 3 so much more easily…no people to say hello to in the nearby village, a distracting route and the sky to watch! The cloud was low on the hilltops making it look like we lived somewhere flat, a temperature inversion hanging in the Valley which, as I did my looped run, slowly fell and by the time I got home it was like running in mist…refreshing and beautiful.
Work again went well but I was that drained on leaving I actually felt a little nauseous. I popped home for half an hour then decided it was no good spending each day shut in, I needed to get out and so went to Hathersage for fuel and on to the David Mellor showroom and cafe for lunch.

It’s a very chic, tree covered establishment and sat outside the roundhouse with only a glimpse of the Valley beyond, the sun streaming warmly on the orange cream pathway…you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at a trendy City cafe, it has the same vibe. The food is delicious, the coffee divine and given the closeness to the station it’s somewhere I’d highly recommend if you want a leisurely lunch.
Back home I put myself to bed and slept solidly for a couple of hours, disturbed by the post arriving late. It was a good time to grab my mat and do day two of my Yoga practice…this time very focused on foundation and position.

Friday – One day to go to my last long run pre-Ultra and so another session of upper body strength training was needed. Just half an hour and then a good 50minutes of Observe…my day three yoga practice.
After a really good morning with work I came home and while sat wondering what to have for lunch I realised the date and dissolved a little. A year ago I had discreetly been and had my biopsy done. I’d run an interval session that morning, met Mum & Dad at the hospital, had the first of what became 66 strangers see my boobs and then went into the City and had lunch…the bit of the day which stood out the most was oddly lunch…pea and mint soup with fresh warm rolls.

A bowl of comfort that was that hot I burnt my tongue…and it was it that stopped me crying in M&S that day!
The next image is of me from only a day or two after, post 11.5K long run…smiling through fear, fragile and scared.

Next is me now and I’m a mess of emotions but a stronger me in so many ways!

Saturday would be my last long run before my Ultra, 10miles which would be run better, stronger and more wisely than the old me could do it…yes she was fitter and faster but hell the new me doesn’t care and that’ll all come back with training. She was struggling to get her head around training to run 13.1miles…now that’s something I can easily knock out any Saturday morning and be comfortable with – isn’t life weird!!!
I had time out in the afternoon for, what may become my last, reflexology session. It was fabulous but gosh it’s amazing what can be picked up…above I mentioned the tightness I’d felt in my right calf – the therapist not only picked up on it and discussed it with me after, but also a tightness in my mid back and left shoulder – I’ve been carrying my bag on that side into and out of work daily, plus my blister on my right foot means I’m not always walking normally…and my back knows it. Things to adjust and be mindful of indeed!

Saturday – What a difference a week makes…I got up to a much cooler windy start! As it was my last long run before my Ultra I donned my #teamGOSH kit as next Saturday I run to raise funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

I had a really good, fun couple of hours run in the rain and I finished feeling fresh and eager to go further.

The blister on my foot still a little tender and so I’m baring in mind that I need to pad it a little if it’s still sensitive next Saturday.
The rest of the day we took together…very leisurely. I did day four of my yoga practice, which concentrated on feeeeel…stretching and thinking about how the breath and stretch felt, really tuning in to the experience. The only downside, while putting my mat away I realised my blister had not only burst but split! I’ve had to treat it very carefully and can only hope the discomfort dies down over the next few days.
After lunch I had a bit of time out in the garden, watching the birds by the river, checking over our plants and feeling pretty proud at how everything is doing.
One huge thing I’d noticed all day was my restlessness…I felt like I needed to be doing something, that I had energy to burn and at times I almost felt hyperactive – hello taper trauma!!!!!

Sunday – I’m trying really hard to ignore the feeling of being very awake and having energy to burn…it’s an odd experience. I seemed to wake on and off in the night to stretch my legs out, they feel stiff this morning but I’ve no aches…extra foam rolling is needed. Today is my rest day so I’m going to try my hardest to just relax and enjoy it!

Your hardest times often lead to the greatest moments of your life. Keep going. Tough situations build strong people in the end – Roy Bennett

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