Looking at the future –

I started a new book this week, Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton. As I mention below on Sunday, it’s very true to life and part way through is a piece that’s hard to read but got me thinking. I won’t quote it as it’s someone else’s autobiographical story, but basically –

Being alive is easy it’s just a sequence of breathing in and out…living however is completely different so you may aswell give it all you’ve got.

Cancer is relentless, hard, awful…and life changing…now it’s done it’s time to kick the world in the arse, be the best me possible because quite frankly after beating cancer everything else will always be pretty easy.

I thought I’d found a new normal, but then I was having a quick catch up with a friend. She is slowly, beautifully, crafting a new life for herself…she’s still her but she’s doing more for her and blooming into a better, stronger, self care friendly, connected woman – she’s writing poetry I can’t wait to read, experimenting with her voice in ways I can’t wait to hear and most importantly…is loving who she is becoming more with each day. I am beyond proud of her and I hope she realises what an inspiration she is. She’s made me realise I still have a lot of journey left, I’ve not found ME yet but I am getting there and slowly my lust for living, forward thinking and determination to be the best me there is, is growing more and more.
Looking ahead yes there are many exciting things coming up that I’ll be doing, but the biggest part of me…the running side has a clear map now before we see the end of this year:

Loch Ness Marathon 6th October
Brigg 10K Poppy Run 27th October
36miles in a month Halloween Challenge for Lin Goram
Tatton Park Half Marathon 3rd November
Mo Run 5K 17th November
Oulton Park Half Marathon 1st December

This week sees the start of something new…a new goal with great reward both at the end and in between. Now we start the countdown to my first road marathon, Baxters Loch Ness Marathon…but wait, I hear you cry, you’ve done an Ultra – if you can run 30miles you can surely run 26.2! Yes on paper that’s very true but this is a different beast. This is only one type of terrain…hard tarmac replaces a mix of soft grass, mud, loose gravel, fields edges and trackways. Gone are the gruelling hills to power hike and instead I’m faced with an undulating road that tracks long parts downhill….putting pressure on my quads and hips, my weak spots! Over the coming weeks I have to learn how to endure distance yes, but also harder surface and potentially more physical discomfort then I’ve had before. In between running I’ll strengthen my body as much as possible to cope with the latter…because that’s all I can do.

You don’t train so that it doesn’t hurt…you train in order to tolerate it!

Sunday – My rest day and very much needed, I had a lie in, then a laid back day. I hadn’t rested very much in the week and everything felt as if it had caught up with me a little.
I started a new book, it’s so so true to life and in parts a laugh out loud read. I immersed myself in it most of the day around meal times and my day 26 yoga practice – Drop! No literal dropping done thankfully, this is one I intend to revisit as the breath work and poses were wonderful, I felt so energised afterwards and my body buzzing…truly ready for the week ahead.

Monday – There had been storms again overnight and it was supposed to be raining, thankfully I managed a dry 5K recovery run.

It was so lovely and cool, I felt good but my right hip ached! I hoped that running would ease it, thinking I’d sat wrong the day before…no such joy and instead I felt as if I hobbled all day.
Work went well and it felt good to learnt how to do something new!
I have an old school friend who I’d agreed to meet in Manchester. As close by as we are we can go months without being able to connect face to face, and so I didn’t want to miss an opportunity. Life however has a habit of throwing things in the way, between my train delay and hers being cancelled and then on a stop start at signals, we went from having a good few hours together…to just under two. BUT, my did we utilise them. Taking up a corner of Cafe Nero in Manchester Piccadilly train station we put the world to rights, caught up with how life was going and discussed foreign travel and days out…all while her two wonderful children occupied themselves. We had a blast and it was great to see them…next time we’ll hope for better logistics.
I got home around tea time and so, ever one to take an opportunity I put supper on then grabbed my mat for my day 27 yoga practice – Power…looking to find my own personal power.

Tuesday – My hip still had a dull ache. I didn’t let that stop me from doing my first leg strength and conditioning session post Ultra. It went well and I had no issues throughout. Given the tightness in my legs I did Yoga for Hips and Hamstrings, aswell as day 28 of my yoga practice – Dedicate…giving myself permission to take time, be calm and feel focused.
Work went really well and I was so so pleased to get there and be busy. I felt so fragile due to mental chatter regarding Fridays upcoming MRI. Part of me just wanting to know that treatment over the last year has worked, part of me fearing that they’ll find something and then we’re back at square one again.
I rested during the afternoons storms, reading my book. By the time I got to spin class it was like a monsoon outside…the facilities we use may be unairconditioned and warm, but at least they’re dry.
I had a great time and was able to fully participated, my body feeling good and at no point was there any tightness or discomfort in my legs. When foam rolling in the evening though I noted just how tight and sore my hamstrings and glutes were.

Wednesday – I woke feeling happy and stuck with that thought and positivity all day. It was pouring with rain as I warmed up, had some banana and got ready to run.
My hamstrings and glutes were still tight and tender from all I’d done on Tuesday, but I so wanted to do an interval session. My Wednesdays until I taper will be one week hill training, next week interval training and so on. I had a really good run, the coolness of the rain helping me along. I felt uncomfortable in the first few kilometres but somewhere between 3K and 4K I found the sweet spot. I ran one kilometre easy, then sped up for the next, when looking over the details later I’d gotten progressively quicker with each slower section and also with each interval section, plus I’d hit the pace I wanted to. I felt proud, liberated and totally wet through!

I had lunch with my friend at one of our local, favourite haunts – Tillys of Castleton, then stayed for coffee.
On and off it rained and now and then I thought it couldn’t rain any harder. Thankfully I didn’t have to rush back to the car as my hamstrings and glutes were so sore due to having being sat a while!
Once home and thoughts of dinner in my head, I did day 29 of my yoga practice – Celebrate…life, myself, what I’ve achieved in 29 days. It was a magical half an hour with some new poses that really tested me.

Thursday – The rain had finally stopped…at least for a little while!
The air looked foggy, heat and water mixing through the morning sunrise, it smelt fresh and floral…as if every single bloom had burst with scent.

I had a good slow run, I’d wanted to run to zone 3 heart rate but – having forgotten to put my monitor tracking on, it wasn’t until I got home that I realised it had been slightly too high and in zone 4 all the way. My legs felt better, looser and my hamstrings and glutes ached less.
I found a lot of flooding in our nearest village while out.

By the time I was driving to work it had started to recede but across the area others either woke to worse, or ended up trying to go home to worse. What a difference a year makes!
Work went well and due to my hospital appointment on Friday, the afternoon was spent cleaning the house and readying it for the weekend. Once all the boring chores were done I grabbed my mat to do day 30 of my yoga practice…the last day of the programme, Liberate. There was no spoken guidance, you could follow Adrienne or find your own flow. I surprised myself with how well I followed her…and also with my tears at the end, I’m very proud to have stuck to completing the program and my body feels different and better for the daily practice I’ve had. I hope to be able to do a little every day, my minimum however will always be twice a week as part of my strength training. I am considering another of her 30 day programmes but I also want to work on suppleness for aiding with held poses!

Friday – I thankfully didn’t have time for nerves to kick in before work. I slept fitfully and was awake early…I felt tired all the way through my upper body strength training, during getting ready for work and most worryingly through my commute. I went into autopilot once at work but couldn’t really concentrate….I couldn’t work out why my calculator wouldn’t automatically work out the percentage I needed, I transposed numbers and more than once completely got an invoice number wrong when posting details. My mind was elsewhere, totally focused on keeping my emotions in check…I wanted to run and cry. Fear is truly a mind killer.
Coming home at 11am gave me time to do a little yoga, have an early lunch and hop on the bus. I faced my fear of walking through the Royal Hallamshire Hospital with head held high but made sure I didn’t linger…I couldn’t have stood having to be in there for a prolonged time – and yet walking into Weston Park Hospital, the place where all my treatment was done, I felt safe! I popped into the Charity Office to collect a few fundraisers items and then put my head in the door at the Cancer Support Centre. I stayed for coffee and a catch up…eagerly finding out that Malcolm has not only recovered well from his heart surgery but he’s back collecting produce and delivering it to the Centre to help with fundraising. I left with a box of chocolates bought in thought of him.
The MRI unit was completely empty, oddly comforting to have it to myself! Will they ever get gowns that fit small folk I wonder…

I had one on the normal way but then another on over my front, purely because the front one had to come off before the MRI. My catheter thankfully went in easily but then felt slightly uncomfortable.

For anyone who hasn’t had a breast MRI…you have been spared a great discomfort, it’s as bad as being squeezed during a mammogram. You have to kneel on the bed infront of the machine, disrobe at the front and lie face down on a raised section of bed. It has two cut outs for the breasts and another for the face, each with padding around for comfort…except I don’t think the person who made it ever spent half an hour laid on it, there is no comfort! Hands go above your head so not only do you have a slow ache develop along your sternum and forehead from the bed, your hands go numb within minutes to. Half way through the MRI a flush of blue dye is passed through the catheter to help with the imaging…it doesn’t hurt at all. What does is the awkwardness of being told you can get up but not being able to as you’ve no sensation in the parts you need to lean on. This was my second MRI, and the second time two nurses have had to lift me to my knees due to numb hands and forearms…it was hilarious. Taking the catheter out made me feel very floppy, I painted the brave face on and left desperate for fresh air. I also needed food and so walked to the Botanical Gardens, ordered icecream and then sat and watched children play in the park while I ate and waited for my bus.

Once home I slept deeply, I felt drained and emotional but sleep helped and meant I could calmly cook our supper and ready myself for morning.

Saturday – A foggy cool start that the sun soon burnt off to reveal a beautiful, warm morning. I had a light breakfast of porridge and then an hours rest, 16K being my aim over my planned two hour run.
As soon as I left home I knew I was pacing fast, but I felt good…like a bullet out of a gun. I pushed myself to a pace I felt I could hold and that I was comfortable with. I thought I was behind time and pushed myself a little harder but then realised, during a toilet break, that I was pacing near my old half marathon time. I slowed a little but made sure to keep working myself – I had my goal distance in mind but also wanted to ensure I would feel comfortable and good post run. I got to 18.4K as my watch buzzed the two hour mark, my splits were pretty even and I walked back home feeling very proud…plus no fatigue, aches or discomfort.

Either side of lunch we explored Deep Dale…there were a good few flashbacks to my Ultra as we’d ran the length of it to get back to the Monsal Trail that day.

Roll forward again a few weeks and it was great to just explore and really see the site. We hunted for fossils, did a butterfly count and generally wandered around, lost in the beauty of the place.
After leaving we ventured to Baslow, bought ice creams to eat while we strolled the village then walked to the edge of Chatsworth Park.

Sunday – With a forecast of rain it feels only right to put our feet up a little, especially after yesterday. Today I’m launching my fundraising for Weston Park Hospital, my way of giving something back to those who did…and still do…so much for me during my cancer treatment. Yesterdays run was the first as part of #teamwestonpark and ten weeks today I’ll run the Loch Ness Marathon for them.
For all who would like to support me and help them, click here for my link.

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