A few things I’ve learnt from cancer –

  1. People don’t like to hear how bad it was – a bit like having a baby, no-one wants the gore they just want to touch your chemo curls!
  2. Who is really, truly there.
  3. That you don’t ever get over it – one word…mirrors!
  4. Cancer ages you – in thought and feeling…I see problems differently and I don’t think my body will ever feel the same again.
  5. Life becomes BC (before cancer) and AC (after cancer) and all other glorious stages feel a bit lost.
  6. Having cancer, recovering from it and trying to get life together afterwards is expensive!
  7. Due to no.6 I strongly recommend life or health insurance…hindsight is a wonderful thing, I’m pleased I saved for a rainy day – I just wish I’d known how big the downpour may be.
  8. You grieve for people you don’t know…those others who I met in passing who have been lost, or who have had worse to have to cope with.
  9. Others perception of life is not the same and I find it hard to be sympathetic anymore – those on the outside say all to easily “I know how you feel” trust me your failing relationships, stressful job, pranged car or leaky roof are nothing in comparison to cancer and facing your own mortality, you definitely don’t know how I feel. But…your problems are real, huge to you and I will always try to be a good pair of shoulders to lean on a little.
  10. Having a normal illness feels like winning the lottery – I thought I had a cold last week and haven’t been so excited in a long time.

Sunday – A relaxed rest day…both in our PJs with no intention of doing much of anything, especially going out!
I finished my running book, did some Yoga to Respect and Replenish and then we watched a movie. I had a lovely baking session as part of our supper…blackberry and apple sponge pudding.

I felt blue but I think knowing most of the blue is hormone imbalance helped – I set a goal to have an uplifting week, find light in any dark times that may occur and listen to the mental chatter less.

Monday – It felt as if the earth was beginning to show the change of season, the air felt cooler and the wind had a bit more edge. Autumn is slowly merging with the end of summer.
My recovery run felt good, something I was thankful of given I still felt very heavy in my legs. I paced slowly and was mindful of my form, my heart rate was again mostly in zone 2 and so I came home feeling refreshed.
I felt anxious about going to work, knowing that I’d be speaking to my supervisor. I shouldn’t have worried, we discussed how I was getting on and came up with a plan…I’ve re-learnt morning tasks but there’s so much of an afternoon that I don’t know about. Therefore I’d be working 2-5pm from midweek for as long as needed, slowly working backwards to start at lunchtime. It’s something to look forward to and I feel comfortable doing…I love learning so getting to start new tasks feels like Christmas and my birthday all in one!
After work I popped to a local pub on the edge of the moor to see a wonderful lady, from Sheffield, who I met at the Breast Cancer Now head office in London a month or two ago. We talked, had lunch and talked some more…cancer, life, work everything and before we knew it it was 5pm. She’s been through an awful lot, personally aswell as the whole cancer shebang…and yet she has an infectious laugh and is starting to really carve life out for herself fully, mindfully and with a determination to help others aswell as look after herself. I felt energised by her and did some light yoga once home in order to settle into the evening.

Tuesday – As last weeks strength training session felt so intense I decided to only do half an hour of Core Conditioning. Knowing what was coming up during it made things a little easier to follow and didn’t leave me as tired afterwards. I did half an hour of Yoga For Hips and Hamstrings too before getting ready for work.
I had the privilege of introducing our new lady to the way we process BACS – some I know would feel uncomfortable showing others the ropes, it really boosted my confidence though to know that my supervisor felt I’m doing well enough to teach someone else!
It was pouring down as I left but thankfully I was only catching up on a few jobs around the house before spin class. Once done I put my feet up and rested before going back out.
Spin class went well and the sluggish feeling was, while still there, not in the way. My left hip felt eased and free afterwards too…something which has become a constant niggle as the weather has worsened.

Wednesday – It’s scary how natural 5am on a Wednesday feels…it’s something that will be routine for the coming weeks before the Loch Ness Marathon, and gives me a taster of how life will be next year for my running goals.
After a bowl of porridge and a little jam, a slow dynamic warm up as I let my food settle, I set off for 12.5K of fartlek training. Interval training for me is hard as I’ve nothing to time myself on and if I run to distance I have to reset my watch after each segment…fartlek is easier and I personally think more fun. I had a 2K warm up then pushed myself hard when I felt able, ran medium hard for some and lightly in between…mostly using lampposts as markers. I ended with a 1K cool down at a very gentle pace.
My left adductor grumbled a little as I finished and got home, but a cold bath and compression socks helped no end. I kept the latter on until it was time to go to work.
It was my first day of working in an afternoon and it felt odd…it felt like it was 9am…it felt like it went very quickly and was suddenly time to go home.
Except I wasn’t going back, I’d plans for dinner out with the girls and we had such a lovely evening. Great food, a good natter and learning a little more about each other. We discussed the differing friendships we have, how we’d met, the ones that felt like family…the ones that weren’t as close but are still there – friendship is such a strong support network and one that I’ve learnt an awful lot from in the last year.
We chatted more, had dessert…which for me included my first affogato!

Then slowly went home…looking forward to our next date night out.

Thursday – Note to self – next time you have an affogato make sure it’s in the middle of the day! Gosh did I sleep badly, odd dreams, moments of being wide awake…then when I wanted to sleep all of a sudden the alarm went off ready for my run.
I’d been due to run a trail/path mix but as I mentioned last week, I’m being flexible with that depending on how I feel…but also the weather – a turned ankle due to a muddy trail is something no marathon trainer wants! With getting back late I hadn’t foam rolled the night before so I was conscious that running easy may be best. However, once out I had no aches or discomfort and so changed strategy slightly.

The forecast showed heavy rain but as I left it was dry so I headed uphill to do a circular route through a piece of woodland, across a stony track, over fields and then back via paths.

It was a glorious run and the morning sun beautiful, but by 4.5K the clouds had rolled in and the rain started. It was then headwind and a face full of rain all the way back…if I had been trying to run at a low heart rate I would have struggled. The rain had cooled everything and so slowing down wasn’t the best option. I ran to feel and got home and under a warm shower.
With not having foam rolled the night before I did each leg a little after my shower to help stretch myself out.
I needed to collect my painting from the Green Man Gallery and so set off early on purpose to pop by Charlotte’s Chocolatier for a hot chocolate before heading back out in the rain.

I’d checked the opening times but probably only looked at it for Monday…the sign on the Gallery door explained it was closed every Thursday! So I headed back to the car via The Slopes and the Pavillion Gardens to enjoy the views. On the way home I collected part of my prescription from the Doctors, one lot of my medication wasn’t yet available.
Work again went well and the afternoon flew, I chatted all things running with the new lady in our office as I searched for the car after we’d finished for the day…I have a keen habit of being that mentally drained I’m unable to remember where I parked – something that was a lot less embarrassing when leaving at noon!
On the way back my phone rang, bluetoothed to my car it flashed up that it was an unknown number. Fear immediately gripped me, it was a Thursday after all so I immediately expected the worst and that it would be the hospital. By the time I pulled in at home I’d emotionally prepared myself for having to call them and go in that evening…it was my GP practice to say my calcium tablets had arrived and could be collected! I sat with my head on the steering wheel and wept with relief, then pulled myself together and went to get them. I’ve never been so thankful of something that tastes so peculiar!

Friday – After a much better nights sleep I decided that, having followed my 30minute upper body strength training session for a good few weeks, things ought to be mixed up a little. I did 10minutes of Yoga To Wake Up, then my 50minute upper body session before 20minutes of Yoga For Deep Core – the end of the latter involving a bit of plank work, which was hard going after lifting weights and doing nearly 100 push ups over the best part of the hour before!
I had a leisurely breakfast and did a little housework, sat and read but then decided I needed some fresh air. I made an excuse to get out by emptying our recycling basket, put the canvas bag in the greenhouse and set off on a circular walk in the rain.

Instantly refreshing, calming and peaceful…just what I’d needed and no-one around to bother me. I came home, made coffee and went back to my book.

Work again went well and I came home feeling like I could still think…a refreshing feeling. It’s definitely been more beneficial to me working in an afternoon these last few days, and will be interesting to see how I feel after a full week of afternoon working by next Friday.

Saturday – Thanks to trouble falling asleep…and knowing that we had nothing to rush to do later, once my alarm went off I reset it for 5.30 to give myself a bit of extra time in bed.
Thankfully the rain had cleared and, although still very windy, it looked a beautiful morning. Once I’d eaten my breakfast I caught up with a few admin details. I was over the moon to find an email from Great Ormond Street detailing my fundraising achievements:

My 16mile training run went well, I felt like I pushed a little too hard now and then and really had to keep myself in check, remembering that a training run is just that and not a race!

I had all four seasons in one morning though – chilly spring like showers as I left, an autumnal feeling wind over the moor, wintry hail and then beating full sun to finish. Between the windy head on hailstorm and the realisation that I had 8K ahead, and only needed to run another 6K to reach my 26K aim, I made the decision to cut my run off and double back on myself to follow a different route home. It meant 3K of steep downhill running…non runners will look at that and go “oooooh yay”, runners will go “ouch quads”! It was fun and as I write this (Saturday afternoon) the quads feel ok. However at the time my word did they tell me all about it…I still need to get them more used to downhill running, and that section of the local village is relentless and perfect.
Once home, ice bathed, Rego drunk and everything stretched we had a spot of lunch then headed to Buxton…the Gallery was open this time and I’ve now collected my painting. I’m going to set up a silent bid on it with an understanding that whoever bids most and “wins” will pay the money either directly to me and I will donate it via my Just Giving Page, or to pay it in directly, to help me raise funds for the Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity…whom I’m running the Loch Ness Marathon for.
The afternoon also saw me start to trial something new…cherry juice.

I’ve read an awful lot about research linking cherry juice to improved recovery, reductions in delayed onset muscle soreness, reduced inflammation and improved sleep. The best time to use it appears to be twice a day for a few days before an event and for a few days afterwards. Given I’m a big follower of the “don’t try anything new on race day” adage, I’m experimenting early. I only got it yesterday and so will use it over the next week and see if I feel any difference.

Sunday – My upper body aches…a combination of my more rigorous strength training session on Friday, plus all the arm pumping during my run yesterday. My legs however feel fine, fresh and comfortable. I’m looking forward to my rest day and taking life at leisure.

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