SEPTEMBER – The bringer of the last days of summer and the first days of Autumn. A time to gather the harvest and start to prepare for the winter months.

There are flowers enough in the summertime,
More flowers than I can remember –
But none with the purple, gold and the red
That dye the flowers of September! – Mary Howitt

Sunday – I woke with none of the niggles that my long run the day before had presented. My right hip ached a little but that was expected given the rainy, cold start to the day.
Unlike last week September blew in and watered the garden enroute, no thoughts of walking in the sun and so I had a proper rest day instead. I have started the September day by day calendared Yoga With Adrienne practice, how many of us took time on day one to Fill Your Cup!
It gave me a good start to the month which amongst many other things will see me take a couple of days off, have my Radiology follow up appointment, help celebrate a friends birthday with an evening out, see a local exhibition and meet Sir Ranulph Fiennes. It will also see the beginning of a two week holiday with my fiancé where we’ll both be healthy and able to fully enjoy time away together – that hasn’t happened since May of 2018, all other breaks since have been in the shadow of cancer and now, thanks to news on the 31st August, we can finally just be us.

I’d been reading The Salt Path by Raynor Winn and spent most of the day finishing it. It’s been an inspiring walk with her and her husband, through their own journey from lifes hard knock to discovering a new them…a new found peace and life. Their endurance of nature, the elements and ill health along a path to a new start mirrors my own life a little. Sometimes you really have to go through hardship and hell to find what is right in life for you – but you also need to sit through some sunrises and sunsets, laugh into the wind, eat chips in strange places, swap stories with strangers and walk hand in hand in the pouring rain to a tea room.

Monday – The first morning where I’ve felt the need to layer up!

The forecast said 11C and rain…I never found the latter and was pleased of my extra layer in the cooler air. My recovery run went fluidly, keeping mainly in zone 2 and only 15minutes into zone 3 throughout my full run. My hip still ached a little and I pondered a physiotherapy appointment – however with my hormone injection due on Tuesday I decided to drop it into conversation there and get free help first.
I spent the morning typing up some of my journal…it was emotionally draining. I covered the timeframe between knowing I may need chemo to finding out it was a necessity, then starting hormone treatment to induce the menopause…this is at the end of one page and I’d forgotten I’d written it:

It was the first day of the new month at work and I think I blinked and someone span the clock, it felt minutes between 1.30pm and suddenly being 5pm.
Getting home I was tired but not drained…I realised how much more mental focus I have now compared to just a few weeks ago, a huge step forward. I did my day 2 yoga practice – Yoga For Risk Takers and managed not only to get into crow, but to hold it for a good few seconds. My biggest achievement of the day.

Tuesday – I didn’t really need it but laziness made me give myself an extra half an hour in bed. The grogginess that followed meant trying to do the Dancercise routine I found on PopSugar near impossible…I had no idea what was going on and did a lot of Dad dancing for 15minutes before I gave in. I somehow found a short cardio and abs workout that they’d done on the beach…10minutes totally in the zone and I felt great afterwards. One of the recommendations that popped up was a 10minute core workout…my lower back and hips need more core work so I set it off. It’s targeted for new Mums but it was a total ab burner I will certainly be returning to! I did my 3rd September yoga practice…done with beginners in mind, looking back at early moves and getting into the positions properly. Then a short yoga core sequence to finish my workout.
After breakfast and a little down time I set to and cooked the pasta sauce so that, post spin in the evening, we’d potentially get dinner at a more normal time.
I feel like I made a little environmental investment as enroute to spin I stopped at our Post Office and found this…

The environmental toothbrush has a bamboo handle and so, unlike my old one, I can actually put the handle in the composting or into the recycling bin and help the planet a little – instead of adding another plastic stick to it. The bristles, while BPA free, are still plastic though and I wasn’t aware of that when buying it! At least it’s a little step in the right direction, and one I’m sharing incase anyone out there is considering buying similar.

Wednesday – I contemplated finding my head torch as I readied myself for my run, it was so dark as I got up at 5am but by 6am there was enough light to see….plus I wanted to test myself a little and not give into the change of season!

Due to hip problems I’d already decided a slower easy run was best, no hills. However, by 3K into my 12.5K I’d not even had one twinge – it was a rainy, glorious morning and as I did a little uphill through the nearby village and there was dull ache but nothing too much…I decided on a bit of speed work. I sped up as much as I could take for a kilometre, then eased off but only a little for the next one, then eased off to feeling comfortable for the one after…then repeated that three times. Each segment I was quicker without realising and yes it pushed my heart rate up, but only in the last segment which I was happy with. My right abductor, hip, ankle and outer thigh all at some point twinged…never any two at one go and never for very long.
Once home I realised we had the morning together as my fiancé didn’t have to be at work until lunchtime. While he had a lie in I baked biscuits and made soup for our lunch.

It was lovely to have a little extra time together where neither of us was groggy and drained from work.
I had a lovely time at work and got back feeling upbeat but in need of time alone. I grabbed my yoga mat for my day four practice, then popped my PJs on for an evening of relaxing with a movie.

Thursday – I’d got my head torch and reflective bands all ready to go, but due to a dry clearer sky I left the head torch at home. I was going to run slow and easy and just pootle along but the hill called to me. As I made my way up it was dark enough under the trees to curse the fact I’d left my head torch at home! Once out at the top and through the gate though I was met with a beautiful sky, beaming with promise for a good day.

I headed across a stony trail, down into the local village then across a field to pick up a back road so that I could enjoy the peace and quiet a bit longer – cars annoy me as much as people and when trying to get to grips with low heart rate running earlier in the year, I realised that my anxiety and annoyance of noise and moving objects lifts my pulse…sometimes considerably!

I had a great run, all at zones 3 and 4 and so a push to anaerobic with the inclines and trail work. I never touched zone 5 and so was happy…the only downer was the fact that over 6.5K my right leg only played up once! I did consider cancelling my physio appointment but knew getting everything checked was best.
Working the morning felt natural and time flew, I left more tired than I do in the afternoon but not drained.
I popped and had lunch with a friend – trying After Eight cake from the first time.

Lunch sat a bit heavy during my physio appointment but I was pleased of having filled myself given all the exercises and stretching over the hour I was there. The verdict – it’s not my hip! I have a curvature of the spine, which my body has formed around and compensated for. However, due to training load and building my body back up post chemo, things have gotten tight and it’s protesting. I have an imbalance from shoulder to opposite glute on both sides. I’ve been told to carry on with my training, listen to my body and I have another set of exercises to incorporate into my routine each day. They should help relieve the pressure and strengthen the muscles at the same time. I’m also to ensure my sports massage in a couple of weeks is done from shoulder to toe.
I felt fine as I left but within a few hours the soreness from the muscle manipulation set it. I felt stiff and uncomfortable and so had a hot bath before dinner.

Friday – On waking up I was really conscious that my back may hurt, I wiggled and stretched but had no problems at all. Although I walked fine and felt comfortable I decided a slower pace was better. Thursday had seen the seventh birthday of Yoga With Adrienne but due to my physio appointment I’d not been able to do my daily practice. Therefore I did Happy Birthday Yoga to start my day, then my half an hour upper body strength training before Let It Go Yoga Flow for day 6 of my practice. I had the odd grumble in my ankle but nothing else.
To say it was raining outside would be an understatement, it poured and so gave me chance to do the three big cleaning jobs I hate most…bathroom, fridge and oven – the latter is usually a quarterly affair in our house and I’m secretly thinking it now looks good enough to last until Christmas. It was hugely satisfying to come home and know everything was done, and both us and the house were ready for the weekend.

Saturday – Mindful of my back again, I had breakfast at 5am and did some yoga at 6 so that every part of me felt stretched and warmed up ready for my run. I was due to meet my parents in Edensor at 11am and knew my 16mile run there would take me between 3-3.5hrs…ideally I was looking at the latter as needed to take it slower and steadier, be more pace aware and listen to what my body was telling me.
Due to clothing and Rego shake bottle needs I ditched my water bladder for my silicone bottles…I can’t remember the last time I ran with them! I made sure my hydration vest was fastened tightly so that I could breath easily but it didn’t move too much, then set off. I took my first kilometre as slowly as possible, with no pain anywhere I upped the pace. I had a mammoth hill climb…

and then a lot of undulation before I got to beautiful Tideswell Dale…

and then up onto the Monsal Trail. I had the Trail pretty much to myself and again upped my pace, with flatter terrain I felt comfortable doing so and knew I could maintain it.

At Bakewell I took the road to Baslow…uphill most of the way and relentlessly hard work! During my Ultra we ascended the same hill to Chatsworth Park but through the woodland…I have to say one is not easier than the other but the views from both were breath-taking. After a 3.5K climb I got to the brow of the hill level with the spire of Edensor church, the trail path into the village is not for the faint hearted but was great fun. Arriving in Edensor 3hours and 15minutes from leaving home I knew, given the ascents at the start and near the end, that I’d pushed it too hard in places – it should have taken me longer. I felt good though and had no ache in my back or hip.

I found my parents and we had a pot of tea at the Tea Rooms before heading to the nearby Craft Centre and then on to The Moon Inn in Stoney Middleton for lunch. We came home afterwards and spent the rest of the afternoon chatting. I won’t see them now until the weekend of my birthday…but will get 5 days of them close by which means the world.

Sunday – The sky is blue, there’s barely a breeze, it’s a beautiful day for the worlds biggest half marathon! I’m up, feeling good from my 16miler yesterday and very emotional for all those who will run their first 13.1 from Newcastle to South Shields today. Porridge on, coffee on…tv on.

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