The greatest gifts are not bought in any shop…they are the memories you make with the people you love!

Sunday – A rest day with a difference and I knew that realistically with looking after Stan, I may have a bit of walking ahead of me. I snuck a 20minute yoga session in before breakfast and setting off to find my parents. My hamstrings both a little tight from Saturdays run, but otherwise I had no concerns or discomfort.
I found Mum and Dad at Pooles Cavern, they were minutes from their tour setting off, so Stan and I left ready for 45minutes together before having to be back.
From the Cavern you can walk up through the trees to Solomons Temple, it’s all uphill but a lovely walk and Stan charged up…proving himself brilliant if I ever do an endurance event which needs a sled team. At the top we found a little patch of grass to sit together and watch the world go by…

…a great idea until he thought he could smell mice and tried digging parts of the hillock up – needless to say we soon set off back down.

Like me he takes downhill very mindfully and seriously, we descended at a gentler pace and sat in the car park a little, before finding Mum and Dad again for a cup of coffee.
With it being such a beautiful day we headed back into Buxton so that they could see the Pavillion and gardens…Stan and I again going off alone to seek out more adventures amongst the trees.
We had lunch at The Pudding Emporium, not only looking after us wonderfully but also Stan as they are brilliantly dog friendly!
I left them to find Morrisons and shop a little so I could get home to do a few jobs before popping to see them, and dropping off Monday nights tea.
Getting ready for bed that evening I felt a little breathless and oddly queasy. I decided maybe I’d overdone things and was overly tired.

Monday – At half past midnight I woke up mid hot flush and over the next three hours had one after another, after another. I felt so tired but every time I started to dose off it happened again, I’ve no idea if I cat napped but it was 3am when I last looked at the clock properly. My alarm then woke me up at 5.30am ready for my run.
Oddly I didn’t feel tired, plus I had no tenderness or discomfort in my body and so got ready and set off. I paced well and maintained a zone 2 – 3 heart rate mostly throughout…but I had the odd few minutes now and then of it just climbing more and hitting my anaerobic zone. I made sure to either stop or to walk and bring it down as quickly as I could. Given the strain my hormones had put my body through the night before, plus the fact I’d be dehydrated, I was pleased with my performance. Even more so that I got back feeling, not just okay, but also energised. A good thing as it was double day, so after an early breakfast I set off for my first spin class post marathon!
I had a great session and it was lovely to see the familiar faces again aswell as my friend. But I felt like I’d forgotten how to set the bike up and I’d definitely got my handle bars too far forward. I really enjoyed it though and wasn’t sore in any way afterwards.
Once home I only really had an hour to get ready after getting back and was soon off to work. This week we’ve added another half hour to each day, while it doesn’t sound a lot the toll it took on Monday was immense…I left drained but upbeat.
My fiancé joined us so that we both had tea with Mum, Dad and Stan at the cottage to finish the day. It was wonderful to have an extra piece of lovely, cosy, quality time just the five of us.

Tuesday – Given how I’d been feeling, the fact I’d walked just over 5K on my rest day and Monday had been a double work out day, I decided to dial things down. I had a lie in then did an hours full body yoga session…but nothing more.
At the time I had mixed feelings – I felt bad that I’d not done my strength training work out aswell, but felt good that I’d listened to what my body needed….rest, time and ease. My body is still technically recovering from the marathon, but even if it wasn’t I think we forget too readily that day after day of intensity doesn’t do the body good…actually the reverse as it heightens our cortisol levels, puts strain on our vital organs, decreases digestion and not only fatigues us – but makes us injury prone.
After giving myself a little slap I got prepared for a family day out to Jodrell Bank with Mum and Dad. I’m a huge science and history geek and have always wanted to go. It was brilliant and we arrived in time to be able to do a walking tour under the Lovell Telescope itself

….learning along the way that Sir Bernard Lovell used gun turrets from two battleships in the making of it to help with costs. It had also tracked the very first mission into space – Sputnik on 04.10.57.
Before lunch we sat and listened to a Meet The Experts talk with Dr Alex Clarke in the Star Pavillion, and later had a look at the exhibition hall, home to the largest known orrery.
I felt sad it being the last day that Mum and Dad would be with us, we’d had such a great long weekend/birthday extension. They joined us for a cuppa and a chat, before leaving for the evening to get things ready for their journey home.

Wednesday – After a good nights sleep I was up and raring to go for my first fartlek session post marathon. I’d worried a little on Tuesday that it may be pushing myself too much, especially given how tired I’d been over the last couple of days. I reasoned that I wouldn’t know unless I tried. Plus if I could maintain a zone 2 heart rate during my first kilometre, then health wise I wasn’t physically under strain so should give things a go.
I set off nice and steady and didn’t have to keep myself in check, my heart rate stayed under 130bmp in my zone 2 range and I paced well. So as soon as my watch buzzed 2K I sped up, running hard but aware not to feel breathless. All felt fine…I did nearly miss a curb crossing a road and felt very foolish though. During 3-4K I slowed again but not as much as my ‘warm up’, although I made sure to bring my heart rate down. As soon as I got to 4K I ran hard…this time I pushed myself more and towards the final part of the kilometre my lungs burnt a little – realistically pushing it slightly too much! I’d hit heart rate zone 5 so walked, then ran very slowly, dropping my heart rate as quickly as possible to recover myself fast.
A quick body check and all being okay, as soon as my watched buzzed 6K I set off hard again. With a little more downhill helping me I didn’t have to push my body as much, yes I still hit zone 5 a little but not as badly – my data shows me as faster and a sub 5min kilometre, but the reality is downhill running is always faster and I had the most at that point in my run.
As my watch buzzed 7K I eased off again, these last kilometres felt different…like my body suddenly knew what I was wanting it to do. If I’d been going further and doing more I really feel that I both could have, and have maintained the faster speeds. Getting back and looking at my data I couldn’t believe how well I’d done. My old running times looking at me from fartlek sessions of before cancer!

With a spring in my step I got myself ready for the day. Popping in to see my folks and Stan before work in order to say goodbye…or rather “see you Saturday”!
Work felt like a mountain of paperwork, I tired quickly but was productive and worked through a lot before leaving at 1.30pm. Once home however my only thought was to get changed, warm and curled up on the sofa. It’s been a while since I needed an afternoon nap but the hour I slept made me feel so much better!

Thursday – I woke early but had had a peaceful nights sleep and felt ready for my run. After the exertion of Wednesday, Thursday needed to be taken at a slower pace so as not to fatigue my body and drain my muscles. I’d also noted while warming up just how tight my left hamstring felt…I made sure to do a little extra warm up to ensure it was as ready as the rest of me.
While starlight it was mild, setting off I hadn’t the fog of my breath to contend with like the day before. I upped my pace from half a kilometre in and tried to stay at heart rate zone 3 to do an aerobic run. I came back via a hilly ascent, I ran it slow and kept my breath in check, getting to the top in my hearts anaerobic zone but not pushing too far into it. Once starting the descent I paced as slow as I’d run uphill, lowering my heart rate to zone 2 to aide my recovery. The last couple of kilometres took me on a loop of our nearby village. It actually felt really warm running along the pavements, I was pleased I was wearing shorts but could have done without my thermal top!

Once home my hamstring again tightened up quickly…I could have stretched it out with a little force and effort but that felt the wrong thing to do. Instead I grabbed my yoga mat and did a quick 20minute session before getting ready for work.
My working day passed quickly but was so busy I struggled now and then…my concentration off, my emotions up. It was lovely to get home and have time for a call with a friend to catch up a little, before getting on with a few chores and starting to get ready for Friday.

Friday – What a difference a year makes…a year ago I ran 6.6K before heading to my first chemotherapy session.

I’d been so nervous the night before, tearful and tired. That morning I’d run like the wind…like I was running away from something, feeling like I needed to be saved. It was a difficult day and inspite of the cold cap I started to lose my hair over the next fortnight.

This last picture is now, cancer done…life ahead of me.

I feel very different to the person before, trauma, loss, struggle…they change people. They’ve made me who I am now, more determined, calmer in ways, more anxious in others, less bothered by the small stuff. I became someone who did a half marathon PB only a few months post chemo, a marathon and ultramarathon runner!
Sundays poppy run in Brigg is deferred from this time last year as chemo meant I was unable to take part. It meant breaking up my long run though, and originally I was going to do 8K on Saturday morning before heading to Lincolnshire. There’s a silent hope for a 10K PB however, which meant fresh legs being a necessity.
Friday morning I celebrated me, and those who have supported me, and ran my 8K. It felt great to know that I could finish and go to work instead of the hospital (I was leaving work at 1.30pm…scarily the exact time I left the chemo suite a year before) to come home feeling well, not have to struggle to eat toast later because I’d be too ill to get anything else down.
My 8K went well but I felt very emotional and it showed in my heart rate. It was a day for not caring and just running though. I got back elated, with again a little tightness in my left hamstring, but no other problems.
At work we had a mini celebration with stollen slices between jobs, it had been an awfully busy week and the morning just flew. I came home in the pouring rain, glad of not having to go back out!
I was a strength training session down and so did my half an hour upper body weight training, adding in more reps then I’m able to do first thing in a morning! Then a session of Yoga for Core and Booty before packing my bag ready for the weekend.

Saturday – It was lovely to be able to have a lie in before starting my day. I took the day as my rest day – having a slow start, a nice 40minutes yoga session and a relaxed breakfast before hitting the road.
Sundays race being in Brigg meant being able to catch up with a dear friend over lunch in Market Rasen…

then have an overnight with my parents. The drive over from the Peak District was hard work due to the weather, and more than once I worried just how much standing water I would find on Sunday. It was nice to have the distraction of company to take my mind off my upcoming event and keep me grounded instead. My only worry…would all my tech update for the clock change overnight!

Sunday – I feel quite nervous about today, yes I would love a new 10K PB but just being able to participate in the race is enough. If it happens that’s great but it’s also important to remember why we’re all gathering to run…to celebrate those lost and all they did, to bring them to life through our movement and thank them for the freedom they gave us.

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