Strength isn’t about how much you can handle before you break. It’s about how much you can endure after you’ve been broken.

There are some points in the year which I find so so hard…August for my sisters birthday, December for the anniversary of losing her, March for nearly losing Dad, October for my birthday – as this chick isn’t getting any younger! But July I fear the most.
It’s my cancer-anniversay month, and this year Coronavirus means my yearly MRI was pushed back…once you’ve done the cancer shebang the fear of it coming back – and having to go through all you did before, or worse, becomes a daily worry.

There was a huge positive in things last year though, because a year ago today I went back to work – the most tiring, emotional, wonderful two hours…but it started the ball rolling for a new proper normal. A year to the day and I went back to work again after a break, due to the pandemic, with the same fear, excitement and yearn for the norm. It’s been a busy month but being back and having structure in a world that still feels so uncertain, has made me feel more grounded then I have in weeks.

I’m running this month for Cancer Research and have taken part in the Race To The Stones 100K virtual challenge – for those that don’t know a virtual challenge is doing the distance, but away from the event. Race To The Stones 2020 was cancelled and so all of us did it virtually, starting on the 6th and ending 62miles later on 12th July…my cancer-anniversary.

I started that week off really well. Running 62miles in a week doubled what my training plan would be and meant running everyday…again not something I’m used to. Monday I took slowly at recovery run pace and all went to plan, Tuesday too. On Wednesday morning I felt tired, getting out of bed was iffy and that’s not me. But I got out, ran and all went to plan…I noticed I’d run a little quicker though. Now normally I’d have sensibly thought…you ran a bit too fast there, slow down tomorrow. But instead I went on a…if I sped up slightly and did 10K quicker, then another 5K slow I’d have 10mins more time for getting ready for work!!! Hint of disaster there.
I had also started to notice I was a little more tired and eating had become a new religion…thankfully my challenge coincided with birthday week at work, so I adopted an 80:20 rule of being mindful of good nutrition but then a piece of cake a day too…it worked well.
Thursday morning I got up feeling a bit more awake, my Inner Runner Demon switched on and I set off…running faster. It felt great and I was ontop of the world, then I got to 9K and realised just how fast I was going, that a 10K PB wasn’t a good idea and I should slow down…and as I did pain registered! By the time I was in the last few kilometres before home it felt like being struck behind the knee repeatedly, and pulled up into my thigh. I slowed to recovery pace and got home but needed my Hoka recovery shoes on all day and couldn’t go up or downstairs well.

I found a YouTube video, sure I’d strained my hamstring, and learnt how to tape my leg. The advice was not to run…or run slowly in compression socks to help – I chose the latter to get me through the next few days and another 23miles of running. I can’t begin to describe how painful that was…in hindsight I’ve no idea how I did it…but I had great support and on Sunday morning I crossed the finish line.

One day I’d love to run Race To The Stones for real and know that I’m more than capable, and have the right mindset.

What I’m lacking is strength…I saw my physio on the Monday who knew straight away this was no hamstring strain. I’d overloaded my body, twisted my pelvis out of alignment, putting pressure on my SI nerve. A week of no running was prescribed…I barely wanted to walk so was fine with that. I also had exercises to add into my daily physio routine…you read that right…I’m trying to do things with my body that it’s not really ready for, so have exercises to help strengthen me up. As the week went on my leg improved and the tenderness became bareable, then nearly non-existent and I ran 6K on the Sunday very slowly!
Then my 100K in a day Ultra for September got cancelled to 2021. I felt gutted that the thing that helped me through lockdown, that I’d trained so hard for, was gone. But after a bit of reflection I know that this gives me a year to actually get ready properly. To strengthen myself up and take care of myself well.

The major things I’ve learnt from that week are:
Trust in planning and follow it…no pushing, rushing or getting over confident.
Food, food, food and hydration…it aides recovery between runs and helps during the run too.
You can’t sleep enough…I made sure I had between 7-8hrs every night, it still wasn’t enough and rest shouldn’t be underestimated.
Recovery takes time…the further the distance the longer the recovery, the faster you run the longer the recovery…it’s that simple but is also complicated because recovery is different for everyone. Some will spring back fast, others need more time, more nutrition and hydration focus, shorter distance running or just walking. Remembering your needs are your own and not getting lost in comparison is hard, but always try to be true to yourself.

There’s been another little blip in life this month and brings me back to the topic I started with…a cancer scare.

This is a hard one to share.

I feel like I’m doing better mentally and physically…not great but small steps in the right direction. However mid-month I went and saw my GP and mentioned that I’d been having tenderness in my left breast. He put in a referral to the breast clinic and around a week ago I was at the hospital. After being checked over I had a biopsy, no lump was found but there was a bit of thickening tissue that worried them. It usually happens in women my age, but for pre-menopausal women only.
As you can imagine what followed was a very intense wait, I struggled to tell anyone and slowly became a mess. I daren’t tell anyone incase it was awful news, I was struggling to handle going through all that treatment all over again, but also didn’t want the attention…I just needed to hide until I knew what I had to deal with before lumbering anyone with worry and panic.
I had my call from the hospital a couple of days ago and the problem is just scar tissue. It’s higher than expected but that’s not unusual, and as no cancerous cells were found in the biopsy they think the swelling and pain are just my reaction to thickening tissue…and the cocktail they inject me with each month that keeps me menopausal! So this is my new normal really.
I’ve my yearly MRI screening moved forward to 7th August which will show if there’s anything else to worry about, but at least so far it’s all positive…and gives us a high to finish the month on.

2 thoughts on “July – Experience

  1. 💗 you are an incredible young lady. Thank you for sharing my heart goes out to you 💗 So pleased your scare was ok, fingers crossed for the 7th x

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