Get Your Run On

That is exactly what I have done this morning. I’ve been for a run. The next two weeks I’m on a self-appointed “chemo holiday” and since I have limited cytotoxic drugs circulating my bloodstream, I feel great. The past two failed attempts at chemo will not go down in vain. I decided I would spoil myself with a run. Not just any run…a PARKRUN run.

This morning was the first parkrun event I have attended since moving back to Australia. I managed to convince my friend, Richard, who in turn convinced another friend, Mitch. That alone made my day – two more people have been introduced to the parkrun community.

Last night I frantically searched through my London belongings and found my trusty scrunched up barcode. I set my alarm and went to bed early.

My alarm was set for 6:00am, and lucky I did because if it wasn’t for the strange musical sound and vibrations coming from my bedside table, I may have missed it (iPhone really needs to update their options for alarm tones). My body was well-rested. Perfect.

In a mad dash I threw on my running kit, threw down a protein smoothie, said goodbye to mother who is flying to China today for a two-week work trip, was out the door, and in the car.

Augustine Heights is the closest parkrun to Ipswich. I set the address into our trusty NAVMAN and was safely directed to where I needed to be. I could see the runners mingling at the starting point and I started to get excited. I love the uplifting, community feel that parkrun naturally produces.

We gather for the race briefing and before I knew it, we were off. The path was narrow and all the runners were packed tight, keeping the pace slow. It was exactly the start I needed. I wasn’t out to be leader of the pack today, nor was I trying to achieve a PB, the purpose of today was to take part in something I love, and finish.

Within the first few hundred meters we faced our first incline – a big wake up call for your legs and heart. Easy does it. Richard, Mitch and I didn’t stay together for long, we all found our own rhythm and dispersed amongst the other runners. The course is 2 x 2.5km loops with two inclines on each loop, nothing too challenging.

I didn’t allow my head to dictate my run this morning. I promised myself I would stay at a comfortable pace and not push too hard. At one stage a small girl who looked all of nine-years-old was keeping me at pace, good on her! Today was not about training for a triathlon, or Ironman (yet). I let my body move with comfort and ease. By the second lap I found I was encouraging others to keep moving – a male runner was walking ahead of me, ‘keep running’ I said as I ran past, a smile crept across my face as I heard his footsteps pick up behind me.

Normally in the last 1km of a race, I would pick up the pace and try and take over runners, one-by-one. This morning wasn’t a race, so I kept at my own pace. When I heard the thump of runners closing in, I peacefully let them pass. I could see the finish line and I glided through. I had done it. I had run my first 5km since the start of treatment…and I FELT GREAT.

It was so great to be able to share this morning with Richard and Mitch. We have already committed to going back next Saturday while I’m still on my “chemo holiday.”

So what was my time? 28:01! My fastest recorded parkrun time was 24.12. No complaints from me. Like I said, today was not about recording a PB.

Oh, another thing that made my day, a male runner came up to me at the end, shook my hand and THANKED ME for pushing him.

You can be assured I will have a massive smile on my face all day. Life is good.

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Running through chemotherapy

A week ago today I had my first round of chemo.

Yesterday I was cleared by Physio for all activities – swimming, running and cycling (and weights and push ups). “Start small and build slowly” was their advice.

Today…this happened.

I wanted to go further but had set myself a 3km target. Sensible Rochelle listened.

I’m 32 not 50

…no offence to all friends and family over 50

I thought it would be a lot easier being a young Breast Cancer patient. I’m fit and healthy, I’m in the best possible shape to take on the battle. I am not denying this to be a very positive thing, but sometimes I feel I have to work harder to remind people THAT I AM STILL FIT AND HEALTHY. The problem I have – and I use the word “problem” very loosely  – I can’t relate to the majority of resources available. There are a range of support groups available for young woman, but what if I don’t want to just meet to talk about the illness, what if I want to be active and do what makes me happy to get through the illness…(note to self: develop a recovery programme for active young people!).

I’ll try and explain a little better…

I was so excited when I received a DVD from the hospital – “Strengthen your recovery: Pilates for Breast Cancer Recovery”. I quickly jump into my gym gear, pop in the DVD and worked my way through the programme: week 2-5 recovery, it had only been 3 weeks since surgery. I don’t want to sound negative so I will keep my reaction to myself…let’s just say the next day I moved onto the next programme: week 6-10 recovery. Again, I struggled to even feel a stretch in most of the moves.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sounds smug about having recovered well from my surgery, I understand people recover at different rates and they need a blanket programme to offer patients. The DVD was designed for people who have had either Mastectomy or Lumpectomy – that alone is such a broad spectrum.

Before being diagnosed I was training for triathlon, I could deadlift 95kgs and do full range push-ups (thanks Des).  I was fit – probably the fittest I’ve ever been. I knew I would have to be patient with recovery and getting back to my normal life…but 5 weeks on and I’m getting itchy feet.

Today I received another DVD – Yoga for Breast Cancer. It offered a good series of postures to build up strength and stretch the affected area *minor victory*.

If you stole my mac and Googled “running after lumpectomy”, “weights after lumpectomy”, “exercise after lumpectomy”…you get the idea…you would find all the options have been viewed already. I have spent HOURS on the Internet trying to see what other people’s experiences have been – recovery times, training through treatment etc. Out of all the searches, I have stumbled across TWO positive links. One woman continued with CrossFit through treatment, another continued to train for Ironman! *gleam of hope*.

After finally finding some inspiring articles I am even more eager to meet with my physiotherapist, yet I am still waiting for an appointment. I have asked if I can start back swimming freestyle – they are a bit hesitant until I have been assessed. I have always been a law-abiding citizen, so I haven’t done anything they have advised against. I do however, like to prove to anyone willing to listen, that I have my full-range of movement back. So if you see me in the street talking to someone and swinging my arms randomly in the air, you can guess what the discussion is about.

In the meantime I am settling for some lower body exercises – a few squats, hip bridges and lunges can’t hurt (CrossFit lady did 100 bodyweight squats in her hospital room the day after her Mastectomy! Now THAT is inspiring…what have I been doing the past 5 weeks!!!).

The physiotherapist at Ipswich Hospital has never met me before, and will probably wish they had been assigned to someone else. Number 1 rule, always have your questions ready:

“Hi, I’m Rochelle, when can I…”:

  • start running
  • start swimming again (freestyle)
  • lift weights
  • do push-ups
  • ride my road bike

So far the recommended exercise is walking. I have even been googling walking speed records, competitive much?

I wanted to try to get as much physical activity in before Chemo starts the next week. It seems I may not get the chance *sad face*.

My body may be limited, but my mind is still as active as ever…

My name will be on this one day…

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these nikes were made for… walking?

For the past three years I lived in London without a car. If I needed to get somewhere, I had a few options: catch the bus, jump on a tube, grab a Boris bike or walk. That’s just how it is. In Australia it’s a different story – cars are the norm (cycle friends don’t be offended, this too is a growing trend that is great to see). Since arriving back, I have either driven, or been driven to my destination. I have been very lucky that the parents have handed over the keys without hesitation or been gracious chauffeurs.

The other day I had another ‘light bulb moment’…

I had to head into town to run some errands. Instead of stealing mothers car, I decided to throw on my gym gear and sexy pink fluro nikes with the intention of walking around town and then home.

What did I discover? Walking around Ipswich and home is no different to walking around London and home (except for the scenery). My legs still worked the same, the more I moved forward the closer I got to my next pit stop…and I really enjoyed it.

Another positive to setting out on foot is it’s the only thing I have been given approval to do from my Physiotherapist. I am not sure it’s exactly what he had in mind when he said I should include ‘some’ walking.

So if you see me around town, don’t let my fluro pink nikes stop you saying hi…

No rest for these pink shoes!

No rest for these pink shoes!