Bristol 10k

Bristol 10k- 5th May 2019- DONE

I was a bit disappointed as I didn’t get the time that I wanted though. I did it in 1:03:42. This was for a few reasons;

1. A bit of tightness and tendonitis in my hamstring which has been bothering me.

2. I was at the back of my wave so lost a fair bit of time trying to get through the crowds to get up to pace and…

3. I didn’t train hard enough and I ate FAR too many Easter eggs

4. I got in my head a bit; I didn’t get my breathing right as I was in a panic about not getting the time that I wanted and also, there were so many people collapsing on this run! I had to move aside for no less than 4 ambulances, this made me a bit conservative in my speed too. All in all I was a very inefficient runner that day!

I am going to sign up to another 10 k sometime over the summer to try to get that sub 1 hour time, however, first I need to address some of the above issues.

I have been stretching, using a foam roller and yoga balls to try to loosen up the hamstrings which has worked a bit. I have also been doing more time in the gym doing other forms of exercise to improve muscle strength generally and give the hamstrings a bit of a rest instead of only running.

I can’t do much about being at the back of the wave now. Next time I will be making sure that Summers doesn’t bugger off to join a 3 mile long toilet queue leaving me with the kids just as they call my wave to the start line. On a separate note, this race reminded me how much I hate a porta-loo and I am properly shitting it (although definitely not literally) about the toilet situation when we go to Glasto.

Then there’s the not training hard enough issue. As mentioned, I  have been going to the gym, swimming and doing some local runs but not pushing myself too hard. I have also taken to doing some bike ride with Sasha who finds it all very exciting…

(She was wearing a helmet but I took it off just before the photo was taken)

The Easter eggs are also pretty much finished now and much to Summers’s disgust, I am back on to cooking healthier and more vegan meals.

The getting in my own head bit is something I need to work on. I felt a lot of expectation on me  to get that sub 1 hour time and put too much pressure on myself which just sabotaged my efforts in the end and made me not enjoy the run as much. By the 7k mark I realised that I wasn’t where I needed to be to get the time I wanted and a bit of me just sort of gave up then, I didn’t push myself as hard as I should have.

I have the Oxford half in October. I am not giving myself a target time for this; I am just going to run it and enjoy it and try not to trip over any hubcap rings!

Thank you all who donated. It is very much appreciated and ARC are very grateful for the money raised too 🙂

 

 

 

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Approaching dates

The Bristol 10k is only 1 month away! 😱 I know I can finish it. However, I really want to get below the 1 hour mark. I did it last year in something very annoying like 1 hour and 22 seconds 🤦‍♀️.

I have not been particularly ‘on it’ with the training. Work has been busy, I’ve been studying for a qualification in sports massage therapy, life generally has been busy with usual craziness of the school child and terrible two year old. On top of that is the approaching anniversaries.

The first was 31st March, the ‘diagnosis day’, which also fell on Mother’s Day this year. Just to give me an extra punch to the stomach. Cheers for that universe.

Trying to focus on anything but ‘what happened’ at the moment but there are reminders everywhere. A Lebanese recipe in a book takes me back to the meal before the scan; happy and excited, completely oblivious to what was about to happen. Trying to distract myself reciting muscles and bones for the next part of the Sports Massage course I’m doing. But that throws me back to table and the needle in my stomach. A song playing on the radio from then can transport me back in an instant to the crematorium and the tiny, white coffin.

All the scary memories, thoughts and feelings I keep in the ‘box I do not open’ seem to be expanding and escaping through cracks and holes. I am frantically plugging the cracks and holes, but for each one covered another opens and I am laying on the lid clutching the sides to keep it all in. I know the contents will shrink back to their manageable size by the end of April and I can lock the box again.

A bit of a depressing post. Urgh! Another reason I have been a bit off with the running is Summers buggered off to Switzerland for a week to go to a watch convention (FOR. FUN…. ) so got out of the habit that week.

I do now have new running leggings to incentivise me! They cost more than a term of swimming lessons (😱) but they look like they will stay up and they don’t have that stupid thigh seam that so many have. What is depressing though is how I measure stuff now; the cost of extra curricular activities 🤦‍♀️ … at least I don’t go on holiday to watch conventions. I’m sure we used to be ‘cool’ once…

Again, any donations are much appreciated! Thank you 😘

https://arc-uk.charitycheckout.co.uk/pf/jen-higgins

The Glasgow post-mortem and new challenge

Hellooo again lovely people,

It feels like only yesterday I was blogging about training for the Glasgow Half Marathon. Well, I neglected to write a follow up blog post. Or rather I thought I had but obviously imagined it 🙄 Huge apols.

It was certainly a memorable first half marathon. The night before, Sasha came down with bronchiolitis, a very high temperature and vomited some some blood. This resulted in much panic and a late night trip to Glasgow A&E … on a Saturday night… 😩😱

Glasgow A&E is an interesting place. We had an hour’s wait with some characters in the waiting room, most of whom were in pyjamas and accompanied by their entire families, who were also in pyjamas. We were then ushered into resus through a corridor with sweary, drunk Glaswegians lined up in beds end to end, all with police escorts. Resus was surprisingly quiet with just us and a little old lady. After some ibuprofen and nebuliser we were sent on our way. Dodging puddles of vomit, we walked back through the very noisy and sweary corridor to meet our Uber. It was at this point we were told that there was actually a children’s hospital which was much closer than this general one and probably a fair bit nicer too 🙄.

The next morning I was pretty tired to say the least. I mustered up some enthusiasm and we all headed to the start line (except Mutti who had to stay at the Airbnb to look after Sasha). The atmosphere was great, and there was such a nice bunch of chatty people (I think they were being nice anyway, the accents were pretty broad, I did a lot of nodding and smiling).

The race started, I had been told Glasgow was a flat race, this was a lie. 50m there’s a massive hill 😩 I HATE hills. After I begrudgingly made it up this I picked up the pace again and was flying! My carefully selected soundtrack (thanks guys who helped with this!) was powering me through and I was enjoying all of the entertainment on the way.

That was until about mile 2. Mile 2 was over a bridge which obviously wasn’t used much; there was a fair bit of debris about. It was at this point I stood on a circular piece of wire which flipped up and caught my other foot in it too and I hit the deck like a sack of potatoes. I heard other runners around me wincing. Quite a few stopped to check I was ok, I gingerly got up, limped to the side and lobbed the fecking ring over the bridge while swearing profusely

I tested out my knee and although it was sore, nothing was broken, so I carried on, albeit at a lot slower and slightly more limpy gait.

The next 11 miles were painful, I cried for quite a few of them 🤣 partly at the knee pain and partly for how unfair I felt it all was, it started pissing it down which also didn’t help my mood. There were good points though; I really enjoyed the bagpipers and there was some great dancers too. A nice man who was running it barefoot gave me some chocolate and jelly beans and I loved seeing Phoebe, Summers and my dad and stepmum cheering me on with Phoebe’s handmade sign.

I staggered over the finish line a little after 2hours 20 minutes and lay down on the grass so happy it was over. My knee was sore but nowhere near as sore as my bum! My new limpy gait had affected my glutes very badly. It was a good week or so after until I was walking like a normal person again.

Although it was pretty awful, I was proud of myself for finishing given the circumstances and for raising as much as I did for Second Hope. thank you so much all who donated. It means a lot!

I will be running the Bristol 10k on 5th May this year to raise money again, this time for ARC. Both Summers and I have raised money for ARC over the past few years in memory of our son, Rufus. The support the charity provides is vital.

You can read more about the what ARC does at https://www.arc-uk.org

Or our story and how ARC helped us from my first blog post onwards. https://runningforrufus.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/the-20-week-scan/

And last link! If you could donate anything I would be extremely grateful.

https://arc-uk.charitycheckout.co.uk/pf/jen-higgins

Peace out! 😘

It’s the final countdown…!

We’re at target hurrah!!! In fact, we have surpassed it! Thank you lovely people; Mutti, me, and everyone involved with Second Hope really appreciate it.

Now, the training progress… I have kept the newest pair of shoes, the toes on my left foot still go numb. BUT I did 3 long runs and had no blisters so despite the numb toes I haven’t exchanged them again (mostly because the box they came it has been acquired by Phoebe and is now home to 3 tonnes of glitter and foam shapes).

With the training ramping up I’ve been trying some new longer routes. My tactic for planning runs is to use a website called mapometer to plot a route of approximately 1-1.5 miles shorter than I actually want to do. This is because my sense of direction is…. not amazing…. I allow a buffer of 1-1.5 miles to all routes for the very likely possibility that I end up running around in circles at some point. I implemented this tactic following my accidental 10.8 mile run that was only meant to be 9.5. The pace time was impeded by getting lost in a cul-de-sac for 5 minutes and fussing a rather lovely cat for a while.

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I have less than 1 month left to train. However, I have been told by many people that you only really need to train up to 10 miles for a half marathon because ‘the crowd will carry you the last 3’. I am very much hoping that this is literal and I’m able to just crowd surf over the finish line…

To try to get myself as fit as possible, I decided to do some other exercise apart from running so I joined the gym about 1 month ago. I have been twice and hated both times. Membership is now cancelled. Money well spent! For a change and a giggle my friend Maz and I went to a trampoline HIIT class at Freedog in Swindon. It was SO. MUCH. FUN. I absolutely loved every moment of it, it was hard work, there were moments when I questioned the strength of my pelvic floor and wished I’d done more kegals and I definitely looked like a right eejit but it was the most fun work out I’ve ever done.

Along the same theme of getting as fit as possible, I decided to try ‘going vegan’, for the health benefits but also for ethical reasons. I am easing into it very gently… in that we have made 4 vegan meals in the last couple of weeks, and I have changed to almond milk and vegan butter. But… have still been eating copious amounts of biscuits and chocolate bars that are definitely not vegan. Easing, yes, very gently… extremely gently when someone pointed out that not all prosecco is vegan… and then I developed a rash over my entire body and had to spend £30 on prescription creams and antihistamines; it is quite possible that I am allergic to almonds… I am now writing this with a glass of prosecco in my hand having just finished a packet of maltesers with the almond milk in the bin.

Anywho! We have flights and accommodation booked for Glasgow now. I have the parentals coming to cheer me on as well as Summers and the girls. Practicality wise we’re nearly set. I do need to get a running t-shirt printed and sort out a playlist.

I would really appreciate it if everyone who reads this could suggest their favourite song to exercise to and I will add this to my playlist to listen to on the big day.

Thanks again for all the support and if anyone has some top tips for running a half, I’d welcome them 🙂

 

Shoe Woes… and Yays!

My last blog post finished with me giving the ‘evil fecking shoes’ another try with some shorter runs. The shorter runs were not successful…

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I didn’t get any more blisters but they still didn’t feel comfortable and I still got numb toes a couple of miles in. I put the ‘evil fecking shoes’ back in their box and trundled back to Run. The staff at Run were amazing! They listened to my woes, felt my feet up a bit, told me my socks were shit (not really, but it was implied) and presented me with a new pair of Brooks Adrenalines 1/2 a size bigger in a slightly different colour. They gave me plan of how to break them in; alternating runs with my old trainers for a while, advised me of different ways of lacing them to give my toes more space and told me to get some decent socks (I really should get some decent running socks, I have been running in those cheapo Puma trainer socks you get at Sports Direct’s checkout, 5 pairs for £1 or something, they’re about 3 years old and are more hole than sock…).

Any way! The new shoes, aesthetically, are good. I prefer the colour, they look like they’ll show the dirt less and most importantly, they go with more of my running kit. ; )

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My first run in these was a bit more successful, toes were more comfortable, I was sensible and only did 3.8 miles, no blisters and they felt good. My time wasn’t great as I got lost partway through so had to stop to open google maps (still no sense of direction).  But I will do my usual 7 mile route next time so I don’t get lost and see how I go.

I have noticed that even without all the shoe trouble, I haven’t been getting any faster recently. I decided to join the gym to mix up the exercise a bit and also try and drop a few more pounds by eating healthier. This has not been going well; this is ice cream weather and I have been hitting them hard (I partly blame the trainers for this as Run is around the corner from Ray’s homemade ice cream shop which actually does the best ice cream ever, try it!). The heat is also draining and this, coupled with Sasha’s new favourite wake up time of *vomit* between 4.30 – 5.30  means by the time the evening comes I just want to flop on the sofa and do nothing. I managed to make it to the gym on Friday evening and did a 45 minute work out and felt better for it. I’m feeling that this is a good week to start again, new trainers, new diet, new week, new willpower…Although as I type this I have just eaten 3 chocolate digestives and a viennese biscuit…. I’ll start tomorrow… I should eat all the biscuits now so that I’m not tempted to eat them the rest of this week when I’m being ‘good’… crap, I can hear Sasha stirring… pass me the wine.

Thanks for the donations people! Especially the lovely ‘Chat Girls’, you’re all amazing. 72% there now! Hurrah! We might just do this.

If you’d like to donate, or you just fancy donating again because you’re especially lovely, the link is below:-

My Just Giving Page

Feel free to share my blog and/or the Just Giving page. Have a good week all!

New challenge, new shoes… new blisters

I have been gradually building up my miles over the last few months. As I have been running more I have also noticed my ankles are a bit sore and twinge a lot during runs and after. That, coupled with the fact my little toe was sticking out of the side of each trainer, made me think it was possibly time for a new pair. Phoebe wanted to get in on the action and get a pair of running shoes too, for her junior park runs; we got hers from Nike. I decided to go to ‘Run’ on Wood Street in Swindon for a browse of their running shoes and related paraphernalia. I asked for a gait analysis as it was a couple of years since I last had it done. And I know ligaments etc stretch in pregnancy and with breastfeeding because of all the relaxin in your body; so the way you run may change. The gait analysis was less traumatic than the last one as they just filmed my legs this time (last time my bum was in shot and it was horrific! 😭).The guy who had the unfortunate task of filming me running from behind played the video back to me in slow motion. He pointed out how my pronation was affecting my ankles and knees and suggested some shoes to try. After trying out a pair of very supportive Sauconys and the Brooks equivalent, I settled on the Brooks as my old shoes were Brooks and they have lasted me well. (The Brooks ones were also much prettier…. not that that matters… it kind of does…). £120. One Hundred and Twenty Pounds. 12,000 pennies. Feck they’re expensive, but hopefully worth it… I thought.

Phoebe’s and my shoes! So pretty 😚

Full of excitement and enthusiasm for my new shoes I decided to go for a nice long run to wear them in. Leaving my house at 7.30 on Sunday morning, I bounded along the pavements admiring my new shoes in reflections, absolutely sure I’d get a PB this run. About 2 miles in I thought ‘my toes feel a bit funny’. At 4 miles I thought ‘my toes feel a bit numb’. At 6 miles I thought ‘shit, these shoes hurt a bit’. At 7 miles I thought ‘OMG, this is excruciating!’ At 8 miles I was alternating between a hobbling run and a hobbling walk whilst swearing at the ‘evil fecking shoes’. This, coupled with the fact it was about 26 degrees, even that early in the morning, AND I am unable to run holding a water bottle so was sooooo thirsty (so thirsty that I very nearly drank from a bottle of water left next to a dog bowl 🙈) resulted in a very, very poor time of over 11 minute miles. Not a PB or even close.

The damage 😢 (referring to the blister not the crappy nail varnish, although that is pretty horrendous too!)

I consoled myself with a breakfast of prosecco and cheese from the cheese and chilli fest at Lydiard Park (making sure the 1,200 calories I burned did not go to waste 😉).I was considering taking the ‘evil fecking shoes’ back. But then multiple people pointed out that I was, in fact, a bit of a pillock going for such a long run for the first time in new shoes. I will be giving them another go on a shorter run in a couple of days, so fingers crossed they are kinder to my feet next time. Thanks for reading! We are nearly half way to my target already! Thanks so much to all who have sponsored me; I really appreciate it, as do all the people involved with Second Hope. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jenfafa

Second Hope

It’s been a long while since I last wrote, I started writing about the 2nd anniversary back in April but couldn’t bring myself to finish it (major wobble with anniversary coinciding with new job and lots of other things going on), maybe I’ll finish it and post it in the future but now I want to talk to you about something else.    I am putting on my trainers again to raise money for a different charity; Second Hope; another charity very close to mine and my family’s hearts.

WARNING- there are some graphic images and descriptions below; if you are squeamish when it comes to ‘lung juice’ and such like, it might be best to skip this post…

My Mutti was diagnosed with primary breast cancer in November 2000. I was 14 at the time and when she told me I was devastated.

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Awkward 14 year old me sporting those weird cube hair bobbles
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Mutti before the cancer diagnosis

‘Cancer’ is a scary word, you hear ‘cancer’ and the first thing that comes to mind is ‘death’, I was petrified she was going to die and was distraught when no one would reassure me she would be fine.  Mutti went through a gruelling course of treatment which included a mastectomy, reconstruction, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She was a trooper throughout, I don’t remember her complaining or even appearing particularly ill, I think she hid a lot of this from me. The only time I remember her looking ‘ill’ was after her operation, she was in hospital and had so many tubes draining different fluids into different bags and different bags feeding different fluids into her. Even then she joked that she was a juice bar and offered me a choice of orange juice (catheter) or cranberry juice (lymph drain).

My memories are mostly of Mutti and I having great fun with her new bald head (she shaved her head after giving up on the cold cap which didn’t really work).

(The photos above are post-chemo when she was able to get back on the wine again, hence the ‘drunk-face’ )

Naturally, Mutti decided to shop her way through the crappiness of chemo. She bought a very authentic looking wig which was exactly like her pre-chemo hair and she took great delight in whipping this off at opportune moments to surprise/shock people (mostly in the car; we’d leave many near-misses in our wake).

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Me and Mutti wig modelling together                        (I am properly cringing at how much I padded my bra… and not particularly well either!)

Mutti also acquired some very interesting hats, scarves and also Velcro fringes, there was also much inappropriate talk of mirkins (and of the versatility of the Velcro fringes!).

Mutti was, and still is, a complete badass, following her initial construction, she wanted her nipple tattooed so that it matched her natural breast, we went to a tattoo parlour who wouldn’t touch her nipple with a barge pole (not literally, that’s not how tattoos are done) but she thought, ‘ah well, I’m here now’, so got a tribal tattoo on her shoulder instead and paid for me to get my belly button pierced (although if my Dad asks, I went off and did that by myself without her knowledge; she was equally shocked and disappointed when she found out I’d had it done…).

Finally, after many, many trips to and from hospital, she was in remission, we’d gotten through it. We had a good cancer-free year or two, and then she found some more lumps. We panicked a bit, but these were removed, and she had some radiotherapy. We thought that was it, just one tiny blip we’d avoided catastrophe; remission again. Hurrah!

Years went by, she had regular mammograms but only on her remaining natural breast, the reconstructed one was not checked. Then late 2010, Mutti had some pain in her reconstructed breast, she went to get it checked out thinking that the implant might need replacing. An ultrasound of the breast showed some more lumps. Further investigations were worrying, more scans were done, and these revealed that there was metastatic spread to her lung, liver, spine and collarbone. I kept thinking that they’ve got this wrong, Mutti is fine, she can’t have metastatic spread in so many places when she looks so well?! After the denial came devastation; my understanding of metastatic/secondary cancer at that time was that this meant ‘game-over’. More tests were done to check the type of breast cancer, the only saving grace was that Mutti’s cancer was very oestrogen-receptive which meant there were lots of treatments to help keep it at bay.

Mutti was put on new medication and started Denosumab injections to help treat the bone mets. There was much improvement in the bone mets and everything else was stable for quite a few years until 2016.

2016 was the shittiest of all the shit years ever (see previous blog posts for more context on the shittiness of the shit year in all its shitting glory). Mutti developed a cough that would not bugger off. More scans revealed further spread in her lung which had caused pleural effusion (fluid on the lung). I took Mutti to hospital for her lung to be drained, and also for the Costas, Mutti loves a skinny cappuccino, why do all hospitals have a Costa? Southmead have 2 only 50 metres from each other? any who!… apologies if you are drinking or eating a Costa when you see the below photo.

Her lung kept filling up and eventually she was fitted with an IPC (inter-pleural catheter). This was basically a tube into the lung’s pleural cavity which you attached a bottle to in order to drain off the fluid. Mutti learnt to do this herself which gave her greater freedom and meant she didn’t have to go to hospital or wait for the district nurse to do it. Mutti took all this in her stride and didn’t complain about not being able to go swimming or have baths, or the ridiculous amount of medication and rocket bottles she had to take with her if she went anywhere. She continued to work and went on holidays, life returned to a new sort of ‘normal’.

Things were all going well until less fluid started coming out, this was odd, and we optimistically thought this might be the lung getting better and less fluid building up (the holy grail that is pleural adhesion!), although Mutti felt it was full. The fluid that did come out had changed in colour and then Mutti developed a temperature and became quite lethargic. We suspected an infection and she went to hospital, our fears were correct and was admitted and started on a course of intravenous antibiotics. She had another drain inserted to drain a different ‘pocket’

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The extra drain and a pretty impressive tan-line!

She was in for 3 weeks before she was well enough to return home.

The silver lining of the infection was that it aggravated the pleural layers enough to bring on adhesion and fluid gradually stopped building up and she was able to get rid of the IPC. Cue a trip to the spa to test out her less-orifice-y body; *champagne clinks*.

Since then, things have been fairly stable, there has been the occasional blip where medication has needed to be changed as it’s not as effective as it once was, but on the whole, we have been very lucky that Mutti has remained ‘healthy’.

Everyone who meets Mutti says how inspiring she is, and I agree, although this is not due to the way she deals with cancer that is terminal (I hate that word, secondary sounds less scary but essentially that is what secondary cancer is. That being said, it is increasingly able to be treated as a long-term condition thanks to the amazing work that Second Hope does, apols for the ramble, stay with me!) but just the general way she is.

For as long as I can remember Mutti has been there for me, she is a complete helicopter parent, very involved in what’s going on in my life, I am pretty sure she has a tracker on me, she is always the first to like any  blog or Facebook posts and she is very nosy, to the extent that she called up my university pretending to be me to try and find out my degree results early and only got found out when she couldn’t tell them my student ID (props hilar!). All that being said, I wouldn’t have her any other way, she is my mother, best friend, agony aunt, spa buddy and gadget researcher and I feel so blessed that she is still here so long after her initial diagnosis.

Mutti has not only been there for me, but many other people who have secondary breast cancer. It is a horrific to find out you have secondary breast cancer and naturally, you seek out other people in the same situation and support each other. Mutti has made some amazing friends who also have secondary cancer, most with much more aggressive types than Mutti’s and it must be devastating to lose so many friends to the same disease. I shall be running the half marathon for those that are enduring secondary breast cancer, but also in memory of those who have lost their lives to this shitty disease.

Second Hope is the first UK charity specifically for people living with advanced breast cancer. The charity is run purely by volunteers which means that all donations received go to fulfil their charitable aims and objectives, not to pay salaries or expensive overheads. Any money you can donate is very, very much appreciated by Second Hope and the families they help. The link to my fundraising page is below;

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jenfafa

Thanks so much for reading if you have made it this far. My next blog post I will update with my half-marathon training progress, so please follow me if you want to keep track of how well I’m getting on (or not as the case may be!)