Breaking news - I am getting better at this running malarkey :-) Those of you who know me through Runners' World, and others who know me well, will know that returning to running has been a really important part of my recovery, marking quite a milestone. Apart from the psychological benefits of exercise, it's the return to normal that it represents which is so meaningful. I've been doing a little running on the treadmill at the gym this week; managed 20 minutes on Wednesday morning and 30 minutes on Friday morning. Today, it was such a beautiful wintry morning, sunny and cold, that after church I decided to go for an outside plod - my first proper attempt at running, my first time out on my own (apart from running around the block a few weeks ago) any my first run outside.
There's a process to follow when going for a run - for me, anyway. I'm sure most runners just throw on their running gear, lace up their trainers and head off but oh no, not me. First there is the dilemma of what to wear - layering is key when it's cold, but I don't want to get too hot so I need to think about whether to wear a sleeveless top under a long-sleeved one, or a short-sleeved top under a long-sleeved one, or a short-sleeved one over a long-sleeved one, or a ....well, you get the picture! Then it's whether to wear calf-length leggings or full tracksuit bottoms. Then it's the trainers - should I wear my lovely new ones and spoil their pristine whiteness with some muddy badges of honour, or should I wear some older trainers which have been through mud, horse poo and puddles? (I told you it's a dilemma). In the end, I went for the sleeveless top, long-sleeved top, leggings and older trainers ensemble. The mandatory hi-viz gilet (anywhere else, this would be called a sleeveless jacket, but we're in Oxted, darling) on top, thumbs tucked through the thumbholes of my sleeves, hair screwed back into a tiny pony-tail and phone placed in pocket and off I went.
Well, what a beautiful day to be out running! Clean, clear air, bright sunshine, muddy fields and wildlife - just perfect. I did one of my old running routes; it's about four and a half miles and I ran all of it except for one tiny bit where I walked. I ran all the uphills, though, which I was very pleased with. I had to manoeuvre round a recalcitrant horse, which was firmly placed right by the stile between two fields. No way was it going to move - there was a couple out for a walk, just in front of me, who were trying to persuade this horse to move, but he was having none of it. Another couple on the other side of the stile were also trying to persuade it, but to no avail. I got fed up (impatient? me? Nooooo) with the slightly ineffectual hand-waving and "Here, boy"s that were going on, so eventually I just said I thought I could squeeze between the horse's head and the stile and hopped over. I wasn't going to let a horse stop me doing this blessed run, no way!
Now I know I can run outside, I can do more of it - I know I won't be able to do any long training runs for the VLM, but if I can get up to about 8 or 9 miles over the next 7 weeks (eek!), then at least I will feel I have the ability to run parts of the course, even if I walk most of it. And do you know what? there's no shame in that at all, despite what some running purists say. For me, the important thing is just getting to the end and proving that I have put the past horrendous 12 months to one side.
The rest of the week, since I last blogged, has been busy and good. I met with another friend on Wednesday for a catch-up and to talk about work and she gave me some very helpful advice about developing our new charity. Straight home from meeting her (in London) and met up with my friend Di in Oxted. She had an operation on her feet a few months ago and between her being immobile and me not being 100%, we hadn't had a chance to talk face-to-face for a while, so we had a grand old chat over tea/hot chocolate/latte in Caffe Nero.
On Thursday evening, I ventured back to the Elders' meeting at my church. The Elders basically work with the Minister to run the church, and are elected by church members. I hadn't been along to the monthly meetings since I got ill, so this is another step towards normality. I timed my return well, because it was our church secretary's birthday and there was cake! It did feel good to be back and getting involved, especially as we have had so much support from people there.
We had a guest for the weekend - my friend Dave, who lives in Derbyshire. It was just too difficult for me to entertain the idea of entertaining (!) overnight guests all through last summer so, because it's a long way to come just for a couple of hours, we arranged for him to visit now, when I am so much better. He came down on Friday and left on Saturday afternoon, so we had ample opportunity for a good catch-up, putting the world to rights, reflecting on being middle-aged gimmers, etc.! He even had the opportunity to come with Neil and me to a meeting of the Head and Neck Cancer Support Group at Medway Hospital (it moves around between Medway, Maidstone and East Grinstead Hospitals). You might remember that Neil and I went to our first meeting of this group in December and we won the quiz. Guess what? Yes, we won it again!I do like quizzes and my competitive streak comes out big-time. We won a bottle of red wine and then won a bottle of white in the raffle, so those two bottles have joined the serried ranks of bottles in the dining-room, none of which I can yet drink, since all wine still smells like vinegar to me!
I think that's me up-to-date now. It's been a good week, catching up with friends, and I deeply appreciate them making the effort to see me, especially when it involves travelling some distance. Neil, Amy and Adam are all fine - spoke to Adam on the phone this afternoon, Amy has been working hard over the weekend looking after one of her favourite charges so his parents could go away overnight and is now in bed, shattered, and Neil has spent today working at ExCel, where his company was exhibiting. It's good to have him back home, relaxing on the sofa and perusing the Sunday papers. As for me, once I finish this blog, I shall settle back on the sofa, cup of tea in hand, and luxuriate in the Sunday night televisual delight that is Call the Midwife - perfect easy, but well-made, viewing.
Toodle pip, y'all