I’m still here!

I bet you thought that I’d given up.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The story is that up until July 2020 I was happily building up my mileage and exploring our new home, having moved across Dumfries and Galloway to the artist’s town of Kirkcudbright.

Then I got a diagnosis of stage 2 HER2+ breast cancer.

I carried on running for as long as I could, but once I started chemo I just couldn’t do it. I won’t go into details, but if you are interested in my journey take a look at my art website.

I am itching to get running again, especially now that the better weather has arrived, but I have another month or so to wait as I prepare to start radiotherapy. It’s quite intensive, with three weeks of daily radiotherapy, and I expect to be worn out by the end. Once I’m through that then I will grab my runners and get out the door!

Two Lovely Miles

Last week I managed to run Two Lovely Miles.


It’s quite a thing for a starter-againer, like me, to be able to run further than the end of the street! I’m still running on the treadmill, but I’m slowly building up the distance and really enjoying the buzz of seeing more added each run.

Although I’m looking at the miles, I’m actually working in kilometres because my trusty treadmill, upon which I’m running exclusively at the moment, is all European and modern, like. Rather than try and convert things as I go, it’s easier to post in metric. Today I’ve just run 3km, which sounds much further than I actually ran!

I’ve discovered that I’m happier as a morning runner, rather than as an afternoon or evening runner, which is ok so long as I don’t pound the treadmill too much and disturb neighbours! A former neighbour actually once ran out into his back garden, wondering what the strange banging was coming from our cabin at the end of the garden and if I was OK! I must be heavy of foot when all the time I thought I was a fairy-footed! My Dad always used to call me Fairy Elephant for the way I went up and down stairs!


By this coming weekend I should be up to 2.5 miles, so now I’m wondering about the possibility of a 5k race to give me something to aim for beyond managing to run 3 miles. I briefly considered the Edinburgh Winter Run in January, but the fact that you ascend and descend Arthur’s Seat during the race probably isn’t really what my neurosurgeon meant  when he said run on level and even ground!

the-festive-five-1024x1024.jpgWomen’s Running magazine is running a virtual 5k called Festive Five, but I found myself faltering when filling in the application form and wondering if I wanted the medal or just the chance to run a 5k race and, perhaps surprisingly considering that I have a page here dedicated to my race bling, I actually think it’s having a chance to just run with others which is more appealing. I might change my mind, but I think I’d rather run a race and get a T-shirt than run a virtual one and have to prove I’ve done it. It’s food for thought.



Attending Gym

I maintain three blogs; this one (obviously), an arty one for my business and a motoring one for the club of which I’m secretary. It takes a lot of time of which, generally speaking, I don’t have much! I’m working my way through them this morning.

However,  here I am! And I bring with me tidings of reasonable cheeriness.

Since I last posted I have been attending Gym. I tried to approach it in a similar way as I used to my running, but I seem to have less inclination towards Gym as I did running through woods in the early evening light. The urge to Gym isn’t as strong. It’s more of a necessity than a dedication. With maybe a bit of determination thrown in.

Yes, that’s me, smiling as I cycle away. Believe that and you’ll believe anything.

On average I go to the gym three times a week. I walk, I bike and I swim. In that order too. I don’t know why, it just became ‘Routine’.

I started walking 1km on the treadmill at a slowish speed and now I can walk 1.25km at a less slow speed. Well, let me be honest here. I can walk 0.5 km, then I painfully limp the remainder. I’m just building up the amount of pain I can endure.

Cycling has never been an issue. I could stationary cycle 10km even when I was at my most injured; these days I’m following a walk with a cycle and sticking to 5km so that I don’t break myself. I’d hate for that to happen. Again.


Then, with wanton abandon, I haul my sorry ass to the pool. I love swimming, really love it, but I really hate getting changed. I’m longing for the day when I can step into a changing room like Mr Benn and, as if by magic,  emerge ready for the pool and then ready for home, without need for a soggy towel or a squirt of talcum powder.

Multimillionaire Duncan Bannatyne can rest easy; I’ve signed up for a year of Gym. The way I’m going, I can’t see me running through the woods any time soon!


I am still alive! 

Just in case you were wondering. 

I’ve been busy with work and, as a result, too tired to do anything when I’ve got home other than chill out with my feet up, in front of the box, with a large G&T.  To be succinct, I’m still in a state of invalidity. I’m hardly able to walk any distance, especially as the day passes, and when I do walk I do it with the aid of a stick. It’s a bit of a come down for me after celebrating half marathon finish after half marathon finish.

My chiropractor has admitted defeat; not in so many words, but he clearly had no idea how to help me when I last visited. I’m beginning to wonder if I should continue to see him at all at the moment. My NHS physio similarly doesn’t know why I’m still in pain and why I’m not responding to the treatment I’ve been given (albeit do the Clam and see how you are in two weeks). I’ve not seen my physio for over a month as she’s been on holiday and I managed to mix up the dates of my last appointment, arriving a week late! 

The next step seems to be referral to the Orthapaedic department at the local hospital and then wait for an MRI appointment. After that I can’t see any other options but to operate to remove the bursa, if it’s still the bursa causing the problem.

No one can be prepared for chronic long-term pain. It’s not just debilitating, it’s depressing too. Being in constant pain drains the life out of you and if the painkillers don’t work or make you ill, you just have to learn to cope with it as best you can. I’m trying not to eat too much, coming on holiday with a huge basket of fruit to munch on instead of biscuits, chocolate and crisps. As I type, I am sitting in the caravan awning with a punnet of strawberries and some flavoured water. 

This next few days will be for me to relax and not do too much. We are pitched overlooking New England Bay on the most southern tip of Scotland, within spitting distance of a lovely sandy beach. When hubbie heads out on his bike I’ve resolved to do some yoga and sit on the beach with my paints. Hopefully some inactivity will help the inflammation on my hip and the yoga will help to loosen some joints and muscles. 

I received my number from Women’s Running magazine for the 10k in Glasgow which I obviously won’t be running at the end of the week. It pained me to admit defeat and email them, but in the same email I volunteered as a water giver outer on the course. I get a sweatshirt and a goody bag in place of the medal and T-shirt and at least the sense of satisfaction that I’ve helped out. 

My plans beyond that depend on what the hospital says. I can’t run or do anything that aggravates the bursa, so I just need to be patient. I do have an ace up my sleeve in the form of a friendly physio who may be able to offer acupuncture. It’s something I now need to pursue.

I hope everyone else is enjoying their running. Honestly I do, you just don’t know what is around the corner. Run for me! 

My 3 Rs: Recovery, Reassessment and Reinvigoration.

After almost two weeks of enduring a cold and struggling to do much more than get through a day’s work, I’m ready to start running again.

At least I think I am!

I’m actually sitting here changed and ready to run, waiting on my iPhone charging before I head off…to the bottom of the garden and my treadmill. My cold is still firmly lodged on my chest and it’s causing me to cough, which of course affects my breathing. I frightened myself a week past Sunday when I ran the Fleetwood Half – I really shouldn’t have run feeling the way I did. But I did.

I’m heading out to the treadmill so that I am in control of the distance, the speed and the location. I’m trying to be sensible!

I’ve looked at my running programme and I’ve decided to follow the finisher’s plan again. I’m not in the right place (yet) to look at improving. So far every half I’ve done since doing the Great North Run in 2012 has been worse. I just want to finish one around the 2:20-2:24 mark. I’ve not been far away, but far enough to make me feel as if I’ve been running backwards for a while. And I realise that there are valid excuses for this; valid excuses don’t make me feel any better.

The cunning plan.

So my plan looks a bit like this! Long runs of 4, 12.5, 4, 14 and 5 miles before my race, all at 2:30/1 ratios and 11 min/mile pace hopefully giving me a 2:24 race time.

I’m trying to lose a bit of weight so I’m watching my calorie intake and portion size and plotting these on the My Fitness Pal app. If I lost a stone I think I’d be happier as well as lighter. I don’t look in the mirror wishing I was a stone lighter, I look OK, but I feel as if I’m ‘hauling ass’ at the moment. I’m naturally heavy. I don’t look my weight, I don’t think. People are generally surprised to hear how heavy I am and I realise that I am probably more muscly than a lot of the people who are surprised.

I know I need to tone my core; I do keep going on about that! I will try. No promises on that!


Lastly I am going to restart the Kinetic Revolution 30 Day Challenge in an effort to loosen myself up. It was working, but I had to stop. I will try and fit in the 15 – 20 minutes a day!

See you later!

Heading down to the gym, on a perfect running day – sacrilegious!

Resting with-in-tent

We’re safely installed in our wee trailer tent in the outskirts of Leith, just up the road from tomorrow’s race route. Today we did a dummy run to the nearest Park and Ride, which is 30 minutes away. It’s as well we did the dummy run because the satnav took us through a housing estate and a retail park, adding another 30 minutes to the journey! At least we know where we’re going!

I’ve prepared pretty much everything, I think. I’ve got my Camelbak full of 0.75 litres of water and a tablet and a half of  High 5 Zero hydration. My 33Shake chia gels are hydrating and I’m currently charging my Garmin. All that’s left is for me to charge my phone. Oh and sleep.

The bus is collecting us from the Park and Ride at 6am, taking us via all the other park and rides to the start at Holyrood Park for about 7am. The race starts at 8am, so I’ll have a bit of waiting around, although they want us in our corales by 7:45am. Working backwards we need to leave the campsite at 5am; we shouldn’t have any delays, but I’d rather being sitting in the car waiting than rushing about trying to get there! I reckon we need to get up at 4am to have breakfast and get ready, so I need to go to bed in about 25 minutes if I’m to get 8 hours sleep! Next time I’ll look for a later starting race!

It’s just started raining. It’s only light rain and it’s supposedly meant to stay that way until tomorrow afternoon, at which time we might be enjoying a thunderstorm. I don’t mind running in light rain. I just hope that the wind stays fairly calm. The last time I ran a half marathon in Edinburgh it was so windy the portaloos were being blown over and the after race concert had to be cancelled because the stage had been ravaged by gusts! Light rain would actually be a blessing!

I’ve had a homemade spaghetti bolognaise, high in carbs and protein, low in fat and salt, and I’m drinking a lovely apple, mango and passion fruit sparkling juice from M&S. I’m being as sensible as I can be; I’m taking as few chances as I can! I need to feel relaxed and prepared.

So next time I write I’ll have run another 13.1 miles, collected another medal and be wearing the technical tee-shirt. I’m looking forward to running this race. I’ll give it my best.

Fueling Long Runs

I can’t think of an apt title for this post, so I’m leaving it until the end and hope that some inspiration comes before I hit the ‘publish’ button. If it  doesn’t this will be my first untitled  post!

I’m not long since back from my long run. It was 11 miles today, as Monday is my elected long run day, and I wasn’t looking forward to the run, but I wasn’t not wanting to go either. I tend to either be desperate to get out the door and hit that dopamine high or I have to drag my sorry ass out of the door as it continues to protest loudly about all the other things sorry asses could be doing. Today was a bit in between.

The weather was fine; a bit windy and a bit too sunny/hot at times, but mostly fine. It was ‘that’ll do’ weather for long runs. Heading out I had a headwind, but that helped me home. No complaints there.

For fuel I took some Energybits. I had about 10 left from the freebie the company sent me as an incentive to buy. You are meant to take 20-30 before exercise, but as I only had 10 that had to do. To compensate I took an isotonic drink in my Camelbak (this time ensuring that all the pipes were correctly and securely fitted!) I’ve been looking at how I fuel my long runs for a while now and I’ve never been too keen on sticky gels that are a nightmare to open. To be honest, I’m not even keen on using sugar as a fuel source. It’s too quickly used up and doesn’t take advantage of the fuel I’m already carrying. On these long runs I’ve been taking less and less with me and it doesn’t seem to have made a big difference performance-wise. No dextrose tablets, no gels, nothing. I’m not even making a special point of carb-loading. I just eat normally.

I’ve done a bit of research on how the body uses fuel during long runs and maybe the reason why I’m not losing fat is because I haven’t been using it up. In the past when I’ve used simple and complex carbohydrates as my fuel source my body has used those before looking to what my body has naturally stored. A lot of the time that’s all that’s been used. It’s like having a fuel reserve on a car and never letting the tank run below half.

I decided that if I could run 9 miles on just isotonic juice then I could run 11, 13, 15 and 17 with little more than that. But what to supplement it with is a bit of a mystery still. Using up the Energybits was a step in the direction away from gels/tablets. I follow the writings of Matt Frazier who set up the No Meat Athlete website which has an amazing following. This article ‘Burning Fat for Fuel‘ has given me food for thought (pardon the pun!) I’ve chosen some quotes that sums the article up:

First, note that we’re only talking about the long, slow run. Your body starts sugar-burning as your exercise intensity crosses the lactate threshold.  (A good indicator of when this happens is when it becomes difficult to carry on a conversation, or when your mouth drops open to start taking in air while you run.)  You can gradually increase the level of intensity at which you cross the threshold, so that you can eventually run faster while staying in a fat-burning state.  For speedwork and hill workouts, your body will still rely on sugar, and that’s fine, since they’re short, and sugar is great for hard, short runs. 

Extend your warmup period. If you’re standing still and you suddenly bolt off running, your physiology changes.  Your body senses something is up (perhaps you’re being chased by bears and zombies?) and starts burning the sugar fires, since sugar is great for short bursts of energy.  But that’s exactly what you don’t want to happen on your long run.

So warm up extremely slowly.  Walk for the first few minutes.  Then start running so slow that you have to hide your face when you pass people you know.  Relax everything and enjoy it.  Over the course of 10 or 15 minutes, build up to your long-run speed.  Speaking of which…

Run slow! You want to stay below your lactate threshold for as long as possible, so your body can get used to burning fat for fuel.  So go really slow.  If you use a heart rate monitor, stay at 60 to 70 percent of your max.  Make sure you easily carry on a conversation while you run.  Your goal is to do this enough that your threshold increases, i.e., you can run faster yet still stay in this aerobic, fat-burning zone.

To help with trying to identify my lactate threshold I’ve started wearing my heart rate monitor. I sat last night with it on for about half an hour and got a stable resting heart rate of 58, which I am very pleased with. Today my maximum heart rate hit after 15 minutes and was 206 bpm. As I was running a 10 minute mile at the time I’m going to use that as my maximum heart rate. Regardless of my pace, in order to use my fat as fuel (and I have plenty to use!) I will run my long runs at between 60%-70% of 206 bpm which is 123 – 144 bpm, much lower than the 160 ish I was running at for most of today. Please let me know if I’ve made mistakes here!

Anyway, back to my run. I followed Jeff Galloway’s Half Marathon training app, as usual, but I’ve changed the settings to running four and half minutes and walking for 30 seconds. It’s not much of a change, but it has lowered my pace. I might look at running for 6 minutes and walking for 40 seconds and see how that affects my pace. If it helps me to achieve the lower bpm then it’s worth it and, hell, if I can run for 4.5 minutes and only get a 30 second respite then I’m sure I can manage to run a whole flaming half, if I wanted to!

I ran along the shore road, heading for Bankend village which is 5 miles away. I decided, on getting towards Bankend, that I’d turn left instead of right for a change. Silly wee changes like that make all the difference on a route that you know really well. (I’d decided against two more interesting loops of the road behind our village because of the distinct possibility of the road being flooded after some heavy showers – I didn’t want wet feet after 2 miles. There’s interesting and there’s INTERESTING!)

My left heel was feeling a bit bruised again and the pain started to work into my knee on the way back. I definitely think that the time has come to retire my Ghosts. I need new trainers pronto. Apart from that and the heat build up from mile 8 onwards, where you can see my pace really drop on my Garmin data) this was a fairly uneventful run, for a change! No mishaps, meetings with wildlife or angry fist-shaking motorists, just a run there and back.

I finished my 11 miles in an OK 2:03:53. I wasn’t looking to do fab pace, just do the 11 miles. My pace, as it happens, came in not far off target at 11:15. My training plan is set at 11 min/miles, so to do an average not far away from that it great.

Next week, as last week, I’m set for intervals. Last week I went down into the woods behind where we live and found a 0.4 mile stretch of track that is serving as a backyard stadium. I was due to do half mile intervals, so I’m having to be a bit inventive and run the length of the track and turn or run the length and run in circles for a bit (literally – at one end of the track is a lorry turning circle for the timber lorries!) to get my half a mile in, but it saves me the time and fuel in going into town. I was managing the half mile in between 4 min 30 and 4 min 50 which I was quite pleased with given that it’s an uneven forest track that isn’t flat. I’ll try and improve on that next week.




Get a Catchy Title

I get a lot of spam posts which you’ll never see, thanks to a wonderful tool WordPress provide which filters out all potential dodgy comments. I do get a chance to read each suspect post though and one made me laugh yesterday.

A very helpful spammer had written to tell me that my titles weren’t catchy enough and advised me to visit a particular site and see how it should be done. It was one of the more helpful comments from someone intent on leading everyone who looked at their link to a porn site they were promoting!

However, it did make me think about what I write. I don’t write to attract attention or get followers. To me this is more like a diary that I get to share with a few people who care to read it.

And basically you can take it or leave it!