Still here….

2019 was a funny old year for me – I lost a bit of my right boob (it wasn’t my favourite one, but I still felt a bit sad for it) and was effectively maimed in March and April (two operations) and then it felt as though I was pushed under a bus with the radiotherapy in June and July when I experienced the true meaning of ‘fatigue’.

But 2019 was the most amazing year – thanks be to God. I had some lovely messages from Christians who were praying for me and felt God tell them that I was in His grip, that ‘He’s got this’…and I really was and He really did. I learned to stand firm on the rock of Jesus, knowing that however bad the storm got, I would be ok. I was either going to live, or go to heaven to be with Him.

By Jan 2020, having breast cancer had become a memory that was jolted once a day if I caught sight of my naked top half in the bathroom mirror…and then on and off when I received an NHS branded letter or attended an appointment.

In March however, I went down with viral pnuemonia that looked similar to Covid 19 on the X-ray, but I was not tested. I slipped through the crack of not being quite ill enough to need to be admitted to hospital for oxygen or a ventilator (this was 23rd March so just after lockdown and only key workers were being tested). I was very unwell for a number of months – there were times at night where I thought I may not wake up…the pain in my chest, the cough, the breathlessness – like nothing I’ve experienced before.

Another chance to learn God’s love and tenderness and omnipresence. Once again I knew that I would be ok – I was either going to live, or go to heaven to be with Him

Then in early July I had some blood-tests including something called a D-Dimer, as I was still experiencing some pains and breathlessness and coughing intermittently during the day. The same day of the test I was called by an out of hours doctor and told to go to A&E and tell them that I had a positive D-Dimer of 7424. A ‘normal level’ is under 500. This level indicated that I had a very large blood clot somewhere in my body.

I sat in A&E listening to the staff bemoan the pending Saturday opening of the pubs and texted my church family for prayer. Was I about to have a heart attack or stroke? I felt like a ticking time bomb…and God said ‘I’ve got this – you are in my grip’ and I knew I would be ok – I was either going to live, or go to heaven to be with him.

Over the next couple of days I was injected in the tummy (just the once – wowzer was it painful though!) and had a CT scan on my chest and ultrasound on my legs. No blood clot was found. I asked for another D-Dimer and reluctantly the AECU doctor allowed it (turns out they are quick tests and cheap!), it came back as 447…..

So, I’m still here x 3! I guess I still have work to do down here and more runs to run, but having felt like I was staring death in the face three times in the last 18 months, instead of ‘can run will run’ I feel an urgent call of ‘can run must run’…


Through the looking glass

Well, reading my last post, I realise how relevant it is now, particularly in light of being told this week that I will need treatment for breast cancer!

This is how it got diagnosed:

I felt something where my arm rests against my side boob on the left-hand side. No lump, no ‘thickening’, just felt funny – not right.

The nurse said it was fine, Doc said it was fine, probably hormonal. Come back if worried.

The following week, I prayed, ‘Father, if I don’t have to worry about this, let it go from my mind’. The next morning it was the first thing I thought about! Spoke to the Dr and he referred me to the breast clinic. Appointment on 14th Jan.

The lady who examined me could feel nothing of concern on my left or right breast, but some ‘benign’ lumpiness on the top of the right one.  I was sent for a mammogram and ultrasound.  There was a cancellation on 17th Jan, the mammogram was clear, left breast clear and the ‘lumpiness’ was clear. However, as she ran the ultrasound up and under from the right side she found a tiny shadow. It was 0.89cm and she biopsied it.  I made an appointment to go back to the clinic on 7th Feb, but I got a call on 24th Jan cheerily telling me I’d been booked into an appointment with the consultant on 28th Jan.

I was told at that appointment that it currently looks like Stage 1, Grade 2 Invasive Lobular Breast Cancer.

MRI scan will determine whether it is in the other breast too and whether the ‘funny feeling’ was anything other than a complete blessing that got me into the Drs in the first place, or actually IS something dodgy.



Big birthday

I had a ‘big’ birthday this year. A birthday that ended with a zero. It certainly got me thinking.

It got me thinking about zero birthdays and the first one, 10 – you’re out of single figures, possibly for the rest of your life, you will remain in double figures. 20 – just starting out – finished school, possibly at university or starting the fiona runningnew job. 30 – maybe a mini-crisis, but perhaps entering into a more settled time of life. People seem to treat you more like a grown-up once you hit 30. Then 40 – for me a time of great joy and tiredness, a young family, a new home, new friends, new start.

50 is different…I still look at the number printed on the cards (I haven’t taken them down yet!) in disbelief. That’s OLD – even Victor Hugo described 40 as the old age of youth and 50 as the youth of old age. At every point in your life, before you reach that number, you think of 50 as old. Then you get there and realize that nothing has changed, on the inside, at all and you’re not really aware of the outside until you see a non-photoshopped/edited picture of yourself, or realize that the older woman walking towards you is actually you walking towards a mirrored shop window.

You begin to think about how many other zero birthdays you may have. You start thinking of the people who didn’t have another zero birthday or ones that only just made one more but never got a second.

On the morning of my 50th birthday, I decided I needed to have a run. I didn’t start any regular exercise until I was over 40, but I have learned over the last decade that I feel better about my body when I have had a run. So I set out, but I didn’t have much time before I had to be ready to go somewhere else, with people who saw my birthday as an excuse for a few daytime drinks and a nice meal, so my ideal 30-minute run was reduced by half. As I ran, every part of my being wanted to keep going and run for longer but I couldn’t – there wasn’t time….and it made me think of the race we are running for God, and that we want to keep going and do more, but sometimes it can feel as though it is being cut short.

God spoke to me on the morning of my 50th birthday…You don’t know how long you have, so make the most of each step and remember to be grateful for each step you have the privilege of taking.


Fresh Start

I have been inspired to start blogging about a different type of race.  When I began this in 2016, it was to try and raise money for Bowel Cancer as I was running the marathon. I started it (the race and the blog) and stopped both at the same time give or take a few months.

It was a fund-raising gimmick really – and it worked…I enjoyed the training, the blogging and the race itself and, praise God, raised more than the fundraising target.

However, this is going to transmogrify, I hope, into a faith-raising blog – not a gimmick, but an exploration of the journey and race I am now running and hope to continue to run until my dying day which, God willing, will be many years from now.

So, ready, steady let’s Go!






Journey’s End

It is said that it is not the destination but the journey that matters and I think my reluctance to write a final post for my canrunwillrun blog is because the journey has been so amazing that I don’t want it end.

Officially, my destination was the finish line of the London Marathon 2016, which I crossed after 4 hours, 25 minutes and 30 seconds of running through London to music, cheers, chants and other wonders.

However, there were other ends to the journey, like doing my last ‘long run’ a few weeks before and then afterwards discovering that the £4,625.72 raised on my justgiving page for Bowel and Cancer Research is contributing to the incredible sum of £75,000 total raised that will be used to fund a PHD student for all three years, who will be trying to find a cure for Bowel Cancer.

The journey, though, has been so fulfilling and encouraging it almost dwarfs the results.

I learned that my body is amazing and can run non-stop for almost 4.5 hours without stopping (not even for a ‘comfort break’…yes, really!).

I learned that I can set a goal, work towards it and complete it, without giving up when it gets tough (maybe that’s a lesson I should have learned along time ago – but there you go!).

I learned that I have amazingly generous friends and family, not just very giving with their finances but also with their time, energy, encouragement and love.

I learned that my husband and children are far more patient than I think I would be, letting me disappear for hours on end and listening to me going on and on about nutrition, training, my goals and other (what I thought were) interesting snippets of information I gleaned about marathon running.

I learned that God really is always with me and is interested in everything I do – He really is!  On the morning of the race,  He gave me the wonderful scripture:

‘He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak’ (Isaiah 40:29)

It’s Him who made the whole thing possible in the first place and it was Him I prayed to in those difficult last few miles, quoting the scripture right back at Him!

This amazing adventure, this incredible journey is over now…and I feel a little sad but also extremely grateful.  I could run and I did run the London Marathon 2016!

Thank you for coming along with me and may God bless you in all your individual journeys now and in those adventures you have to come.

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Are we nearly there yet?

Time flies between blog posts, yet somehow not when trying to put one foot in front of the other after 18 miles.  Little Fiona who still dwells inside this middle-aged body, was screaming ‘are we nearly there yet?’ last Sunday, my last long run (the Kingston Breakfast 20 mile).

The previous week, the Runners World training programme that I’ve been fairly successfully following, was scuppered by a rather lovely week climbing in Snowdonia.  I experienced a very different type of exercise, scrambling, mountain and the odd rock climb.  On the first day, my old climbing boots lost their soles and as I slid down some rather treacherous Welsh hills, I envisaged all my marathon training being scuppered by a twisted knee or ankle.  Praise God, my body survived…the battering taking place as I struggled on to mile 19 the following Sunday.

This was my longest race so far.  When I was first told I would have a place in the 2016 marathon around a year ago now, I had not run more than 5km.  I first did a Bushy Park parkrun in 2012, but continued with them very intermittently.  In September 2015 I began training for a half marathon and my first, the River Thames Half in October, was the first running race I had experienced.  There, I learned about toilet queues, how one’s brain gets mashed, and the fact that you can’t expect to walk normally once you’ve crossed the finishing line. Since then, I’ve plugged two other half marathons (the Hampton Half and the Surrey Half) and the Kingston Breakfast 20miler into my training programme.

Thanks to you, my lovely friends and family, the fundraising goal for Bowel and Cancer Research is now completely smashed, and two weeks today, God willing, I will have crossed the finishing line of the London Marathon 2016.

So yes, little Fiona, we really are nearly there!

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There are two reasons why I haven’t written this blog for a couple of months.  Firstly, as the main aim is to try and get sponsorship for this marathon endeavour, I figured it wasn’t fair to harass people when they may be feeling particularly poor before and straight after Christmas.  The second reason was that I’d said I was going to write about Fundraising, but hadn’t really done very much!

I actually feel more stressed about possibly letting Bowel and Cancer Research down by not raising the money, than I do about struggling to cross the finishing line and having to be possibly wheel-chaired over after 6 hours of struggle (I do hope they have that provision!).

At least I have some some control over the training.  So far, I’ve managed to keep to the Runner’s World training plan for running the marathon that landed on my doorstep in December…and I’m enjoying the discipline of following it and interspersing it with erging and pilates.

Fundraising is very unpredictable…  I first tried the blogging and face-booking technique (which seems to have had a pretty good response in all, thank you!). My theory was that if I started early, then those people who, like me, say ‘oh yes, I’ll sponsor you’ and then forget, would get regular timely reminders…so if that is you – please please click here now and do the business!

My next endeavour was a Wine and Cheese evening.  I was helped by my gorgeous and very alive sister-in-law, Clare, who is a young bowel-cancer survivor and who was the one who posted on FB about a marathon place coming available.

I invited a local wine shop in to do the tasting and provided lots of cheese, bread and some festive nibbles (it was in November).  I used Paperless Post  for the invitations and charged £25pp.  On Clare’s suggestion, I went around local shops and cafes, many of whom gave me vouchers so I could have a small raffle that raised £150. The Vineking also took orders and gave 10% for Bowel and Cancer Research – so the whole evening made almost £600.  A great help in getting to the goal.

A wonderful and rather influential friend has arranged for an exciting prize to be auctioned in aid of Bowel and Cancer Research too….So, if you happen to be a fan of Dr Martens or know someone who is….watch this space…

Next Blog – Training Challenges

Last Blog – Cross Training – The Joys

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Crosstraining – The Joys!

After a couple of years of running and regularly getting injured, I decided that running wasn’t for me after all.

I wanted to stay fit though, and still eat cake, and kept hearing about something called ‘spinning’. Initially I judged the class as ‘pretty stupid’, why would you spend all that energy on a bike and not go anywhere? But then I tried it. I actually thought I was going to have a cardiac arrest, particularly when, feeling quite funny in the head, I spotted the warning sticker on the machine effectively saying ‘spinning can kill’! But I really liked the pedaling-to-the-beat-of-the-music bit and the great feeling afterwards – and my knees felt ok which was a plus.

After a few months of spinning and the sense that I was getting much stronger of leg and fitter of lung, the instructor – the amazing Charlotte Saunders – said she and a couple of colleagues were holding a run4it challenge. We were challenged to run 4 times a week for 20 minutes throughout June 2014. ‘I can do that!’ I thought to myself, and gave it a go. The spinning had strengthened me and my knees were no longer in agony every time I ran.

By mid-June I was thinking – ‘If I add swimming I could do a mini-triathlon!’  (Charlotte is an accomplished Triathlete) So I signed up to do the Women Only Triathlon at Dorney Lake on 13th July 2014– it was in aid of Breast Cancer Care and as my Auntie Fid died of breast cancer in 2004 it seemed quite fitting. I thoroughly enjoyed being a mini-triathlete (just 400m swim, 21.2km bike ride and 5km run), until I read an article proclaiming Triathlon as the new Mid-life Crisis sport for women!

This July, I did the next one up (750m swim, 31.8km bike ride and 7.5km run), this time in memory of Paula McIntosh, a dear friend of Clare (my sister-in-law) who had very suddenly been diagnosed and died of Breast Cancer earlier in the year. Paula had run a couple of half marathons to raise money for Bowel Cancer research when Clare was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer in 2013.

However, not one to get stuck in a rut (or wanting to be identified as someone having a mid-life crisis..), I began training in July with a friend who decided to enter the BRIC (British Rowing Indoor Championships), so I’m now an Ergo freak….and, guess what? This is now seen as the latest in cross-training for the middle-aged according to a recent article I read….Marvellous! I’m nothing if not consistently within my age-group….

Next Blog – The Fundraising Challenge

Last Blog – Injury – The bane of running

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Injury – The Bane of Running

My first forays into running resulted in injury after injury. I’m an enthusiastic person, particularly when I first get into something and I was also under the (completely false, it turns out) impression that, like with most things in life, the more I practiced – the more often I ran – the better I would get at running. This may well be true with almost every other sport, but unfortunately, not this one.

I should have suspected something when the local running club wouldn’t take my subs. ‘How long have you been running?’ an older, wiry and very speedy-looking man asked, ‘Oh, a few weeks now’, ‘Well, let’s see how you do shall we?’ He pushed the £20 back in my hand. I got my first injury within two weeks and never went back…

I’ve had calf trouble, knee trouble and bum-trouble (the wonderfully named piriformis strain – or ‘lazy runners’ bum injury’).

Given my current goal (to run the London Marathon 2016 and raise money for Bowel and Cancer Research), can I manage to escape injury between now and April 2016?

I’ve had a lot of support and recommendations over the last few years from great friends (shout-outs to Tanya Pascall and Charlotte Saunders (@targetachieved) who, apart from getting me better, have recommended cross-training, stretching more and stabilizing my core.

So against all logic and most marathon training programmes, I won’t be running a lot over the next six months, probably no more than 3 times a week.

Although that may be difficult mentally, I need to remember that everything I do around the running (cross-training, pilates, weights and core work) will be just as important as the miles I run each week…

Next Blog – The joys of Cross-Training.

Previous Blog – The Beginning – Why Would you?

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The Beginning – Why Would You?

For most of my adult life,  I’ve  thought all runners were completely mad.  Why would you do that to yourself, and everyone else?

I’d see them pounding the streets as I strolled around Embankment on my lunch break when I was a ‘working single girl’, they’d rush past as I meandered along the river pushing my newborn in the suburbs, I’d manoeuvre my toddlers expertly out of their way as they tried to dodge past us and I’d see the mums at the school gates turn up in lycra to dash off on a group run straight after drop off.

But mixed with the distaste, there was a persistent thought ‘I could do that – If I wanted to, I can put one foot in front of another…it’s not hard is it – just fast walking?’

I can’t pin-point exactly what prompted me to have a go at a walk, run, walk, four years ago at the age of 43 along the canal path…it probably co-incided with my parents deciding to buy a narrow boat, come to think of it, and without a dog, I needed an excuse to nose at some boats.  That, and having eaten too much cake and read too many Women’s Health magazines.

I gradually built up over a few weeks to run, walk, run and it felt nice….the endorphine rush was very nice and I lost a bit of weight, which meant more cake!…I was beginning to understand why you would do it – it’s fun! And then, very suddenly, I sustained my first injury and was back at square one:  Watching runners and thinking ‘Why would you do that to yourself?’

So my first lesson (a lesson I’ve been learning on and off for the last four years) – there’s a bit more to running (at least at my age) than just putting one foot in front of another as fast as I can.

Next blog – How I’m going to try and avoid injury!

Find out why I’m writing this and how to sponsor me.  And if you’re just feeling nosey….