If I'm honest, I enjoy cycling more than running sometimes. I love the feeling of speed and freedom, and being able to ride miles and miles from home is so liberating. I'm also lucky to have a gorgeous bike which I've really missed riding. So on Saturday morning I got up early and decided I'd take it out for a little spin - my first ride since surgery and my first in about 7 weeks. In some ways at this stage of my recovery riding is a better choice than running as it's low impact and slightly less challenging.
I rode only 8 miles and it was pretty flat.. but it was glorious! The sun was shining, the scenery was lovely and I felt exhilarated.
To put this in context however, before I got ill I'd think nothing of riding 70 miles and then going for a run afterwards.. so 8 miles felt pretty lame. But I'm trying really hard to be patient and realistic.. but anyone who knows me, knows that's not easy.
Anyway, I felt stronger and more energetic than I have for about 9 months. I felt like I wanted to push the pace a bit, feel my heart rate rising and felt well, just like the old 'me'.. it gave me a glimmer of hope that some day I might be able to race again. I came home with a HUGE smile on my face!
In terms of my new 'friend'.. Check out the photo - I was thrilled to be able to wear my normal cycling kit and you can't even see the bag (you might need a second mortgage for Assos shorts, but they're great if you have an ileostomy because of the wide flat waistband). I also tried out something called 'sure seals' which have been recommended by anyone active who has an ileostomy. Sure Seals are like large shaped plasters to make the bag more secure especially useful for people who go running, cycling or swimming. They worked like a charm and I felt more confident knowing that even if I did have a leak, it would stay in place.
I have to confess though, I was pretty exhausted later in the day and my quads and glutes are still sore! and all from an 8 mile ride for goodness sake...
Today is exactly 4 weeks since I had surgery and each day brings more energy and normality. Yesterday we enjoyed a fantastic family day out at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park and it was just brilliant to feel well enough to go out and enjoy something like that which I haven't been able to do for the last 10 months.
Yes today I'm exhausted, but it's a good 'tired'. I'm beginning to realise that recovery from things - whether that be an 8 mile bike ride, or a family day out - is going to take longer and I need to account for that and allow time to rest. But I'm starting to feel a bit more like 'me' and I can't begin to tell you how grateful I am for that.