I woke up this morning feeling like I'd run a marathon. I hadn't of course.. but over the last few days I've done a short run every day, culminating in my longest run yesterday of 40 minutes and all in all I'm feeling pretty tired. So tired in fact that I nearly cancelled a bike ride that I had planned this afternoon - but in the end I was really glad I didn't. I went out with Hatty and Sue (who is also recovering from illness) and we took on some serious hills and rose to the challenge! I felt stronger and fitter than last week and although we didn't ride quite as far, it was lovely to be out and I can feel my confidence returning in terms of handling skills on the bike and pushing the pace up hills. Another fab ride with great company!
To be honest I've probably done a little too much over the last few days, but have been taking advantage of hubby being at home to keep an eye on the boys and have just been grateful for a bit of peace and 'me' time. I love the freedom that running brings and being able to just escape for half an hour is utter bliss! Makes me realise just how much I've missed it over the last year.
I'm also loving that feeling of being 'tired' from exercise and being so active is helping my sleep and also my digestion which is still sluggish. But I'm also very aware of the need for rest - especially now while I'm still recovering - so I'm going to take a few days off, have a few early nights now and listen to what my tired body is telling me!
Running is feeling much harder in general though and so far it's not getting any easier. I feel like I'm lumbering - not running - and it's just SO tough. My form has gone to pieces and everything hurts and wobbles and I'm really not enjoying it much! You know that amazing feeling when you're running and everything is flowing, your body is floating along effortlessly almost in a meditative state??... well it's NOTHING like that. I can only hope it gets easier.
My race number came through for the Tunbridge Wells 10km - in exactly 3 weeks time - and I'm beginning to question my sanity in entering it so soon. It's a tough, hilly course and I know it's going to be really hard. It's a lovely race though and in aid of Hospice in the Weald where my dad died, so a great cause and therefore always emotional. I'll just have to plug away at the running before race day and hope for the best! The goal is just to be there, get round and enjoy the atmosphere... or something like that. I know I'll feel frustrated not being able to run as fast as I want to... but I think some perspective might be in order. It's not just the 'only 9 weeks post surgery' bit.. but the '16 months of illness/no training and 3 other operations' bit that I need to remember.
One of the toughest things I'm finding in coping with the ileostomy, is the volume of fluid I have to drink. I have an increased risk of dehydration as I lose so much fluid and salts through my stoma. Consequently I have to keep on top of my fluid intake 24/7 which gets pretty annoying as I have to carry a waterbottle EVERYWHERE. I use nuun tablets in my water bottles every single day, which helps to replace the electrolytes but without the calories from sticky sports drinks and I drink a pint before I even get out of bed in the morning. I can feel ill pretty quickly if my salt or fluid levels go down though, so it's going to be the biggest challenge as I increase the distances that I'm running and riding. It's a great excuse to have a 'guilt free' packet of salty crisps though!
Alcohol is another major challenge and contributes to the dehydration problems even if I just have one glass of wine. I can have a hangover after 2 glasses and find myself hunting out the lowest alcohol percentage on bottles and mixing it with water! so I'm finding it's best to keep it to the minimum. Not necessarily a bad thing.. just another step on the learning curve. One of my online 'bag buddies' commented on a forum that he had 3 glasses of wine and ended up in hospital on an IV drip. So I guess I'll just have to be cautious - I never want to see another hospital again, especially for a hangover!
So here I am... 6 weeks post surgery today and I've just done 4 consecutive days of exercise. A total of 2.5 hours of training over 4 days. No it wasn't easy at all, there were bits I didn't really enjoy, but I did it and I'm well on the way to recovery. I'm seeing my surgeon on Wednesday for 'sign off' (I hope) and can't wait to tell him how well I'm doing.
None of what I'm trying to do is easy, but I'm not complaining - I'm just trying to create an accurate and honest record of my feelings and challenges. I'm lucky there was a solution to my illness and I can begin to do the things I love again - even if it's a bit hard right now. I'm also blessed with an amazing support network of friends and family with my fantastic hubby right at the top. He has no qualms about the bag or the implications and I'm incredibly lucky to have him.
So, I'm going to finish by stealing a quote that my friend Tony posted on his blog today and it made me smile... 'The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles'. How true.
Right I'm off for a rest now! Promise...