On Thursday 11th July I will be doing my second ‘Talk’ at Wilfs. The aim of these ‘Talks’ has been to tell my story as to why I am doing ‘Pedal to Peaks’ and why it is so important to me. I also hope to raise an understanding of cancer as I believe that there is a huge amount of awareness, yet it is still a bit of taboo and something that we veer away from actually talking about. I also want to instil a sense of hope and positivity. Even if I only inspire one person to get out there and plan a challenge, enjoy the outdoors, or pursue a passion then it is worth it.
In the autumn I will do a post challenge talk and have a slot at the Kendal Mountain Film Festival.
As a teacher, I have learnt that so many children are affected by cancer in some way, and they too want to talk about it. I have done an assembly at Ghyllside Primary, where I teach, and Windermere School, where my husband teaches, I will speak again after my challenge. Much as we want to protect our children they want to know about things and will only make up what they don’t know to ‘fill the gaps’.
I have been a keen fell runner for over 20 years and competed, with varying degrees of success, over the majority of those years. Fell running is such a grass roots sport and most importantly for me has a strong community which I am proud to be part of. Through the past few years, the strength of this has been so apparent and important to my family.
Every fell runner has their favourite races; mine tend to be low key, informal and, when I am fit, over tough, rocky, mountainous Lake District terrain. If not, I will go for whatever I can squeeze between work, family stuff and looking after Tess as the spring/summer months are very busy for Matt, my husband. I also love any races where you have the opportunity to take part as a team- Lakeside Gummers Howe being a total classic and the Ian Hodgson relays in the autumn.
Returning to these races after illness, and even competing in some of them through illness has been amazing and I have such powerful memories of certain events. At times, it has been quite daunting to race again, I am rebuilding my confidence and constantly adjusting to my new and shifting parameters. Whilst racing I always try to remember to look around, enjoy each step of the ‘chosen challenge’ and have a thought for my wonderful mum who died 21 years ago to cancer. Perhaps these ‘thoughts’ hold be back from being as competitive as I once was but they are part of how I race now. A serious illness changes so much.
Photos here- winning ladies team ‘The Crooked Ladies’ at Lakeside Gummers Howe June 2019. Men were 2nd team.
Hazel Robinson – close friend and Ambleside team mate.
As a family we love being outside together and having adventures of varying scales. At 7, Tess will now have specific ideas about what these might be- cycling to Lake Windermere for a swim, camping out, family bike rides. This is something that we have nurtured and encouraged but are also when we are all at our happiest and most relaxed.
Through my illness in 2016 our days out were something that I would work towards in terms of my recovery, at times they were daunting but always rewarding and the memories that they created during this incredibly difficult year will always be cherished.
Hopefully, Tess and Matt will go up Snowdon and Scafell Pike with me- a few more small feet may be needed to provide encouragement for Tess along with a clear day.
We are the proud owners of an inherited tandem and I look forward to seeing Matt and Tess pedalling towards me on this chariot on ‘Pedal to the Peaks’.
6th July- on Place Fell- Tess’ training for Snowdon and Scafell Pike. (above)
Bampton Sports- Tess did heaps of races as she was motivated by the cash prizes- check out the cheeky/ opportunist feet poking out in the 3 in a duvet race! I also did the fell race- a lot of running and a great river crossing. A proper Lake District Sport day! We all loved it. (above)
On 23rd June I took part in the White Rose Classic bike sportive organised by Ilkley Cycle Club. Initially, I had entered the 121 mile event but as the weeks ticked by I realised that I was not going to be able to manage that beast so I changed to the 86 mile ride. My risk reducing double mastectomy was on 16th February and I am still sore from it (albeit not all the time or even very much now, but it has taken quite a while). Surgery is never to be underestimated and much as our bodies have the power to heal, this is not always at the speed we wish, especially for those of us wishing to be active, rebuild our bodies and get out there enjoying life. Unfortunately, we live in a world where we want everything instantly!
My loyal friend Jo Waites, an ex fell running super star (who has had her share of injuries through the years) accompanied me. As ever (due to my oesphagectomy in 2016), fuelling myself was to be my greatest concern as I can only eat very small amounts at a time and have to be very mindful as to what they are. Despite setting off feeling quite sick, I managed to keep the old energy levels up. This is reassuring but I am not sure how I will manage it over the long, multiple days of biking that I need to do for Pedal to the Peaks. Time, and the circumference of my legs, will tell!
It was a brilliant day out and Yorkshire was looking at it’s best (I am originally from this beautiful county and my dad is a true patriot). Jo stuck with me all the way, despite having the biking ability to have been home and in the bath by the time I had finished!
Along with a handful of long and generally, sunny days out around Cumbria has made up the bulk of my biking training. Due to being a busy, working mum I have not been able to do lots of long rides on the bike. In addition, I have only felt strong and pain free enough in the last month or so to tackle long rides.