10th October 2021

All set for race day…

Today was a big day. 

To be fair, it was never going to be about just getting round. 

Not for me.

This was a long-awaited rematch.  My last race, which also happened to be the Manchester Half was in October 2019, and was 5 weeks pre-diagnosis.   

I’ve waited 2 years for this particular head-to head.

I got a good time last time – 1hr 49min 37 secs – my fastest time post children, even if it was, as my husband points out, while on “performance enhancing drugs”, having had an iron infusion 2-3 weeks beforehand for ongoing iron deficiency anaemia.

But I had something to prove today.   

This was about so much more than just finishing.   

If I could do that with bowel cancer, I had to be able to run faster without.  I needed to.

This was my chance to prove to myself that I couldn’t let a little thing like cancer beat me. 

Today was very much me vs cancer.

I’ve been training well for the last 3 months and with the exception of a couple of calf twinges, things were on track. 

What I hadn’t accounted for was getting covid just under 3 weeks ago.  Training went up the spout while isolating and recovering.  The Sheffield Half had been perfectly placed as a training run 2 weeks before Manchester, but with Covid that went out the window.  Riding the rollers in the garage was the limit of what I could do that second week of isolation, leaving me with just a week before D Day, when I could get back out on the road. 

I felt my goal slipping further and further out of reach.

I was understandably anxious.

Manchester is a cracking course.  Super flat, and super friendly.  Unlike 2 years ago, when it tipped it down from start to finish, today was perfect running weather.  12-13 degrees, and the day dawned sunny and dry.

Leg cramp threatened about 11 miles in but thankfully held off.  Perhaps divine intervention, who knows!

1 hr 48 min 26 seconds.

1 min and 11 seconds quicker than last time.

Job done, I did it!

I beat bowel cancer.

I beat my time… (almost as big a deal) 😊

Finished!

In doing so I’ve raised over £1000 for Cavendish Cancer Care, a Sheffield based charity that offers support not just to patients affected by cancer, but their families and carers too.  They offer a range of therapies including counselling, acupuncture, massage, reflexology, hypnotherapy, relaxation classes and various courses focused on making life with cancer all the more bearable, all in a safe space outside of a hospital setting. 

They were there for me when I really needed them, and continued to be there throughout my recovery.  The justgiving page is still open and will be for the next couple of weeks.  I have been overwhelmed by people’s generosity.  It was a huge motivating factor in getting me across the line today and I know that Cavendish will appreciate it as much as I do.  Thank you.

If you would like to donate, the link is:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/claire-slade3

So what next? 1hr 45mins feels tantalisingly within reach! Who knows, with good training, no covid and good running conditions, it feels possible…but for now I will focus on nursing my toe blisters and taking a bit of a well earned break.

Me vs Manchester Half (minus bowel cancer)…

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