The Slow Comeback

It’s time to rewind. A blog that used to be filled with stories of 20 milers, long trail runs, and 60 mile training weeks is going to look very different for a while.

Chemo is over. It’s time to run.

I have been “wogging” (I can’t honestly call this running) 4 miles most days of the week. My plan is to stay at 4 miles and increase the time I run until I’m running the entire distance.

Once again I’m reminded of how great “just” walking is. I walked as often as I could during chemo, but it wasn’t far because of the extreme fatigue. It’s taken me two full months to run half a mile without stopping, but all those weeks of walking have made me strong enough to even attempt it.

26.2 stickers

Yes, I’m one of THOSE runners with all the stickers. Hate me if you must.

Since I finished chemo I’ve been very impatient, expecting to get back into shape within a few weeks and pick up right where I left off. It’s not going to happen. This body was beaten down pretty hard and it’s taken longer than I thought it would to return to running.

I’m okay with that. There’s no hurry. Really. I’m happy just to be moving again. Right now I don’t feel that old urge to push myself further and further. Maybe it will return one day, but for now there’s no training spreadsheet or running log calling my name.

My  first goal is to run a mile without stopping. One mile seems like a million right now, but at least I’m halfway there. My next goal will be to run the full 4 miles of my daily distance, and within the next two months I hope to loop White Rock Lake (9 miles) with some walk breaks included.

Christmas Lights Run

Runners in our front yard for our annual Christmas Lights Run.

Though I feel stronger every time I run, it is very, very hard to come back from being sedentary for six months. And I wasn’t just sedentary, I was being poisoned two weeks out of three from chemo drugs.  It’s a serious understatement, but I’m glad that’s all over with.

One thing I noticed right off the bat when I first started running again was that I was keeping my old pace on my short run segments. I could only run for about a block before I was completely out of breath and wanted to die, but I wasn’t shuffling along. Alas, the brain remembers but the legs doth protest. It took me a few tries, but I finally figured out–just like when I first started running eight years ago–that I have to slow down to build up my distance and work on endurance first. Speed comes of its own accord.

Speaking of speed, my husband told me the other day that I have to start all over with my PR’s, as in “pre-cancer PRs” and “post-cancer PRs.” I cry foul! Nobody else has a cancer-imposed PR moratorium to deal with, so why should I? Husbands can be so irritating.

Christmas Lights Run

I walked, hence the jeans.

I almost always have marathon dreams a few weeks before a race. During those long months of chemo I inexplicably had recurring dreams of running in the snow. I could hear the crunch of the snow underfoot, feel the cold air on my face, and taste the overwhelming freedom of running. I have no idea why it was always snowing in those dreams, but I loved feeling that I could still run, if only in my dreams.

Now that we’re having an unusually cold winter here in north Texas (and I LOVE it), the snow has disappeared from my dreams, though I still have dreams of running effortlessly, breathing easily and without pain. Kind of like I used to.

I’m looking forward to running that way again, in real life. Soon. Very Soon.

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22 comments

  1. Numberz Runner

    While your running is a bit of a struggle yet, I see that your blogging is as articulate, compelling, wonderful, insightful and effortless as always. Keep ’em coming!

    And I can’t wait to read the posts of you accomplishing all of those milestones you mention above.

    The snowy run dreams are really curious given your ever-present Texas summertime temps. Could be far worse, like treadmill dreams!!

    • Mind Margins

      The snow dreams were when it was still hot outside, so maybe I was just looking forward to running this winter. I have actually only ran in snow a few times, but it was fun.

      Looking forward to reading about your running this year as well, Jack. And, yes, treadmill runs would be the worst nightmare I could ever have!

  2. AndrewGills

    4 miles of wogging a day is awesome. What a way to start back. Keep building slowly. You’ll be sharing stories of long miles again before you know it.

    My Oma once told me to look at frustration by thinking about how I will remember it when I’m 70. Even if it takes a year to build up to 10 miles, your 70yo self will probably focus more on the joy of the journey and gratitude for having conquered cancer than on the frustration of taking so long to run likebefore

  3. Sherry

    Welcome back Angela. I’m so glad to hear you’ve conquered cancer and are back running/wogging/whatever! Best wishes and may your running dreams turn true soon.

  4. janeyand2bigwhitedogs

    You know what? You are a true inspiration! Keep dreaming, and doing, and wogging, and running. And keep writing! Perhaps I’ll start my blog up again too, soon. I’m starting to hear the faint rumblings of something, of what I’m not sure, that might propel me to put fingers to keyboard and get going. Until, then, I’m still reading and cheering you on!

  5. spottedimages

    Sending you some snow and good vibes for running! Can’t wait to see your progress and loving that you are back out there!!!

  6. Julie

    So glad to hear you are through with chemo and running again. Please keep posting your progress here. I know we’ve never met but I think of you often and wonder how you are doing. Half a mile is great and the gains will start coming quickly!

    • Mind Margins

      Thank you so much, Julie. Starting over again is SOOOOOOO much harder than I thought it would be, but every run I get a little stronger. Patience . . .

  7. MikeW

    Angela, you are in an elite class of runners, and I don’t mean ultra runners, though we’ve taken note of that in the past.

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