The Runner’s Runner of the Year awards

I realised the other day that I never got round to posting the videos I made for my club’s ‘Runner’s Runner of the Year’ award for 2017 on the blog.

Every year since I first joined my running club committee, it has been one of my roles to produce videos detailing the achievements of runners nominated for the award at the end of the year.

Our club awards evening is held at the start of December every year, and in the weeks leading up to the awards evening members are asked to nominate a male and female runner who they feel have been inspiring, encouraging, supportive, hard working, have improved a great deal or have just been a fantastic runner across the year!  It’s an opportunity for an award to go to somebody who isn’t necessarily the fastest runner at the club and is an award viewed very highly by all club members.

Once nominations are closed, I usually have about a week to put together the videos, choosing one or two reasons given for each person nominated to display on the video alongside images of them in action throughout the year.  The videos take me probably about 20 or so hours to create in total – with the picture finding the most time consuming part!

I love, love, love making the videos each year though and am reluctant to give up my role on the committee purely so that I don’t have to stop making these!

It sounds rather sappy, but whenever I’m feeling a bit low with my running or things become rather routine, I whack on the videos from previous years and my love for running returns again.

Running club Christmas do 2017(Me, Steph and Laura at this year’s awards do)

Male video for 2017:

(Winner: Michael Quinn)

Although I really hadn’t expected to, I also received a few nominations again this year:

* She quietly gets on with racing trail marathons and ultras and does really well; this area of running often goes unnoticed.

* Mary has quietly tallied up an impressive number of runs this year. She’s on track for her 100 parkruns and ran a 50 mile Ultra 6 months after giving birth. She’s amazing and an inspiration to all those of us who complain there isn’t enough time in the day to run! 🏃🏽‍♀️

* A fantastic year of running since coming back after the birth of Oscar with many PBs and great races.

Female video for 2017:

(Winner: Helen Etherington)

We have some very inspiring runners at our club and over the past couple of years I have really struggled to narrow it down to just one person from each gender to nominate.  There are definitely some very worthy winners of this award.

Does your club have an awards evening?
What do you find motivates you when you start to lose your focus and drive?

My planned races for the first half of 2018

This year I’m going to have to be rather careful about the races I choose, looking closely at which days races fall on and ensure that I check out my work shifts in advance of that week.

Currently, I’m contracted to work just Saturday nights in the supermarket where I work (10pm-7am).  If I manage to get a fair amount of sleep on the Saturday (often not possible if Dan is away at a Wolves’ game) then I can power straight through on the Sunday and complete a shorter race before falling into bed and catching up on my sleep.
However, the supermarket I work at operates using ‘flexi-hours’, meaning alongside my one shift a week, I also have to be available for two others if required – potentially being added on to the rota for Friday and/or Sunday nights if staff numbers are looking short when the rota is drawn up the previous month.

Although I can ‘power through’ for a little while following one night at work, I struggle with two or three in a row, especially if Dan is not around during the daytime to have Oscar so that I am able to have some much needed sleep.  I found myself arriving a little early to Oscar’s 9:30am swimming lesson this Monday morning.  I had worked all three nights over the weekend so I pulled Oscar’s spare blanket over my legs and set my alarm for three minutes.  I enjoyed every one of those three minutes of nap time.  They were very much required!

My work schedule has also meant that I’ve had to change my marathon/ultra training plans around slightly, and the majority of my longer runs during this training cycle will probably take place on a Friday morning when Oscar is in nursery.  If I’ve only worked a couple of shifts over the weekend then I might be able to fit in a mid-length run late on a Sunday afternoon, but once I’ve had a nap first!

Therefore the races I currently have pencilled into the calendar for the first half of 2018 are as follows:

Biggleswade XC – this weekend.
I really hope that I can make this race.  I will have only worked the Saturday and Sunday nights of this week in the supermarket, but I am also working all day down in Wendover, marshaling at Checkpoint 3 of the Country to Capital ultra on Saturday, which always leaves me exhausted as it usually ends up being rather a full on day!
love cross-country and this is the final race of the season for our club.  I missed the last event before Christmas as it coincided with my first three-night weekend of work and I just didn’t have the energy to make it to the start line.  I’ll be sensible, and if my body tells me I need to go home rather than to the race then I will.  But, if you see a green vest poking out from underneath a child’s blanket in the front seat of a red Ibiza on race morning, please just knock on the window and make sure I’m up in time for the race warm up!

MK half marathon – March 11th
I really want to run a half marathon at this point in my marathon training cycle to see where my fitness level is at.  Fingers crossed by that point I will be looking somewhere around a sub 2h 5m half time.  By typing numbers into calculators online, everything points towards a 2h 1m half marathon, but I have my doubts I will be running quite that quickly by March.  We shall see…

Oakley 20 – March 18th
I don’t intend on ‘racing’ this event, but I will use it as part of my long run training.  A long run alongside hundreds of other runners where I don’t have to carry my water bottles and can pick up a nice cozy hoodie at the finish!  I’ve run the event several times before and it’s a lovely course – two laps; one of twelve miles and then a lap of eight.  A few rolling hills, but I much prefer this type of elevation to the flat.

South Downs Way 50 – April 7th
I am loosely following Hanson’s Marathon Method for my marathon training again this training cycle as I started to see such success with it last time (and can already see success in the paces I am using from the book during this cycle).  However, Hanson’s long runs top out at 16 miles.  My training cycle will not only include Oakley 20 along with a couple of other 20s, but also the Centurion 50 miles at the South Downs Way.  Not quite what the plan reads with one month before marathon race day(!) but with my main goal race for the year being almost four times the distance of a marathon, a couple of longer runs needed to be slotted in.
I ran the South Downs Way 50 six months after Oscar was born and was so happy with my achievement.  I really want to go back and see what I can do when I don’t have to stop and express mid-way round though and when I have been able to slot in a few more training runs during the months leading up to the event.
I am a little nervous that there are seven runners from my club all running the event, all from the same running group as me.  I don’t want to feel pressured to run with anybody or to find myself ‘competing’ to place where I feel I should around others from my club as I very much need to run my own race over an event as far as 50 miles.
As the final 50 miles of my goal race, it will hopefully help me when it comes to running the 100 mile event, as I will be more likely to remember the path if it is fresh in my memory.

SDW50 route 2018

Milton Keynes Marathon – May 7th
It will be my fourth time running the MK marathon this year and I am determined for a sub 5 at the event this time round.  Hopefully achieving a sub 4:30 on race day if I’m honest.
Fingers crossed it’s not too hot on the day, as that is when I struggle most.  As a fairly local marathon, there is usually a great turn out of support from our running club and the end of the race is a lap of the MK Dons stadium.  Always a great finish!

Shires and Spires 35 – May 20th
Much like Oakley, I don’t intend on racing this event either, but instead simply using it as part of my long run training.  Held slightly earlier in the year than usual (it’s usually a June race), Shires and Spires falls just three weeks before my main goal race so should fit in nicely before starting to taper for race day.
I’m thinking about offering to navigate a beginner ultra runner round on race day, so they don’t have to worry about the self-navigating element of the event alongside the fuelling and running of 35 miles.  I’ve run the event four times now, and headed out to recce the course as part of training runs numerous times.  There are usually quite a few from our club who tackle this as their first ultra event, so I thought it might be nice to give something back and offer to run with them if they were interested, and it would also help me by getting the miles in without seeing me push myself too hard on the day.

South Downs Way 100 – June 9th
The main event!
There are two guys from my club also running the SDW100 this year, both experienced in ultra running, and much faster runners than me, but like me, not having run a 100 mile race before.
I’d like to think I can make it.  100 miles scarily doesn’t sound as far as it used to a few years back.  I’m feeling positive about achieving the distance at the moment and I’ve received such lovely comments from friends and other runners since announcing my (rather ambitious!) goal for the year.  I had offers of a pacer and crew immediately and so many people had wonderful things to say about my determination.  It was so nice to know people had faith in my ability to complete the event.
I will do it.

SDW100 start list

I will wait until after the 100 to see what races I want to schedule in for the second half of the year, but I hope to focus on some new-to-me races.  All of the races above I’ve already run in the past (with the exception of SDW100) and whilst it’s great that I loved them so much that I want to return and run them again, I really want to add some different events to my list.

What races do you have lined up for 2018?
Any race suggestions for the second half of the year?

My goals for 2018

2017 whooshed right by without me feeling like I was really able to clock what was going on.  Four family deaths in as many weeks was quite an emotional hit for our family at the end of the year and although we now seem to have brushed ourselves off and gotten back up again, spending time with family and looking after ourselves was a higher priority this Winter.

At the start of 2017 I set myself several goals that I wanted to work towards.

  • Achieve 100 parkruns and order my black parkrun t-shirt

    Typically leaving it all to the last minute I completed my 100th parkrun on Christmas day, having run 33 events across 2017 to achieve my goal.  Year on year my participation at parkrun has increased – in 2015 I ran 24 parkruns, and a further 26 in 2016.  My participation will most likely drop during the coming year though, as I work overnight on both Friday and Saturdays at the moment, leaving me needing all the sleep on Saturday mornings before Dan heads off to the football.
    Unfortunately I haven’t been able to order my black parkrun t-shirt yet as parkrun are awaiting more stock.  The email currently implies that I should be able to order the t-shirt by February, so I will look forward to wearing that in the Summer when the weather gets a little warmer!
    Christmas Day parkrun at Sheringham

  • Increase my parkrun tourism to twenty different courses

    19!  Argh, so close!  I could have made it, as I had pencilled in a visit to Buckingham on the final Saturday of the year.  But, Dan was due to work that day and unsure of his start time (as it relied on other developers rolling out different portions of the software before him).  I was working until 7am, so would have had to drive home to collect Oscar before driving back past my workplace on the way to Buckingham.  It would have been very stressful for a super tired Mary so in the end, I managed to catch up on a little sleep before Dan went into work that day.
    My 20th course will be this coming weekend, as I am heading down to Wendover to marshal the Country to Capital ultra for Go Beyond.  The car load of marshals I am heading down with are all parkrunners so the decision was made that we would set off a little early for our marshal point and ensure we got some tourism in on the way down!

  • Bring my weekly mileage back up to at least 50 miles on average each week

    This was a no-go due to all the traveling I did towards the end of the year, although over the past few weeks I have been able to start working back up towards this higher mileage again – ready for the races I have planned in 2018.  I should easily hit this by the end of the month.

  • Complete at least five more events of marathon distance and above

    Five completed!  South Downs Way 50m, Pembrokeshire Marathon, Shires and Spires 35m, Chelmsford Marathon and Gower Marathon.

  • PB at the 5k distance

    Tick!  So chuffed with this because it came from nowhere towards the end of the year when Laura offered to pace me to a sub 27m parkrun…and I came away with a new PB of 26m 35s!

  • Take more pictures with my DSLR

    I took several pictures with my big camera throughout the year, including plenty of Oscar – having played with the settings a little more.  I would like to continue taking more photographs this year, as the results are so much better than the photographs I take with my phone, although time is an issue.

  • Find an easier way of living

    I’m no longer teaching(!) having given up my job as a Computing teacher at the end of September.  I don’t think there is ever an ‘easy’ way of living though and I am someone that will always find myself looking for bigger and better and easier, even if I am doing OK.  I think I’m doing OK at the moment.  Dan and I are making it work and Oscar’s happy, so that’s all that matters.

  • Make more time for my family

    I was able to make a lot more time for my parents and Oscar throughout 2017, but feel I neglected my relationship with Dan, especially towards the end of the year.  Bringing a child into the relationship hugely shifts the dynamics of everything you’ve always done and been.  Dan and I had been together for nine years before Oscar arrived and we were used to our monthly cinema trips and meals out when it took our fancy.  We haven’t been to the cinema since Oscar was born and although we have been out for dinner, it’s usually during the day so as not to disrupt Oscar’s bedtime routine.

Five goals out of eight definitely achieved, and another two very close to being achieved.  I’d call that a success overall!

Goals for 2018:

  • Volunteer at least six times at parkrun including in the role of pacer

    parkrun ICE numberLooking back on my parkrun page the other day I realised that I hadn’t volunteered at all during 2017!  Having Oscar around does make it infinitely more difficult to guarantee I’ll be able to volunteer during a certain week, but there are still several roles I can volunteer in with him by my side, especially as the weather gets warmer again.
    I’d also love to give pacing a go this year, having informally paced several friends in the past.  Running a 30 minute parkrun is something I am fairly confident that I can achieve at a chatty-pacer pace.  I can run parkrun in this time whilst pushing Oscar in the buggy, and the run obviously becomes much easier without a two stone baby slowing me down!  I wouldn’t be able to sign up to pacing an event knowing that I had Oscar though, as I wouldn’t be able to nip round other runners to ensure I definitely made the time.

  • Complete at least six more distances of marathon and above

    I have at least this many pencilled in to the calendar already, although more on that in another post.  Having ticked off my 100 parkruns I am slowly working towards joining the 100 Marathon club, with thirteen marathons and eight ultras under my belt.  Just another 79 events to go then(!)

  • Complete a 100 mile race

    This is the big stretch goal for the year.  The one I will be working really, really hard towards.  I’ve entered the South Downs Way 100 in June, and am currently in two minds whether or not to also enter the Autumn 100 in October as a ‘back up’ event just in case it’s not my day on the day of SDW100.  I want to complete 100 miles this year!

  • PB at 5k, half and marathon distances

    This goal is rather vague, but definitely achievable.  These three distances aren’t my main focus for this year (the 100 is) but I would like to think I can improve my speed further in order to bank a 5k PB, my half marathon is out of line of all of my other race times and that with the added exercises from the physio I have been working on each evening lately, that my body will be much stronger to deal with the latter half of the marathon distance and help me to tick off a faster time there too.

  • Put aside £500 from side hussles each month towards the deposit for a second property

    Purchasing a second property has been on my to-do-list for a long while, but I need to stop talking about it and start actively working towards it a little more.  Although I’m no longer bringing home as much money from working my main employment as I once did, I have begun drawing in money from several odd jobs as well as saving money in several areas for our household.  Dan and I sat down and looked through our budget when we decided I was going to step away from teaching, and before the new year we sat down and clearly went through a budget for the year, to be reviewed monthly.

  • Respond to/clear notifications on my phone quickly

    I’m awful at responding to anything straight away and often end up leaving notifications on the top of my phone screen for a really long time until I remember to deal with them (usually on my 4am break at work on a Saturday morning!) or until Oscar swipes them off by mistake.
    It really bugs several of my friends to see so many little icons on the top of my screen, and I must admit, every time I pull out my phone my heart drops a little to think of all the messages I still need to reply to or action.  If I’ve taken the time to pull it down to check, I can surely spend a few extra seconds responding to that message as well?

  • Phone notificationsEat less processed food and encourage my Dad to do the same

    I spent a lot of time with my Dad in December.  New to living alone my Dad is currently going for the quick and easy to prepare/pull out of a packet deal when it comes to meal time.  He’s all about the here and now.  “I’m hungry?  Well I must need feeding immediately!”  At the moment he doesn’t think twice about buying a pack of five donuts (because that works out cheaper per donut than purchasing them individually) and then eating them all in the space of a day and a half (because otherwise they don’t taste as nice).  He can cook, and will cook, but doesn’t enjoy doing so for just him, which is perfectly understandable, and I’ve often felt similar in the past.  He has had false teeth since a teenager (when he stood too close to a friend playing with a cricket bat) so doesn’t worry too much about damaging his teeth.  But he doesn’t understand the problems this type of food can do to his heart and sugar levels, so I’m hoping to educate him a little.  When I stayed with him for a week before Christmas we spent some time making large quantities of vegetable lasagne (Dad is like me and isn’t a massive meat fan) and he has enjoyed these, so perhaps I could also have a think what snacks we could make in bulk to prevent him dipping his hand in the biscuit tin seven times a day!
    Vegetables for Vegetarian LasagneI tend to make home-made meals for Dan, Oscar and I at least 5 days of the week, but it is the snacks and sugary things I struggle with when it comes to processed food.  When Oscar is hungry, just like my Dad he’s hungry immediately, only as he’s only 15 months old I can’t reason with Oscar that he just has to wait five minutes whilst I prepare something!  I often keep a handful of raisins or child fruit gummies in my bag for ease, but I would prefer him to have actual fresh fruit or vegetables as a snack.
    As I work the hours of 10pm-7am a couple of nights each weekend, I’ve struggled with not having processed snacks just lately as well.  Because I only work part time I don’t want to go about meal times the same way as the full time night staff do.  (They tend to have their main meal at 1am during our ‘lunch’ break, have breakfast as normal when they return from work, sleep through lunchtime and then have their tea with family at a normal time.)  I’ve been having my three daytime meals at the normal times, but am ravenous by the time I finish work and have been snacking on anything I can quickly get my hands on at the end of the shift.  Not good!

*Edit – I just thought of two more goals I want to add to my list…

  • Move at least 10,000 steps each day

    I know 10,000 is just an arbitrary number, but I used the number 10,000 as a focus to get moving each day during my pregnancy, achieving at least 10,000 steps on every one of the last 71 days before Oscar arrived.  I felt so much better for remaining active during those days where I often just felt like slobbing out at home.  I’d like to have another go at sticking to 10,000 steps for each day of the whole year this time.  (Currently nine days in and achieving it with ease!)  It’s on days when I travel that I really struggle with getting up and about.

  • Raise money for a cancer charity

    For obvious reasons.
    I haven’t decided fully how I’m going to go about it yet but I’ll announce on the blog when I do.

Do you set yourself goals each year?  What are your goals for 2018?
Were you successful in achieving your goals for 2017?
Any suggestions for bulk baking snacks I could get my Dad to make?

The reality of the C word

This wasn’t the post I had planned to write tonight.  I had planned on sharing my goals and aims for 2018.  To set myself some targets for the year ahead.  I had wanted to write about the 100 miles I’m so excited to run at the South Downs Way in June and my new training plan that began yesterday in order to make sure I see the finish line come race day.

But, I also want to write a post on cancer, and my Mum and to get everything that’s been swirling around in my head for the past few months written down somewhere before I forget how things have been.

If you don’t want to read this post, I won’t be offended.  Just skip over this one and come back to check out my next running post instead.  I don’t want anybody to feel uncomfortable about what I’ve written – that isn’t my aim at all.

The last week seems to have been filled with stories of cancer all around me and on the way home from Dan’s Nan’s funeral today it’s all I could think about.  (Of four funerals that I am attending in the space of a month, this is the only non-cancer death.)

Everyone knows all about cancer.  Or at least they think they do.  They hear the word cancer and immediately think ‘incurable, chemo, ill, terminal’.  Even when you are told that the cancer is terminal, as in my Mum’s case, then it’s automatically assumed weeks or months before the end when in actual fact you can suffer with terminal cancer for many years.  My Mum was first diagnosed in 2013.  That’s a whole lot of suffering and unknown she has been through for the past four years.

There are so many different types of cancer and it almost seems to have become a generic word for an illness which varies in so many ways.

Cancer is a horrible, horrible illness and I cannot even imagine how hearing the type you have inside you is incurable.  In actual fact the worst part is often yet to come though.

The last picture I have of my Mum is from two weeks before she died.  It’s a picture of my Mum and my Dad in the lounge at their house.  I thought about sharing it on the blog, but I don’t think that it would be very appropriate for me to do so, so I am going to describe it instead…
Mum is lying asleep in the hospital bed that was provided for her when she was allowed home for her remaining days.  She has no hair left on her head due to the repeated batches of chemotherapy that she underwent during the year and she has a drip in her arm which administers the drugs the carers give.  She is several stone lighter than I ever remember her being before and dressed only in a nightgown under the thick duvet that covers her.  The nightgown has been cut from top to bottom vertically to allow the carers to easily clean her when they come in each morning because it has been eight weeks now since she has been able to stand.  To the left of my Mum is a hospital table.  The sort that is on wheels and comes across the bed, only Mum has not been strong enough to wheel or move it.  On top of the table sits a carton of orange juice, a beaker of water and some tissues, along with Mum’s driver medicine box, medical notes, a signed DNR form and a large platform which, when tapped, rings the doorbell at the other end of the bungalow in case Dad has popped out of the room for a few minutes and Mum needs assistance.
Hanging from the end of the bed is a large thick blue binbag – one of several which is filled every day with medicines and swabs and rubbish from cleaning up Mum.  She is losing a lot of blood all of the time by this point.
You can’t quite see it in the photo, but tucked underneath the bed is the bed of my parents’ dog, Blue.  He doesn’t venture far from her side and has often been spotted up on his hind legs with his paws resting by her arm so that she might give him some fuss.
My Dad sits upright in the armchair next to the bed.  Fast asleep, his head has tilted back and his mouth has fallen open.  His left hand limply clasps my Mum’s right, both hands resting lightly on the edge of the bed.  He too is several stone lighter than he once was and both my parents have an exhausted, almost haunted look on their face.

Because it’s not just my Mum who had a tough time, but my Dad also sacrificed a huge amount during the past year.  From the repeated visits to hospital to support Mum during consultant check ups, whilst she was receiving chemo, and the numerous trips up to the city in the back of an ambulance, later arranging just how he would return home again.  The hospital is an hour’s drive from their bungalow but I’m sure he could probably drive it in his sleep now.  In fact, there were several days when I worried that he would fall asleep at the wheel.  When my Mum was admitted to hospital for the final time in mid-September, my Dad visited her at least once a day, often for more than 8 hours at a time.  He spent hundreds of pounds parking in the hospital car park and experienced most of the cafeteria food during the hours he spent there.

When I got the phone call to say that 48 hours would be my Mum’s limit I rushed from work to be there with my family in the Norfolk & Norwich hospital, along with my brother.  My Dad was already there.  My Mum was there, only it wasn’t my Mum, – it didn’t seem like my Mum.  She was on so much medication that her words were erratic.  She kept insisting that we had to hide things from the nurses and that someone was ‘out to get her’.  It was scary, and left me rather shaken and upset.  It wasn’t the final memories I wanted of my Mum and I didn’t know what to say to her.
She doesn’t remember anything from that visit.

She remained in hospital for two weeks before my Dad convinced the hospital doctors to let my Mum go home to die.  I visited several times during the two weeks, sometimes with Oscar, and sometimes I made the two hour journey straight from work on my own.  On talking to her about it a few weeks later she vaguely remembers Oscar playing on the hospital room floor during one time, but doesn’t remember any further visits.

My Dad fought to get my Mum home.  The hospital wouldn’t release her without being able to schedule four care visits with two people every day.  In the end Dad told the hospital that he would act as an additional carer and got Mum home.  She wanted to come home to see Blue and to sort out her funeral arrangements with the vicar.

It was a lifestyle change for all involved.  A carer would arrive at 8pm each night to sit with Mum in the lounge.  Along with my Dad, they would then turn Mum over and clean and change her.  My Dad could snatch a couple of hours sleep at this point, as Mum would be exhausted from the cleaning and fall asleep herself.  He would then return to the lounge, to hold Mum’s hand, to pass her the straw from her drink and to help the carer if they needed to do anything further.

The carer remained there until 8am, changing Mum a further few times during the night along with Dad.  Before the carer then left, Dad would quickly go and get ready for the day himself as it wouldn’t be long before the nurses would arrive to administer the drugs to Mum’s driver.  A little later the doctor would arrive, and then another nurse to help change Mum again.  By lunchtime things would quieten down, but Mum would be worn out from the morning of visitors and often sleep through.  She couldn’t be left though, and on the two or three days of the week when I didn’t visit, my Dad would remain housebound – loungebound, looking after Mum.

Mum ate less than Oscar at every meal.  When she craved jelly, my Dad headed out and stocked up on jelly.  When she decided she’d like some melon, Dad made another trip out to buy some, after having waited for me to arrive to take over from him first.

The first time I visited Mum in the hospital bed at her home she was in an immense amount of pain, begging that the cancer took her that night.  She told me that I wasn’t to worry – she’d seen everything she had wanted to and that she no longer wanted to be in pain.  The tumour in her stomach now made her appear heavily pregnant, whilst also severely emaciated at the same time.  She went on for another eight weeks of existence at home.  It wasn’t living.  It was purely existing and waiting for the end.  It was very horrible a lot of the time, knowing that we could do nothing to help her when she was in so much pain.

Mum didn’t think she’d see my wedding to Dan in 2014, but she was there.  She absolutely never thought that she’d see Grandchildren, and not only did she get to meet Oscar, but she was able to see his funny, cheeky and affectionate personality begin to develop during the first 14 months of his life.

The last time I went to visit my Mum when she was still conscious was the Wednesday before she died.  Just like every other visit, when it was time for us to leave Oscar climbed up into the armchair next to Mum, madly waving at her and trying to play peek-a-boo between the bars of the bed, whilst supported by me so that he didn’t fall.  This time though, he finished his visit by leaning down and giving Mum a kiss on her cheek.  We both melted…he was very cute.  As I picked him up I told Mum that I would be back again in a couple of days, the same as I always did.

When I arrived on the Saturday her eyes were shut and she was breathing heavily.

On Sunday my Dad rang Dan to tell him that my Mum had died.

I was racing at the time, but headed back to Norfolk for the week as soon as I received the news.

Mum meeting Oscar for the first timeMy Dad was a rockstar.  I hope I made that clear in the eulogy I gave at my Mum’s funeral.  Their neighbours and friends, – also amazing.  On a number of occasions we would go out to the porch to let the dog out only to discover that somebody had made us a home-cooked casserole or a selection of sausage rolls.  Several times we would go to the door to find flowers.  Neighbours would drop by, sometimes only for five minutes just to share a funny story or stop in with a tale they thought my Mum would enjoy.

There were an overwhelming number of cards and letters my Dad received the week of her death, and I too received flowers, chocolate, such lovely words of kindness in a number of cards from friends.

My Mum – She loved our family, her dog, gardening, playing the organ, spending time out on the marshes, being a Nanny and helping others.

I spoke to her daily throughout my adult life and there have been numerous times since November 26th where I’ve gone to text her or picked up the phone to call her, only to realise that I can’t any more.  That she is no longer here.  That cancer did it’s thing.

I’m hoping to do some fundraising for cancer charities this year, but I’ll mention it on the blog when I have more details.