August 2015 - Christmas 2015

When we got back to Cornwall from the 2015 Lakeland 100 weekend I started gently running the odd short distance between Chemotherapy.  Luckily I didn’t suffer too many of the side effects from Chemo - just had a bad localised pain from the canula, felt washed out, heady and generally pretty rubbish for a week after it and couldn’t hold any cold things!  This is because the type of drugs I was taking heightened the sensitivity of the nerves to cold and it would hurt - things like cold water to do your teeth, getting milk out of the fridge etc had to be changed!  Also the physical pain from the Chemo - even just putting on a jacket that brushed the point in my arm the Chemo went in with the canula would REALLY hurt for 2 weeks after.

Every 3 weeks I would drive back to Sussex on a Wednesday, go to Hospital on Thursday to see the Oncologist, then go in on Friday for blood tests and have Chemo for 5/6hours.  I had to be driven there and home by my Dad as you couldn’t really drive afterwards.  I’d stay at my Mum and Dads until Tuesday / Wednesday when I would feel ok to drive back to Cornwall.  Then by the next weekend I’d start to feel well enough to get out and about for the odd run.  Not many of the patients were going for runs during Chemo so the nurses were always quite entertained when I came in for the next lot, writing this on one of the pre-Chemo questionnaires!

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Nicky and I have helped out at the Mudcrew RAT every year apart from the first, doing the last checkpoint (we both did the 20 miler first time!) and I drove down from Sussex after Chemo to get here in time to do it again.  It was a tiring day and weekend but excellent to be involved again and help our running friends, a really positive thing to do for me.

I had started to organise some running races at the end of 2014 and was a week away from launching Freedom Racing in April 2015 with 3 Summer Sessions to be held over that coming summer, when I went into Hospital on 7th April (info in previous posts).  This obviously stopped anything from happening as everything changed and normal life stopped for a long while but by September 2015 I was starting to think about it again.

I finished Chemo at the end of October and started to feel better after about 4 weeks.  I’d started to re-organise the 3 races that were set to take place the summer just gone (Godrevy, Poldhu and Porthtowan) but also felt well enough to try and make some more.  This was a really good focus and helped to cope with what had happened, being something constructive and positive and a statement of intent for a future which was in the balance in Hospital.

I like maps and adventurous mountain/ fell style races.  In playing with the OS mapping software I use, I came up with the idea to see if I could try and make some kind of different ‘mountain’ themed race in Cornwall.  Obviously there aren’t any mountains but I thought if I could make a route that was as hilly as possible it might hit a good total amount of ascent.

St Agnes Beacon is the highest point nearest the sea so would have the most ascent in a single climb.  I first rode this hill years ago on my bike and have always really liked it, using it in runs in the past when I can to get fitter and enjoying being on the top.  It looks out in both directions of the coast and has some good paths up and down it but is importantly near enough to the coast and some other good hills on the coastpath to include well in a good route.

In early November 2015 I would regularly drive to St Agnes and try all the options of paths through the village to decide on the best route to take from Trevaunance Cove up to the Beacon.  Most of the rest of the route was finalised by then - there are fairly obvious loops and paths/tracks to use so once I had established they were suitable for a race it was ok.  

This was really good as I still wasn’t running very much by then, but I was able to walk and get outside in the fresh air.  Putting variations into the mapping and going and walking them to decide on the best to use and checking the ascent Strava, Garmin and Suunto recorded against the OS software was important as it needed to be right.  So it was a case of changing the route in places to get the amount of ascent I was hoping for.

After trying all the different options of paths and routes I had made a route that if done twice would be 1000m of ascent - a Vertical Kilometre!  VK races are popular in the Alps, Pyrenees and on the Skyrunning circuit.  A proper, sanctioned VK race is uphill only and in less than 5k distance so obviously Cornwall has nothing that could compare with that - but I thought it would be really cool to try and make a VK themed race here!  

In mountain races it is actually the downhill running that is hardest on the legs and I really like the fact that unlike proper VK races ours has the same amount of descent as well!  The up hills are hard - but it is the downhill that makes your legs (quads!) stiff and hurt the next day.  

(For example, before any of our bigger races we normally try to get to the Brecon Beacons or Lake District to condition our legs for the downhills we will do in that race - Cornwall doesn’t have any single descents long enough to compare with the hills of Lakeland etc!  That said, we sometimes now actually do the KVK route as it is a known quantity, a tough run and the most sustained ascent/descent in a GOOD route to run we have in Cornwall ;-)…)

The National Trust and Driftwood Spars were up for us doing it and working together, my friend PJ and I had been getting together and come up with some cool logos for Freedom Racing and The KVK.  I started to make another website, having not even launched the first!

Things were getting better and it was really good to have optimism for the future and a positive focus by the end of 2015.

The original KVK logo; 

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