Running for a cause at Kepler

So. After my previous entry about being ready to start some long run training, I immediately injured my achilles again, in a similar manner to pre-Tarawera, at a similar timeframe out from Kepler. “NOOO!” I wailed to an unsympathetic herd of cows, before limping home from Horsham Downs. Thankfully it has responded better to treatment than last time (quick action and acupuncture FTW?) and had a couple more week’s grace, so I will be at the Kepler startline feeling genuinely grateful to be there, albeit very short on the long (60k is not so far, right?). It will be the strongest field I’ve ever had the pleasure of running with and I’m looking forward to the experience. There might even be snow.

Hurting myself initially was frustrating, but didn’t stress me out nearly as much as before Tarawera. Partly this was due to having gone through it before, but partly it makes a difference having reminders of perspective. This year, I’m joining Angela McEwan in raising awareness of ovarian cancer as we run Kepler. Angela has a very personal reason to be doing this – her sister Suzee is in the advanced stages of the disease, after a sad sequence of misdiagnoses initially. I can’t really fathom what it’s like to have a sister with a terminal illness.  Suffice it to say I have a huge amount of admiration for Angela and the way she’s managing in the midst of these challenges. Even when you like running, it takes a lot of impetus to fit in regular training runs of 4 hours plus around work, a baby and supporting a sick sibling. You can read a bit more about Angela’s story on Scoop if the image is too small.

Angela McEwan in the Piako Post

Her main aim is to have more people aware of what the symptoms of ovarian cancer are, and seek a second medical opinion if required. I hadn’t realised that ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death in NZ women, with one dying every 48 hours, or how often people can be diagnosed as having Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue or just being overtired when in fact there’s more going on. If you’re female or know one, tuck the below info away in your brain just in case.

 From the OCANZ website: the most frequent symptoms:

  • Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Increased abdominal size / persistent bloating – not bloating that comes and goes
  • Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly

Sometimes you may experience these symptoms on their own or at the same time:

  • Change in bowel habits
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Urinary symptoms
  • Back pain

Having these symptoms does not mean you have ovarian cancer. However, if your doctor cannot find a more common cause for your symptoms, it’s important that your doctor then considers the possibility of ovarian cancer. If you remain concerned after seeing your doctor, you should seek a second opinion. A smear test does not detect ovarian cancer.

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You can donate directly to OCANZ (and organise to sell teal nail polish) here. Mention the BEAT acronym of symptoms to a friend and see if they know it (Bloating, Eating difficulties/feeling full, Abdominal/pelvic pain, Tiredness/Tell your doctor). Early detection saves lives.

At the Great Cranleigh Kauri Run last week I was chatting to someone in the shower, and happened to mention our Kepler plans. It turned out she’d had ovarian cancer herself, including a very similar experience with medical misdiagnosing, but thankfully with a good outcome. Again, it reminded me of how widespread it can be for something I hadn’t previously heard much about.

I ran the sensible 23k demi-marathon option at Kauri as a bit of a test. In previous years I’ve done the 32k or the 70k and the former was sorely tempting, but with two weeks to Kepler and an injury the sophomore 23k event seemed a better call. It also had a small and relaxed field. At the start I reminded myself it was simply a training run, and then ran high-knees to the front to amuse Alba. Aside from a couple of guys nobody came with me, and once they’d pulled ahead around 2k I didn’t see another runner until the end at 23k. Odd but peaceful. The niggles kicked in when we started going uphill (Kepler doesn’t have any hills, right?) so I walked most of it.

Not racing today. Not much.

Not racing today. Not much.

Overall the 23k is a nice enough jaunt and cuts out the zigzag up and downs across the ridge. For me it remains a less exciting alternative to its longer siblings, lacking the sociable sea start and double coast views of the 32k and the sheer epic-ness of the 70k, but I still managed to hit trail euphoria for a while after cresting the tower around 11k. It’s just so damn pretty and so much fun.

IMG_3165Finishing felt great but also like I’d forgotten some kilometres. It took 2 hours and 21 minutes, precisely 6 hours less than the 70k in 2012, and was enough to secure the women’s record (new events are nice like that). I then got to watch lots of people ace their races and take photos. Sleeptime now.

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