Exeter Writer, Jo Cole is racing to raise money for Cancer Lifeline Southwest

My name is Jo and I´m a Scrambled Leg newbie for 2016. I first heard about the Legs when Lisa gave a talk at an event (probably during Chudfest) two years ago.
I remember her describing her inability to run after chemotherapy and her journey to regain her fitness, run by run, in order to tackle the challenging 10 K again. She was an inspiration then and still is; a wonderful example of someone who isn´t defeated by life, but someone who looks it in the eye and shouts, ´throw at me all you have and I´ll come back from it stronger, wiser and more determined.’

On a training run with one of the other Legs, I remarked that the running was keeping me sane. And I meant it. As a mum to a five year old, three year old and an eleven month baby, running gives me an opportunity to just be me. To say it is an escape from the demands of being a mum doesn´t fully capture the intensity of emotions that cascade through me while I run. Running makes me feel free. It makes me feel young again and reminds me of running as a child. It makes me feel powerful, like I can do anything I set my mind to. Running helps me resolve problems as while my legs work tirelessly, I transport my mind elsewhere and let it tackle any worries I have. Running sparks my imagination and creativity. It gives me the headspace I need to actually think, something I can´t do at home with three children constantly clambering on me for attention. Running gets me out of the house and into nature.

I have always loved running, but the last time I ran with any regularity was six years ago, when I was desperate to look slim in my wedding dress. Giving birth to three children has taken its toll on my body, and when I restarted running back in March, I was only able to run for a minute or so at a time. I decided to get fit again as I was at a post-baby low. My baby was seven months and gone was the post-birth excitement of a gorgeous new little one to love. I was stuck in a terrible, relentless rut of dirty nappies, sleepless nights, housework and guilt (about the lack of attention the other children receive). I was completely immersed in motherhood, with no opportunities to come up for air. From past experience with baby number two, I knew these feelings would pass and that I would be able to regain (some of) my life back. I also knew that it was up to me to climb out of my rut. Through running, I took back of control of my life and was able to fight the negative feelings that had begun to invade my mind.

I resisted joining the Scrambled Legs at first. Not because I didn´t want to, but because I was worried about my own lack of fitness. But if I knew what I know now, I wouldn´t have pushed myself through those first few punishing runs alone; I would have been there on day one. The group is incredibly supportive and we have somehow made running into a team sport; we all work together to make sure we get to the top of the hills. There is something special about the friendship of women and the solidarity of the Scrambled Legs.

Aside from the running, I have greatly enjoyed fundraising for Cancer Lifeline Southwest. As mums, we all continually work hard. Not only day in, day out, but (if you have poor sleepers or a baby) night in, night out as well. We scarcely receive any recognition for our work and quite often it is frustrating as we are like dogs chasing our tails. For every plate I load in the dishwasher, the baby takes one out. But raising £5,000 for Cancer Lifeline SW is different. It is rewarding seeing the total grow online and you gain recognition for the work you have done and the respect of others.

My life has been affected by cancer. My mum had breast cancer last year, my dad had prostrate cancer and I lost my mother-in-law to cancer three years ago. The impact the disease has on lives is far-reaching and goes on and on. This is what makes Cancer Lifeline residentials so valuable. The chance to reflect, readjust, and realign our lives is priceless.

Please help us meet our £5,000 target by sponsoring us at http://www.everyclick.com/scrambledlegs2016