Introduction – Nicola Hughes

Introduction – Nicola Hughes

Hi, I’m Nicola/Nic-Nac/or Niccy Naccy Noo (Mark Mccrea kindly christened me with the latter!)

My Red Rose story begins in December 2015. Let me set the scene…it was a cold, damp Saturday morning at Cuerden Valley parkrun and I was marshalling with Jenny Fairclough.

As well as cheering everyone on and watching in awe as they made their way up the hill going into ‘Big Wood’, we were having a good old natter about the ups and downs of cancer treatment – something that Jenny knows a lot about and something that I was smack bang in the middle of. I’d not long completed six rounds of chemotherapy and was about to start a four week stretch of daily blasts of radiotherapy. Jenny had been a good friend thus far, (introduced to me by my husband Dan Hughes – we’d exchanged a number of lengthy messages on the subject) though that day was the first time we had actually met.

We also talked a lot about running as we shivered under the trees, clapping the runners through, which helped keep our hands warm and by 10am she had pretty much convinced me to join the club, despite my concerns about being able to run again at all.

Prior to being diagnosed with cancer I had dabbled in running, though Preston parkrun was my Saturday morning choice of destination. I wasn’t bad at it then, but never had any desire to run further than 5k. I wasn’t able to keep it up through my treatment though. My particular cocktail of chemotherapy drugs meant that I’d often end up on a morphine drip as a result of severe muscle and joint pain in my legs and as a result of this, one thing that sticks in my head about marshalling that day with Jenny, is that as we made our way back up to the car park I could barely walk up the long hill that marks the end of the run, let alone think about running it.

So, fast forward a few months to February 2016. My radiotherapy was complete, I’d had the all clear from the docs and it was time to get my life back on track. I downloaded the couch to 5k app on my phone and off I went. It was hard, it was frustrating and it was slow progress but cancer had given me an inner strength and determination that I never knew I had and so I gritted my teeth and I did it.


March 2016, I turned 30. Amongst my presents was a Red Rose Road Runners vest and a membership to the club. I was excited and I was nervous. I didn’t know much about running clubs but I didn’t think I was anywhere near good enough a runner to join one. I still hadn’t ventured outside my comfort zone of 5k and I didn’t know what to expect.

How wrong I was. I have never ever met such an awesome group of people. Friendly, supportive and super congratulatory over the smallest of achievements.

Although I thought my legs would fall off following my first Tuesday evening interval session (100m sprints Pita!) I kept coming back for more and the desire to run further and faster soon consumed me. I’d caught the bug. Last year was jam packed full of personal bests for me. Inevitable when you start from nothing I guess! But still I was kinda proud of myself.

I’m going to finish my story with a few highlights – Red Rose moments that I’ll never forget:

– My first sub 30 minute, Cuerden Valley parkrun (probably down to sneaking in practices during the week until I could run the whole lot without walking)

– Anneke Crosby pacing me / nearly killing me through the last km of the Vernon’s 4 mile race. She was the reason for my PB that day.

– Just last week at intervals I got a sub 7 minute timed mile. As I crossed the line there were congratulations, high fives and sweaty hugs galore. I actually had to fight to keep the tears back because of you lovely jubbly people, though thankfully you didn’t notice because it was dark 🙂

Going forward… I’ve got a few half marathons planned for this year and I’m hoping to do a full marathon next year. Little by little eh. But I truly believe that anything is possible, now more than ever.

Thank you to all of you for being part of the best club there ever was and for running alongside me all the way.

…To be continued…

3 thoughts on “Introduction – Nicola Hughes

  1. Gail dunlop

    Hi Nic
    Not sure if I have met you yet but I just wanted to say what an inspiring blog behind every runner there is a story that compels them to keep going and yours shows great strength and courage you should be very proud of your achievements

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