Tag Archives: Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres

Running with @740miles21days

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I last blogged and what a week it’s been!  Last time I shared the news that I’d pushed past the £1,000 mark for my running-fundraising challenge for Maggie’s and had been contacted by the local press. It’s been an interesting week featuring a photo shoot and my most inspirational run of my challenge to date.

I have since smashed through my revised target of £1,100 and am now shooting for the moon to see how close I can get.  Currently I’ve raised £1,275 and now trying to raise as much as possible – every penny I raise will be doubled by my company.  We had our photo shoot on Friday.  It was hilarious!  After the simple “standing together holding a Maggie’s banner” shots we were articulated into all manner of contrived poses which I’m sure will offer the picture editor no end of amusement!  So far the article hasn’t been published although I’ve been texted by the local journo tonight saying that my story had been bumped by some others but should be in this Saturday’s Oxford Mail and next Wednesday’s Witney Gazette.  Fingers crossed for some last minute publicity!

This week’s main event was my long run.  I can hear you asking, “But Dan, what’s so special about your long run this week?”.  Well, as you might expect, I’m about to reveal all, although you may have guessed from the subtly titled post!

Postponed from the already-unusual Tuesday morning to Wednesday afternoon (due to “fixture congestion” – more on this in a bit) I travelled the 40 minutes to Fairford, in Gloucestershire, in preparation for a 10 mile run.  With a complete stranger.

I follow, and am followed by, a large online running community through Twitter.  One particular user caught my eye: @740miles21days aka Running Miss Daisy.  That, I think you’ll agree, is a long way to run in not much time!  His Twitter bio only served to make me more in awe:

On Mon 27th Feb i’l be running740miles in21days passing every football club in the Prem for Alder Hey’s imagineappeal4 all the work they do 4 my nephew

I know I shouldn’t be saying this whilst I’m still completing my own challenge but that makes my challenge look like a walk in the park!  Not only is that more than a marathon a day for 3 weeks but how amazing to run the length and breadth of the country via the great footy stadiums of the country.

I found the route John was planning to take on his website http://www.runningmissdaisy.co.uk and noticed that he came staggering close to my hometown, especially considering the lack of Premiership clubs in the vicinity.  I knew that I wanted to join him on part of the journey to doth my cap to his challenge whilst clocking up some k’s for my own.  The plan was to meet John on day 16 of his challenge where he’d be more than 540 miles into his challenge, at a town called Faringdon (between Oxford and Swindon) and roughly mid-way of his long stretch from Swansea to London.

As you might expect form running about 40 miles a day for two weeks, John’s legs were feeling the strain which meant an unexpected rest day being enforced on the Sunday, throwing my plan to run with him in doubt.  I swiftly rearranged my day off to the Wednesday (thanks Boss) and rearranged our meeting place to Fairford, 10 miles West of Faringdon.  This Everton fan that I’d never met was so inspiring to me I just had to get out there and run with him.

Arriving in the town of Fairford, best known for it’s annual air show, I was surprised at how pretty it was.  I don’t know why, it’s like so many other in the Cotswolds.  I found the free car park and decided I’d stretch my legs with a steady lap of the town whilst checking on John’s progress.

With confirmation that both John, and his one-woman support crew that us his Mum, were nearing Fairford I headed back to the car for some last minute hydration, stripped down to my shorts and top, tightened my laces and strapped on my trusty iPhone.  A moment later I met Mum (so sorry – I didn’t even ask you your name) and not long after John arrived into the market square, dripping with sweat.  This man was certainly putting the effort in!

A quick pitstop for John to refuel was enough time for the two of us to get acquainted, seeing as we’d never met or spoken to each other until now, before we set off towards Lechlade-on-Thames, the town where David Walliams started his swim of the River Thames.  For someone who’d covered 500 miles in 2 weeks and 20 miles already that day, John set off with a decent pace.  Even more impressive when he started to explain the issues he’d been having with his quads, knees and shins, not to mention his blisters!

I must admit, the A417 would not be my normal choice of running route.  I neglected to mention to John, or his Mum for that matter, that a motorcyclist had been killed on the stretch we were about to run just a week before.  It’s a section of 60mph trunk road for all manner of vehicles that, whilst being flanked by beautiful countryside is unfortunately not flanked by many footpaths.

I’ve done some off-pavement road running this year but was feeling a little more apprehensive of the A417, especially on hearing that John had not only encountered some very intolerant road users but had also been knocked over by a car just days before!  He explained whilst on the left hand of the road due to a severe bend to the right, a car had approached from behind and not given him enough space; it’s wing mirror clipping his hip and sending him to the verge.  Luckily John was shaken but not broken but the “bar steward” driver hadn’t even stopped.

We caught up with Mum in the centre of Lechlade, treating herself to a well deserved rum and raisin ice cream, to allow John to cram more liquid and calories down his neck.  It’s harder than you think to keep enough calories in the body to sustain running 40 miles a day.  And then it was back on the road to head to Faringdon.

The sight of the town in the distance was welcome although John warned that he had been fooled by mirages like this before!  I told him I was confident that it was Faringdon and soon enough we had the “Welcome to Faringdon” signs in our view.  After a quick photo opp, we headed down into the town, and then up to the Sudbury House Hotel where I would be saying hello to The Wife and a reluctant goodbye to John, who still had another 10 miles to cover before he could stop for the day.

It was great to hear about John’s adventures so far, including a rather unconventional physio appointment in Hay-On-Wye.  And to hear more about the inspiration for this superhuman challenge he was undertaking – his young nephew was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 25 months which five different medications have failed to control.  Since October, William has suffered seizures almost every night, sometimes having up to 12 seizures in one night.  The specialist care that Alder Hey hospital have provided for William and the support and advice William’s family have received from The Daisy Garland meant they were obvious choices for John to raise some money to say thank you.

I appreciate that many of you who read my blog will have donated to my own charity running challenge and I know that the recession is leaving less in your pockets but if you could spare an extra quid or two I know John would appreciate it.  I’m sure you don’t need telling but I going to anyway: for what John’s doing for his nephew, he deserves a shedload of donations and much more coverage than he’s got so far.

If you can’t donate cash then please follow him on Twitter, donate a tweet or three, friend him on Facebook (there’s even a couple of photo’s of me on there!), send him messages of support, check out his website, tell all your friends about him and if you happen to know someone famous, or in the national press: tell them about this amazing man and his amazing challenge.  He’s a legend in my eyes and I truly hope that we’ll stay in touch long after his toenails have regrown and his quads have stopped aching.

Keep going John, only a few days to go now.  Superb effort, an inspiration.  You’ve just given me another reason to run my arse off in the final run of my challenge at Carterton 10k on 25th March in the chase to smash my PB!


Spring In My Step

Tonight’s run was an absolute pleasure.  The sky was still blue, the sun was still shining.  I took the opportunity to head to Duck Lake for the first time since the Autumn and what a great choice.  Although still a touch muddy underfoot I still managed a decent pace.  There were plenty of wildlife distractions with a plethora of birds on the water and the banks.  I was making good time so I stopped to take a photo of the view:

Spring has sprung!

Another pleasant surprise, after my post-run cleanup was an e-mail from Just Giving telling me someone had made a £20 donation to my Maggie’s fundraising challenge.  My bigger surprise was, on checking my JustGiving page, that the donation has been made by a complete stranger!  A massive thank you to the generosity of Rachel Davies, who wanted to contribute to my fundraising challenge after reading a version of one of my earlier blogs that was featured in Breast Cancer Care’s Vita magazine.

My Olympic Dream

In case you have been living in a cave for the last few months, the year is 2012.  In a few months time a little sports day (or seventeen) is being held on a little parkland in the east end of London.  A few people are thinking of going to watch but I wanted to get involved in the action.

My training has been going well and I’m just getting faster and faster so maybe, just maybe I can make it.

Who am I kidding!  I’m no Team GB Olympic hopeful.  I wasn’t even successful in bearing the torch in the run up to the opening ceremony.  I have, however, received some exciting news today that brings my Olympic dream a step closer.

For the last eleven months I’ve been running to raise money to support the fantastic charity, Maggie’s, who support anyone who is affected by cancer.  Whether you’ve been diagnosed with cancer or are a friend or relative of someone who has, then Maggie’s are there to offer support, advice or just a friendly face and a listening ear.

As of tonight I’m only 92km and £181 away from my 1,100km and £1,100 targets so what a boost to hear that a week after I finish my challenge I will be representing Maggie’s in the Olympic Stadium!

To celebrate the Gold Challenge, an Olympic-themed charity challenge, and as part of the test events for the London Games I will be among 20,000 charity representatives, celebrity ambassadors and Team GB legends taking part in an afternoon of sport-based entertainment.  I may even get a chance to walkthe track.

Thank you Maggie’s!

It was this inspiration that had me flying through my interval session tonight, adding another 5km to my running totaliser and building my speed further to assist in my aim of achieving a PB at the Carterton 10k – join me!

Please can you help?

The self-doubt that was creeping in to my mind this week was firmly told where to go this morning thanks to some inspiration from watching the National Cross Country championships at Parliament Hill and from all the people I know are desperate to be running but can’t due to injury.  It was also an opportunity to judge, with 4 weeks of my challenge remaining, just what I could expect to achieve at the Carterton 10k.

My schedule for the remainder of my challenge had me down for a 13km run today.  I hadn’t planned a route but I knew that I wanted to test myself by aiming for a 50 minute 10k so I just stuck with a run around the edge of Witney and then I could add a couple of kilometres on at the end.

In my mind I was thinking of hitting a steady pace of 5 minutes per kilometre but my heart took control and I just went for whatever pace I could sustain.  I was determined to push myself, to toughen up, to not give in.  Proof was needed that I could control the discomfort and keep going so that I could go into the Carterton 10k knowing that I can do it.

After clocking 5k in 24:34 I allowed myself a 15 second walk, as my ankles were starting to feel the pace, ensuring I picked up the pace right away afterwards.  The pace was maintained and I even felt, at my historic brick wall of 7k, that I could push on.  In reality, in was enough to keep me at 5 minute kilometres.  With 500 metres to go I kicked on, stretching my pace to 4 minutes per kilometre.  I felt like I had gone to early and was fading but looking at the GPS data I managed to hang on to that pace and complete the 10 kilometres in a new personal best time, albeit unofficial, of 48:55.  I managed to add a 1km warm down but was happy to finish a couple short of my planned distance – as long as I don’t drop any more kilometres I can still hit the 1,100km.

I have made it to a million metres in 11 months, something that I wouldn’t have dreamt of when I embarked on completing 800km in a year.  I’ve run in some fabulous places with some fabulous people and made some new friends along the way.  I now have 4 weeks to cover the final 97 kilometres and to help secure my 10k race PB at the Carterton 10k.  I now have 4 weeks to push my fundraising total above the £919 at which it stands to raise as much as possible for Maggie’s Centres.

There are a number of ways that you can help me:

  1. Visit http://www.justgiving.com/800kmForMaggies and donate – every pound that you donate will be doubled by my employer
  2. For those of you who are runners, click here to find out how to join me for the Carterton 10k on March 25 to provide some moral support
  3. For those of you who don’t run, please join The Wife and others in cheering me on at the Carterton 10k – I cannot stress to non-runners how much positive impact your cheers make on keeping the legs moving quickly
  4. If all else fails please tell your friends, families and followers about me and my challenge by e-mailing, reposting or retweeting this blog https://runningdanw.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/please-can-you-help/

Thanks in advance for you help and thanks for reading.

Page 20 – 500 Miles

Here’s the next installment about my recent participation in the international sketchbook project organised by Arthouse.

The theme I chose was “Along The Line” which I’ve interpretted both literally in terms of the style of my drawings but also to use the pages to portray different things associated with the timeline of my life so far – a mini-autobiography, if you will.

This page is not another homage to my time in Aberdeen dancing to the Proclaimers (because that’s what happens in Scotland) but is my biggest running challenge yet.

500 Miles
Page 20 - 500 Miles

My company chose Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres as their charity of the year so I decided to do something big to raise money, and get back into a habit of exercise.  I chose to try to cover the distance between the two proposed Maggie’s Centres closest to the 2 offices I work from – Oxford and Aberdeen – within 12 months with the aim of raising £1 for every kilometre covered.

I chose to measure in kilometres because that meant I’d be aiming for £800.

As I write this I have covered 960km and raised £908.  With 6 weeks of my 12 months left, I look set to break the revised targets of £1000 and 1000km.  If I keep pushing I might even get to 1100km!

REAL Breast Cancer Awareness

I’m hijacking my Janathon blog today for a non-running subject close to my heart.

It’s that time of year again when the female of the species are encouraged to play a game, specifically aimed at excluding males, by placing a glib Facebook status in the name of breast cancer awareness.  So following the previous bra colour and handbag location “games” this time it’s using your birthday to determine where you’re going on holiday and for how long.

The Wife received the latest secret game via a Facebook invite from one of my relatives which just demonstrates how little people think about what they are doing when it comes to these games; just under 3 years ago The Wife underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breast cancer.  Not what you expect at the age of 29, having never smoked, drunk responsibly and kept fit.

So it was a good job that she not only knew how but regularly checked her breasts, because I don’t want to think what my life would be like now if she hadn’t found the lump.

There are people who will argue that the “game” on Facebook gets people talking about breast cancer so therefore it is raising awareness.  Firstly I’d say that the game has no obvious link to breast cancer awareness so I bet half the people who see the statuses don’t even realise it’s got anything to do with breast cancer.  Secondly, just because people are talking about the game doesn’t mean they are aware, or even becoming aware of breast cancer.

Let’s look at what awareness means:

awareness: the state of being aware;

So what is meant by being aware?

aware: having knowledge; aware of danger; informed;

My questions about the Facebook game that claims to be raising awareness of breast cancer would therefore be:

  • How does it provide knowledge about breast cancer?
  • How does it make anyone aware of the danger of breast cancer?
  • How does it inform people about breast cancer?

Social media is a powerful tool that can provide instant access to reams of information so if the creators of the Facebook “games” had any intention of truly raising awareness they would have put a link to important information on how to check you breasts.  Like this, for example, from Breast Cancer Care: Changes To Look & Feel

Or even this guidance form the Department of Health:

The breast awareness 5-point code

  1. Know what is normal for you.
  2. Know what changes to look for.
  3. Look and feel.
  4. Tell your GP about any changes straight away.
  5. Go for breast screening when invited.

The next issue I have is the concept of excluding men from the game.

To begin with, how can you profess to be raising awareness if you are excluding anybody, regardless of whether it is a man or otherwise?  To actively encourage the exclusion of 50% of the population seems utterly ridiculous.  Given that many of that excluded 50% will be husbands, boyfriends, brothers, fathers and sons of the people who will suffer from the disease surely we should be making sure they are just as aware?

Before my partner was diagnosed I had a woeful lack of knowledge and awareness about breast cancer so when she first found a lump I had no idea what to do or say.  Thankfully, advances in technology and specifically the t’interweb mean that you can find a lot of information very quickly nowadays.

The breast cancer charities like Breast Cancer Care, Breakthrough Breast Cancer & Against Breast Cancer all provide tailored information.  Here is something from Breast Cancer Care specifically for partners of people diagnosed with breast cancer: My Partner Has Breast Cancer.

Other more general cancer charities like Maggie’s Cancer Care Centres, the charity I am currently running and fundraising for, can also provide information, support or even someone to talk to.

I would also like to bring your attention to the fact that men get breast cancer too.

Yep, when I first heard it I didn’t believe it but of the 50,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year, 300 of them are men.  Yet another reason not to exclude them.  You can find more information about male breast cancer here: Men & Breast Cancer.

If you’ve read this far I’m probably preaching to the converted but it’s worth saying anyway: just think about what you are doing on Facebook and whether it will really make the difference you are being led to believe.  By all means play secret status games if you want to but not in the name of breast cancer awareness.  Ultimately it’s just the latest incarnation of a chain letter.

In a vain attempt to increase real awareness I have created a Facebook page to replicate this blog and the information contained within, by all means spread the word and like the page if you want: http://www.facebook.com/REALBreastCancerAwareness

Remember that you can never be sure who breast cancer will pick – my wife was under 30, has never smoked, drinks responsibly, keeps fit, is not overweight and has no family history of the disease and it still picked her.  The one thing I am sure of is: no matter how scary the thought of finding something is, it is far better to find something early than to find it too late.

The two things I implore you all to do is to become aware and get checking those breasts.

New Year, New Goals

After an amazing 2011 of running, what next for my running goals? Here are my initial targets for 2012.

To cover 1200km in 2012

To get my 10k PB down to 45mins

Complete my first half marathon since 2006 and complete a half marathon in under 2 hours

Cover more than 131km (my Juneathon 2011 distance) in Janathon 2012

Cover more kilometres in Juneathon 2012 than both previous ‘athons

Complete my fundraising challenge by raising over £1,000 for Maggie’s

Get more than 10 people to run the Carterton 10k with me to celebrate the end of my running challenge

What a year!

Twelve months ago I would not have been able to predict that I’d be writing a blog on 31 December 2011.  I wouldn’t have thought I’d be hooked on Twitter.  And I would have laughed if you’d said I’d be running 2 or 3 times a week.  I started 2011 with little intention of running regularly.  A little bit of friendly family rivalry meant I had an eye on running the Thame 10k in June with some of The Wife’s family who have a bit of running pedigree, but that was it.

In preparation for Thame I decided to take part in the Carterton 10k – my most local 10k and a course I’d completed before so knew it was relatively kind.  Little did I know at the time that this would be the start of something big.

Continue reading What a year!

Are you up for the challenge?

As I explained in my first Running Bug blog post, my motivation to run regularly has come from raising money for charity (as well as trying to do something to keep fit).  It’s amazing how much drive I get from knowing that my running can help others.  The thought of fund- and awareness-raising has many-a-time kept my legs going or got me out of the door on a wet, windy, cold, dark night!

With people facing the current economic climate it is even harder to persuade people to part with their hard-earned cash.  So a lot of runners are going even further to secure those donations by pushing the boundaries and taking on a running challenge.  My own challenge to run 800km and raise £800 for Maggie’s Cancer Centres in 12 months is well ahead schedule and I’m now looking at stretching my targets into 4 figures.

Challenges come in all sorts of shapes and sizes but I’d like to “donate” my second Running Bug blog to some of the bigger challenges that have caught my eye since I started my own running challenge.

Continue reading Are you up for the challenge?

Becoming a Running Bug

This month I have been approached by running website, The Running Bug to join their team of contributors thanks to my recent blog post about running apps.  Here is my first submission to them – keep an eye out on www.therunningbug.co.uk for it!

Continue reading Becoming a Running Bug