Tag Archives: fundraising

It’s tomorrow!

Registration at ExCel yesterday

Registration at ExCel yesterday

It all, as they say, comes down to this. Which gives me a distinctly floaty, fluttery feeling in the tum, I have to say.

That feeling got fairly intense when I joined the streaming crowd draining off the DLR into the ExCel centre in London for Marathon registration yesterday.

When you consider this was just a random hour (about 11.30am) during one of the four or five days that registration is open, the number of people was astonishing – and some hint at what tomorrow (TOMORROW!) is going to feel like.

Anyway, little to report on the training front. As instructed, I’ve been resting and stretching, and therefore hopefully avoiding any horrors tomorrow. I went for a very short little run on Thursday morning – only 20 minutes, just to make sure the legs were still working really. I was in the Cotswolds at the time, with no signal on my phone at all, so you’ll have to trust me, not Nike+, on that one.

Most importantly, a very large number of stupendously lovely people have made sure that I not only reached my fundraising target of £2,000, but overshot it by quite some way. In fact, the donations are still coming in – I had two today!

With Gift Aid, the grand total is now £2,650, which is just fantastic. Thank you very much indeed to everyone who’s sponsored me. It’s very greatly appreciated.

Can I also give a shout-out to the other runners I know:

Jan Maybury, who’s running for the Children’s Trust, who cared for her late son, Mark.

Debbie Bishop, who’s running with Jan for the same charity. Oddly, I can’t find her page, but if you’d like to support her you can sponsor her and Jan together on Jan’s page!

Julie Willard, who’s also supporting the Children’s Trust.

Steve Kirkendall, who’s running for not one but two charities close to his heart.

Gemma Rowland, who had to pull out of last year’s race, but is back in this year for the charities who helped her little girl, Tess.

Good luck to everyone!

So. The plan now is rest, pasta and sleep. Then … Well, let’s cross that bridge (run that road/circle that park/crawl that Mall) when we come to it.

Deep breath…

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18.9 miles!

Leatherhead viaduct

Mini-viaduct at Leatherhead

This was the biggest run yet (here it is on Nike+), and will be the biggest until I get to the Marathon, just three weeks away now.

Helen Esplen, the physiotherapist, had recommended I run an 18-miler this weekend, and then taper it off until the Big Day. So that’s what I set out to do. And, thank goodness, that’s what I did.

In fact I ran 18.9 miles, if you want to be pedantic about it. And believe me, I do. When every yard is a fight to stop yourself stopping (if you know what I mean), you want to count them all.

I tried to stay away from any major hills (successfully, I’m happy to say), running at first the same road I ran last weekend, to Leatherhead (5.7 miles away).

This time, thankfully, I wasn’t in the teeth of a bitter, snow-flecked wind (although snow came and went throughout the run), and when I hit Leatherhead I kept going, running around the edge of the town centre out towards, and then through, Great Bookham.

Bookham roundabout

At the Bockett’s Farm roundabout, heading to Bookham

Running this far, especially on your tod, means one of the great dangers is boredom. Good news, then, that I could plug into my phone, which is stuffed with Mayo & Kermode ‘Wittertainment‘ film review podcasts I haven’t otherwise had time to listen to. The latest two of those got me through about two thirds of this run.

Between Bookham and Effingham (which sound like unsavoury verb constructions: ‘Don’t book ’em while I’m effing ’em’), I cut left back towards Dorking (which sounds like a rather rude gerund itself), taking a slightly mistaken detour towards Polesden Lacey.

Retracing those steps, and listening to Kermode and Mayo’s entertaining interview with the great David Morrissey, I was passed by a cyclist who slowed down enough to ask how far I was running today, and (when I revealed it was 18 miles), asked if it was for the London Marathon.

I said it was, and he said that was brilliant, and wished me luck. Very decent and cheering of him, and a good fillip at that point – somewhere between 10 and 11 miles.

I found the right road – Chapel Lane – and headed towards Westhumble, with the sun suddenly breaking out and making the day feel remarkably springy.

Sheep at Westhumble

Westhumble sheep, with rare glimpse of sunshine.

I must have driven through Westhumble before, but running through the village I was struck by how ludicrously pretty it is. I passed beautiful house after beautiful house, snuggled in among winding lanes and ancient trees. If you were looking for a slice of Hollywood England, it would be as good a place as any.

As I came round the bend to Westhumble station, I came upon a family of walkers. The man pushing the buggy said, ‘Blimey, you’re covering some distance! We saw you an hour and a half ago!’ I felt a bit rude rejoining with little more than ‘Really?’ but I didn’t dare stop – I’d run about 13 miles by this point, and knew there were five more – about 8km – required. I hope he didn’t mind.

I hit the A25 and set off back towards Leatherhead again, knowing that it was 5.7km from my house to the town. So if I ran almost there, and then back again, I’d be fine.

I’d gone quite a long way before my brain caught up with itself, tapped itself on the shoulder and reminded itself it was 5.7 miles to Leatherhead. Not kilometres. Laughing ruefully at myself, I saw that if I turned around now and ran home, I’d actually do about 20 miles in total. Hey ho.

And so I ran back, with the sky turning from Quite Nice to Worryingly Glowery as I went. Snow speckled the air, and I hoped very much that it wasn’t about to get really nasty.

It didn’t, but it was cold enough for me to stop and put the trusty Howies merino back on. (I’d taken it off quite early in the run, surprised by how mild the day was.) I’d brought energy gels with me for the first time (and I’m profoundly glad I did), but they were gone now. It was just me and the road, all the way home.

Well, I made it into Dorking and through the park, all the way to Pump Corner, the base of the climb towards our house. (Why did we have to buy a house on a hill?) By this point I knew I’d passed 18 miles, but I was hoping I might squeeze 20.

But there was virtually nothing left in the legs. Or in the phone battery, and I was damned if I was going to miss having this run recorded. So I let myself stop, and hit End Run on Nike+ Running.

18.9 miles. I was shattered. But hey – the Marathon’s only another 6.3, right? I shall buy more gels, and hope the crowd carries me the rest of the way.

Postscript: The day after this run I went to see the wonderful Karen Marshall, my personal trainer. I explained what I’d been up to, and threw myself on her mercy.

A fatal error, as Karen has no mercy. ‘You really ought to be doing another run today,’ she explained, ‘so we’re going to put some work through your legs I’m afraid.’

I’m sure she was right, but I got home a limp rag of a man. Seriously, I’m working for this run. So if you haven’t already sponsored me, do express your admiration and sympathy by chucking a few quid in the pot if you can.

Thanks to the generosity of many (seriously, thank you all), I’m getting very close to my £2,000 target for ICAN. I’d be very grateful if you could help tip the balance. Cheers!

I’ve left this very late

So, the Marathon is two months away, almost to the day, and I’m just starting my blogging and fundraising. Not ideal.

Still, it adds to the excitement. Hopefully the pressure of that deadline will squeeze huge amounts of money out of everyone I know.

I hope so, because ICAN is an amazing charity. I did some copywriting work for them a few years back, and have never forgotten visiting their Meath School in Surrey. It’s a cliché to describe an experience as ‘humbling’, but this one certainly was.

It felt like a privilege to be able to speak to the Head, Janet Dunn, a fearsomely brilliant (but entirely unfearsome) woman who spoke with the sort of passionate intelligence about her work that makes you feel that you should drop everything and start working for her. A born leader, clearly, and utterly dedicated.

Going around the school was an eye-opener, too. I didn’t understand ‘communication disability’, and one of the problems is that it’s a very wide-ranging spectrum. (Here’s ICAN’s introduction to it.) The bottom line, though, is that these are children who, in various ways, struggle to communicate.

Without specialist understanding, a lot of these disabilities go undiagnosed for a long time. Children learn strategies to get around them – private strategies that are often completely missed by the rest of us. The problems only emerge as children grow older.

Maybe their test scores drop away as schoolwork becomes increasingly difficult to do without strong communication. Or the frustrations of not being able to make themselves understood come out as ‘bad behaviour’, and they end up excluded and marginalised. The implications of both can be lifelong, and devastating.

And while they’re still at school, life can be unbearable for children who can’t communicate properly. As well know, the playground can be a brutal place for anyone marked out as ‘different’, and these children can end up isolated and bullied. It’s heart-breaking.

Meath_School

ICAN’s Meath School in Surrey

At ICAN’s two schools (one primary, one secondary), it’s a very different story. The children’s needs are understood and addressed by dedicated specialists. (Very dedicated.) When I visited, I saw a school that, at first glance, looks like any other: the children are happy and lively, dashing about in the playground or sitting attentively in lessons. And that’s what’s so remarkable, because many of the children have quite severe problems with language.

The story that stays with me the most from that day was of a little boy with a rare form of epilepsy (I believe it was). This condition is almost unbelievably cruel: it means that at any moment, he may have a seizure and lose all the language he’s learnt to that point. Like wiping a hard drive: gone. Start again.

When I visited, they told me that this little boy was now almost six, and so could understand his condition to some degree. And that almost made it harder. Because even as he was learning his language, he knew that at any moment it could all be snatched from him, and he’d have to start again. It’s hard to imagine how you carry on.

Thankfully, he was with a group of people, and part of a school, that understands his condition and its impact on him and his family. And they were finding ways to get around the disability. Often, sign language is invaluable, because it uses different parts of the brain to speech.

But there’s only so much ICAN can do with two schools. They do a huge amount of work, too, in researching and promoting understanding of ‘SLCN’ – Speech, Language and Communication Needs. But they‘re still a little-known charity, working incredibly hard without enough recognition or support.

That’s why I’m running for them. And why you should empty every purse, wallet and piggy bank in the house into my fundraising page. There are many, many more children out there with these disabilities, many of them undiagnosed and struggling in silence – sometimes literally. Let’s help ICAN reach them too.