Sunday, 29 April 2012


Do I have to write this every day between now and June 24Th?  Oh to be less obsessed.  There are no adequate words to describe the weather here in Dublin today. Closest would be a mulch dense wet grey wind. That still doesn’t quite convey the desolate bit.  Luckily I had a training wing man this morning. I am not sure I would have made it through the run actually. At one point I was blown right and left and front and back and still couldn’t actually leave the same spot and move forwards. Battling with the wind I think it is called.  Darren has trained with me lots off and on over the last three years; he has always been very supportive of all my endurance endeavours. He always took part in the  Spin cycling challenges I organised in support of LIVESTRONG whilst working as an instructor at the gym, and he has come along on many a cycle and a run that absolutely no one else would have done with me when I needed a bit of training company in the past. 

Cheerleaders come in all sorts of different forms, I just looked up a definition of a cheerleader and it says “A person who leads cheers and applause, esp. at a sports event.” And “an enthusiastic and vocal supporter”. This word keeps coming up this week.  Well I keep bringing it up as well I suppose. Shu became my official Iron man France Cheerleader the other day and then today my friend Henrike another fellow LIVESTRONG Leader said that she is my cheerleader too. I followed Henrike’s last two blogs whilst she was fund raising to do her first half marathon for LIVESTRONG.  If you sponsored her she would then go out on her training run that day with the name of a cancer survivor you nominated written on her arm. I asked her to run for my young friend Donal Walsh and she did it twice for him, once on the roads of Germany where she lives and again in Austin Texas last October. It was powerful and it also reinforced to me that we can run for and also carry people if not maybe literally but figuratively in a way that can feel very real and comforting. Henrike is yet another leader I get so much inspiration from in all she does for LIVESTRONG and in her unique way of doing it.

Marie Ennis O Conner another great woman, and who I mentioned the other day said to me earlier that I am her cheerleader and so that was absolutely why I had to look it up. What a great word actually.  I think we all need enthusiastic and vocal supporters. It can be hard what we undertake to do, and so when those moments occur as they do so often when you are stretching yourself maybe as far as and maybe even beyond what you can do, it is during those moments when our cheerleader’s loud and positive voices resoundingly drown out our own doubts and misgivings.  

Earlier this evening I was on Face book, twitter, email and I was texting as well all at the same time. Pretty much all of it was connecting me in to feeling a little bit better. I don’t get this argument that social media is diluting our connectedness to one another. For me it is filling in even more dots, making all the white bits join up. We can’t always be engaged in face to face conversations with people and then for those of us who live alone well sometimes you just have to get on with it and there is nothing more lovely than the pings and beeps that remind us that we are not alone.  

Whilst we were running today Darren and myself starting talking about our injuries, he also said to me that if anyone tells you that you are not going to be in pain doing this, well  they are not telling the truth. That is a good straightforward bit of truth to hang on to.  There are injuries we cannot train through but there is also a degree of pain that is a given. 

I got to thinking this evening about my 27 year old self, it was actually because I was thinking about how sore my feet and back are. There is that other saying I like as well and it starts like this “Dear 27 year old me please do not be so prideful that you can rock the Parisian cobblestones like no other in your super high stilettos. There will come a day when the talent for serious cobble navigation and nights spent marching from one end of that city to another will be cursed and not blessed. Lol
 I don’t think I need to say anymore. My thoughts took a slightly more serious turn though and it took me back to what I was speaking of yesterday, the not knowing element whether it’s preparing for races or life.  When I was 27 I got engaged to my French boyfriend who I rocked those cobblestones with. If someone had of asked 27 years old me where I would be in 10 years’ time, I think I probably would have said something about having 4 children and hopefully being able to finally bake like Bertrand’s mother and even more importantly dress like her.  Lol…this evening 37 year old single and flat dwelling me got excited when she found a left over already baked potato in the fridge and some salad and grated cheese sitting close by.  She then consumed this whilst wearing a superman tee shirt...Quite.

You see you can’t know. It’s completely impossible to know. I always talk about how in awe I am when I see people going through cancer living as if they know everything is going to be okay even if they don’t. It is such a good lesson though as we just cannot know. All we can hope for are some really great cheer leaders and not too much rain next week as I actually have less than 8 weeks to go in all of this…

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Having absolutely no answers but still saying " I can"

Training went really well today. It is scaring me now how well it is going. Can I ever be happy? I think it is just getting that taste of potential, hope and enjoyment about all this and how much it means to me, but still not really trusting that it won’t get swiped away again. On the bike I just felt so great. I was happy that I went out alone and back on that familiar coast road winding around Killiney bay and then cutting across inland towards Wicklow. It is only on a bike one can see how beautiful surroundings can be. I love the ocean and I love winding country roads in equal measure. 

On the way back I was thinking about Chrissie Wellington again and it struck me that she also said make sure that you smile and enjoy this journey. I realised that I was smiling on the bike and quite often I do. I just bike around actually smiling away to myself. Ha. I thought about lightening up too. There is a saying I love and it’s when you begin by saying..”  that awkward moment when…”so for today and in the spirit of lightening up. There was that awkward moment when I grabbed the aero bars on a steep descent. There was another one when I rode straight in to the middle of roundabout and how about another one when I found a bra hanging from my bike on the way out of the door this morning. Or even when I walked in to Tesco’s and realising I needed more recovery before food shopping , I grabbed a chocolate milk out of the cold cabinet and drank it down in one only to realise a couple where looking at me askance.  Good to just acknowledge one’s utter un coolness in the midst of this very serious endeavour of mine. Let’s face it I am never going to run from the water in to T1 my whole life whilst elegantly stripping off my wetsuit as I prance past everyone. I will be the one rolling around on the ground with my legs stuck trying to rip the thing off. 

There was a more serious moment today on the run. It was on the way back and I just was a little tired so I thought why you don’t practise what you used to do when you were training properly, thinking thoughts that help push you on. Last night in an email to Shu, I said that I will body mark myself with a name of someone you choose and swim, bike and run with them on my body. It made me think that all of this has started to become an obligation to others now. With every promise I make and every bit of love and friendship I receive it is creating an obligation now that I really do try my best. Not be perfect but that I really do try. I thought about Sherlyn too, the little  girl in Africa. I imagined her on my back and that I needed to run holding her. The thought of that extra weight actually lightened my step. Then on the final small incline before the end of my run as I fought the wind I just said to myself over and over again "yes you can". As practise you see for when all of those images, obligations and chants will really count.

I really am surrounded by great people though. Annemieke Janssen’s a fellow leader tweeted some lovely encouraging words today and I thought about her and the presentation she gave to us all in Austin Texas about her work as a LIVESTRONG Leader in her own country. The genuine love and passion she has for what she does and how she keeps it very simple the way she gives back, she works hard but she keeps it simple.

Laura my dear friend came around this evening armed with massive baked spuds and various salads. I met her partner for the first time and it was a lovely evening. She seems very happy and they were very cute together. It made me think about not sharing my life with anyone but yet being lucky now that I have people orbiting me that offer me friendship and support in so many ways. I was also able to acknowledge that I have had a really hard time and that it is true that there is pain we choose in life as a way to give back and also help us feel empowered, alive and in control in a positive way. But there can also be pain we keep recreating in different ways that is not so positive and it can be a way to hold us back and not allow ourselves to step in to a new life, so we can fully believe that things are different and there is always the possibility for better, happier and easier. So yes there is the pain that is healthy and the pain that is not so.

I have no answers. I realised that tonight. I have absolutely no answers and all I have right now are certain commitments and as Laura said tonight to me, Vanessa it will unfold, what is supposed to happen next will unfold. I looked at a YouTube video of the start of the Iron man France Swim and it looked truly awful. I have spent so long now waxing lyrical about the magic of that sight like none other of an Iron man swim start, the still waters coming alive with a churning mass of humanity splaying out across the water. Well tonight it just looked awful. I also realised that I would have to be one of the last people to shuffle in to the water and that it will be a long slow road stretching out across that water in front of me, not for me that swirling mass of shared energy. That was a sobering thought but yet a realistic one also. 

So I worry about my swim, bike and run being swiped away again, but yet all we actually have is right now and if we just keep saying" I can " over and over again one just has to hope that the road keeps on unfolding up ahead whether its ones we have to swim, bike and run on or the one that  lead us on through our daily lives.

Friday, 27 April 2012

The tide will turn

This is a race to write. How apt ha.  No but literally I am half asleep and tonight I did for sure say that I was taking a day off from this, but whether anyone is reading it or not I almost feel as if in the same way that I must commit to training for these scant few weeks I have to train for Iron man , I am also compelled to update this blog everyday, well at the moment anyway.

What keeps happening actually is that events conspire to make me need to write something to acknowledge these developments. I have a quote below, in all honesty I was rummaging around for one but it does fit what I want to express.

" Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."
  Harriet Beecher Stowe

Located on chapter 11 of the long course triathletes training bible, " Going Long" by Joe friel, but I am not utilising it in terms of not giving up on our training for Iron man in the sense of quitting a swim or a run or bike. Its an " everything" I am speaking of. Sometimes it's like everything gets on top of us and it can be so hard to not just say what's the point and then in that precise moment the tide can turn and actually usually does. Between that moment of feeling despondent and then not actually giving up there is room then for that most valuable of all gifts we possess, letting go. When we let go things happen.

Today I just kept on receiving. Earlier today I had a successful physio session, I really like this young woman. I also realised as I lay tense on the bed, well as you do when someone is sticking needles in your butt, but no it was more than that. There is all this tension in me because there is this fear every single day that my lingering injury will win if I push too hard. All the time on every session I carry that in my mind and I think in my body as well. There was more than the release of tension in my muscles today from the needling than just the physical. Marie Ennis a woman I know and admire sent me a link about running, it said that some people thrive with stimulation from music and others from working from what is inside them with no distraction. I am at my best when I lose my body when I run and just become my feelings in the air ( sorry if that is a bit weird is hard to explain). I think that is why the injury is so frustrating as it brings me all the time to external considerations.

I went to see my future employer then this afternoon. What a lovely lady, Tina Murphy. Again a connection who started on my twitter feed. How much do I love the potential of my twitter feed? She runs these beginners running courses for women, " Run with Tina." So simple and yet so effective. She said to me today that the central aim of what we are doing is not too encourage these women to keep returning too our courses, we want to teach them skills they can bring with them so they have the freedom to be empowered to safely exercise themselves in the future. Her approach is very holistic as well, Tina believes in teaching people how to run safely with emphasis on strengthening  ones core, stretching effectively and moving our bodies safely. Tina gets worried about my endurance nuttiness and am under strict instructions to never mention Iron man to the girls, lol. But it is interesting because she lent me a book called " Chi Running " and these holistic principles that lead to injury free running are as adaptable for the recreational runner all the way to the ultra marathon runner. It makes you think really, that whatever we are trying to do in life and however extremely different it may appear on the outside there are really universal principles we all need to follow that are identical.

Then I got home and skyped with my mentor and cheerleader Shu Milne, ( love you ha) , I know she actually reads this blog ha. I was actually getting a bit negative about a few things unrelated to Iron man but I think she was trying to guide me back in the direction that actually it is Iron man that is at the forefront of all that is important to me at the moment and yes I think we can do that as well, skirt our issues with safer ones. Shu is fab. Laura Gaisford one of my dearest friends donated to my fundraising page today and I had another shock as Rob Milne Shu's husband also did! So I felt as if I was just receiving endless amounts of friendship this evening. Another friend got in touch later on and pledged to donate and also told me she has severe morning sickness at the moment and that is why she had not been in touch for a while. You never do know what is going on in others lives at any given moment.

I felt really compelled to attach a picture to my status update on face book and tag my friends who had donated this week. I chose a picture I took while I was at LIVESTRONG HQ in Austin Texas a few weeks ago. It is their special words that sum up all they are and all they do so beautifully and they are central to the reason so many of us love and support them. Jennifer another fellow Leader of Shu and mine said that when she visited HQ and saw the words she started to cry as it was those precise words she read whilst she had cancer that provided for her strength beyond belief, she said it was impossible for her to describe what it was like to see those words at LIVESTRONG HQ in their real live home. I didn't actually know what to do with what she said it was so powerful, it also made me realise that even for that alone it was worth her flying a few thousand miles to Austin Texas from the UK. Sometimes people ask us what do LIVESTRONG provide for some of us in other parts of the world as a US based non profit, I have just given you one of the myriad thousands of answers we all could respond with too that question.

I spoke to my brother tonight. He is in Ireland for two days attending his partners, sisters wedding. My brother is back at uni as a mature student and he is doing his finals at the moment and is totally blocked on his dissertation. We discussed this and we came to the conclusion that it is always about letting go. The tide will turn if we let go. He is blocked because he desires to know the outcome and it is paralysing him, and only once he lets go of that will he get back into the flow. All the time we are asked to live without knowing whether it is because we are facing illness, training for races and yes studying for important exams.

You don't know when the tide will turn and there is one other thing even if it is sometimes impossible to let go, there are always friends and all we receive from true friends, I learnt that today. That wherever we are on that spectrum if we are lucky enough there are always friends there anyway.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Thank you Chrissie Wellington

Earlier today I had to make the decision to to call some time out. I received an email about the young girl in Africa I mentioned yesterday who has cancer, and I just folded up on a chair in my apartment and cried my eye's out. I realised then that I was on overload and there was tomorrow to deal with everything else and this evening to find a way to reboot. Being me it is very hard to just drift off in to a daze  but at the same time I didn't want to start devouring articles in various publications. I then realised that I had put down  Chrissie Wellingtons " A life without Limits" last week at page 135. I dug it out from under a groaning bedside table of reading material and I will say right now that I am sitting up in bed awash with two pots of Tetley tea in my tummy having devoured the rest of her book from p. 135 - 277 with only breaks to boil the kettle. To say I feel revived and rebooted is an understatement.

Chrissie's book has provided for me a whole range of things, it's not possible to really describe them all. I expected to be dazzled and inspired by her sporting achievements in Iron man Triathlon, this route march that has captured my spirit and imagination as no other event ever has, but I didn't expect to share with her a  cultural background of childhood similar experience and teenage years spent growing up in England during the same era. I have never read an account of someone who has so inspired me but yet has also shared with me some common threads of life experience. It has meant that her book has both dazzled me  and yet comforted me and filled me with nostalgia all at the same time. So that aspect  has been an unexpected lovely surprise.

Chrissie's account of her quite unimaginable achievements are made even more appealing by her constant admittance of being very human in how she feels inside as she struggles with herself and experiences all that makes us vulnerable as people as well as the potential we all possess. This is definitely one of the the main reasons her book is so uplifting. To read about someone who shares their triumphs whilst inhabiting a very human mind and body that has the ability at times to let her down whilst she grapples with  hope, determination, fear , injury ,illness plus frailty of spirit that makes up a whole person. There is nothing one dimensional about Chrissie Wellington and she is not afraid to lay that out bare, in the same way she is not afraid to leave every part of herself physically on those long roads of the Iron man race.

I identify with that fully, as someone who experiences huge lows and highs I find it easier to accept myself more and my inability to be endlessly positive and grateful even though I should when someone else tells their story of what can be their struggle with life and themselves at times. I am grateful to her and people like her who can be very honest about the complexity of human nature. I think there are no mistakes in how our path unfolds if we are open and willing to take risks. As I said yesterday what keeps me moving forward now are the constant stories of others who are willing to step up and rise to the challenges of life and accept come what may and especially just keep on moving forward against all the odds, and even more unbelievably just keep on desiring to give back in the process.

At the end of Chrissie's book these are  her words

"...but neither have I ever wanted to be left wondering, " What if..? To my amazement, at so many stages along the way, the limits that I thought I could see in the distance dissolved as I approached them. They turned out not to be real at all, but mere assumptions.And that has been the most exciting revelation of all."

We can shock ourselves completely if we have the courage to try and not ever leave ourselves wondering what if? There are also those like the young girl in Africa with cancer who will never stand at that crossroads of life and have the gift of that choice to make, but we can carry them either in spirit or even as Jim hoight literally does as he puts his son on his back and Carry's him through endurance races because he can.

Chrissie includes this quote as well...

" If you cant fly, run; if you cant run, walk;
  If you cant walk, crawl.
Martin Luther King

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Being Human

Today was hard. I wasn't going to blog  to be honest and I should be asleep right now but that's another story. I think today could be summed up by saying it was one of those" human "days. I always think a" human" day is a day where it's hard to be away from yourself and what you are experiencing and how it makes you feel. Your are just in your own space and all that entails. For me that was what might be called a reality check space.

There has been a lot of talk during the last three weeks from the day I went to stay with my Coach in Texas, a lot of talk about how this could maybe become a situation that I can view as seeing if I " can" do the Iron man. Following that was a conscious decision to head down that road and commit, followed by a gradual build up of training back to a point that would have to pretty quickly start resembling a largish volume of training. So I suppose that started to happen last week and then really hit in hard this week. Hence having one of those" human "days today.

So what DID change my experience of today somewhat? Firstly I got a phone call from a friend who said that a mutual friend in New Zealand was so proud of me just trying my best to get to Nice. This friend I was speaking with is coming over with her partner to cook for me on Saturday and she is just being all round supportive of all of I am trying to achieve.

Then after that I started to receive through the wonder that is social media all the crucial pieces of information via my connections and articles I read regularly just what this is all about. If I did not have that world out there on the web I can access every day I really do not know what I would do. It is an endless pool of inspiration and reminders that bring me back to why my heart wants to do all I try to achieve.

 I read a beautiful post by Barb Simmons @runstrong4hope on the official LIVESTRONG blog about this amazing resource that LIVESTRONG fund called Camp Kesem, this is a camp for kids who have been affected by a cancer diagnosis in their families, they go here to a summer camp for a week and get to mix with other children who have had the same experience, it empowers them to feel less uncomfortable about their own situation once they go back home. They make friendships and connections that provide them with confidence to feel that it's okay to be different to some of their other peer group back home. The similarities of the others in this safe and fun environment is a truly life changing experience for them. Barbs daughter attended  Camp Kesem last year and it was moving how she described how much good this had provided for her daughter.

Then on a heartbreaking note, I read of a young girl in Africa who is having the opposite experience, she cannot get even the basic medical cancer treatment that she needs to stay alive. She is 6 years old sitting in pain at home. For me it is even more poignant as her 7 Th Birthday is on the 7th August 2012, the exact day I will turn 38. She has a dream about having a Birthday party on this date and I know for sure I have to do even one small thing a long with others to make sure this happens.

Princess Dina Mired of the King Hussein Cancer Centre in Jordan, is a women I have admired greatly since I found out about her work  last year, as she is passionately advocating at a high level about the targets we need to reach in 2025 concerning trying to work towards lowering global deaths from cancer. She works tirelessly in this arena. Today she tweeted that she was in Geneva engaged in meetings directly connected to steps that are being made following the UN meeting on NCD's ( cancer is one) last September in New York,  to make sure we try to reach some of these promised goals made then. LIVESTRONG are partners with Princess Dina and work closely with her and her Cancer Centre. I thought then about her this evening and  was so pleasantly surprised and honoured that she has given my Irl4Livestrong account on twitter a follow. I am touched by this gesture as I love reading all of her words and I follow most of what she does when I am aware of what is going on.

There is another Lady Terri Wingham I met in Dublin and she is travelling around the developing world raising awareness about cancer and trying to start her own foundation. She wants to facilitate cancer survivors in the developed world coming to the developing world to volunteer with cancer patients. This provides a circle of healing. Terri found volunteering after her cancer treatment incredibly healing and uplifting and also as we discussed in Dublin if more people experience what is happening in the developing world and can tell their own stories of hope to cancer patients there and help them to have the confidence to tell their stories then it will help break down stigma as well. LIVESTRONG themselves are deeply involved in these sorts of anti stigma endeavours connected to people telling their cancer story. Terri writes the most inspiring blog and you can follow her on twitter at @afreshchapter and link in there to her blog. Every time I read her posts I just feel here is another strong woman who didn't let the after effects of living with cancer beat her. She found her own unique way to move on and with her foundation she may replicate her experience for many others. I really hope that people get behind her on this and I know her story is starting to get picked up now in some influential publications which will really help.

We all find our own path, those of us who decide to take some sort of action in our lives in response to events outside of our control that happened upon us. All of us have a common purpose but we all bring our unique drive and talent and path to bear on this purpose we all share. I have also learnt a long the way in my many struggles that the only way I can transcend being very human is by connecting in to what others are doing, it gives me so much strength and inspiration.

One of the most powerful things  in fact Mark Zuckerburg did when he started face book , in doing so in the way Face book actualised as a user experience, one that started to make sharing common place , it really became one of the catalysts for all we are witnessing now in how the web experience is changing. I read someone say that for so long Internet was based on search, search that was all about algorithms, now the web experience is becoming more and more about sharing. Its as if we are shaping it in to the way things have always benefited humans the most. Sharing. We always have told stories for as long as we have records to prove it, all the way back to what is on cave walls. It is interesting and it is heralding in powerful change.

Okay so where does today leave the Iron man experience, well one that is feeling very human in terms of it becoming very physically challenging and quite scary, but in another sense because of the tools I have at my disposal that connect me in to so much inspiration and reminders of why I am involved with LIVESTRONG and the cancer community I suppose I am still on track.

I don't like this fund raisng thing much though and the wonderful Shu Milne , my mentor in so many ways is coming up with great ideas for how I can feel less awkward about it. As I said we all have our unique strengths. I am completely in awe of some of our LIVESTRONG fundraisers, I just find it all very awkward, but you know what its not about me, its about all of the above and its about LIVESTRONG and all they do in regards to all of the above so yes please if you can a donation would be rather brilliant. This is my link to my Ironman France LIVESTRONG participant site

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

All we have is what is on the inside

Firstly thank you so much James Lyndsay Fynn for being the first person since I started writing this yesterday to donate to my LIVESTRONG Iron Man participant site. Here is the link if anyone reading this feels they would like to donate to this wonderful organisation LIVESTRONG, and also help me make the start line with Team LIVESTRONG. Thank you

All we have is what is on the inside

I was reading an article this morning in the Irish Times supplement " Insight" about a truly remarkable man, Mark Pollock. Mark lost his sight while we where all at Trinity College Dublin together, Mark was 22 at the time. Since then he went on to achieve the most unbelievable feats, many of them sporting achievements,  culminating in being the first blind person to trek to the south pole, he completed that in 2009. In July 2010 after tumbling from a second floor window Mark broke his back and since then he has been in a wheelchair. He has such determination of character it is mind blowing reading the account of what has happened since then, he has set about finding a way to try and walk again. It was at the end of this inspiring article that I did a double take. Yesterday I meant to include in my post the poem by Rudyard Kipling called "If" as I wanted to say that Chrissie Wellington draws strength from this poem before all of her Iron man races. Then this morning to read right at the end of  Mark's article that he memorised this exact poem, and he would recite it to himself during his Trek to the South pole when he struggled with doubt and despair. This poem is a father coaching his son in how to be a man.

" If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposter's just the same"

It keeps on happening for me all these coincidences. Last night an old College friend James was the first person since I started the Blog yesterday to donate some money to my LIVESTRONG Iron man participant page. James and Mark both rowed together for the Trinity boat club when we where all in college. James went on to row for Team GB and Mark went on to win two commonwealth games medals for rowing. Today I am thinking about all our separate paths. When you are young you cannot know what is around the corner. Disease, injury, illness , achievement, love, loss and joy. What astonishes me is when I keep on reading stories of people whether they are cancer survivors, or like Mark surviving unthinkable struggles, that they can keep going. We cannot control what will happen to us but if we can manage some sort of acceptance about what hand we are being dealt then we can dig in and use what we have on the inside to get us through almost anything. Whether it is the ups and downs of daily life, illness and yes racing too. I think I understand properly the term now that so many long course Triathletes use, including Chrissie in her book, when they say you have to dig in. When you just have to accept what is happening and then dig in and use what you have on the inside. The most important place of all....


IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise: If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Monday, 23 April 2012

There are no coincidences... - This is the link to my personal fundraising page with Team LIVESTRONG Ironman France. If it is possible for you to do so can you please make a donation to help me reach my fundraising goal for a truly wonderful organisation, and also so I can take my place on the start line of Ironman France with Team LIVESTRONG on June 24th 2012

There are no coincidences.

That is what I am thinking about today starting this Blog which will hopefully last for eight weeks and six days  precisely. The time line for this Blog is from today Monday 23rd April up until Sunday 24th June. The day I truly hope I will be standing on the start line of Iron Man France as a member of Team LIVESTRONG. 

3.4 km of a sea swim, 180 km on the bike and finally 40 km of running. Why? For me now at this point it is to see if” I can”. The Iron man has represented so much to me over the last couple of years and what it has been whittled down to now in these last 62 days is to see if I can. Combined with this is the desire to fund raise for LIVESTRONG so I can stand shoulder to shoulder with a team who are all taking on a gruelling personal challenge and giving back at the same time. I cannot think of any other organisation I would rather give back to in some capacity. They have personally empowered and facilitated a lot of change in my life and I know for a fact they are working every single day with the sole purpose of helping others empower themselves, and they facilitate programs and initiatives that benefit the cancer community all over the world.

Since I decided to see if “I can” there has been a series of moments that have made me fully believe there are no coincidences. What has also struck me as I sit here today is that we all must make our own freedom but it is also made possible by the great people and organisations in our lives that can help facilitate for us the inspiration, education, conditions and circumstances that can enable us to see what we are made of.

If I draw a time line back to the end of March I can highlight this at work in my own life. One of the resounding themes for so many of us when we discussed what was most valuable for us about the LIVESTRONG Assembly in Austin Texas at the end of March; it was the face to face interaction. I can see already the effect this has had upon other LIVESTRONG Leaders as they return to their own communities energised and inspired by being face to face with like minded people. When I took a Skype chat with two of my fellow Leaders last week we both agreed that the most powerful aspect of the assembly for us was LIVESTRONG facilitating for us this opportunity to connect with one another.


I spent a week after the LIVESTRONG Assembly with my Triathlon Coach who lives in Austin Texas. During this week I found myself moving from a place of “I can’t “to wondering if “I can”. Claudia Spooner my Coach is an incredibly inspiring woman. She is a full time Mom, full time coach and an incredibly competitive long course triathlete who is a serious contender! She takes everything she does very seriously and she is an inspiring person to spend time with. Hence I found myself on Thursday after spending a few days with her jumping in to a lake and doing a short swim and a run. It went OK, not great but then with the consistency of my training up until that point due to my injury that was to be expected, but it went okay enough, and crucially it gave me enough confidence to start to wonder if maybe I can. Or maybe I can see what I can do.  During the week I spent with Claudia she facilitated this realisation for me because of the environment she provided filled with conversations, training and inspiration , and so it  started to grow inside of me that feeling that maybe I can dig in and see what is possible. 


After I came home from Texas I started to feel adrift from all the energy and positivity I had received during my trip and I could feel myself starting to falter in my resolve a little, more in terms of confidence. I started to ask myself am I mad? What about this injury and my leg that still needs a lot of strengthening. Will I drown in the swim if I persist in just going to Nice ready or not? So yes my brain was becoming crowded with questions and doubts, and then as before a series of events started to unfold.  Two things happened last week. I saw a picture of myself on the race website from the swim and run I did in Texas. The picture stopped me in my tracks. I looked so happy and free as I was running in the picture. It made me realise how much I love sport and how I equate it with freedom.


Little did I know someone else, a close friend and my senior LIVESTRONG Leader Shu Milne had also seen my picture and she had a reaction to it also? At the time she was working on our biographies for our LIVESTRONG Leader Region 14 Newsletter and she felt really inspired by my picture. When I read the amazing bio she did for me it was like she was writing to me, telling me who I am and what I love. She was facilitating for me this realisation I keep forgetting, about how empowered I feel by sport and how much I want to pass that on to others. Because of her creative talent in putting together this great bio, she had created a reflection of what I want to do and be back at me. To say this was powerful is an understatement.

I bought my idol Chrissie Wellington’s biography “A life without limits” last week and I tweeted that I had reached page 3 and had burst in to tears. This was the truth. I cannot believe the timing in finding and buying her book and I cannot believe how every page speaks to me so strongly. Chrissie is the female Iron man world champion, she is so full of passion and determination and she is such a strong woman with a huge desire to pass that on to others, she also believes strongly in people being empowered to look after themselves and achieve their own goals. Every word of her book is providing me with fuel to keep going and trying to see what I can do.

I popped out for coffee this morning and bumped in to a friend of mine who is a writer. She is pretty drained right now coming out of the other side of the recent completion of a book and as she said it is time now to watch TV and just surf for a bit. Ha we all need that too! But being the people we are it didn’t stop us from debating the world for half an hour! Then she said to me the most amazing thing. She said that Nietzsche had talked about the lion, and used the lion as imagery to describe someone finding their own place in the world and their own freedom.”

This stopped me in my tracks yet again! As just this morning I had been thinking about trying to write this post and how would I describe the freedom I felt yesterday on my run. I felt I had a break through moment in my Iron man training yesterday. Not only did it mark the end of a successful block of training, but something happened on the run that has not happened to me for a couple of years. I think I was on mile 6 and suddenly I felt as if I might take off. I couldn’t feel me as any different to the air, the sea or the ground under my feet. I felt part of. That is the only way to describe it. It makes me cry now writing about it. Is that the freedom all of us are looking for in our own individual ways? Something that makes us feels connected and part of?

In the most unexpected way this morning, with the mention of Nietzsche of all people I was reminded of what makes me feel free. My friend Brad Didier talks about riding his bike for those who can’t. I feel as if the final piece has fallen in to place for me now in the Iron man journey. I want to see if” I can” but I also want to raise money as well to give to LIVESTRONG as they really do empower others and fight on behalf of those who cant. I feel so grateful for being able to see what I can do at the moment. I am also in endless indebtedness to all those people who keep being put in my path who keep on facilitating a realisation in me that I can keep on hoping and trying.