Getting Started

Christmas has passed and I hope that you all had a great day!  Thankfully work was quiet and I had my meal with my family when I got in from work.  As always I received so many fantastic gifts and despite having to work it was a really good Christmas.  Hogmanay is this Saturday but I don’t think I will be up to too much due to being back at work on the 1st.  To me, Sunday the 1st is the true start.  As much as we have talked about doing this and setting out a bit of a plan, the start of the new year to me marks the beginning properly.

Getting started is often one of the hardest things to do.  Talking about doing something is pretty easy, but committing to it and putting it in motion is the complete opposite.  I’ve spent a couple if months looking into things, picking out the events that I would like to take part in and speaking to people about what I would like to do.  Now we have to get going and for me the New Year signals the crossing of that start line.  While there is an enormous mountain laid before us to climb, it can be climbed and we will hit that target of £1 million.  I know we will.

The 4th of February every year is World Cancer Day and if you can help me promote what I am doing and the incredible work that Cancer Research UK do I would be extremely grateful.  Cancer Research UK run a campaign of wearing a ‘unity band’ on the 4th and I will be taking part this year.  They have also asked if myself and mum would be happy to be part of an article talking about what mum has been through and what it is I am trying to do.  Hopefully that will help earn my challenge a bit more support.  I feel that I am continually asking the same people to support me and I know that so many of you have already donated very generously to what I am doing.  I’d really like to try and grow the support in the early part of the year and encourage more people to donate a little to Cancer Research UK.

I can’t remember if I had mentioned in a previous blog post about the possibility of going to visit one of the experimental cancer research facilities in Edinburgh, in order to better understand what the money is actually used for and to gain an understanding of the kinds of research that are being done into cancer.  I am really keen to do this and meet the people who are doing this amazing research and saving so many lives.  I have no idea when that will be but it is something I would like to try and fit in.

I have been speaking with my dad about him supporting my cycling ventures, I know for sure that the last thing I will want to do after cycling 100 miles on my bike will be standing cleaning and servicing it.  My dad works as teacher and I will need to try and plan these trips during his holiday periods.  But that shouldn’t be too hard I don’t think, it might mean that I have to swap a couple shifts at work but we will get that organised.  The North Coast 500 will probably be the first cycling trip of the year and I reckon will likely be around late spring.  I have spent this week doing a bit more planning for this trip and realised that google lied to me a bit.  It told me that the second day of the trip (Applecross to Ullapool) would be around 85 miles or 136 KM in length, it is, but to follow the North Coast 500 route you must travel via Gairloch (a town my dad used to teach in actually!) which adds quite a bit of distance and climbing to the day.  Day 2 of this trip will actually be 117 miles or 187 KM in length.  I think this is probably going to be the hardest day of what I am hoping will be a 5 day trip.  This will come the day after a particularly hard climb on the road over to Applecross.  But it is what needs doing so we will get it done I am sure!  I have put the routes for days one and two below along with the elevation charts so you can see what the route looks like if you weren’t sure.  I think this trip will definetly serve as pretty good training for John O’Groats to Lands End and I think it will also do my legs good for climbing Kilimanjaro.

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Day 2 North Coast 500 - pic.png

I’ve got a trip to Kilimanjaro picked out so booking that is going to be a priority in the coming weeks.  It is my intention to get back out on the hills soon, it has been a manic few weeks with lots on and I am conscious that I haven’t managed to get out on the hills as much as I would have liked.  The other thing which is now an added issue is that the Scottish winter has arrived and the weather on the hills is far more volatile than usual.  I’d therefore ideally only head into the mountains with a climbing partner, purely for safety and I hope you all appreciate that.  As much as I want to raise all this money and complete as many challenges as I physically can I’d rather not kill myself in the process!  The mountains in Scotland are often a far more dangerous place than people give them credit for and unfortunately deaths are reported every year which are caused by a number of different factors.  I love climbing in Scotland in the winter and I reckon we probably we have some of the most pristine mountains in the world, but I don’t love it enough to take massive risks.

“There’s a way to do it better – find it” – Thomas A. Edison

Its just about time to start off the new year and get going proper, I am really looking forward to it all now.  I hope all have an enjoyable Hogmanay and get a good start to the New Year.  Thank you all for your support, it is hugely appreciated as always!

J.

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It’s Christmas!

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Christmas is almost upon us and hopefully you are all enjoying some time with family and friends!  My sister is now home from France, the first time I’ve seen her for about four months now.  Unfortunately this year I am working right through Christmas but that’s just the way it is at my work, sometimes you land lucky with shifts and get it all off, other times you work a bit of it and then there’s other times when you seem to work right through.  So when you’re tucking into your Christmas dinner and opening your presents from Santa please spare a thought for all the people who are at their work and not with their families.  I’ll get my Christmas dinner when I get in from work sometime after six o’clock.  Hopefully it’s a quiet shift and everyone has a quiet, safe Christmas.

For me this year Christmas will probably end up just being another day but it means I’ll be able to try and keep my training on track, I’ll maybe ease off a little and give myself a small break though.  It’s at this time of the year that I realise more than ever just how thankful I am to still have so many of my family and friends still around because of the research that has gone into cancer.  I do sometimes feel like I repeat myself on this subject or harp on about it, but the more I think about it and the more I look into the subject the more I am understanding about how true it is.  Around 40 years ago if you were given a cancer diagnosis it often meant only one thing.  There was only a 1 in 4 chance that you would survive.  Now though, survival rates have been doubled and that is down to research.  With Cancer Research UKs vision to improve them by half again we are edging closer and closer to the day when all cancers will be beatable and I really hope that I am around to see that day.

With two members of my family still battling with cancer my thoughts will definitely be with them through the holidays as they continue to fight with the disease.  I know I keep saying that my family has had ‘a number’ of battles with cancer through the years but to put a number to it is 8.  8 times that my family has fought with cancer.  For me it is 8 times too many.  But there is only one way that we will be able to put a stop to it and that is through research.  It wasn’t until my mum was diagnosed for the second time this year that we realised just how many times cancer had appeared in the family.  Up until then I never had a true appreciation of how widespread it had been.

For me personally, 2016 was going to be a fresh start and a year of opportunity and experience.  I have had that I think however once again cancer came back into my life and gave the year a slight negative undertone.  I have travelled a fair amount in 2016 and had one of the most brilliant weeks in Spain with friends.  I made the decision to start up this fundraising and to re-evaluate my goals and ambitions.  It has been a year of reflection for me and I am excited about what this next year will bring – hopefully no cancer!  But what I am sure of is that I am planning possibly one of the busiest years of my life and it will be like no other year I have ever had.  I am hoping to do a tonne of travelling for my fundraising and will be able to achieve lots of my ambitions along the way.  I think I’ve said it before, but raising money for charity is totally underrated!  It gives you so many opportunities and in my case is forcing me to go out and organise and and complete things when I’m not working.  It has done me the world of good already and there is still such a long way to go!

One thing that I have noticed recently is that my photo archive is pretty poor.  I seem to take hardly any pictures when I am doing things and I need to change that for documenting this entire challenge.  That has got to be a new years resolution for me – take more photos and document my experiences better.  I’ll see how I get on!  I’m off to Madrid for a week in February so hopefully I’ll manage to get some good photos while I’m there.

Hopefully 2016 has been a good year for you all and I hope that you enjoy the holiday season and enjoy the time with your family and friends.  We’ve got to remember how lucky we are to have them around us, supporting us and sharing our lives with.  I know more than ever right now how lucky I have been and I know that things this year could have taken a very different path and I could have lost more of my family.  We didn’t though so I am considering 2016 to be a somewhat small success.

I keep getting asked when I am aiming to hit my target of raising £1 million for Cancer Research UK.  To be honest it is a bit of an open ended schedule just now.  I am planning many things for 2017 but if I need more time I will look at that as the year goes on.  I’d love to get to the end of next year knowing that I had hit my target and raised the money.  A lot of people have told me that raising it all next year will be virtually impossible.  It won’t be easy, I completely agree with that, but what I keep trying to tell people is that nothing is impossible.  I just need to captivate the imagination of the public, to get them on board and gain their support.  There are some 60 million people in the UK, so I only need one sixtieth of the population to donate £1 and we will get there.  I think that is very much possible.  If I don’t manage to hit the £1 million mark next year then it won’t be a failure because I am sure we will have come a long way towards achieving this goal.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible” – Tony Robbins

Thank you all again for your support and I hope you have a great Christmas with your family and friends.

J.