A fortnightly blog

For those who have a keen eye and like a routine, you might have noticed that I didn’t write a post to my blog last week and it was the first time in almost 6 months that I hadn’t.  But I made the decision that I would start to post once every fortnight, for two main reasons.  Firstly, I am getting incredibly busy.  I wanted to make myself busier.  To set new goals and challenges and to make a positive difference to those who suffer from cancer.  I think I am doing that.  But with it I have made myself incredibly busy and almost everyday I am off there is something scheduled.  I am definitely not complaining about that because in a way that is what I really wanted.  But finding the time to write a blog post the last few weeks has been hard.  Secondly I don’t want this blog to become boring or repetitive.  It is an opportunity for me to convey to you the things that I am doing, the experiences I am having and how I view the world.  I want to keep it positive and current and I want it to be something that people take something from.  So I made the decision last week to turn to a post once every fortnight and I hope that will help me out with the two things I have just mentioned.

As I said, I am unbelievably busy.  Climbing my munros has taken a total backseat at the minute as my focus on running is becoming absolute.  The Stirling Marathon is next month and I know it is going to be one of the hardest physical things I have ever done in my life.  Getting the final few weeks prep done right is becoming more and more evident to me.  So for the next few weeks I will be doing a lot of running with a few easy bike rides in between just to spin the legs.

I am at the same time very conscious that the North Coast 500 will be upon me extremely quickly and that is probably going to top the marathon as the hardest physical thing I have ever done!  Most of the planning and booking for that is done now with a few more overnight stays needing to be finalised but that should be done this week.  We are looking into the possibility of getting a cycling kit made up with logos in order to bring attention to the challenge as we are doing it.  It will mean that I can help promote it as I am out on my bike prior to and following the event.  hopefully that helps raise awareness and get some more people on board with what I am trying to achieve.

This past week I have been looking along with a colleague of mine Steve, at getting some cycling kit made up for wearing whilst training and whilst taking on the NC500.  Hopefully it will help draw some attention to the challenge and spread the word a little further.  The email has been sent to the company and we have got a quote back for getting the kit made.  So once their graphic designer have transferred the designs and its all confirmed we should have some nice shiny kit coming our way!

A challenge in its self that in a way I never really quantified was all of the different challenges I have taken on and the different disciplines that are involved.   I can’t just prepare for the marathons and not do any cycling because my legs wouldn’t be able to pedal right on the bike.  Balancing the training I am doing whilst still preparing properly for each event is super difficult.  It would be much easier if I was just running or just cycling.  But I like a challenge and I guess I gave myself another one without realising.

Another injection was needed this week to make sure my vaccinations are all up to date for work.  That meant another dreaded trip to Aberdeen to get jabbed in the arm with a needle.  Aberdeen is a great city, but getting jabbed with a needle is pretty much my least favourite thing to do in the world!  But hey, I now need it for work and it means that I am good vaccine wise to travel anywhere in the world which is a good thing to know.  Work have a contract with ‘Charles Michies’ so we go to their travel clinic to be kept up to date.  It was a day out to Aberdeen so I guess there is a positive in there somewhere.  I’m getting better at the whole needle business though that’s for sure. A top tip: If you don’t like something, do it a lot!

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May is shaping up to be possibly the busiest month of the year for me so far.  I am flying on the 1st to Bristol to visit family who live in Swindon which is something I have been wanting to do for a while now and I am really looking forward to it.  I will be down there from the Monday to Friday flying back to Edinburgh on the 5th.  I will be home for the weekend and then on the 8th I will be travelling down to Hampshire for an exercise with the UKISAR team.  The exercise will last 3 days before we travel back up the road on the 12th.  I’ll then get a couple days break before I will be back in to work.

I have meetings with a couple different schools about the possibility of going to speak with their senior pupils about my challenge and all of the things that I am getting up to.  I really like sharing my experiences with people and allowing people to understand why I end up doing the things that I do.  I think it’s important to share knowledge and experience and essential that is passed onto the next generation of you adults who will so leave school in to the big bad world where they will have to find their feet.  I like to think that I take opportunities when they are given to me and that I work hard to make sure that I achieve them.  Too many people don’t take opportunities when they are given them and their lives could be incredibly different if they took a little more risk and really went for things.  At least that is my opinion and I think I might have said it before.

The next few weeks are certainly going to be busy.  But I am looking forward to the challenge.

“I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of not cramming as much into my life as I should’ve done” – Stephen Sutton

 I hope you all have a great easter!

J.

Time for the Inverness Half Marathon

Good news – I think I have managed to shake the worst of the cold/infection that I had.  I am back at the running and I am hopeful for a good day on Sunday at the Inverness Half Marathon.  I really just want to get going and run it now.  The build up to this event has lasted so long that the excitement to get going is now very real.

I will be travelling up on Saturday with my two colleagues who are going to be running the event with me.  We are staying in a guesthouse not too far from the start of the race and I am hoping that I can just dump the car there whilst we go and run the half marathon.  It has been a good number of years since I participated in an organised running event like this and I am slightly apprehensive about it in a way.  But ultimately I am looking forward to taking part and hopefully helping to raise some more money for Cancer Research UK.  Fundraising is slow at times however I know if we keep plugging away then we will hit the target and help fund more vital life-saving research.

I have heard some people talk about how much money is spent on cancer research and is it good value for money?  For me it most definitely is!  I have seen the benefits of research – it has saved a number of members of my family ultimately.  There are massive quantities of money invested into the research of cancer.  But what we must always remember is that research is expensive.  Developing and trialling new drugs is both expensive and takes significant amount of time to complete.  The research into cancer over the last 40 years has been quite incredible and survival rates have been doubled in that time.  I really want to help Cancer Research UK improve these survival rates even further.  It may be some time off – but one day we really will beat cancer.  The only thing that stands in our way is the funds to conduct the research and that is why I will continue to try and raise as much money as I physically can.

On Wednesday the 8th I was at Brechin High School giving a talk to the senior pupils about my fundraising.  I talked to them for about 15 minutes covering all of the the different parts to my ambitions and the various challenges that I have planned for this year.  They seemed to be fairly interested and listened to things I had to say which was really encouraging from my perspective.  There was certainly a eureka moment when they realised that Mr Smith their teacher was in fact my dad.  I also spoke about how cancer had effected my family and the very real understanding my family have of this disease.  To me, my ambitions to raise £1 million are also about positivity as I am sure I have said before.  This was really the key thing about my talk and that with a positive mind you can achieve any goal that you set for yourself.  Hopefully I will be able to start visiting more schools and groups to continue to spread my message and speak about my fundraising in order to take it to a wider audience.  That is the plan at least.

“Spread as much positivity as possible – that’s my goal” – Stephen Sutton

So a bag needs packed and the car could do with a little clean but otherwise I am all set to begin with my challenge for Cancer Research UK.  It does feel like it has been a long time coming in many ways.  But on the flip side the time has genuinely passed extremely quickly and I am sure the other events will be upon us before we know about it.  In a way I underestimated just how much time I would spend planning each of the events that I am taking part in.  It is easy to forget about the travel to and from the event, where you are going to stay and and all of the things that you need to take part.  I think my planning skills are improving a little though and it is making that job slightly easier than it once was.

It is my intention to try and take plenty photos of the trip up to Inverness and hopefully some following the event.  Thank you all for hanging with me over the last few months whilst I have looked into events and been organising for them.  But now the start is upon us and I hope to get back into my munros and out cycling again in the coming weeks.  The last few weeks I have focused solely on running with this event in mind and it will be good to get back into the other things that I enjoy.  I suppose it’s an extra part of the challenge that I hadn’t really considered – how you have to train for the different disciplines.  I know now that if I have been running constantly and jump back on my bike then it takes me a little while to adjust.  It sounds strange and I certainly don’t forget how to ride my bike during those periods.  But the muscles in my legs really know about it and they are pretty good at letting me know in turn!

The weather hasn’t been overly bad this past week but it certainly is not as good as it was in Madrid – if only I could go back!  I doubt Madrid will be on the cards again before this summer but wouldn’t it be great to be able to get away to some sun every few weeks.  Maybe I am asking for too much!

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Check back to find out how I get on in Inverness and I will be sure to post some pictures of the event.

Many thanks as always,

J.

 

Taking Life For Granted

On Sunday the 20th I experienced an extremely humbling moment.  I had spent the day with mum at the Gleneagles hotel enjoying afternoon tea.  Mum had asked if I would like to go and having never been I felt it was an experience I shouldn’t turn down. I would suggest that it is not my usual haunt, however the food was fantastic and the service impeccable.  I could not fault the afternoon.  Whilst it was a great afternoon I don’t think it will be a regular event in my diary, more a treat.

Myself and mum don’t often get the chance to go and do things together and the afternoon out to Gleneagles was a welcome one.  You see I think we all take life for granted.  We all too often fail to realise that it could all end in the blink of an eye.  Whilst I would hope that everyone lived long and prosperous lives it unfortunately doesn’t always work out like that.  For a huge part of my life I did just that.  I took life for granted.  I never truly appreciated what I had and how quickly it could all be lost.

When we returned home from Gleneagles I popped onto Facebook for my usual flick through.  I very quickly stumbled upon a post about a little 4 year old girl – Jessica Whelan, who had just passed away that morning from cancer.  I almost feel ashamed to say that I had never heard about Jessica who had been battling with cancer since September 2015.  I noticed an image of Jessica taken by her dad, writhing in pain because of her cancer.  No one should ever have to fight with cancer, let alone a little girl who never had the opportunity to truly experience life.  Cancer is cruel.  I don’t think I have ever believed it to be so true.

It brought the day I had had with mum right into context.  I realised just how lucky I am that I still have my mum around and that I still get to enjoy time with her.  Not just mum but all of my family members and friends who have battled with this disease.

I get frustrated with myself every now and then.  When I realise that I am slipping back into the comfort of pretending that we have endless time to enjoy life and experience the world.  There are so many things to do, so many places to see and yet we allow ourselves to become complacent and we constantly put our dreams on hold for one reason or another.  We put things off until another day.  I know that I have been more guilty of this than anyone.  But when cancer came calling so close to home it gave me the wake up call I needed.  Our time is limited and we must make the most of it.  We all have differing dreams and aspirations, we may not all agree to experience the same things, but what I think we should all agree upon is that life is short.  It can end quicker than we appreciate and we must make the most of the time that we have and live lives that end with no regrets.

For a long time travelling was something which I did, but I wasn’t overly bothered about.  As a kid I never travelled outside of the UK until I was about 12 when I went to France for the first time.  It wasn’t because my parents didn’t want to take us abroad they just couldn’t afford it at the time.  I’m not complaining though, I had so many opportunities through my childhood that helped turn me into the person I am today and I am extremely grateful for that.  But going to France and experiencing another culture was incredible.  I think I realised then how big the world was and how much places there were to visit and experience.  I am extremely fortunate that I have had the opportunity to visit Japan and the USA and to travel around Europe.  I am desperate to get my next adventure planned to visit somewhere new have a new experience.  New York and other cities in the US are pretty high on my list of places to visit as well Australia and New Zealand, Africa, Nepal and the list goes on and on!  Of course there are also so many more places in Scotland and the UK that I would  like to visit and experience and I will get the opportunity in time.  For me, an experience is worth a thousand possessions.

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“Life has no limitations except the ones you make” – Les Brown

This has been a fantastic experience so far.  I have learned a huge amount and spoken to so many people about why we need to do research and why we need to make sure that the funding exits for  the research to happen.  I started this whole thing because I wanted to help people who are suffering from cancer and prevent others from ever having to experience this disease.  But what I am realising, is that it is teaching me that I must make the most of the life that I have been given and take every experience and opportunity that are presented to me.  We must measure our lives by experiences and not by time alone.

Remember donating is super easy, you just have to follow the link below:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

J.