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.

 

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Not what I need…

IMG_1272.pngThis week I was back to work after 12 days of annual leave.  The leave was welcome and my trip to Madrid really was great.  At the minute my next trip abroad will be to Kilimanjaro in September and that really does feel like a long way away.  But I am sure that it will come about a lot quicker in reality.  I swear that the days, weeks, months and years just seem to pass you by quicker and quicker as you get older and I don’t feel particularly old.  I am still on call with the ISAR team for a further 3 months and a trip away could come up anytime.  Albeit that sort of trip will not be for relaxation or leisure and would have very real and most likely quite drastic implications for the people of an effected country.

It is a strange position to be.  We train regularly for the worst case scenarios.  But to put our training into practice, someone, somewhere will be suffering.  As much as I like helping people you would not wish those kind of events on anyone.  There may be a lot of us humans here on this earth, but ultimately mother nature has the ability to be destructive beyond comprehension.  But I guess that is why there are international teams such as UKISAR to help pick up the pieces when it all goes south.

I am lucky that I have been in the profession that I aimed for since the age of 18.  I am thankful that things worked out the way they did and that I have the job and life that I do.  There are definitely a  lot of people out there who haven’t been anywhere near as lucky as I have been and we must all remember that when we are moaning about the most trivial things.  Life could be very different for every single one of us.

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries” – James Michener

At this minute in time I do not feel particularly great.  What started out as a tickly cough seems to have gotten a bit worse over the past few days.  My back is now extremely sore and moving about is hurting a bit.  It feels a bit like a chest infection but I haven’t been to a doctor so I don’t know that for sure.  Not what I need with just over one week to the Inverness Half Marathon.  I am really hoping that I shift this before then.  I will be completing the half marathon one way or another.  I just really hope I don’t have what ever this is then.  That would be less than ideal.

It is really frustrating me.  I have been building up to this first event and the beginning of my challenges for what feels like ages now and this really wasn’t in the plan.  I am going to take a couple days of good rest and hopefully that sorts me out.  But what I am trying to remember, is that those who are fighting cancer have unexpected hurdles to cross all along the way.  Their journey towards being cancer free is never easy and I guess this is helping put that back in perspective for me.  In a month or two (I can’t remember the exact day) it will be a year since mum was diagnosed for the second time.  I can’t really believe that a year has passed already and so much has happened since then.

As always I still really need your help.  If I am to hit this target we really need to spread this message of positivity, of overcoming adversity and the ability to tackle massive challenges together.  I know for a fact that if we are able to get enough people on board then raising £1 million is quite simple really.  But getting the people on board is difficult and I would ask that you keep sharing the things I get up to.  I know that it may seem a bit repetitive and you may tire of hearing from me a bit.  But I can assure you that every time you help out on social media or mention what I am trying to do to people you are helping beat cancer.  The more awareness and discussion there is about this disease will only help towards putting an end to it once and for all.  £1 is all it takes to make a difference and I am extremely thankful to every single one of you who have made a donation towards the things that I am doing.

It is my intention over the coming weeks to look at other possible running events for this year.  When I first made the decision to try and raise this money, a lot of the running events for this year had not opened for registration and I signed up for those that I could.  It is my intention to try and get ones that work around my shifts and hopefully that shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.  Google is mighty handy when it comes to trying to find different things to take part in.  The ‘Scottish running guide’ is a particularly handy website.  It lists all of the various events and the associated details which makes finding suitable events much easier.   I definitely want to get some other events in my diary though so this is going to become a priority.

This coming week I am going to be at Brechin High School giving a talk to the senior pupils about my fundraising and my motivation for doing it.  Hopefully it will give some of them the encouragement to help charities like Cancer Research UK out by fundraising for them.  I am sure I said right back at the start that this journey was as much about raising lots of money as well as spreading a positive message and this is hopefully the start of being able to take that to a wider audience.  If it goes well hopefully it’ll be the start of a series of sorts where I will be able to talk to larger groups about the things that I am getting up to.

“Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is how you learn from it” – Lou Holtz

Thank you as always.

J.

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

Finding inspiration in others

img_0740“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

I am in need of your help.  Approximately four months ago I made the decision that I was going to try and raise £1 million for Cancer Research UK and it is a decision that I am extremely glad I made.  I have taken time to evaluate my objections and set goals to help me on my way towards the £1 million mark.  But we are now truly underway and have approximately 9 weeks until I run in the Inverness Half Marathon, the first significant event on my list of goals and objectives along the way.

https://www.facebook.com/jedscancermission/

I want to do my utmost and very best to help Cancer Research UK work towards improving the chances of survival for cancer patients and help maintain the rapid advancements in treatment and care for those who suffer from this disease.  I just need two minutes of your time to like and share my page and help spread the word.  The more people that we get on board and spread the word the better chance we have of helping to raise all of this money.  As a result we have the opportunity to make a really significant difference in helping Cancer Research UK.  If you can spare £1 then I’d be more than grateful and I know that Cancer Research UK are extremely thankful for every pound that is donated to them to help advance their research.

Cancer Research UK is a very big charity and they do receive a lot of donations; however we have to remember that the research into cancer is unbelievably expensive and they really do need every penny they can get to help fight this battle.  I can say first hand that their research has saved the lives of a number of my family members and the lives of a great number of friends as well.  I don’t think there is anything more cruel than becoming ill and having the ability to go about your everyday life taken away from you.  We all know that our time here is limited and cancer can take that away from people who are only just getting started with their lives.

I take a huge amount of inspiration from Stephen Sutton, a teenager who you might remember from ‘Stephens’ Story’ which followed him as he battled with terminal cancer.  Unfortunately Stephen lost his battle with cancer in 2014, but before he did he made a massive impact upon improving the way that people perceive cancer and how they go about their everyday lives.  There are a number of speeches that Stephen gave during his battle with cancer which I watch regularly and I would urge you to watch them on Youtube if you can.  Stephen often spoke of the true value of the number 86400.  If someone gifted you £86400 at midnight every night and told you that you had 24 hours to spend it before you were given another £86400, you would more than likely find a way to spend it.  What so many of us don’t realise is that we are gifted 86400 seconds every day to meet new people, appreciate those around us, to enjoy new experiences and appreciate the lives that we are given.  So many of us fail to spend the vast majority of those seconds that we are given and waste them away.

Stephen had a huge impact on me, at the time my mum was fighting with breast cancer and Stephen always had the ability to make you positive about the situations that life deals you.  I truly wish that I had had the opportunity to meet him and thank him for giving me an improved outlook on my life and a better appreciation for everyone around me.  I nominated Stephen along with many others for a ‘Pride of Britain’ award in recognition of everything that he did during his short but full life and was extremely happy when I heard that he was to receive one.  I just wish that he had been able to receive the award which was presented to his mum in his memory.

I doubt that I will ever be able to achieve in the way that Stephen did, but almost three years on from his death he is always in my thoughts as I set out to try and help finance new research into the disease that claimed his life.

“From someone who wants more time in this world, please don’t waste yours, you’d be amazed what you can achieve when you try” – Stephen Sutton

As well as trying to fit in my runs as I build up to the Inverness Half Marathon in March, I am going to be getting on the bike just about everyday in order to start putting the miles into my legs ahead of riding the North Coast 500 and then from John O’Groats to Lands End.  Ideally I’d prefer to get out on the road but for days when I am working and it will be dark before I am home I have a turbo trainer that I can use to keep logging time on the bike.  I think I may have a companion for the North Coast 500 in the form of a colleague whom I have worked with for almost the last 5 years and who works on the International Search and Rescue team with me.  I think it’s going to help a lot having Steve riding with me; I always find it easier to dig a little deeper when I am riding with someone else!  The offer to join me on any of my trips or outings is always there and if you fancy giving something a try and raising some money for Cancer Research UK I’d be more than happy to have you join me!

As I said at the start of this weeks piece, if you could spare me two minutes of your time to help promote what I am doing I would massively appreciate it!

Many thanks as always.

J.

My ambitions. My ideas.

In order to raise £1 million I am going to have to diversify my activities.  Running one half marathon won’t get me there I don’t think.  Nor will running a couple.  I need to take on every possible opportunity that I get and learn how to promote them successfully.  That means giving myself more work, but I kind of accepted that when I started this whole thing anyway.

I’ve had so many ideas of different events to take part in and to run.  One of them which is quite high up on my list of which will require a lot of organising is a charity ceilidh/auction night.  Ultimately it has to make sense financially, I don’t see any point pouring vast amounts of time into organising an event like this unless it is going to raise a significant amount of money for charity.  It will only raise a fraction of the total amount however every little helps!  I think it would be good way of bringing people together who have been affected by cancer, to celebrate what they have achieved and have a good old laugh.  For anyone who isn’t Scottish, a ‘Ceilidh’ is a traditional gathering where people join together in song and dance in order to have fun and make a fool out of themselves, at least that is how it was described to me!  If it happens you should come, they are always great fun and everyone usually has a great time!  I’ll keep you posted!

Another idea of mine that I am working towards is starting to make videos that document this journey.  I know that I have started this blog, but I understand that not everyone enjoys reading.  I also believe that a picture paints a thousand words and using video will allow me to physically show you all what I have been up to.  Over the past year I have begun watching YouTube more and more, to the point where I often watch YouTube over regular TV.  There are some amazing creators on YouTube who produce work that is as good, if not better than TV.  I am by no means saying that my videos will be able to compare to some of these creators, but I hope to bring you all along and help share this whole experience more.

I am finding that this whole blog and charity work pretty fun so far!  It has been a lot of work, trying to get things started, to speak to people about what I’m trying to do and why.  I’ve come to realise that when you tell someone that you are trying to raise £1 million for charity they will be slightly surprised.  I suppose it’s not the average target to set.  Although if everyone was the same the world would be a pretty boring place I think!  People often take a bit of convincing, but I think I am being fairly successful at encouraging people we will get there.  We are still quite small at the minute and there is a huge amount of work still to do, but I have faith and there is plenty positivity in me still!

Christmas will soon be upon us and the New Year hotly on its heels.  I think that once the 1st of January arrives that I will feel that we are on our way.  I’ve been working on this for a couple of months now and I think it looks like we haven’t made much progress.  What I am trying to remind people however is that I could never expect to raise this money overnight, it’s a long-term goal and one that will take time to achieve.  Stick with me and we’ll smash the target, I’m sure of it!

My sister is home in a couple of weeks for the first time since August which I am quite looking forward to.  She is studying for a Masters in Interpreting and Translation in French and Spanish and has spent this semester in Lyon, France.  I haven’t had the opportunity to go out and visit Lyon unfortunately which is something that I did want to do.  Maybe in the future, it’s another place to add to my long list of places that I would like to visit.  She’ll be home a few days before Christmas and will be home until mid January I think before she moves to Madrid, Spain for her second semester.  The life of a university student!  I definitely want to visit Madrid though and I have a block of annual leave in February so hopefully I will get some free digs for a week.

Unfortunately, my annual leave for April onwards won’t be released until January at the earliest and at the minute I haven’t booked my Kilimanjaro trip or put my John O’Groats to Lands End cycle firmly in the diary (these being the two biggest undertakings).  There is a trip to Kilimanjaro that I have my eyes on and I am tempted to book it and take a gamble.  Worst case scenario is that I have to try and move my annual leave or swap my shifts with colleagues which can be done, it’s just an extra thing to think about!  I think I am going to have to make a decision soon however, places are limited and I want to ensure that I definitely get to go and climb this mountain.  In terms of travel vaccines I am lucky that through my work with the International Search and Rescue team I am vaccinated to travel pretty much anywhere in the world.  Although I am due a couple of boosters which I will have to get sorted out soon!  Needles are my arch nemesis, but sometimes you’ve got to do things you hate in order to have the experiences that you want most.

I will let you know as soon as the dates are firm and the trips are organised!

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favour” – Elon Musk

If you haven’t already, please donate today.  Just follow the link:

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

J.

Why Kilimanjaro?

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As some of you may know, one of the major challenges which I am aiming to take on as part of my mission to raise £1 Million for Cancer Research UK is to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mount Kilimanjaro is located in Tanzania, Africa.  It is the tallest mountain in continental Africa and also the tallest free standing mountain in the world.  Kilimanjaro stands at 5895m or 19341ft and was first climbed in 1889.  To try and give that some kind of context, Ben Nevis the highest mountain in the UK stands at 1345m or 4411ft.  In mountaineering terms Kilimanjaro is a somewhat simple mountain to climb as it doesn’t require a great deal of technical climbing and rope work.

Kilimanjaro is a massive challenge however and something which I am not taking lightly.  The biggest danger with climbing a mountain of that size is the possibility of developing acute mountain sickness (AMS) or referred to commonly as altitude sickness.  AMS typically occurs above 2400 meters of 8000ft.  Unfortunately there is very little way of predicting how someone will cope at altitude.  In order to minimise my chances of developing it I will need to try and train and eat foods that increase my red blood cells that will help carry the oxygen around my body.  Ben Nevis is the tallest mountain I have climbed to date and is a little more than half of the altitude where most people begin to experience the effects of AMS.

Another crucial part of gaining success in high altitude climbing is acclimatisation.  You have to take time and allow your body to adapt to the lowering levels of oxygen in the air.  If you don’t give yourself time to acclimatise then your body will find it significantly harder to function at altitude.

It is my intention to climb Kilimanjaro with guides from a British based mountaineering company who will hopefully help guide me to the summit.  The climb will take around 14 days, possibly slightly less.  I am hopeful that my holiday allocation for next year will be available soon and I can look at booking the trip and getting it firmly added to the diary.

It has long been an ambition of mine to climb Kilimanjaro and I think it fits what I am trying to achieve perfectly.  It will be an immense physical and mental challenge which will be one of the most difficult things I have ever undertaken.  There are a number of other mountains around the world which I am keen to attempt, but, given my lack of experience at these altitudes I felt it sensible to take on a mountain that had a slightly lower technical skill requirement.

I firmly believe that whilst it is important to set challenging goals for yourself they must also be realistic ones that you can achieve.  I think it would be pretty foolish to say that I was going to summit Mount Everest at this stage.  Whilst it would be an incredible experience to attempt and achieve the summit of the worlds highest peak I do not have the experience nor the fitness to attempt a mountain like that at the present time.  I think Kilimanjaro is a good starting point for a first high altitude summit.  We must all be dreamers however.  Maybe one day I will attempt Mount Everest, I suspect it would more than likely be as a way of raising money for Cancer Research UK.  Climbing mountains like that is also horrifically expensive and would require massive corporate sponsorship.  But that’s an idea for the future and I shall concentrate on Kili for the time being!

We must dare to dream and dare to be different.  If you have a positive approach you can achieve anything.  This is something that I genuinely believe in.  I know so many people who have positively fought cancer and won their battles.  We should take their positivity and thirst for life as an inspiration and use it to drive ourselves forward and achieve the things we never thought we could.  Why?  Well the more people engage in research and push the boundaries of what we believe to be possible, the sooner we will beat cancer and prevent the suffering of patients, their families and their friends.  The day  we finally beat cancer is coming and we can all help by doing our little bit.  By donating even just £1 we are helping bring that day closer and that excites me.

Nothing is impossible when we put our minds to it.  No task is too big or too complicated.  Sometimes things take time, but that does not make them impossible.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela

Donating is quick and easy just follow the link below:

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

J.