Monday, 2 December 2013

Both 10k's nailed!!


The race went well. Up at 4am, to load up on pre-race calories (that helped a lot during the race), before being picked up at 5am by my trainer Swee and Chris, her partner. The team walking with me were gathered by 6.15 and by 6.45 I was done with my warm up routine and we headed to the start line. We crossed the start around 7.30. The weather was exactly what I'd hoped for - cloudy, relatively cool and with some light rain thrown in half way through! The first 3km was really good, I was relaxed, my walking was smooth and the team did a great job of fending off the runners and entertaining me at the same time. Things got progressively harder over the next 4km, and Swee's support really started to count as she coached me to change gait frequently to help keep the tone under control. That worked and the eighth and ninth kilometres felt good, but I started to feel it after we passed the 9km mark and the course merged with the end of the half and full marathon. The last kilometre was very hard, as fatigue, tightness and spasticity started to take hold. That's when I brought to mind your messages of support, and your belief helped fuel mine. The last 50m was bit of a stagger to the finish line. I crossed it in 3 hr25. In dead last place! And delighted with that!!!

Sunday was a day of many PB's. My previous longest walk was 8.3km. Sunday was 10km …. or closer to 12 if you add on the walk from the car to the start and back again. I'd taken breaks in all my long training walks. On Sunday, I did the 10k without stopping. And from when we left the car to when we got back, I'd been standing for over 6 and a half hours. Typing that has brought home the huge progress I've made since I signed up for the race back in September - and of course the million miles I've come since June 2011.

I'd expected to be very emotional at the end of the race and since. But that's not come. Instead, I've found myself reflecting on what I learned, about myself and about my potential to go further. I always believed in my ability to finish, driven to the line by determination. But in the last few weeks I've had to face up to doubts and anxieties - about the distance, the crowds of people, the time it would take, the heat, the risk of falling (which as some of you know I've done occasionally the last few months, too often, sometimes painfully), the intensity of the neuropathic pain. I found myself feeling fear, in a way I haven't experienced before. But last week I founds ways to deal with it. That worked, and on Sunday I beat it. Another lesson learned on this journey - perhaps my biggest yet. 
Now to the fund raising. Take a deep breath. Right now, the total raised stands at £13,133. And that's not the end of it. I know there's quite a bit more to come, including from Max and Amy's class mates. A couple of weeks ago I went to school to speak to them about spinal cord injuries, paralysis and the work Spinal Research is doing to find a cure. The story left a big, positive impact. It feels really special to have the kids engaged like that. I'll find out later this week, but I expect the money that the kids will raise to take the donations well over £14,000.  

I pinch myself when I think of that number. The response to this has exhausted my vocabulary. When you flew past the original £5k target, I was overwhelmed. When you passed £7.5k, I genuinely felt humbled. Now I don't know what to say. I just want you to know that you have moved me very, very deeply. More importantly, that's a big boost to the work being funded by Spinal Research. I feel like we have made a big difference. That's a privilege, and something to celebrate.

I am absolutely delighted. And very proud.


Sunday, 24 November 2013

Thank you

One target met! Very proud and extremely grateful. Thanks everyone. Donations are still rolling in - next stop 11k!

One week til race day......

Friday, 22 November 2013

Kids on board!!!

Max & Amy's classes are doing sponsored events to raise funds for Spinal Research. I went to school yesterday to talk to the kids about spinal cord injuries, paralysis and the need to help find a cure. They were all brilliant and all of them said they will raise at least $50 - if that happens, that will take me over the 10,000 target - it will be great if the kids are the ones to get me across the line!

I heard from one of the mums to say her son was very moved and impacted. Very special to hear that

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The race route...

Here it is..... the route for the 10k. Just under two weeks to go!!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Big progress

A couple of weeks ago I saw someone at the gym doing Bosu squats. I remember watching them, recalling how I did that exercise pre accident and wondering when I might do it again - if ever. On Tuesday, I got my answer! I can't describe how good this felt. I'm still excited days later! Added to that, I made great progress on sit ups - WITH a medicine ball! - and did some good work on the punch bag (which seems to be helping release upper body tightness). Really happy!!!

Saturday, 26 October 2013


Excuse me, but fuck yeah!!! 8.28km this morning!!! 2 hour 35 minutes. Really, really chuffed.

This morning was sunny, very hot (around 32 degrees by the time I finished) and humid (after a storm yesterday evening) - the weather can't be any more challenging than this on race day.

Gait was very good in many parts - something different was happening this morning, in a positive way.

The last 400m was hard going though. I started to stiffen and lose balance. 5 meters from the car I tripped and fell in a bush! That's the first time I've fallen in over a month. I'll put this one down to fatigue! Recently I discovered a few quotes from Nelson Mandela. He said "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall". That quote helps me today.

Friday, 25 October 2013

How will Spinal Research use the money?

I asked Spinal Research for information on how the money being raised will be used. One of the research initiatives is into the clinical use of an enzyme called chondroitinase. After a SCI, a scar develops at the injury site. That scar blocks the way for re-growing nerves which might otherwise be capable of making useful new connections to restore movement and function. They have discovered that the bacterial enzyme chondroitinase could digest these molecules. That holds out the very real prospect that this most significant obstacle to regeneration might one day be therapeutically overcome. Spinal Research said:

"We now have a path, plan and timeline to take the enzyme chondroitinase to clinical trials. We plan two approaches to development, one by injecting the enzyme directly to the injury site, and the second by using gene therapy before delivery. Gene therapy has demonstrated the most effective results thus far, but it carries a greater number of uncertainties and thus concern for the regulatory authorities. We believe this parallel approach is therefore prudent and provides the greatest opportunity for success.

It’s obviously just one of our areas of work but it’s a huge step in the right direction and a good example how the funds you raise will help us reach clinical trials."

Fantastic to know!!

Sunday, 20 October 2013

PS..... target raised to £10,000

My fundraising has almost reached £7,500. Thanks very much everyone. I've raised the target again - now £10,000!!

Getting back to it

No long walk today. I got back to Singapore last weekend after 2 weeks in Turkey and the UK. Since then, I've had a spike in tightness and pain (jet lag and tiredness might be contributors), so it felt better to not push it too hard today. Instead, had a long gym session this morning. Lots of work on the connective tissue and muscle tightness, then to mobilize my pelvis (which felt beneficial), then 50 minutes on the treadmill - difficult in parts, but very good in others. Getting back to it! 5 weekends to go to race day!!

Sunday, 29 September 2013


Just 3 weeks after launching my fund raising, I have passed the £5,000 target. To all those who have donated so far .... you know, I'm sure, that the money will make a big difference to Spinal Research. You should also know how much your support is helping me. It's uplifting, motivating, energizing - even healing. Thank you. And sooooo ..... I've raised the target to £7,500. You made me do it!!!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Getting there....

7.66k today - new record, another 1k closer to the target. First 4k was tough going - messy gait, uncomfortable on the hills and with lots of people around. But the second half was better and the last 1k felt good. Encouraging! It was 30 degrees by the time I finished, after 2 hours 27 minutes walking - hot and tired by the end, but happy with the progress!!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Run Magazine

Run Magazine has published my story online. Hoping this will help swell the coffers for my fund raising (which are already swelling very nicely!!)

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Nudging ahead

Today's walk - nudged a bit further and longer. Felt like I'd gone further and faster, but this is ok. Last 2 weekend were cloudy, today was sunny, so good to know I can achieve this in the heat. Felt fairly strong towards the end too - more to come!! Added 20 mins in the pool afterwards, walking and jogging, to see how I'd respond to well over 2 hours exercise. Seems OK!! 

A few short clips from Friday morning's training session - going up and down a grassy hill behind the running track. I was doing this for 30 minutes! Followed by 30 minutes around the field inside the running track. I enjoyed the challenge - but my legs were burning by Friday night!

Friday, 13 September 2013

INSEAD inspire and be inspired

Last night I had the privilege of joining a panel of speakers on the subject of "Inspire & Be Inspired" at INSEAD - part of the Global INSEAD Day. Many thanks to INSEAD for inviting me along and making me very welcome, and to the many people with whom I had great conversations at the cocktail party afterwards. I really enjoyed myself! Here's a link to the event flyer

INSEAD Inspire & be Inspired

840 steps

After a few days in Seoul. back at the training this morning, at the running track with Swee.....mixing things up nicely. at one end of the track there's a set of 20 wide steps, with ramps coming down either side. This was my routine.....up 20 steps, down the ramp on one side, up 20 steps, down the ramp on the other side; repeat x 6, then do a 400m lap... and do all of that x3. That's 720 steps climbed, all done diagonally, which adds a new challenge for me. Step climbing was a bit mixed, but very happy with my walking down the slope (not normally a strong point) and around the track - some of which felt notably more relaxed, smoother and stronger than before. Happy with that!!

Hurtling towards £5000!!!

Wow - over £1300 donated to Spinal Research in the first 6 days. Thanks so much to all those who have donated so far

Sunday, 8 September 2013

My 10k Challenge - raising funds for Spinal Research

It's been over a year since I wrote to my group of fantastic supporters. You've given me a ton of support in the past, and I'm going to ask for your help again. This time, I'm asking you to support me in my next big challenge - a 10k walk in December - and to help me raise funds for research into therapies for spinal cord injuries.

I have signed up for the Standard Chartered 10k in Singapore on 1st December 2013.  That’s a very big challenge for me - almost double the longest distance I've walked so far, and likely to take me well over 3 hours.

Over the last year the tone and spasticity caused by my injury has has increased, exacerbated by stress from uncertainties and pressures in all aspects of my life. Now I also experience constant neuropathic pain. There have been times in the last 12 months when I have questioned whether my progress has stopped or even gone backwards. I've fallen a few times and sustained  a couple of injuries - nothing serious, but painful and a blow to my confidence. For such a long time my recovery rode on a crest of self assurance that I'd continue to get better. More recently, I've had to learn how to confront doubt and fear. 

But I've stuck at it, and beneath all the difficulty my belief that I'll be fine has stayed intact - tested and battered, but still strong. Over the last few weeks I've had a number of breakthroughs. Things are looking clearer and brighter again, and my confidence is coming back. Signing up for the 10k has helped, motivating me to get myself out walking further and more frequently, and providing a screamingly loud reminder of the benefits of setting goals. Last week, I walked almost 13k across the week, and this morning I did a 5.5k walk - both new records for me, by big margins.  

I know I am very lucky to be able to walk that far - in fact, to be able to walk at all, and to be fully functional and able to live independently. Most people with this injury never walk again and face a lifetime of serious medical complications and care dependency. 

Today, there is no cure for a spinal cord injury. But there has been progress and researchers are getting closer to therapies that would help restore function and transform the lives of paralysed people. I want to support that. I will be raising funds for Spinal Research, a UK based charity funding medical research around the world to develop reliable treatments for paralysis.

There's a partly selfish motive here - I live in the hope that science might find a therapy that resolves my remaining physical challenges. But I don't know whether that's on the horizon. What I do know is that the work being funded by Spinal Research - and others like them - is getting closer to treatments that will help restore some function and movement to spinal cord injured people. I'd like to help, and this is one way I can do it. 

Please support me in this, by donating to Spinal Research via my JustGiving page:

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity. 

If you want to follow my progress towards the race and on the day, please like my Facebook page

Thanks for helping. Wish me luck!