On Mothering Sunday, 18th March, 2012, I forfeited my Mothering Sunday Lie in and pampering to do a 42 mile walk for charity, in under twelve hours.Steve Blethyn, a fellow Reading Adventurer, had done this walk a few years ago at night time, but decided to do it day time for a work colleague, diagnosed with Lupus. He spoke of this walk on our previous Quackathon and remembered him refering to walking the A4 as "souless and destroying"! So, I thought I would keep him company, and do what I do best- waddle long distance, raise the profile and awareness of another dreadfull illness. Lupus UK
isn't one of my Super Six
charities but I strongly believe in championing all causes. Time isn't always so readily given, like donations. Equally as important.My dear husband kindly got up at 3.30am to drive us to Buckingham palace, where our walk would start. Sadly, Neither the Queen or Prince Phillip came out with tea and bacon rolls, so after a few photos, we set off West.
The sun was our backs and a fresh light wind in our face.At this point I shall mention the weather and my pack. The weather did stay dry, with just a couple of scary black clouds to tease us. Only a few spots of rain in the wind at Windsor and Twyford.
I used my new nathan Elite pack which I am using for all my running events. Very light weight and fits snuggly into the back. I had just two litres of water made up as an Orbana
energy drink. I had two nak'd
bars, three 9seed bars, one Viper Boost bar, one Maximuscle protein bar, three Optima Sports jellies and Gummy Bears (which I ditched as hated them). I stole a cheese sandwich from Steve as I was craving something savoury! This light pack fueled me adequately and I certainly had enough energy to go some extra miles. Good training for my Forces March
!The walk itself was quite uneventful. The A4 was indeed long and blooming noisy! We could alomost touch the bellies of those airplanes when we were under the incoming flight path! Just past Hounslow I heard a strange bird noise. Thought it was a very cross magpie but no, it was a green parakeet! Thankfully it landed in a nearby tree for Steve to also see it and know I wasn't high on aviation fuel! We saw another one a few minutes later. Tropical times!Hysteria must have kicked in at 12 miles as we came across a hilaroius billboard advertising Hot Dogs. It read "Dong Dong! 12" long" I then spent a few minutes trying to get a photo of Steve lined up inappropriately next to it in a "bragging pose". This amused the traffic. I was close to corpsing and rendered useless momentarily. I then used Fibroduck for the pose. Much easier (and co-operative).At mile 16, after Heathrow Airport, we had a pitstop at Macdonalds
. Steve devoured a cheeseburger, I just had a hot chocolate. Oh, and "powdered my nose". The Manager came over to ask about our dress sense. I should explain here that we both wore Lupus UK t-shirts. But I had added some butterfly wings to myself and to the small duck on my hi-viz hat (that lit up). I also had hi-viz long sleeves under my Lupus t-shirt. I attracted a lot of attention. The Butterflies
are symbolic to Lupus. The Manager asked what were doing so I explained we were doing a long walk for charity. I am glad I didn't launch into a monologue as her reply was "I am getting my visa extended with Immigration tomorrow". Ok, time to go...Our next section was a little grim walking through to Windsor via Datchet. There is a lot of rubbish in the verges which was quite sad.
In other countries the rubbish is hauled out regularly. It was a real eye sore and a sad reflection upon the state of our country. This beautiful country side is also right next to the gate way of entry into England, Heathrow, and on the doorstep of our Monarch's residence.We greeted Windsor in a noisy fashion as this marked our half way point, both in time and distance. I had lost my little
Fibroduck so sadly I couldn't do any poses with it. So I had to stand in front of the great Gates. A lot of time was lost here as we waited for a journalist to show. One cheese sandwich later and after a row of compeed plasters were added to my right foot, we set off, as she didn't appear. We walked against a tidal wave of people out enjoying the beauiful spring day, and probably celebrating Mother's Day. One family did give us some loose change when they read our t-shirts, explaining they knew of Lupus and that it had affected a great friend quite badly. spurred on with this reminder of what we were doing we sped on t make up lost time.The section through to Twyford was a little fraught as there were no paths. The lanes had a lot of bends, and a lot of bumpy verges that hurt my tender blistered feet. One blister had popped and was agonising for five minutes. Time for a couple of Nurofen.
The signs out of Windsor had said that Twyford was only ten miles away. Excellent. So off we shot. However, after a few more signs, and a garmin check of distance, even after five miles, the signs started to lie. Twyford was eight miles away! Then for about another three miles it was always "Four miles" away. Gave up believing in the signs after that!I was thankful for my hi-viz colours as the fast moving traffic really did make me feel quite vunerable.
Steve and I had been tweeting on the hoof but it was too dangerous on this section.It was also at this point, and after a couple of Monster Energy drinks that Steve launched into the Shrek scripts of Donkey and Shrek, starting with "Are We nearly there??" Already dodging traffic, I was again rendered useless, and dangerous, as I laughed and fell off verges into oncoming traffic! Which made me laugh even more!Also enjoyed the oppulence of the country side. Huge houses with massive walls hiding shiny expensive cars and horses. Most of them had stable blocks as well as double garages. Heard some unusual noises and then came across a Drag Hunt. Everyone quite resplendant in their red jackets with shiny buttons. Very Sundayish. The hounds were baying and the squirrels were hiding in trees over head.
I nervously walked past hoping no one could see my hi-viz duck. Steve increased his pace and left me for dust.Finally, at thirty four miles we arrived in
Twyford. Steve bolted into a shop for some much need liquids. Thankfully no more energy drinks. Shrek, Donkey AND Elma Fudd could be quietened down with a litre of Mountain Dew! We were joined by two pairs of fresh legs to walk the final stretch of eight miles into Reading by Darren and Shelli. They are both keen walkers and runners and getting their mileage in the for the 2012miles in 2012 effort on Facebook
. It was good to have some new conversation and different backs to look at. I had another couple of nurofen to ease the blister pain situation. The left foot had no compeed and was hurting. Just walked through it as mind over matter. They did finally pop at the fortieth mile. Major ouch! Dusk was upon us and I was ravenous. My left hamstring was tightening up. I had the daft notion that running would be a more comfortable option. I apologised to all for breaking into a light jog and assured them I wasn't showing off, just using different muscle groups. I was also landing on my blisters at a different angle and they were on the ground for shorter time! It was truly more comfortable! I ran the last five miles..oh get me! Running Duck after walking thirty seven miles!We were over taken going up Southampton Street by my husband driving to collect us from the Madjeski stadium. He offered us a lift but it was declined..of course! The Tease! My son was looking quite gobsmacked to see me running!
I had one of those out of body experiences. yes it must have looked odd - threee walkers and a running duck heading up the section of Reading half Marathon's course, two weeks early, at dusk.Finally, we approached the Madjeski stadium. What a sight. Steve works at a local school and the Welcoming Committe were children and parents from there. With a lot of cheering and applause we went to touch the walls of the stadium and turn for our photos. Magic moment.Time for home. A quick detour to drop Darren and Shelli off at Reading station, then home.despite being hungry I was actually too tired to eat. I managed a protein shake, two slices of toast with peanut butter and a yoghurt.
A warm bath, then bed! and oh boy, how I slept!Monday was a day of rest and recovery. I had removed the compeeds in the bath so they blisters could dry and heal in fresh air. I had to pop and drain them again, plus bathe them. The tightness in my left hamstring was massaged and stretched though out the day. I walk
ed to the shops and did a small dog walk. I just kept moving to easeout those hardworking ligaments and muscles. the best way to recover. I slept a lot and drank a lot. But still not overly hungry. I also wore my compression tights all day. Ankles kept ballooning so I spent a lot of time with my feet up the wall! The hunger kicked in on Tuesday!So, there ends my little ramble about a long walk for charity. I have spared you a lot of the thoughts that
I had. But suffice to say...more adventures and ideas may come to fruition over the next few months!Thankyou to Steve for allowing me to keep him company. Thankyou
to my husband for the lift to London and picking me up. Thankyou to my children for letting me disappear on the day they wanted to spoil me. A big thankyou to all of those who donated, retweeted and replied to our tweets, to high profile our walk and raise the awareness of Lupus. The biggest Thankyou is to all of you who continually show your support and friendship. Text a donation to LUPU55 £1 to 70070 or Just Giving Page.flagship blog
Our route and stats
Whilst I am out running or walking my mind wanders. Quite often I think about what will happen when I have done my last charity run, which is the Great South Run in October, 2012. I don't want the Rambling Duck to fade away, but I also need a break from the pressures of fundraising,etc.2012 is my year for fundraising and raising the profile of my Super6 Charities.It takes a lot of time to train, raise the profile and fundraise for each of the six, or even just one.
I am lucky that I don't start work until 3pm so I have all morning to fit in my chores, admin, charity networking and essential social networking. But this all does have an impact on my family and work.In a discussion with a friend, Wendy Shaw, she mentioned how she helps a blind runner in marathons. My ears pricked up and brain went into overdrive. Now, when I hear some thing I like, and that I really, really like, my passion
ate compulsive nature takes over.Over the weekend I have done some research on what it takes to be a Running Buddy for a visually impaired, blind or disabled person. I have now come full circle, and will share with you an article that really says it all, and so I have simply copied it in it's entirety. Full credits at the bottom.
I just could have written it any better so bow to plagurism of sorts.I am learning to love running. I need to run to keep fitness and weight in check. But that isn't enough. I always there to be more to why I do things. Everything I do must help some one else.So this new focus seems a perfect answer. I have already contacted The RNIB, my local Blind Association, and through twitter have chatted with a few helpful people. One of whom is a blind runner who does ultramarathons, Simon Wheatcroft. Over the coming months I am hoping to meet and run with Simon to learn the ropes, so to speak, plus get involved with a few runners. I am now on a few databases for anyone looking for a Running Guide, including www.joggingbuddy.com,
If you enjoy running, and it's not all about personal bests and winning, why not think about being a Running Guide too?Also, check out what Simon is doing! He really is quite amazing, and not letting his disability hinder or slow him down in lfe, literally!This will be a twice-blessed pleasure to run if helping others, and myself to keep my weight off and fit n healthy!This is what it is all about - from Jogging Buddy.comFROM A GUIDE RUNNER’S PERSPECTIVE Initial Feelings:-
If you are considering guiding a runner who is blind or visually impaired it is usual to feel apprehensive and doubt that you can do it. Don’t worry! This is understandable and shows that you care and don’t want any accidents or mishaps to happen. It is better to be apprehensive and careful than arrogant and unsafe. If you think you can be of assistance, speak to the visually impaired/blind person. Let them know that if they require assistance or guiding, you are willing to give it a go. Be honest with the person and talk to them about any worries or concerns you have about guide running. The guided runner may also have some anxieties. It is important that you do not feel obligated to guide. If you do not want to undertake guide running, then don’t do it. You can still be the person’s friend, it is not a friendship issue, it is a practical and confidence issue. It might be helpful to you as a guide runner to ask the person if they have any sight. Most people who are registered blind have some sight, for example, they may be able to see shapes, or might have some light or dark perception. Although it is good to observe how other people guide, it is important that you and the guided runner find your own way of working together. Don’t try to guide like someone else – just be yourself! Helpful Advice:-
- Take it easy to start with in terms of time out running, distance and pace.
- Communication is key, keep talking throughout the run.
- Have belief in each other.
Try different methods of ‘connecting’, for example using a running rope with knots at each end, held lightly by each runner. Use ropes of differing materials, lengths and widths until you find the best solutio Consider the language you use to describe terrain, obstacles or passing other runners for example terrain, bumpy, uneven, rough, obstacles, dog off-lead, over-hanging branch, passing another runner, pass left or pass right, depending on which side you pass the other runner. Be consistent with your language for example, distance in meters, angle of a turn, for example, 90 degrees left or 45 degrees right, incline or decline, navigating a curb - 1,2,3 up or
3,2,1 up. Dropped curbs make it much easier to move from the road to the pavement and vice-versa, helpful when running at a fast pace. Some runners may find it difficult to direct or be directed, left or right, an alternative is to use ‘my side’ and ‘your side’. When running with a rope, it quickly becomes apparent if a mistake is made as the rope will loosen or tighten. Initially, take another runner with you to watch out for traffic, terrain and potential hazards, for example, dogs off-leads and cyclists. Once you are familiar with each other and running routes, the need for another runner may decrease. Try to involve other runners in guide running, as the more guide runners available enable visually impaired runners to run while a key guide is unavailable, injured or ill. Encourage potential guide runners to shadow you while you run. This will enable them to observe the techniques and communication between you and the visually impaired runner. Try to describe the surroundings when running, this is important when running a new route or during a long race, such as a marathon. Descriptions create a picture for a runner with no or limited eyesight. Some visually impaired runners with some residual vision may prefer to run untethered with their guide runner. Try running initially on cycle paths, they tend to have smooth surfaces and limited obstacles to navigate. Although you do need to be mindful and observant of hazards such as bollards, pot holes or wet leaves and muddy slip hazards, you also need to be mindful of other cycle path users, cyclists, walkers and dog walkers as they may not expect or anticipate that when they see two runners running side by side that one of them is blind or visually impaired. If you are unsure if there is enough space for two runners to run past an obstacle, it is better to stop and walk past rather than risk potential injury. If you spot a potential hazard, it is helpful to give the visually impaired runner prior warning, especially if you might have to stop suddenly to avoid for instance, a dog off the leash, cyclists or small children running around. All runners fall from time to time. If the guided runner falls or stumbles it goes with the territory! It is always helpful if you both reflect on anything you can or could do to minimise the risk of a fall. When running on a hilly route, it is helpful to tell the visually impaired runner that you are approaching a hilly section, approximately how long the hill goes on for. When running up a hill it is helpful to indicate the halfway point and approaching the top of the hill. Windy weather or heavy traffic noise can make communication difficult. In these circumstances, try using short instructions or commands. Talk about your running goals for the year and plan in advance the events you would like to participate in. Having a number of runners prepared to guide will enable visually impaired and sighted runners to pursue their goals. Race preparation:-
Although it is easier to run the same few training routes, try to go somewhere completely different on occasion as it is good practice for any race you may wish to enter. If possible in a race, try to have run the route on at least one previous occasion. If this is not possible, arrive in plenty of time to practice the first few hundred meters, as the start will be crowded and for this reason, difficult to navigate. Prior to racing, try to run with as many people as possible around you from your club, or take part in your club’s 5K time trial to become accustomed to running in crowded conditions, running at a strong pace. Be prepared for the unexpected, another runner pulling up short in front of you, or overtaking then slowing down in front of you. Think of quick instructions in these circumstances, agreed between you and the visually impaired runner, for example, stop, slow.
At the end of the race, the visually impaired runner must cross the finish line in front of the guide runner
. If the guide crosses the line first, both runners will be disqualified. At the end of the race, you remain in a guiding role. You should guide the visually impaired runner through the finish area. FROM A BLIND RUNNER’S PERSPECTIVE
Running with a guide is a learning curve for both parties, remain open-minded and be willing to try different instructions, running ropes, routes and terrains. For totally blind runners, initially the motion of running might make you feel nauseated, this will disappear as your body and brain get used to running and your fitness level increases. Always be honest with your guide runner. If the pace is too fast or too slow, you feel unwell or uncomfortable during a run, share this information as soon as possible. It is easy to become comfortable running with the same key guides, you get to know each other well and are familiar with the instructions you require. It is important to encourage as many other runners to run with you. Be prepared to try running with new guides to give people the opportunity to try guide running and determine if it is for them or not. Be clear with new guide runners about the information you require while running, keep it straightforward and consistent. Runners and guide runners support each other while running, it is important to reciprocate encouragement and support. Races or long runs:-
Always take an accessible mobile phone with you on a long run or during a long race. This will enable you to request assistance should the necessity arise during a long run and at the end of a race event or marathon will enable you to locate and meet up with your friends or family. During a long training run or marathon, for those of us with no eyesight there is little to distract you if you start to feel fatigued. Try to distract yourself by focusing on sounds, and smells around you, or focus on positive self-talk, for instance, focus on crossing the finish line, the medal at the end, a bubble bath or shower when you get back to your hotel! During a race it is easy to become distracted by other runners breathing, especially where breathing sounds laboured. If this starts to affect you, for instance you start to feel tired, try to kick away from them or drown out the breathing by focusing on other sounds around you, think about a song or piece of music that you like and play it in your head. As you might have guessed IPods and MP3 players are not great running aids for visually impaired people! In races where other runners are wearing headphones, it can make it difficult to make them aware of your presence behind them, particularly where you want to pass them on a narrow stretch. When crossing the finish line in a race, the visually impaired runner must cross the line ahead of the sighted guide
. If the guide runner crosses the line first, both runners will be disqualified. When entering races, ask organisers for a discount for your guide runner, especially if they do not want a medal or t-shirt. Most races accommodate this request. Charity events, understandably cannot always offer discounted places. Arrive at race events in plenty of time, to get your numbers and get your bearings. Make other runners aware of your presence. Try to be understanding of other runners especially at race events if they do not anticipate the participation of a blind runner. By taking part you raise the profile of blind people’s participation in sport – it’s a learning curve for everyone involved. Most importantly enjoy running! Conclusion:-
When guiding a blind runner you will get better as you do it and remember that the blind runner is a person, with their own family and life drama’s, personal bests, etc. It is also important to have your own goals as a runner and never feel obliged to guide. The guide runner will not expect you to guide them all the time. You may read this and think it’s very complicated but this is not the case. Tying shoe laces is easy, explaining how you do it is far harder! Running with a guide runner is a great way of getting to know people and make friends! The loneliness of a long distance runner doesn’t apply!
Having a guide runner with you around a marathon route is just a fantastic opportunity to take part in and enjoy various running events. The camaraderie from other runners, particularly during marathons is just brilliant! Visual impairment or blindness is not a barrier to participate in sport – it’s a great opportunity to take part in sport in a way that works for you! Kind thanks to - Hazel McFarlane would like to thank Anne Noble and Graeme McKenzie for their invaluable input to the development of this Guide.http://www.joggingbuddy.com/running_advice/become-a-running-guide-for-blind-runners