This has been the most exhilarating and humbling experience ever!
5 marathons in 5 days .. 132 miles of waddling from Ilfracombe to Bulford in 5 days with the most incredible, selfless, inspiring bunch of people.
This chunky munky overweight, underfit, working Mother of 2 of gorgeous children, can finally lay claim to being an endurance athlete of mind,body and soul.
A quote/statistic stolen reads -
Only 10% of nearly 300 participants over 3 years have completed all 5 stages, (132.5miles) of the "Forces March", I am VERY proud to now be a member of the very small group.I was also awarded the Sarah Byrant Trophy for most outstanding female
, presented by General Pascoe, the President of The Veterans Charity.I held it together and didn't cry at this point but my goodness did the flood gates open when it sank in
what I had achieved over the last 5 days, and indeed over the last two years. It is a very humbling experience to have received this award when everyone has been truly tested and as equally outstanding, if not more! Rita, aged 62, ran every day, and not once did she visit the physio, or grumble.. even when there was no vegetarian option on the first night! Alice with her latticed work K-tape that kept her bound to run another day despite such bruising and pain. Debbie who had her hip displaced from the constant running on cambers. Brenda, from USA, learned the art of Tabbing with Graham Povey, a baptisim of fire! Kaja who every day just got in there to do her run thing on just rice-refueling initially! She had some tough battles to overcome through positive focus and mindset. This account can go on for every individual. Everyone should have their hand on that award.
My strategy for the week was run/walk the event. I had trained hard for hills and really trained hard for the mental attitude of long slog days, so when the going got tough this Duck just got tougher.
The first 2 days I had many hours on my own marching through lanes with fast moving vehicles who paid little regard to pedestarians. I did a lot of hedge diving, and trying to not get caught too much in the right hand cambers!
My focus was to pick on a target ahead, pick up speed, over take. The team from RAF Odiham, nicknamed "My Boys" were always ahead. I could only over take when they took a rest stop with their support crew. I would then waddle through as quickly as possible to make it harder for them to catch up. Most of the time, they did. Just. The last 4 days I beat them back. In my mind, that was a huge powerful motivating factor and kept me powered. Yes, they were carrying 20kgs in their bergens and wearing those goddam awful military boots whilst I skipped through with my dinky Nathan Hydration pack with just 2 kilos of water and my duck gold bling asics! On the last 2 days I was able to overtake on the waddle... and they just couldn't up a gear to take over.
I should like to give them a special hip-hip-hooray for selflessly always looking out and caring for me by offering water, electrolytes, snicker bars, pieces of chicken.. anything to make sure I wasn't underfueled or dehydrated. It wasn't just about them, their team, but about everyone finishing safely. This was one big team effort with lots of cogs supporting the Forces march.
This photo is taken at the end when they presented me with a Golden Egg! How on earth did they source that months after Easter?!
The 5 days were filled with some extra adventures for me. The Duck seemed to attract a fourth dimension no one else experienced.
Firstly, I must thank Danny for finally plucking up the courage to allow me to wear my ducksuit. I think he though I was a gimmick initially, but hopefully I have proved my weight in gold that not only can some one physically and mentally take on this endurance event as a serious challenge up there with Everest Ascents, round the world solo sailing, Marathon Des Sable (oh, wait, we just done that from Ilfracombe to Bulford!), but you could also have some fun in fancy dress.
I wear the suit as part of my other charity work and challenges. The focus was always on The Veterans Charity this week and I attracted a lot of attention to be able to verbally express my dedication and admiration for this charity. The suit became my albatross almost as I said I would wear it every day. I had not imagined that after unseasonally wintry conditions the previous week, the thermometer would jump up a few thousand centrigrades and be so relentlessly hot! I did promise to not wear it if I felt my health was at risk. But I over came the heat and discomfort and just carried on regardless.
In fact, I was getting a little cheeky with my replies when asked "Aren't you hot in that?"! Erm ,yes..ducking hot!!! So I would humour people and say "It's OK, I have aircon"! Oh the looks on peoples faces! Especially those that believed and asked how was it powered? "Solar energy and kinetic energy from heel strikes with every step", was my answer. If there had been any more techncal questions I would have crumbled!!!
Day 1, mile 5, I had an encounter with a Jack Russell that took exception to a 6ft Duck invading his "space". I had seen him on a leash in his garden, held by his flag-waving owner. I gave the gateway a wide berth, but it's "Little man syndrome" still gave it the courage to lunge at me, and there was enough length on that lead, to make sure he nipped me in the ankle!
I was checked over by our marvelous St John's ambulance crew, a mile away when I realised I really could feel some "pain". There were 2 little slash marks where I think the JRT claws must have scratched down the sock and into the trainer. In just the wrong place to be rubbed raw! The JRT must have had a mouthful of feathers, so I got off quite lightly!
Day 2 I had an encounter with a dairy herd and an alpacca! The Alpacca had spotted me waddling along a road, and it was up on a hill. It must have got whip lash the way it's head came up suddenly from grazing, then strained forward to check me out. A split second later it came galloping down it's field, scooby-doo stopped at the 5ft hedge and spat at me. Quite a feat as it missed me by a foot and I was at least 20 feet away!
The dairy herd were being held back in their field by a piece of string. I was coming down a lane ready to turn left into another lane, where a Farmer was sitting in a tractor, on the corner. A member of the Navy was just in front and said to the farmer "Oh let me through, and there is a Duck behind"!
Not sure what thought processes were going in either of their heads but the farmer turned around, saw me, winked .. and just as I rounded him and the corner, and was adjacent some string and cows, the Farmer dropped the string. I was then in the middle of the Milk Run. 12 cows heavy with milk, bolting across the narrow lane from their field to the milking shed opposite. I stood still, not bothered by this little tease until I questioned why was I getting wet? I was being covered by milk spilling from heavy swaying udders! Oh, and a little something extra brown!
I had 2 miles to go and I was due to meet with the locals at Crowborough Station, although I missed the last steam train leaving. I was a tad smelly with the milk quickly going off on me!
The photo above is me coming in to the station, and I do hope Rob wasn't laughing at the Hum!
I did rinse the suit off when I got back to camp! I had left the suit to dry over night in the barn and hoped I wouldn't wake up to see it up a flag pole or worse! I actually woke up to hear the support crew quacking, and they were chatting to it as if I had lost weight and humouring me! Erm boys..when have I ever been that quiet or not replied? I am actually also quite surprised nothing worse ever happened to the Duck, or the Ducksuit...especially in the middle of the night!
Another incident involved a talking hedge. Long story cut short, I was singing. I didn't dare put my ipod on as I needed to keep an ear out for the traffic from front and back! So I amused myself by singing and making up songs. This Hedge added in some extra lines as I sang the Yodelling song from the Sound of Music! The voice belonged to an invisible some one at the allotment!
I also made a pig jump out of it's skin when I "quacked" and it looked up.
I had my bluff called by Danny on day 4 when I was at the front of the queue to head out from the leisure park. I jovially said did he want to give everyone (the runners all queued up) a head start on me, and let them go first?
Danny said, "Let's give the Duck a count down to get away first, and ahead of you all..."!
After 5, I ran up the village. I was surprised I was ahead for so long. Did he give me a half hour head start? The poor horse trotting down the street towards me really didn't know what to make of the yellow spectacle moving quickly towards him! So he skidded sideways to a stop and reared! Luckily his owner stayed seated, laughed and thanked me for sidling past quietly!
So, 5 days of the most fantastic scenery and challenges. I know there were a lot of hills, and some very very tough hills, long roads, and some very very long roads. I kept to the positive outlook that I was traversing from A to B and occasionally the incline changed. Mind over matter.
I thought cooling thoughts whilst I became a boil-in-the-bag Duck in such heat.
In my head I constantly thanked Adam, Chris, Lauren and all the Physios for their strapping of my blisters so I could march another day.
I sang songs to keep up my morale - 6 RAF Squaddies marching on the road..and if 1 RAF squaddie should accidentally fall... (yes only 2 made the last day ;0) )
5 days of being looked after by the most excellent support crew, and in particular, Sarah, Ross, Porky, Danny (RAF) and the Navy Driver.
5 days in the company of initially strangers, but now people I would happily call my extended family, I feel quite priveleged to have been a part of this character building, awe inspiring endurance challenge. I had some great chats with Paul, Pete, Graham and Andy, who I did spend a deal of time walking with, at different times. But I don't want to single out any one person who really made this all so much more "do-able". Although Ross gets a special mention for making a poached egg without a ladle, just 2 wooden teaspoons! Plus Dan, who upon hearing about my hallucinations of Chucky The Clown bringing me a box of maltesers whilst camped in Cow Pat Field, went out and bought me a bag. Heroes!
2 years ago I signed up to do something quite fantastic to prove my doubting Thomases wrong. I was hoping to do the North Pole Race. The £25,000 entrance fee crushed that dream. I have no inclination to ever need to chase that dream, or regret I couldn't do it, as I did something far more challenging. I did the Forces March. Will I do it again? Oh yes, because still my husband has not voluntarily said he's proud of me. He acknowledges the endeavour but just the words have not been uttered. Perhaps he will learn to say it to stop me signing up for a third ;0)
I know my kids, Mother, sisters, friends and work colleagues are proud of me. But equally important, I have finally learned to recognise my achievement and be proud of myself.
The Forces March 2012. The most wonderful people, ever! Thankyou
Reminders and awards of the most incredible personal and physical journey - the Sarah Byrant Trophy, the Forces March medal, Gold Foil (all that is left of the Golden Egg), Champagne to celebrate and a Ducksuit and Hat to Treasure
Life is a funny ol' show.
So many twists and turns.
I have known I have felt like an empty shell for a few years. Wasn't quite sure what form I should take.
I have been lost in a few quotes, people, ideals, challenges and quests.
Essentially I should be grateful with my lot that I have loving and kind husband (despite our differences) and two beautiful happy inspiring children. What more could I want?
Well I am mostly a greedy materialistic person who thinks the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Yesterday I realised that not all of that is necessary. That a lot of the experiences of the past few years have hindered not nurtured me.
I am taking note of some pearls of wisdom I preached to a new friend. Stop letting the dust settle on me and suffocate what is the real me. Stop searching for words and quotes that will prophesise or fulfill.
I have a heart of gold but feel I am underloved, undervalued and unappreciated. Ok, kick butt and resolve.
I have been seeking what I need in the wrong corners, and most of the time the answer has been there in front of me. But I have overlooked it, undervalued it and unappreciated it in my selfish search for more of what I can't have or think I need.
Yes, riddles and rhymes here.
I have blamed my past for things I don't have or I am not. Well, let's unburden me of that negative albatross and set me on a path which makes that history fade and become inconsequential.
The quote above is that destiny. The path will be walked,run skipped and/or jumped, hand in hand, with true dear friends who also share my passion for charity, living, living life to the full, and sharing it with those that care. We nurture and support each other and become stronger for others.
I am Me; I am what I create myself to be, not what I was born to be. I am Me because of You. You are the true friend who stands by me to support me with critique, hugs, humour, tears, comfort, teamwork and unconditional friendship. And it is shared and valued both ways.
People have walked into my life for a variety of reasons. Some for selfish gain, some for misguided reasons.. but most don't stay because they can't give a quality unconditonal friendship both ways.
If You have stayed then it's You I should like to hug and thank for being there. Let's enjoy our journeys together.
I have left behind the empty shell. I am addressing my issues, my problems, my skeletons.
Today I become the real Me.
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I came across another "invisible illness" today.Polymyalgia - poly-many, my-muscle, algia-pain = many muscle pain
s.How do doctors know all the differences and different names? How can you treat so many chronic illnesses with so many overlaps.Google to the reach and in lay man terms I shall do my best to educate you.Polymyalgia -
Under the umbrella of arthritis are more than 100 different types of arthritis, some more common than others. A rarer form of arthritis is called Polymyalgia Rheumatica, which affects the muscles rather than the bones. In Polymyalgia the joints or bones will not be affected but instead the muscles will become sore, tender and inflammation will cause them to be stiff. The common areas affected are the lower back, thighs, hips, shoulders and the muscles of the neck. Some sources attribute the pain due to the swelling of blood vessels in muscles.
Symptoms can include severe stiffness and pain located in the muscles, but there should be no associated weakness just pain. The pain is found in the thighs, hips, lower back, shoulders and neck. Accompaining the pain can be low energy, fatigue, sweating at night, slight fever and loss of appetite. Also commonly associated are anemia and depression. The onset is often in the 5th decade of life and more common in females.
A condition that is often associated with polymyalgia rheumatic is giant cell arthritis. The arteries of the temple area of the head start to narrow and can become occluded, this can affect vision. This is usually in people over 50 years of age and affects both male and female.
Some early warning signs of giant cell arthritis include the skin around the forehead and temple area become swollen, the blood vessels in temple area becoming visibly swollen, visual disturbances like blurred vision or blind spots, and discomfort with chewing movements of the jaw.
The cause of the disease is not really understood. There may be a genetic component but lifestyle factors have been heavily implicated. Most people can recall a preceding stressful period or event before the onset of the disease.Symptoms
- People with fibromyalgia have widespread muscle pain and "tender points" on various parts of the body. Many will also have problems such as sleep difficulties, IBS, headaches and cognitive issues. Polymyalgia also presents pain throughout the body, but there is more stiffness and flu-like symptoms.
- The only drug currently approved for fibromyalgia is Lyrica (american sourced fact), but the condition is also treated with anti-depressants and painkillers. Since polymyalgia involves inflammation, it is often treated with non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If the symptoms continue or become more severe, corticosteroids are prescribed.
- Fibromyalgia is found to occur in more than one member of the family, and the large majority of patients are women. Polymyalgia patients are rarely younger than 50; the average age when the condition presents itself is 70.
- Fibromyalgia is most often a permanent condition, though symptoms may improve for a period of time. Polymyalgia usually goes away completely, usually within a year or two.
- There is no danger of fatal complications from fibromyalgia. In a small percentage of patients, people with polymyalgia can develop giant cell arteritis, a dangerous condition that involves inflammation of the arteries that supply the head with blood.
More information can be obtained from Polymyalgia rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteris UK PMRHCAuk
Other chronic illnesses are Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
(ME) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Lupus, Crohns,
Today is May 12th which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale who has been thought to have fibromyalgia and / or ME. This was one of the main reasons for today becoming International Fibromyalgia Awareness
day. It is a day that support groups and people with fibromyalgia around the globe come together to raise awareness of fibromyalia. Working together like this does and will make a difference for our tomorrow's.
Raise awareness today by talking to people about your fibromyalgia. Friends, workmates and strangers on the street are all people that could learn more about how we cope with this debilitating condition from day to day.
If you are on Twitter you could join others by using #fibro or #fibromyalgia hashtags or changing your status to tell people that it is International Fibromyalgia Awareness day.
For Awareness day we wanted to create something new. We have a challenge for you this year, it's one everyone can do, even from your bed.
The 'Because I want to'
campaign is born.
Since getting Fibromyalgia we all have something we used to love doing but due to our health we are no longer able to do it. The challenge is to get as many people as possible to join in. Your families, friends and workmates can also join in.
We want you to print off a copy of our poster, in the space provided please write the one thing you'd really love to be able to do again. Friends, family, workmates can write what they want to see you doing again.
You can be standing up, sitting down or laying in bed. You can be dressed in a super hero costume or still in your pj's, it really doesn't matter.
Then get someone to take a photo of you holding your poster. Upload your poster to Twitter or Facebook and tweet/share the slogan that's on your poster. Don't worry, we'll give you full, easy to follow instructions further down. We are raising £26,000 for research into fibromyalgia. Currently there is no research being done into the cause let alone the cure.
There are no charities lobbying for medical companies or medical professionals to start that research. There are many charities providing invaluable support and documents for those with fibromyalgia or those needing guidance and education. Fibroduck Foundation
has put together many resources to supplement that support but, more importantly, we will fundraise and campaign for research.Read Claire's story and you will understand why this is research must happen.
She has been robbed of her original life but started a new with many challenges because of her illness. Living with an "invisible illness" is a mental battle too. There are no clues such as a wheelchair, crutches, hearing aid, white stick for you to know she has a disability. Yet she has to make apologies for her lack of stamina, constant fatigue and pain, to be able to do or complete the most basic of of chores, let alone earn a living. "I support Fibromyalgia research because I want to see you smile and make no apology"For those who have no printer access:
Send us a pre paid stamped addresses envelope and we'll send you back a poster:
Fibroduck Foundation Po Box 575, Kemp House, 152-160 City Road, London, EC1V 2NXInstructions:
1) Download our A4 sized poster free from our store, then print off a copy. http://shop.fibroduckfoundation.com//index.php?route=product/product&product_id=74
2) In the space provided on the poster, fill in what you'd like to say. Then ask someone to take a photo of you holding your poster.
If you can manage to get your fibroduck in on the photo as well, then we can use the photos on both websites. Then:Twitter:
Attach your photo to a tweet, then add this wording to the tweet box:
I support @FibroduckFound + #Fibro research- because I want to .......... (fill in with the same words you put on your poster) #spoonies #may12th #fibroduck www.fibroduckfoundation.com
Please use the whole tweet and see if we can get trending again whilst raising awareness worldwide. Facebook:
Post your photos to our walls and attach the following wording to the photo:
I support the Fibroduck Foundation and UK Fibromyalgia research. Because I want to ................ (fill in with the same words you put on your poster) ) #spoonies #may12th #@FibroduckFoundation www.fibroduckfoundation.com
You can start sending in your photos now. This campaign will continue running once awareness day is over, we hope many people will join in to help us show exactly why we need research here in the UK. Happy May 12th Fibroduck Team