New Year

Happy New Year all..

Theres not been much here from me but that doesn’t mean nothing has happened. 

Only a couple of weeks after my last post I lost my Dad. He had suffered with Alzheimer’s for the last 6 years and the last 12 months or so had seen a noticeable deterioration in his health.

I had a call from the care home on a friday morning, he was entering the ‘end of life stage’ and was prescribed an autoinjector to help control the pain he was clearly in. He clung on til the Saturday evening. Watching my Dad fight for breath for 24 hours was a heartbreaking final blow from a disease I have come to hate.

His passing was more a relief than my Mums, only from the fact that he was no longer suffering.

The run up to a second Christmas was consumed with funeral arrangements. Dad died one year and two days after my Mum.. their funerals shared the same date.

Alongside the loss of my Dad I had got a new job, I certainly don’t make it easy for myself, but my new role will involve far more travelling but the bonus of working from home.

The concept of working from home is new to me and the first few days saw me glued to my chair, I now realise the disadvatage of no company during the day is offset by the freedom to run errands, or, just run.

Plenty going on then but little riding or running so far, I’m doing Wentood next month and 24/12 in July so there things to train for.

Let’s hope I can be more consistent this year

Nadal Nil Zilch

“No one wins at spin.. except spin”

Rex wrly commented as I dismounted, wobbly legged from the spin bike which had spent the previous 45 minutes torturing me.  it’s safe to say that 2016 has failed to meet the expectations I had for it.  With only a month of the year left it’s time to cut my losses and begin focusing on a solution during 2017.

At work I’ve talked a lot about the concept of compound performance.. a bastardised version of Team Skys Marginal Gains.

The premise is simple, improvements are best affected by doing simple, small things consistently. 

Cumulatively this will take you a long way from where you started.

That’s my new mantra.. the big gestures don’t work for me.. Ten 4 Ten, whilst raising a large amount of money for a brilliant cause has left me unable to exercise thanks to concern over my achilles.

Last night’s spin session was the first real training I’ve had from nearly three months. 

I know I’m unfit, but yesterday I took the first, small step.. now I need to take the second . 

Longevity 

I’m 40 next year.

With that depressing realisation comes an understanding that I need to start looking after myself a little better.

Take my approach  (or lack thereof) to a warm up and cool down routine. Until now I’ve been living off the work done as a younger chap in terms of flexibility and recovery.

The lack of stretching and core exercises is not an issue (so I convince myself) if I run or ride a few times a week.

The Ten4Ten though exposed this for the fallacy it is. Achilles pain and stiffness through my calves and pelvis has continued and grown in discomfort to the point where walking became painful.

I made an appointment with a local physio who diagnosed a tight pelvis that ‘hitched rather than rotated’ and an achilles that is just the right side of going bang.

Whilst her professional facade never slipped, I could tell that my responses to her questions over how I look after myself left her less than impressed.  Effectively being told that a man of my age should know better or had better learn unless he wanted to being seeing an awful lot more of her in the coming years was a good enough wake up call.

Whilst about as mechanically minded as a pebble, even I understand that preventative maintenance is far cheaper, quicker and effective than reactive. 

Lincoln said that given 6 hours to cut a tree down he’d spend 5 sharpening the axe. That makes sense to me..

So, what do you do in terms of preventative maintenance? How do you ensure you look after yourself today for a better tomorrow?

Ten 4 Ten – Looking Back

Alzheimers..

Ten 4 Ten starts and ends with Alzheimers.

Defined on the Wikipedia site as “..a chronic neurodegenerative disease that usually starts slowly and gets worse over time” it has been a part of my family since 2010.

2010 was when my Dad was diagnosed, although as a family we knew something wasn’t right for a few years before that.  The last time I remember my Dad being My Dad was in late 2008 at my Wedding, although even then he seemed somewhat quieter and a little distant.

For three years, up until 2013, Mum cared for Dad at home, sucking up the increasingly demanding behaviour and personality changes in the way that only a spouse of 40 years can.  We offered support, but I was working away during the week and we had one small child and another on the way.  That distance kept us from realising the toll looking after my Dad was taking on Mum though.  September of 2013 saw Mum admitted to hospital as the Cancer she had been clear of reappeared and ravaged her.  With no alternative and our immediate concern Mum, we managed to get Dad admitted to Respite Care.

Respite.  Let me take the chance to give you another dictionary definition; “a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant”.

Physically maybe, psychologically however, it’s just another form of guilt to beat yourself up with.. especially as a family member telling white lies and in an assuring voice to a confused parent that it’s just a little trip.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but for many months after Dad was admitted I didn’t visit.. for a while this was explained by Mum being my priority.  A truth, but deep-down I was scared of visiting Dad.  Eventually it almost seemed like so much time had passed I couldn’t go in, a stranger not a Son to see my Dad.

We did visit though, shocked by the change that we saw, a shrunken, pocket sized version of the man known to me previously, those beautiful blue eyes I remember dulled and empty.

Each week I left the care home with tear filled eyes, cursing the cruelty of my Dad’s failing brain and spinning with hopelessness.

I lost my Mum in late 2015.. I was an unashamed Mum’s boy, our relationship strong and close, I adored her deeply, with her loss I felt the responsibility of my Dad pass to me, more than a legal document and a bank account.

As a relative of someone in care it is difficult to feel useful.. Whilst at home washing, cleaning and day trips are possible but as the disease grips tighter, mobility is lost and the care becomes more technical and trying to help would achieve nothing more than obstructing a true professional in their job.

My Dad has just had his 83rd birthday, he had not spoken for a long time, not recognised me for longer and has now lost all mobility. He had to be moved every two hours throughout the night to prevent bed sores, his water must be thickened to prevent him choking and has a diet of pureed food.. now, instead of cursing the cruelty of his brain, I hate his body for keeping him alive with no discernible quality of life.

Frustration, anger and despair are, generally internalised or shared with my wife, but this year I joined the Alzheimers Research UK Facebook group.  It’s easy to slip in overused phrases but I felt a relief at seeing others with similar experiences.  Whilst I didn’t post, I felt support through reading the messages of others.

Whilst on holiday, I noticed an advert that mentioned a campaign that Alzheimers Research UK was running.  It was called Running Down Dementia, the challenge was to run 100km over the summer of 2016 and raise £100 in the process.

I don’t usually go for charity stuff, I feel uneasy asking for sponsorship for something that I would normally do during training or would consider fun.

The Running Down Dementia idea wouldn’t go away though, I kept mulling it over, it was due to run until the end of October.. my Dads birthday was September.. 100km..

Doing 10km is not a challenge, I’ve raised that a few times this year,but 100km would be tough to train for in the time available, by the time I was fit enough to do, I’d probably revert to my normal thoughts of “How can I ask for sponsorship I will enjoy doing?”.

Ten4Ten.. the name came to mind during an early morning holiday run, the wild coastline of Cornwall seemed to inspire me.. over a few days the idea solidified and I spoke about it to Kate.  I decided to start running 10km every day for 10 consecutive days, beginning on my birthday.  Even during my half marathon days, I wouldn’t run 100km in such a short period of time.

This was something that would challenge me, I had done the 22 pushup challenge and had filmed a few of them, the natural progression of the the challenge was to take my Go-Pro along and film the runs, maybe talk about my experiences along the way.

The day before Dads birthday I set up a Justgiving webpage and announced my intensions on Facebook.

By the time I laced my trainers for the first time I had over £100 in sponsorship.  The first day was great, 10 km is a good distance and I had quite a few things I wanted to say.  After a few days I was starting to get into things and really enjoying the filming / editing process.  It took a fair amount of time due to my lack of practice, but it was still great as a learning opportunity

By the end of the week I was shuffling not running and my calves were screaming.  Finishing my final 10km I was lost for words, it had been emotionally as tough as physically, opening up about the experiences of the last few years was harder than I thought.

That said, it was a brilliant experience, the support I had from everyone was staggering, from friends, colleagues and strangers through the Facebook group.

To date, 10410 has raised over £700 and been featured in all of the local papers.. there are a few other things which have yet to come to fruition which I will talk about in a later post

There’s little else to say, that I haven’t already typed, better still, I’ve linked to the videos which articulate stuff probably better..

Catch-up

It’s been a while since I’ve last updated, in fact it’s been a whilst since I even last logged in to the WordPress site and scrolled through the sites I usually follow with such interest.

Stuff has been busy and to be honest, the effort of that has sucked most of the motivation from me to update.  Evenings have been spent recovering and just resting..

I’ve not been completely inactive though, I’ve ran, worked, cycled and repeated.  That has been enough without trying to think of clever or interesting ways of describing it.

It’s now reached a point though that I need to sit down and make sense of what’s been going on.  Especially the Ten 4 Ten challenge which I began describing but ultimately took over my life for a week leaving little time or brain function for much else.  That has been a whirlwind though and deserves a post of its own 🙂

Right now, it’s time to draw a line and make a fresh commitment to keeping this up to date.

Ten 4 Ten Day 2

Second day of my 10k a day for 10 days to raise money for Alzheimers Research UK. 

It was a tough day, my legs felt tired and I was late starting. Once out I enjoyed it though.

Getting close to £400 is so inspiring and motivating. I find that I can’t wait to get out and do the next one to stay engaged with my sponsors..

Video below