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From The Heart

Welcome to my blog. I have put off writing due to the fact I didn’t know what to say or how to word it. Then I realised today, that it had to come from the heart.

This journey began because I realised life was passing me by. This wakeup call came from the most distressing of circumstances, losing my baby nephew Oliver Nuttall.

This blog will help keep the little chaps memory alive. Furthermore it will keep me motivated. Many people ask what keeps me going. All I can say is I have always been told I couldn’t or wouldn’t do something.  I am my own worst critic, doubting myself day in day out. I set these challenges to challenge myself and to prove myself wrong.

I started by saying I would never do a marathon. This turned into a what if? moment.  I started researching marathons looking at Manchester (my home city) and London.  I then searched further afield, bringing me to the Great Wall of China marathon.  The intense challenge I booked on a whim, never thinking I would complete it. However, I did, pushing my limits and my comfort zones to places I never knew existed.  Therefore this, the journey and the people,  along with further challenges will be shared in the days and months to come.

All of which may have grammar or punctuation errors. But all in all will come from the heart. Thank you all in advance. I hope I do you #PROUD

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Power of Belief.

So my first update for a while. The Brecon Beacons Ultra has been and gone. One of the toughest challenges to date. Mind you I suppose each new challenge is tougher than the last. A whole new element to encounter. I went into the Brecon Beacons petrified.  I suppose I thrive of the feeling. Almost always wanting to give up just before the start.  Then conquering my own fears and doubts.

I often hear things like it must be easy for you or some form of derivative.  All I can say is, it is not!  Each I time I go for a run whether it be a 1 mile or 32 each is an internal struggle and battle to get out there.  Once I do I wonder what all the fuss is about.  And the tranquillity away from my own thoughts kicks in.

We all have our own little battles whatever they may be. I suppose it is tapping into the power of belief that you can accomplish what you set out to do.  Applying it to your current situation. Conquering the seemingly impossible starts with the right mindset.

Its is all so easy to look at someone’s success and think that it happened overnight, but most of the time what you are witnessing is the last part of the journey. You miss all of the work that goes in to where they have got. Part of my journey is Oliver my late Nephew. This is one segment of my journey. The other segment’s are the long lost brothers and sisters (7) that where adopted when I was younger. This all plays part into me strive to be the best I can be. And see how far I can go.

The more I am accomplishing the more I am building up confidence and finding out there is much more to accomplish. I started out with The Great Wall Marathon. An off the cuff idea. One I thought of but one I thought I myself would fail at. I conquered the wall and am now looking forward to the Inca- trail / Everest and the Amazon. These are places I only ever dreamed of when I was younger.  Yet now from working most hours within the day with a bit of hard work and determination they will be seen within the space of a year. I am not going to lie it is stressful, it is daunting and draining. In all senses emotionally, physically, and financially, However the biggest ask is. Is it worth It ? the answer is yes. Running has given me my life back.

It is interesting to think that if you dare to put yourself out there, that fortune will side with you. It appears that if you commit yourself to an endeavour and commit yourself to its achievement, then fortune and providence will be on your side. You will see amazing things happen that you never thought possible.

I say this in the 8 days before Peru and the challenge that faces me as the world’s toughest marathon distance!  A mixture of doubt, anticipation and excitement. A place I never had a reason to see. But one I wanted to. Running gave me that purpose.  I shall also be catching up with a friend Helen from Australia. The people I have met on this journey have become lifelong friends.  I do not need to see them each day nevertheless I see them in the most random and exciting corners of the Earth.

What springs to mind was the fact the other day I was asked, why I ran? I was asked, do you not think you have done enough? Why do you do it to yourself?  I was told to think of the damage to my knees and told what happens when  I can’t walk when I am older!

I suppose the main question is, why do we do anything?  Self-gratification is the main response.  It isn’t in this instance just about me it is about the people I am raising funds for.   The second response in response to my knees :  many people go through their life not living an active life style and still having knees that do not function.  Ailments and old age come to us all. When I am unable to run and such. I shall be able to look back and think what an adventure. As the saying goes, I would rather go into my grave kicking and screaming saying” what a damn good ride”. Rather than being well preserved and never living a day in my life.

The reason I am so open in this journey, is because each part of it past and present has brought me to this point. I have made some bad decisions and some good. I admit I am not proud of them all. Still as cliché as it may be, I am who I am because of these decisions. They will also play there part in who I will be in future (as will yours)  I am deciding who am with each passing minute. Developing as each second passes, like a polaroid photo I get better with time.

Now to you all I say is “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” Many people believe they done have the prerequisites or the tools to succeed . As I have said previously it is all to easy to think it isn’t the right place, or the right time, or the right resources in order become a success.  What you do need to do!!!  Get started now!!! From where you are and with what you have, your resources will grow as you go along. So do not waste another minute and get started on what it is you want to do!!

The Benefit of Change. I need You!

So today I am in a better head space.  I spent yesterday at The Christie Hospital. In which I have had ongoing monitoring since 2012.  My head in the afternoon wasn’t in the best of places.  I decided to go out for a run kindly joined by Bev.  After the 10-mile run my head was in a lot better place than it started. Running I suppose is like having a counselling session with yourself. The hard bit is getting out there.

Today saw the devastating news that the research centre at the Christie had caught fire. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-39719574  my time at the Christie changed my view on life.  So many inspirational people walk through its doors.  Each with their own demons they face.  They just seem to get on with life despite the internal struggles they have.  One of the reasons I decided to take on The Petra Desert Marathon to raise funds for the christie.  And more recently decided to take on the 230km across the Amazon Rainforest in 2018  to allow them to carry out the life changing work they do.

The current charity of Claire house I feel profoundly proud to support. After visiting the Charity and seeing where the money donated goes. It was an emotional experience. which is hard to explain to say how I felt. To say I enjoyed it is incorrect , but as close as I will probably get.

The work they do allows the children, siblings and parents to get the most from life no matter how short it may be.  They say they hope for the best but prepare for the worst.  Seeing the facility’s and a few of the children they care for it reassured me what I was doing was for the greater good. Not only was it helping me with my own demons, but helping those provide a lifeline to those in need.

Change can come in many forms in our lives. It may come on all of a sudden, like a tidal wave or creep up on us at a snail’s pace. I may as, as it did with myself. Come in the form of a tragedy of in the form of difficult choices, broken relationships or a new opportunity.

But even though change is often difficult. Many times, it is for the best.  I have many demons. Nonetheless the tragedy that changed my life pushed me to achieve great things.  Things I didn’t thing where possible. Anything great in life often requires a significant change that pushes us way beyond our comfort zones and beliefs.

I am beyond any comfort zone I could ever have dream’t of .   Time and time again I must question every decision I am about to make.  I always think that if I put myself out there I stand a great chance of failing, but if I do not I have already failed.

I do not intend to fail, I do intend to help as many people as I can. When I am pushing through pain barriers and emotions. I remember those I am doing it for! The pain I feel is nothing compared to what people face day to day. I find some courage within myself. Courage itself isn’t always loud and forthcoming. It is sometimes a little voice, that says I will try again tomorrow.

Take the sorrow or pain you may feel and turn it into something positive. I am not saying it will be easy, it most likely won’t be. It will however be worthwhile. I can assure you of that. All though at this very moment I do not see what I have done as achievements. One day I will!

Going from a party animal to a traveler, marathon runner and skydiver in the space on 1 year has meant great sacrifices . None in which I regret. Because I have developed as a person a better one I believe ( though that is  open for debate )   and that’s how change happens.  Change happens though each person, each gesture one moment at a time.

Hope usually begins in the dark, our happiness or unhappiness depends far more on how we deal with the challenge within our lives.  More than the challenge its-self.

All too often I dwell and focus on the bigger things, forgetting about enjoying the little things. Those little things however make the most of. They are the memoirs of life itself.  They are the words to you chapter, your chapter in time. Don’t waste it!  None of us truly know how long we have got so make the most of now. This is what Claire house do,  they make the most of every moment.  They create memories that will last long after these beautiful children have passed. Giving the family’s the most precious gift anyone can. MEMORIE. The treasures these familys get to keep for their lifetime.

This coming month I have the Yorkshire Three peaks.  The Brecon Beacons Ultra (where the SAS train )  and then I fly out to Peru to participate in the world’s toughest marathon upon the Inca Trail.  Even if you can spare the price of the coffee please do.  I have seen the tangible difference your donations make.  Remember it is you that are the life changers and the gift givers. You have been tremendously generous so far. I have had confirmation that the next £800 at least would be matched! Currently standing at £1900  let’s see if we can get it to 2700 at least.  That would mean at least £3500 for the charity.  I can only do it with you !!!!!!!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/RunMacca

Give It your best shot!

So this is my first update for a while. I stopped blogging on day two in Milan.  I hit a low, motivation wise. A struggle I cannot seem to shake. The daily challenges that come along with all I have chosen to do. I was debating whether to upload this. I did however say I would be open and honest about my journey warts and all.

I quite openly battle with depression. It is something that the running has helped me with. I admit it isn’t for everybody.  Each person is an individual, each person is different and therefore it isn’t a one fit solution for all.   The running gives me a focus.  After the loss of my nephew and battling with sleep deprivation due to sever tinnitus, it seemed my coping mechanism failed.  Depression/anxiety is something now and again that raises its ugly head. Running itself to some extent gave me my life back it is the best anti-depressant for me that I know. I admire the people that do the #runchat running groups, you are angels in disguise.

I know that life is filled with highs and lows, valleys and peaks that will test my resilience. Now and again the valleys are the deepest I have ever known. It is in these lulls that I remember why I set out on this journey. Among the other challenges I faced. I set out on the journey to live my life and do Oliver proud. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I sit between a rock and a hard place.  I have the battles and the doubts in my mind. I on the other had sit here booking ultras across the Amazon and contemplating Marathon De Sables.

I know that booking these challenges I will have the lows and highs. Testing the resilience and pushing me to overcome each of these barriers. I know the lessons learned along the way to the top will only make me stronger and better.

I suppose the question of whether I fail or succeed lies within my own determination. My determination is drawn to do Oliver Proud. Not just Oliver but all the charities I aim to raise funds for along the way. Running for those who cannot, creating a voice for those who don’t have one and raising awareness along the way.  This is what, in times of despair keeps me on the right track.

The Quote “if you only walk on sunny days you will never reach your destination” made me realise that that I am on a journey. One in which I will finish. To do so I must take the good times with the bad and keep on moving forward. Moving forward into the unknown and growing as a person. Or remaining where I am in safety.

I the lowest of lows I find my greatest inspiration. A week or so ago in tears I dint know who to speak to or what to do. I decided in this moment I would put myself forward for the Jungle Ultra. 230km across the amazon.  I don’t know what makes me think I can complete this challenge. But if I don not try I will never know.i will only know by putting myself on the start line. I will hope for the best but prepare for the worst.  In life, you are either moving forward or moving backwards even if I fall on my face, I will learn and use that knowledge later down the line. When you don’t attempt something for fear of falling on your face, you don’t move forward, and you end up shriveling into a version of yourself that is not as great as it could be.

I want to be the best version of myself that I can be. I will falter along the way.  It is however how I pick myself of and dust myself off that will determine how far I will go. Running is developing me as a person. I have not set out to change myself. I have as cliché as it may be, been finding out who I am and who I am to be.

In the past I have always been too quick to walk away or to quit. Quitting is the easy way out, but it doesn’t produce anything of value, I used to wait for conditions to be perfect. I learned that I would be waiting for ever. I decided after the loss of my nephew to have faith.  To hope that in the end everything will be OK and that I will land on my feet.

This came about as with the loss of my nephew and learning of the challenges that others face in day to day life. I learned that the future is not guaranteed. The only time you have control of is right now. This very moment. If you have had anything you wish/want to do. Do it! Find a way. Put wheels into motion and see what you can achieve.

Now I always did nothing. I lived for the weekend. I wore head to toe designer gear. I felt great for a short while. But what had I achieved what stories could I tell. No one was going to stand at my funeral and say what a fantastic shirt I had. Therefore, my promise to myself was one that I would live an adventure. I would walk my own path and create my own destination.

Remember Nothing leaves nothing. It’s better that you have an idea. That you act upon it and try your hand at greatness. I expect to fail or stumble. If I do I will learn. And if I do fail so what. I will have tried and given it my best shot at least I will have amazing stories to tell. Those that stand in the side lines and try to pull me down or those that attempt nothing (whatever it may be) will have nothing to show for it . How boring! At least if you try you can say you gave it a go. You may achieve something great. Leaving your mark upon the world or something for the history books.

So, from here on out. Through the good time and the bad I will update my story. If for nothing other to look back and think “ what a damn good Journey”  thank you for being on the road with me.

Day 2 In Milan, The Cathedral.

So, to start the day I got up early.  I had an okish sleep from all the traveling. So up bright and early. I got a wash and decided to inadvertently break the tap on the bathtub. Which made my morning evermore pleasant.  I set to to Sondrio station and headed to Duomo to the cathedral.

My first mission today was visit this amazing piece of architecture. The Gothic cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. This was one I was not going to miss. I headed to the ticket booth and made my purchase. I headed through security, passing though the armed guards after being searched.  I entered the main hall. I was awe struck. The sheer scale of the building was immense. The light shining through the stained-glass windows. Was a sight a picture could not replicate.

The journey then began up the stairs to the roof.  The narrow passages eerily worked into the building. The thought that so many had passed before me.  A small glimpse of light at the top, opened into one spectacular view. I spent a while taking it all in and chatting to a tourist from Hong-Kong. Funnily enough we had quite a bit to talk about recently departing from there last month.

After leaving the cathedral I wandered through the Milan streets. Caution to the wind no knowing where I would end up. The walk was like walking through the pages of a high-end catalogue. Everyone had sass. It’s a good job I had sunglasses, as the police men were quite distracting : ).

Heading to Sforza Castle built in the 15th century. This was a anti-climax compared to the cathedral but nonetheless an amazing piece of work and a must see. This lead to parco Sempione a beautiful park and landscaped gardens. This I took at a much slower pace enjoying the sunshine. Reflecting on the events that led me to get to this point. The loss of my Nephew and all the events that followed.  I sat by the Arco della Pace requested to be built by napoleon. I enjoyed my lunch, I sat and I pondered for a while before moving on.

After overhearing someone’s conversation I decided to head to  Santa Maria al Paradiso a quaint little church  in the center of Milan.  This site seeing was making me hungry. I headed to the McDonald’s  to grab a quick bite to eat. (healthy I know, things not to eat in Milan, again I know ! )   I rang my friend Bev to update her on the Travels and see how things where back home.

Much of the evening I meandered through the shopping streets, through buskers and beggars.  I sat in the shadow of the cathedral and soaked up the rays. I followed my google maps to many local landmarks, enjoying a fruit salad on the way. Upon returning I headed to an Italian and appreciated some Italian cuisine. Which was delicious to say the least.

Before the evening was out I met up with a local Italian Andrea, who shared a extremely interesting conversation and enlightened me in regards to Italian life.

Anyway time for bed as I am up tomorrow bright and early to meet up with Marco at the airport and head to Tel -Aviv.

Arrival in Milan

Ok so a slight Delay on the Blog, I have been a little run down with all the planning and activities.

So today I got up at 4 am to pack the remainder of my things. Which basically means that I did all my packing a few hours before I set off! True to me it as always has been left to the last minute.  I was debating on whether to ring a taxi or to get the tram and train. To try and keep an eye on funds.

All in all, when push came to shove the Taxi cut out all off the swapping and changing. So, this is what I opted for.

The taxi came and I shut my case. All this time thinking to myself I cannot believe I am off again. It was only one month ago, I was flying to Hong- Kong for a long weekend. Its surreal over the last year after my Nephews passing at how dramatically my life has changed.

The traffic on the way to the airport was horrendous.  At the airport, I was due to leave at about 11 am after a frustrating delay, as the flight was overbooked. I was on my way. In the line, I reflected about how apprehensive I used to get just to go out of the house alone. Battling with my demons in order to get to the shops. It’s become the norm to just jump on a plane to a foreign land. Almost like just jumping on a bus.

After landing I collected my luggage and jumped onto a coach to Milan central.  The sun was beaming lifting my spirits.  It was now about 2 pm.  I made a quick phone call to Audrey to thank her for all her support and belief in me. This made the journey pass relatively quick.

Now the fun was to begin after alighting the coach, it was now my job to locate the hotel. In which I had booked last minute the day prior.  What struck me when roaming around was the spectacular architecture of every building, nothing like back home. I jumped on the Metro and purchased a 2 day city pass for €8.00. I boarded the yellow line and hopped of at Sondrio.  I tried following google maps to locate the apartments, going from one street to the next. Eventually reaching the destination, I made the call. The lady however said the reception was outside the station in which I had just arrived. 20 minutes’ walk away. Whattttt ??? I trundled back collected the keys and was on my way to the apartment.

It was around 6 pm I needed food. What better place to eat than Italy. I threw caution to the wind and headed back 3 stations to central station. I located a Pizzeria and ordered what I thought would be a delicious pizza. It was in fact quite the opposite. It tasted fishy!  With my tummy rumbling I was going to head to the apartment.  Most of Milan however stopped about 10 or 11pm. I decided I
would head to Duomo to try and locate the cathedral ahead of tomorrow.

I jumped of the metro at Duomo expecting a long walk ahead of me.  I shortly realised however coming up the subway steps. That the majestic building was just as you arrived.  I was in awe.  I took in the building for all it was. Catching a glimpse of the shopping district. At this time, it was relatively quiet.  Upon roaming around the galleria I noticed there was a  Léonard de Vinci exhibit. For € 12.00 I thought I would give it a shot.  The level of history and culture was amazing. It made me happy I decided to go for a random jaunt around town.

Just before heading back to the apartment, walking back throw the gallaria. I heard a familiar song. Mamma Mia!!!!  It was a lady dressed all in red busking . with a scooter (like for old people) lit up with lights the sound resonated off all the building and the atmosphere was something really special.   As with every area of the world. It had its local drunks who all sat round enjoying the ambiance. Each of which would get up and dance now and again.

I took one last look around before jumping back on the metro. Watching the palaver was a group of the hunkiest policia personnel you have ever seen : ) what a way to end the evening.  Sweet Dreams !

 

The Impossible!

I have just been thinking about the challenges ahead. Can I crawl under a rock and come out when they are done? A while back I came across the saying in which I now use quite often “everything seems impossible until it is done” A year ago, I only just started contemplating my first marathon. Something I had never dreamed of. A change in my personal life made me make this change. Thus, to this day I believe this made me a better person.
With the bigger things in life, apprehension and fears leads to a feeling of not wanting to try. When it seems impossible, I am the first to admit I get into a defeatist mentality. Which in turn adds to the initial fear and impossibility of the task at hand. The best thing to do in a situation like this, as was explained to me by a friend. Is to look back upon your history to a situation that seemed impossible, that was eventually overcome and accomplished.
So, I look at the year ahead and some daunting challenges. I then look back at the great wall marathon. On top of this again 2016 seems to be my year! I look at my first solo Skydive. The sleepless nights, the trembling before the jump. The fear in my eyes. Then I look to the jump, on the edge of the plane 15,000 ft. I looked out to the propeller, gulped and threw caution to the wind. “Leap, and the net will appear” The sense of freedom I had was like nothing before. The adrenaline surged through me and the feeling of being alive. Soaring through the sky’s. I was my very own little action man. The thing I most feared became a hobby/ accomplishment. This allows me to look ahead, although with fear and apprehension and as the question. What if? What if I can do it? What next?
Its excites me to even comprehend some of the things I may be contemplating. It is however the mindset above that will allow me to achieve success. I need to tap into that belief, to create the right mind set to achieve what initially was the impossible.
People may see me as flamboyant, deluded and everything in between. I don’t set out to prove them wrong or portray a different version of myself. I set out to prove myself wrong. No one fears these challenges or doubts me more than myself. I am a doer. My determination will always prevail. I always say “it’s too early to give up, it’s too early to quit”.
I dreamed a dream and I began living it. Have faith and branch out into the unknown. I surprised myself. Maybe you can surprise yourself?

 

The Future Is Promised to No One.

After a few days in which I lacked motivation, I believe today I have my mojo back.  I had a pretty good day in terms of the bike rides and the gym on Sunday. I am beginning to quite like the biking. I am try to strengthen this glass knee of mine.

I’m sat here after an enjoyable run with Radcliffe AC, I think I reignited my passion for running (a bit late now I know) I really enjoyed plodding along with the drizzle of the rain. Thinking what else would I be doing? Some really interesting folk talking about plans or previous experiences. Truly inspirational and motivational.

After a positive day at work and a fantastic article in the Liverpool Echo it gave me the boost needed. The first article below.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/marathon-man-travels-world-raise-12642960  

This coverage reminded me why I set out on this journey in the first place, Oliver Nuttall!oliver

I always went out every weekend and waste life and funds. I now have been to a few the 7 wonders and have got an amazing year lined up. The little mite put up a very courageous fight. One in which he sadly lost. It did make me however decide to get the most from life and urge others to do so. This doesn’t mean running a marathon as per say. It just means don’t put of that thing you have been waiting to do. You never know what’s around the corner.

The reason I set out on this journey and to challenge my own boundaries was due to him. I owe him a lot, and hopefully will do him justice. Keeping his legacy alive. No matter what continent/ mountain or canyon I may be standing on/ in. It just goes to show what impact you may have on someone without realising it.  I hope I do him proud I know he’s with me every step of the way.

I am doing this for him! I’m doing this for the people who cannot run or have never had the chance! That’s the reason I choose to run.  Everything I have set out to achieve always seems impossible until it is done and I always remember it is always too early to quit.

 

So whatever your plans is : Do it, the future is promised to no one!

The only time you have complete control of is right now, so that’s the best time to do all of the things you’ve been wanting to do but have been putting off until some vague future date. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing now, so don’t wait. Put some things into motion and see where it leads. You may be surprised to find that this brings your goals and dreams faster than you ever thought possible.