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!!

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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 Buddha, One Day To Go

Cont…..  So today I got up relatively early as a must for me was to go and see the Buddha.  So I set of to the concierge to work out my travel arrangements.  Went out side and jumped on the I jumped on the MTR at Tsim Sha Tsui  station( ill come back to this later) I was surprised at how swift this service was.  I headed to Tung Chung on Lantau Island. This is where I alighted in the hope of getting the infamous cable car. I jumped of the MTR with my octopus card (oyster card) and spotted a Starbucks By god did I needed one. I sat and enjoyed my cappuccino and hunted for the Cable car.

There was a set of people with similar looking jackets, one of whom advised the cable car was under maintenance. Disappointed to say the least.  Spotted the ticket booth and purchased a ticket Friendsunfortunately just missing the first ride, so that gave me hours to play with. I wandered around some little markets and entertained myself.

I put on my sticker like in preschool to board the coach to Tai O,  the home of the stilt houses and the Tanka people, a community of fishermen and women.  I boarded a boat to get the best view of this place. What a rough ride that was. It was amazing to see these little unstable stilt houses on the tidal flats. Using the toilet was another matter and not a site to behold.  Wandering around the village there I spotted bunch of local dancers putting on an exquisite show . Dancerstai-o-stilt-houses_03

 

 

 

 

Wandering round the streets looking at the local food, the aroma hit you. The dried octopus and entrails thrown around on teppanyaki plates was quite site. Fish swimming in buckets ready to be selected fresh for picking.  Mixed with the stench of the street food was an experience to say the least.

Jumping back on the coach , listening to the local guide tell us about the history of the area.  We headed to the Tian Tan Buddha, completed in 1993, and located at Ngong Ping. On the way to Ngong Ping I got chatting to some show jumpers from Australia. They asked where I was staying. I confirmed the hotel. They asked if I had heard about the MTR being attacked. I was a little bemused. Then all the sirens and traffic cops made sense the station attacked was Tsim Sha Tsui  station the one in which I was due to jump on at the time I was watching the light show instead. I had a lucky escape. That and getting my wallet back my luck was in! this was the station I got on in the morning and no signs of any damage.  Here is a link for further reading

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/2069900/five-injured-fire-breaks-out-hong-kong-mtr-train

We learned about Buddhism and the fact all the cows where wild due to the fact they believe in reincarnation and they may come back as a cow. There was a population of around   200. How they controlled this they never stated. However, I believe they went on vacation to the city where there was a lot of steak on offer. How do you like yours?The Cow

Walking up to the mountain I encountered the first cow, it was remarkably tame. It was like cow paradise. Trekking up the steps to the Buddha it was an astonishing site. Pictures did it no justice. Although the lighting was poor. We enjoyed all it had to offer. Wandering down to the temple where there where people lighting massive sticks of incense and praying, the aroma was one on its own.

The aroma

 

We all headed back to the coach as we had to be back for 18.15.  The count commenced and 2 were missing. The guide (Joyce – English name) advised at 18.16 they were late. She advised they had 2 minutes then we were setting off. It hit 18:18. True to her word she left, leaving 2 people stranded far out with no idea to get back. They wait for no one. The best way to be!!!!
20170211_085119

Hong-Kong The Rush.

I started the Journey from Manchester – Dubai in which being true to myself I lost my wallet in Dubai airport. Getting in some last-minute training trying to locate this lost wallet, running from one side of the airport to the other.  I am Dreading getting my phone bill due to the amount of time spent on the phone from Dubai to China trying to resolve the fact I had no cards to check in.

With 15 minutes until my connection, my wallet was luckily handed in. Maybe my luck was in?   After my friend, Debbie unfortunately had to cancel.  I was even more apprehensive about this trip than I should have been.  I landed around 3 in the afternoon.

The efficiency in which they process you at Hong-Kong airport is amazing.  Like cattle to slaughter  I tried to figure out how to get to my hotel. I jumped on the airport express to Kowloon northern Hong Kong.  I was again amazed at the simplicity of the service.  After jumping on a free shuttle bus K3* I headed to the hotel the Grand Hyatt. When driving through the city on thing that looked familiar (reminiscing to Beijing) was the haze of smog.

Whilst on the move to the hotel, I thought I would double check my pick-up time for my race Kit on my correspondence. Amongst the info, I spotted a time of 16:00 – 17:00. Surely this was for Saturday? My heart skipped a beat. It was in fact today, WHHHHHAAAATTT??  I had 45 minutes to check into the Hotel, then navigate Hong-Kong like it was my home town. Impossible!

After I finished the check in I ran back down to reception and asked where the pickup point for my kit, that was noted on my letter. I said “how far away is this? “The reply “about 15 -20 minutes”. I was being tested.   Dashing outside, fitting in some last-minute training.  I began navigating the streets of Hong Kong. At every turn being asked if I wanted a Rolex, a suit or something Special.  Somewhere on my map looked familiar Nathan Rd. Hang on! this was the opposite end of where I needed to be. I ran and ran. A fellow runner too k pity on me and directed me to the sports center.  Arriving at 16.57 I had just made it. Flashing my passport and official letter, as if I was at immigration.

The official said you look Hot, at first I was like. THANKS! Then realized he meant hot and sweaty.  Advising I had just landed, he responded by advising I could have just collected my goodies tomorrow.  I pointed to my letter and he advised it was to avoid a rush.

Heading back to the hotel with my bright pink bag, peeling my sweaty T-shirt from my back. It sunk in I was her20170210_093447e alone and doing it. Little old me.  No going back.

As it was getting late I donned on some shorts and t-shirt and meandered down to the harbor. I had heard about the miraculous Light show. On the way down the residents dressed in scarfs and duffel coats, all took side glances.  I was roasting them however, the opposite.   After waiting for the count down for about an hour. I can only say I was disappointed to say the least.

I headed back to the hotel once again, I needed to sleep. There streets where blocked and sirens raging. I thought it must always be this busy. The streets had traffic cops stood directing traffic, Like in the films!

Avoiding the suit and Rolex sellers. I had made it back, totally oblivious what had what was going on , To be Cont  ……………………… The Harbor