Tuesday, November 3, 2015

ARUK Supporters' Day & marathon 56 of 60

It's been a busy weekend!

Alzheimer's Research UK Supporters' Day

Having rescheduled my marathon for this weekend meant that I couldn't stay for the whole day as I needed to get home in good time for an early start the next day. There was no way I was going to miss it though! I decided that I'd stay for the morning session and then head off after lunch which meant I still had time to catch up with a few people.

At the moment, our trains are not as reliable at weekends due to the on-going refurbishment of London Bridge station and if any get cancelled they seem to be the ones stopping at small rural stations such as the one I use. When I checked online everything seemed OK so I was hopeful it would be OK but I still chose an earlier train so I had some contingency.

It was a murky day and everywhere looked rather dreary.

I love seeing the outline of branches once the leaves have fallen. They almost look like the skeletons of leaves (if you half close your eyes)

But there's always something to brighten things up and the dahlias in the planters were still flowering their socks off! Just look how tall they've grown and they haven't been supported with canes.

I noticed this plaque and couldn't remember if it was there before or perhaps it had been repainted and therefore caught my eye. Sadly, the Bistro wasn't open as they open later at weekends so I couldn't get my caffeine fix.

The journey in was uneventful and I spent most of it reading the paper followed by looking out of the window. I never tire of the London skyline.

I arrived with plenty of time for a leisurely walk to the Wellcome Collection. I haven't linked back to all my blog posts as I've been there so many times before but I think my favourite was taking part in the Living With Dementia event back in 2010. I made so many contacts there and several Carers still email me just for some moral support.

There was a lot of activity going on in Trafalgar Square with a gigantic marquee where the Rugby World Cup was being shown later. There were 'Crowd Control' officers all over the place already and on my way back there were dozens of Police vans blocking off roads ahead of kick-off. I took one of my favourite routes through Seven Dials which has many happy memories.

As I came up to Bedford Square, a private garden for the use of local residents only, I spotted this huge sculpture which looked like something from a Roy Lichtenstein painting which would be accompanied by the word "Wham!" or "Splat"!

As I got nearer I realised it must be part of an exhibition taking place in the AA Gallery nearby. They were responsible for the striking Rainforest Pavilion exhibit last year.

As I arrived at the venue I bumped into Sarah who'd just received a phone call from the nursing home caring for her husband Andrew. The call had been cut off and she wasn't sure of it was the call we all dread so was dashing outside to phone them back. I caught up with her a few minutes later and she was relieved that it was more a case of someone panicking and being over cautious which was a huge relief.

It was Andrew for whom I made one of the blankets made from the yarn used to make my crochet chain during the London marathon. I'd started crocheting Andrew's blanket on my journey in and then unwound some of my chain to finish it off. The heart in the centre has a raised design as people with dementia, and older people, like to feel the texture of fabrics. She told me that it is always a talking point with staff and visitors and I'm so glad that they are getting enjoyment from it.

Sadly, the beneficiary of the other blanket passed away earlier this year but I know that it wrapped her in love for the last year of her life.

The entrance hall is fabulous following a revamp and I could have spent ages taking photos but I restricted myself so I could go and chat with people.

The fabulous staircase - I wish I'd had time to explore upstairs

I spotted Kirsty and photographer Paul Starr busy snapping away. It was my turn later and thankfully we went into the auditorium so there weren't many people around to watch! They needed a new photo of me for the promotion they're doing about leaving a legacy in your Will which I have been involved in.

I loved this upside-down sculpture suspended from the ceiling

This eclectic collection of light bulbs must look amazing at night

It was great to catch up with friends old and new, each with something in common - a passion to defeat dementia. There was much hugging and chattering! I was delighted to catch up with Vicky (late as always Mrs Graham!) briefly before we headed into the auditorium for the Introductory session. I was delighted to meet up with Viv and we sat together throughout the first session.

It's been quite a year for ARUK and Hilary Evans, Chief Executive, did an excellent job if reminding us of everything that's been achieved. We felt proud to have been a part of it.

Then it was the turn of Ian Wilson, Director of Fundraising, who outlined all the tremendous inroads his team has made. Inspiring stuff indeed!

An impressive list of Corporate partners

Then it was time for our 'break-out' sessions of which there were 3 throughout the day. As I was only able to attend the morning session I had asked to be in the group about Wills and I think I need to write a separate post about that as there is lots to talk about and it deserves its own space.

At lunchtime I was thrilled to meet up with the lovely Lizzie Glennon, who's appeared on my blog many times in connection with her research into dementia, and to hear her news (which I'll write up soon too). We also did a bit of plotting but that's a secret for now.

Lizzie is always easy to spot as she loves bright colours which match her personality perfectly!

All too soon it was time for me to head back to Charing Cross to catch my train home. As I reached Charing Cross Road I realised the whole road was cordoned off and there were loads of Police heading off to Trafalgar Square, presumably for the Rugby event.

The train was kind to me and was on time with no delays so I had a pleasant journey making a start on the next project from the 7 Skeins Club which is a cowl. I'm using my own colour combination as I want to make matching fingerless mittens so need to conserve enough wool in each colour.

I arrived home in plenty of time for a pleasant evening of lasagne and red wine, my preferred marathon fuel!

Marathon 56 of 60

Yep, I know, I still can't believe I'm so close to reaching my target. I keep waiting for something dreadful to happen to scupper my cunning plan (rather like last week when I had to miss Beachy Head!)

I knew that the weather forecast for Sunday was for fog and so I had already factored in extra time for my journey but when I got up at 4:30am it was obvious that I needed even longer. Oh my goodness it was a real pea-souper (apologies to my overseas readers, it just means it was really thick). I couldn't even see my car in the driveway when I looked out of the window. In fact, it was scarily thick, with visibility not far beyond the car bonnet and I know Mike was very worried about me travelling in it.

The first thing I did was to revise my route to avoid the motorway and hopefully miss out the inevitable bad/mad driving that so mnay people seem to adopt in adverse weather conditions. Then I made the wise decision to leave even earlier than planned so I could drive at a sensible speed.

My route through the country lanes was slow but thankfully uneventful as there was very little traffic around. As I got nearer to towns and villages the fog was not quite as thick and I could see about 2 cars' distance ahead. No time to relax though as there were more cars around by then although there was more traffic going in the opposite direction. 

As I headed towards Pegwell Bay I encountered a road closure, which Traviss had warned us about but wasn't sure if it was going to be in place on the day,  so had to do an about-turn and head off along the dual carriageway. Kat and Jools were just ahead of me and as we turned down towards the sea there was a Police car blocking the other carriageway. When we arrived they told me that they'd seen 3 accidents on their way there, caused by stupid people driving far too fast and not being about to see the many roundabouts (there are soooooo many of them on that road) which they then crashed into. Why, oh why, don't people just slow down? Nothing is so important that it's worth risking your life and the lives of fellow road users.

Mike was very relieved to get my phone call saying I'd arrived safely.

It was the usual format; get into running gear, congregate at the start, meet up with the running family, collect your race number, receive starting instructions/announcements, head off to run as many laps as your body or mind will allow, chat to fellow runners en-route, collect medal & goody bag, eat cake, drive home. Well, that's the abridged version anyway!

Runners in the mist

Greg sporting his new SV&N hoody which he's earned by running 1000 miles at their events

These are very special hoodies as money can't buy you one, you have to earn it. My tally is currently 370.45 miles so it might be a long time before I get one!

2 legends in one photo, both of whom need no introduction as they've appeared on my blog many times before - but just to update you, that's Ruth (who ran her 400th marathon the other day) with Brian behind (now with over 1100 marathons to his name)

Ruth's hubby Paul (a marathon widower!) complete with celebratory cake

Traviss making announcements - I think he'd make a lovely air hostess as he's got the moves!

We all hang on his every word! 

Andrew looks on in awe (but he'll be completing his 100th marathon in May next year so he's no lightweight!)

Well done young hippo. Amazing and inspirational stuff.

That's almost it for the photos as the fog never lifted much throughout the whole day and in fact it started to thicken up just as I was on my penultimnate lap so I took the opportunity to take a couple photos of the Viking boat whilst I could see it (last time it was all covered up).

The last photo sums up the weather for the day so you won't be surprised to hear there aren't any photos, so to see what we missed have a look at my photos from February when the weather was glorious.

Now for the running part. This was an event with a 6 hour time limit during which time you could run as many or as few laps as you wished. 8 laps was the marathon distance and you could add more laps as long as your last lap started before 5 hours 45 minutes. My plan was to run an extra lap if I finished in a good time.

I was feeling good and my breathing was almost back to normal so I had no worries on that front and I quickly settled into my pace. There were lots of people to chat with en-route and that's one of the things that makes Traviss and Rachel's events so special. Mark and Sharon were our cheerful marshalls for the day and it was lovely to see their smiling faces on each lap (thanks you 2 xxx). Janet, Dee and Jackie manned the aid station (thanks ladies) and Becky was on wristband duty (each time you complete a lap you get a wristband). Thanks ladies. Lovely also to get a surprise visit and a hug from Karen who was looking really well.

I thought the fog would lift as the morning wore on but although it got a bit thinner it started to get even thicker in the afternoon. By lap 6 I was well on target for around 5 hours but on lap 7 my right knee started to twinge a bit (tight ITB and hamstring I think) which caused me to slow down. I played running leapfrog with Karen and James which helped take my mind off it a bit (they were run/walking and on their walk bits I caught up with them but couldn't keep up when they ran!). I walked a bit more during lap 8 and at the end of that lap my time was 5:09 and I made the decision to stop for 2 reasons - I didn't want to aggravate my knee and the fog was looking a bit iffy. My official time was 5:09:44.

I am so glad I made that decision as when I headed for home I found the road blocked by a Police car. As I didn't know the area well I had to get out and ask him to point me towards an alternate route to Canterbury, preferably, or Dover if no other option, which he did. I asked him what had happened and he told me that it was yet another crash and that they'd had a horrible day full of drivers driving recklessly. I felt so sorry for him I gave him the Penguin biscuit from my goody bag which he said was the nicest thing that had happened all day. Bless him, at least it brought a smile to his face!

The journey home was slow and quite stressful as I saw some appalling driving - people tailgating and others overtaking on stretches of road where you could only just see beyond the bonnet of your car. Complete madness.

I'd phoned Mike to tell him I'd be about 2 hours but the journey was so slow I had to stop off in Ashford to say I'd be at least another hour. It also gave me an opportunity to buy a bottle of wine to celebrate although I did have to do a rather strange walk across the car park to the shop as my leg had seized up from sitting down for so long!

Finally I arrived home and we worked out my total travelling time was 5.5 hours, as opposed to the 3 hours it would have taken ordinarily, so I'd spent more time travelling than running! Never mind, at least I got home safely.

Another fab medal for my collection

Next up is a trip into London on Wednesday to attend a reception at the House of Lords. This is an event organised by Alzheimer's Research UK, and hosted by Baroness Perry of Southwark, to present their report entitled "Women and Dementia: A marginalised majority" .

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