Day 18: a Magical and unexpected Rest Day at Dornoch

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Today was almost like a dream. I think we all feel like someone should pinch us so that we wake up!

If ever we were looking for a sign that Daddy was with us on this adventure it would have been easy to find one today…

Having taken the South side of Loch Ness we had inadvertently bought ourselves a rest day by getting slightly ahead of our itinerary. As a result out accommodation bookings were redundant. We arrived in Dornoch last night and came across a “B&B” close to the beach, which was rather unassuming from the outside or we would never even have knocked on the door. Inside, however, we felt like we had stepped into the Sheikh’s house from the movie ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’, this was luxury as is only seen in movies, Daddy would have loved it! It was totally beyond our budget generally, but certainly not the kind of place we would stay on this sort of trip!

Amazingly, despite (or perhaps, because of) our bedraggled appearance we were welcomed in and the charming hostess insisted that we stay, rest and eat basically for free (the house was experiencing a two day lull between groups of wealthy American Hunters.)

This morning began with a run along the beach and a swim where Daddy must have swum all those years ago.

We then had a delicious breakfast and relaxed on their terrace… When we were brought some tea, the waiter also provided a brand new pack of water-colour pencils and paper… In case we felt inspired to be creative. It was totally unreal and utterly magical!

In the evening, totally unfazed by our lack of appropriate attire the chef cooked us a fantastic vegetarian dinner, which concluded with Mummy’s favourite deserts combined… Carrot cake with Milk chocolate custard!!

Of course it sounds crazy, but the whole day we just felt like someone was looking after us exactly as Daddy would have wanted…
We are all just hugely grateful!

Onwards for the final 120 miles 🙂

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Miles travelled: 70 (pretty direct today with the number one navigator in control!)

Metres climbed: 800

Bikes serviced: All 3 (apparently we had basically burnt through our brake pads… So it was lucky we decided to get them checked in Hereford! Climb on Bikes were super helpful… I think they thought it was pretty funny how clueless we were!!)

We set off after the most amazing breakfast at Brynderwen Court feeling fully fueled (with ample supplies to last us for the next few days!), but very sad to leave!!

After our navigational issues yesterday we decided to follow a more direct route… Which meant more traffic, but was much quicker. We left Wales behind us and headed off into the Shropshire hills..

We finally made it to Bishops Castle… Feeling pretty relieved to make it in the daylight 🙂 .

Mission Accomplished: 4hrs22

Although I might be a little stiff today, I feel so lucky to have had such a wonderful day with so many people being so generous in their support. And I am also SO relieved that it is over!

I knew the London Marathon is an iconic race, but it was still a much bigger event than I had anticipated. The crowds were absolutely fantastic and I really enjoyed the first 20 or so miles, the last 6 and a bit were a little… more interesting!!

It was probably at about 22 miles when I finally understood what people meant by “hitting the wall” It did literally feel like I had been hit by a truck. Nothing hurt exactly, but my legs just felt like lead! I was contemplating walking (which might actually have been quicker 😉 ) when a song came onto my ipod, which I could hardly hear anyway as the crowd were so loud, but this song from Beyonce followed by the Rocky theme tune really helped me push on for those last few miles!

It is VERY cheesy I know, but I thought I would share it with you…

I am so grateful to everyone who sponsored me and inspired me to take up the challenge. I will remember it forever and I am confident that all the donations will be put to excellent use by the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation.

THANK YOU!!

Now I need to work out what to do next… although Alice is already trying to persuade me to run it again with her next year 😉

I will post some pictures when they come through, but just in case you need evidence that I did it:

certificate

I Wish I Could RUN on Water…

As the 22nd April draws closer I have been reflecting on all the things I have seen over the last few months that have really inspired me to do better and made me realise how much we as individuals are capable of – I thought I would share some of the things that I will be reflecting on to help me push through the pain!

A few weeks ago I went to lecture at Winchester University by Geoff Holt and I left that event almost feeling as if I could ‘walk on water.’ It was one of the most inspirational and uplifting evenings I can remember.

I first encountered Geoff on a drive home from university a few years ago – I tuned into Radio 4 not knowing what was on and was immediately struck by the charisma of the speaker and his zest for life. He was talking about his experiences of sailing across the Atlantic and around the Caribbean with an enthusiasm, which appealed to my sense of adventure. After a few minutes the presenter thanked Geoff for his time and informed the audience; “that was Geoff the quadriplegic sailor…” I assumed I must have simply heard wrong. In my ignorance it seemed utterly improbable that someone who was paralysed from the chest down could have achieved so many amazing things (things which would be unusually impressive even for an able bodied person!)

As soon as I got home I checked to see who that intriguing guest speaker had been. It turned out to be Geoff Holt, a man who really was paralysed from the chest down at the age of 17 when he broke his neck by diving into shallow water off the coast of Tortola, and who really had sailed around the UK and across the Atlantic as a quadriplegic.

I downloaded Geoff’s autobiography – “Walking on Water”  – an audio book version which was read by Geoff himself (you can access it at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Walking-Water-Britain-Through-Unabridged/dp/B004AG7GUC ) The story that I heard was related with a relentless positivity which really touched me. Geoff has endured and continues to endure so much and yet seems never to have lost his determination to live a full and independent life. It made me feel so humble to hear how much he struggled, how much he overcame and how much he has achieved… from the ordinary things many of us aspire to, like having a career, a family and a home, to the extraordinary… aside from his impressive sailing feats and MBE he has done so much for disabled people in Britain and around the world. For example, through setting up RYA Sailability he has supported the development of over 200 clubs and groups around the UK which enable around 20,000 sick and disabled people to experience the liberating freedom of being on the water every year.

It is amazing how little coincidences can influence big decisions in your life… It was whilst listening to Geoff’s autobiography that I first encountered “Blake Lapthorn Tarlo Lyons,” the law firm that sponsored his solo circumnavigation of the UK and the law firm where I will begin training next year. I may well have come across them in my general research of course, but I think the way I first heard of them definitely made me take my application just that little bit more seriously.

The lecture he gave last month was entitled “No Excuses” and that really does seem to encapsulate how he has lived his life – refusing to make any excuses for himself and pushing himself harder and further than anyone else I know. The host of the event summed up his attitude to life, by reference to a recurring theme in kabbalah – that you can’t choose what life throws at you, but you can choose how you react, and that choice can be an inspiration…

Motivation of a Most Unwelcome Kind

With only three weeks until the marathon the fear was beginning to set in. The training I have been doing is taking its toll, but it still doesn’t feel like enough. Anywhere near enough!

Just as I was beginning to question my own sanity I heard yet another story from DSWF, which instantly reminded why I signed up for this in the first place, why I am determined to see it through and why I wish I could do so much more…

On 2nd March 2012 three rhinos were attacked a Kariega Game Reserve in South Africa. Their horns were brutally hacked from their faces. Sadly one died that night. The remaining two, though horribly mutilated, miraculously survived and had been fighting for their lives. The bravery of the two gentle giants, whom the park rangers nicknamed Thandi and Themba, was unbelievable. Graeme Rushmere, co-owner of Kariega said, ‘This is a sad situation which has affected us all deeply. Right now we are focusing 100% of our efforts on trying to help the survivors, and to protect our remaining rhinos. This is no easy task and, we have immediately dehorned our other rhinos which we also find heartbreaking but this is a desperate measure to help try and stop this carnage everywhere.’ Despite their heroic efforts, Themba passed away last week, twenty four days after the horrific attack.

Dr Fowlds, the vet who has been fighting for their lives made this moving tribute:

What makes this brutality even more tragic is it’s utter futility.

Writing for the National Geographic Rhishja Cota-Larson (founder of Saving Rhino’s LLC) reported that: Rhino horn was recently analyzed extensively by Dr. Raj Amin at the Zoological Society of London. The tests confirmed that Rhino horn contains no medical properties.
“There is no evidence at all that any constituent of rhino horn has any medical property. Medically, it’s the same as if you were chewing your own nails,” says Dr. Amin.

Despite such scientific evidence to the contrary, the Guardian’s Esther Addley revealed that: “Powdered Rhino horn, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine… is valued as a remedy for everything from fevers and headaches to cancer, and demand is so intense that it has pushed the value of horn to £60,000 per kg – twice the value of gold.” This means that poaching syndicates are highly organised and heavily armed.

Until recently poached rhinos were rarely found alive. As the poachers either shoot them with high powered weapons which usually kill them or use a tranquilliser gun and darts to immobilise the rhino and then hack a large portion of the face and nose with a machete to ensure that every inch of the horn is obtained. The animal is then left to bleed to death.

Recently, Dr Fowlds has observed that “with the illegal supply of veterinary drugs now appearing to be drying up, we believe that poachers are usuing smaller quantities of these drugs with each darting, hence more rhinos are surviving the anaesthetics. Sadly, this also means that the depth of immobilisation is lighter, so poachers are hacking away at a semi-conscious animal trying to get away from the savage assault. If this is the case, game reserves will have to deal with an increased number of traumatised rhinos.” When this happens, all too often euthanasia is the only option.

Remarkably Thandi seems to be pulling through. Despite her brutal injuries she still has an innocent beauty:

DSWF has summed up The sad reality…

In the space of ten years, there has been a 7,400% increase in the number of rhino being poached for their horn in South Africa.

In 2011, the northern white rhino was declared extinct in the wild and no more Javan rhinos survive in Vietnam. There are only 44 left in Indonesia. The black rhino could soon follow.

Last year in South Africa alone more than 448 rhinos were gunned down by ruthless poachers paid by mafialike gangs capitalizing on the soaring price of rhino horn. In 2005, one rhino was slaughtered every 29 days – today South Africa is losing more than one a day. Rhinos are even being poached in some of the best-known and well protected parks including Kruger (South Africa), Masai Mara (Kenya) and Kaziranga (India).

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation is trying to help in Ten key ways:

1.) Support the brave men and women who make up our anti-poaching teams inIndia and Africa through the provision of equipment, training and salaries. 6.) Work with the Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit to stamp out the illegal trade in wildlife parts, including rhino horn, in London.
2.) Monitor highly endangered rhino populations and continue to gather valuable data. 7.) Assist the judicial authorities in Assam to increase the conviction rate of poachers and smugglers.
3.) Fund the very first anti-poachingdog in India’s state of Assam, a Belgian Malinois called Jorba, and his handler as part of a zero tolerance approach to illegal wildlife crime. 8.) Provide additional funding forimproved security in South African national parks.
4.) Work with local people in Namibia,South Africa and India to dispel misconceptions about rhino horn and encourage a more positive attitude towards rhinos. 9.) Support undercover operations in Assam to track poachers and illegal for vulnerable rhino populations in Namibia.
5.) Supportefforts to reform poachers giving them alternative sources of income in Assam 10.) Provide special protection for vulnerable rhino populations in Namibia.

I am so grateful to everyone who has already been so generous. Please donate whatever you can even a few pounds will make a difference.

My fundraising page is <http//uk.virginmoneygiving.co.uk/GeorginaWeston>

Thank you for your support!

Endurance Life – South Devon Half Marathon 18th February 2012

My most important and uplifting race so far!!!

Although the training has been going well recently I was a little apprehensive about this run after the disaster in Dorset at the end of last year. That was the first time I have really wanted to give up on a race and on reflection, I probably should have – it took me a good few weeks to recover my energy levels and until yesterday for my confidence levels to return! It was also sad that again Alice couldn’t run with me – after overdoing her training she was told by her physio that she had better sit this one out!

I am beginning to learn that – for me at least – the challenge is largely mental! At the start of the race my legs felt like lead, like I’d already run a marathon. Admittedly I had been waiting around in the cold for a while, but this was no excuse! I was sabotaging myself – expecting to find it hard. This has never happened to me before. The first hill was hell! I wanted to stop. But having had dinner with my most inspirational friend the night before I couldn’t face admitting that I hadn’t finished. So I just kept going and weirdly enough after about four miles it suddenly became easier, my muscles stopped hurting, my hands weren’t numb anymore and I just started to enjoy it.

I began thinking about what Stuart Mills had said at the LiveMore lectures in November – if I enjoy running and look forward to a race – why am I counting down the miles until it is over? Shouldn’t I be sad with each passing mile that the distance left to run is getting shorter? I think he compared it to a cake – “if you are eating a piece of chocolate cake do you say with each mouthful – brilliant, I am one more mouthful closer to finishing the cake? I know I don’t!!! I can’t say that I got to the stage where I was dreading each passing mile but I did try to just enjoy the moment and it definitely helped!

(You can watch Stuart’s talk here: http://livemore.endurancelife.com/lecture.asp?speaker=96  )

A complete stranger made a huge difference to my race time.  As I overtook a group of men I ran alongside a girl and I don’t know if she could see I was struggling, but she started talking to me. Just asked a simple question – Was this my first Half? But it was enough to get me to take out one earpiece and engage in the conversation…  it was like a God send for me. As we started talking I forgot about how hard I thought this race was going to be, and how scared I was of over-doing it and it became easy (or at least easier!) I never found out her surname, so all I can say is thank you Hannah!!

As a bonus I beat my last year’s time by 25 mins!

I feel invigorated now and motivated to keep training and I need to focus some  more energy on fund raising too! I’m thinking about having another cake sale and possibly selling some paintings too… it will be a busy few weeks ahead, but I’m finally excited again!

 

Bring on the Marathon!!!