The Long And Winding Road

Tomorrow morning at quarter to ten, I will be in Prestwick with my youngest lad and his U14 football team: I am their fitness coach. At exactly the same time, ten miles up the road in Kilmarnock, the funeral  will be taking place of Alfie Sharpe. Wee Alfie died of neuroblastoma last weekend, aged just six. Alfie’s relapse and untimely death brings into sharp focus the highs and lows of fighting this dreadful disease. But I fight on. For every Alfie, as sad as it is, I have to believe that there will be another Vanessa and that is why I am doing LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma. #NeverGiveUp

To Alfie, I dedicate several things:

April: the most miles in a month since I started (it’s going to be almost 800)

Miles this year: 2,500 (achieved today)

Next Tuesday: 5,000 miles since I started last August. I can scarcely believe it.

Riding my bike is the best I can do. After that I rely on the goodwill of my supporters to make a difference and give the children who suffer from neuroblastoma a chance, no matter how small, of beating the disease.

It’s hard, very hard, but I don’t give up: I won’t give up. I wrote on my Twitter timeline earlier in the week, in anticipation of breaking the 5,000 mile barrier “This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end. This is just the end of the beginning”. I’m in this for the long haul and my body is telling me that it’s well up for the fight. It’s looking good.

Talking of which…

A few weeks ago (in early March) I blogged about being Under Pressure, a subject thrown at me by Cat, one of my runners. In that tale, I mentioned Julie, who I coached almost 30 years ago as a talented teenage middle distance runner. Well tonight, my wife Jane and I met up with Julie and her family in Glasgow as Julie prepared herself mentally for tomorrow’s adventure… they’ve travelled up from Wigan to support her on the 53 (yes, that’s FIFTY THREE) mile race along the West Highland Way from Milngavie to Tyndrum. The race finishes at the By The Way bunkhouse where the Inverness Caley Thistle Highland Marchers have stayed on at least two occasions on our long distance football excursions. Julie is extraordinary. I’ve been following her running exploits on Facebook ever since I re-found her a couple of years ago after a 25 year gap. Well can I say that she’s still the same blether that I remember from all those years ago: a lovely person with a lovely family and a great support crew.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is not nice: intermittent rain on an easterly wind. Chuck in the chill factor from being exposed on the likes of Conic Hill and you have a recipe for a very tough day out. But Julie is made of tough stuff: I remember that from years ago. Having interviewed her tonight in order to cram 25 years into an hour of blether, I like what I see: the Giving Up gene is missing. Gone, as in just doesn’t exist. I appreciate that in an athlete.  And the wonderful people that she has around her will be celebrating with her at the other end. How I wish I didn’t have a bad knee. I’d have been out there like a shot…

Now in that same blog Under Pressure, back in March, I told the story of the number of days per 1000 LifeCycle miles. Well with another milestone imminent, here’s that same story brought bang up to date:

1000 miles: 34 cycling days

2000 miles: 29 cycling days

3000 miles: 29 days

4000 miles: 27 days

5000 miles: 28 days

There’s definitely a trend developing here: six weeks, a thousand miles. I can handle that. What it’s telling me is that all I have left is 20 six weekses of biking. Hey, that’s way less than four years. Where do I sign?

But back to Julie…

I was telling her the story of T1 (see, I’m always gonna call Iain T1) walking from Celtic Park to Anfield and it kind of struck me as I was telling it, how wonderful it is that two Fridays running I’ve been able to spend some time with people who are totally focussed on doing something outrageous that I admire, something that I’ve done myself in another life and wish I had the knees to do once again. But alas that’s not to be.

So as T1 nears the end of his epic journey as just about the same time as Julie sets out on hers, I would ask you all to raise a glass to the survivors of The Long And Winding Road.

To Julie and Iain…

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