Tuesday 23 August 2011

Status report - 2 weeks after the finish

It's just over 2 weeks since I finished the run across the USA. The relief of having successfully finished the run and the utter amazement at the amount raised is still very much the feeling that I have. There is no real sense of achievement or perspective yet. Perhaps that will come after the Run Geordie Run Ball next week when the final fundraising total is known.

Physically, I feel in brilliant condition. My feet are on the mend thanks to the continuing treatment by Alison at the Cradlewell Clinic. I've really had my eyes opened as to how you treat the kind of damage that my feet have. It's not just a case of removing dead skin and clipping misshaped toenails. I've had to endure very deep massage on my legs in order to correct some issues in my feet. It's excrutiating! It really is. I'm also wearing strategically placed padded dressings on both feet in order to encourage blood flow to my metatarsals. I'm hopeful of running again next week but I'll be taking advice from Alison before making my return.

Last weekend's stay at Slaley Hall was just what the Dr ordered. I had a good session in the gym and Mrs Run Geordie Run and I had a nice relaxing time in the pool. The evening meal that we had was some of the best food I've had in years. It was very healthy too! Honest!

I've worked extremely hard at getting my food right since I returned to the UK. I can't remember ever turning down a full English Breakfast before. That was the case at Slaley Hall! I've not had a chocolate bar since I came back to the UK. Off the menu is also fast food and takeaways. I'm an ambassador for The Great Fitness Revolution for goodness sake! How on earth can I ever step inside another chippy again! Out of habit I still make the trip to the shop at work. I now come away with an apple though.

My diet now consists mainly of lean meat, salad and vegetables. I've started to have a bigger breakfast too. Porridge, of course, is always on the menu. I've had a few omelettes here and there too. It takes a little longer to have breakfast before work but making that time in order to get a good start to the day is so important.

As for the fundraising; I continue to be amazed more and more each day as the donations keep being made to St Benedict's Hospice and The Children's Foundation. The fund burst through the 86k barrier this evening and currently sits at £86,028. That's 141,890 US Dollars or 10.8 million Japanese Yen (which sounds very impressive!).

I received a nice Tweet from @HannahTurley tonight - "[you] became a topic of conversation at the dinner table tonight Mark! Mum and Dad said they're so impressed - mum sponsored u!". If I had a pound for every time that I said "People's generosity never ceases to amaze me" the fund would be over 100k by now. Thanks so much to everyone who has made a donation so far. Your money is so important to the 2 charities. I can't say often enough how important each donation is. Whether it be small or large it makes a massive difference.

I've dumped all of the Tweets I received over the last few months to a file. When I get a chance I'm going to have a good read through them. There was so much to take in during the run and I'm really looking forward to reliving the journey through the eyes of my followers on Twitter.

I've got a busy few months ahead with speaking engagements, The Great North Run, The Kielder Marathon, meeting Lady Elsie Robson and her family, kicking off the Entertainers ReUnited match and undertaking a feasibility study for the next big run to do. I'm also hoping to start running with the Tyne Bridge Harriers over the next few weeks. With the next big challenge in mind, I've got to look to take my running to a different level and having the company of some accomplished runners is going to be an important part of that.

One thing that I'm looking forward to immensely is becoming an Ambassador for The Children's Foundation. I felt so honoured to be asked to become more involved in the work that they do. First up is a visit to The Great North Children's Hospital in September. This will be "a celebration of some of the equipment that The Children's Foundation have been able to put into the hospital.". I'm looking forward to meeting and being inspired by some of the other fundraisers who have also made such a difference at that event.

Also in September, I'll be attending the Children's Foundation Star Awards. The awards aim to recognise the achievements of children in the North East with a disability, their friends and families, the challenges they face on a daily basis, reward their accomplishments and raise awareness of important issues to ensure equal opportunities. I'm sure that I won't fail to be inspired by the people that I encounter that night.

Finally this year, I will be sitting on The Children's Foundation's Regional Small Grants Panel. This body of people are responsible for deciding which non profit groups will benefit from a grant of up to £1000. There will also be a chance to visit the groups after the awards to see how and where the money is being spent. As a fundraiser of 17 years, I will have never been so close to see how the money I've raised is being used. I find this to be a great honour and privilege actually.

If I never had a hand in how money is spent or never received a thank you from the charities I raise funds for it would matter not. I raise funds unconditionally. I give my support unconditionally to the charities and expect nothing in return. This is something that I realised during the run across the USA. I have spoken on many an occasion just how I am forever in the debt of St Benedict's Hospice. They cared for my Mam during some very difficult times. As a then 23 year old, they answered my desperate call for help. The cancer from my Mam's lung had spread to her brain and as her days became numbered. Her body started to fail and the Hospice were there to lessen her pain and give her a dignified end to her life. I'm a firm believer that this kind of care should be available to all who need it. I'm an even firmer believer in the Hospice movement. It is with that in mind that, as long as I can run, I will continue to raise funds for the Hospice.

I'm also a firm believer that we must do everything we can to safeguard the happiness, health and safety of our Children. This is something that I've discovered as a parent but more so recently, having been made aware of the many projects that The Children's Foundation fund and are involved in.

With the Run Geordie Run USA 2011 ball just around the corner and so many exciting things to look forward to, the fundraising circle is almost complete. After having endured physical and mental pain on the run across the USA I'm now starting to cast my mind back to what I wrote on Route 36 in Kansas; "Think not about the finish line, nor the glory, nor the accolades. Think only about taking the next step to those ends". The run across the USA may be over and the charity fund at an unprecedented level. I now realise that I'm still nowhere near the finish line. There are still thousands of miles to be run. There are still thousands of pounds to be raised. There are still thousands of people to take along this journey with me. There is still the task of making my parents proud, wherever they are now. 

I'm not thinking about the glory or the accolades. My sights are firmly set on taking the next step. I'll be revealing where that next step is in the next few months so please stick around. Please continue to check the blog or send a message on Twitter or Facebook. With your help and support Run Geordie Run will continue to try and make a difference. We are all in this together and I can't do it on my own.