New Gold Dream

When I look back down the early years from the sixty two I’m sitting at just now, I see some very influential people who have shaped the way I am today…

I see my father, who wouldn’t let me out to play football on a Sunday morning until he was winning at snooker. I missed a lot of football because my dad taught me to be stubborn.

I see my mother, who worked tirelessly all her days for everybody but herself, and now she has arthritis in most of her fingers. How much of that is due, I ask myself, from carrying heavy bags of shopping for miles, day after day, because it was what she did.

I see my elder brother Mike, who went off to Manchester in ’68, got hooked on the Twisted Wheel Club, and influenced not just my musical tastes but those of a lot of my mates too. #KeepTheFaith

I see Mike Dann, my cross country mentor at school, for giving me the opportunity to enjoy rain, mud and the cold, and proving yourself against yourself. Mike suffered from polio as a child so his aspirations as a sportsman were cruelly curtailed: instead, he threw himself into coaching and delivered some of the finest athletes in the Midlands. Unfortunately, yours truly was not amongst them: but the flame was lit nonetheless.

I see the kids at Cumbernauld Athletics Club in the mid 80’s when I was able combine my love of running with a desire to get the best out of others. In particular, I see Alison, Gail, Nikki, Stephen, Kev, Pauline, John, Lardy, Martin and Paul: kids who were in it to live it. #KillerMile

And I see Kev and Lardy taking my musical tastes in a different direction: how could I forget Lardy’s ghettoblaster pumping out the 12” of Fields Of Fire on a tube station platform somewhere out Leyton Orient way when we all were down for the London Marathon. And how could I forget the Lawlerman’s promptings of Dire Straits and Simple Minds, for it is the latter that sets the theme for this week’s storyline.

But first let me roll the clock back just three short weeks to Going For Gold, the blog that hit the streets in the first week of September. It started off with these lines…

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

I’ll just repeat that: September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Gold is the symbolic colour.

I don’t remember being so pumped up this time last year as I feel this time around, but that’s maybe because #LCFN is going like an express train just now, and also the whole gig was operating on a much smaller scale this time last year. It’s hard to believe that just twelve months ago, there was no LifeCycle flag, no Aussie gang apart from Tara, Jimmy and JJ, the funds hadn’t even reached two grand and there was definitely no air of responsibility for having to up my game because it was month nine.

I definitely feel that because I do this all year round, I owe it to children with cancer to give it 10% more in this special month: it’s their month. I’m going to say upfront that despite this only being a 30 day month, and having a Scottish bank holiday in it, and possibly a parent outpatient appointment with LifeCycle Junior (which means no miles on those days), I’m shooting for a thousand miles, or as close as I can get to it. Positions 1, 2 and 3 on the all time list are 1010, 986 and 983 miles and while top spot is probably out of reach, 2 and 3 are in the crosshairs. Kiddies, if it gives you an incentive to feel good for just a few minutes each day, ask your folks to check the LifeCycle Miles on Facebook at the end of every day”.

They say that a week is a long time in politics: well let me tell you that a month is a very long time in LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma, and especially so when you’ve set yourself a challenge like none that ever went before. A month ago, it was still light in the mornings: now it’s just pitch black. A month ago it was warm, even in the mornings: now the mercury is way down into single figures: indeed this week I had my first minus of the coming winter: -1.4C on the Fenwick Muir at 5:30am. Ear protection mandatory.

But the beat goes on…

As I sit here on Thursday night (instead of Friday as the weekend is chock full of action), September is sitting on 895 miles after 17 days. There are three LifeCycle days to go in this Golden Month, and tomorrow is Friday: Friday’s miles are always the biggest of the week because it’s a half day. Except this week I’m nursing all sorts of overuse aches and pains so tomorrow will be restricted to what I need to get this over the line. Two weeks ago, Friday was 75: forget that. Last week it was 71: you can forget that too. For tomorrow I’m thinking mid 50’s. I think my aches will stretch to that. Then it’s the Glasgow holiday weekend so my legs will get three days off instead of two. Believe me, that’s a big deal. Three days of ice, ultrasound and no miles. By Tuesday morning, with just two days remaining, I intend to have only 50 miles left on the clock: and I intend to bag those miles with a day to spare. I’m planning to go Gold on the 29th of September. That extra day, the one I have up my sleeve, is the one I knew I might need, but didn’t need to call on. That’s the day I didn’t want to lose to Joe’s MRI results. As it turns out, that extra day is going to be put to a very special use because not only is September going to deliver Golden Miles, but it’s going to deliver record breaking Golden Miles.

Quite apart from the fact that I’m astonished how my legs have adapted to the increased workload (it’s not my legs that are tired: it’s the rest of me…), consider these records that have all been set in Childhood Cancer Awareness Month:

Most commute miles in a day (75).

Second most commute miles in day (71).

Most commute miles in a week (273).

And… yet to be delivered because tomorrow is another day… back to back Holy Grails. I wrote this in the blog last November:

The Holy Grail first surfaced back in the early summer when the days were long and the weather was warm. It’s simple and it’s challenging: 250 miles in a LifeCycle week.

The first time I tried it was in the middle of June. I kicked off with a 47 and a 54 but 39 on the Wednesday, the result of nothing more than tiredness, cooked my goose. Even a closing 55 was not enough to pull back the deficit and I fell well short on 242. You see what makes this so damned difficult is that despite all the miles, there’s still a day’s work to be done in the middle. It gets tiring.

I tried again a fortnight later when an opening 48/47 laid a good base. But once again tiredness won the day and a Thursday 40 squashed that attempt. That was about the time I declared that I was done chasing the big miles and I eased back to a more regular 210-220. I found I could cope with that, sometimes easily, sometimes not quite so”.

Set that alongside 273 last week and an expected 250+ this week. These are numbers I dared not contemplate until now. It’s been building for some time but LifeCycleForNeuroblastoma has been on fire in September. September 2014 delivered 917 miles at an average of 46 and I thought that was good. September 2015 is looking at 1050 at an average of 52: 52 miles every working day. But on top of that, there’s 51,000ft of climbing to consider. That’s twelve Ben Nevis’s. So the real payout on #GoingForGold is a full day at work, plus 52 miles on the road and climbing Ben Nevis on a bike every other day. I’ll settle for that. Indeed, I’m very proud of that. I set out to #GoGold for the kids, to give them hope, and I think that in some small way I’ve succeeded.

But on top of all that, I’m a greedy animal when I see a good thing: I want more. This will be the 17th week in a row of 200+ miles and I don’t want that run to end anytime soon. I mention it because Monday is a holiday so in order to keep that run going, Tuesday to Friday next week are going to have to be top drawer. Indeed, when that run finally ends, I want it to live forever. I don’t see me ever going back there again.

So as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month draws to close, and that thousand mile goal draws ever closer, I want to take you back to 1982 and these titles that were pushed in my direction by the Lawlerman:

“Someone, Somewhere In Summertime”, “Promised You A Miracle” and “Glittering Prize”.

I give you a New Gold Dream: a cure for childhood cancer.

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