Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Monday, 11 July 2011

Run Done!

Quick pace smoothly maintained, with no speed-walks or slug jogs, and 51 minutes later (at least 20min faster than I'd anticipated!!!!!) I happily finished and had this bottle of diluted goo presented to me. I did drink at least half of it, trying to convince myself that it would do what the advertisements say it does, i.e., make me turn neon and fly across the world sequined in beads of glamourous sweat or whatever high-energy sports people do. I also got a free running magazine full of ads for shoes and more Gatorade, a sample bag of some kind of granola, and my very own medal so I could pretend I was the Grand Wiener.  

I did not even get to the start line until 10:19, partly because the race started late, but more so because it takes a while to funnel 25,000 people through an arch that was basically a bouncy castle without the bottom part for jumping on. And I also have no photos from any part of the event except for a few after I finished (I swear I ran it. I did, I did!) A mishap at 7:30am resulted in me inside a tube car and the Early-Morning Motivational Unit (Sean Bonney) on the outside. Camera, banners, race info, map were all with me in a bag, and Sean Bonney was left behind on the platform. We waited for each other at the wrong stations. My anger was too great to take any photos, and I checked my bag in with head hanging. Obviously the camera could not come with. I trudged towards the start on my own, too gloomy to chat to anyone on the Brain Team.

Once it all started, my mantra, "it's not a race, it's not a race, take it easy", was immediately discarded as I found myself in a busy market/shopping mall scenario, surrounded on all sides by bodies. Pressed together. For the entire 10km. I get very angry in such situations: when I am on a mission and there are crowds in the way I nearly start pushing and shoving and have the pedestrian equivalent to vehicular road rage. The entire route was an obstacle course of bodies, thousands of plastic water bottles flying through the air (wish I had the camera), and regular objects on the pavement, like bins and bollards and ordinary people walking by. The sensible runners who remembered "it's not a race, it's not a race", had a lovely time but unintentionally forced impatient cretins like myself to start leaping and swerving about dangerously, hopping on and off curbs and annoying the stewards who were meant to keep everyone on the road and within the confines of the ribbons. 

One of the problems is that human beings have yet to be equipped with rear-view mirrors, and everyone bobs about and the gaps for zooming and over-taking fluctuate, opening and closing without notice. The other problem is one can't really get angry in these situations. You have to smile even when a gob of spit flies within two inches of your face, because the spitter didn't know you were coming up quickly behind him. All for charity, ah.

It was about a quarter of an hour after finishing that I met up with Early-Morning Motivational Unit (whom I managed to catch sight of while running!) at the pre-designated after-race location. He stood alongside Race-Finishing Motivational Unit (Paul Sutton, maker and provider of the finest cakes), and Race-Finishing Motivational Unit 2 (Sharon Borthwick, to whom I am Lady-in-Waiting and must report). 

We all shared a nacho at the Brain Tumour UK HQ, the Texas Embassy, as well as some lovely margaritas. It was lovely to speak to fellow Brain Team members and some of the charity's organisers after the panic of the obstacle course was over. Difficult for everyone in the room to have to stop and think about why/who they had been running for as a few speeches were made, but we squished together for a sweaty group photo and all was well. Drinks and ideas shared. And I believe there will be a photo of me actually running that will be put up on the Brain Tumour UK website, so I will give word soon. And there were balloons too. I like balloons. I can't touch them or my skin will fall off, but I like balloons. 

I am very proud to have run for the charity and to have had so much support from everyone who donated to Brain Tumour UK on my behalf, as well as from those who gave me messages of love and luck and the like. More to come on this ... feeling a bit weepy and it's also time to get back to the PhD chapter I still haven't finished writing because I have spent many weeks focused on my brain rather than on its products. I do not feel guilty. I love my brain.

(My donation page will still be up for a bit, but don't let that stop you from donating to the charity at any time. I just might run next year too. And when I can double this length, that'll be a half-marathon. And then. Et cetera.)


Saturday, 9 July 2011

Pay Per View, Please

It is Almost Tomorrow

As you can see, it was a grumpy and difficult morning. But upon my return from the canals and the teams of weekend rowers with their careless coaches zooming along the pathways on their stupid bicycles with no consideration for everybody who was consequently forced up against the edge of the canal (which has no barrier - if you fall you fall and it's greasy and gross in there), I felt a bit better. I had a bran muffin. I had cheese on toast. I ate some chocolate. It is now time for some broccoli, before I begin sitting around, restless and eventually sleepless for tomorrow morning.

Start time is 09:35 at Piccadilly. The Race Route Map, as well as a Landmark Map for all you crazy lovers of palaces and downing streets and royals courts is available at here. It's in the side menu, almost invisible among all the overwhelming blinking ads and animated gifs. The finish line is on Whitehall but will be inaccessible for meeting-up. Apparently "if you are planning to meet up with family and friends post-race, do so on Victoria Embankment, as it will be less crowded [?] and easier to meet up." Is that so. I don't believe their little race programme. 

At any rate I will most likely be done by 10:30 and then make my way towards the Texas Embassy with my complementary bottle of Gatorade and stupid red face. There is also grass in front of the National Gallery, where it is comfortable and pleasant and free to sit down. All you have to do is bring your own bottle and a sandwich, although it is my understanding that some nibbles may be provided in the restaurant around lunch time. After all, that's where the donations really go: alcohol and nachos.   :)

Thursday, 7 July 2011


There are only three more sleeps before I have to be in central London in early morning and probably feeling a bit ill. But the weather today is completely uncooperative - water slamming into the ground for hours at a time. How am I to run in this downpour of acid?

Yes, there is the option of the hamster wheel indoors at the gym, but it has actually been a few months since I ceased using that space for anything other than a few weights or for   some rowing machine that rows nowhere very fast. I have developed an outdoor gait - the hamster wheel just isn't helpful anymore. Way too easy, carries my weight for me. But even the track outdoors has not seen much of me for a few weeks, as it is increasingly filled with real athletes doing their summer training and/or frequent closure to the public (apparently I'm also "the public" even though I pay them to have a fucking membership for their stupid facility, the bastards) due to official sporting events. I'm a slob, my arms and legs move in a funny way, and the athletes make no secret of how amused they are. Whatever. Let them run their circles at disgustingly fast speed, and let the little exercising centre block my access to the track because everyone else is infinitely more important than me and the rest of the pleebs. And let them eat cake, because they're far too fit. It actually bothers me when I see people who have abdomens shaped like columns of multiple deformed breasts. Let them be Sport, for I have developed alternate plans, and they involve actually leaving the rat race and going somewhere, cuz I'm for real, and I can do it, and I'm the superstar, and I hate circles, and I'm worth it. I am Sloth, and I am Empowered.

So, having adjusted myself for actual movement and self-propulsion to and from places rather than single points on a circular track, I now have a lovely route that I know the actual distance of, and it gives me a much-needed sense of accomplishment in knowing that I can complete it. And I get to cross the reservoirs and canals, which is lovely, but always makes me move just a little bit faster, lest I happen to see something human and bloated bobbing in the water. It's a genuine fear. So I try not look - but isn't it just lovely, the reservoirs, the geese, the pastoral scenes.

Gasp - I see sun and clouds have actually cleared a little. All I had to do was pout and grumble, and the sky filled with a vague notion of sunshine. I enter into the exercise couture now and I shall report back.

(And my goal! My goal! Help me reach my monies goal!!!!! I don't even like running. I want to stop now, but I have signed on their lines in blood. Help! Help!)

Monday, 4 July 2011

Brain Quesadillas

TexMex is a fun little cuisine characterized by its partial Mexican-ishness that overflows with layers of American cheese, beef, and, beans, and ... spices! Did you know that "Chili con carne is the official dish of the U.S. state of Texas as designated by the House Concurrent Resolution Number 18 of the 65th Texas Legislature during its regular session in 1977."? Now you do. Other facts from our friends at Wikipedia:
"A common feature of Tex-Mex is the combination plate."
"Serving tortilla chips and a hot sauce or salsa as an appetizer is common in Tex-Mex restaurants." 

Now we throw brains into the mix. C'mon down to the Texas Embassy Cantina just off Trafalgar Square on the 10th of July. Brain Tumour UK will be based there for the day, comforting its herd of runners from 09:30 (race start) and on into the day. Friends and family are invited to come and eat over-priced TexMex food and have a drink. I will go there to be watered and given salt to lick when I finish shuffling, and then I might hang around a little bit, should anyone be in the neighbourhood and have hankering for tequila.


There Will be Blood

Me vs the 2007 diagnostic image. Message to Enemy: Nice try, asshole. I'm winning. Diabolical laughter with acid spit and tears.

Chicks Dig Scars

The hair was already short, so there was not much that needed to be removed. Scissors seem to have done a sufficient job of providing the necessary exposure of the scar, which really did heal rather beautifully. I don't think that clippers or even a razor will be necessary. Just need a hair grip to keep the remaining longer bits pulled back.

I am pleased to say that the lighting in the second photo was just right for capturing the location where the bone flap was removed - you can see it crossing the scar. When this area is covered in hair, there is a slight unevenness that is just barely visible at my hair line, but if you didn't know it was there, you wouldn't notice. Normally if I turn my head in just the right way when looking in the mirror, there is only just enough deformity to cast a shadow, and I have to look carefully. I'm surprised to see how prominent it is here. 

What isn't visible is the shape of the bone flap itself. It is a half circle (you can see it drawn on my head pre-surgery if you scroll down the page), and if move your fingers across that area, you can feel not only the dips in the skull, but little raised bits. The raised bits are the clips holding the bone in place. If you can read Braille, the bumps spell ... nothing, probably. And if you were a Victorian head reader, I don't know what you would find out. I imagine that other areas of my head already provide indications of all manner of Victorian Ladies' Diseases.

Next person to donate 50 quid can, if they choose, have the baggie of hair pictured below. Not very dramatic, I know. It's just a little clump. It isn't like I've shorn a large amount of luscious locks - my hair has been short and ridiculous for several years now, and attempts to grow it longer keep failing. Scissors are always too near. 

I've also just noticed that the baggie has bits of soap or something sticky inside it, for I am thrifty and used a bag from the toiletry case I use when traveling. I cannot entirely rule out the possibility that the hair itself is icky and sticky. You may not want this pathetic clump.

Or! The other option that has just occurred to me is as follows. The next person to donate 50 quid gets an object d'art containing this hair. Perhaps a little fluorescent salt-dough skull with this filamentous biomaterial protruding from the top. Or maybe a piece of scrap paper with glitter and stickers and popsicle sticks and hair smeared across it in glue, the kind of thing a small child might make in kindergarten, a depiction of some inexplicable view of the cosmos through the lens of cartoon fantasies and The Neverending Story. Eh? Or not.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Tories Are Tumours

Why not share your views? I'm sure Brain Tumour UK will be very polite in their upcoming visit (13 July) to the House of Commons, during which time they will speak on behalf of the flock of zipperheads they try to provide support for. What they should be doing is going in there with surgical saws and doing what is necessary to the thick skulls of high ranking officials who are Blue precisely because they were deprived of oxygen at birth, but money ensured they got to go to public school and then allowed them to assume office among a whole gaggle of other inbreds. Perhaps drop the charity a few lines they could use in their address to said gaggle.

In related news, for those of you in London, come and raise a vicious fuss on 5 July. Details here.

And, having said all of this, the run is in 8 days. I am extremely grateful to everyone who has been sending monies on my behalf. Means a lot to me.