EU

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For main website please visit: www.mikeseumarathons.eu

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Feb/Mar/Apr Update

May has arrived and the challenge is now 3 years old!  I've run 2 more marathons and 1 half-marathon since my last post adding an additional £1600 for Invest In ME.

Here's a quick re-cap on how things have gone......

Malta Marathon (No.15 of 28)

On Feb 25th I ran my 15th EU Marathon starting in Mdina in the Maltese countryside and finishing at the coast in Sliema.


                    
         Flying the flag in sunny Malta!                                                                 Ben, Jay and I with our medals

It was a tough race with a very early start with the temperature hotting up from 14 to 23c by the end.  I got round safely despite a really bad cold and two bad calves.  Full race report here.

Belfast

I can't tell you how cold it was here

A couple of weeks later I flew over to spend St Patrick's Day in Belfast with my buddy and fellow Invest In ME marathon fundraiser Ben Scott.  After taking on a lot of Guinness we went for a bit of a run as part of the East Antrim Marathon Series, both earning ourselves a fantastic giant bottle opener medal for running the minimum required distance of about 4 miles!  

We had a beer on the way round in bitterly cold conditions and stopped to cheer the proper runners under a bridge, joyously finishing joint-last!  This was the weekend when it snowed loads over in England, we got stranded in Belfast for another night.  Not a major problem as there were plenty of pubs to shelter in!

Devizes Half Marathon


Cheeky Half

Getting back to proper training for Vienna, I told my Facebook page that I'd run Devizes if they could help me round up my sponsorship total to the nearest hundred.  They duly obliged and I entered the hilly, chilly Devizes Half.  It was a well organised and supported course which I really enjoyed, lots of uphill but equally some really fun downhill and I was pleased to come away with my 2nd fastest Half time of 1hr 49 mins.

After the race I met with Roger and Michelle Bourlet from Devizes and their family.  They very kindly let me use their shower and fed me delicious cake.  I heard more about their daughter Maddie who is bedbound with ME and I got to pop my head in to say hi.  It was really shocking seeing and hearing how the illness had affected her and I really hope she improves soon and wish the family well.


Bourlet family

Roger and Michelle very kindly donated £500 to Invest In ME's biomedical research projects and I was pleased to hear that Michelle would be at their conference in June, hopefully we'll meet up.  

Danish ME Magazine


Big in Denmark!


Some nice coverage in Denmark ahead of my trip there in May for number 17.  Thanks to Helle Rasmussen and the Danish ME Association for the interview and 2 page spread in their monthly magazine.  I'm working closely with them to see if we can take advantage of the May 12th ME Awareness Day and get some exposure for their work in Denmark and highlight the necessity for biomedical research.

ME in Austria

I spoke to Sebastian, Barbara and Sonja who are 3 people with ME living in Austria.  Click here to see what they had to tell me.


Back in beautiful (and crazy hot) Vienna


It's clear that like much of Europe, there's a real lack of knowledge and understanding about M.E. in Austria.  More stories of patients being misdiagnosed, told there's nothing wrong with them and being denied basic human rights.  But at least the new Facebook group CFS Hilfe is uniting people and starting to make waves over there.  I wish them the best of luck as they've been really supportive to my challenge.

Pendine Sands

Over Easter we went to Pembrokeshire and I decided to get in some beach running on the 7 mile long Pendine Sands.  Pendine is the stretch of beach where Malcolm Campbell broke the world land speed record (146 mph in 1924), it was great to be running in his tyre tracks.  I got 11 miles done, having to turn round when the sand got very deep and the tide started coming in!


On your marks. Won my 1 man race


We stayed at Pendine Sands B&B who very generous and sponsored me as well as posting on their Facebook page about the challenge.  It then occurred to me that I need to leave more of my 'business cards' where I stay and meet new people in order to get more donations and publicity for ME research.


Wiltshire Gazette

I got a little bit of press in the Wiltshire Gazette just before (and after!) Devizes Half.  No picture and they were a bit abrupt but hopefully someone saw it and maybe changed their mind about M.E.

Mr Harley indeed

I also had a nice 'retweet' from the organisers of the half marathon and BBC Radio Wiltshire got in touch for an interview, then went quiet on me -something I've become a bit used to on the challenge at times.

Summer Halfs

After a couple of successful halfs last year and one this year so far, I thought it would be good to keep motivated with a couple more hot, hilly halfs until Estonia in September.



Heron is the nickname of RNAS Yeovilton and I'll be running the half marathon there on June 10th.  It looks like a decent race and there's showers and a bbq happening afterwards so hopefully will be fun.  As ever I'll try to reach out to local papers and see if we can get some more donations in.


Sturminster Half in Dorset on Sunday August 5th is a nice little half in the countryside and should be a good challenge.  Looks like it's organised by a friendly running club and it's got good reviews so more than happy to give it a go for the first time too.


Half thoughts 

Before last year, I was quite indifferent to running Half Marathons as part of my marathon training.  I didn't really see the point of paying c£50 to run them when I was already running further around the streets and cycle paths near my house.  I ran Bath Half a couple of times before I started the challenge and both experiences left me a bit cold really.  They were large, over-subscribed and poorly organised races that were expensive and frustrating.



But I've had a bit of a change of heart more recently.  I ran Frome Half and Bridgwater Half last year and felt good about them.  I was able to meet supporters and patients, post some decent times and take advantage of challenging conditions (Frome; hilly.  Bridgwater; torrential rain) which could have only been positive for my training.  

Some positives that I've found which have driven me to book some more....

  • The smaller half marathons are fairly local (within 1 hr commute) and cost around £15-25 which isn't too bad.  
  • I only run my marathons abroad so this is a great chance to meet people who have supported me.
  • I usually am able to get a bit of local media press for Invest In ME and raise awareness for people with ME.  I've had sponsorship from new people as a result which has boosted the total.
  • Most are very well organised and often have showers there too.
  • I get a nice Sunday pub lunch afterwards.

I've got a new shirt to wear at the halfs.  Carefully designed so that those running behind me can educate themselves on M.E.

                      

From a training point of view, 13 miles might not be as far as say a 17 mile run that I have on the plan but in a race situation I will inevitably work to a higher intensity which again is good training.  Also as I always seem to struggle at the end of marathons, it feels good to finish a half marathon, it's more my kind of distance and I can drive for wet weather/flat/hilly/hot PB's.


Vienna Marathon (No.16 of 28)

Another Spring marathon and yep, another one at 30C.  Not at all what I was expecting but I got through it in one piece.  My second slowest time so far but it was an impressive course with some fantastic views of the Danube and stunning architecture.


Steamy beer/medal combo
                                                                                                                                                                                             Cool carpet

My race report for Vienna can be read here


Cyprus


Looking good Cyprus

My first race of 2019 and number 21 of 29 will be Cyprus Marathon in Paphos on March 17th.  I had the choice of Cyprus or Limassol marathons on the island but chose the former as the airport transfer was easy and the course was more historic and not just all coastal.  

I know I can expect a warm race there but I've got a bit longer to train over the Christmas break so hopefully will have enough time to train well and give it a good go.  It'll be my first trip to Cyprus and I'll be aiming to spend more than just 36 hours there as I've had to recently with the trips.


Plans for Copenhagen




As I type, Copenhagen (number 17) and International ME Awareness Day is just over a week away!  I fly in the day before and I hope to meet meet up with any patients who are well enough and if possible any local media who might be interested in the challenge.  I'm working on approaches to the press in collaboration with the Danish ME Association.  Also Copenhagen Marathon have also asked for more information which is great.  This weekend I will be recording a message in support of people with ME in Denmark to be shared on online for May 12th.

Hopefully we'll be able to do a quick boat trip and see a little of Copenhagen before I make the start line on Sunday morning.

So all in all a very busy, challenging but fully worthwhile 3 months!

Thanks for your support and for reading.

Mike


If you'd like to sponsor me you can do so below!

www.justgiving.com/mikeseumarathons or text 'IIME82' and £1, £3, £5 to 70070

Total Sponsorship Raised: £11705
Social Media Followers: 1993
Miles Covered: 218
Average Temp: 14C
Lessons Learned: Mike hates running in heat still

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Nov/Dec/Jan Update

Hi all, so I'm through relatively quiet race-less 3 months and a week away from race 15 of 28 in Malta!

November was mostly spent recovering from the two marathons in October.  I went to a few gigs, ate and drank copiously and firmed up my plans for 2018.

2018 Races


Bit of everything here!  

First trips to Malta, Denmark and Estonia here, been to Austria and Bulgaria previously.  Expecting a bit of rain and mild conditions in Malta (15C), then the next 4 could be anything really.

Training

With Malta in late February I needed to run through December and the Christmas period for the first time so far in 3 years of the challenge.  Usually I take December off as my first race of the year is March/April so it created a few logistical challenges to get the long weekend runs done.



I hit some key milestones in December (1000m for 2018, 3000m for the challenge)

I had to take it easy with gigs/parties and make sure that if I went away for the weekend that I still got in the important Saturday run.  Very tricky but I got through it fine until the very end of December.

Rituximab Null Result

News came through in November that Phase 3 of the Rituximab Trial in Norway had produced a negative result.  This was a major blow following the promise of the first two phases and quite unexpected but useful data has been collected which hopefully can be used to understand the disease better.  They have my full confidence that the money they've crowd-funded for the trial from patients will be used to the best effect.


Statement from Invest In ME:

The statement from Haukeland University, Bergen from Professor Mella is a major disappointment for people with ME and their families.

What had looked to be a promising line of research that could lead to an effective treatment for a subgroup of patients defined by the Canadian Criteria and major understanding of the pathology of this disease has proven to be inconclusive.

Naturally, at the charity, everyone is disappointed. We are disappointed for all the ME patients and carers and families and friends.  We are especially disappointed for all of our supporters and all who have made such generous and tireless efforts to raise funds and awareness of our campaign.

We are very disappointed also for the Haukeland research team - a wonderful team who have brought hope to all patients - and, importantly, brought new insight into this disease and new interest from other areas.  However, we have found, throughout 12 years of trying to change the way that ME is perceived, researched and treated that it is never easy.

It would be easy to give up, to resign oneself to nothing changing, to accept the status quo.  But we think differently.

We see the positives in this research which has been performed by researchers of the utmost integrity who have not made headlines for the sake of it but have thoroughly conducted outstanding research, and still retained a humility that is to their credit and that of their colleagues and team.

We have an excellent research team in Norway which has served the ME patient community and their families with honesty, integrity, professionalism, determination and an empathy which had never been seen before in this field.

We have established good working relationships between the Norwegian researchers and the UK Centre with input from UCL and UEA/Quadram Institute.

We have data now – more than before.  We have research which IiMER has established and a foundation for the Centre of Excellence for ME.  We have international collaboration in research into ME that will continue.

The researchers from Haukeland will give more detail on their results and publish a paper or two which will benefit all studying ME.  For us, we have invited the Haukeland team to Norwich to discuss the way forward.

We remain positive. Another setback, another day.

We have already been in discussion with our advisors and with the Norwegian team and we will meet to clarify the best way forward in the near future with our major funder and researchers.  We still have much good research being funded and being planned and feel our strategy is, and will pay off and lead to the most rapid route to finding cause(s) of ME and effective treatments.

Injuries




Familiar ice block drill

For the first time really since I started running I had some quite difficult injuries in late December up until early February.  I'd hurt my achilles and then both calves from possibly taking on too many hills as part of training and was laid up for 2-3 weeks after a few false starts on runs having to limp home after a mile or so.  After resting up and a sports massage, chiropractor session and lots of ice/heat applications I eventually got back out for the long runs at least.

I wrote a blog on how I was doing: here

Malta ME Alliance

I was introduced to the Malta ME, CFS & Fibromyalgia Alliance who have been very receptive and helpful to the challenge.  They've written off to local media with my press release and have posted on their social media sites too.  From looking at their work, it appears that they're doing some really good advocacy there for patients and providing vital support to the community.


Malta is legalising medicinal cannabis to be prescribed by doctors for pain relief for people with chronic illnesses which sounds like a major breakthrough.  More info here

I spoke to them about life with ME in Malta and here's a summary of what I found out.  I'm hoping to meet anyone well enough when I arrive for a chat, who knows maybe there might be a last minute TV appearance!  Malta Marathon very kindly posted a piece on my challenge on their Facebook page which has had over 50 shares and helped bring in more donations to ME research.



Invest In ME Conference

The annual conference featuring the world's best researchers and scientists is back for it's 13th time in London on June 1st and I'm delighted to be invited again.



I'll be live tweeting throughout the full day and hope to hear some positive updates from the likes of Ron Davis, Mady Hornig, Oystein Fluge and many others.  For more information on this world-leading conference click here.

Pace Trial Westminster Debate

Scottish MP Carol Monaghan has secured a 30 min debate at Westminster about the widely discredited PACE trial which has done so much damage to people with ME in the UK and across the world.



I've written to my MP Karin Smyth (Bristol South) but she hasn't replied sadly.  This follows hot on the heels of a screening of the film Unrest at Parliament, hopefully the government's perception of this illness is starting to change.

Ben and Jay in Malta

I'm lucky to be joined by fellow Invest In ME fundraiser and good mate Ben Scott for the race in Malta.  Ben has previously run Dublin and Barcelona marathons with me on this challenge and he'll be joined by his brother Jay who is taking on his first marathon!

                        




Thanks all for your support through my injury period and with recent ramp up in donations, delighted to say we've got over £10000!!


Catch up soon.

If you'd like to sponsor me you can do so below!

www.justgiving.com/mikeseumarathons or text 'IIME82' and £1, £3, £5 to 70070

Total Sponsorship Raised: £10103
Social Media Followers: 1914
Miles Covered: 167
Average Temp: 8C
Lessons Learned: Rest really is the best treatment for injuries

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Aug/Sept/Oct Update

I'm now halfway in my challenge to run a marathon in all 28 EU countries!  3 years done and 3 to go.

It's been an extremely busy last 3 months where I've run 3 marathons including my best ever and raised around £2000 for Invest In ME's biomedical research projects.

Here's my round up.....


Rituximab £520K Target Reached


Congratulations and thanks to everyone who has helped Invest In ME to hit their target for conducting their own Rituximab Trial.  The drug has recently finished Phase3 of it's double-blinded trial in Norway with the results due to be published in early 2018.  If this stage goes as well as the previous two it could provide a huge breakthrough in providing a significant improvement to some patients.  I can remember when we started the '92 challenge' in 2014 and the total was at £260K, fantastic effort to crowdfund such a figure from their supporters.


Lyrtas Interview


                                   

Some national press coverage in Lithuania!  Really grateful to Lina for her help following our Skype interview.  Initially it was meant for the Vilnius Marathon Facebook page so I was delighted to see it picked up Lyrtas and Vilniuje websites.


Bridgwater Half



The weekend before Vilnius Marathon I decided on the spur of the moment to run Bridgwater Half Marathon in Somerset.  It was torrential rain throughout but a flat course and cool temperature which allowed me to run my fastest ever race half of 1hr 44 mins, beating the previous best by 9 minutes!


ME in Lithuania



It was difficult to track down patients in Lithuania due to the language barrier but mainly because the illness isn't recognised by the health authorities there.  Thanks to my friend Juli, we were able to interview Aleksas who told me more about his experience of living with ME in Lithuania.

Click here to read.


Vilnius (#12 Lithuania)


On September 10th I ran my best race so far with a time of 3 hrs 55 mins beating Brussels last year by 3 minutes.  It was a hilly course in places but I felt good on the day and enjoyed the course and support from the locals.  Read my race report here


NICE & ME in the news



Good news as it's been decided that the NICE guidelines (effectively how ME is treated in the UK) will be soon updated.  Well overdue and whilst still not a guarantee of a change, it does show that the hard work and advocacy of patients and Invest In ME is starting to break through to the mainstream.

Daily Telegraph 
Daily Mail

Throughout the Summer, there were several pieces in national newspapers that appeared to show an appetite for changing or maybe just balancing their coverage of ME. Sadly there was still a lot of attention for the dangerous quack therapy peddled by Esther Crawley called the Lightning Process. 


ME in the Netherlands



I was very fortunate to collect 3 very different perspectives on life with ME in the Netherlands.  With thanks to Rob, Anil and Frank this article received the largest audience of any post on my site and was kindly shared by a number of Dutch patient groups.  Click here to read.


Anil Van Der Zee Interview



Anil interviewed me for his website which helped us raise quite a bit of sponsorship, you can read it here

South Bristol Voice



It was great to get a rare bit of coverage in my home town in September as the South Bristol Voice kindly published my story.  The editor Paul was very keen to help and learn more about the illness.  He told me that once he uploaded the story, one of his delivery staff told him they had ME -he had no idea.  Scroll through to page 29 to read.


'Business cards'


Another brainwave from my friend Ian!  Business cards to hand out when I get talking about the challenge.  They're credit card sized and fit well in my wallet, hopefully will bring in some donations!


Amsterdam (#13 Netherlands)



Amsterdam Marathon was warmer than expected but I got round fine just 5 weeks after Vilnius.  I really enjoyed the course of canals, bridges, parks and a fantastic stadium finish.  A very flat course that on a cooler day I think could have been another personal best but I was happy to get around without injuries in 4 hrs 1 minute.  Click here to read my race report.


Severe ME Blog - Meeting Anil


After the race in Amsterdam I was able to meet my friend Anil for a few minutes at his apartment.  It was great to see him and inspired me to write a short blog (so far 12,000 unique views).

Unrest



I went to watch 'Unrest' in Bristol shortly after my trip to the Netherlands.  The film was a very moving biographical account from Jen Brea of her struggle with the disease.  It has been shown all over the world, often onsite at hospitals where the aim is to encourage medical professionals and the public to understand the illness better.  There was also a showing in Parliament with MP's in attendance which I hope has helped to raise awareness and move ME up their agenda a little.

You can download and watch the film here


ME in Slovenia


At the 11th hour, we managed to find some patients in Slovenia to talk to about their experiences with ME.  You can read what they had to say here.


Ljubljana (#14 Slovenia)



Number 14 of 28 done.  It was a bit of a battle in truth as it came 2 weeks after Amsterdam.  My hips and quads were in trouble with 10 miles to go but I got round in a fairly respectable 4 hrs 20 mins.  It was great to be back in Ljubljana and I was fortunate to have 3 nights there.  Click here to read my race report.


ME Centre Of Excellence


                           

Next year sees Invest In ME's 'Centre Of Excellence' begin in the new Quadram building at Norwich Research Park - a huge and exciting milestone.  Info from the charity:

"Our overall goal is to fund a continuing foundation of biomedical research in a Centre of Excellence for ME which allows research hypotheses to be created and tested and facilitates and establishes further international collaboration in research - with an urgency that reflects the needs of this situation. 

International collaboration is not something that we have just discovered and promoted for the sake of looking good.  We have been publicising this need for many years and our international biomedical research into ME Colloquiums in London have been geared to establish, facilitate and promote this collaboration.

By maintaining a regular annual intake of new PhDs and post-docs we will enable real progress to be delivered and international collaboration and joint funding to be augmented.

The plan is to perform the UK rituximab trial - working with the researchers from Haukeland University Hospital Bergen to help make an effective and useful research project"


2018 plans

With 2017 races finished, I'm keen to get to 1000 miles for the year which means I'll be running over Christmas for the first time, training for Malta in February.

My current plan is....

#15 - 25th Feb - Malta (Malta)
#16 - 22nd Apr - Vienna (Austria)
#17 - 13th May - Copenhagen (Denmark)

#18 - 23rd Sept - Berlin (Germany) - If selected in ballot, find out early Dec
#19 - 14th Oct - Zagreb (Croatia) - depending on whether get into Berlin!

Running Pledge

I'm writing it down so I stick to it:

In 2018 I'm going to aim to run a PB (sub 3 hrs 55 mins) with 2 other sub 4 hour marathons and all 5 in under 4 hrs 25 mins. 


I'll also be...

  • Aiming to run a few more local half marathons where hopefully I'll get to meet more supporters and patients to raise awareness.
  • Organising and hosting a fundraising night in Bristol where I can update on my journey so far and use the 250 Pieminster Pies that they've kindly pledged.
  • Attempting to reach mainstream UK media and running magazines as the challenge heads closer to the end.
  • Working on ideas for my next challenge -important to have something lined up for when I finish!

Thanks again for all of your kind support, if you'd like to make a donation to Invest In ME's amazing research projects to find a cure for M.E then please visit:

www.justgiving.com/mikeseumarathons or text 'IIME82' and £1, £3, £5 to 70070

Total Sponsorship Raised: £9520
Social Media Followers: 1815
Miles Covered: 300
Average Temp: 20C
Lessons Learned: Will need to be better prepared for 2 races in a 3 week period next year!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

May/Jun/July Update

11 down, 17 to go!


It's been a busy 3 months on the challenge where I've run my hottest/worst marathon, attended my first ME research conference and secured a donation of 250 pies from a national retailer....

Vienna Marathon (Number 16, April 2018)

I booked my 2nd marathon for next year which will be Vienna Marathon!  I passed through Vienna on my honeymoon and had 2 days to explore, it'll be great to go back to the city once again to run this race.


It's a big race in it's 34th year and last year over 42,000 runners all entered with the half, relay and full marathon runners all starting together.

Millions Missing (May 12th)

As with last year, May 12th is ME Awareness Day globally and more demonstrations/protests were held across the world to campaign for biomedical research and health equality from their governments.  The protests managed to get quite a bit of publicity, the best of which I thought was over in Dublin below....

Dublin Millions Missing Demo

There wasn't one in Bristol this time around but it was heartening to see Juli and our Polish support group involved with an online protest.  She's done some incredible work posting news in there and encouraging conversations, now up to 80 members and with an additional Millions Missing page too.



Maranoia

I wrote a quick blog piece about 'Maranoia'


Check it out here!  Maranoia Blog

#11 Luxembourg Marathon


At the start ahead of a super-tough race through heat, hills and tiredness.

Number 11 was an insanely hot (32C at race start) Luxembourg Night Marathon.  My first ever night marathon though in truth it didn't get dark (or cool down) until very late on.  It was a tough course with high elevation in the last 6 miles and it's fair to say that the heat definitely dismissed any chance of a tilt at my PB.


Next day traditional, steak, beer and medal pic

I got round OK though and enjoyed the fantastic support from the locals and the spectacular views on the course.

Full race report here: Luxembourg (#11)

Invest In ME Conference, London

Invest In ME kindly invited us to the annual ME conference in London and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.


 Great to see Nancy van Hoylandt again from EMEA and the Belgian ME Association

I had a full sized banner next to the Invest In ME and European ME Alliance stands and it was great to meet so many of the amazing researchers and scientists that I have heard so much about.  It was good to meet so many people who have supported and followed the challenge so far too including Emma, Arnold, Helen, Kathleen, Richard, Tony, Nancy, Alice and others.


Loved having my own banner!

There was certainly a lot of positivity about the research underway to find successful treatments and with the likes of Professors Mella, Fluge, Davis, Cambridge and co on the case there's certainly reason to feel optimistic that things will improve soon for patients globally.


Cat took this fantastic pic of David Tuller tearing up the PACE trial

To buy the DVD which has full coverage of all the talks, please click here

Meeting Helle and Copenhagen (#17)

I met Helle Rasmussen and partner Keith after our '92 in 92' football stadium challenge for Invest In ME in 2014 and we met up again in Bristol in early June.  Helle does some great advocacy work in Denmark despite having ME herself and has always been a great supporter of my challenges for Invest In ME.


Meeting her again inspired me to shift my plans around and run Copenhagen as race number 17 next year.  I've booked flights and will be formally entering the race as soon as entries open soon.  It'll be my first trip to Denmark and I'm hopeful of meeting up with the Danish ME Association over there.



Sponsors and Pies

I wrote off to 15 businesses on my street in Bristol for help with the cost of covering flights, hotels and race entries to keep the challenge going.


I love Pieminster Pies!

I only had one reply, from Pieminster Pies who have kindly offered me up to 250 pies to sell at a fundraising event.  Just need to figure out what sort of event to put on now!

Frome Half Marathon 

I had 13 miles down on the training plan for Vilnius and under advice from my physio Martin, I hunted around for a good half marathon race to run it.  I found Frome and was surprised to see how hilly it was!  Being in July also I thought hills and heat would be great training for my autumn marathons.


Entry was a little over £20 and Frome is around an hour's drive from me which was great.  I had a nice message from Becky Hatfield whose daughter Eloise is wheelchair-bound with ME and she said that they'd be keen to cheer me on.  Becky's friend Sally who has M.E also came with Jay and it was great to have a chat with them all after the gruelling little course.


Anna, Me, Phil, Becky, Sally (front left), Eloise -my Frome fanclub

I got around in 1hr 53 which beat my previous half-marathon best (Bath, 2009, 1hr 56) and on a course with 4x the elevation too.  We got a cloudy day and almost perfect running conditions but it was valuable training and great to make new friends.

Flying

It occured to me that by the end of the challenge I will have taken 56 flights to 28 countries.  That's a lot of mileage, carboon footprint and take off and landings for someone who doesn't enjoy flying at all.  I'm ok once we're in the air although anything over 2 hours makes me fidget.  I can't sleep outside of my bed even when I'm at my tiredest or after a race so I usually read running biographies or listen to music.


It's amazing seeing the landscapes of the countries we pass over and land in.  I always have seat 7A -a superstition really, it's a window seat furthest forward on the plane without having to pay more per seat.  I tend to book my flights the day they get released to keep costs down but I've fallen foul of this recently as airlines can change the flight times making it impossible for me to make the races -had this recently with Vilnius and had to re-book a more expensive flight, grrr.

Most flights I'm OK but taking off and landings are my major problem.  Cat's hand gets squeezed very tightly.  I've never liked rollercoasters and avoid theme parks at all costs so the point at which the planes wheels leave the ground it's usually panic stations for me.


The biggest worry for me about this entire challenge isn't that I won't be able to run the marathons, it's that within 56 flights, it's likely that at least one will be severely delayed, cancelled or at my most pessimistic, crash.  It's the unfortunate part of living on an island that you need to fly everywhere to get anywhere.  I'm actively looking at a way of (non-financially) offsetting my carbon footprint somehow, if you have any ideas how to do this let me know!  The only ideas I have so far are to use the car/public transport less and walk more and stay meat-free (it takes a huge amount of energy to process meat).  Hopefully there's more I can do to limit my damage to the environment.

Vibro & Veggie

So with 3 races coming up over a 7 week period, it's essential that I'm at physical peak fitness!  I'm hopeful that the summer/warmer weather training will help me to hit a PB in the autumn races as it did last year and the year before.  October has always been my best month for running and I want that to continue as I aim to go under 4 hours for at least 2 of the remaining 3 races of the year.



It's important for me to feel that my running is progressing and that I'm getting better despite growing in age each year.  My aim is to drop 14lbs by the next race, which is a tough ask but possible if I stay disciplined (and anti-social), turning down beers/nights out and junk food.  In order to this I've decided to revert back to my vegetarian diet of earlier in the year.  I'm 4 weeks in now and finding it easy to stay meat free with no ill effects.

I've also bought a 'Vibro plate' -yes, I know it's a bit weird.  But I've read positive things about it from runners and it's proven to exercise the entire body.  Standing on it for 15 minutes on it's top speed is a very odd experience but it should help me tone and tighten muscles to enable me to build core strength and help with the latter stages of the races.  Hopefully I'll notice the difference soon!

Vilnius Marathon Interview

Perhaps a turning point for press coverage for the challenge, Lina from Vilnius Marathon dropped me a message and we had a skype interview.


Took a break from painting my lounge to talk to Lina

Waiting for it to be published but it was a pleasant surprise and she seemed very interested in M.E and hopefully we can raise some awareness in Lithuania.  I'm interviewing a patient there currently so hope to report back on their experiences living with the illness soon.

Autumn 

So next up is Vilnius Marathon on September 10th (number 12 of 28).  Unfortunately it's quite tricky getting to Lithuania so I need to change flights at Warsaw, hopefully I've allowed enough time.  I'll be flying back almost immediately after the race too as Cat needs to work on Monday, fingers crossed I'll get a shower first and that our flights aren't delayed!


I'm runner number 61 for this quirky 2 lap race around Vilnius

After that it's Amsterdam (Oct 15th) and then Ljubljana (Oct 29th), this will be a real test and it's vital I'm in peak shape to take on the challenge.  I've never done 2 in 3 weeks before so it's going to take a lot of physical and mental strength to get out of October in one piece.

Thanks again for all of your kind support, if you'd like to make a donation to Invest In ME's amazing research projects to find a cure for M.E then please visit:

www.justgiving.com/mikeseumarathons or text 'IIME82' and £1, £3, £5 to 70070

Total Sponsorship Raised: £7257
Social Media Followers: 1614
Miles Covered: 227
Average Temp: 18C
Lessons Learned: To keep reading, learning and asking for running advice.