Friday, 31 October 2008

how do I get word out ...?

As you will know, promoting the 365challenge to all and sundry is now my main focus with the challenge. I've raised a healthy amount, which I know will be added to even more over the year, but obviously, the more people I can find who can take on the challenge for themselves, and raise what they can in their own sponsorship, the greater the overall pot will be for Cancer Research UK.

So, how do I get word out? Any and all suggestions welcome, please.

I have made the local press and radio, emailed everyone I know (and some I don't!) and put some promotional material in my gym. This week, I contacted the head office of my gym - but have yet to hear back from them - to see if they will get behind 365challenge and promote it in their 24 branches. It seems a no-brainer to me, as it encourages members to be regular users and probably renew their memberships over the year, but hey, who said head office was populated with people with my take on things - i.e. with no brains!

But that got me thinking. So ... in the past couple of days, I've visited a few other gyms in the area and put the 365challenge to them too. Some initial interest, tempered with "we'll have to run it by the boss"-type responses, but at least they are going to do that! One gym manager loved the idea, but his club manager wouldn't take it on, as the gym supports another charity - so the gym manager is going to promote it personally to "a select few" he thinks might go for it! Good man!

Another gym has 78 branches in the UK, so I'll have to keep after them. Gaining just 5 365'ers in each of their gyms across the year would blow my target of 365 people taking the challenge clean away - and think what that would do to the overall pot.

This 365challenge-thingy is going to be my world for a while, isn't it!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

skiving ...?

It's a Tuesday in October, the SNOW(!) is falling outside (what's that all about then?), I've got 25 things that need attention in the office, but I'm skiving off today. Why? Because I can. Today marks the 4th anniversary of my move into full-time self-employment and if I can't take a day off now and again when I want to, then something's wrong!

Anyway, just because I was "off" doesn't mean that I haven't been busy.

Into the gym this morning at 6.45 and knocked off a few more kilometres. Discovered the Interval setting on the rowing machine and did two sets of 3 Km, 30 seconds flat out, 30 seconds recovery (slow rowing) (repeat) until I'd covered 3 Km, with 10 Km on the bike in between. I liked this way of doing it, as it gave me some variety across the time on the machine so I didn't get bored. And keeping it to 3 Km at a time meant that my hands didn't go numb, which is a real bonus!

Then spent some time making calls to people I'd spoken to in local gyms about the 365challenge - I really want to get some momentum behind this locally so I can present a clearer picture to CRUK when I speak to them next month. Got some positive responses, so will keep on top of this if I can, without becoming a complete pain.

Then spent some time doing "things that needed to get done", like sorting out some things at the bank, so not a complete skive of a day, just a day away from "proper" work. I expect I'll pay for it tomorrow, as I chase my tail catching up, but hey, if the boss can't give himself a day off, who can?

Sunday, 26 October 2008

celebrating ...

I was talking to Audrey, one of the people taking the 365challenge for CRUK, about the website she is developing for her effort. I mentioned my Remembering page, and suggested that she could put one of these on her site, and maybe send me photos to put on my Remembering page. "

But", she replied, "I'm doing this because of my dad, and he's a cancer survivor ... it doesn't feel right to put his photo on a "Remembering" page.

Then Audrey sent me a draft of her site (when it launches, I'll post a link for it), and she had included a "Remembering" page, but, clever girl, she'd also put up a "Celebrating" page, where she will post photos of people who have come through cancer and have something to shout about.

What a great idea!

I've now sent her some photos of me(!), cos I fit this category, and, with her blessing, I've created my own "Celebrating ... " page on the 365challenge website. Click on the link to visit it, and if you would like to celebrate someone (yourself or a loved one) who has survived cancer, please email photos and details through to me via the 365challenge site.

"it's early days, don't get carried away ..."

Anyone who has been watching this blog (and, come on, by the way, don't be shy, click on the follow me link and be a proud follower of 365) will know that I am committed to the 365challenge concept. When I came up with the idea, at first I thought it was a great way for me to motivate myself to put a serious amount of effort into supporting Cancer Research UK (CRUK) over a lengthy period. Then I realised that others liked the idea too and wanted to do their bit, so the concept developed, and became more flexible, as people developed their own 365challenges.

It was a no-brainer then for me to look at how to develop this idea further. I wanted to make 365challenge something that would grab the attention and serve as a way for more and more people to raise greater and greater amounts of money to support CRUK. And so I set about promoting the idea wherever I could. I spoke first with my local Area Volunteer Manager for CRUK, Liz, who got excited and told her boss, Peter, the Regional Manager.

He came to meet me, and ... he got excited too. And he went away and started telling people in CRUK.

Then, two weeks ago, Peter called me and asked me if I'd be willing to go to speak to the CRUK Central Region Volunteer Managers Conference, in Oxford in November, about the 365challenge. Duh ... yes! They wanted me to give a 30 minute presentation on the concept to around 50 people who deal with those people looking to do something to raise money for CRUK - the front-line folk who can promote the 365challenge to the public - of course I'll do it! That's brilliant, a chance to get this idea out there to an audience who want ideas they can push ... let me at them!

I was excited enough at this, but then last week, Peter was back to me. "Colin, I know you've agreed to come and talk to the Volunteer Managers Conference next month, but would you mind coming to another conference a few days before that one too ... this one is in Chester (so it's on your doorstep, and easier for you to get to) but ... it's the Events Team Conference ... I've been speaking to them and they are keen to learn more about 365challenge".

When and where is my reply - of course I'll speak to them ... oh, who are they, by the way ...?

A couple of calls later, and I know.

Now I AM excited. I have to temper this with the mantra "it's early days, don't get carried away ...", but ... John called me, the Events Team manager. This is the team that looks at fund-raising ideas for CRUK and decides whether or not to get behind them and support them formally. This is the team who got behind the "Race for Life" concept, and made it the huge national success that is has become.

60 or 70 of these people are coming to Chester next month, and little ole' me is going to have 30 minutes to get them as excited about the 365challenge as I am. John told me that he really likes the idea and thinks it could be something they would support. So ... if I pull this off, and they see the real potential for 365challenge ... this thing could be huge!

("it's early days, don't get carried away ...")

Watch this space!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

remembering ...

Following on from a brief chat with Anouska, and building on an earlier idea, I've decided to create a new page on my 365challenge website to remember all of those loved ones lost to cancer - so people can see the vibrant, lively people they were and know why we are taking on these physical challenges and pushing ourselves to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

The page is called "Remembering ..." - click through and have a look, then let me know what you think.

At this stage, I've just got photos of Brenda, my sister, and the inspiration behind the 365challenge, and Debbie, Anouska's reason for her 365challenge. But I want to put up photos of the people who have inspired the other 365'ers too, as well as the loved ones of those who had a reason to sponsor me.

So if you have someone you'd like to include in the "Remembering ..." page, drop me an email, with some photos and some details of the person you want to remember. The address is on the website.

check out Anouska's 365challenge ...

I know I've mentioned that there are other people taking on the 365challenge since I launched the idea back in September, but I've given little information on them really. A couple have started - Carl and Mark - but they are at varying stages of sorting out sponsorship pages, etc., still, so I've not given too much detail here as yet.

However, one of the 365'ers has launched her site just today, and I'd love to give her a plug and encourage you to visit the site and see what she is up to. Her name is Anouska Watkins, and she is taking on the 365challenge in memory of her friend, Debbie, who died two years ago, aged just 27. She has devised a brilliant challenge, so click through on Anouska's 365challenge and see what she's up to.

Go for it Anouska!

Monday, 13 October 2008

come on, follow me ...

Now, I know there are people out there who read this blog ... I know, because they tell me that they do. But you'd never know by just looking at my blog, would you, because in the two months or so I've been writing it, I've had just 2 - count them, 1 ..., 2 - comments, and they've both been from the same person!

Okay, so I like writing it, and it keeps me entertained ... but I'd really like to know that it's not all just for my personal pleasure. So I noticed earlier today that Blogger had a nifty new widget that I could add to the sidebar (go on, scroll down a little, see, there it is ... follow this blog), that allows YOU - my dear, occasional other reader - to show your allegiance by clicking on a link that would allow you to show yourself as a follower of the 365challenge blog! You can even add a picture (or remain anonimous if you must) ... but hey, it would be great if a few of you lurkers out there gave me at least a little inkling that I'm not waffling on into the (completely empty) ether.

Come on. give me a boost and reveal yourselves/(self!) ...

one-handed rowing ...

I don't know if you've noticed from my "Track my Progress" page, but while I'm keeping on with the rowing part of the challenge, I've not exactly gone all out on this rowing thing. I DO enjoy it - in small doses, and it does give you a good work out ... but I can't get too excited about it really. I originally intended to do 3.5 Km per row (1% of the total roughly), but then I upped that to 5 Km per visit - mainly because I wanted to get through it! The problem however, is that this extra distance is creating a bit of a problem - or maybe that should be being a bit of a nuisance - for me.

You see, when I had my tumour last year, it was in an unusual place (NO, not there!). It was on my left forearm, about half way between my wrist and my elbow. And it turned out to be on a part of the muscle, so ... to get it out, the surgeon had to take a strand of muscle out too. He had no idea how this would effect my arm/hand, but thankfully, there was no lasting problem - which is useful, as I'm left handed!

Well ... no lasting problem ... until you start rowing 5 Km, that is! The first 3 -3.5 Km are usually okay, but in that last 1.5 Km, at some point, my left hand starts to feel a little numb, and my grip isn't so good. I keep going, but occasionally, if you are wandering around the gym, you'll spot me taking my left hand off the bar, and rowing on with just my right hand, while I frantically shake my left hand to get the blood flowing again - which it does, by the way, and I do finish with both hands in action. But it is annoying, especially when I'm trying to beat my previous time and I have to slow my pace while I get my left hand started again!

But that's why I'm not taking on extra distances on the rowing as I have been with the cycling - I just can't see me managing to get a 10 Km row in one-handed, however much I might want to!

I bet Steve Redgrave - sorry, SIR Steve Redgrave) never had this problem ...

Saturday, 11 October 2008

spun out ...

Just got back from Carl's Fancy Dress Cowboy and Indian 90 minute spin for Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation at the gym (90:10 split to CRUK).

Because Carl is still injured, Dave took the class while Carl prowled around "encouraging" us by turning up the resistance on the bikes - very helpful indeed! Around 28 people turned up - several in fancy dress. The best was a guy in chaps, waistcoat, check shirt, bandanna, cowboy hat and ... a stick-on droopy moustache! Oh, and a six-gun. Others had Indian headdresses or cowboy hats and pistols, and Dave, the instructor had a Red Indian chief's head dress , and he'd put together music from westerns for the whole class, which was great - good fun all round. I didn't dress for the role, but wore my 365challenge t-shirt to promote the challenge and got some interest.

People donated to be allowed to attend, and I reckon Carl will have raised a good few quid. He has more events like this planned - next up is a Halloween spin - more dressing up to be expected, I'm sure.

Anyway - it's been a long time since I've been spinning, and usually then it was for 45 minutes maximum, but as I've been on my bike a lot lately, I figured I should last 90 minutes for the cause. It wasn't as bad as I expected, thankfully, and though I sweated buckets and was poured off the bike at the end, it was a lot of fun. It's really hard to calculate what distance you might do in a class like this, but as I did 30 KM the other day in an hour, I'm claiming 45 Km towards the cycling part of my challenge for this 90 minute class - it was full-on a lot of the time, so I think that's fair!

Now ... I might just take it easy for the rest of the day ...

Monday, 6 October 2008

getting back into the swing of things ...

It's been harder than I thought it would be getting back into the routine of going to the gym after over 2 weeks off with that damned cold, but I am getting there, and have logged some time on all of the parts of the challenge left - cycling, rowing and today, swimming. I'm also planning to join Carl at his Mega-spin on Saturday, though I know this will take it out of me! 90 minutes of pretty flat-out spinning (Carl takes no prisoners!) should add at least 45 Km to my distance, if I survive! Come on down and join in if you can.

I've been noticed now by Cancer Research UK as a supporter of note. Got a call last week to see if I'd go to an event in Llandudno and man a display table for them, to try to drum up support. It was a a Rotary Club convention - about 40 clubs from the English Midlands represented - and the idea was to try to encourage some of them to adopt CRUK as their charity for next year. I had the morning shift and another couple - John and Moya - were taking the afternoon shift.

It was quite a good morning: I spoke to a lot of people and promoted both CRUK and 365challenge - as well as the "Adopt a Bunker for CRUK" concept suggested to me by Sue Goulding way back when I started into this fund-raising business. Sue - the good news is that it is an idea that certainly caught the interest, so watch out, it may grow - though a few people mentioned that they'd seen it before or that they already did something similar for their Captain's charity. That's fine, just next year, make your Captain's charity CRUK is all I have to say to that!

As well as seeing me as a willing supporter, there is good, (very exciting and promising) news from CRUK on the increasing interest in the 365challenge concept within the charity too. I got a call today to tell me that the idea is being considered by their "New Business Team" as a potential campaign that they would get behind - which is what I've wanted from the start, so it's good that they are considering it. The New Business Team are the people who look at these ideas - they did a similar exercise on "Run for Life" campaign, so if I can win them over, 365challenge will become a national event and Brenda's memory will be well and truly acknowledged!

Fantastic - everyone, cross your fingers for this NOW!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

that's been too long a break ...

I've just looked at my "Track My Progress" spreadsheet and see that I've been out of the loop for the 365challenge for about 12 DAYS thanks to that lousy cold - and the sore throat has been trying to creep back over the past 2 days - what's all that about?

Well I had to get back at it, so I went into the gym on Sunday and managed to cycle 16 Km, then last night I managed a 5 Km row and 20 Km cycle, so I'm, feeling a little better about it all again. Still not feeling totally right, but I'm active again, so I hope that will shake off the lurgy.

I also ran into Anouska in the gym last night, who is the last of the current batch of people planning on taking up the 365challenge and who I hadn't met up to now. I had my 365challenge t-shirt on, so she was brave enough to approach me and introduce herself as I stumbled off the bike dripping in sweat! She's working hard and planning to run a marathon a month, and then, for good measure, throw in the Land's End to John O'Groats cycle ride - FOR REAL - with a friend, and as if that's not enough, she hopes to get a place in the London marathon next year and do that for real too! Amazing people, this crew of lunatics who have been inspired by the 365challenge idea to do something for CRUK.

For the record, in case you missed what some of the others are doing - Fred(erika) is going to do a triathlon a month, Oliver is cycling across the US (I think), Mark is cycling, rowing and running across Australia, Peter is still deciding, but it's going to be good, I know, and Carl is getting back into his run across America after a pretty serious injury - take it slowly, buddy, take it slowly.

Carl is also organising a 90 minute fancy dress spin (I think the theme is Cowboys and Indians) on Otober 11th at the Chester Total Fitness for CRUK, so if you're in the area, come on down!

What a fantastic bunch. IF you want to join us, do please get in touch - you don't have to go quite so mad .. maybe try walking a mile a day, 26 days a month, then you'll have walked a marathon a month for CRUK. Come on, you can do it.