The Big Challenge

No, like REALLY big. Really, really super silly big.

Well, not landing an aircraft big. Or turning water in wine big (still trying on that one). But in the realms of my silly existence… it’s a whopper.

I’m excited. And I’m utterly terrified. Here’s a very obvious clue…

The Big Challenge

Quite a few months ago, long enough ago that I didn’t have to acknowledge I was making a real life commitment, I for some reason decided to sign up to run a half marathon for Diabetes UK in September. This to me is a really scary prospect, mostly because I’ve never actually been able to run.


Seriously – I used to get pulled off the basketball court 10 minutes after going in, all guns blazing, and crashing and burning just as quickly. When I was a footballer (I KNOW RIGHT), I was a goalkeeper. Then I was a dancer, which suited me because it was about things like coordination, presence, agility – and definitely NOT about the relentless pounding in your ears as your feet hit the tarmac one after the other after the other, over and over, for what seems like an absolute eternity. Even after uni when I realised I was a whale and shifted some snakebite-induced pounds, not once did I step on the treadmill. So for the majority of my 25 years and 50 weeks on this earth, I’ve made a concerted effort to avoid running at all costs.

Thhheeeen in London, spoiled by the surroundings of lush commons and parks and buoyed by the likes of Girls Aloud and Swedish House Mafia, and some lithe and athletically minded (and irritatingly chirpy) friends, I braced myself and did up my laces. Low and behold, I found I kind of liked it. Sometimes. In irregular doses, for short periods of time. But the problem here is I also like cake, my sofa and ordering large glasses of white wine of a Friday. And a Thursday. Sometimes a Wednesday too.

So the Great North Run was my challenge. I say was – I’m still doing it.

Theeennnn… I bought a bike.

I gushed (REALLY REALLY GUSHED. It was embarrassing for all concerned) about my intense love affair with my bike last week. I don’t want you to get sick in your mouth again so read at your own risk.

Theeeennnn (sensing a theme here), one absent-minded afternoon on the Diabetes UK website trying to get my head around the feat of fitness I am currently faced with, I clocked the London to Paris. My ridiculous mind was ENVIOUS (I know) of the September challenge I hadn’t signed up to, and stropping about the one I had. How naïve to think a 200 mile bike ride, and the training required for said ride, is something to be envious of. I now liken it to the romance novel that you wistfully dive into, only to find a few pages in that it’s kind of tedious and much more of a slog than you are willing to invest. A love affair of sorts. Maybe.

That being said, I really wanted to do it. Really, really really. But giving up on the Great North Run for the London to Paris felt out of the question, because surely a challenge isn’t a challenge if you can breeze it? The thought of running a half marathon still terrifies me, which is precisely why instead of calling up to switch, I called up… to sign up… to both.

BOTH!? (Shrieks my cake/sofa/wine-loving self)

Both. And now I’ve got a form, a running vest and a cycling top that says I’m IN. And the small matter of a fundraising target of nearly TWO THOUSAND POUNDS to warrant my place on these two challenges which, combined, are up there with burning the tops of my feet trying to be an Olympian and scarring myself for life in the process in terms of ridiculousness.

Oh, did I not mention?




Oz Bikes

Most of the time it makes me want to run under the duvet with a chocolate cake, while simultaneously burning my trainers and changing into my onesie. But very VERY occasionally, after a good ride or run, I sense that I’m onto something amazing here. That if I do it, not only will it be the greatest achievement of my life to date, I can prove to my Dad wrong in his theory that I come out with hundreds of wonderful/crazy ideas on a weekly basis and as such will never see a single one of them through.


I’m jesting, but of course the real reason is because living with this thing is utterly shit sometimes. It defies you, it laughs at you, it refuses to play nicely, and then just when you think you’ve sent it away for a few hours, it comes back with all its equally shitty mates and makes light of the fact it’s quite frankly crapping on your otherwise lovely existence. But the people that can help make this thing go away once and for all – probably not for us, but for our children, or our children’s children – are the charities that work every single day to find a cure. And while that’s just a little bit out of reach, they work and will continue to work to make life easier for us, and to help other people who just don’t get it understand that this is quite difficult. It’s difficult on day one, and it’s difficult on day 10,001. I don’t want young people to feel that they’re different from their friends. I don’t want people to have to count every ounce of food they eat, or have to stick needles in themselves multiple times a day. I know I can’t change this – I’m not on a one woman crusade – but there are scientists and big intelligent good people out there who one day in the not incomprehensibly distant future, just might.

Soooooo… as of last week, I’m officially on a training plan. I’ve been dicking about with the odd 10k and a weekend cycle here or there, but from here on in, I’m locked. No turning back. I’m putting down the cake. I’m putting on my flouro jacket. I’m measuring pace. I’m learning about gait, intervals, cleats, hybrids and carb gels.


There are a few things I’m going to need between now and September.

– Firstly, I need a clue. Seriously.

– Then, I need more lycra. Ohh so much more lycra. Apparently I need padded shorts. And stuff. Which will be interesting (see above point about needing a clue).

– I need training tips from fitness gurus who actually have a clue.

– I need a watchful eye over me as I shift gear (geddit?!) on my training and my blood sugar control goes MENTAL as a result. It’s going to happen. Actually, I need a watchful eye over me FULL STOP as I embark on this. Why? Well, despite being 25 years and 50 weeks old, I fell outside the tube station today like a four-year-old, ripping my tights and flashing my knickers to London’s finest commuters. Horror, you exclaim? No, this is the type of life I lead on two feet. IMAGINE what’s going to happen on two wheels, 200 miles in.

I know you probably can’t help me with these things. But as I navigate this absolute diabetes minefield, you can say nice things (I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW MUCH THEY ARE GOING TO HELP GET MY ASS OUT OF BED AND INTO MY TRAINERS). I’ll hopefully entertain you on the way with a plethora of unflattering photos, videos and general escapades as I batter my body and actually start saying no to alcohol-based social events.


One more teeny weeny thing that you can help with PREEEETTTTYYYY PPPLEEEASSSEEE…

(You knew it was coming)

If you have ever experienced what life’s like for someone whose existence is dependent on needles, finger pricks, endless counting, daily frustrations, life-limiting complications and a cool 20 years knocked off your life expectancy, you might want to be a wonderful person and donate just a small amount to the cause. If you haven’t experienced that stuff and don’t really care for it but think, as I do, that what I’m doing is slightly mental and would like to give me props for effort, you can also be a wonderful person and donate to the cause. (Yes, two donation links, just for emphasis).

In return I will hopefully keep you regularly amused with my tales of trying to be an ‘athlete’ (doubtful) when I really just I’d quite like to be on the sofa; fat, happy and eating cake.


Jen Again


5 comments on “The Big Challenge

  1. Silly silly but awesome person. Yes, your blood sugars will be difficult but they will also tend to be awesome-er (that’s a word, right?), generally feeling more inclined to behave for up to 36 hours after moderate to intense exercise. Plus exercise just makes you feel better too.

    Don’t know if you’re familiar with the following thinking about exercise and type 1, but it comes from Dr Ian Gallen, the world’s foremost expert in Type 1 diabetes and sport and exercise. He has advised Steve Redgrave (he’s Type 2 not 1) and other extreme and professional level athletes with diabetes. See this guy’s page here (http://diathlete.org/tag/ian-gallen/) – sorry, a competitor blog! – for more insight.

    Essentially there are two types of exercise: 1) stop/start exercise, e.g. football, tennis, anything with intermittent sprinting and resting 2) endurance exercise, e.g. running, cycling, swimming where you plod on and on and on and on (I’ve been there, plodding is how I got through the London Marathon). Both your events come under 2, meaning your glucose levels will steadily drop throughout, meaning you need to top up continuously with high GI glucose. This is no problem, just needs careful planning (or scatterbrain planning, whatever you prefer, but some form of planning).

    Anyway, if you want any more info or help I can pop you an email or if you’re ever in York (you hail from this direction, no?) then I can tell you over a coffee/pepsi max (my tipple of choice).

    Looking forward to hearing about it all, you’ll love the Great North Run, the actual day of the event will be FAN-TAS-TIC.

  2. Hey Chris!

    Sorry I wanted to reply properly rather than on the move. THANK YOU so much for your donation, I can’t tell you how grateful I am!
    Secondly thank you for this info, I really do need all the help I can get, I’m definitely checking out Gav’s stuff (he’s not a competitor it’s one fun D family!) I hadn’t heard of that theory and I absolutely love absorbing info so I will get reading! I am really looking forward to the challenges as much as I am petrified; I think through all the sweat (and probably tears) I will definitely enjoy the days.
    Please do send any info you’ve got my way I would absolutely love it! My mum lives in York I will shout next time I manage to get up there. Thank you thank you thank you thank you a million thank yous! I can’t believe people have donated, it’s so humbling. Hope you are well x

  3. No probs for donation, totally deserved. Plus my wallet cannot control itself when someone is fundraising for JDRF or Diabetes UK!

  4. Wow! That’s awesome! And terrifying!

    I worked with TeamWILD last spring to get me through a 100-mile bike ride. I learned a lot – but mostly learned that if education and training can take you a long way! Might be worth checking them out?

    You can do this!

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