Posts Taged edinburgh

Fraser Baxter – Blog 1

Fraser Baxter Ambassador Blog Post 1

Well I guess the first thing you should know about me is that I am a bereaved dad. My life was turned upside down when my second daughter died on 20 th October when she was just 1 day old. Jenna Baxter was her name and she has changed my life in so many different ways!

The excitement of our second imminent arrival quickly turned to shock when she was born and quickly taken to be resuscitated. 25 minutes is how long it took the medical team to revive my beautiful baby girl, they kept going so long because she took a tiny gasp. The waiting to find out if she was okay was unbearable. The consultant came to tell us that our baby was very poorly and they were not sure if she would survive.

When I saw her for the first time up in SCBU, I was flooded with so many emotions but seeing all the equipment and machines she was hooked up to I felt and overwhelming sense of fear. She had to be moved to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh as they had more specialist equipment there. I travelled in a police escorted ambulance with her and wife travelled in a separate ambulance. We were told that she may not survive the journey but she did! After a team of consultants spent time assessing her they then spoke with us to tell us that there was nothing else they could do for her. These are words that no parent should have to hear. We were in shock but they told us to spend as much time as possible with her. Our parents came to see her and our little girl, Jessica came to see her baby sister. Jessica was 3 at the time but she was able to make some memories with her little sister. She kissed her and sang her ‘Twinkle Twinkle’. Those are memories I will never forget.

On the evening of the 20 th October we had to make the difficult decision to turn off Jenna’s life support. 42 hours after she came into this world she left again. Just a brief visit! Jenna died in her mummy and daddy’s arms knowing only love.

And just like that my life changed, all our plans for our new life as a family of 4 were cruelly taken from us the night we had to turn off Jenna’s life support. There are no words to describe the grief in the days and weeks that followed Jenna’s death.

Having never being a runner before I have no idea why I started to running but I remember just wanting to escape a house full of sadness. I soon realised that when I ran I could process my thoughts and feelings.  I used the time out running to try and deal with my grief and process my thoughts. It was like the more I ran the better I became at surprising my grief and coping with my new normal.

It has been nearly a 3 years since we had to say goodbye to Jenna and although life goes on and you have to put your life back together piece by piece but the sadness will never go away completely.  There are days when the smallest thing can trigger a memory or a thought about what could have been. 

After 2 years I could no longer out run my grief and decided that I need to talk to someone. So with the help of Sands Lothian, I get regular counselling and attend a support group for Bereaved Dads. We started the support group for the Dads about 18 months ago and this year we will around 10 bereaved dad running the men’s 10km which is amazing! Please look out for us in our Sands Lothian Running Vests.

It may be a bit farfetched to say running saved my life but is has been my anti-depressant during the dark times. Whilst I am still trying to come to terms with what’s happened I still manage to run 4 times a week most weeks and run a few races a year.

Having signed up for many events since my 1 st race in April 2017 the men’s 10km is one of my favourites. What’s better than running around the city centre of Edinburgh and that sprint finish inside Murrayfeild. Being an Ambassador will help raise awareness of beavered dads who are often forgot about and suffer in silence. If there are any beavered dads reading this please know that is ok not to be ok.Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Edinburgh Ambassadors at mens10k.com/edinburgh-ambassadors. If you’ve not yet taken the leap, secure your spot on a Men’s 10K start line this year at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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Duncan Whyte – Blog 1

Duncan Whyte – Ambassador Blog 1

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a rather big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fabulous fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on
that couch watching mind-numbing sprit-crushing game shows, stuffing plastic junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, wasting your last in a miserable home nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, messed-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life…. But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else.

The immortal words of Edinburgh’s very own down and out poet Mark Renton in Danny Boyle’s 1996 film adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel Trainspotting. It is both aspirational yet empty, safe but frightening and an attritional social commentary on the spiritual pitfalls of western consumer capitalism. It doesn’t fail to strike a chord within me and is a monologue which only resonates with greater efficacy 23 years later.

In the year of the films release, I was a 14 year old schoolboy, desperately wanting to fit in and hopelessly failing, longing for my days in the Scottish education system to cough me up so I could reset, start again, find my way, find myself. For as long as I can remember, I have always been painfully shy. I remember regularly going into a local sweet shop with my younger sister who very eloquently conversed with the shopkeep with lyrical ease to create her bespoke 10p mix whereas I pointed and nodded awkwardly in order to fill those small white paper bags that only seem to be the packaging of choice for such confectionary conveyers. As puberty took its grip, I further withdrew into the safety of my shell and the concept of just being able to make it to adulthood was a defined goal. Then everything would be ok. A job, big television, friendship, family, kids…. This seemed like a pretty satisfactory objective for a young man who was the only male in a single parent household in the last throws of conservative Thatcherism to aspire to.

I did well at school and left with a suite of qualifications that left me in the very fortunate position to be able to go to University. I was lucky to be learning about something I was passionate about and there were a range of experiences such as flat shares and part time employment that supported me to integrate into society through the things I had learned, realisations that I had had and through some great people I met. I developed some coping strategies to manage social situations with less shame and embarrassment and to all ends was making my way in the world, if a little ungainly. I even had the electric tin opener and CD player to prove it.

Upon finishing my higher education, I had moved through a few relationships, meandered from job to job and got a bit lost. It was time for a new path, a new city, a fresh start. It was here I found my vocation, met the woman who would become my wife and is what I consider to be one of those sliding doors moments of my life. I embarked on a career, started paying into a pension, took out a mortgage, got married, and went on holidays although sadly I have never owned a shell suit to match my suitcases. This is definitely still a life goal. Over the years I had found a range of ways to get by, to overcome the introversion, nervousness, shyness and inhibition. Some healthy, some not so much. It took being confronted about this by my partner that Ied me to first seek help. I rang the GP and made an appointment. I wasn’t sure if I would actually go or not but I did. It was hard. We talked things over. It was then I discovered that I suffer from anxiety. Something that everyone experiences from time to time and is a natural and necessary part of the human condition but what for some people can be chronic and life affecting. What I had mistaken for shyness or social ineptitude was actually a disorder that explained many things. Regular feelings of unease, overanalysing trivial events, playing over and over worst case scenarios in my head in the lead up to future occurring’s in my life, feeling restless, trouble sleeping and an underlying sense of panic. With medical help I accessed a range of different support strategies including cognitive behavioural therapy (wasn’t for me), medication (made me feel worse) and face to face counselling (useful but limited to a finite number of sessions due to strains on our NHS). However, like Ewan MacGregors character in the film, I chose something else. I chose running.

I had always been a very active individual. I dabbled with running a little at University as a means to stay trim as my student diet threatened to catch up with me. I enjoyed it as it gave me a sense of purpose, provided an ideal excuse for further procrastination from my studies. This however was without a soundtrack as CD players were feckless to run with (even with the latest shock protection technology of the time) and MP3 was yet to revolutionise how we all listen to music. So I returned to running again in my early thirties. Mental health whilst still having an aura of stigma associated with it is certainly not the taboo subject it once was and much great work has been done to break down barriers in relation to this. Mental health is a topic I talk about a lot in my work and which as a result I have learned a lot about and I have grown to understand myself, my condition and how to manage this more effectively. Upon lots of reading up on the positive impact of physical activity on mental wellbeing, and on taking advice from the health services I had been supported by, I decided to get myself a pair of trainers and go for a run again.

I run most evenings and find this to be a cathartic way to wind down after a busy day. I can mull over the day that has been and the one that lies ahead in a fixed time period that allows me to free up my mind at other times to focus on the things that matter, my family. Running helps me be a better dad, husband, friend and colleague. I don’t always find running easy and motivating myself can be a challenge at times. However, I invariably feel better after having stretched my legs, body and mind and the sense of release and satisfaction post run always rewards in ways that I found other pursuits don’t. I like to enter organised events as they give me a target, something to aim for, a purpose to it all and undertaking mass participation events gives me a genuine buzz. I enjoy running shoulder to shoulder with other runners each with their own reasons for running and I have found there to be real solace and a sense of community amongst those who beat the street. I have found runners come in all shapes and sizes, every age, gender and cultural demographic are represented and from all diverse walks of life. The running community excludes no one and embodies a set of values that I have found provide a sense of belonging which sometimes sadly rarely exists in other facets of modern day living. I have medals to reflect my participation in 5k’s, 10k’s and this year at the Edinburgh Marathon Festival, I completed my first half marathon.

I am taking part in the Men’s 10k in Edinburgh this year because of my love for the city and my passion for supporting Men’s health and in particular male mental wellbeing. My grandparents live in Granton, not too far from Renton et al. in Trainspotting and I spent many a school holiday exploring the city’s streets. They are wonderful people and I visit them with my own children regularly. Furthermore, through my own experiences and through my work I have come to learn that men are less likely to talk about their mental health and men are less likely to access support than their female counterparts. Suicide is the leading cause of death in males under the age of 49 in Scotland and events such as the Men’s 10k can put the spotlight on such issues and demand a wider open dialogue about how such statistics can be turned around. I feel honoured to be chosen to be an ambassador for the Men’s 10k in Edinburgh 2019 and hope to see many of you reading this at the start line on November the 3rd on the Royal Mile.

In my next blog, I will reveal the charity that I will be running for in the event, what motivates me to run and keep running and what I have been upto in order to get myself ready for race day.Inspired? Watch, read and enjoy more content from our fantastic crop of 2019 Edinburgh Ambassadors at mens10k.com/edinburgh-ambassadors. If you’ve not yet taken the leap, secure your spot on a Men’s 10K start line this year at mens10k.com/mydetails.

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Men’s 10K Top 5 Tips for Winter Running

Top 5 Tips for Winter Running

There’s no denying there’s been a definite shift in temperature recently, autumn is here and winter is definitely on its way. Here are our top five tips for training during this nippy time of year:

1. Make a Plan: Make plans to meet someone for a run, then there’s no backing out if you’re not quite in the mood for it. Making plans will help you to get motivated and stay on track throughout the winter.

2. Dress for the conditions The general rule of thumb is to dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer. You want to be warm but not overheating when you run.

    • 10 to 20 degrees: 2 tops, 2 bottoms.

 

    • 0 to 10 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms. Two tops (fleece for the cold-prone) and a jacket.

 

    • Minus 10 to 0 degrees: 3 tops, 2 bottoms, extra pair of gloves, 1 scarf wrapped around mouth or a balaclava.

3. Gone with the wind: Wind is brutal when running, especially in Scotland! Start your run into the wind and finish with it at your back, so the breeze doesn’t blast you after you’ve broken a sweat. To avoid a long, biting slog, you can break this into segments, running into the wind for about 10 minutes, turning around to run with the wind at your back for five minutes, and repeating.

4. Old habits die hard: Traditionally a morning runner? Why not try a lunchtime run instead when the temperatures are a bit warmer? Alternatively, try running twice a day, in the morning and in the evening – it’s better than doing one long run where you might get very cold toward the end.

5. Winter sun: If all else fails, book a flight and head somewhere warm for your Vitamin D fix!

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Scotland’s men make positive change at Men’s 10K Edinburgh

Scotland’s men make positive change at Men’s 10K Edinburgh

Thousands of guys took to the streets of Edinburgh for the Men’s 10K this morning on a cold but gloriously sunny day in Scotland’s capital city.

The collective spirit of the Men’s 10K runners never fails to generate a truly unique atmosphere as guys from all different walks of life come together, united by the same goal. This feel-good atmosphere was certainly evident today, as the music blared and the Royal Mile slowly filled up with guys eager to start their journeys.

Supporting a 1,500 strong army of men, plenty of locals and charity cheer groups lined the streets to support, further adding to the already fantastic atmosphere.

From the start line, runners dropped down into Princes Street Gardens, heading past many of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks including the Scott Monument, Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Park, before heading up through Grassmarket and onto a grandstand finish at BT Murrayfield Stadium. Plenty of friends and family gathered in Murrayfield’s West Stand to cheer runners over the line.

The Men’s 10K never fails to conjure up some incredible runner’s stories. Among the finishers was Greg Royle who was fundraising for the event’s official charity Cancer Research UK. Greg’s decision to raise money for CRUK came after his family were directly affected by the disease. He said:

“My brother suffered from a malignant brain tumor a few years ago. Without the treatment he received from the from CRUK and the NHS he would not be here today, so I am raising money to give back and support them in their fight against cancer.”

You can read more and donate to Greg’s JustGiving page here.

Greg Royle was delighted at the finish line

Also completing today’s 10K was David Spence, who was fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK in memory of his grandad who died from cancer a few years ago. David said:

“Today is actually my grandad’s birthday, so running the Men’s 10K today in support of such a great charity seemed like a good way to honour his memory after such a tragic loss.

“I really enjoyed the run and finished a lot quicker than I’d hoped!”

You can donate to David’s JustGiving page here.

And Adrian Thomson was running for MS Society Scotland after seeing close family affected by the condition. He said:

“My mum and aunt have both suffer with MS, so I felt it was time to support them even more by fundraising for the charity that helps them and all others with MS around Scotland.

“I love running so why not do it for a fantastic cause?”

You can dontate to Adrian’s JustGiving page here.

In addition to today’s event, the Men’s 10K ‘Man Cave’ has been located on Mound Precinct over the days preceding the event, just off Princes Street in Edinburgh. The Man Cave also made its way to the finish area at Murrayfield today! The Men’s 10K’s resident dinosaur, Rex and his historically dubious caveman friends were out and about distributing over 4,000 man bags filled with important health information. This included contributions from Cancer Research UK, Prostate Cancer, the Scottish Association for Mental Health, Health in Mind and the Eatwell Guide.

For those who want to do it all again next year, early bird entries are now OPEN for the 2018 Men’s 10K Edinburgh. Next year’s event will take place on Sunday 4th November. To find out more and enter, visit https://www.mens10k.com/edinburgh/.  

The 2018 Men’s 10K Glasgow takes place on Father’s Day, Sunday 17th June and you can also grab an entry for that today at https://www.mens10k.com/glasgow/.

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Niall Darroch to run Men’s 10K in son’s memory

Niall Darroch to run Men’s 10K Edinburgh in son’s memory

Niall Darroch will run this year’s Men’s 10K Edinburgh for SANDS Lothians; a local charity who offer befriending and counselling to bereaved parents, and he predicts that it will be an “emotional experience” for many reasons.

In 2015, Niall’s son Ryan was stillborn despite the best efforts of staff at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. Niall recalls:

“From the first difficult moments we felt the influence of SANDS Lothians.

“We were lucky to know a midwife friend who put us straight in touch with the charity, and they were able to support us from day one. They offer individual, family and group counselling, and events to help parents commemorate their babies. Not too long ago, stillborn children were whisked immediately away and parents encouraged to simply forget their babies as the way to recovery.

“The expert support SANDS Lothians offered really made the difference in coming to terms with Ryan’s stillbirth. We are able to think of him with love and pride, and being able to talk about such a difficult subject hopefully reduces the taboo that bereaved parents sometimes feel.

“Fundraising for this cause is really important to me for a number of reasons. First and foremost, helping SANDS Lothians fund their ongoing work means other families can be helped through difficult times. I knew that there would be a large and diverse group of SANDS Lothians supporters running the Men’s 10K, and I’m looking forward to being part of a pack of men with a shared focus.

“I’m also convinced of the mental health benefits of being active. I’m sure that running the Men’s 10K through my adopted hometown in the company of men all racing for the good of others and themselves will be an emotional experience.”

You can donate to Niall’s JustGiving page here.  

If you want to join Niall and thousands of others on the start line on the Royal Mile next month, there’s still time. Late entries are available until 5pm on Wednesday 1st November. Find out more and enter at https://www.mens10k.com/edinburgh/.

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Men’s 10K Edinburgh returns with a bang

Men’s 10K Edinburgh returns with a bang

The Men’s 10K staged its second event of 2016 in Edinburgh on Sunday 6th November, after the Father’s Day event in Glasgow back in June.

An eager army of men flocked to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile on a crisp November morning, ready to tackle this beautiful city-centre 10K. Each of the runners, knowingly or not, helped in some small way to create a positive impact not only on their lives, but on the lives of others.

The 10K route took them past many of Edinburgh’s most iconic landmarks including the Scott Monument, Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Park, before heading up through Grassmarket and onto a grandstand finish at BT Murrayfield Stadium.

Around 1,200 men crossed the finish at the home of Scottish Rugby, each with their own reason for running and their own story to tell. Whether they were running for personal reasons, for a loved one or for a cause close to their heart, we salute them for being part of the Men’s 10K movement.

Among the finishers was 32 year old Mark Howell, who was running for Down’s Syndrome Scotland and more specifically for his beautiful daughter Lucy. Lucy was born six weeks early and had to be resuscitated several times in her first few days, it became apparent that she had Down’s Syndrome early on, and Mark was put into contact with Down’s Syndrome  Scotland who have been a constant pillar of support for Mark and his family since.

mark-howell-m10k-edinburgh

Mark said: “We are so lucky to have had the support of Down’s Syndrome Scotland, they have helped in so many ways, helping us understand Lucy’s condition and putting us into contact with families in similar situations. Lucy has turned into such an amazing, happy and beautiful child, and has brought so much happiness to everyone’s lives. We know there will be times when she is challenging but that is the same as any other child and we genuinely would not change her for the world.”

Elsewhere, 19 year old Rory Barraclough crossed the line at the end of his first ever 10K. Rory was raising funds for The Yard, which is a purpose built adventure playground in Edinburgh for children and young people with disabilities; Rory works with disabled children and often takes them there and sees the great work they do.

rory-barraclough

He said: “The kids absolutely love going to The Yard, they provide such a great service. They very much rely on charitable donations to keep their centres running and to keep costs as low as possible for parents and carers. I know that any money I raise will really make a difference so that has kept me motivated. On a personal note, it was great to have the Men’s  10K to aim for as it kept me fit and gave me something to train for.”

Event Director Neil Kilgour said: “The Men’s 10K plays such an important role in Scotland, inspiring thousands of men of all ages and abilities to think about their health and decide to make a positive change. We’re delighted that the Edinburgh event has been so welcomed by everyone in the Capital, and we’re looking forward to continuing to build on this success.

“The bottom line is that these men have stepped up and are in a better place as a result of participating today in the Men’s 10K, whether that be in Glasgow, Edinburgh, or both. They did not say I could, I might or I wish, they got up, put their trainers on and made a positive difference to their lives.

“The decline of men’s health in the UK is not inevitable, if others can look to the men who ran today as an example, they too can be encouraged to take positive steps to shape their future.”

While every man that made it to the start line achieved a personal win just by getting there, first across the line was Peter Avent of Shettleston Harriers in a time of 30 minutes and 35 seconds,, second home was Patryk Gierjatowicz of Hunters Bog Trotters in 32 minutes and eight seconds, with Duncan Coombs, also of Hunters Bog Trotters taking third spot in 32 minutes and 15 seconds.

In addition to today’s event, the Men’s 10K ‘Man Cave’ has been located on Mound Precinct over the days preceding the event, just off Princes Street in Edinburgh. The Man Cave Dinosaurs and cavemen braved the elements to distribute over 1400 man bags filled with information from the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and Prostate Scotland.

Event Director Neil Kilgour added: “We are delighted to have been able to reach out to normal guys on their lunch break or on their way home to put valuable health information in their hands – this is what the Men’s 10K is all about. A huge congratulations to everyone who took part today – you all fully deserve your finisher’s medal and T-shirt and should wear them with pride. Walk tall knowing that what you have achieved today that will shape your future for the better.”

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