Sunday 2nd July 2017

Oh my goodness, where has the past 11 months gone?! I know I have been promising updates but when life gets so very busy, some things have got to give. ¬†However, this surely must be an excuse and not a reason, considering how hectic my life was a year ago, trying to fit in at least 5 miles in the pool! Now THAT was b.u.s.y!!! ūüėÄ

Anyway, enough of my excuses. I am back in the fundraising mode. ¬†I am working like mad to complete my 250 mile Triathlon for The Hearing Fund UK which currently means I am completing five miles a DAY, five times a week. Admittedly these are not just swimming miles. I have become a daily gym power walker/cyclist for most of the time. This is still a huge commitment on my part to go so often but my personal fitness is certainly improving. I would like to implement the C to 5K challenge during this final month, but as I’m not a runner, this should be interesting! ūüėÄ

I know I mentioned last September I was starting the 250 mile Triathlon then, but somehow, after my swim, it just didn’t seem challenging enough to complete this over twelve months. (You can run/walk/cycle a lot faster than swimming the distance). I messed about doing a few miles here and there, but it was only in January I picked up a gear. Despite this, my sense of direction and motivation was a personal struggle for me. I was trying to compare this to my swim and for some reason I found it hard to get excited.

So, what helped me to get to this point where I am back in ‘the zone’, you may be asking? Well it was simply this…. in my enthusiasm to raise more money for The Hearing Fund UK, I somehow managed to persuade two friends to join me in completing 250 miles! Diane started in January and Debbie began a couple of months later. They have raised over ¬£600 for The Hearing Fund between them, with their distance and fundraising deadlines being at The Annual HF Gala in August!! ¬†How could I ever hope to have these friends go the distance, with me sitting on the sidelines?! It was time to get myself go, go, going!!! lol (One of my personal mottos in life is that you should never ask someone to do something you are not prepared to do yourself.)

So here I am …. over the past few months I have completed 150 miles, with 100 miles to go. ¬†In order to give myself some leeway if needed, my target completion date is 31st July. Simply five miles a day, five days a week. ¬†The Annual Hearing Fund Gala 2017 is on Saturday 12th August. ¬†My fundraising target is to raise at least ¬£250.

This is where I need your help please. I have a Just Giving page which can be found at  https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/linda-carlo-2  However, they do take a percentage to run the page so alternatively I have set up a bank account purely for fundraising. The account details are as follows:

Account No: 11371665

Sort Code: 11-52-65.

One hundred percent of the funds transferred to this Bank account will go to The Hearing Fund UK. ¬†I really do appreciate any support you can give. ¬†This is just as much of a challenge to me to raise this money in a month, but with everyone’s support, every little really does help.

More Blog entries to follow ūüôā ¬†I will let you know how it goes …

 

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Friday 2nd September 2016

OK, so I have had a whole month off!! Where on earth did that time go?! My Mum used to say that time goes faster the older you get. If it passes this fast now, heaven knows what it will be like when I’m 80 haha.

I didn’t make time to share the rest of the events of the Final Mile Week on here, including the Hearing Fund Gala and the Inspirational Evening with the Osmonds, but I plan to catch up on those over the next few days, with photos.

Thank you to all those who have stayed in touch over Summer and especially to those who keep telling me they have missed my Blog. Here is a short¬†summary of the past four weeks…. We have enjoyed a family holiday with the grandchildren, family and friends visiting; we cleaned out the garage in time for a Car Boot sale in a couple of week’s time, I¬†baked a couple of hundred cupcakes, and a wedding cake. And what may be a little surprising is that I haven’t been anywhere near the pool! Actually, that’s an exaggeration!… I have managed a couple of 40 length swims (1000m), plus¬†a practise run in the gym. But I have had no desire whatsoever to swim five miles a week!! ūüėÄ ¬†ūüėÄ

Having said this, I have actually felt a sense of loss. This will probably sound like a contradiction but I have missed the intense focus I needed to stay on track to complete the Challenge in time for Justin and Merrill being here. I have missed the need to plan my days¬†around the goal¬†to swim five¬†times a week and the structure that brought into my life. I have missed the feeling of being at my peak fitness where my body wasn’t tired, even though I expected so much of it. I felt I lost some sense of purpose when I didn’t need to constantly think of new ways to raise more for The Hearing Fund. Mind you, I haven’t finished collecting yet! I’m almost there but there are one or two significant amounts still waiting to come in. If all goes to plan I still hope to have raised ¬£8,000!! I will share the exact final total once it has all been accounted for. In the meantime, if you are wondering if you can still make a donation, the answer is a definite YES! My Just Giving page will run till 23rd September and can be found at¬†https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/linda-carlo Thank you to EVERYONE who has contributed in any way at all. You are truly amazing.

So, what happens next?! Well there are two rather exciting decisions I have made… today, at exactly 10am, which is one calendar month since I completed my final mile, I have decided that maintaining my personal fitness is a must. ¬†It would be a real shame to let it slide after what I have enjoyed over the past year. So, with this in mind, along with being quite certain that I wouldn’t like to attempt another 250 mile swim (!), I am sticking with the 250 mile distance and I will be doing it as a triathlon…. swimming, cycling and walking/running. Considering that I don’t run and I don’t cycle, this could prove interesting! ūüôā However, today donned in my best gym kit, I completed my first mile on the treadmill in the gym in 15 mins. It was more of a power walk really, but oh boy, my legs are reminding me this is not my usual form of exercise! Still, this is not a complaint…. I am once again excited about my plan to cover the distance from Edinburgh back to Doncaster and I am on my way! 1 mile down, 249 to go!! ūüėÄ If anyone would like to join in¬†with me, PLEASE LET ME KNOW ASAP!! I will share my specific plans and distances for each part of the Challenge tomorrow. I would absolutely love it if others like the idea of doing this too.

What an exciting time! Whilst I felt sad four weeks ago that my Final Mile with Justin brought me to the end, it was actually leading to this new beginning. I do hope you will join me in the next stage of my journey.

 

Saturday 13th August 2016

Balloon release photoSo…. after getting changed from the swim, it was time to go outside for the balloon release. These were kindly sponsored by DCLT and were to¬†represent one for every mile I had swum over the past year. I am excited to say that we have one balloon found already…. near Grimsby! This might mean that if the wind direction has taken them east, then a lot of them may have ended up in the sea! ¬†However, the tags say that the competition to find them goes on till 31st October so we shall see.

After we had let the balloons go, it was then time to enjoy a Reception in the main room upstairs at the Leisure Centre. It was a lovely opportunity for those invited to chat to the Osmonds, and have photos taken. It was especially nice to recognise those who had offered great support throughout my Challenge, namely Carl Lewis from DCLT who simply could not have done more to support my efforts, for which I am extremely grateful.

A special mention was given to Kayleigh from Tesco Extra and Carolyn from Asda who coordinated the bag packs there. Unfortunately Martine from Morrisons was unable to come at the last minute, but their contribution was also recognised. Then we had Shirl from Thorntons who had donated over 1,000 chocolates for the Hearing Fund Gala, including samples for the Reception. Amazing. My Slimming World Consultant Sue Denton was there, as was the lovely Bobbie Roberts , Head of Trustees from the Deaf School. Special friends who have supported me in a huge way were also included on the guest list.  Finally I could not have missed an opportunity to recognise my lovely husband Paul, and my family, who have each been a tower of strength to me. I really could not have done this without them.

A special thank you to everyone who turned up to make it such an unforgettable occasion.  I am extremely grateful to Merrill, Justin and Kristi Osmond for coming, and for Justin being such a great sport in wanting to swim with me. What an honour! (Thanks to the lovely Tracey for organising their schedule to allow them to be there too!)

The Osmonds came to Armthorpe…. how incredible is that?! ¬†ūüėÄ

Dreams really can come true.

So what happens next?? As I finished my swim I had a strong impression that this is not the end, but a beginning of something else. Many people have encouraged me to keep writing this Blog once my Challenge ends. I have loved writing. I really do intend to follow it up with a book, because there are lots of things I would have liked to have shared but were unable to for various reasons. For now, the Blog continues. I still need to share the events following the Final Mile day¬†so there is still more to come ¬†……

 

Friday 12th August 2016

So…. the 250th mile was complete. Everyone was going a little wild at this point, including the swimmers who had come for a public session who were using the other side of the pool, and had stopped to join in the cheering. ¬†As I climbed out of the pool, someone threw my towel around me because the Calendar news reporter stepped forward at the top of the steps to get my¬†initial reaction! (Added note: my 9 year old grandson Elijah apparently had been looking after my towel, and made sure he gave it to me at the right time ūüôā ¬†Thank you Elijah xx) I can’t say I was particularly out of breath but it did make me think later about how these athletes must feel ¬†after winning a medal and they are gasping for air but trying to talk normally for¬†the camera haha. ¬†I wasn’t gasping but it did make me smile. ¬†ūüôā Here is the ITV Calendar news link:

http://www.itv.com/news/calendar/2016-08-02/osmonds-to-help-woman-complete-charity-swimming-challenge/

It seems that whilst I was swimming, Merrill was also interviewed by BBC Radio Sheffield. The reporter did a live link with me straight after Calendar had finished but I haven’t heard that report yet.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-england-south-yorkshire-36943977?ns_mchannel=social&ns_source=facebook&ns_campaign=bbc_live&ns_linkname=57a078d4e4b0d1a9555b299b%26Watch%3A+Osmonds+join+Linda+on+her+final+fundraising+mile%26&ns_fee=0#post_57a078d4e4b0d1a9555b299b

Finally Doncaster Free Press were also there. ¬†I need to buy this week’s newspaper, but I was told about their Facebook page which showed this:

Doncaster Free Press 11 August

The link for this article is at http://www.doncasterfreepress.co.uk/news/osmonds-star-s-son-takes-part-in-250-mile-swim-in-doncaster-1-8063692 but as several people have pointed out, the fundraising total is very much out of date. Owen and Justin

After my swim, I was told about something which happened that I hadn’t been aware of, but¬†there is a lovely moment captured on camera. Justin had presumed that towels are provided at the Leisure Centre but when he realised they aren’t, word got round that he needed something to get dried with after his swim. You may remember young 8 year old Owen McGarry who swam a mile to raise money for The Hearing Fund UK recently. Well Owen had come prepared to swim if there had been an opportunity to. Instead he offered to let Justin borrow his towel, and this picture shows Owen kneeling down at the poolside to let Justin give him a hug to say thank you. ¬†How special is that?!

 

With Owen and Grace

 

 

 
Here is another picture of Owen, along with 8 year old Grace, who also swam a mile with me recently:

 

 

 

 

And finally one of my favourite photos which I now use as my Facebook profile picture. I need a bit of practise with the ‘I love you’ sign though … mine was back to front haha

With Merrill and Justin

Tomorrow’s page will be about the balloon release, and what happened next. To be continued …

Thursday 11th August 2016

Do you know what my problem is? So much happened last week that I’m almost afraid to try and put it into words in case I can’t find the right things to say that will come close to conveying how incredible it all really was. ¬†I have been quiet on here for a whole week, thinking I needed a bit of time to digest it all. The thing is, I still don’t feel much nearer to knowing where to begin! If I leave it much longer, you might even wonder if everything went OK. ¬†(Please believe me, everything went wayyyy more than OK!! ūüėÄ ūüėÄ )

Anyway, putting this off so I can tell the story more perfectly only makes another day pass by, so here I am, keyboard at the ready.

I wrote¬†on here last Wednesday about how exciting it was to be waiting in the Reception area of Armthorpe Leisure Centre for everyone to arrive. ¬†What I didn’t mention was something that made me feel very emotional. A very very dear friend handed me a card. As I opened it I realised there was a lot of money inside.¬† My questioning but delighted look indicated I was¬†wondering how much she had given me and she pointed to something she had written inside the card. It said ‘I saved ¬£1 for every mile you swam!’ ¬†Imagine that! ¬£250 on my final day which took my fundraising to ¬£7,000!! You can understand¬†why I hugged her and cried. I simply couldn’t thank her enough. How could I possibly¬†fail in my efforts to fundraise as much as I can,¬†when I have had such incredible support like this. Even over a week later, it makes me emotional to think she did¬†that.

The current total to date is over ¬£7,500, and with money still to come in, it is very likely¬†I will reach the ¬£8,000 mark by the time I’m finished. ¬†If anyone would like to help me make sure of this, and you would still like to make a donation, my current Just Giving page is at¬†https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/linda-carlo Thank you. And a special thank you again to my lovely friend who made my Final Mile day even more memorable because of her wonderful kindness and generosity.

So, back to where I left off. The Osmonds had arrived. Hugs all round. Time to swim my final mile. ¬†Actually is wasn’t a full mile. It was 1000m or 40 lengths. ¬†I had decided that people wouldn’t want to wait around for me to complete a full final mile so I swam extra lengths the day before. My dear friend Carol (also known on here as ‘Friend up North’), who has been my best friend since our Osmonds for Newcastle days, was in charge of the count down flipchart numbers. We decided it would help people up in the viewing gallery see how many lengths I had left. ¬†It also helped me to know how far I had to go.

I was vaguely aware that I was being recorded ‘Live’ on my Facebook page, and it seems that there were many friends and family who couldn’t be there, who watched online as it was happening. The wonders of technology!

As I got into the water, I have been asked several times how I was feeling at this point. I expected to be nervous as there were many people there to come and see me finish this, iFinal mile water shotncluding Merrill, Justin and Kristi Osmond, as well as the reporters from Calendar News and local radio and press. My family and friends were there and my grandchildren were too. This was a big deal. Yet strangely I had the calmest, happiest feeling come over me. My dream was now a reality. I needed to enjoy my swim and believe me, I did.  There were a few moments during the 40 lengths where I caught myself getting anxious when I could see TV camera men crouching down on the poolside to get a good shot, or Press photographers positioning themselves to take pictures at different stages of my swimming stroke.  I was very conscious of Justin swimming Final mile swimming with Justinalongside me but slightly behind. I think if I had had him swimming in constant view, I would have not been so calm! But he had told me that he would stop before I came to the end, so I could finish the final laps on my own. (His family had done this for his 250th mile when he was completing his run, and felt it very important to do that).  As I set off for my last two lengths I could hear the noise from the poolside getting louder, and as I turned at the deep end to swim my final length, I had a strong impression that this is what heaven must be like. Those we love are Final mile Being cheered oncheering us on, encouraging us to do our best, wanting us to complete the race. I was overwhelmed by the love and encouragement and the noise as I finally completed 250 miles. My dream had come true. The deaf children would benefit from all of this and at that very moment in time, this is all that really mattered.

Tomorrow I will return to share what happened next. ūüôā

 

Wednesday 3rd August 2016

I am smiling that everyone thinks I must be enjoying a rest today!! ūüėÄ If only you knew! ¬†Today has been a day full of gathering collection cans from each of the Sports Centres around Doncaster, and punching 300 butterflies out with my dear friend Carol. The cutter is being very temperamental and we both have repetitive strain to our hands lol.¬†So please, if you are¬†attending the Hearing Fund Annual Gala on Saturday, please take a moment to notice these beautiful creatures made out of card on your table favours!! ūüėÄ (Next are the 300 ribbons and tags) It’s OK, we have having a laugh (well, sort of haha)

Osmonds welcome

Welcoming Merrill, Justin and Kristi Osmond to Armthorpe Leisure Centre

Photo credit: Leigh Cowell

I really must somehow share the events of yesterday, without writing reams that would take too long to read. I think instalments will be the best way.

First of all I was relieved that the task¬†of blowing up 250 helium balloons was delegated, and we were able to take care of sorting other last minute things out instead. We got to the Leisure Centre¬†early enough to see most people¬†arrive in plenty of time. ¬†Armthorpe Leisure Centre looked at its best. Flowers had been placed by the entrance, the car park was looking smart, the Centre was gleaming and everything was in place. ¬†The Calendar News team arrived, and BBC Radio Sheffield and Doncaster Free Press came shortly afterwards. All that was missing were the Osmonds and it wasn’t long before they arrived too.

Justin and I got dressed fairly quickly to begin our swim because the Presenter from Calendar who was to interview us needed to leave by 11:00am as he needed to be reading the News at midday!

Come back tomorrow to find out what happened next. Sorry for the short and sweet post but I need to get back to punching more butterflies!! ūüėÄ

Tuesday 2nd August 2016

What on earth can I say to sum up today? I am actually lost for words. I have just spent some time watching the videos, the TV news item, the Facebook comments and messages, and part of me feels like they are talking about somebody else!! I know that’s crazy, but I’m not sure that reality has quite sunk in yet.

I will probably take a few days to record some of the amazing things which have happened today on here. But for now, I just want to thank every single person who has helped me make a dream come true. Seriously. Finding the words to express the kind of gratitude I feel is simply impossible right now.  Perhaps the words will come in time.

I will ask one thing of every person who reads this though.  Decide how YOU can make a difference to someone who needs you. It maybe be great, it may be small; it may take a moment, it might take a year.  It may be someone in your family, it may be a friend or a stranger. Whatever it is, find some quiet time to think what it is you are meant to do. If you believe in God as I do, say a prayer. You will find what it is. And then I will promise you something.  As you go out and do whatever it is, you will find a real sense of purpose in your life. A peace that makes you feel that you have the power to change your world, even in  a small way. It will be a reason to smile. My dream has become very public because I have needed help from so many wonderful people, but the best acts of kindness and love are given quietly without anyone else knowing.

I will come back tomorrow xx