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Running: More Than Just a Marathon…

1 Jun

This is a departure from library stuff but it’s important to me and until I get my running and mountains blog properly set up I’m writing it here.

On Sunday I ran my first marathon. In 04:48:42. I did the Rock n Roll Liverpool Marathon (having previously done the half marathon in 2014). I wasn’t planning on running for charity however people kept asking me where they could donate when I said ‘I’m running a marathon’. So I thought I’d raise some money for my efforts.

Thanks to all who have donated, £386 has been raised which is more than I ever imagined on my fundraising page.

The Brain & Spine Foundation

My chosen charity was the Brain and Spine Foundation.  It took a lot of careful consideration to pick my charity. I felt like the Brain and Spine Foundation were the best fit, the most meaningful choice. I don’t usually talk about what happened, so this marathon fundraising has become my outlet for reflection on a part of the past that will forever be with me.

My Broken Brain

In 2003 I had a massive brain hemorrhage. A stroke. It was caused by an AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation), which is a vascular problem in the brain. A tangle of weak blood vessels. Mine burst, which was the first I knew about it, leaving me with paralysis on the right side of the body.  I came home from school as usual, went to bed with a headache, and woke up on the floor unable to move or talk. Thankfully I made a full recovery after a couple of months in hospital. After some radiation and years of follow up tests I now don’t even have to visit the hospital for check ups. I’m lucky that I can run when there was a time when I needed nurses to roll me over in bed and a hoist to move me from my bed to a wheelchair.  I always remember these horrible moments when I moan about not wanting to go for a run. It’s hard to forget.


Ready to run in my Brain and Spine Foundation vest

The Marathon

I wanted to run Liverpool because it is my home city and my favourite city. Other marathons may be at a better time of year, or flatter, but I wouldn’t hold as much love for the course (I’m thinking of you boring boring Manchester). My training hadn’t gone entirely to plan although I’ve covered a lot more miles so far this year than ever before thanks to my amazing running club. I encountered terrible hip pain on my planned longest run which meant I had to cut it short to 14 mile instead of 20 miles.

I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be on race day, although the heat was a concern as I am not a fan of hot weather. I don’t even like sitting out in the sun nevermind running in it.  I told myself I just wanted to get round but secretly I think I was hoping to be under 5 hours, closer to 4:30 if luck was on my side. I set off and felt great. The first 10 miles flew by, and thanks to living in a very hilly part of the country, I didn’t notice the hills on the first part of the route.  Reaching Goodison Park was a highlight and of course I had to stop for a quick selfie.


I can’t believe I ran all the way to Goodison Park

It all started to go wrong at 13 miles when I felt sharp pain in my left shin. I knew it was probably more than the usual aches and pains of a long run. I carried on running, telling myself I would do the second half with regular walk breaks and strech stops. Jeremy suprised me at mile 19 which was a boost. I carried on at decent pace until mile 22. Then I heard a charity cheering point woman say ‘ooh she looks like she is in agony’. Yes I was in a lot of pain but plodded. I text my Dad at 23 miles with an update, then my  Dad appeared at mile 25 to get me though the final mile. This was the best thing ever. We walked for a bit and then jogged together to the final stretch. Running down the finish was an emotional experience.


Determination on the finishing straight!

I’m glad I let myself stop for walking breaks when I realised I was going to do myself serious damage if I pushed too hard. I could have cried through the pain for a better time but I love running too much for months out with a more serious injury.  I came out in horrific bruises on both shins straight after the race which I really don’t think is normal or a good thing. So I’m glad I chose to listen to the sensible voice within and go easy. There will be more marathons!

IMG_3856 2.JPG

Very happy to have finished.


*anyone feeling charitable can donate on Justgiving or text LBSF99 £2 to 70070 although I understand we all have our charities to support and there’s people to sponsor*



Long Time No See

14 Feb

This blog is being ressurected.  It has been a quiet couple of years on the blogging front. I haven’t had much to say and I’ve been busy focusing on things other than being a librarian, like running. Although I have been writing the odd thing elsewhere for SLA Europe and NLPN.

So why bring it back now?

I’m going to attempt one last go at Chartership whilst I’ve got a job so need somewhere to document my progress.  This blog seems to be as good a place as any. Hopefully having a blog will mean I get some reflective writing done and make it easier to keep track of things.

I’ll write more about my previous failed Chartership journies in a future blog post. There are references to getting Chatership done in previous posts on this blog so my intentions have been around for years but progress has been minimal.


SLA 2013 Reflections: The Conference

16 Jul

The first in my series of write ups of SLA 2013 focuses my experiences of the overall conference programme; the sessions, and events attended.

In the weeks leading up to the conference I was able to use an online conference planner to find out what sessions and events were planned.  My first observation was the volume of sessions and the comparatively small space of time they were crammed into. Every day of the programme offered a lot of choice, everything from breakfast business meetings to panel sessions and interactive workshops. There were even some of those old school style speaker and a PowerPoint type things.  Navigating my way through all of the choices seemed like a challenge at first however the online planner was great as I was able to build my own personal schedule for the event.  Though of course I didn’t really stick to that at all choosing instead to pick sessions as I went along. Recommendations from others and reading tweets during the event were really useful in making these decisions.


There were huge conference sessions…

I went to some amazing sessions and some rubbish sessions, as is the way with conferences.  You never know what it will actually be and how good the speaker will be until you get started.  As a result I attended a lot of sessions but not a lot of complete sessions.  At US conferences it is acceptable to switch between sessions at any time.  I found myself doing this a lot, partly because I could and partly because too many potentially interesting things were happening at once.  Session hopping has downsides though.  It was great to be able to leave sessions that weren’t overly interesting or living up to expectations but arriving part way through a session can make it hard to understand exactly what is going on. I found there was a lack of focus in the room, which was perhaps due to a flow of people coming and going.  Session switching is definitely an interesting and useful concept though, especially when you are in a session that you don’t think you are getting anything out of.

There were small sessions too

There were smaller sessions too!

My favourite sessions were:

Alongside the conference sessions was a varied and busy programme of social and networking events. These were often hosted by specific divisions however were generally open for anyone to attend.  For me these events were the best part of the conference. As presentation and panel sessions can often be very specific it is sometimes hard to feel properly engaged but networking events are great opportunities for learning and building contacts. I took the advice of my mentor Neil to heart and attend as many as possible.  One evening I attended 5 different social events, namely The Canadian Reception, Solo Librarians Open House, International Reception, Legal Division event and the IT Dance Party.  At all of these events I was able to engage with people, discuss various topical issues and build up a network of contacts.  Even the IT Dance Party provided opportunity to get to know people; it was especially good for getting to know people in more social context.  I’ll write more about this aspect of the conference in Part 2: People.

I’m not going to write about the exhibition hall as I didn’t feel I had much to talk to any vendors about.  I did enjoy the wide range of vendors and absorbed quite a lot of awareness about various organisations and services though which could be useful in the future.

There is so much more that I could write about however for now that is the broad overview of my reflections concerning the actual conference itself.

Conference Season has Landed

31 May

The arrival of the summer season might not mean guaranteed sunshine, picnics and beer gardens for the British librarian but it does mean conference time. Summer tends to be packed with conferences of all shapes and sizes .  Summer means finding a way to attend conferences without bankrupting myself. This year I’ve been really lucky as I’ve bagged myself sponsored places at two of the big summer library conferences; SLA2013 in June and CILIP’s Umbrella conference in July.

I gained my place at this years SLA conference by applying for the SLA Europe Early Career Conference Award.  I had no expectation of winning this one because I’ve applied a couple of times before with no joy, but I don’t give up on dreams so poured a lot of energy into making this years application the best one yet.  Next week I will be on the other side of the world with a lot of amazing information people which is slightly terrifying but very exciting.  I’ve known about the trip for a couple of months now but I don’t think it has sunk in as reality yet even though I’ve worked through the online conference planner and made plans for meetings with mentors and others whilst there.

My funded place at Umbrella has come about thanks to my involvement in the Commercial, Legal and Scientific Information Group (CLSIG), which is a CILIP special interest group.  Last year I started attending committee meetings to become more involved in a professional body, and earlier this year I was offered opportunity to take on the role of secretary.  My fellow committee members were kind enough to select me to attend the conference on behalf of the group, in return for representing and promoting CLSIG at the event.

Sponsored places are the only way I can attend conferences because I have no money and my employer isn’t going to send me to any events because I don’t really work in a library anymore. So I’m extremely thankful such opportunities exist and even more thankful that this year I’ve been given more than one.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; APPLY FOR EVERYTHING!