A dyspraxic weekend in London
This last weekend was a very dyspraxic weekend! And no, I didn’t keep tripping over things or getting my words muddled up…that wasn’t quite what I meant! On Saturday I went to the Dyspraxia Foundation’s AGM/Conference in London and on Sunday I took part in the British Vitality 10k, again in London, to raise money for the Dyspraxia Foundation.
I had never really considered doing a 10k before, being dyspraxic means running a long distance isn’t really my sort of thing! However, a few months ago me and my Dad heard about an event in London in September called ‘Parallel London’. It’s a fully inclusive event, you can choose a variety of distances and you can either walk, run or push (for wheelchair users). Me and my Dad thought it sounded great and considering it would be around the Olympic Park too it would be a brilliant experience. So we decided we would walk 10k and do lots of walks over the summer in preparation. A few weeks later I then heard that Rosie was looking at entering the British Vitality 10k if anyone was willing to walk it with her. I looked on the website and saw that you get to go past some great sights in London and it would be a perfect opportunity to raise funds and awareness for the Dyspraxia Foundation, so I said I would do it with Rosie. I will also still be taking part in the Parallel London event, which I’m really looking forward to!
I then wasn’t sure what to do about the day before, when the Dyspraxia Foundation had their AGM/Conference. As it was being held in London, I really wanted to go to it (especially as I had never been able to make it to any of their events before) but I had the dilemma of making myself too tired for the 10k walk the next day. This year I became a member of the Dyspraxia Foundation’s Youth Focus Group, where young people with dyspraxia discuss ideas and plans for people aged 13-25 with dyspraxia. There would be a room booked at the event on Saturday for the Youth Focus Group along with other young dyspraxics who wanted to come along and discuss ideas. So I decided that I would stay for the morning on the Saturday so that I would be back during the afternoon, meaning that hopefully I wouldn’t be too tired for the next day.
My plan was to get the train tickets on the Friday before I went, so that it would be less to think about on Saturday morning. But guess what? Me being a typical dyspraxic meant I completely forgot! This was also my first time travelling to London on my own which when I first thought about seemed quite daunting. Me navigating the tube on my own…would I get lost? Would I have a clue what I was doing?! Me and my Dad went over the route on Google Maps beforehand and I knew what train line I needed to get etc. and luckily the route seemed quite straightforward with no changes. I definitely felt a bit more confident about it after having gone over the information I needed to know.
The weekend came around quite quickly actually! Saturday morning was an early start, although not ridiculously early, at 7:00. When I got to the train station I had to message my Dad to double check I was buying the right ticket. I thought it was but as the name of it was slightly different to what I thought, I wasn’t 100% sure.
It felt strange travelling into London on my own, but it actually turned out to be a lot easier than I had thought. The various times I had been into London before with my Dad and brother it had all seemed so complicated. I think because I knew exactly what line I had to get beforehand that made it simpler too. So I managed to get there without getting lost! All I had to do now was walk out the exit to meet Rosie, her Mum, Matt and Alice and we would walk down to the AGM/Conference. Except I couldn’t see them! I walked around, back out to the other side of the tube station but had no idea where they were. Eventually after messaging Matt we realised that they had been quite near the whole time, it was just that I hadn’t realised you had to go up the set of escalators outside! It wasn’t until I got home later and was talking to my Dad that we realised there were two exits out of the tube station, and the one I had come out of was actually the opposite side to the one I needed (which was why after going up the escalators we then had to walk around the corner and down some steps into a different bit!) It was a good job I did meet everyone there, otherwise I would have walked out of that exit, turned right down that road and wondered where on earth I was!
We still got there in good time though, we were there for about 10 minutes before the AGM started. It was typical that I couldn’t stop coughing during the AGM when it was quiet, and afterwards when it was a bit louder I was fine! We then went into a separate area booked for Dyspraxia Foundation Youth, where there were about 10 of us altogether. We were mainly discussing plans for creating an awareness video and arranging a meet up for young people with dyspraxia in October. When the glasses were brought in someone made the comment “I wonder which one of us will break them first!” Haha! I’ve only been to two meetings with the Youth Focus Group so far, one of them I couldn’t make due to travel, but it’s been great being part of it and being able to discuss ideas. It’s quite funny thinking back to when I was around 8 years old and my Dad was telling me about a really good website about dyspraxia he had just found (The Dyspraxia Foundation website), I wouldn’t have thought that 11 years later I’d be helping to think of ideas for it (well, the youth section of it)! If you haven’t already, take a look at the youth website and if you’re someone aged 13-25 with dyspraxia feel free to join the Facebook group. Also what’s great is being with people who “get it”. Although I was only there for the morning, so unfortunately didn’t get to chat people that much, it was lovely being surrounded by other dyspraxics and knowing you’re not the only one. I will definitely have to come to one of the Dyspraxia Foundation conferences for a full day at some point!
The timing worked out quite well actually, as the youth part of the day only went on for the morning so after lunch I made my way back home. I managed to navigate my way home successfully, I didn’t go out of the wrong exit this time or miss any escalators either! The only annoying thing was that when I got to King’s Cross station I must have just missed the train home because the next train wasn’t until another 45 minutes! I was then meant to buy my train tickets for the next day on the way out of the station before I walked home but I forgot, again! So after getting home and having a cup of tea, I went back out again to the train station again to get the tickets.
I was surprised how tired I was that evening. I didn’t expect to be so tired considering I only stayed for the morning, but I probably would have been even more tired if I had stayed for the whole day. Although according to my fitbit I had done a total of 14,328 steps that day – so that could have something to do with me being tired!
Seeing as I was so tired I got to bed quite early at 9:45 and read for about 15 minutes, imagining I would get to sleep quite quickly. For some reason, though, I still took over half an hour to get to sleep!
The next morning was an even earlier start at 6:15, as we had to catch the 7:56 train. The weather wasn’t looking too good while me and my Dad were walking to the train station, as it felt really humid. I met Rosie and Matt at St James’ Park and we walked over to the timing pens. It was amazing how many people were there taking part. I knew there would be a lot but I didn’t expect it to be that many! There were so many different charities too. Apparently as someone walked past me they pointed my t-shirt which said “Dyspraxia Foundation” on the back and said “Awesome!” We then saw someone else who was running for the Dyspraxia Foundation, so we chatted to her for a bit before going into the timing pens. My Dad brought his 360 degree camera with him. Holding it up high in the air with a selfie stick resulted in lots of people looking up and waving at it – brilliant! I wish I could upload the 360 photos/videos on here but unfortunately I can’t as WordPress doesn’t support that format yet.
We then heard the blue runners start (we had either blue or red numbers depending on speed) and after a while we started to make our way over to the start line. The crowd seemed to all merge into one at that point, so there didn’t seem to be much point in the timing pens! We were towards the back of the crowd which was good. Although I’ve never put it down to dyspraxia (not sure whether it actually could be due to the sensory aspects?) I feel really faint and dizzy when I’m in a hot and crowded place, and have to find somewhere to sit down (even if it is on the floor!) Luckily it wasn’t humid at all. It did rain during the 10k but that was actually quite nice and refreshing! As we were walking towards the start line someone came up to me and Rosie and asked what dyspraxia was, so at least we helped to make one more person aware!
We then heard one of the commentators reading out the names of the charities on people’s t-shirts, so me and Rosie decided we would wave and get their attention to get them to read out The Dyspraxia Foundation, and they did!
Eventually we got to the start line – I had done about 7,000 steps before I even got there! It wasn’t advertised as being a fully inclusive event unfortunately, but we did see someone in front of us walking with a prosthetic blade who unfortunately fell over at the start, but she got up and completed the race. Someone else in front of us was walking the 10k for the National Autistic Society, and you could tell it was very overwhelming sensory-wise for them as they were putting their fingers in their ears. I thought it was amazing that they did it though considering how much sensory information there was.
Most of the crowd were very supportive, but we did have someone (who I think was working there) say to us “Stop talking and start running!” I know he said it in a half-jokey way, but I bet he wouldn’t have said it if we had a disability that wasn’t hidden! We were talking a lot to keep each other going! It worked because when we got to the 2k mark we were both surprised as we hadn’t even realised we had passed the 1k mark yet!
The crowds weren’t too busy (they were probably a lot busier towards the start of the race) but there were always people clapping and cheering us along. It was nice (but strange) to be walking in the middle of the roads in London too and it was brilliant getting to see the sights as we went along.
At one point we were offered a lift (in a car there for the event) the rest of the way! Maybe they thought we were running and struggled so were walking or something! But we carried on walking till the end!
There were times when people cut in front of us, at one point someone cut across directly in front of us with suitcases. Not ideal for dyspraxics who struggle with spatial awareness!
Some of the team from the Dyspraxia Foundation came to support all of those who were taking part to fundraise for them (there were 11 of us altogether). As Rosie said to me, it was nice knowing they were there towards the end of the route motivating us to finish! Before we came up to Big Ben (where the supporters were) Rosie’s mum came up to us and suggested sprinting past the Dyspraxia Foundation. We didn’t quite sprint but we did do a bit of a jog!
My Dad took photos of me and Rosie throughout the route, he walked parts of the route and waited for us at certain points. It was quite funny because I wasn’t keeping track of where he was, he just kept appearing at random points! It’s great to have so many photos from the event – thanks Dad! But then again, when would my Dad ever go to an event and not take photos? 😉
After going past the Dyspraxia Foundation supporters we didn’t have long to go. We were slightly confused when we came up to the 9k mark though about five minutes later, as we thought the supporters were at the 9k point!
We couldn’t quite see the finish until we were right near it. The last part seemed to go on for ages, we didn’t know when we were going to get there! The comment from the commentator made us laugh though, she said something like “Look at these girls having a proper gossip on the way round, they probably stopped off for a cup of tea” – the best part is it’s even on video!
Once we’d crossed the finish line we were given a medal, a goodie bag and a t-shirt – and a much needed lucozade! We then walked over to the pub, where the Dyspraxia Foundation had a room booked upstairs. After walking 10k the 10 minute walk to the pub felt like the longest walk ever!
We got to the pub, had some sandwiches and had a photo taken of all of those who took part for the Dyspraxia Foundation, after which the certificates were handed out. Whilst I was there I had a look online to see what my time was for the 10k, and it said “DNF”! I was quite worried about that, as I knew for a fact that I did finish! It must have just been like that before the time was processed though, as it soon updated and I finished in a time of 1 hour 56 minutes (and one second)!
This time, unlike the day before, was perfect timing with getting the train home as we got to King’s Cross 5 minutes before the train departed! I didn’t have any tickets to remember to buy this time either. I sorted my stuff out as soon as I got home as I knew that as soon as I sat down I wouldn’t want to do anything!
After that I sat down, had a much-needed cup of tea and looked through photos! My legs were hurting/aching so much (I did a total of 27,124 steps yesterday) but it was a great day which I really enjoyed!
Me and Rosie even had a tweet from Mollie King from The Saturdays to congratulate us!
Thank you to: Rosie (we kept each other going with our chats throughout the 10k!); the Dyspraxia Foundation and everyone else who came down and supported us; and my Dad who walked 75% of the route himself to get photos of us! And of course, a huge thank you to everyone who generously donated! Although if you would like to, there is still time to make a donation.
Alice and Janet, who also had “a very dyspraxic weekend”, have also written some really interesting blogs about their weekend, which can be found at the following links: https://alittlemoreunderstanding.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/general-life-reflections/ and http://dyspraxicadult.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/dyspraxia-foundation-adult-advisor-im.html. Since writing this blog, Rosie has also blogged about the weekend, which can be found at the following link: http://thinkoutsideofthecardboardbox.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/looking-deeper-to-understand-dyspraxia.html.
Here’s my personalised video from Sunday (featuring the amusing comment at the end!):