Meet the truly inspirational Fergus McCulla

Fergus  McCulla first appeared on our radar in late 2018, due to his raw and factual accounts of his current cancer treatments, which he posted on his Instagram page ‘The real face of cancer”…

We connected via social media, until finally meeting whilst he was undergoing treatment at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

The thing that stuck in my mind after meeting Fergus for the first time, was his bright and sunny demeanour, and a beautiful smile that was ever present, despite what he is forced to relive for a second time.  I have since come to realise the entire family are the same.  Mum Jane, dad Norman, and Fergus’ beautiful sister Anna, have been by his side every step of the way, not once but twice.

Fergus was diagnosed at the age of 7 with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in the bowel. He had been experiencing intense abdominal cramping, and the discovery of NHL was only made after having his appendix removed, and a biopsy of my bowel returning as malignant. This is very rare for a child to experience. 

After surgery and chemotherapy, and then receiving the all clear, Fergus went on to live a very normal life post-cancer, but he did understandably suffer mental trauma that had lingered from his sickness as a child, and an underlying worry when he became ill, that his mind would race to the worst conclusions if he experienced any pain in his body.

Fergus had spent several years in bands touring around Australia, and after realising his  lifestyle as a musician wouldn’t support him long-term, he was given the opportunity to work in the family publishing business at the age of 25.  He moved into his own place in 2017, and was loving his career and life was moving along perfectly.

Things changed in the blink of an eye, some 21 years after his first cancer diagnosis, in July of 2018.  Fergus had a growth on his gum, above top left incisor – which he had been monitoring for about a month. He decided to have it looked at, and was prescribed antibiotics to stop infection – which had no effect. After visiting a second GP, being prescribed the same antibiotics and having no results, he then visited his local dentist for root canal – which was unsuccessful as the nerves in his teeth were still very much alive.  He was then referred to a specialist, who took a biopsy from his gum, which came back as benign. As his  situation was unusual, and showing no definitive answers, together with his history of cancer, he was then referred to another specialist. 

Fergus’ results from a second, more invasive biopsy came back, and he was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma of the maxilla, a rare and very aggressive form of cancer.  As the tumour was in a favourable site, the best option was to immediately resect his upper jaw – gaining a clear margin around the tumour. There was however,  a chance his body may have immunised itself to the drugs he had during chemotherapy earlier in life, and they would have no effect.

Fergus is now  part way through a fibula-flap reconstruction.  Initially his maxilla, along with the tumour were removed, and replaced with a graft taken from his left thigh. This took three surgeries before clear margins were gained around the site of the tumour and the graft took successfully.  He will require dental implants toward the end of this year, then in 2020 he will be doing reconstructive surgery – where his fibula will be taken for a bone graft to recreate his upper left jaw.

Earlier this year Fergus completed 30 sessions of radiotherapy, and is just about to finish a 6 month course of chemotherapy.  Radiation for this cancer requires the patient to wear a mask/plastic mould,  most prefer sedation, as it is terrifying.  and due to the close proximity to the brain, the patient is required to remain very still, under the plastic mould.  Sessions last between 15 and 30 mins each time.

Fergus was very well acquainted with  already the effects, and challenges of chemotherapy, however extensive surgery to the mouth and jaw, has required a lot of adjustment.    No longer being able to eat without a knife and fork, and having to consider things like the texture of food which can be so painful, the size of food, and temperature.  Things that we all take for granted, have now become daily struggles.

Radiation therapy was very difficult for Fergus due to the effects on the head and neck area, which become  extremely painful towards the end of treatment, and the fatigue is overwhelming. The basic process of taking a sip of water could not be done without intense pain, much less eating food or speaking.

The quote below sums up Fergus’ attitude to the appalling hand of cards he has been dealt.

“Although not ideal, and not yet over, things are looking very positive.  It has been a testing experience, but the real gift is life – which I’m incredibly grateful for. I’m also grateful to have the tremendous support of my family, and of so many friends, work colleagues and extended family.”

It is sarcoma patients such as Fergus who remind us that even when we are having a bad day – we aren’t…

Opening address – ANZSA Scientific Conference 2019

The Australia New Zealand Sarcoma Association annual scientific meeting was held in Canberra on 11th and 12th of October, bringing together a collection of the most stellar medical and scientific minds, all working toward a cure for sarcoma.

The conference showcased the ground breaking developments in research which will and in some cases are, of benefit to sarcoma patients globally, thus providing untold hope for the future.

It was an enormous privilege for our own Mitchell Rice-Brading to open the conference, with a passionate and heartfelt speech which was central to his own experiences of losing his younger brother Cooper, to sarcoma.

 

Transcript below:

 

My name is Mitchell Rice-Brading, and I am the brother of the young man whose name our Foundation proudly bears.

I would like to begin today by extending my deepest gratitude to ANZSA, and in particular, Dr Denise Caruso, for having me speak this morning, and I would like to impress the great privilege that I personally attach to the opportunity.

I’d also like to acknowledge the work that goes into both organising an event of this magnitude, and to making the effort to attend. As a recently graduated uni student, I am currently working 20 hours a week as a bartender.  I have just returned from the World Cup in Japan, and has another trip planned to Thailand at the end of the month, I can empathise with all of you in the room. We’ve all made sacrifices to be here today.

On a more serious note, my family and I find ourselves as incidental members of the greater sarcoma community.  It was unplanned, and unexpected. Unlike us, most of you in this room have chosen to devote your time working to improve the plight of those touched by a sarcoma diagnosis. We are humbled by the selflessness of choosing such a career path.

We have come to realise, that with the heartache and devastation that is a sarcoma diagnosis, it has also become the driving force for what ultimately brings us here today, motivated to instigate critical and positive change.

The gravity of losing my brother to this cancer is something I find difficult to articulate.  I can never see a day when the senseless loss of Cooper’s life will be something I can rationalise. Tragically, my brother became one of the many real faces of sarcoma, and now I am all too aware of what sarcoma represents, and why conferences such as this, are yet another crucial step forward.

Because, for all the scientific complexities, there is one unavoidable constant that follows a sarcoma diagnosis –  pure devastation.

Walking the road beside Cooper, I felt helpless. Sleepless nights pondering the future; The ever- present guilt because I was not the one afflicted; and the unwavering desire to say and do the right things to provide comfort, but ultimately feeling like nothing was ever enough.

And then there was the soul-crushing final act, helplessly witnessing the brother I grew up with, regress into a mere shell of his larger than life self, when treatment options were exhausted. Sadly, this an all too regular outcome for young sarcoma patients.

Nonetheless, my family were left with a choice: Sit on our hands and do nothing, or perpetuate Cooper’s memory and his vision, by joining with the remarkable group before me, and make a contribution no matter how small.

It is of note that as recently as three and a half years ago, when Cooper was first diagnosed with osteosarcoma, treatment options were severely limited. This, of course, was no reflection on his stellar medical team – it is simply the way it was.

Similarly, a body of up to date, reliable, and user friendly information for patients and their families proved impossible to source. In our family, and I suspect in others, we introduced one policy: No Internet. The information that presented itself after one google search was astoundingly outdated, and generally soul-crushing for a recently diagnosed 17 year old boy.

Compounding this, was the fact adolescent patients were, and are, routinely treated in adult facilities, some barely past the age of 14. I dare say it won’t shock you to know, the needs of a teenage boy are vastly different to those of a 70 year old man.

Just over three years later, and the positive change is palpable. The emergence of future adolescent sarcoma centres, such as the one proposed for Chris O’Brien Lifehouse; dedicated sarcoma nurses helping patients through the medical minefield; imminent clinical trials for a number of sarcoma sub-types; cutting edge genomic sequencing programmes and trials; peer reviewed studies published in significant medical journals – the list goes on…

This, together with the highly credible and relevant information available on the new ANZSA website, has indeed removed a lot of angst out of those first weeks post-diagnosis. The change is visible and there for all of us to see, and is largely attributed to the persistent work of a number of those in the room today.

We are truly privileged to be working with some of the most distinguished clinicians and scientific researchers in this field. Then there are those who are driven by tragedy, who work tirelessly for change, and have created the most outstanding legacies to the loved ones they have lost, through fundraising and awareness campaigns.

I look around this room, and it is difficult not to be humbled and somewhat moved.  You inspire us as the relative new kids on the block, to adopt the patience, resilience and determination you have all shown over many years. They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor will sarcoma be cured in a day, and it is these qualities in each of us, which will ultimately lead to critical advancements.

I don’t necessarily have what it takes to be a medical oncologist, nor have the deep biological knowledge required for meaningful research. But all of us in the room today are fighting sarcoma as a team, and all players in a team have a role.  At the Cooper Rice-Brading Foundation, our role is clear: to assist in facilitating your work, and to support you in future initiatives. And when we look at the progress we’ve already made, it is simply difficult not to be inspired, and to push through on the difficult days.

From all of us at CRBF, we extend our deepest gratitude to each of you for the outstanding work you continue to accomplish in this field, and for openly accepting us as a small part of this stellar team.

All of us here today are aspiring to make sarcoma history, and we’re not giving in.

 

 

 

Ironman 04/09/2019 Update

A massive last week of training and fundraising!

With the help of CRBF and the generous support of the Forest Lodge Hotel, we hosted a Trivia Night last Thursday to continue the fundraising for the foundation. A few highlights from the evening:

  • 1st Place = Racklyefts (I’m told that a few members of the team carried my dad in this team)
  • Most Table Donations = The Prancers with the Answers (nearly $300 donated)
  • Best Name = 50 Shades of Spay

The generosity on the night was tremendous. I cannot thank everyone enough for coming along to support such an amazing cause. A special thank you to Fitzy & Wippa, Dr Chris Brown, Hamish Blake, Jack Maddocks, Paul Roos & the Sydney Swans for their celebrity questions! In total, we raised $2,032.00 on the night which is going straight towards research into sarcoma! Well done to everyone and thank you so much once again!

The fundraising effort is now up to more than $10,000. The support has been unbelievable and with 3 months still till the event, there’s plenty of opportunity to keep growing that number further!

Thank you!

 

TRAINING:

Training-wise, a slight tweak in my lower back held back my routine for the weekend frustratingly. However the training during the week was solid, with just under 10 hours of work done.

It was an exciting week in sign-ups however! I signed up to a couple of triathlons and an open water swim which really confirmed how close we are getting to the actual event!

  • 19th October – Forster Triathlon (2km swim, 60km cycle, 15km run)
  • 26th October – Husky Big Swim (5km swim)
  • 3rd November – Huskisson Triathlon (1.5km swim, 40km cycle, 10km run)

Three weekends in a row of triathlons/big swims will be the perfect trial runs for the actual event. It will be the perfect way to practice my transitions and swimming in the big pack! Keen!

Next week I’ll lock in the actual event!

13 weeks until game day!

 

As always, if you have any suggestions or ideas to help raise awareness for sarcoma research and/or the work CRBF do, please shoot me a message on social media or via email (jack.racklyeft@gmail.com). Please share this, or any information from my donation page below to anyone and everyone you can. I have no doubt that slowly but surely, we will start to raise awareness and to make a truly positive change:

https://donorbox.org/jack-s-ironman-for-sarcoma

Ironman 27/08/19 Update

Happy Tuesday everyone,

A big week for training. Some hard, fast runs, as well as a great Sunday cycle and two big swims made it one of my biggest thus far.

I also met up with one of Colin Rice-Brading’s good friends Ross Bateman, who’s extremely well-versed in the triathlon experience. We met during the week and discussed his tips and suggestions based on my training thus far. This kind of inside info is extreeemely important and I can’t thank you enough Ross! I’ll be in touch soon no doubt!

CYCLING:

Nothing too special to report

Completed a 95km ride on Sunday in good time (averaging 32km/h around the loop). My speed was good and consistent for the whole duration which is extremely positive. The Centennial Park loop will be getting a serious workout for the remainder of my training weeks going forward I suspect! Stu joined for the first hour and a bit, which always makes the ride more do-able. The last couple of hours were difficult but when I upped my carb intake I found my performance really improved.

 

RUNNING:

Completed lots of 10km runs this week, topped off with an extremely difficult 15km run on Friday afternoon around the hills of Lexie’s Mackerel Beach place. The first 3km went up 180m in elevation, resulting in 360m of elevation gained for the entire run! To put that in perspective, the ENTIRE ironman race run over 42km will only gain around 200m of elevation!

It was great to do this run though as it really tested me mentally as I was shattered within the first 3km. I had to endure for the rest of the run, whilst still encountering numerous big hills. Overall it was a really tough workout and another good one in the books

SWIMMING:

Once again completed two swimming sessions, but this time they were 2200m and 2500m, both in great time.

Felt far more motivated to do the swims which really helped. I’m feeling like I could continue swimming on indefinitely after all these which is a great sign. Still definitely need to get out in the open water, but without a wetsuit it’s just not do-able at this stage!

 

14 weeks til game day! Coming in quicker and quicker. Another big week ahead, followed by a “rest” week where I’ll go at about 75%!

 

As always, if you have any suggestions or ideas to help raise awareness for sarcoma research and/or the work CRBF do, please shoot me a message on social media or via email (jack.racklyeft@gmail.com). Please share this, or any information from my donation page below to anyone and everyone you can. I have no doubt that slowly but surely, we will start to raise awareness and to make a truly positive change:

https://donorbox.org/jack-s-ironman-for-sarcoma

A simple moment in time – captured forever…

From the moment I woke this morning, one of my favourite images of Cooper was present in my mind.  The photo portrays a blissfully happy 16 year old with not a care in the world, doing what he loved the most – playing cricket and being with his team mates.

The camera had caught him turning from a team huddle, and unbeknownst to him, he was looking straight down the lens.   He had no opportunity for his hallmark grimaces, threats, screwing up of nose and face, and occasional ‘blue’ word that were forthcoming when he was asked to pose for a shot.  The finished result was a photo our family  will cherish forever.

The innocence, and true simplicity of that shot, was lost on me at the time – I just knew I loved the photo.

How could we have ever predicted the immense significance of this photo?

Less than four months after this photo was taken, Coop’s life changed irreversibly, and his normal teenage existence, became a living nightmare, filled with angst, and pain no-one could possibly understand.  Life for Coop became a daily struggle, whilst he was forced to contemplate his mortality.  He had just turned 17, and the life he had carefully planned, was turned upside down – never to be the same again.

Four years later almost to the month, and the 24th August is again upon us – the day when Coop left our sides forever.  The day when life changed irreversibly for each of us.  The significance of treasured memories like this photo are magnified with the emotion of the day.

The void Coop has left in our lives simply cannot be articulated.  The dull aching pain that will never leave.  The silent tears.  Our hearts broken forever.  Life in a highly altered state. Time does not heal – instead it serves to remind that with each passing day, it is yet another day since we held our precious son/brother – forced to say goodbye far too soon.

We long to turn back the hands of time, but know this is not to be.

Today is a day when we are reminded of what was, and sadly, what should have been.

The photo is a precious reminder of a time which although we couldn’t see it at the time – was so close to perfect.  A time when our boy’s lives were about to take flight.  When the world was at their feet, and like all parents, we could not wait to see where life would take them.

A simple moment in time – captured forever.

Ironman 19/08/19 Update

Hi Everyone,

Good week for training this past week.

Had another nutritionist meeting with Rebecca Hay which was great. The main purpose of today’s meeting was to sort out my fluid intake, based off my weight measurements before and after each discipline (i.e. recording how much water weight I’d lost in sweat). Essentially, I sweat lots, or as Rebecca described it, I’m a “large liquid loser” which I’m not a massive fan of. What that means is that I need to be taking a lot more water on board throughout my race to ensure I’m able to perform at my best. Exact details and amounts will be revealed in upcoming blog posts!

CYCLING:

With cycling the main focus in terms of room for improvement, I’ve been aiming to get my speed up for longer distances and work out what pace I would eventually like to go at for the entire 180km race length. The weekly cycles were the following:

  • Tuesday morning 2hr cycle at Centennial Park
  • Thursday morning 1.5hr cycle at Centennial Park
  • Saturday morning 3hr cycle at Centennial Park (30km/hr average pace, including the slow trips to and from!)

The Saturday cycle had to be cut down to accommodate morning coffee for Lexie’s Birthday. In the off chance she’s reading this, it was a sacrifice I was 100% willing to make and I would do it a million times over… Happy 25th!!

I was really happy with the Saturday session. Once I arrived at Centennial, I was able to work on going hard and fast for a longer period of time. My heart rate was never too high and my nutrition and fluids were going down really well. Overall really happy with the week’s cycling!

I also had the privilege of meeting with Davide, Ben and Allison from Chainsmith Bike Shop in Surry Hills. Thanks to the connection and sponsorship from Jonathan Pepper, I was able to get a proper bike fitting, which ended up in me also getting a new pair of Chainsmith bib knicks and some new shoes (old ones turned out to be a size and a half too big)! I can’t thank the team at Chainsmith enough and I’m looking forward to coming back soon to get fitted for the TT Bike!

I’ll look to tag along with any cycling crew that will have me in the coming week(s)! I need to learn how to ride in groups, and having the team around me will:

  1. Force me to get up early to train
  2. Push me harder during the sessions
  3. Allow me to get more cycling done!

Any suggestions of bunches who would be happy to have a relatively inexperienced young cyclist, please get in touch

 

RUNNING:

Big run on Sunday (32ish km) in good time. I was again, super happy with the pace, finish with an average of 5mins 10seconds per kilometre. The route took me down near Rochdale and nearly three hours, but we got there in the end! Other runs in the week included:

  • 10km run on Tuesday
  • 10km reverse loop run on Thursday
  • 10km run on Friday

Massive week for running eventually, completing over 60km in the week which is awesome. The running is well on track!

SWIMMING:

Boring, but another 4km done over the course of the week.

Thinking that I’ll bump up the session distances from 2km to 2.5km. We’ll see how we go!

 

FUNDRAISING:

Including the house event, we’re up to $8,000 which is incredible! I cannot thank everyone enough for their continuous support! There’s still so much time and I think we can do something really special!

In terms of upcoming events, with the help of Forest Lodge Hotel, we’ll be hosting a Trivia Night on Thursday the 29th of August to continue the fundraising effort! We’ve had a lot of interest and with only 4 tables left, it will sell out this week.

Please touch base with me by Thursday this week to confirm your team and lock down a table! At $100 per table of 6-10 (which includes some pizzas, wings and salads!) it should be a ripper evening!

 

15 weeks until game day!

 

As always, if you have any suggestions or ideas to help raise awareness for sarcoma research and/or the work CRBF do, please shoot me a message on social media or via email (jack.racklyeft@gmail.com). Please share this, or any information from my donation page below to anyone and everyone you can. I have no doubt that slowly but surely, we will start to raise awareness and to make a truly positive change:

https://donorbox.org/jack-s-ironman-for-sarcoma

Ironman 12/08/19 Update

Hi All,

Updates on this week!:

CYCLING

  • I completed a massive cycle on Saturday, getting up to 90km in the howling morning wind. I’m slowly getting more and more comfortable on the drops (the lower handlebars of the bike) which allow me to sit in a more aerodynamic position. Hitting an average speed of 32km/hr on the flat areas (i.e. most of the Ironman course) which is promising.
  • The two weekday cycles I managed to get in in the mornings with Gundy at Centennial Park. The CP loop is great because there are no lights or rouge children to dodge, meaning I can fly around as quick as I can and get a really good workout in. Bloody cold though…
  • I’ve managed to lock in a bike fitting session at Chainsmith in Redfern, courtesy of Jonathan Pepper this coming Wednesday. I have no idea whether my current setup is close to being correct, so this will be a great step to getting more comfortable for the longer cycles (I should definitely have done this earlier…).
  • My shoes are still way too big

RUNNING:

  • City2Surf was on Sunday and was a great day out. Ran along with Stu which was his longest run ever and he smashed it. Feeling really good writing this the day after, so can’t complain!
  • The other running sessions for the week went well. Was definitely more of a focus on cycling this week though

SWIMMING:

  • Had two good swims this week for a combined distance of 4km. My speed is getting better, along with my efficiency, so really good signs.
  • Next step will be getting out and into open water (once the temperature rises a bit!)

 

Overall, really happy still with where I am! Need to just keep getting more and more kilometres in my legs for the cycles, and training to endure to long runs! 30km run this Sunday, hopefully up to 100km  on Saturday for the long ride. Big week ahead!

Cheers

Jack

Ironman 02/08/19 Update

Hi everyone,

Apologies for the lack of weekly blog, I’ve been lazy with it over the past couple of weeks, but it will be back up and running next week!

CRBF, with the help of Baker McKenzie, hosted a breakfast on Wednesday morning to hear from professors from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research about exciting developments in personalised therapeutics for rare cancers. This was a fantastic morning where the professors (Angela Hong, Maya Kansara, David Thomas & Dr Norman Swan) spoke about the incredible research they were involved in and the exciting progress they’ve made as a result of CRBF support. There was so much to be excited for, but please shoot me a message or get in contact personally if you want to know more as I can’t properly express it over this blog!

I was also able to speak about my journey so far and hopefully gained some traction for more donations to my effort (now sitting at $7,800 including the first fundraiser event!). We’ve also got some exciting news about upcoming fundraising events so stay tuned! Any and all donations are welcome at https://donorbox.org/jack-s-ironman-for-sarcoma !

Also this week, I had my second Skype session with conditioning coach Hamish about changes to my current training program. The main things to focus on in the coming 5-6 weeks of training will be:

  • Getting more km’s on the bike (ideally up to 75% or so of the 180km race distance)
  • Improving my body position on the bike to reduce my drag
  • Incorporating “Brick” sessions into my routine
    • Brick sessions are where I practice the transition from swimming to cycling, or cycling to running. My new Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday sessions are examples
  • With the runs, they’re going really well, but need to keep switching up the course I’m running so I have to continually adapt.
  • Lose a bit more weight, having plateaued a bit at 91.5/92kgs. Losing these extra weight will be a massive help for the run in particular.

The upcoming 4 or so weeks of training now looks like this:

  Morning Evening
Monday REST Strength Session
Tuesday REST Swim 2km-ish into 10km Run (5:00 pace easy)
Wednesday 10km Run (4:30min/km pace) 1hr 45mins indoor cycle w/2 x 20 min 155bpm
Thursday REST Swim 2km-ish into 1hr 45mins indoor cycle w/3 x 15min 155-160bpm
Friday REST 10km Run (5:00min/km pace) – reverse loop

Strength Session

Saturday 4-5 hour cycle

(Looking to get up to the 120-150km range soon)

REST
Sunday REST –        2hr 40min (30km or so) @ 5:10 pace (every third week)

–        1hr 30min cycle into 30/60/75/90min jog (every other week)

Anyway, that’ll do me for this week’s blog. I may keep it in this shorter format going forward with just the important updates, let me know if you’d prefer it one way or another.

As always, please tell your family and friends about this fundraising effort and get in touch if you have any questions

Cheers!

Jack

Friends for life…

During global sarcoma awareness month we are running a series of stories to shine a spotlight on not just the cancer itself, but to highlight the remarkable individuals whose lives have been touched along the way.

I was contacted several months ago by a concerned mother and friend, Annette Supple, whose life had been deeply affected by sarcoma through her daughter Georgia’s best friend, Ashley Thomas, diagnosis with osteosarcoma at the age of 14.

Georgia had expressed to her mum she would like to cut her very long, beautiful hair to donate to a charity so it may be used to potentially lift a cancer patient’s spirits, and to raise money for sarcoma research in the process.

At 14 a cancer diagnosis represents the unthinkable. For the family and particularly and close friends of these young patients, growing up quickly is part of the process whilst providing support throughout diagnosis and treatment. For most 14 year olds, the biggest question of the day is what to wear? Yet Ashley and Georgia live amidst an unspeakably difficult process not many could ever begin to imagine. For this reason Georgia’s gesture was as unexpected as it was humbling.

Whilst Ashley is now fully recovered from surgery, Georgia will remain by her side to provide support and strength to her friend, throughout the months of chemotherapy which lie ahead.

Georgie Supple – In her own words…

When Ashley was diagnosed with osteosarcoma just after Christmas last year I felt helpless and confused. We had been friends since the day she was born, had all our first days of school together since preschool, and I was devastated to not be able to continue that tradition.

A few weeks into Ashley’s chemo, her hair started falling out, first a few strands, then small chunks, then what looked like a whole head of hair. It was hard to watch as she had always loved her hair and it was a part of her. My mum shaved Ashley’s head in hospital one Friday night. It was very hard for me to watch. I felt as though I needed to show her that losing her hair wouldn’t change who she was.

I considered shaving my head for a while, but then decided it would be best to cut off enough to donate to a wig making company. It will be made into a wig for someone, probably another child, who has lost their hair too. I looked around and found one where I could donate anywhere above 25 cm of hair. Through doing this I raised $350 and gave Ashley the confidence to feel beautiful even without her hair.

She is beautiful, she is my best friend, and she is a fighter.

  •  Log In ‹ Cooper-R

 

Jack v Sarcoma Ironman Blog – Week 21 (01/07/19 – 07/07/19)

Monday – Strength Session

Another great legs and core session. Apart from my calves, I felt pretty good after yesterday’s 22.5km run. The 3 x 30reps calf raises were particularly sting-y today…

Tuesday – 2.5km Swim, 10km Run @ 5:20 Pace

As per Rebecca’s (nutritionist’s) suggestions last week, I had a bottle of Gatorade at the end of the pool this week along with my water to help keep my energy/interest levels up during the swim. This would also hopefully help with the run immediately after. I also extended the swim distances for this week.

Whilst I didn’t swim as efficiently as I have previously, today was a good indication that my body is able to keep swimming for longer distances. I broke the mileage up into 3 x 500m swims, followed by a final 1km effort and felt fine to keep going after each of the sets which was extremely positive. The 3.8km (race distance) isn’t too far away with 20 weeks training still to go.

The run was my easy one for the week. My legs seems particularly sore from yesterday’s weights session, likely in conjunction with my big Sunday run. Energy levels were steady throughout, so I was happy with the Gatorade/water/banana consumption beforehand and during this day’s effort.

Wednesday – 1:20 Indoor Cycle, 8km Run @ 4:30 Pace

Ended up doing this in reverse order (Run first, into the bike) which made for a noticeably tougher workout. Ran really hard during the run and made some great time, but coming onto the bike it took about 25 or so minutes to finally get settled.

Nutrition-wise, I destroyed a banana after the run and took a water and Gatorade on the bike with me to sip on throughout.

Once I’d settled and found a couple of long YouTube vids to watch, the indoor cycle went well. I knocked over 2 x 20min hard intervals again at 155-160bpm. Big meal afterwards…

Thursday – 2.5km Swim, 1:30 Indoor Cycle

Hit a wall early with the swim. Really need to get into a squad. Was swimming well for the brief time I swam but just felt like I couldn’t be bothered.

Once again, took me ages for my legs to get suited on the indoor bike. They came to the party at about the 30 mins and rode well for the remaining hour.

Friday – 11km Run @ 5:10 Pace, Strength Session

Nice solid, steady run to end off the week. Ended up going pretty fast but feeling good throughout. Following the run my watch was telling me my V02 max had jumped up a bit (up from 52 to 53). Not sure what that means but solid bit of feedback and I definitely feel faster during each passing run.

Followed that run up with a gym session which was tough but struggled through it. The calf raises are killing me, they seem to be in a constant state of pain at the moment.

Saturday – 3:00 Cycle

Didn’t go as long as I wanted. Ideally I want to start hitting 4 hours week in, week out going forward, but woke up too late today and had a meeting with a cycling store at 11am to get to. As it turned out, the cycling shop had to cancel as I was on my way over disappointingly.

I’m looking forward to getting out the longer and longer times on the bike, I’m enjoying it more now.

Sunday – 2:00 Run

Ran for nearly exactly 2 hours, doing 24km this time, so getting up there distance-wise. This track had far less red lights which often disrupts my runs which was great. Still hitting that same 5mins/km pace I’ve been hitting the previous weekends which I was really happy about. Again had issues with getting fluids on board, with the running track this time taking me down near the airport which offered no taps or bubblers during the key 40-80min period of the run. Took two gu’s which really helped, but I think once I’m getting the necessary fluids on board during the run as well, I’ll start hitting some great times.

Next week I’ll look to hit the 27km mark, before backing off the following week as a rest week. Keen for that!

 

20 weeks down, 20 weeks until game day! I feel like on the whole, my rate of improvement is going at an exponential rate itself. Running in particular, I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made. The training sessions are only going to get longer but so far so good. I’m not injured, I’m happy with the exercise and I’m still able to keep up with everything at work. Let’s keep it going!

 

As always, if you have any suggestions or ideas to help raise awareness for sarcoma research and/or the work CRBF do, please shoot me a message on social media or via email (jack.racklyeft@gmail.com). Please share this, or any information from my donation page below to anyone and everyone you can. I have no doubt that slowly but surely, we will start to raise awareness and to make a truly positive change:

https://donorbox.org/jack-s-ironman-for-sarcoma