A week out from my first marathon, I could use your help

 

So, yeah, it’s finally here. PARP! I’ve trained for just over 5 months for this specific marathon and been running in total for just over two years now, building up to this. You can track my progress on the day by sticking my marathon number: 33464 into the London Marathon website on the day.

You can read my story about becoming a runner here on my fund raising page – and if you haven’t popped a fiver in yet, please do. Those kids need all the help we can give them.

Today I’m writing for your help to get me round the bloody thing. For those who have been following my progress you’ll know I’ve been blighted by a couple of overuse leg injuries, the pain is mostly from lower hamstring tendonitis and ITBS both affecting my right leg knee area, but after about 15km it radiates out throughout my whole leg. YAY, go me. The treatment for both these is rest, physio, and then rehabilitation. But you know, it happened just before the hardest, longest run block of training about 8 weeks ago – so I’ve been running through it.. Ouchie. But I’ve managed! Training hasn’t gone great, but it’s not been terrible either: I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, and I know I can do a marathon distance.

So yeah, putting it bluntly: getting round a marathon is going to hurt most people anyway, but for me from 5kms in I will be in quite a large amount of pain in my right leg which will build as the marathon goes. Making it round in any time specifically went out the window a couple of months ago, instead I’m focussing on getting round at all to complete my life goal, and enjoy the moment. I’ll do a “proper” sub 5hr marathon in a year or two when I’m recovered.

I could use your help. When things get tough I’m going to be checking in on Periscope – username ThayerP, and I’d love to have you all there sending messages of support and making those little heart things happen. If you can download and install it on your phone, and follow me I’d really appreciate it. You’ll get a little BEEP when I’m broadcasting, and although I can’t type back I can talk back and messages of encouragement and all those cute little hearts that happen when you tap on the video would be great to see. Plus, you’ll get to see what it’s like to be in the thick of the London Marathon, which will be pretty cool I’d imagine. I’ll do some start line footage, some mid race, and a small no doubt crying my eyes out bit after I finish. SNOT BUBBLES FTW!

If you’d like to support in person, the best way is to go to one of my charity, Barnardos Cheer Stations – I will specifically running up to those to see my husband, Dad, and any of you that let me know you’re there (Guiness welcome! haha):

MILE 17 – MUDCHUTE: with the Docklands and Canary Wharf now in sight, we are just over a small hill, past a water station just as you come into Mudchute. All the information about our exact location, what benefits your friends and family can get as well as who to contact on the day can be found here.

MILE 24.5 – EMBANKMENT: The finish line’s in sight and we are there to get you through your final couple of miles. Just outside Walkabout Bar before you go under Waterloo bridge, we are on both sides of the road and cheering louder than any other charity. Again, all the information about our exact location etc can be found here. We have Pandemonium Drummers joining us making loads of noise too, they have been cheering on #TeamBarnardos for 3 years and were the official drummers at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

If you’re going to do that, and I’d love to see you there if you do! You just need to email me your name and I’ll add you to the people they can expect. If you’re cheering me on from anywhere else on the course there’s a high chance I won’t see you I’m afraid (though I’d be supremely flattered!) – just due to the nature of everyone shouting, my focus will be on moving forwards instead of scanning the crowd every time I hear something that sounds like Thayer, TAYER, Thigh-er, etc 😉 – as I will have my name on my shirt.

A huge thank you to everyone for your support so far – the messages on Twitter, Facebook, the emails, the incredibly kind words, the sponsorship. You’ve all kept me going. Seriously.

Right then, big breath. Next update I will be a marathon runner, and writing about how incredibly well it all went..

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Privilege: an unhelpful generalisation

I want to keep this as purposefully short as possible. I know that this is a highly emotive subject for almost everyone.

Over the last year the word “privilege” has crept into common use in technology circles, often in discussion around diversity in the work place – something I’m very interested in both from a personal stand point (ex female dev, and woman in tech & business) and professional (person who runs a company that builds teams of techs).

I find it extremely unhelpful. It’s often used as a put-down, a la, “Check your priv” or in a more well meaning discussion about how certain groups of people, mostly (but not only) white cis men, have some privilege over the majority. This is still unhelpful. I’ll hope to articulate why by asking you a question:

If you’re a minority in tech, who has led a life say, with an unbroken family, had great teachers (regardless of a “good” or “bad” school) and very little life traumas, are you still less privileged than a white cis male who had an unhappy home life, maybe a parental death early on, had horrendous teachers at “excellent” schools, and struggles with mental illness?

I’m using extremes in my example to highlight my point. Everyone has their own story. Yes, cis white males have data-proven advantages due to pre-existing bias from before they were born.  Almost everyone I know is working on that for the better, and wants change. But generalisations in any form used as a put-down against groups or  individuals is harmful and hurtful. You haven’t walked in anyone else’s shoes, the privilege you call out in your peers should be checked against your own. Your privilege may not look the same as the one you’re discussing, but it’s still there. We’ve all had privilege in life, and we’ve all had things that have unfairly held us back. How we as individuals deal with that determines the outcome for us personally.

The word “privilege” has come to feel like a snooty smug “well everything’s alright for you isn’t it” kind of vibe. And I don’t like it. It’s not the right word. It belittles individual’s struggles in their own lives, regardless of their gender, colour or background. I don’t think I know a single person who has led a life solely of privilege. I bet you don’t either. By using this to generalise you’re chipping away at people who didn’t chose to be born into whatever lifestyle you’ve decided they have, and giving them guilt. Almost everyone I know (regardless of our backgrounds, gender, colour) is working hard to build a unified vision of diversity both in the workplace in the world. And those that aren’t yet need to be shown how by us doing it, not by words – and unhelpful ones at that.

So what words to use instead? I’m not sure there is anything I’d be comfortable with. Generalisations in my world view are never cool. And certainly not around a subject that’s so important. I’d rather we acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses as individuals and then grow together as a group, without unhelpful pigeon holing.

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Boozey advent calendars

For the last couple of years (and no doubt, forever now!) I have bought my husband a whisky advent calendar from Masters Of Malt (£149.95 + delivery), and it’s *really* good. Good fun, good to get to taste lots of different whiskies and work out which you’d like in full size, and amusing to booze through the festive period in a not-too-crazy way.

They also do a gin one (£99.95 + delivery).

I have always felt a touch left out, as I don’t like whisky or gin particularly. Certainly not enough for the price tag. So I’ve invented the vodka advent calendar (~£100 inc delivery) as a Listmania which you can buy on Amazon.

Bottoms up! Here’s to grown up advent calendars!

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Donating your handhelds and games to children’s wards

If you’re a gamer who’s got any old handheld systems (any of the DS range, PSP.. etc) sitting around collecting dust, waiting for that one retro weekend of play you think may happen one day (that we all know never will) – can I beg a favour of you? Dust them down, give them a wipe over and then donate them to your local children’s ward.

I never knew until Max was in hospital last year most children’s wards rely entirely on donations and fundraising to buy some of the specialist equipment, and toys. Often, the toys come last on the list as you know, life saving equipment is obviously more important.

However, many studies have now shown what all us gamers have known for years – gaming helps take your mind of things: including pain, sickness and mental distress. Things that kids in hospitals have that your dusty old DS or PSP you never play anymore could really help lighten up.

Make sure your games are age appropriate to under 12s (language/nudity/violence etc) and then just call up your local hospital and ask for children’s ward. Let them know you’d like to donate and they’ll let you know if they’re able to accept. Then you just go drop them off and get the most amazing feeling of joy that I promise you £20-30 you would have made on eBay for them would never get you 🙂

Go on, what you waiting for – go make some poorly kids super happy 🙂

PS – they accept most other toys in good nick too, but not soft toys or toys that are hard to keep clean. But stuff like Duplo, Brio, dolls house things and shape sorters are all ace.

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#seatgifting – an update and a request for your thoughts, please

6 months ago, I wrote about an idea I had called #seatgifting (link goes to original post) and since then I’ve moved the idea on with the help of the amazing and kind Christian Trippe who’s supplied some ace designs for the badges. See pic! How cool!Image

Where we’re at now is a whole heap of work, and money to move to the next step. So, I want your advice please.

The project needs the following to proceed:

  • money for badges to be printed out in quantities big enough to make this fly
  • people to volunteer and give out these badges at train and transport stations across the country (or even in other countries, if there is a want for it)
  • someone to help and/or advise with press enquiries (not something I’ve ever done) to ensure people know what this is about, and get the meme quickly
  • someone to help get the website up and running (I’ve bought seatgifting.org) it just needs a bit of WordPress love of something?
  • website hosting (I’m happy to cover that for the first couple of years)
  • an army of initial supporters who will help get the message out

What we have got already:

  • a fairly thorough action plan by the smart new Team Prime hire, Charley Brinton
  • badge, logo & typeface designs plus overall branding and colours etc all ready to rock thanks to Christian Trippe
  • seatgifting.org domain
  • a small time & money budget from Team Prime to get this going
  • a wonderful network of you lot who’ve been massively supportive so far 🙂 Thank you.
  • a strong desire not to give up on this idea, despite what appears to be a rapidly growing amount of time and money investment 😉

I’m thinking two course of action we could possibly take now:

  1. Kickstarter to fund badges & site? Having looked at T&Cs I think this could work under product…?
  2. Volunteers stepping in to help out.

This project has never been about me or Team Prime owning it, it’s just been something I wanted to exist in it’s own right, and ideally be moved forward and taken up by the community at large so it’s sustainable without any particular owner. If anyone has any thoughts on helping me move this to the next stage, I’m *really* keen to hear them in the comments below (not on Twitter please!). Whether it’s volunteering to help out with the project, ideas on who to contact, or if you’re a brand with some spare marketing spend who’d like to partner, we’re listening.

If you don’t have anything to add, then a retweet to get this call for help as far flung as possible would be greatly appreciated.

Nearly there. Nearly there.

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Trying to pick who joins the coding club is wrong

I’ll start with a personal controversial statement: I’ve never liked nor attended many “women’s events”. The very few I’ve been to I felt very uncomfortable hearing stories of being a victim. I’ve never seen myself as a victim in my industry, or for being my sex generally – it’s always made me feel very strong, empowered and special. I’ve also been more looked after and catered for sensitively than I have been harassed – both in technology, and the videogaming community. I know that’s not the same for everyone, and I realise “women” events are very useful for women who unlike me, may find their sex interferes with their career path, or life choices. I’ve always been in the “take it, and give it back in a disarmingly funny or smart way” club (or, you know, just ignore) when someone does something that I don’t like, regardless of their sex/colour/height/amountofbodyparts.

However, last month I saw a women’s only event I was interested in. Not because it was women’s only, but because it offered an opportunity for me to learn Ruby with other beginners, in what seemed a very friendly environment. It was this RailsGirlsLondon event. I was also keen to find out what women devs would be like – as a developer, I’ve never worked with one. As someone who helps companies build teams, I figured it’d be useful knowledge to ensure I could advise on how to set our teams up in a way that was more comfortable and engaging for women to see if that helps women join the companies I work with.

So, I applied, duly tweeted about it to promote it and sat to wait and hear about my application.

I found out last night I didn’t get in. And here’s why (from the organiser, when I asked directly):

We tried our best to select people based roughly on the following criteria:
– not much programming experience
– has perhaps attempted learning on their own, but were unsuccessful
To apply this, two of us (both girls), went through the application list individually and made selections. Then we went through the list together again comparing our thoughts. The ones that matched we accepted/rejected, the ones that mismatched we further discussed. Also, after making the final selection, a third person from the organising team, went through the selected attendees, to verify our decision. There was no clash of opinions at that point.

I have a big issue with this. An event to help women get into coding, that then excludes women based on organiser preference? So now I get to be made a double outsider – I’m a “woman in technology” who doesn’t qualify for some reason* to attend a “women in coding” event. * (I meet both those listed criteria they gave).

Why wasn’t this done as random selection? Or first 40 to sign up? Any way that would let everyone know they had equal chance?

So the community turns on itself, and gets to pick who’s in the club?  No, I don’t buy that. That’s exactly why this (or any) industry can be hard for any outsiders to feel included in.

I want to end on a positive note.

I went to my first LRUG last night and in the room there was me and at one point, two other women, but mostly just me and around 80 guys. I was a bit nervous, even for me those odds were on the scary side of being the outsider. Also I was there with my recruiting hat on, not my technologist one – eep, double outsider! But you know what? I was made to feel completely included, everyone was nice, kind and charming, and I felt completely at home.

I’m going to stick to inclusive events as I always have, and hope that those trying to help the industry become inclusive start by taking a look closer to home.

Hyper Linda’s nails it, really:

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I’ve left comments on, but I will only be publishing comments that are relevant to this specific post, not about women in technology in general. Thanks.

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Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We All Lost

Adria Richards, PyCon, and How We All Lost.

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