|Coming down Marsden Bank, South Shields, just before the last mile|
One of the biggest aspects of the challenge of completing a half-marathon in relation to Asperger's Syndrome, is that it is a way to cope with some of the difficulties that the condition can present regarding anxiety, much of which stems from doubt, by facing up to them. To face up to such anxiety, I saw it as an opportunity to practice mindfulness, where attention to the breath during the run helped me stay focused on the present during each of the 13.1 miles. I also felt that combination of simple yoga stretches and meditation practices helped me to keep my back upright while running as it had occurred in training where I had 'slumped' a little and it was putting strain on my knee joints, allowing me to run for longer. Attention to such bodily sensations can make a huge difference for such a challenge.
The crowds I felt were as much the stars as the runners. Without them, I probably couldn't have done it. What has been especially lovely though, is that as well as my own elation, it appears from the many messages I have had from family and friends that there are many people who are elated for me. What has made the Great North Run experience so special, as it no doubt has for many others taking part this year, is that it gives you both a sense of achievement and contribution for a worthy cause, in my case supporting many young people and families affected by autism at Daisy Chain. When I have given talks and seminars on Asperger's Syndrome, it has happened were people have found themselves in tears being so proud of me and in the weeks leading up to the Great North Run, many have told me how proud have been of me taking on such an ambitious challenge, but one thing that is for sure though, I had never felt any more pleased with or any prouder of myself than I did after completing the run!
Meanwhile, coming back down to Earth after the euphoria of the big day, I am continuing to work my way through the ISEB, learning about the difference between the users and suppliers, including possible problems with requirements-based testing and how ill-specified requirements can present problems. One has to be especially careful about vagueness of requirements, particular when a requirements document says that it intends the software to perform a particular function but doesn't specify how it does it. This where a requirements list from a customer may become more like a 'wish list' than a requirements list, but the supplier may not have the same assumptions as the customer. This is where applying strengths that Asperger's Syndrome can present, including eye for and attention to detail and specific accuracy, can produce specific requirements documents for customers to enable functional specifications for suppliers. For if suppliers identify features only from the requirements document, it may result in a system not performing a function users want that wasn't specified in the requirements they weren't contracted to meet. Attention to detail in a physical sense got me through the Great North Run, hopefully I can apply it in a technical sense to eventually pass my ISEB!
|At Kala Pattar, 2009|
To stay fit for my Kilimanjaro challenge, and also to possibly enter future half-marathons and maybe even a full marathon, I am certainly going to keep up with my training. In the meantime, a huge thank you to everyone who has so far donated to my challenge on behalf of Daisy Chain and to the crowds who came along to cheer on this year's Great North Runners.
I am equally as proud of all the other runners who took part in this year's Bupa Great North Run, raising funds for very worthy causes and making a huge difference to the lives of so many. Elsewhere, I would also like to extend my compassion to friends and relatives of the 96 football fans who lost their lives during the Hillsborough Disaster on April 15th 1989, after recently released documents shed new light on this human tragedy.