When I was about 9 I ran a couple of 1 mile races, but eventually gave up. I half-heartedly attempted running a couple of times while at university, but normally found work, sleep or drinking came first and I soon gave up altogether.
But in 2014 I started running regularly for the first time, attempting my first 5k in around April of that year. I was a red, sweaty mess, but decided to stick with it and train for a 10k in June. I told myself that if that wasn’t too bad I’d enter a half marathon that October.
June came and I successfully completed by first 10k, but not long before my Granny had been hospitalised with a stroke. She was recovering quite well, her speech almost fully restored, so I was able to tell her all about my first big race. Just a few weeks earlier she’d given me a newspaper she’s kept containing the results of my very first race – a 1 mile I’d completed aged 8.
Just days after that particular visit she suffered a second, much more severe stroke. My Granny survived but was unable to walk, talk or feed herself. She was always a chatterbox – you could rarely get a word in edge ways – so being confronted with silence made the whole thing even harder to deal with. As I babbled away to fill the silence, I promised her I’d fundraise for Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, one of her favourite charities, on her behalf. Even though at this point I hadn’t run more than 10k, I found myself saying that I would at some point run a marathon for Battersea.
It was a few months before I vocalised this thought to anyone else, but later that year, with Granny now in a nursing home, I entered the Paris Marathon. Exactly one year after I’d first started running, I finished my first ever marathon and raised over £1000 in the process. I was so pleased to be able to tell Granny about the money I had raised and show her my finisher’s medal. Even when she was suffering, my Granny still managed to enjoy the company of four-legged friends thanks to the wonderful Nightingale Dogs and everyone knows I share her love of furry animals!
Having seen the debilitating effects strokes can have, I vowed next time to support the Stroke Association too. Sadly after 18 months in a care home my Granny died in January this year. It was horrible to see her suffer and I’d love to support Stroke Association in any way I can, as well as continuing to support Battersea.
During a particularly tough long run a few weeks ago, I found myself passing a group of people on a sponsored walk. One of the group had a photo of her late husband on her back. Suddenly choked up, it brought back why I first entered a marathon. While I know I’m probably not going to raise as much this time, moments like that remind me to be grateful for my health and enjoy every moment.
I’m running Berlin Marathon 2015 and Paris Marathon 2016 for Stroke Association and Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. You can sponsor me here.