Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Let me jog your memory...

Here we go again then.

After an eventful post-Marathon year, I decided to sign myself up for another really reeeeeally long run in September.

Whatever the reason, it's on.

At the end of last year I had to rest up good and proper, so this is my first foray back into the longer distances. Reasons = twofold. Firstly, I ran the Sure Run to the Beat in London in September and managed to do this:

That's one delightfully messed-up foot, including a squiffy cuboid and a couple of mashed metatarsals thrown in for good measure. It was sore and annoying, and took what felt like forever to heal. 

Secondly, for completely unrelated reasons, I had a small surgery and was written off running, swimming, cycling, lifting [read: no fun, not ever, none, just go forth and eat HobNobs, they said] for "four to six" weeks. So...four weeks then? 

But heal I did and my initial runs after a good 3 months went without incident, aside from gasping for dear life at the top of the Links hill and battling with some excruciatingly tight calves. Let's just say I've got loads of catching up to do. And the calf strain has been a bit of a pain to get rid of for some reason. But we're getting there. Nightmare. 

Since LA, I've run Edinburgh Half Marathon again, this time just for a bit of fun on a Sunday in torrential rain, and came in 17s from my PB. That was a bit annoying too, but at least I was reassured that I could still keep a decent time after very slow paced, long distance training runs for LA. 

Run to the Beat in September was great fun and again I had a fantastic group of people around that day which makes all the difference and is one of the main reasons I love running at events so much. 

The most fun I had at a run this summer though, Color Me RAD in Edinburgh. A great way to engage people with a running event that is ideal for all ages and abilities. I was so excited to see a fitness event that was so much fun and so inclusive. I hope that it is a great starter for people who will come along and see that running can be a great laugh and a great Sunday activity with friends. 

(See, the sun does shine in Scotland)

So after all this resting and a few little tentative forays into double figure mileage again earlier in the year, yes, there's obviously another Marathon on the horizon. Here's a little bit more about what I'm doing, and more importantly why...

Several weeks ago I forked out a reg fee and plotted out my training plan for the Berlin Marathon - but I don't really know why I'm even thinking about the running when I now have ALL THE FUNDRAISING to do. 

...*cue facepalm*...

Having "decided" that I don't do enough fundraising in my day job (woo, Aberlour!), I have opted to raise a whopping £1,000 for Alzheimer's Society, by myself, by running 26.2 long miles around Berlin. So, if I take care of all the running, I'd be so super grateful for your creative thoughts, donations and general support in reaching that fundraising target. 

Initially I wanted to run this marathon for the British Heart Foundation, especially this year as my Dad is facing a shedload of abject horror undergoing a triple heart bypass, aortic valve replacement and having a pacemaker fitted all in the same surgery. To say he's not looking forward to it would be an understatement. I also wanted to run it in memory of my beloved Nan who passed away 9yrs ago this summer and also underwent the same battle against coronary heart disease. 

I lived with my Nan and Grandad until I was 12, and my Nan was my first bff. The epitome of the ultimate bff: we baked, we dressed up, we ate cake. Nan also liked playing bingo. 

Everyone who knew my Nan will tell you how very special she was. So when her big, generous and beautiful heart finally stopped beating in July 2006 it was a massive loss to our tiny family. Thankfully I have many wonderful memories and I am reminded of her every single day. 

But unfortunately the British Heart Foundation spent two weeks ignoring the three emails, three phonecalls, Tweets and comedy Instagram selfies I sent them in a desperate attempt to get SOMEONE from the mahoosive fundraising team to get back to me and say "YES! We'd love you to fundraise a thousand pounds for our wonderful organisation!"

But that never happened. So they received another cranky email which has also been ignored. Just by the by, I find being completely ignored quite RUDE and a bit unnecessary. OH, and I also made a donation alongside my initial request for info, which was also duly ignored and I haven't had a jot of thanks. I pointed that out to them too. Get that on yer complaints return...yeah.

Shoddy. Let's hope their dedication to saving lives has a bit more urgency...

But then I gave the Alzheimer's Society a call and they were LOVELY. Very enthusiastic, welcoming and warm, and they gave me a marathon place right there and then on the spot.

This means I'm not only going to put myself through another round of marathon training...

...but I'm also committed to raising vital funds to support the amazing work of Alzheimer's Society and their partners right across the UK. I've done the miles for a marathon before (see previous blogs), and I'm telling you, it's hard work and takes a lot of sacrifice and will power. And yes, I fundraise for a living, but this is very very different and it's going to be hunners o'work to reach my target. 

I picked Alzheimer's Society because both of my grandfathers suffered with dementia in their later life. My maternal grandfather Ken passed away when I was little, and my Mum endured the long and upsetting process of losing her wonderful Dad countless times towards the end of his life. 

And then there's my grandad Frank, my old pal!! 

Look at hiiiiim, being all brilliant.

We only really noticed Grandad's dementia after my Nan died...they'd functioned so well as they grew older together, and they'd spent all their married life together in the same home. So as frustrated as my Nan used to get with him about his "ignoring her all the time", neither my parents nor I really understood what Grandad was going through until my Nan wasn't around to be the yin to his yang, if you know what I mean.

I am an only child, so is my Mum, so is my Dad, so was my Nan. I have no grandparents left now, I've never had aunties or uncles, no cousins, no nieces and nephews, just me and my folks. We were all with Nan when she passed away, and as I walked along the hospital corridor linking my 91yr old Grandad's arm afterwards, he stopped in his tracks and said to me "So, is she gone?!" - I explained again...yes. "Well, who's going to look after me now?"

It broke my heart to see this quiet, fair and lovely old man panicking, recognising that he needed someone to take care of him but only now having to confront and communicate that to us for the first time. They'd both grown old so gracefully, but in that moment I realised that my Grandad was very scared of being alone.

Needless to say, he wasn't alone - he moved in with my parents and my Mum accompanied him to many doctor's appointments until he finally gained a diagnosis of dementia in 2006. During this time he got up most nights to go looking for my Nan...eventually we started telling him that she had gone nextdoor and had said for him to just go to bed and she'd be back soon. It was gentler than watching him lose her over and over and over again.

But not everyone is as fortunate as to have people around them at this stage in life. 

In addition, caring for someone with dementia as they deteriorate is hard, and it can be very lonely without any wider support. So that's one of the reasons why the Alzheimer's Society is so important to me - more families need the proper guidance, support and recognition to remind everyone affected by dementia that they are not alone. It was a really tough time for my folks.

With this in mind, I'm going to need as much support as I can get from you guys so here I am kindly asking for your help in the shape of sponsorship and joining in with a summer of fun. That doesn't sound too bad, does it? 

I'll be hosting a variety of retro/memory themed activities and events over the summer, including a bbq and some live music - and I'll be encouraging lots of you to "Jog Your Memory" with me in Holyrood Park...all will be revealed!

In honour of my Nan's love for a good old cream cake, I'll also be holding "Nana's Afternoon Cream Tea Party", and calling on all of you who have businesses to buy a patch on my running vest (trust me, marathon runners spend a LOT of time reading the back of other runners' vests), oh, and carting my trusty sponsorship form to the pub on a regular basis. Just the price of a couple of pints will help me on my way - and most of all, you will have my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for your support. I know and understand that we are all asked for sponsorship on an unbearably frequent basis, but I promise I won't ask again - this is the one. This time.

You can sponsor me now, here.

As you can imagine this is a really personal challenge for me, and I hope that you lovely people will be so kind as to dig deep and help a sista out. I'm not adverse to acting as a taxi service on nights out (I am cheaper than CityCabs), I will cook for you, bake for you, I'll take you to COSTCO if you like...you name it, I'll (within reason!) do it for a donation to my sore legs fund 2015. 

That's enough for one evening. Thank you already. I love you. Leave the (majority of the) running to me and I'll try my best to make y'all proud.

For now, I'm sending all my love,
Nikki. xxx

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