The Answer To The Question ‘Why Are You Doing This?’

Here goes….

My Grandfather had several strokes in 2013. The first few caused him to forget some things and people and the man that I looked up to seemed slightly less godlike than he did before. He recovered well, but then it happened again after a few months and after this one his memory of me became a distant whisper. I could see he felt he should know me and others he met.  He would often apologise for not remembering, as though having had a stroke and forgetting was in some way bad manners! His behaviour changed and he looked more frail than I ever thought he could.  The once strong man became more a shadow of his former self and the strength that once filled his gaze was replaced by frustration.  He removed himself from the house he has been in with my Granmother for years, moved into a nursing home and eventually passed away. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen the effects of strokes though.

When I was younger (probably around 6 or 7) my mother had a stroke at an early age. I don’t want to go into details so much but it wasn’t a pleasant thing to see someone you depend on for your survival become completely hopeless. I didn’t understand what had caused it then, but remembering the symptoms I saw and piecing things together its kind of obvious this is what happened. Right now, you wouldn’t be able to say she had experienced a stroke, but not everyone is that lucky.

I know this challenge is going to be hard physically and mentally in parts, but I’m still going to do it. I have relatives who has survived the hard ships of persecution in WWII for being polish and know that the suffering part is going to be optional.

You think you’ve placed your finger on my motivation and drive to get this challenge completed?  Maybe you have, but there’s a little something hidden that is hard to admit, even to myself.  Like many and selfish as it may be, I do this as much for me as I do for a charity.  I am guilty of neglecting that unspoken duty to visit him when he was ill and getting worse.  I grudgingly visited him once after his first stroke, and when morals and doing the right thing where the most important, I put myself first and avoided those meetings.  This is why this whole thing, raising money and raising awareness is important to me, but the act of running is my way of recognising the incredible strength that both my grandparents posses, having lost all during WWII’s persecution.

I have no interest in the attention that doing something like this is undoubtedly going to bring.  I have no interest in setting records.  I know that it will appear that this is a self serving enterprise, and you are right…  It is, but not for the reasons that seem apparent at first.

So on the 26th of July, at Land’s End, I will pick up a pebble and I will carry it the length of the country, and on returning home, I’m going to place that pebble on my Grandfather’s headstone.  My way of acknowledging everything he did in his life time.  It will just be a pebble, but it’ll hold countless memories and like the old custom, let him know that he is not forgotten.

What if something goes wrong or I run out of time?  I’m going to keep that pebble and train harder and keep repeating the task until I complete the task at hand and that pebble makes an uninterrupted journey between the two furthest points in the UK.

Thanks for reading such a self serving post, but I guess that is the nature of blogging.

You can donate if you see fit at the link below, with the money raised going to Stroke Association who do incredible work with both sufferers and also their families, along side funding research into treatments and prevention of strokes.

www.justgiving.com/barefootlejog

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The Reason Tailwind Is More Than Just Some Energy Drinks Company!

I’ve contacted several companies and asked for their support and the few replies I’ve had, amongst the electronic version of tumble weed, have all been a distinctive shade of ‘no’.

Then Mike from Tailwind got in touch, and if I’m honest (putting aside the scepticism of Tailwind since I’d not ever tried it) I wasn’t really sure what he was offering.  Then we had a conversation or two via email and a video call and I was blown away.  A huge wait lifted from my backpack.  

That weight was the concern that food and nutrition would be an issue, as well as water.  Now, training seems to be getting more effective and I’m feeling more confident every time I train with Tailwind that file on the run isn’t going to be a problem.

I guess at this point the title should be explained.  The guy is an inspiration, especially knowing this small part of his story.  This Mike’s story and an explanation of why he chose to support BareFoot LeJog.  

” In March 2012 I was struck by a car and sustained a fractured skull which restricted blood flow to my brain causing a stroke. I spent the Summer losing use of my left limbs with my head in a cognitive stew

In November of that year I was seen by an occupational therapist who said her aim was to get me to be able to walk 100 yards to the local shop unaided, buy a newspaper and walk back, unaided.

As an experienced endurance athlete, with 5 Ironman triathlons under my belt, I said that wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

After several visits to physiotherapists who gave me exercises to get the muscles in my legs firing, countless numbers of falls the same occupational therapist sent me messages of support whilst I was in the Sahara Desert taking on the iconic 150 mile Marathon des Sables. I may have been bloodied from tumbles over rocks but made it to the end to prove to myself that a stroke does not necessitate a complete change in lifestyle.

I was very fortunate to have a supportive family endowed with masses of patience and a neurologist who was able to explain to the good half of my brain what was happening with my grey matter.
I appreciate that not everyone will have access to the same levels of support I did so when I heard what Aleks was proposing to do for other survivors with his epic LeJog run for the Stroke Association I’m tempted to say the decision to help him out was a “no brainer”for me. ”

Mike Julien @ Tailwind Nutrition UK

Something From The Weekend

Trail Running magazines editor got in touch and it ended with a mini email interview.  Now, this isn’t my usual cup of tea, but as some have said and I agree, the summer challenge isn’t really about me.  It’s about raising money and awareness to help those that are unfortunate enough to be effected by strokes. 

Part two of the interview was to get some pictures to go with the article.  Tricky task, considering everyone who could have run with me and help with the pictures were away.  So, tripod was strapped to my running pack and off I went.

  
I need to keep improving my metabolic efficiency, so instead of lots of food and Tailwind, I look one bottle of Tailwind, with the intention of refilling the bottle half way through training.  

13 miles of glorious weather, lots of stopping and using the timer option on my camera.  Eventually this whole stopping and starting wore a little thin, camera and tripod were packed away and I ran the last miles without stopping for pictures.  Here’s the result of all that stopping and starting…

          

Hopefully they are what the magazine is after, and lookout for the article in the July edition.  Fingers crossed it actually does some good in terms of raising money and raising the profile of the run.

With 77 days left before I start running from Land’s End, training is going to get harder, more targeted and take a lot more time.  Just as well I enjoy being out and running.  Otherwise, this whole venture would be horrendous. 😊