My Running Journey for the British Heart Foundation

I am going to be running for the British Heart Foundation in the Great Manchester Run in May. When it comes to fundraising, I have donated clothes, furniture, participated in fundraising walks, and written blog posts to raise awareness for different charities. Now it’s time to face a bigger challenge in order to accomplish something for a good cause.

Something different

Subsequently, I’ve been thinking over the past couple of weeks of trying something different. I had a look online and had previously contemplated the idea of taking part in a charity run. But the thing is, I’ve never done a run before and I thought I wasn’t active enough. The last time I went on a really long run was in high school when we did cross-country running.

I never particularly hated it and actually felt good after completing it. So, I would like you to follow me on my journey. I will be sharing several points throughout – including the lead-up to my fundraising target and becoming more active in training.

As I headed back to the gym in early January after several years of not going, it feels good to be back and it feels even better to know I’m doing more to keep active. It’s not like it’s a competition and I need to be a professional so I will be able to do this at my own pace and for my own cause.

The British Heart Foundation is one of several charities that are close to my heart. And it is one which I wanted to take a bigger challenge for. I’m ready to prepare and become even more motivated for this.

Supporting charities

You may ask my reason behind wishing to this so much. I am doing this in memory of my grandad. I always think of things that I can relate to or know someone who has experienced a factor which certain charities work in aid of. As many of you will know, Tommy’s and Alzheimer’s Society are two charities which I’ve worked closely with for a cause close to home.

I am already a gift aider for the British Heart Foundation and just the other day I was sat here thinking. It was then that something come to me – I pictured the scar I remember seeing from a heart all the way down to a leg. I saw this scar on my grandad. I remember being a child and asking him what it was. And he told me that, he had heart bypass surgery to keep him alive.

Whoa, I was amazed. I thought it was wonderful that such a thing could save someone’s life.

It wasn’t until around years after that when his heart stopped beating. He died peacefully in his sleep. Due to other health complications, grandad was in hospital not long before this but he was finally home and we were all so happy.

That last phone call

I remember my very last phone call with him, which was when he was home over the weekend, and I remember the very last words. He said, love you millions. I was so excited to see him over the next couple of days. He was always a person that me and my brothers looked forward to seeing. No matter what was going on in his life, he always put our happiness first.

It was a weekday morning, I was in school and so was Phil (one of my older brothers). Phil was facing his GCSEs at this point and I was in my second year. I was sat in the canteen when someone said a teacher was looking for me, I thought it was about the bullying I was experiencing. I was told to go to reception, so I did not thinking anything of it.

I saw my dad asking if someone could please get me as soon as possible. When I arrived he looked at me. I was thinking what’s dad doing here, I didn’t forget my lunch. Then the look in his eyes told me something more. My bag and coat were ready by reception for me to leave and I was asked to get into the car. Phil was sat in the back with his head in his hands.

I asked if it was mum, had something happened… dad said no. Then I said, grandad?

I just knew

That’s when I knew. Mum wasn’t there when we got home because she sorting things out. Phil went straight upstairs. I had seen as much devastation on his face and I went straight to my room. Dad gave us a big hug but both of our hearts had sunk and we felt empty inside. Shortly afterwards, I went to my room and didn’t want to come out.

I thought granny passing away when I was seven was a big enough heartbreak to ever be felt. This just brought sadness to a new level. Neither of them was alive to bring out the happiness in each other. Grandad wasn’t here to carry on living granny’s memories with us.

Grandad was my best friend. I told him things including the times I felt down at school. I told him things I was told not to, but grandad was my go to person, he made everything better, sometimes just within the power of his hugs.

Back then and to this day, I still get a spiral of memories that appear at once. I was never embarrassed of how close we were – we would go shopping together, he would take us on trips, and wanted us to experience all that life has to offer.

The little things you remember

When two of my friends used to stay over in high school, they would be sat on one side of the room and I would be sat next to grandad, falling asleep on him (I always fell asleep first) and he would tickle my arm. You’re never too old to have these moments with your grandparents, or your parents.

Grandad always made our hearts beat faster with all the joy and excitement he put into our lives. He even kept memories for us with his cam-recorder, I couldn’t be more grateful for his thoughtful ways. He was a very generous man but a man who knew that he didn’t have to do all the things he did. He simply wanted to.

Such a young age – it’s never the right time, regardless of age, is it?

Grandad did his usual thing – ate his tea, watched his favourite television programmes and then headed to bed… he fell asleep.

Mum was concerned as to why grandad wasn’t answering the phone or answering the door. She was next door early in the morning as she was a career for grandad’s neighbour. She got the spare key, went up the stairs, straight into his room, and said something along the lines of, come on Geoff, get up, you lazy lump.

That’s when mum knew

He didn’t respond. Mum pulled back the curtains to let some light in. He still didn’t move. She moved closer to him touched his hand, Geoff wake up. He was cold and still.

My mum was the perfect person to find him, even if it did bring so much heartache.

If my grandad taught me anything, is was to make the most of life. With every heartbeat he had, he gave us the biggest amount of love and care in the world. He put his heart into everything.

I simply want to show him that I will do something new and challenging for him. I would run a hundred times if it meant having him back. But at least fundraising will help towards more research at the British Heart Foundation.

I know that I will imagine seeing his face at the finishing line.

The grandad I had the chance to grow up with lost life due to coronary heart disease and my other grandads lost their lives to heart attacks, so this is for all of them.

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