Grandpa is 89 now. He's been been in a nursing home for the past couple of years as he suffers with Dementia. He does not socialise with the other residents. He stays in his room and keeps himself to himself. His short temper regularly tests the efforts of the hard working staff that try to keep on top of his personal hygiene. He is forgetful and will often repeat himself, causing confusion. He’s not getting dramatically worse at this stage, but he’s certainly not getting any better.
I've always loved a pint too. However, weather I accepted it or not, alcohol was taking over my life. Shortly after my daughter Hettie was born, I was in a really shit place mentally. In my head, I was in a hole that I could not see myself getting out of. I was not pulling my weight. My responsibilities had changed but my priorities hadn’t. I didn't like who I was and the future terrified me. I was putting un-necessary stress and strain on people closest to me. I needed fish and chips on a Friday at Grandpa's house and a good kick up my arse.
Last year I received a Christmas present from Hettie. It was a pint glass that read ‘’I love you more than you love beer’’… and it hit me like a train.
When I got into running, I hadn’t ran by choice in over a decade. I was not arsed for sport or exercise, especially not running. My ’ten to two’ stance got a bit of stick at school which I’ve always been conscious about. I fell over a wall a few years ago ,pissed up, obviously. I badly broke my left foot and the surgeon doubted it would ever heal properly. Just the thought of running made me anxious.
One day I bounced into the living room in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, much to my partner Chloe’s surprise and confusion. I shouted ''Wont be long!'' through her laughter and then I dragged my beer belly 5k to Kirkstall and back along the canal. It was hard graft, a real shock to my system. I was overwhelmed with the post-run endorphins, but what felt better was the sense of achievement. Then I did it again a few days later - same route, quicker time. That was it, I was hooked and bitten by the running bug.
I had to do something extreme in order to change my ways. I created a drastic, intimidating and un-believable personal challenge. It was not going to be easy. But as as a form of physical and mental exercise, I used running to my advantage.
I run in the early hours of the morning. I discipline myself to get up and go, straight away. It gives me guilt-free ‘’me time’’ and a sense of freedom whilst doing something good for myself. After each run, I feel motivated and inspired to achieve more throughout the day. It’s a routine that works really well in combination with my sobriety.
I had my last pint on New Year’s Eve last year and I am writing this 11 months sober. In fact, today… on the 5th of December… I am 340 days sober!
I am a better person. A much happier person. A deserving partner. A fun, yet responsible parent. I am making better decisions. I value myself a lot more. I'm proud of myself! I am enjoying my life and I am looking forward to the future. A totally different mindset compared to where I was last year.
I wanted to do a daunting challenge to prove things are achievable with self-discipline. So, to end my first year of sobriety, I will run a minimum of 5k every day for 92 days through-out October, November, and December.
I'm not only running for my own benefit, but the idea is to use this challenge as a platform to raise funds for Dementia UK. This charity provides specialist care not only for my Grandpa, but many other people and families effected by this incurable illness.
I often think about my Grandpa when I run. How he's spending his last days. What does or doesn't go through his head. It's realistic to say he hasn't got long left. I think about what he's going to be like in a few months, years maybe. How both mine and Hettie's relationship with him and memories of him will be affected. He's not the Grandpa I remember and I don't like to see him this way.
This on-going situation is hard for me to accept, especially because I can’t do anything to make it better.
I can and will complete this challenge to raise money for Dementia UK.
I can and will remember the things my Grandpa has taught me, even when he isn't here to keep me on the straight and narrow.
I can and will try my best to keep my mindset positive and my responsibilities my priorities.
I can and won't forget my ability to give myself a kick up the arse when I need to. (because nobody else will).
I can and do look forward to eating fish and chips and sharing my own stories with my grandchildren on a Friday afternoon, hopefully teaching them subtle life lessons too.
These things won't make my Grandpa any better, but I know they will make him proud.
I'll be tracking my progress on Strava @Sobersam and promoting on Instagram with #pubto5k
Your donations will be greatly appreciated, and will definitely make these freezing cold mornings feel a little bit warmer!
Thanks, much love and Merry Christmas,
PS - Thank you to my amazing partner Chloe for your constant support and last year's game changing Christmas present xx
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