I lost my mum to cancer in July 2012 after a battle of no less than 6 years (initially it was breast cancer but latterly it spread to multiple areas including her brain). Mum was a devout and extremely doughty sufferer; only really declining badly in the last 12-18 months. It was at this time that we began to have closer dealings with BSMH. The staff were so very supportive and understanding, which was a huge help for me personally as there were numerous occasions when I was simply at a loss as to the right thing to do or who to speak to. Mum managed a few visits to the Day Hospice as well and it was nice to have a change of scenery on those few Wednesdays. I was really touched by the warmth and professionalism of staff there when I accompanied her.
Fast forward to New Year’s Eve 2012 in London and discussing resolutions/plans/challenges with friends over a few drinks - as you do - while also reflecting on a difficult past year. Between the few of us we had done a lot of half marathons and marathons, as well as sundry other running events, but nothing too large-scale. Somehow we got round to discussing endurance challenges and long-distance running. That’s when the idea of running X miles in a year came up – I think it was me that came up with the precise figure of 2,013 as something pretty monumental in scale whilst still being achievable with the right combination of determination and good health. I decided at the same time that it was a big enough undertaking to justify a fundraising campaign - a way of keeping Mum’s memory at the forefront of everything I would do in the coming 12 months. The following morning we burnt off a few mince pies with a 5K race on Hampstead Heath, and I was on my way!
Having crunched the numbers and established that 2,013 miles would break down to an average of just under 39 a week, I decided that commuting to work as a jogger would go a long way towards achieving my goal. The run to work was at least 4.4 miles (or more if scenic routes were taken!) so doing this on a fairly regular basis would see me right. I was lucky enough to have a workplace equipped with shower facilities so there would be no need to stink out the office!
January proved a challenging first month, what with a virus and copious amounts of snow, though I actually found jogging home in the snow to be surprisingly liberating, as I ran past motorists sat in mile-long queues on the Hagley Road. I struggled to stay on track however as my legs tried to get used to the new demands I was placing on them, and come the end of June I was 120 miles behind schedule. Having talked the talk I had to grit my teeth and start putting in some serious mileage. August was the hottest month’s running and not ideal conditions for someone as pale as me, but I cranked out 255 miles that month to get back on course and from there on was adamant I wouldn’t fall short.
I have been quite lucky in that I’ve not suffered any of the ailments considered occupational hazards by many habitual runners, but maybe I just look after myself! Blisters have been few and far between, toenails are intact; the knees click a bit but you learn to tune that out after a few hundred miles. The biggest setback was having a trusty pair of trainers pinched off my front doorstep one evening back in the spring – I’ve never been able to work out what attraction a mouldy pair of size 12 shoes with 1,000 miles on the clock could have held for that light-fingered opportunist.
There have been a few mass participation events along the way to break up the monotony of lonely runs around south Birmingham. Highlights included the Snowdonia Marathon with its unrivalled scenery, my first ever ‘ultra’ marathon – 29.3 miles along the canal path between Stratford and Bournville, and my ‘home’ event, the Birmingham Great Run, which saw me record my quickest ever half-marathon time on the eve of what would have been Mum’s 64th birthday. I’ve had plenty of company at these events and some amazing support on and off the course.
Over the last couple of months I have begun to pinpoint how and where I wanted to cross the metaphorical finish line. I wanted to do it at a proper event of some description as opposed to another commute home on a dank December evening. So it is then that I plan to run the final 3.1 miles (or 5km in new money) at the Parkrun event in Cannon Hill Park this Saturday (14/12) at 9am. I will have a veritable entourage running with me and a good few more supporting on the sidelines.
This certainly won’t mark the abrupt end of my running endeavours – far from it – but it will be nice to be able to stop thinking in terms of my Excel mileage spreadsheet for the first time in 50 weeks…
As well as a way to remember Mum this was a chance for me to give something back to the people who gave us so much during that difficult time. So far my generous supporters have helped me to raise £2,481.35. The care given to us, and to all families by the hospice is entirely free, though of course it costs the hospice a lot to deliver it. If you can support me I’d really appreciate it. All this hard work will be worth it if it helps provide support and care for another family like mine. To donate visit my JustGiving page www.justgiving.com/Dennis-Hussey1