Zac’s final blog: 4 days to go!

April – September 2019

Imagine finding out your husband has passed away. Now imagine hearing that news for the first time once again just a few minutes later or having to be the person to break that news, over and over again. This is the reality for my Cousin Joanne and my Aunty Sylv. Aunty Sylv is living with dementia and has recently had to say goodbye to Uncle Ern, whom she was married to for 62 wonderful years. Ern, who also had dementia, lost his battle recently and although this is a sombre note to begin my final blog, I think it is important to highlight the reality of this terrible disease and how it impacts so many individuals, relationships and families. I will now be running in memory of Uncle Ern and all our family and friends have very kindly contributed to the fortybyforty funds to honour his memory.

Anyone who has been following my blogs will know that I was up to 16k around April time and having to really dig deep! I have continued to run week on week and my fitness has really improved as a result. I had intended to get to 20K prior to the race day itself and having recently clocked up a 19K run, decided that was far enough to push myself as far as the long slogs go! The repeated training is now taking its toll on my knees, ankles, legs, muscles….in fact most body part generally need a spot of WD40 to get me going. I am quite simply not built for running, but the challenge has given me the inspiration and drive I needed to turn my fitness around. The distances I have achieved in the past year are beyond my wildest dreams. I began training in September 2018 and could barely manage 3K, yet hear I am, at my target weight and feeling really proud.

It has been an eventful summer to say the least. Leanne and I welcomed into the world our beautiful baby boy – Nathaniel Sefton Jude Hackett on Wednesday 7th August. He will be joining us in Newcastle and will be cheering on his Daddy and the fortybyforty team (in between drinking his body weight in milk).

The Good

  • One of the best things about this whole experience is being part of such a wonderful team. I have made new friends, achieved crazy running goals with very old friends and followed everyone’s incredible progress throughout the last few months. The team encouragement within our Strava club group in particular, has been a real highlight. Everyone has been so supportive (and some a little competitive), which makes me run even further!
  • I really didn’t think I would change my fitness in such a positive way. Over 3 and ½ stone off now and feeling so much better for it. I think having a goal like this has been a really positive way of focusing on an exciting end event, rather than thinking about how much it hurts at the time!
  • I have continued to use our local area – Byrom Woods for my training. I was lucky enough on two occasions to see a large deer (after previously thinking in the distance it was a large greyhound cross….my lenses were blurry). It’s been amazing to see the local wildlife and I will be continuing to explore the local area (maybe just as a gentle stroll though)!
  • Although the goal set at the start of this challenge felt a lifetime away, I’ve continued to set mini challenges along the way. This has included building my distances week on week, reducing my split times and running longer distances without the mini walk breaks! I recently took part in the Brian House 7.5K run in Blackpool with a few other fellow team players. We did the whole thing without stopping, which I was delighted about. Meeting these goals has really helped to keep me going and I am really excited to now be in the final week!

The Bad

  • The weather has continued to be a challenge and although my garden and fire pit cry out for hot sunny days, running in heat is no fun and really tough. A nice cool day, with a north westerly breeze on Sunday would be marvelous!
  • Welcoming Nathaniel to the world was the most incredible moment of my life……running tired however is something I’ve not really experienced on such a hardcore level. I really had to dig deep for a few weeks and had thankfully stocked up on the energy drinks!

The Ugly

  • Other people’s ‘off lead’ dogs have been the biggest pain in the arse! They all seem to think because you are legging it, you turn into a large squeaky toy that wants to be jumped all over. The worst of these was a fat chocolate Labrador who hit me with such force I nearly fell on the floor! This is where Bella Batfink really helped me out and distracted passing mutts so that I could pass without incident!
  • We’ve had quite a lot of heavy rain recently and Byrom Woods tends to get large puddles alongside the pathways. This is Bella’s dream and on the third or forth lap will often happily jump in and out to cool down. This backfired in spectacular fashion last week when all that could be heard was the biggest splash. For those of you who are ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ fans, you’ll recall the famous puddle scene that Dawn French so brilliantly executed. Now I appreciate that it wasn’t Bella’s intention to recreate that scene, but she gave it her best effort. She quickly hauled herself out and checked to see if anyone noticed! Another laugh out loud moment and memory I’ll dine out on for a while.

Well, that’s about it from me. I couldn’t finish my final blog however, without giving a shout out to my incredible best friend Marge. I have never met a more determined, dedicated and creative individual in my life and want to give thanks for everything that Marge has done to make the fortybyforty team a reality. This was her vision, her dream and it is thanks to her hard work that we have such an amazing team heading to race day. The totals today sit at 70%, which is an amazing £28,000. I am so proud of you Marge.

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored our brilliant team and good luck to my fellow team mates on what is going to be a brilliant adventure.

See you all at curtain up!

Zac

Zac

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Hidden heroes

At Lyrics & Lunch today, ten or so ladies made sandwiches & soup for people living with dementia and their carers. They played music & we all sang. And for those who are no longer able to speak, percussion instruments were given out, shaken and bashed about to make a giant wall of sound. A couple who had just celebrated their 60th (!) wedding anniversary waltzed whilst we sang Moon River. People laughed and people cried.

Going to the group is a joyful, yet sobering experience. It is simultaneously heart-warming and heart-wrenching to watch carers trying to keep strong whilst their loved ones are slipping away in front of their eyes.

Up and down the country, volunteers are working quietly away in churches & community centres, helping to fill the gaping hole in our social care system. They provide help, support & an inclusive welcome for those living with dementia and their families. These groups are a lifeline: for many, looking after someone with dementia can be extremely isolating and lonely.

More research needs to be done *now* into cause and prevention. 225,000 people will develop dementia this year – that’s one every three minutes. Crisis is certainly looming…

Dementia is not a natural part of ageing. In the U.K. there are over 40,000 people under 65 with dementia. Overall, there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the U.K. Numbers are set to rise to over 1 million by 2025. This will get to 2 million by 2051.

Our 40 x 40 team will be running in 2019 to raise vital funds for research through ARUK. And boy do we need it.

 

Become a Dementia Friend

A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action. Whether you attend a face-to-face Dementia Friends Information Session or watch an online video, Dementia Friends is about learning more about dementia and the small ways you can help.

Sessions are run by volunteer Dementia Friends Champions, who are trained and supported by the Alzheimer’s Society. I completed training to be a Champion so I often deliver sessions out and about in the community to groups and businesses.

Each session lasts about an hour and they’re totally free. You’ll learn more about dementia and how you can help to create dementia friendly communities.

If you’d like to book a free session at your workplace get in touch with me. Or search for a public event here.