In Loving Memory of Geoffrey Griffin, Sharon's Dad, who sadly passed away on Friday 8th May 2020
Blog post by Sharon.....
I’ve always been a runner but a very different runner, at school I was a sprinter and a good one at that, not that that really bothered me. My PE teachers always got excited about my sprinting, my mum worked at my school too and I would often see her with my PE teachers in the school corridors discussing my sprinting, I always ducked down another corridor to avoid a ‘sprinting’ lecture from them.
100 meters was my forte, 200 at a push. I ran for my school, my district and my county. The teachers were very keen to push my running and wanted me to train and push hard because they really thought one day I would go to the Olympics.
I did love to sprint but I was also at an age where other things mattered more. Duran Duran, came into my life along with stilettos, big hair, black eyeliner and iced magenta lipstick and out went sprinting.
Never again would I be a sprinter. Would I have gone to the Olympics? I would never know because I threw it away to grow-up. What a shame. I should have listened to my teachers.
Over the years I dipped in and out of running, not quite understanding it, why could I not run distances, after all I was a sprinter. Of course, it’s because speed was in me and I always ran too fast, meaning I couldn’t maintain distance.
Fast forward to 1997, Princes Diana was killed, it was a devastating time. I decided I wanted to do London Marathon to raise money for Diana’s charity, I’ve always been fascinated and loved the LM. So I entered and started training, again I couldn’t do distances, why, what was wrong with me?
I had a big incentive when I was down in London and walking through Kensington Gardens looking at Diana’s flowers when I bumped into her butler Paul Burrell. We got talking about running and me wanting to do the LM for Diana’s charity, he told me how Diana would sneak out of Kensington and go for a run totally unnoticed, she loved running round Kensington, she loved running . He then told me he would like to run with me in the marathon, wow!
Many people have their own views about Paul but to me he really was a nice chap. Unfortunately, I didn’t get in to the LM, in those days you were called a reject!
Paul no longer worked for Diana’s charity, but we exchanged letters for a while and he encouraged me to run and raise money for charities close to Diana’s heart. So I ran Pershore HM and raised money for the Special Care Baby Unit at our local hospital. BUT still I couldn’t do distances, I walked most of it and continued to be frustrated.
Over the years I never gave up on the LM, but trying to get in is like trying to get blood out of a stone. It’s virtually impossible but someone has to get in, right… I never gave up on that dream.
In 2015 my dad had a massive stroke, so much so he wasn’t expected to survive, however he did, but the stroke left him totally debilitated and in need of nursing and care, he never went home again and has lived in a nursing home since.
We have many scary moments with dad’s health, it’s made a huge impact on my family, it’s very traumatic. Again, I decided I wanted to raise money, this time for the Stroke Association who helped enormously and always answered my questions. I also wanted to get dad the medal to help him feel proud again. I entered the LM again, no chance was I going to get in but this time I did! In 2017 I did the LM, again not understanding distance running and dad was so poorly during my training that my concentration went on helping dad.
I did the LM, walked a lot of it and had the most amazing day! I was part if the fantastic “Team Stroke”.
I met so many amazing people, I hand fed jelly babies to the Rhino, they really can’t see much out of their costume, ran with a lady who was running for the new charity Heads Together who had been on TV with the Mind over Marathon documentary. I listened to a guide runner explain to her visually impaired runner what the route was like, it’s amazing what you see through someone else’s eyes.
London is at its best on marathon day, everyone comes together to celebrate it, it’s got to be the best charity event in the world! I finished the marathon got dad the medal and raised nearly £2800 for the Stroke Association, I still didn’t “get” distances but my dad was so proud when I gave him that medal!
After the marathon I was giving up on running again when I decided I needed to join a running group. I found Happy Feet and apprehensively called the number on their web page. A lady called Marie answered, who happened to be shopping in Sainsbury’s and she still took time for my phone call. We chatted and decided I would join the group on the Thursday night. When Thursday came, I was so nervous and doubted myself with running and joining a group. We ran round the river and it was a great route, I didn’t need to feel nervous, it was fab. So my Happy Feet journey began.
Gradually and at last I began to understand distance and my running, it only took me 30ish years! Even though speed is still in me I didn’t need to be that sprinter. During my journey with Happy Feet I’ve had many ups and downs with running and life. From dad’s awful stroke, I’ve also lost many close and much loved people in my life which has totally knocked me back.
2 people I’ve lost have been my closest friends Lyn and Tanya, both to cancer, Lyn Breast Cancer and Tanya Pancreatic. Losing them totally took the wind out of my sails, they were amazing ladies, and both taught me that you can live and laugh even in the most terrible of times. We had this awesome foursome friendship going on, myself, my amazing inspiring Sam who now lives in Leeds and who I’m so thankful for, the crazy irresistible Lyn and my beautiful Tanya.
Tanya was my mirror image, we were different, yet we were just the same. The summer she was diagnosed I had been helping her train C25K, Sharon, she would say, I don’t get this running, I don’t want to do it, ‘trust me’ I would say. She even managed a run with HF, eventually she said Sharon ‘I get it, I feel fantastic’.
She would have joined HF if it wasn’t for her sneaky cancer, it hit without any warning. We lost her in September 2017, just a week short of her year diagnosis. Losing Tanya was like losing myself, she was everything to me, I felt I would never make friends again, I didn’t want to make friends. She was amazing, she had a knowledge like no other, she was pragmatic, funny, mischievous, dignified, determined, she was so unique, she was my best mate, I loved her.
Friends are so important to me. Tanya had a lust for life and learning, so I will continue that through my life for her, I owe her that for she taught me so much.
Then along came COVID and as I sit here I know my dad’s home is struggling with the virus, they have lost a number of residents yet they are fighting to make those that remain poorly well again. Dad is very poorly, we haven’t been able to see him properly for 2 months. I’m not sure of the outcome with dad but I’m so grateful to his nursing home. With that In mind on Tuesday 5th May I ran a Half Marathon to raise money for the residents fund at dads home, so far we’ve raised over £400 and that is still rising.
For the first time in my running journey I was able to run a long distance. It shows that commitment and determination does win through.
I thank God for Happy Feet and the day I found them. All of them have helped me through such hard times. I’m even beginning to make lovely new friends, there’s this lady called Karen in HF, she has become my new running partner, we go for running day trips, we’ve ran Silverstone, Cardiff, Race for Life and Worcester together and have so many running adventures to fulfil , we always enjoyed coffee and cake after our runs and I think she likes me, we now even call each other friend. Even though I can never replace my amazing unique Tanya and why would I, she will always be my one, but I think I’m going to be ok with Happy Feet in my life.
My reason to run, my dad.
My reason to live life to the full, my amazing Tanya.
My saviour, Happy Feet Fitness.
Oh, and a shout out to my wonderful husband and sons who have been constantly subjected to my challenges. My husband always supports and follows me around the country on my crazy quests. Thank you.
Thank you everyone and stay safe…
EVERY RUN I DO WILL BE FOR MY DAD
EVERY MEDAL I RECEIVE WILL BE FOR DAD.
HE IS MY HERO, MY INSPIRATION, MY STRENGTH, MY WORLD, MY EVERYTHING.
THANKS FOR EVERYTHING YOU GAVE US DAD, WE LOVE YOU.