Finally, as you can see by that slightly cumbersome little widget to the top-right of this page, I've sorted out my Great North Run '09 sponsorship. By clicking on the 'donate' button you can access my JustGiving page and allocate funds directly to my charity of choice, The Stroke Association.
It was, if you excuse the phrase, a no-brainer to go for The Stroke Association. Late last year, my beloved Nan died after suffering two strokes, the last of my grandparents to go. Her first such episode was seemingly surmounted very successfully with no obvious lasting damage, but by the time the second more debilitating stroke occurred she was sadly too frail to recover. I feel bad about only visiting her the once after the second stroke, but to be honest I was too upset by seeing her on that occasion to want to go again. And anyway, the Nan I knew, to whom I owe the joys of many childhood summer holidays via late night rummy, sherbet lemons, tinned peaches and visits to Kew Gardens had pretty much gone.
The sheer frustration she must have experienced in her final months and the accompanying deterioration in quality of life I can only imagine. If you'd like to aid research into strokes, how they can be prevented and their sufferers rehabilitated, then please give generously. And have you seen that F.A.S.T. (Facial weakness, Arm weakness, Speech problems, Time to call 999) TV ad campaign, with the Sue Johnston voice-over? Pretty hard-hitting, as close to the 1970's PIF style as I've seen for years.
So while it seems a bit flippant to talk of struggle in light of what my Nan withstood in her last months, not to mention her entire lifetime, training has been bloody hard. March was blighted by knee injury, then extraneous work-related strife impeded on motivation, and now it's got really warm. No-one told me it'd get this hard when it got warm.
But after the refreshing camping pod escapade of last week (and after re-assessing my withering drive on seeing a peloton of middle-aged fell runners scaling the Cumbrian crags), training vigour has been stepped up. Clear the way.
Here's to you Nan. You may not want to raise a glass of sweet Budgens sherry in tribute (understandable), but do click on the link.