This site is called A Heart For Running because it touches so many aspects of my life, not least of which is that I’m a passionate runner and running coach. But ultimately I had a life threatening event in 2017 that changed so many things about me and has inspired me to start this page.
On February 7, 2017 I was a 48 year old fit and healthy man. I was running well and my times in races of all distances were still coming down. I was training for the Manchester Marathon that was to take place that April. The training plan I was following was going well and as part of my regime I was doing some weight training before work each weekday morning at 6am. I was feeling lean and strong in the lead up to this race in no small part to the nutrition, strength training and running programme I was following. I couldn’t wait to get to the start line of Manchester, my 25th marathon, as it is billed as the flattest course in the UK.
On this particular Tuesday morning things started as normal. I climbed up the ladder and slipped through the access panel in the hallway ceiling in order to get to my personal gym located in our attic. I started my watch in order to track the exercise I was about to perform, as any fitness nerd would do, and got started doing some light bench presses as a warm up. All was as it should have been and I had no reason to believe anything was out of the ordinary.
After the first set of bench presses, things got weird. I started dropping things, over and over. I fell, got up and fell back down again. At no point did this raise any alarm bells with me. It didn’t feel like there was anything wrong, I just didn’t understand what was happening or why I was being so clumsy. After falling down once again, I decided I needed a rest and closed my eyes.
When I woke up I tried to get off the floor once again, but couldn’t manage it. I dragged myself over to the table where my phone was sitting and rang my wife, Roisin. No answer. I rang one of the kids, no answer. I rang Roisin again, no answer. I dragged myself over to the access panel, but when I arrived Roisin’s head popped up. The phone must have woken her up and she came to check on me. Apparently, my family are pretty sounds sleepers as I know I had created some ruckus up there.
At this point I stopped my watch and recorded a 43 minute workout. Considering the time I had actually spent lifting weights and subsequently crawling to the hatch I must have been out for about 30 minutes. Roisin called the ambulance and I was taken to the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) in Enniskillen.
I spent the next eight days in one of the top stroke wards in the UK being looked after by an incredible team of doctors and nurses. It was determined that I had an 11mm hole in my heart which would explain how the stroke occurred. Apparently I had this since birth and until now it was never a problem. I was incredibly lucky to have it work out the way it did as things could have ended up so much worse. Roisin’s quick thinking, the care I got in the SWAH and the subsequent heart surgery in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast got me back into fighting shape.
I’m still travelling on my running journey and this site will be dedicated to keeping myself focussed and dedicated to my continued improvements. I would love it if you followed along and maybe we can help each other along the way.