It is now 33 days until I run the London Marathon! Here are a few reasons I am doing this:
A good cause
My main reason for running this race is to raise money for a wonderful local cause, Bristol Drugs Project’s youth groups, which support children affected by parents’ drug or alcohol problems.
I know from speaking to young people just how isolating this situation can be. They often end up taking responsibility for themselves, their parents or their siblings.
Bristol Drugs Project (BDP) does a fantastic job creating a space for children to be themselves. In a room with other children from similar backgrounds, they don’t have to pretend everything is ‘normal’. More than anything, BDP staff tell me that these groups are a break for children with frequently stressful home lives.
Young people in the group have sent me letters telling me how much the group means to them – in the words of one child, the organisers of the groups “are all kind and caring, and it’s an opportunity to meet new people.”
Even small donations can make a huge difference. A youth group session for 10 young people, including an activity (recent activities include horse riding, trampolining, cookery classes and workshops in coding) costs a total of £350. So if my fundraising campaign can top £1,000, that’s three sessions. But I hope we can go beyond that.
You can donate to this fantastic cause here.
I never enjoyed sport at school. Into adulthood, my dislike of all matters sporting continued, although I could manage a passing interest in cricket. Occasionally I went through phases of playing squash and I used to ride my bike everywhere around Bristol, but that was it.
And then I got cancer.
As I came out of the hammer blow of treatment (six rounds of chemo, major surgery, daily radiotherapy for a month) recovery seemed a distant prospect. At this time I went on a course for women living with cancer and beyond. Everyone came with the same question: “What helps to reduce the risk of getting cancer again?” The answer: increase daily consumption of fruit and vegetables from five portions to ten, exercise, reduce your waistline and keep weight to healthy. Oh, and don’t smoke (obviously) and don’t drink so much.
I’m north of 50. As any woman in her fifties or any post-menopausal woman will recognise, waistlines expand and it gets harder to shift weight. Running was the easiest activity to fit into my routine.
The first few months were difficult. But I’ve gradually got stronger, no longer feel the constant urge to stop and, drum roll please, my waistline and weight have both reduced!
I feel stronger physically because of all the training, but that has also helped me to grow stronger mentally. I am more resilient knowing I can now do things I never thought I would be able to do.
I did my first ever race at the Bristol Downs Race for Life in 2017. I thought this 5k race would be impossible but ended up being my first experience of running in aid of a cancer-related cause (Cancer Research UK). I remember feeling that wonderful camaraderie you can get on any race, but particularly one which everyone is doing for the same good cause. I had a similar experience at two Gower MacMarathons in aid of Macmillan Cancer.
I have never run a marathon distance before. The London Marathon is one of the world’s biggest running events. I’m going to join thousands of other runners doing something I never thought possible. Looking forward to achieving this is extremely motivating.
Please sponsor me, and help spur me on to finish this race in good time!