Last summer, I was sat reading the Stourbridge News, as I did every week. My friend had just secured a charity place running the Virgin London Marathon for Epilepsy Action, and suddenly, there it was! An article inviting people to put apply to run London for Dudley Mind. I had applied for a ballot place the year previously, and hadn’t got one (for anyone who doesn’t know, there are a certain amount of places each year which you can apply for, where you pay your entrance fee and run without being tied into raising money for a charity. You can always raise money for a charity if you want, but your place is guaranteed anyway). I called Dudley Mind, had a phone interview, got sent an application form to complete and was put forward. I was one of three applicants. I got the call a couple of weeks later from ‘Heads Together’, the official London Marathon Charity of the Year, which is a group of mental health charities under one umbrella, including Mind. I was in! I paid my fee, squealed a little, and then the enormity hit me – I needed to raise £2,000 and run 26.2 miles!!!
My running journey (at least second time around) began two years ago, in a group that is local to me, and I have been running with them ever since. I was 38 years old, mom to two children, a then 7 year old and a 4 year old, and was in a bit of a bad place. My youngest child did not sleep. The sheer exhaustion of getting out of bed every day, having had a disturbed night sleep every night without fail had taken its toll on me. I was worn out, reliant on caffeine to get me through the day and had no energy to do anything. Running was my escape from just being ‘Mom’. It was time to be myself, get outside, get some fresh air, get some much needed exercise and chat with some like-minded people. Getting out the door the first night was the hardest thing to do – I had been meaning to do it for ages and had put it off for a long time. It was hard (I live in the hilliest place ever) and I hurt like crazy for days, but I did it and have carried on doing it at least once or twice every week since. I have run two 10km races and a half marathon back in March to raise funds for a local boy who needed proton therapy in the US, along with putting in the training for the races.
Why Dudley Mind?
I’ve been asked why I’m running for Dudley Mind, and the truth is, initially, I wanted to run London in my 40th year, I have watched it every year on TV and just thought how wonderful the atmosphere would be. But really, running has been my saviour, my therapy. Without running I would be sitting at home miserable, relying on coffee to get me through the day. I have lost count of the times that I have run and cried at the same time, sobbing big fat tears, and bawling my eyes out. It’s my time; the time I really need to feel like me again, not just a mother, not just a wife; that I matter. That’s why I want to run for Dudley Mind because they help others to feel better about themselves and give people hope.
Running hasn’t come naturally to me. I’m a plodder; it takes me twice as long to get round a route as everybody else. I am also a run / walker. I need the little 30 second walk breaks to rest my legs, calm my breathing, to quiet my mind. That has been the biggest challenge for me over the last few weeks as I have increased my mileage over the 13.1miles that I have run before. At the time of writing, my last big run was 16 miles, and took me just over 3.5 hours. The way I see it is that I am getting my money’s worth from the Marathon, all these people who will be finished around this time, and I will still be soaking up the atmosphere at that point! In all honesty, it has been hard, mentally and physically challenging and sometimes I wonder if I will get round. But I will cross the line even if I have to crawl across (which I probably will be doing)!
I still have a way to go to raise the £2000 I need for the charity. I’ve raised about £700 so far, and I’m hoping to boost this with a big night planned for Saturday 25th March, where myself and my friend who is running for Epilepsy Action, have a band playing for the first half of the night, and a DJ playing for the second half, along with some fantastic raffle and auction prizes. The night starts at 8pm at The Cat in Enville, and is £8 per ticket. All funds raised will be split between the two charities. I am also in the process of setting up a quiz night; however, I am waiting to see how successful the band night is first.
I have a Virgin Money Giving page set up, where you can make a donation, and choose to Gift Aid if you would like to. This can be found here:
Your donation, no matter how small, will make a big difference and help Dudley Mind continue to support local people with mental health problems and spur me on every step of 26.2 miles. Thank you!