It was a complete surprise to get a ballot place for the London Marathon – yes, I did enter the ballot but I’ve been doing that for the past 15+ years. Once I had a place, and I’d had a chance to get over the shock, the first thing that I thought was that it was the perfect chance to raise funds for Myaware, who had helped me so much when I was diagnosed with Myasthenia.

It took a little while for me to get in touch with Helen but the first advice I would give to anyone who has an opportunity like this is to get in touch with the fundraising team – Helen’s support and advice was invaluable and really helped me to get myself together, from which fundraising site to use, to my own Myaware running vest.
I knew the training would be hard and that I’d need all the support I could get. Telling people was quite a big step for me, but the knowledge that I wanted to make the most of the place and raise money pushed me forwards, and eventually I felt confident enough to “go public”. Taking a bit of time to let it sink in really helped me to come to terms with what I was committing myself to do.

I spent quite a lot of time thinking about what to say on my Just Giving page – I wanted the introduction to reflect me and where I am with Myasthenia, as well as my life-long desire and determination to run London. I also wanted to have a bit of a plan for how I would “launch” my efforts on social media and how often I would post something but mostly, I wanted to reflect the remarkable work Myaware do and why I feel so strongly about supporting their work.
In terms of social media, I used Facebook and Twitter, because I was already using them, and so it was easier to build on my profile.

I posted an update on Facebook once or twice a month, coinciding with events (I ran a half marathon at the end of June) or particularly long training runs, and tried to add a photo that picked out a landmark on my route, as well as the link to my Just Giving page.

I posted my long runs on Twitter and included the link to my Just Giving page in the bio section and tagged various running groups (Parkrun UK and our home parkrun at Linford Wood, UK Runchat, Running Mr Jones and the online running group I belong to, the Badass Mother Runners).

I found as the day got closer, I was interacting more with other people who were running for different charities, which was really inspiring. I was amazed when people I didn’t know on Twitter reached out with support (and sponsorship, which was a huge surprise).

Most of the comments either said that I was always smiling or that most of my posts detailed what I was going to eat next!
I work at the Open University and was lucky enough to be featured in our Faculty newsletter in September, around the time of my last long (20 miles!) training run. This was great in terms of an opportunity to reach a wider audience and boost my fundraising, as well as raising awareness of Myasthenia and Myaware. This felt quite difficult, as it isn’t something I speak about a lot at work, but I’m really glad that I took the opportunity as so many colleagues got in touch.

There is no getting away from how hard the training is, particularly when trying to manage a fulltime job and keep my condition under control. It meant finding a plan that would work for me, and adapt when I had to, not beating myself up for the occasional missed run or niggle, and picking back up when I could. It also meant working out what I needed to eat and drink and when, and how I would carry it all on the day. By the time of the Twin Lakes 20 mile, I knew I would get round. I also knew I wasn’t going to break any records – and that it would definitely be a personal best time.

It was amazing to have the zoom call with the other Myaware runners and to hear their stories in the week before the day, and I really can’t thank Helen enough for the goody bag that arrived the week before – it is those thoughtful touches that make all the difference.
I approached the whole experience as a chance in a lifetime – and the day itself was just that. I had a blast from start to finish, a big smile on my face, travelling at my own pace and taking in every single sight and sound. The support was amazing and there were so many moments to cherish – I will never forget seeing my husband and best friend at Cutty Sark in the sunshine, going across Tower Bridge, and the storm in Docklands, talking to friends on WhatsApp as I was running along. Turning that corner at Buckingham Palace and knowing that I was going to get over the finish line was overwhelming. And someone even spotted me on the TV coverage, grinning like a loon.

To be able to combine this with fundraising for Myaware was such a wonderful experience. In the end, nearly 100 friends, family and total strangers sponsored me, and many more shared encouragement and support – it was a totally uplifting experience. I feel genuinely proud of what I’ve achieved, both in completing the marathon and in terms of the funds raised – and I’ve got a certificate and a medal to remind me of that achievement.

When the inevitable question arises – when is your next marathon? – I can say with all honesty that I would run London again in a heartbeat, but I’ve done my marathon, fulfilled a dream, and raised money for a cause that is close to my heart. It was a chance I thought I’d lost forever, and that it was all I ever hoped it would be.

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