I’m both terrified and excited about running London.
I’ve put in the hours of training, yoga and best of all, the hours of recovery and eating that go with marathon training. Now there’s just time to go to running a marathon, pick up my race pack and number, spend a night with one of my best friends, and then the time has come.
Running a race is just like sitting an exam, you’ve spent months studying and put the hours in revising. The knowledge is there, now its just time to relax, get a good night’s sleep and believe in yourself.
I know it is going to be tough, both physically and mentally. I’ve done all the preparation I can for the physical side, but now is the time to prepare mentally.
Everyone need a role model in life, and for me, that person is Chrissie Wellington. She is inspiring not just as a person, but as a triathlete and campaigner. Having won the World Ironman title four times in Kona, she is now retired and filling her time enjoying life and campaigning for gender equality in sport.
In her autobiography, she makes a fantastic recommendation about tackling endurance events; she dedicates each of the last 10 miles in the marathon (the last section of an Ironman) to someone important in her life, and runs it for them.
When I first started thinking about this ready for Sunday, I didn’t think there were 10 people who cared enough about me to say they’ve got me to where I am now. But pretty soon I realised that this was just the depression in me talking, and that in fact 10 simply wasn’t enough.
So this is my weekly recommendation to anyone who feels lost and alone; try naming 10 people who love you, care for you and have helped you on in life. I bet you’ll end up with a lot more than 10, and a warm glow inside. Then tell those people how much you love them, they’re worth it.
For my mental endurance I’ve divided the marathon up into 5 chunks, each dedicated to a different group of people in my life. This is my way of saying thank you and letting them know how much I love them, I hope they read this!
(1-5) The first few miles are all about staying calm and not setting out too fast. These miles are for the people who got me here physically, my physio Charlie and my masseuse Simon who make sure my body is ready to pound the pavements on Sunday. But also the wonderful boys at the triathlon shop, who always are ready to chat bikes and any and everything else to get me on my way.
(6-10) These are dedicated to my oldest friends, Rosie and Maria. I’ve known them both for 13 years now, and we’ve been through a lot together, but somehow we always come out on top.
(11-15) Mid way through the marathon and now things are starting to get tough, my legs are starting to get tired and I’m hot and hungry. This is exactly when I need my friends from Oxford. To Ellie and Fiona, who I lived with for three years and without who I never would have made it. We barely knew each other when my Mum died, but they stood by me throughout and I will never forget. Oxford was bountiful in both troubles and friends, and my Masters wouldn’t have been the same without Rosemary and Clemmie to run and cycle with, or my beautiful housemate Haibo to come home to after a long day in the office.
(16-20) The Bristol years. My first year here was tough, I felt isolated and alone, but there were two people who made it possible to stay, Naomi and Matt, thoughts of whom will get me to the Isle of Dogs. But next comes Canary Wharf, mentally the toughest part of the whole London Marathon. You tack back and forward up the Isle of Dogs, seemingly endless and by now in real pain. This is when I will think of Mat and Imogen. I’ve only known them for seven months, but already I feel the ease of a friendship that will stand the test of time. These two are the ones who got me through the tough choices I’ve had to make over the last few weeks, and I know they will lead me safely through this chunk of the marathon.
(21-25) Now things are getting serious, I’ve only been up to 20 miles in training, so these miles are all about belief and determination. For this I need my family. I’m incredibly lucky with family, I have a huge range of cousins in England and Australia with whom I am incredibly close. There’s my step family, who I’m still getting used to, but who I’m glad to welcome into the mad house. I have two wonderful siblings-in-law who are new to the family but feel like they’ve been around forever.
Then there’s the heart and soul of who I am. When the going starts to get really tough, I know my brother, sister and Dad are always there for me.
And those last 1.2 miles? They are for me. They are to prove to anyone who has ever put me down or treated me badly that no one gets to have that power over me. I can do anything I want, so long as I believe.
When I am lonely and struggling, I will remember these people, and remember I am not alone and that I am loved. And that every step of the way, my Mum will be with me, my guardian angel, guiding me safely home.
So that’s it. The dream is to run under four hours, but as long as I am smiling at the end, if even one more person has heard about Students Against Depression and found the help they need and deserve, then it was all worth it.
See you on the other side.