** So many pictures to choose from – big thanks to my VLM pacer, Row. I could not have done it without you xx**
I cannot believe that it has been a month since I last wrote. So much has happened in this time and with everything I just needed time away to reflect on life changing events. It will be hard to capture everything that I have been doing and to provide an accurate description of my feelings at the time, as they are very hard to capture retrospectively.
To start with, I had a fantastic holiday away in Las Vegas with family celebrating my dad’s 70th birthday. I kept up with taper training in the gym and had plenty of relaxation time at the pool. I kept in touch with my running buddies at home and excitedly watching the released BBC trailer for ‘Mind Over Marathon’. Stuff was also appearing in the press. ‘A’ looked after Olly for the week and I was excited about seeing him again when I returned on Good Friday.
Mind over Marathon – episode 1 screening
On Easter Monday I travelled to London for the screening of episode 1 of Mind over Marathon which was shown on Tuesday morning. The screening was at the BBC studios and we were joined by many special guests including The Duke of Cambridge. I had a lovely chat with William about how I was doing and marathon preparation.
It was great to finally see the programme, most of the others had seen it whilst I was in Vegas so they knew what was coming. The crew had done an amazing job of putting it together but I was a little disappointed that my story was not shown after spilling out all of the emotion I did. I felt so proud to be part of the programme and was excited about it being aired on Thursday.
On Thursday morning I appeared live on The Victoria Derbyshire Show talking about the programme and my experiences of living with a mental illness. It was a little bit scary being on live TV but I really enjoyed it. I have since done Radio Wales, Heart Radio, ITV Wales, Wales on Line, South Wales Echo, The Tenby Observer and numerous police press publications.
The London Marathon
On Friday, as a group we went to the expo and it was incredible how many people recognised us from the programme which was shown the night before. People were so supportive and we were all overwhelmed by this and the number of people who wanted photos. This was something that I certainly was not used to or even prepared for.
On Saturday, I along with some others met with our coaches’ run crew and did some light exercise. I really enjoyed this and it got me thinking about the importance of community running and being part of a wider group, sharing similar goals. In the afternoon, I took a walk around Greenwich, having a look at the Cutty Sark as I thought I may not have much recollection of it during marathon day. In the evening we all went out to Pizza Express to ensure adequate nutrition!
On the morning of the 26.2 I did a pre match interview and had breakfast before jumping in a taxi to head to Greenwich Park. The whole morning passed in a bit of a blur as we were taken from place to place on buggies through the park with crowds of people recognising us and shouting and cheering. We did a group interview with Gabby Logan live on BBC and then made our way to the designated Heads Together tent to meet up with Prince Harry and the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge. After some chats and photos (my face has appeared in Hello magazine twice next to Kate) we were again taken off in buggies to the start line, just making it in time.
As for the run I described this on TV as one of the best and worst experiences of my life. It was tough and am I so thankful for my ‘pacer’ and the support of the crowds. It was amazing to see family at certain points too. This lifted me when I felt like I was shuffling backwards. At 20 miles I really began to struggle both physically and mentally. My knees and back were hurting and I felt like everything was closing in on me. My head began to wander as thoughts of ‘you cannot do this – just stop’ entered my head. I knew I could not and would not listen to this. As the road began kicking back on me, I dug deeper as there was no way I was not completing this mission. Absolutely no way. I reminded myself why I was doing it. I thought about the many people who had sponsored me and supported me on this journey. There was no way I was going to give in to the physical and mental demons.
I had run a lot of the way with Paul close by, but after 18-20 miles I was slightly in front of him. I knew I could not stop or slow down for him as there was no way my legs would have started up again. I just had to continue at my pace (shuffle) and just hope I had it within me to get to the end. I am so grateful for my awesome pacer, she looked after me, supported and encouraged me. I would have spun myself around without her. I learnt a lot about myself that day. I learnt about my physical and mental limits and how to push through boundaries and pain.
I did it, I finished in 4:55. Out of the 10 of us who began this journey, 7 of us ran and 7 of us finished. The other 3 (Claudia, SeSe and Steve) were there with us at the end. This was just as important, them just being there. We started as 10 and we finished as 10. My mum and dad were in Horse Guards Parade along with relatives and friends of the other runners. It was great to see everyone at the end. Another emotional moment in this incredible six month journey.
I am 10 days post marathon. Episode 2 of Mind over Marathon has been aired following the success of the first episode. The journey which I have been on has no doubt saved my arse. Whilst there are so many positives I still struggle mentally. I am sure with time I will heal.
My social media has gone ballistic, I have over 1000 new Twitter followers and people are contacting me from all over offering their support and saying how inspirational I am. I have had high ranking police officers from most UK police forces contacting me offering their support. I have become a Mind Blue Light Champion which launched in Wales last Thursday. I have achieved everything and more that I wanted from the programme. All I wanted to do was help encourage one person to seek help, this has happened many times over. I also wanted to raise the profile of mental health in the police force. Again, from the feedback I have received this has happened to levels which I could not have imagined. The amount of officers who have contacted me all over the UK has been unreal.
As a group of runners and coaches we are still in contact and we are looking forward to new challenges in the future.