Last year on the 27th April I woke up very very tired, with rather sore legs and idly wandering how easy the whole walking thing would be that day. The day before I had run the Virgin Money London Marathon. Evidence of this was strewn about my room in the form of a foil blanket, racing number, my aching limbs, and, most importantly, my medal. Showing this to my parents, sister, best friends, the waiter in the restaurant and any passers-by, including dogs (who am I kidding, especially dogs) the day before had been so exciting, and it still makes me smile and feel slightly surprised that that whole day happened when I see it hung over my bedroom mirror.
However, later that same day my medal and I had to get packed and go back north to Sheffield, as I knew my aunt and cousin from Sydney who I rarely see would be interested to see it. And the conversation around the medal did distract briefly from the reason we had all gathered. The next day I attended the funeral of my grandmother. Although she reached an incredible 96, the sad truth is that Granny didn’t know that I ran the marathon, or that I had trained for it and all the reasons why. She didn’t know that I graduated from university either. I’m not sure when the last time she knew who I was or of my existence. My Granny had Alzheimer’s.
Most people know what this means as a condition, that someone loses their memory, but the reality is something that most people are reluctant to speak about. It is one that is plagued with fear, distress and silence for both its victims and its families. It goes so much further than someone losing their memory, as it also means the ability to understand and engage with situations disappears, as well as the proper knowledge of words and how to use them. Dealing with it entails horrible amounts of confusion, and for the families of those affected it means grieving for someone who has not yet passed, and there isn’t the vocabulary that is needed for the anger, upset and exhaustion that this causes. The individuals suffering and their families all lose their words.
I’ve decided to run this year’s London Marathon for the Alzheimer’s Society not only in memory of my Granny and everyone who has afflicted by this horrible disease, but also in support of my Mum and every other person who has to watch people they love disappear in mind, whilst expending huge reserves of emotion and energy in caring for them in body. I want to help fund the research into causes and treatment, so that one day we may be able to treat it, and be able to have the conversations that are so desperately needed for confronting it today.
I’m lucky enough to have a Good for Age place in the London Marathon this year, meaning I don’t have to fundraise for my place in the way that I did last year. I was initially concerned about whether or not it was appropriate to fundraise as I felt a lurking sense of guilt about asking people to sponsor me again after the overwhelming level of support that I received in 2015.
However, I really believe that marathons are an opportunity to defy what you thought to be possible and to look at it in terms of speed or fundraising minimums is totally incorrect; whatever you accomplish is extraordinary and enough.
This is why I’ve decided to both run again and fundraise again, and I would like to very gratefully thank everyone who supported me last year, and once again ask for your generosity as I prepare to go through another round of training in order to run one of the world’s most iconic races. I’d be so grateful for any donation, even if it’s just a pound, and in return I promise to train hard and run as fast as I can on April 24. I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next 13 weeks and injury can always ruin the best of plans, but I definitely would like to try and beat my time from last year and intend to work as hard as I can to make that happen.
As always, you can follow my marathon journey here on Running for August, and on Instagram.
My sponsorship page can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/runningforaugust