I decided to apply for the Virgin London Marathon in May after a bad few months – I really wanted to do something positive and so I temporarily forgot I hated running and applied for a charity place with mental health charity Mind!
I had completely put it to the back of my mind, especially after tripping over my own foot at a volleyball match and breaking my ankle. With the plaster just off, I’d taken my first opportunity to get back out shopping when a very enthusiastic girl called up from Mind to let me know I’d got a place, finishing with a chirpy ‘Are you pleased?!’… My very blunt answer was ‘er no’ seeing as I still wasn’t allowed to do any physical exercise at all let alone train to run 26 miles. She did seem a little concerned and gave me the weekend to think about it, but with the nod from the physio and with a lack of excuses remaining, I decided to take it, feeling slightly sick when I got the official confirmation through.
An elite athlete would still be horrified by what I call my ‘preparations’ but for me it has been a real lifestyle shift and a huge personal challenge. I have run over 200 miles in rain, wind and snow, asked for running shoes and leggings for Christmas instead of chocolate and wine, boosted the sale of energy drinks and blister plasters considerably and in the meantime started to feel like I could really actually run 26 miles.
Through it all the one big motivation has been running for Mind – the work they do to help sufferers of mental health to overcome their problems is so vital and they work tirelessly to force mental illness into the public spotlight. My dad John Rothery lost his battle with manic depression when I was only 19 years old, taking his own life back in 2005. On the outside he had it all, a good job, a loving family and was a very talented sportsman and PE teacher, popular with his students. But inside he was fighting a disease that took his whole personality away. Depression is difficult to talk about, for the sufferers and for their family – yet sharing the problem is one of the key treatments. I hope by opening up just a little about what happened to us, I have helped to show that depression is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide – and in fact one in four of us will suffer at one point during our lives.
I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who has sponsored me so far and their words of good luck and the memories they’ve shared of Dad. I know my Mum and sister hold back tears nearly every time someone donates!
So on Sunday morning at 9.45am, I will take my place alongside thousands of other excited and nervous runners. For me I will looking out for all my friends and family round the course – just like always they will be there to keep me smiling but mostly for the sign saying ‘Finish line’!