After running (hobbling) 300km during the: the Big Half (21km) (March), Annapurna Ultramarathon (210km) (March), 42km training run (in place of London Marathon) and the Edinburgh Marathon (42km) (May) in 2018 to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation - I am finishing the challenge with the London Classics!
This is the Serpentine Swim (2 miles - completed!), the London Marathon (April 2019), and Ride London (100 miles in July 2019).
Why have I been doing this? Because supporting Mental Health charities is of the utmost importance to me, and so many people I love. Too many of my nearest and dearest are in a constant battle with their mental health. I am running for them, for us.
In 2016 the wonderful Beth Kelin, who gave me endless support and love over the 11 years I knew her, took her life. She played a huge part in so so many people's lives, giving incredible support to anyone who needed it, even whilst battling with her own demons. I am running for her.
A month later, another childhood friend took his life. I am running for him.
I am running for their families and friends. I am running for every empty chair at dinner tables. I am running for everyone who doesn't know who to talk to, or what to do, or where to turn.
But why do ridiculous challenges to raise money?
Because I want to be a part of the growing conversation around mental health, to encourage frank and open discussion, in the way we would about physical health. And importantly, because sport has kept me going since I was a child, and been a constant support whilst dealing with my own mental health over the years. When I stop exercising regularly (hello university), I feel it psychologically before I feel it physically.
I have completed Annapurna Ultramarathon - a gruelling 210km race through the Himalayas. It was utterly astounding and such an incredible experience.
Unfortunately, as a lot of people will know, on the 2nd day of the race I was assaulted in a completely random attack by a teenage boy on a bike, in the middle of rural Nepal. After fighting off my attacker, I was left a little worse for wear emotionally and physically. I completed that day's stage (albeit slowly and an emotional wreck), and after some cajoling finished the next 4 days of the race.
Since getting back, I am finding it a lot harder than I expected. Some days are fine, some are absolutely not. I am incredibly grateful to have wonderful support from those around me - including my fantastic workplace. However, things are a bit more of a challenge than I thought they would be. I find it hard walking into a crowded place on my own. I have struggled to leave the house to walk the dog on some days. I get incredibly panicked when a teenage boy cycles past.
I've decided, since getting back, not to do the London Marathon this year, and instead defer until next year. I will still be going and completing the marathon distance over the next weekend, to make sure I have smashed my 300km goal, but on my own, away from crowds - and probably with the company of my wonderful dog.
I will still be doing Edinburgh Marathon, however - as this is a smaller race, and hopefully I will be feeling a bit stronger emotionally by then.
I've been overwhelmed by the kind messages and generous support I've had so far, and so grateful to have so many lovely people in my life.
As I wasn't able to take part in the London Marathon, I have now completed the distance of the marathon! Just Edinburgh Marathon left for me to reach my 300km target.
I'm doing better after my attack in Nepal - and exercise has absolutely helped. So has good food, sunshine, and Netflix...!
After this, I will be taking part in the London Classics - Ride London (100 miles cycling - July 2019), Swim Serpentine (2 miles swim - 22nd September), the 2019 London Marathon, and then Ride London (100 miles cycling - July 2019). This will all continue to be for the Mental Health Foundation, and the amazing work they do.
The Mental Health Foundation is the UK’s charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what they do, the Mental Health Foundation aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive.
I finished my 300km! I completed Edinburgh Marathon last weekend - exceptionally slowly, but completed. The first 12 miles or so were fantastic, and really fun - I then hurt my back (a lack of proper training will do that to you), and had to walk the last 14 miles. However, it was a beautiful course, and even the tough bits were exceptionally fun.
Next up I have the London Classics: RideLondon 100, Serpentine Swim, and the London Marathon to raise as much as I can for the wonderful Mental Health Foundation.