Back in 2005 when I crossed the finish line of the London Marathon, I wasn’t the only one to be completely amazed. My name was only ever mentioned in the same sentence as the word sporty when in reference to my far more athletic and talented little sister who affectionately calls me ‘unco’ (short for unco-ordinated!). I had spent my school days painfully competing in ‘consolation’ race after consolation race, races which were in fact no consolation at all. I even had the unique accolade of being a member of the victorious netball team in my third year at high school, having never actually been entrusted at any point with the ball. And although I was a regular member of the Major League Baseball softball team in my professional days, that was only because there was literally nobody else in the office to use as canon fodder!
Perhaps that is why I often look back on the day I ran the Marathon as one of the best days of my life. For most of my life it would have seemed inconceivable so to me it proved that if you approach things the right way, just about anything is possible.
The truth is I am always up for a challenge. If somebody says, no you can’t, then I will generally say, well, yes I bloody well can! So when I got that letter through the post telling me I had a coveted place on that race of all races, once the horror of the task ahead had subsided, the regret of that gin soaked dare faded, I stuck on my ‘yes, I can’ attitude, and started looking at the training plans. All of a sudden it seemed do-able. One step at a time was the order of the day. Little by little. Step by step. And on that day in April, those were the words that kept going through my head – that and pass me the jelly babies, which way to the gin tent, etc! I didn’t actually think of the finish line until I could I see it, until I realised I would get there. I always knew I would get there if I used that strategy and when I did, I forgot all of the pain. And that wasn’t just because I was eyeing up Tony Cottee’s bum!
This weekend I will be running in Cancer Research’s Race for Life. I only really signed up because I wanted to get back into doing a bit of running which funnily enough I really enjoy. But as it turns out, I’m going to be running it for a far more important reason – the most important reason. This week we received the devastating news that my lovely friend Hazel’s little boy Tommy has been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Tommy is the most gorgeous scrumptious little boy you could ever hope to meet and he is only 18 months old. Hazel, James, Peggy and Joe face the longest of roads and an unenviable battle. If I could do anything more practical, believe me I would, but at the moment all I can do is run on Sunday with Tommy in my heart, Tommy in my mind, and hope that my tiny effort will help in some way.
For that reason, I am also going to ask you all if you can find it in your hearts to sponsor me. It is at times like this that you realise just how valuable all of the research that charities like Cancer Research carry out truly is. The outcome for diseases like AML have improved immeasurably over recent years, and that is thanks to people putting their hands in their pockets and funding the amazing research that is going on out there. We are all guilty of fundraising fatigue – there is always somebody asking for money for this or that, but think of it as an appointment to give – an opportunity to put your hand in your pocket where otherwise you might not have done. After all, you just never know when it could be you.
If you would like to make a contribution to Team Tommy this weekend, then you can do so at my Just Giving page.