From the ABG to London….
Huge congratulations to one of our ABG runners – Charlie Beard who finished the Virgin London Marathon in 6 hours 36 mins. Charlie only started running with the ABG a few months ago and has shown great courage on her journey to the start line. We are all so proud of her! Here is her inspirational marathon story……
Hi everyone! I flipping did it!!!!! Sorry for the delay in a post, been feeling rather overwhelmed and TBH absolutely f***ed! Credit and battery issues but now sat in the library with internet! Taken me a couple of days to process but now I’m going to write an essay to describe things so be prepared!
We had to get 2 tubes and a train which were totally packed. I was starting to panic so we got off the train early and walked the rest. Met another runner James on the tube who was also feeling emotional and scared so stayed with us. At the point where Steve and Chlo had to leave me and I was crying, James stayed with me, dropped bag off and queued for the toilets. They had a female urinal!! NO WAY was I was going to risk trying that!
In the toilet queue I was concentrating really hard on not having a panic attack, deep breathing, looking at my medal nails and quotes on my arm. Got to my zone and was stood at the back but then got crowded in, so again just staring at the floor trying not to panic! Took 30 mins to slowly edge to the start line which didn’t help my anxiety! Held it together though, even though the rhinos joined near me and I nearly got impaled by one of their horns in my back!
Luckily once over the start line, the chaos spread out, at my pace I always had room around me and was never caged in. It was hotter than expected, full on sun so I had a headache after half an hour and was paranoid of drinking too much in case I over hydrated myself! Took some tablets and it eased off. Had a little cry at mile 10ish then after Tower Bridge you turn and it’s the 13 mile point but on the other side of the street are the runners going the other way who are on mile 22! That strip was so busy and chaotic, loud PA systems, massive crowds and totally disheartening realising I have to do what I had just ran again! Saw the family and started crying, sensory overload and panicked! Chloe gave me a hug and a sandwich and I carried on. Took a sniff of my peppermint soaked hanky to calm me and it nearly blew my head off (I’d put too much oil on it) stopped me crying though!
Looking back now I can’t believe how scared of the crowds and their cheering I was. They were absolutely wonderful! Not a single speck of negativity just pure positive encouragement, I made sure that I made eye contact and smiled at everyone who cheered my name, saying things like “You’ve got this Charlie” and “Go Charlie dig deep girl you can do it”. That guy who said “Come on luv you’ve not even done a mile yet” when I had a panic attack in the Wilmslow Half was clearly just a random d*ck! Little kids wanting you to hi five them, people sitting outside their house having BBQs, playing motivational tunes such as rocky theme and the Supremes, giving out cakes, biscuits and sweeties.
The variety of people in the crowds was amazing, running through different residential areas with a huge variety of music and cultures. Caribbean steel drums, reggae, Indian dhols, Chinese dragon drums, brass bands, rock bands, crooners. A guy running with a karaoke machine and singing Jackson five as he came past! An 8 foot nurse costume nearly ran into the back of me, made me jump when I turned round, he was lovely, had a chat with me a few times on the course. I was running with Mr Blobby for a while too and a giraffe and a guy with an ironing board on his back who was shouting “Watch out ironing board coming through!”
I had to have a firm word with myself a few times but surprisingly I never once thought I wanted to give up. Had to just keep moving forward and get it done ‘she believed she could so she did’. When I was finally 1km from the finish a lady from the crowd was shouting to get my attention, when I looked over she said “My children say thank you”. Didn’t get it at first but then realised her kids must have had therapy from Childhood first who I was running for. That was it I just thought RUN RUN DO IT, PUSH YOURSELF TO THE FINISH!
Amazing how as soon as I crossed the finish line and got my medal and goody bag I suddenly forgot how to walk! Absolute agony in my feet but a feeling of pure elation which hasn’t lessened yet! I still can’t quite believe that I did it but I did and I can actually say I am very proud of myself. When people have said to me in the past you should be proud of yourself for other things I’ve done in life, I can’t really see it and my brain thinks of reasons to belittle it. However with running, it is such an undeniable achievement, your only competing against yourself, getting to the finish line and holding your medal, even the demons can’t take that away!
I have been utterly blown away by all of your support and encouraging comments, private messages from lots of you who confessed to also struggling with anxiety/depression. I feel incredibly blessed to have such wonderful people in my life. I’m going to print out all the comments from you all, stick them with pictures from the day and my feelings now in my diary so that if I ever doubt my courage or the demons are winning I can read through them all and remember. Words can’t express how much it has meant to me, I love you all so SO MUCH!
I really hope that seeing me do this will motivate and inspire some of you to take on a challenge you would never have thought you could do. Overwhelmingly grateful to all of you who have donated to my page, if you haven’t and fancy doing so here is the link
The only way to banish the negative stigma of mental health is to open up and speak honestly about it, it is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes even the people who appear to be constantly jolly and happy are fighting their own internal demons behind the front they show to the world.
To those of you who are struggling I urge you to reach out, be honest and don’t be afraid. You will be amazed at the support and understanding you will receive from the most unlikely of places. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you to all of you from the bottom of my heart xxxx
*Main image credit: VLM 2017 start by Philip Bland