I live in south-east London. I came here from Cleveland, Ohio, back in 2004 and fell in love with the city. I started running a few years ago. I was pretty unhealthy, smoking, drinking and partying a lot. As I got older, I realised the toll it was taking on my body, so the running helped to balance it all out. I’ve become a lot healthier overall. I’m 40 next March, so a while back I set myself a goal to run a marathon in 2020. Obviously 2020 turned out to be very different so here I am, running the marathon in 2021!
I’ve lost two people to epilepsy. My aunt Mary lived in India. She had epilepsy and took medication which seemed to work, and my uncle always kept an eye out for her. But she died suddenly alone at home from a seizure. My partner’s sister-in-law, Lisa, really struggled with the condition and tried many kinds of medication. She couldn’t work due to the severity and frequency of her seizures, but she loved volunteering for Epilepsy Action and helping at events. Lisa did find a drug that reduced her seizures, down from several each week to one a month. But just a year and half ago, she died as a result of a seizure. In both cases, it has been very traumatic for the people left behind.
Epilepsy Action was so important to Lisa, and still is. I know there is still so much work to be done, awareness to be raised and lives we can save. Donating £20 a month and running the Marathon is me doing my bit to help. Another key thing for me has been to train as a first aider. What I’ve learned with epilepsy, and anything else that can be sudden or life-threatening, is how important it is to act quickly. In these situations, you can get paralysed by fear and lose seconds when they matter most. Some simple training could make all the difference.
I’m not a competitive person, so I used to jog alone, just enjoying the scenery. I did my first 10k in New York with my sister and I was really nervous. But there was such amazing energy running in a group. So, I signed up for my first half marathon, the Hackney Half. I was so scared but I loved the atmosphere on the day, running through the east London neighbourhoods and seeing some crazy costumes! I finished in 2.01 hours and felt such a sense of accomplishment.
Training for the Marathon has been challenging. I felt so nervous and excited about getting a place, but I only started training seriously in mid-July. In the beginning, I was obsessing about speed and time, but now I listen to audiobooks as I run and my mentality has changed. I’m more relaxed, enjoying the scenery and I love seeing other people out there, all doing the same thing.
My sister is flying over from New York this weekend and will support me in the crowd, along with my partner Stuart. Everyone else will be watching and tracking me from home. And I’ll be thinking of Lisa and Mary all the way.