On Friday 11th March, an assembly was scheduled for our Year 12 and 13 students to thank them for their generosity in raising funds for the LKPA, inform them of the difficulties I experienced during the 2015 London Marathon and inform students of where funds would be used. The intention was for students to go on a journey with me, from point of acceptance into the event to selecting LKPA as our chosen charity.
Our journey started in July 2014, where I received a phone call from the organising committee for the London Marathon who informed me that I had been successful in my application to run the race for Children with Cancer UK. It had been a 15 year ambition to run the event and I was delighted to be accepted. The event marked the 35th anniversary of the start of the event and would also be Paula Radcliffe’s final marathon in front of a home crowd. I was understandably excited & somewhat daunted by the amount of hard work and training that lay ahead.
Between July 2014 & April 2015, I estimate that I ran a total of 1,200 miles in the 42 weeks of training available. I would get up at the crack of dawn to run between 15-20 miles every Sunday, ran each week with colleagues (Andy Wilkinson and Nathan Bowes) after school each week and would try to squeeze in another 10k midweek. I ran the Lincoln 10k road race on 22nd March in 43 minutes & followed it up with a 12 mile run home. I was as physically fit and prepared as I could have expected.
The students helped to raise funds last year for Children with Cancer UK via the sponsored walk and helped me to hand over a sum of almost £2,500. Almost one quarter of their funding comes from running events, so the funding was greatly appreciated in supporting their great work. All that remained was 26.2 miles or 42.2 km with around 38,000 other runners. In 2014, £53.2 million was raised for charity.
Then came the race itself. I was at the start line, ready for a 10:10am start at Greenwich Park…I had 3 hours 30 minutes in my sights but things didn’t quite go to plan. After a mile, I knew something wasn’t right…but with everyone who had sponsored and all of the good wishes, I’m not the kind of person who gives up easily. At 12 miles (Tower Bridge) I agreed to meet my family. I contemplated quitting, but was encouraged to keep going. At 20 miles, I decided to stop with the medics to check that everything was ok. After 45 minutes of blood glucose tests, I was given the green light to go. After overcoming the stiff legs, I was back into my stride. A 40 minute 9k followed as I ran alongside the Thames towards Westminster. With the finish line in sight, I picked up the pace. 800m from the finish line, the legs buckled…there was nothing left. I hobbled over the line, bitterly disappointed with my time.
What I didn’t realise was that due to an infection, the onset of extreme physical activity had led to an increase of protein in the blood and this had led to my kidneys not functioning properly. I arrived at work on Monday morning feeling terrible, assuming it must be the effect of running a marathon. After being very ill on Monday night, I arrived at work on the Tuesday morning and my colleagues sent me to A&E. A blood test confirmed the problem: my CK levels were elevated to 115,000 (normative range 80-120) caused by poor kidney function and led to 3 weeks in intensive care. The specialists at Leicester diagnosed my condition at rhabdomyolysis. I was eventually transferred to Leicester General Hospital, who are recognised as renal specialists; in my humble opinion, their amazing care saved my life.
Following my return to Carre’s, Ian Scholefield and Amanda Blair suggested that the Sixth Form raise funds via the sponsored walk and recognise the fantastic care that I received at Leicester General Hospital. On behalf of the students at Carre’s Grammar School, I was delighted to hand over a cheque for £1,100 to LKPA to support their great work.