For years and years I had watched the Great North Run and London Marathon on TV – quite envious of the runners taking part, wishing I too could one day do the same! I have been a type 1 diabetic for 20 years and although it is well controlled I felt that my diabetes would prevent me from ever completing such a race.
I only started running about five years ago – I remember my first ever 10K run took me just over an hour but did leave me completely worn out and in bed for the rest of the day!
I am a determined person by nature though and therefore would not give up and carried on with my running – sometimes my diabetes would stop me going out when I wanted to, but I did see that running started to assist in controlling my blood sugars.
In March last year a work colleague (Nichola) persuaded me to enter the Great North Run with her and her husband. I knew once I had entered it would motivate me not only to do more running and training, but also to get my diabetes control even better! I actually took part in the Belvoir Half-Marathon in April last year to see if I really could do the distance – I had decided even if it meant walking half the course I would still complete the 13 miles! I remember the race morning now – constant blood sugar checking and I was a bag of nerves as I set off with my emergency jelly babies in hand. I completely surprised myself and managed to run the whole route in a very respectable 1:55! I had never imagined I would be able to get under 2 hours and was really proud of myself. Unfortunately my blood sugars took a bit of a hit – but along with a few extra injections and close monitoring I got myself sorted pretty quickly.
The reason to run for Diabetes UK and how I fundraised
So the next challenge was the Great North Run itself! After the Belvoir Half-Marathon I built up a really close relationship with my diabetes team and decided what better charity to run for than Diabetes UK – they have given me so much support over the years and it would be good to give them something back in return.
September 8 2010 was also a milestone for me – 20 years of being diabetic – so doing the GNR the week after this was a sort of celebration as well (bit of a strange celebration in some people's opinions I know – however fellow runners will know where I’m coming from)!
I managed to raise £700 from the Great North Run – word got around my organisation which resulted in a lot of sponsorship and I actually got myself in the local paper (wasn’t sure of the added pressure of lots of people knowing I was doing the race would be a good or a bad thing though)!
Nichola and I held a cake stall for work colleagues to raise a bit extra (we knew we would burn off the extra calories with all the training)! My addiction to Facebook was also useful – I think I was constantly putting on posts to try and raise more and more! I even got my Mum to take my sponsorship form to her work, which resulted in a nice bit of extra sponsorship. Through my own work I had managed to raise a bit extra for the cause – for every new insurance policy we sold that had been recommended by an existing client we would give £20 to charity (one of the charities being Diabetes UK) and raised another £2500 through this!
A month before the race I was given the go ahead to have an insulin pump fitted – this would give me better control of my diabetes but I was really worried about having it so close to the race itself as to begin with it takes a lot of hard work and adjusting to get used to (I have a needle in my tummy and the pump attached to this 24 hours a day – sports bras certainly became important as this is where the pump is fixed when running!) I think one of the worst things was when the diabetes nurse told me I needed to rest from any sort of sport for a week or so after getting it (not good for a sports addict and knowing the GNR was less than a month away).
With the race looming I managed to get back into training although blood sugars were a bit hit and miss – I was really worried about the race day itself but again decided if I needed to walk some of the course just to get round, I would have to do so. I didn’t not want to finish and let all of the people who had sponsored me and Diabetes UK down! I had even managed to get the Chief Executive of my company to sponsor me after finding out a family member of his had diabetes too!
The weekend of Great North Run 2010 came far quicker than I had expected. Myself and Nichola and with our hubbies in tow had decided to make a bit of a weekend of it and hire a little cottage up north! I remember the night before – we were all so nervous we could hardly talk – my husband (chauffeur for the big day itself) was the only relaxed one there, with a nice cold beer!
Anyway we all did it! I ran the whole course and was so pleased with my achievement! It was a fantastic day and the atmosphere was electric – it was so good to see so many people running for lots and lots of worthwhile charities. I think the best memory of the day was the nice leg massage in the Diabetes UK tent afterwards though! I managed to finish it in 1:58 – a bit slower than the Belvior Half, but it was a lot steeper!
Even more benefits of running...
I have since completed one other half-marathon, again in 1:58, and my blood sugar control and general diabetic health has really improved (my nurse told me recently that the pulse in diabetics' feet is normally quite weak due to a connection of diabetes and poor circulation – however she said mine was really strong and it was most likely down to my running)!
THE NEXT CHALLENGE
I want to thank all of my diabetes team, family, friends and Diabetes UK for all the help and support they have given and encouraged me with my running! My next challenge ideally would be to compete in a marathon and I am determined that one day I will do so – hopefully at least doubling the amount of money I raised for GNR!
I have started writing on the forums on Runner's World and am inspired by some fellow diabetics who have written about the marathons they have run in (and in quick times).
They have encouraged me and proved that it is entirely possible to run 26 miles, diabetic or not (thank you for your words)!
I am determined to carry on using my running as a way to continue fundraising for worthy causes and have lots of ideas on how to raise money rather than just sending a sponsor form out – after all I believe the key to fundraise is to make it fun for everyone! Ideas include hosting a circuit training session in my village (good way of training as well), further cake stalls at work and a barn dance to be held at my mum and dad’s farm!