I first started running in my teens. My dad was a runner. He ran the second London Marathon and we spent weekends cheering him on at various races throughout Wales. He was a member of the Les Croupiers Running Club in Cardiff and he had the original idea for the Welsh Castles Relay, which is still going strong today. He encouraged me to take up running and we ran the first ever Cardiff marathon together in 1982 – I was 13 at the time!
Running helps me manage the stress of my very complicated life! Daisy, my youngest, is life-limited and has some very complex medical needs. Life with her is very unpredictable. My two boys have high functioning autism and that comes with its own set of stresses. Sadly my husband and partner of 27 years passed away from cancer in December 2015, so running has been a way of helping me deal with the grief and the stress – I tell people it’s my Prozac. I love being out on the trails. I’m not very fast compared to my club mates but I love to run for miles and get lost in the moment, enjoying the scenery and the elements.
Running is my therapy, It helps me get rid of stress and tension. I can be really tired and wound up yet when I come back from a good run or a club training session I’m buzzing with endorphins. It’s time just for me when I can try and process what has happened and be myself for a while. My time is so limited and unpredictable I know if I waste an opportunity to run I may not get the chance to go out later – it’s the biggest motivator, knowing that you don’t have the luxury of going out running when and where you want, you really do have to seize the moment. I often combine a run with something else – like running into London to pick up medication for my daughter.
This will be my sixth marathon so I know what is involved. It’s just such a big time commitment, I’m hoping a bit of muscle memory will get me through this time, I’m not putting pressure on myself to get a specific time. Given everything I’ve been through over the past year or so, just getting to the start line in a good state to run will be an achievement in itself.
I love training with my club mates, The Wimbledon Windmilers. I go along to the early morning Dawn Raiders sessions, speed training on a Tuesday and hills on a Thursday. It’s tough when my alarm goes off at 5.30am but the thought of my friends waiting at the park gates to start the session at 6am is a great incentive! I prefer to do my long slow runs on my own as it allows me time alone with my thoughts.
I have a really eclectic musical taste. Long slow runs give me a chance to listen a whole range of music. My playlist includes everything from James Bay, Hozier, Eminem and the Killers to Heaven 17, Soft Cell and Erasure and even songs from the shows! You can’t beat a bit of Foo Fighters for motivation; Pretender is a great track to lift your pace during the middle of a run.
I live in Wimbledon so I am so lucky to have some brilliant running routes on my doorstep. There is nothing better than a run around Richmond Park; it’s always different and you can really see the seasons changing. When my youngest daughter Daisy has to stay in hospital in the centre of London I try to get up early and run along the Southbank; it’s great to see the city waking up.
With three children at home with complex needs I have to be incredibly organised and seize the moment. I get up very early twice a week and I fit my other runs around respite cover. For me running is very therapeutic so it’s not a chore, it’s a choice.
I’m running the London Marathon for Shooting Star Chase. They have been part of our lives as a family for over 10 years. Daisy has defied the odds in just reaching this age but the deterioration in her health means that she has become more and more medically complex to care for. The hospice has supported us in so many ways over the years, from short breaks so that we can take the other children away to hospice at home visits to give me a pair of helping hands with Daisy’s care. It was thanks to the hospice that I was able to spend some very special time with Andy before he passed away. Daisy can only be cared for by trained nurses so a spontaneous weekend away as a couple is very difficult, but Shooting Star Chase made that happen for us. They also provided emergency care for Daisy when Andy was at end of life. Daisy went to stay at the hospice so that I could spend those last precious days with Andy and the older children at home and not have to worry about her care. Children’s hospices do not receive any guaranteed government funding and the service they provide is free. Andy and I were always passionate about raising funds and awareness of children’s hospices in the UK and by running the marathon for the hospice I am honouring Andy’s memory as well as continuing our work for them.
Like most people currently training for the London Marathon I’m getting worried that I have not put in enough mileage. Previously I’ve done too much too soon and ended up injured. My hope is to reach the start line as mentally and physically ready as possible. Losing my husband to cancer has taken its toll, last year was incredibly stressful and then to face Daisy’s birthday, Christmas, New Year as well as organising a funeral and memorial service all within a matter of weeks after he died have left me with very few reserves. It’s been great to have the marathon as a goal but I’m not going to beat myself up, this is about honouring Andy’s memory and raising awareness of our hospice which gave us such precious time together. It will be tough crossing the finish line, he was always there at the end of my previous marathons so it’s going to be really hard but my children will be there to cheer me on and I will be looking forward to seeing the Windmiler cheering squad at their usual pitch in Wapping. For me the London Marathon this year won’t be about PBs or achieving a specific time but just enjoying the day and soaking up the wonderful atmosphere of the greatest race in my home town.
To sponsor Steph visit www.justgiving.com/Stephanie-Nimmo