Deafblind UK School Liaison Officer Carolyn, has taken up the opportunity to personally challenge herself by taking on The 2024 London Marathon. Below Carolyn talks about why she decided to enter the marathon, reaching her fundraising goal, keeping fit and how she is preparing! The whole team can’t wait to see you cross that finish line and will be waiting to celebrate.
I was always rubbish at school sport. Everyone said that I should be good because I’ve got long legs, but I just wasn’t. I loved playing hockey but never made the first team and school cross country just seemed like hell on earth to me. However, when I went to university, I realised that I was getting unfit without school PE to force me to do something so I began running just to have a basic level of fitness. I moved quite a lot during my time at university because I took industrial placements away from home and worked for companies in my holidays so running became a way for me to find out about my new neighbourhood and go and explore just to see where I ended up.
This continued until I moved into a village in Lincolnshire without streetlights when I stopped running because I was working fulltime and couldn’t just step outside my door and go because of the dark country roads.
Again, a lack of fitness meant that I came back to running through couch to 5K and I found myself driving to areas with streetlights to go for a jog. That seemed fine and fitted around my work and the things I do for scouts until I joined Deafblind UK in April 2022. I have always wanted to run a marathon but had only ever entered the race for life 5k once in my life. When I heard that there were places for London, it seemed like an amazing opportunity and if I was only ever going to run one marathon, it might as well be a big one like London, so I agreed to sign up.
Just like everyone else, there was a £2000 fundraising target for a charity place because I knew that each place cost the charity a lot of money to buy initially. However, a friend of mine heard I had a place and wanted to join me, so suddenly my (our) fundraising target doubled to £4000 between us. That seemed daunting and scary at first, but Jackie, our Fundraising Officer assured me that I would have a place in April 2024, so I set up a Just Giving page early to tell friends and family about my epic journey from a casual 5K runner to someone who wanted to run a marathon.
I do meet with like minded runners in my hometown and tell them about my place. Everyone was really supportive and suggested training plans, and a bit like my fundraising, I started early to increase my running stamina, distance and speed where I could, though I’m a real plodder (I’m sure that comes from my original hatred of running). I signed up for a couple of half marathons just to find out about the start line experience because I had never entered races before and learnt a great deal about what to do and what not to do even before Christmas. At the same time, I thought about how we could raise £4000. I decided to chip away at it, little by little and began to make small craft items which I advertised on social media as well as selling some of my children’s better-quality clothes that they had grown out of using Vinted. Because I started the fundraising early, I was able to use the Christmas markets in town to sell my crafts and ran a tombola stall at the same time which raised nearly £800 alone. This was a big boost to my sales and as we currently stand, we are only £650 away from our £4000 target which is amazing, all through constant low-level fundraising and sharing our running journey locally.
It’s January and I’m deep into one of the training plans which are suggested by The London Marathon organisers. It’s all about consistency now, finding time to run, when I need to run, building up my core strength as well as my endurance and just going out whatever the weather. I always said that the cold and rain would put me off training, but I’m growing to ‘like’ it. It’s my me time – time to think about work, family, the things I do for scouting whilst just putting one foot in front of the other and singing along to my favourite tunes. I definitely think I couldn’t do this without my music playlists to keep me going. It certainly helps when I get tired to make sure my shoes hit the road along with the beat of the music.
My initial aim was to finish and I told myself that I could walk 26 miles if I had to. I know this because I used to do long distance walking races for scouts, but as my training is progressing, just walking doesn’t feel right anymore, and my current aim is to make sure that the very first number on my official time at the end is a 4. I don’t care if it is 4:59:59 I just really want that first 4. However, I’ve had enough advice to know that even if I don’t achieve that, as long as I finish, this will be an amazing experience and something to be proud of for a long time whilst supporting the young people that I work alongside at Deafblind UK.
So, if you see a plodder on the course singing along to herself wearing a Deafblind UK running top, give me a shout and a wave and keep me plodding all the way to the finish line.