The UK is being battered by freak weather at the moment. One minute we have bright sunshine worthy of taking tea on the patio and the next we are wading through a snow storm. It was the same on this weekend four years ago, and the reason I have this imprinted on my brain is because I was running a half marathon in it!
Yes, for the first time (and last!) I laced up my trainers, donned my tutu and headed to Stratford-Upon-Avon. I was accompanied by two eager friends who were far better at running than I ever would be. Nic took charge of my training and had me pounding the pavements and sprinting up any incline like I was Rocky Balboa. No amount of training could have prepared me for the weather!
Rain, hail, wind, freezing sleet storms and numb extremities were to be the order of the day. Oh, we laugh about it now, but at the time, I wanted to curl up under a hedgerow until it was over.
The sight of my dear friend, Emma, running at me with a space blanket as I crossed the finish line will stay with me forever.
Joking aside, I do have fond memories of running in the Stratford-Upon-Avon half marathon. I can remember the buzz of the crowd as we all set off, the jolly conversations with Scooby doo and his running club, wading through knee-high water that had once been the public footpath and the sight of my parents, kids, and friends waiting to cheer me over the finish.
There was another reason I remember this event fondly, and that’s because of the reason behind it. In 2010 I lost my cousin, Lee Johnson, to SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death from Epilepsy), he was twenty-four. As he was an active sportsman, I felt it was only right to honour my cousin by partaking in a sporting event. I have no doubt that Lee would have found the entire day hilarious – the weather was that ridiculous! But he would also have been the first to congratulate me at the end.
Losing anyone is hard, but saying goodbye to someone so young is tragic. However, Lee’s legacy lives on through the hard work and dedication of his family. My aunt, uncle and Lee’s sister, Becky, started a charity in Lee’s name. So far Lee’s Smile has raised a staggering £250,000.00, and they were able to open a suite of rooms at Leeds General Infirmary Hospital for Epilepsy patients. Everyone has taken part in a huge variety of events – and we even got to visit the PM at Number 10!
On the day of the half marathon, I might have been wet, bone cold and totally knackered, but I was also immensely proud.