I was waiting just before the start line, making small talk with the lady next to me. It was her first marathon too. All those brutal training runs throughout the winter, being pelted by hail, getting drenched by the rain, avoiding icy patches on the road; we were finally here. A man taps me on the shoulder dressed as a household appliance – as is the norm in any race event. He was raising money for another great charity. He turns to me and says, ‘that’s an amazing charity you are raising money for, my daughter struggled with anorexia’. I was quite surprised and said I was happy to be able to help in some way. We were given the go ahead and we began to slowly move over the start line.
I decided to fundraise for Beat when I was training for the Brighton marathon. Beat was my charity of choice because they had helped me in my own eating disorder recovery. Five years ago, I was in a vicious starvation, binge eat, purge cycle. My moods would fluctuate dramatically, I was obsessed with fitness but also very depressed and sometimes would not leave my room for days, only running out to buy junk food from the vending machines. Since then I have been working towards recovery, seeing therapists, councillors, psychologists, group therapy sessions, all of which have helped me make progress in leaps and bounds on my road to recovery. It has not been an easy ride and sometimes I have felt like I really hadn’t made any progress at all. The truth is that I wouldn’t have been able to run a marathon if it hadn’t of been for the help I received. Both support groups and one to one help have been vital in my recovery.
I met another lady running for Beat at about 10 miles, the only other person out of 12,000 that I knew of. There were times during the run when I felt like I could not go on and every step was painful – in many ways this mirrored my relationship with my eating disorder. There have been times in the past when I have felt I could not continue, but no matter what I pushed forward. The crowd cheering us on were like the cheerleaders in my life, my supportive family and close friends. Another spectator told me what an amazing charity I was running for and this spurred me forward, much like my loved ones who would tell me I was worth fighting for. At mile 23, the lady running for Beat whom I had met earlier passed me and offered words of encouragement. Running the last mile, I was overwhelmed with emotion and so happy that I had done something. Something that I never thought I could do. In that moment I Beat my eating disorder, and as I crossed the finish line I burst into tears.
Feeling inspired? You can find out about fundraising for Beat here. From other running events to relaxed pamper evenings, there’s a fundraising event to suit everybody.