My name is Becky, I’m 29 years old and I’m a mum. I have two incredible boys – Alfie 6, and Rory who will turn 2 in July. I know people say you shouldn’t be defined by your children, but they truly are my greatest achievement. Alfie is the reason I even considered entering into this marathon madness and has certainly helped push me through the tough moments in training. You see, Alfie has a speech and language disorder and was diagnosed with Autism last year.
It was a few months before his diagnosis, amidst paediatrician appointments and a little worry, that my London Marathon journey really starts. On the 24 April 2016, race day nearly one year ago, when travelling back from the capital on a train full of runners clutching hard-earned medals, my twin sister, Hannah, turned to me and suggested we enter the ballot for next year’s race. What you need to know at this point is, I wasn’t a runner. I was in fact terrified of even attempting to run for the fear of failure. I’d had a tough year and my self-esteem was near rock bottom. So, you’ll understand why this was absurd! But the more Hannah spoke of the excitement, the achievement, the glory, and how we could do it together, do it for Alfie, I felt something ignite inside me. I could imagine it all so clearly and wondered if perhaps this actually was something I had to do, for Alfie and for myself.
So, the wheels were set in motion. I got myself a second hand running buggy, slowly built my confidence, completed my first 5K by the end of May and began training for a 5mile and 10K race in the Autumn. We excitedly entered ourselves into the London Marathon ballot, and promptly heard that neither of us got a place! An anti-climax you might say – I was totally gutted and secretly relieved all at the same.
I continued running short distances each week and joined a local running club in January. Having a child with additional needs can be challenging. For me, it can be a constant negotiation of needs, wants and emotions all needing to be communicated in a mindful way. Running has definitely helped me feel more confident and in control when dealing with these situations.
February rolled around and I get a phone call from Hannah to say she has been offered a last-minute charity place to run the Marathon for The National Autistic Society. I was thrilled for her, but I’ll admit also a little devastated. This was supposed to be something we did together, for Alfie, and I was heartbroken at the thought of us not being able to cross the line hand in hand. So, I did something completely out of character. I took a risk, put myself out there and emailed NAS and Autism Hampshire practically begging for a place. I was 99% sure it wouldn’t work but thought I had nothing to lose.
Shocked. Shocked, terrified and elated. That’s what I felt when I received the email from Autism Hampshire saying they had a spot available if I wanted it. I took it with both hands and haven’t looked back since. A lot of people asked me how I was going to manage it and my reply was always the same. “I have no idea! But I know I’m going to do it.” And it’s this positive mind-set that has kept me focused and has seen me increase my long run distance from 7 miles to 20 in just 8 weeks. That’s not to say it’s been easy or pain free (RIP big toe nail!). I’ve had to dig deep, find energy from nowhere and battle some big mental daemons. Not to mention juggle a logistical childcare nightmare – made just that little bit harder by the need for a secure routine, a dislike of change and a dash of separation anxiety. But the marathon is less than 4 weeks away now and although I’m nervous, I’m also so incredibly grateful.
Grateful for Autism Hampshire giving me the chance to be a part of it. Grateful for all the love and support I’ve received from friends and family. Grateful for my sister who has trained with me and, as always, will be by my side through all 26.2 miles. But mostly, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have pushed outside my comfort zone and come out the other side feeling like a different person. Inspired, invincible, proud.
So, I’m just a mum.
A mum whose love for her children knows no bounds and who hoped she could do something small to show this.
A mum who is surprising herself with every step and proving that we all have something incredible to give if only we can find the courage to go for it.
I’m just a mum, but maybe – just maybe that’s enough.
If you would like to support me during my marathon journey please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/foralfieforalways. All money raised will go directly to Autism Hampshire and The National Autistic Society to support the wonderful work they do.