Jennifer and her friend Lynsey ran a unique marathon this September, around the infamous Loch Ness. She tells us all about their training, motivation and why they’ve fundraised in memory of Gillian.
We chose to run our first ever marathon together as a very ambitious New Year resolution. Sadly during our training, a good friend’s sister, Gillian, passed away after an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Together we decided we wanted to raise money in Gillian’s memory and in support of her family.
Gillian’s sister Pamela said: “Gillian was a real character. She was fun, full of life, with an infectious giggle. She was also loyal, generous to a fault and brave. Gill loved to travel and had been all around the world. She had also taken up running in recent years and inspired others to do the same. Most of all, Gill cared for people. She knew early on that she wanted to be a nurse. She spent her entire career helping others, which is why she’d want people to know her story – symptoms she believed to be down to her coeliac disease were actually signs of ovarian cancer. Gill wanted women to be aware and to be pro-active about their health.”
We started training for the marathon in January to give us a good 9 months to train. Training was the toughest part. Neither of us had trained for something on this scale before. We ran come rain or shine. Luckily we didn't face too much rain but it was a very hot summer! The hardest runs were towards the last few months where the runs became so long we could only fit them in at the weekend. We decided against going out for loops but instead ran out and then back in one large circle. The longest run being running 11 miles out from home, knowing we had 11 miles to run back!
The big day
We were both very nervous the night before, and didn't get much sleep. We started doubting that we were capable of running the full 26.2 miles. The nerves continued into the morning, but once we got started we both really enjoyed it. It was tough, we were sore, it rained, and there was hills, but we did it and we were very proud of ourselves. The best part was crossing the finish line. We both got a little emotional and may have shed a tear or two.
You don't hear a lot of women talking about ovarian cancer. There is more awareness of breast and cervical. It's important that women know the signs and symptoms. With earlier diagnosis comes better treatment options. The Target Ovarian Cancer running vests have the symptoms on them, so we hope women at the race will have seen them and will now know what to look out for. We posted a lot on social media in the run-up to the day, and had lots of conversations about our training and which charity we were raising funds for, so hopefully that will also stick in people’s minds.
The finish line
We were in contact with the team at Target throughout our training, and we received running vests and our names to iron on before the race. After the race they got in touch to find out how we got on and congratulate us. Our photo even appeared on the charity Facebook page! We have raised a total of £2,095 and are completely overwhelmed by the support we have received from friends, family and colleagues. It was an honour to raise money for such an important charity, in memory of a woman so missed.
Gillian’s sister Pamela was a great motivator and supported the push for our training, at the start motivating me to go along to a local running club. Having previously trained for a half marathon herself she had lots of training tips, and even had some fizz for us after all the hard work was done!