• Ona Croft Nurse

Why I'm running my first (and last) marathon.

When I was in the Army, I was required to maintain a certain level of fitness, and pass annual fitness assessments. As well as attending Physical Training sessions, I would run and work out in my own time. I would run with the sole intention of sustaining the required fitness level. For no other reason. I've never been a natural runner, and always had to work quite hard at it.

After having my first baby, I was at an all time low level of physical fitness, having done only a small amount of low impact exercise throughout my pregnancy. I went for my first post-partum run 6 weeks after a traumatic birth, way too soon in hindsight, and found that in addition to being super unfit, I was doubly incontinent. After a lot of work on my fitness (and my pelvic floor) I made huge progress, and by the time I went back to work, I was running with the wee man in a pram several times a week. Recovering my fitness after the birth of my second child was more difficult. Physically, I was in better shape, but with my hubby working away and 2 wee ones to deal with, I just couldn't fit it in. Then the Coronavirus Pandemic happened, and my husband started to work from home. Him being around Monday to Friday meant that I could steal away for a quick 20-30mins, and although the progress was slower second time around, there was indeed progress.

We moved from Yorkshire to Wiltshire in October 2020, and I had some more time available. Covid was still limiting normal life, and so I settled into a nice routine. I was still running purely for the physical benefits, but soon realised as I increased my distances that it was helping me mentally too. I got to a point where I felt fit and strong, and started to make less progress. I needed something to help me stay motivated, and coincidentally a friend had signed up for the Virtual London Marathon. She urged me to sign up too, and after a week of banter, I caved.

Whilst deliberating over that week, I spoke to my Godmother and Aunty who was terminally ill, and told her I was debating running a marathon. I told her I would only do it if it was for a bloody good reason, and asked her if I could do it in her honour, to raise money for the charity of her choice. She said she'd think about it, and came back to me soon after to say yes, she'd love it if I would raise money for the Queen's Nursing Institute. She had been a much loved and respected Community Nurse, and was super proud to have been a Queen's Nurse.

So it was settled. I'd run a marathon in honour of my wonderful Aunt whilst raising some money for an excellent charity. By this point, I'd also recruited my sister and a cousin who had agreed to get on board and run a half marathon whilst I did my marathon. We later recruited another cousin, and it was on. Through the medium of a What's App group, we motivated each other, celebrated our successes and shared in the hard times.

Our wonderful Aunty Marie was taken from us earlier this year, and we are heartbroken, but having this run planned has given us something to focus on. It helps to know she was proud of us, that we can run in her memory.

For more information about our fundraising efforts, click here.

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