Our Director, Sue Keogh, ran the 2017 London Marathon to raise money for the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity. She smashed her fundraising target, and it's all down to the #RunDMSue crew...
Step one: Husband says you should run a marathon once in your lifetime. Points out that Arthur Rank House Hospice have places. That'll be the hospice who cared for my Mum in her final few days and who I can never quite thank enough.
Step two: Apply for a charity place without really giving it much thought. On the bit where they ask how you will raise the money, explain that you'll run a series of workshops in digital marketing in your spare time, without giving that much thought either.
Step three, five days later: Get confirmation from the hospice that you have a place in the 2017 London Marathon. Ooops.
So, in early December I started setting dates for the digital marketing workshops. I gave them the hilarious hashtag #RunDMSue. Then, over a whiskey and too many biscuits at some point between Christmas and New Year, I found a training plan online and merrily put all the dates into the diary. Easy!
New Year's Day, fun's over. Time to start training. It rained.
And I know you'll find this difficult to believe, but training for a marathon is hard work. I'm no stranger to running, having done the Royal Parks Half a couple of times, plus various 10ks and other half marathons, but this is another level.
The long Sunday runs were fine - cold, but at least there was daylight, and I had a fun time running to nearby villages and exploring. Chasing trains. Stumbling upon historical re-enactments. Chatting to herons. That sort of thing.
Whereas the weekday evenings were pretty miserable. It's dark! So often I was restricted to boring old cul de sacs purely because there were streetlights and wide stretches of pavement, but where it's difficult to relax into the run because you can't really see where you're going.
But the workshops gave me a real boost during all of this. Each one was a milestone, and I worked out each time how much further I'd run. By the time I got to the fourth one, I'd run the equivalent of Cambridge to Carmarthen.
They were specifically designed for small businesses, one-man-bands or freelancers looking for help in things like Facebook, Twitter and digital marketing in general. I wanted to create an environment where people could ask 'stupid' questions and learn from their peers.
And they were so much fun! I can't thank everyone enough who came along, and I hope you all had fun too. I was able to share my own knowledge and experience, but I learned a lot too from hearing how others tackle their social media, blogs and digital marketing.
Each session was £25, and it was a wonderful feeling to see the fundraising total go up and up each month. It also meant I didn't feel so bad asking friends and family for sponsorship because I knew it was covered.
I need to give a hearty thanks to Lucy Woods from Cambridge Wireless and Anca Balu from Central Working, who sorted me out with the venue for the first three sessions and made everyone feel looked after.
Amy at the hospice was very supportive throughout the whole thing, and put me in touch with the Quy Mill Hotel & Spa who kindly gave me the beautiful garden room for the last session.
And our friends at Digital People in Peterborough invited me along to run an extra session for their members. The always-awesome Tia and Jonathan did brilliant job of promoting the session, and - bingo! - that was another £300 in the pot.
And how about the day itself?
Difficult to put into words. I did it in 5 hours 1 minute! But according to my running watch and Strava, which knocked off a bit of time for a toilet stop (with queue), it was 4 hours 48 minutes, so I'll take that, thankyouverymuch.
A lot of people said to me, 'Just enjoy it.' So I did, high-fiving kiddies with their hands outstretched, smiling back at people yelling my name, doing a little boogie to the music coming from pubs and bands on the route.
At points I got a bit emotional, reading the stories on people's backs and thinking how their experiences matched mine; the people who had lost their Mums, the people who had lost their Dads. I still haven't got used to not being able to phone them after doing something like this. But I also feel so lucky - for what I do have in life, and for being able to give my kids a hug when it was all over. To be able to run at all.
The rush of emotion as I turned the final corner and saw the finish line - like what you see on the telly - was quite overwhelming. And then when you stop, your whole body says, 'Right! That's enough of that thank you!' and you have to somehow hobble along with a medal and a goodie bag and the kit you'd loaded onto a lorry before the start. I haven't seen that many people staggering round looking like they'd been hit by a bus since the last time I was on a maternity ward.
I'm delighted to say I've raised £3000+ for the charity, money which will help them continue to care for people in the Cambridgeshire community. For anyone who was part of #RunDMSue, whether you came to a workshop, tweeted your support or cheered me on in some way, all I can say is...thank you.
About the charity
Arthur Rank Hospice is dedicated to providing specialist palliative care and support to adult patients and their family, friends and carers. All care is provided free of charge, and is offered to people living throughout much of Cambridgeshire.
Want to donate?
The JustGiving page is still open for the time being. It's not too late to show your support - so please give generously! The original target was £1500 and I'm happy to say we've smashed that. Great!
Maybe a bit of yoga, pilates, a little bootcamp session. Just no marathons for a bit...
We've had lots of people saying they'd love to see the #RunDMSue sessions continue so we're looking into setting up a peer learning group, and we'll be putting together notes from all five sessions very soon. To get your copy, please join our mailing list or get in touch. Thanks everyone!