On Sunday 24th April I ran the Virgin London Marathon dressed head-to-toe in body paint displaying inspirational messaging and patterns. Starting at 4am, the talented Jules from Bentley Body Art started first with the paint, then with the messages, the patterns and finally, glitter and a few gems.
As the paint went on, I grabbed my phone and wrote the words which flowed from me.
I had been thinking about this for weeks, but it was only making sense to me and all coming together in these final hours. I showed what I'd written to my Mum. Worried I was exposing too much of myself to the world and was risking making myself too vulnerable, she instantly burst into tears and said "you can't share that on social media".
I thought about it again, and replied "I have to."
There's no point in going half way, in testing the water to see what happens. It has to be all or nothing, and that's the way I live. I was dreadfully afraid of receiving negative comments about my body, but that was the point. I knew I had to do this. To liberate myself from my own fears and make a stand for body positivity.
I had a quiet word with myself and pressed publish on my Facebook post beginning with the words "THIS IS ME"
I continued by saying:
As I stepped outside my house and made my way to the start in Greenwich. I felt distinctly nervous. What had I let myself in for?
My heart was racing. I don't even want to know how much stress I put my body under on Sunday.
Running 26.2 miles is one thing. Doing it baring my story and exposing my inner demons whilst wearing hot pants, a sports bra and covered in paint, was another.
I ran the marathon in 4hrs 1 minute and had my entire family there. It was an amazing day, but totally and utterly took it out of me. I felt my legs crumble under me as I crossed the line and tears well in my eyes.
Later when I checked my social media posts, I was blown away to see hundreds of comments, thousands of likes and hundreds of thousands of views.
I still don't know what to say apart from thank you.
We are all human, we all have our own scars and are fighting different battles. I know it can be utterly crushing to feel you need to look a certain way. I vote for us to support each other however we look, because that's real and tells our stories.
Read the full post here.
See it on the BBC here.
HUGE thanks to:
Jules from Bentley Body Art
Lucozade Sport for sponsoring my place in the London Marathon
BeyondHealth for the invaluable physio, bio-mechanics, training support and deep tissue release work
DBA Sports for my personalised sports bra
Inov-8 for the Road Claw shoes I ran in
Sweaty Betty for my hotpants and leggings