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The Virgin London Marathon – more than just a running race….

The Virgin London Marathon is an institution but on so many levels. There are many races happening on the same day. There are people competing for world record times and people competing in their own personal challenges and everything in between.

We have seen and heard so many stories that prove people really are inspirational in so many ways. Our charity of the year is The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and we have followed the amazing stories from two of our Banana Chatters Liam McHugh and Natalie Crawford.

Liam’s daughter has Cystic Fibrosis and Liam has dedicated his life to raising funds for the treatment of CF.

Natalie herself has CF and wants to prove to her son, who also has CF, that he can do anything despite the condition.

Both finished on Sunday with great times and are truly amazing people who have not only inspired others but helped raise such well needed funds for a great cause.

There are just so many inspirational stories, too many to mention but these took our attention: the oldest lady being 84 who finished the marathon in just under six and a half hours. We heard about a lady suffering with mental health issues but using the discipline of training and raising money as an incentive and way of dealing with her health issues. People affected by different conditions all raising funds for so many good causes and charities. Sometimes it takes the thought of helping others or to raise money or just the thought of achieving a personal goal that drives people on. Millions of pounds will have been raised to help so many charities but more than that the satisfaction of achieving something like this will live with people for ever and make memories but more importantly really make a difference to so many people both in terms of treatment, research, help, personal goals, challenges and so much more.

During this year’s marathon the total money raised for charity since the very first London Marathon has beaten the one billion pound mark.

Banana Crumble would like to congratulate everyone who took part in the Marathon but would like to say a massive well done to Liam and Natalie – you are both truly inspirational.

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Banana Chat – meet Natalie Crawford

I am Natalie Crawford and am 35 years old. Ask my children what mummy’s job is and they will tell you I am a runner. Not just any type of runner though. A marathon runner who has Cystic Fibrosis, with the dream of inspiring others through sharing my journey. But most importantly showing Preston(6), who also has Cystic Fibrosis, and Skye(9), who is a carrier, that we can achieve anything we set our minds to.

What is your favourite joke ?
It would have to be my little boys best banana joke. “What sort of shoes are made out of banana skins?”
Slippers!

What makes you smile?
My children. Everyday. I smile as I see the compassion my daughter, Skye, has for the world in which she lives in, and her passion for animal conservation. A little girl so set on her dreams and mature beyond her years. Skye who is 9, she is so grown up beyond her years. Her compassion for the world, especially animals, makes me smile every day. Then there is my little Preston who is 6. My bouncing ball of sunshine who has the most incredible sense of humour. Every day I smile as my son, Preston, grows into his huge fun loving, humorous personality, he is my bouncing ball of sunshine who brightens my every day.

What is your favourite good news story?
I am part of a support group for women with cystic fibrosis who are on a journey to motherhood. One of the happiest moments is always, after seeing the journey, whether it be natural, IVF, fostering or adoption,  seeing the many miracles and happy endings, then watching their families grow! It is a reminder to us all to never give up hope.

What inspires you?
So much of this world inspires my mind. The innocence of my children inspires me, the way their eyes see the world. I am inspired by beautiful qualities in others, selfless acts, inner beauty, courage and originality. The everyday, real heroes, those with a vision, ambition and those battling obstacles to reach a dream. I am always inspired by nature, and how it teaches us that change and growth is beautiful, inevitable. Inspiration is everywhere, we just have to open our eyes.

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
For an endless pot of funds to be made available for the NHS. This would then provide life saving drugs such as Orkambi (want find out more about Orkambi? Click here) to my cystic fibrosis community, and fund research further into a cure for CF, which would save so much suffering and heartache.

If you could have one superpower what would you choose and why?
I would have a laser that would wipe out all germs, bugs and illness so we would never become poorly!

What is your favourite food?
This is a tricky one, as for me, and others with cystic fibrosis, food is a big part in our life. In order to stay nourished and well we consume many more calories than others! It would have to be a very easily prepared Tzatziki with warm crusty bread followed by a cadburys easter egg!

What is your favourite drink?
A strong, hot cup of tea in a dainty china cup.

If you are going on holiday what luxury item would you take from home?
My red nail varnish. I would feel totally naked without it. I have never understood how women can fill a whole bag full of makeup. For me, all I need is my nail varnish to feel pretty!

If you could make one law, what would it be and why?
There are a vast amount of changes I would love to see in today’s society. I’d have to choose a law which would make a difference to so many like myself, which would be to scrap the charges on both hospital parking and prescriptions, making them free to those with lifelong conditions.

Give us a random piece of information about you that people wouldn’t know?
Everything scares me! I have to push hard to get through everyday anxiety, but the mind is our most powerful weapon, and thankfully I have a very strong mind!

What is your favourite phrase or saying?
Those who do not believe in magic will never find it. By my favourite childhood author, Roald Dahl.

What cause, project or event would you like to promote?
I would like to raise awareness and promote the outstanding work that the Cystic Fibrosis Trust do, in helping families like myself and my children. The Cystic Fibrosis Trust not only support those affected by CF, but fund research into new drugs to improve the quality of life for so many. I have spent many years fundraising for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust, through running, most recently fundraising for a physiotherapy vest, not available on the NHS, for myself and Preston.

My page can be found here www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/nataliecrawford1982

Who is your favourite music artist?
One Direction are most definitely my guilty pleasure, but  the artist which has been the soundtrack to my recent journey is The Script. The Script carried me through my long runs marathon training as I could relate so much to the lyrics in so many of their songs. I think that is when you realise how powerful music is. “Written in the scars” by The Script was the song that carried me through my marathon, it hit home, and I felt it was written for my story.

Who is the person that you feel has shaped your life most?
My two children have shaped my life more than anyone ever could. They are the reason I make my health a priority and push the boundaries to stay so well, I strive to be such a positive role model for them, and in doing so I have watched them grow into such beautiful little people, who have been my biggest supporters in every race and challenge I have achieved.

Aside from my children, my coach, Aaron, has shaped me more than anyone. He gave me the tools of self belief to achieve my dream of running a marathon. The journey was isolating, a journey that few could understand. Aaron was there every step of the way, building my strength mentally and physically. I will always be thankful for him as he helped me to become the CF athlete which would inspire so many others. We all have a dream, Aaron helped me achieve mine.

PJ’s or Not?

Hot or cold? Hot

Cat or dog? Dog

Blue or pink? Red…haha i’m not a pink girl so i’d have to pick blue

Tea or coffee? Tea

Glass half-empty or glass half-full? Always half full

Pyjamas or not? Not

Night out or night in? Night in

Pizza or pasta? A huge pizza with a side of pasta

Biscuits or cake? As above!! cake

Wine or beer? Wine…just a sip though!

Football or rugby? Football (loyalty to my football crazy son!)

Cinema or theatre? Theatre

Gym or TV? Always gym

Naughty or nice? There’s a place for them both, but its nice to be nice.

Silver or gold? Gold

Tent or hotel? Hotel

Bath or shower? Bath

Starter or pudding? Pudding

Sheets or duvet? Duvet

Love Island or Game of Thrones? Not a fan of Love Island so i’ll say Game of Thrones as it’s on my “watch list”

Finally, apple or banana? Banana…in my smoothie!

 

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I am Natalie Crawford, defying the odds of living with Cystic Fibrosis.

I am Natalie Crawford, 35 years old from Northampton, defying the odds of living with Cystic Fibrosis. I have two children, Skye-Hope, 9, and Preston, 6.

I was diagnosed with CF at the age of 28 during my pregnancy with Preston. At his 20 week scan, I was told he had meconium ileus, a bowel blockage, which is a marker for CF.

Tests confirmed that not only Preston, but also myself, had CF, a genetic, life limiting condition affecting mainly our lungs and digestive system. Further investigation led to the diagnosis of CF related liver disease in myself and more complications from my childhood misdiagnosis of asthma.

I decided that I would not allow the negative, sad and heart breaking stories shape our journey with CF as I focused on the positive and dedicated every waking moment to our health and well being. I was initially told that I would never reach the standard of fitness needed to train for a half marathon, something I strived to succeed in to inspire others.

Thankfully I am a strong willed character and let nothing stand in the way of my dreams, especially not when I knew I now had two little people looking up at me.

I trained hard and with passion, as my lung function dropped with infection after infection, I trained harder and smarter. I used nutrition and exercise as the weapons against each new bug, and with defiance I finally ran my first half marathon in May 2016.

Three half marathons followed that and I knew it was time to attempt my biggest challenge, a full marathon.

Marathon training was a true test of strength, not only physically, but mentally. The mind set required to carry you through those lonely long runs, was like dancing with the devil and as my lungs screamed at me to give in, I knew i’d come too far to quit.

In October 2017 I ran the Birmingham marathon. I ran strong, and even though it was the hardest challenge I have ever attempted, I loved every one of those 26.2 miles. I ran with enormous gratitude in my heart, feeling blessed that I had been given the opportunity to inspire so many.

I set out with the dream of being the role model my children deserved, to give them the best start in life by leading them towards the path of a healthy way of living, to teach them the importance of wellness, and to arm Preston with the tools he will carry with him as he fights CF until his cure is here.

Health is everything, some of us have to fight that little bit harder to keep it. Living with CF has made me strong, but running has given me a superpower and I will never stop chasing the next goal.

I have shared my marathon journey through a series of blogs on the CF Trust website and update through social media facebook-Natalie Crawford /Instagram-natsy1982

Watch this space as I aim to stay strong for marathon number two next year!