That’s all folks

cheers

This is going to be my last blog post about my 2013 London Marathon adventure. It’s been emotional!

I started this blog because I wanted to capture the experience of running a marathon and fundraising for charity. I happen to have Ulcerative Colitis and Dilated Cardiomyopathy which (until now) I’d never really told anyone. I hoped that I’d raise awareness of the diseases that effect me and my family and in turn possibly help others suffering. I didn’t expect to have quite so many things to write about and would never have imagined the blog to be as popular as it has been. I have always hated the way that I write and have very little confidence in it but I would recommend blog writing to everyone, just jump in and do it!

I want to say one final massive Thank You!!! Thank you if you’ve sent me a nice message, sponsored me, asked me about the diseases, donated to the auction, cheered me along the marathon, cuddled me at the end of the marathon, hugged me when I’ve been upset or if you’re one of the thousands of people who’ve read my blog. I’ve never felt so supported in my whole life and I can’t believe the power of a blog!

The PR is still coming in and we’re hopefully going to be in some women’s magazines in the near future, so look out for us! I’m going to have a little break from silly exercise challenges and fundraising for a bit and work out how best to focus on the things I’m most passionate about when it comes to hearts: organ donation (opt out campaigning), heart screening of young people and research into turning heart disease around. I’ve enjoyed the blog so much that I’ll start a new blog soon, probably called ‘Lucy Lives Life’ – watch out for it on my social media.

Please don’t forget that when this blog’s long gone, there’ll still be young people dying of heart problems every week and there’ll be people dying while waiting for organs that are out there, just not on the donor list. Please continue to spread the word and use my family’s story as an example of how tragedy can be turned around simply by filling in an online form and telling your guardians. Today is Jack’s 3rd anniversary of his heart transplant and just writing that has made me burst into tears quite hysterically. You’ll never know how meaningful that silly organ card is until it happens to you, so please keep talking about it.

Thank you and bye for now xxx

A long week

This week’s been a funny one. It’s the launch of a large project I’ve been working on for the past 4 months so I’ve been really busy at work. You may have seen it: Oxfam’s launched a partnership with Nectar. Clever! I’ve been working on the auction which is on Monday. We’ve got some amazing donations and the team I’m doing it with (Amy, Janine and Alan) have written and designed amazing promo materials (see poster below right). Then there’s the marathon…on Saturday Ben had his longest run and I cycled along side him giving him sports drinks, gels etc. Then mum and I walked 21 miles on Easter Monday along with my crazy friend Corinne who came along ‘for fun’. Finally there’s all of the press interviews I’ve been doing.

Our auction poster

Our auction poster

The 21 mile walk was OK actually. It was freezing cold and stupidly windy but we got through it in 5 hours. We were proud of ourselves! Through the walk there were points where we were a little disheartened. For example when we’d walked 10 miles, 11, 12 and 13 seemed to go very slowly. I started to picture and talk about what we’d be seeing on the London marathon route at that point and how it’d be much better on the day. Secretly knowing that miles 13-18 are actually really quiet and we’ll probably get pretty bored. Anyway, we did it and we’re now confident that we can complete the marathon in 6.5-7 hours on the big day…which is less than 3 weeks away!

And the exciting news is that press teams are actually interested in my story! I had an interview with 2 newspapers this week and have another lined up for the end of the week. The first one was the Daily Mail in which I’ll feature next Tuesday. It’ll be an article covering heart conditions in young people with my story as the case study. I’m really pleased that such a large audience will read my story and hopefully understand more about heart conditions in young people and the need for organ donation sign ups. Today one of the local newspapers published my story online.

Thanks for all your support and sponsorship. It’s absolutely frickin’ amazing!

walker not a runner

It’s with great sadness that I have to let you know that I won’t be running the London marathon on 21st April. I had final tests at the Brompton yesterday and while I’m ‘extremely fit’ (had to get that in there) my heart’s not good enough for me to run the marathon, or any marathon or half marathon ever again. It’s time to hang up my running shoes after a pretty good career. I’ve had the pleasure, yes pleasure, of running the London Marathon, Barcelona half marathon, Royal Parks half marathon (twice!), Reading half marathon, Run to the Beat, the Great North Run, Great South Run and Bupa 10ooo. I’ve got a good collection of medals and I’ve still got cartilage in my knees so there are some positives to this news!

The delightful exercise test I took yesterday.

The delightful exercise test I took yesterday.

You may wonder why, if I’m fit and have done all these runs in the past why I can’t continue my hobby. I’ll try and explain the technical health bit…

I have dilated cardiomyopathy which means that my heart is weak and enlarged which means it can’t pump blood as efficiently as a healthy heart. Since I was diagnosed in 2008 my heart’s steadily decreasing in function and yesterday I found out that it’s got to the point where they need me to take drugs to try and limit it getting worse. If we now add in my ulcerative colitis, which causes weird electrolyte activity affecting the heart, as well as limits the amount of nutrience I can absorb from my food it becomes more serious. I lack in a lot of crucial vitamins and iron, which often makes me feel very tired, dizzy and faint. These are also vitamins that the heart needs to function as best it can.

So, even though the rest of my body feels fit to run, my heart can’t hack it and it’s very dangerous to strain it by running silly distances. People always say to me, ‘oh you’re a natural runner’. I can tell you now, I think we’ve proven that I’m not and I find it bloomin’ hard lugging myself round a half marathon course, let alone a marathon!

What happens next? Well while I explain the health bits easily and joke about it, I’m crushed. I don’t know whether it’s the marathon, the loss of running or just knowing I’ve got these diseases I can’t control. I’ll moap about a bit and feel sorry for myself. I’ve lost my favourite hobby and as silly as it sounds I have to morn it. I have to accept that my ticker’s worse than I thought and decide what to do about the marathon. I want to keep going, I want to walk it (that’s been given the nod by my heart doctor for those worriers). Ben and I have raised £2.5k and I want to keep fundraising. I just have to work out whether I’m mentally strong enough to get over the not running. Training up till now, running 3 times a week since November, running 15 miles on the weekend and constantly gearing up for the marathon is engrained in my brain. Stopping now and giving up would be easy but I like to make my life that little bit more challenging. I can see myself walking it, raising more money, getting more people signed up for organ donation and raising awareness of the diseases. While it’s hard for me, remember there are thousands of people with this condition that are much worse off. They need organs RIGHT NOW. They can’t get out of bed, let alone walk a marathon.

Trying to understand my echo results.

Trying to understand my echo results.

I’ve cried all the way through writing this. Please appreciate that it’s hard for me to share this and I’m not normally someone to publish this sort of information. This blog’s been a challenge for me. I’m doing this for the reasons I listed above and would love it if you could:

1. Sign up for organ donation

2. Register to give blood

3. Tell your friends and family to do number 1 & 2

4. Sponsor me and Ben

Thank you for your support. Please share my story.

Fun-raising

The training’s still on hold so I’ve been using my time to maximise the fundraising! And what fun it’s been! It’s a fundraisers dream to be given items to use for fundraising and I was lucky enough to be given an amazing donation of over 50 handbags from a high street favourite.

Sales going well last Thursday!

Sales going well last Thursday!

We decided to hold a handbag sale in Oxfam House with the stock we had. With over 700 people in the office we were hopeful we’d sell a few bags. With a little bit of design, marketing and word of mouth we were set to go. The sale was due to start at 11.30 and at 11.25 we had colleagues looking at the bags wanting to start buying. The image to the right was taken at 11.35! Women were surrounding the handbags and they were flying out of our hands. It was amazing! Within 20 mins we’d sold 90% of stock and made £900. Ben couldn’t believe how much women loved handbags – he finally believes it’s not just me!

We want to say a massive thank you to our anonymous donor who made it possible as well as thanking everyone that came and bought a bag. We hope that you love your bags!

So that’s £2500 raised now, half way to our £5,000 target. If you’d like to sponsor us and keep us going while we can’t train please click here.

Next up it’s an Auction of Promises at work with some colleagues that are walking Oxfam’s Trailtrekker. If you don’t work at Oxfam and would like to make a promise let me know on l.fenner@hotmail.co.uk. Promises currently include things like cake baking, picture framing, dinner parties, dog walking, babysitting. Promises will be auctioned in Oxfam House on 8th April.

Thank you everyone.

We’ve hit £1000!

A MASSIVE thank you to everyone that’s sponsored us to date. We’ve hit the £1000 mark!

My recent cake sale at work raised £200.

My recent cake sale at work raised £200.

Last week I held a cake sale in Oxfam House. 13 of my wonderful colleagues baked cakes, brownies, muffins and even pinwheels (?!) for the cake sale. At 12pm we set up and by 2pm all of the cakes had been sold. We made a tidy £200 and all our customers were very satisfied.

Right now I’m planning the next fundraiser which is a handbag sale at work. I’ve had about 50 leather handbags donated and hope to sell them for between £20 and £35 next week. We hope to raise about £1000 in one go! Will keep you posted.

Me in hospital last weekend.

Me in hospital last weekend.

The training itself is currently on hold as I’ve been told not to run for 2 weeks because of some chest pains I’ve been having. I was in hospital last weekend. The doctors can’t see a correlation between my illness and my running but they’re looking into my results further. It’s unlikely that running is making it any worse. Frustratingly they don’t know what it is. They hope to give me an answer on whether I’ll actually be able to take part in the marathon on 12th March. Until then, I have to limit my running and exercise in general which is extremely frustrating. I’m also going to have to go on drugs to limit the worsening of my heart. All in all pretty rubbish.

So, the training plan’s taken a blow but to keep me distracted I’m focusing on the fundraising. It’s made me wonder why I run marathons anyway – I enjoy the fundraising bit the best!

Help us get closer to our £5000 target and sponsor us here.