My name is Jane Goodchild, a 56-year-old woman with the mind of a 25-year-old who is always doing something that involves sport.
Jogging around Clumber Park, a National Trust property in Nottinghamshire one Saturday morning with my dogs, I noticed a run was in progress in the park and I recognised some of the people from my home town of Retford. I asked them what the run was, I signed up and the following Saturday I was running my first parkrun. That was in August 2014, and I went on to join the parkrun 100 Club at Christmas 2016.
After a few parkruns I decided to volunteer, which I really enjoyed, and I got a friend who did not run to come along. As well as meeting the people there is a very strong community spirit and a feeling of being part of one big ‘parkrun family’ which has been a great inspiration to me.
21 January 2017 was a normal Saturday morning, but I was extra excited because after parkrun I had planned to finish packing and travel down to Birmingham for a flight the following day to Andorra for a week’s skiing. I started the parkrun with my ‘running mate’ Paul and on the second lap had a bit of banter with my friend Sandra at marshall point 4, who was encouraging me to get up the hill for the final push as I then would normally sprint to the end. But that was not to be on this particular day, and my next memory was coming round in hospital in the cardiac high dependency ward.
The following details are accounts given to me by parkrunners members, friends and family – I made it to the top of the hill with the finish stretch in sight when apparently I just fell. The group of runners around me immediately reacted to the situation and cared for me until the emergency services arrived. The defibrillator, that had only been purchased two weeks prior, was for the first time put into use.
Clumber Park is a National Trust property and the team there co-ordinated the emergency services, the paramedics and the Air Ambulance, who all needed access to the park, and also the general public and vehicles that were still coming into the park for a day out.
I was airlifted to the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield. One friend travelled by car with another parkrunner to the hospital, while another friend took my car along with my dogs back home to tell my partner and family. I had suffered a cardiac arrest which resulted in me being put into an induced coma in the intensive care unit. When I was brought out of the coma I was moved onto the high dependency ward where my treatment and recovery continued. I did require a stent to be fitted. Memories of this time are still vague and I still have to ask friends and family about certain events.
My younger brother had died the month before my cardiac arrest with the same problem, which was a blocked artery, but he was not so lucky to have known my saviours.
It was a good day when they finally discharged me from hospital; I could go home and see my two dogs Stride and Dotty who I had really missed. Unfortunately, two days after coming home I had to make the decision to have Stride, my eldest dog, put to sleep. Normal routine seemed to have resumed as life and all its trials and tribulations still went on.
“Four weeks after my incident, on a wet, dark Saturday morning, I returned to Clumber Park parkrun to say thank you to the community for helping to save my life.”
But when I attempted to speak I just couldn’t manage it – I was so overwhelmed with everyone’s concerns and well wishes. Luckily the Run Director on the day came to the rescue, knowing just what to say. He still knows my parkrun barcode number off by heart! There were so many people to speak to and so many tears were shed. No words can be written to express how I felt for all those people who helped on that day, who sent message of support or cards to me, who supported my family and I during my time in hospital.
The first time I took part in parkrun after my incident was early last March, as a walker, and I went back again the following week. I wanted to do this but was very apprehensive and was very grateful to many of my fellow parkrunners who supported and encouraged me to take it easy but not to give up. By the next week I felt that I could run the course but again needed support, and there at my side was my ‘running mate’ Paul and we completed the run in a time of 37 minutes. This was just nine weeks after my incident.
Recollections of conversations with the medical staff are still somewhat vague but my partner and sister have both said that the medical staff certainly believe that my levels of stamina and fitness helped me through and aided my recovery. I also believe that as I have always been active and driven to keep running this enabled me to get back to participating in parkrun so soon afterwards.
There is no doubt that life has changed, but it has not stopped me carrying on with my sporting activities; it just means I have to take care and plan what I do and when. Planning in resting and recovery periods, listening to my body and understanding how far I can go.
I still feel I am getting back to fitness but it will take time. I played rounders through last summer and started hockey training. I have done parkrun for the past 15 Saturdays in a row. Unfortunately I will not be skiing this season but look out for 2019 – I will be back, and I will get to go on that skiing holiday that I was so excited about!
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parkrun is the best way to spend Saturday morning – actively, smiling and spending time with others. Everyone, regardless of their physical abilities, will find a place at parkrun. It’s also a place that other organisations can use to support their clients. For example, the ‘Misz-Masz’ group took advantage of parkrun to integrate children with…