Tracey McDonald had a heart attack at the 2k mark of Black Park parkrun. One year on, she thanks the parkrun community for helping to save her life.
I’ve always been a bit of a runner, but I’d drifted away a little since I had children.
I heard about parkrun in 2013, I was looking for ways to get active with my daugher, but she didn’t like getting up early on a Saturday! Then I thought, I’m going to do this, I want to run again.
I didn’t want to be competitive, I just wanted to get out there and enjoy myself.
And I loved it. My husband started going, and then it became something we did every week.
Saturday 23 February 2019 started like any other. It was a beautiful misty morning in Black Park, and I was looking forward to the lovely figure of eight course.
I got to around 2k and I started to feel a bit weak in the arms and legs. I’d done a pretty hard pilates session the day before, so I just put it down to that!
But then I just felt like I couldn’t run, I had no energy. I started walking, and everyone was asking me if I was ok.
I couldn’t go on anymore, I bent over and stopped. What happened next is a bit of a blur.
Turns out, there were three doctors running nearby, they called an ambulance.
Meanwhile my husband is waiting to cheer me on as I pass 3k, and is wondering where I have got to!
By the time he found me the ambulance had arrived.
One of the first people to help me was Andy, from my local athletics club. He had the defibrillator, but thankfully it wasn’t needed.
He was amazing, the ambulance crew were amazing, the park rangers were amazing (they were there to let the emergency services in and out of the park). It was an incredible team effort to get me to safety, special thanks to David and the team at Black Park.
I was admitted to Harefield hospital, and was out on the wards with a stent fitted to my heart by 11.30am.
The doctors were telling me I’d heard a heart attack. Heart attack? Don’t be silly! I couldn’t believe it!
I was in hospital for a few days, and I returned to parkrun to walk a few weeks later. It was scary. Physically I was recovering, but mentally I struggled to comprehend that one minute you could be fine, and the next minute you could have a heart attack. It gave me the jitters!
But I wanted to get out, I wanted to see everyone, and I wanted to support my husband.
At the parkrun, people I had never even met were coming up to me to see if I was ok. I wanted to thank them all – to thank those people who had been there on the day, the people I might never see again who stopped to check on me, a stranger who was lying down in the woods.
If any of you are reading this, thank you.
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