During October 2018, Katherine took on four half marathons for our Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice in Gloucestershire. Here she talks about the highs and lows of a very special month of Sundays.
Earlier this year, I ran my very first – and probably only – marathon in London. After training in bitter snow and running in record-breaking heat, I crossed the finish line of the London Marathon six and a half hours after starting. Yes folks, that is a lot longer than average!
The thing is: I’m not an athlete, I wouldn’t call myself fit and usually I’m more likely to be found catching up with friends over a cuppa than pounding the pavements. But what was the reason this crazy idea was born?
I knew it would be very easy to slip back into my normal routine of returning from work and sitting on the sofa instead of putting my trainers on. I had to plan something to keep me motivated and a half marathon in October seemed a fair goal. But while searching for an event, I found several in a row that all sounded appealing: four in fact, each one Sunday after the next.
Instead of choosing, like a normal human being, to pick one, I decided I would do them all. What did I have to lose? I called my challenge ‘Not in a month of Sundays'!
My motivation: Leckhampton Court Hospice
For the last three and a half years, I’ve been a clinical nurse specialist for palliative care in the community and it’s a job I feel so very privileged to do.
We work alongside patients and their families to ensure that a life-limiting diagnosis doesn't stop them from living and from enjoying life as much as possible. We help our patients and their families to talk about the future, and encourage them to think about where they want to be cared for, either at the end of their life or when they might need symptom control.
We were all out there because we believed in who we were running for and knew that their worth far surpassed our discomfort."
We are blessed in Gloucestershire to have Leckhampton Court with its dedicated team of Sue Ryder staff and volunteers. Many of my patients choose to access Day Hospice services, have a symptom control stay or to come for end of life care here.
Patients may also choose to die at home and even then they are often supported by Leckhampton's wonderful Hospice at Home team. Knowing that these services are costing approximately £10,000 a day to run, entirely raised by the charity, meant that my decision to support them was easy!
A month of Sundays: the highs and lows
So back to the running… Needless to say, I did throw my trainers in a dark corner after the marathon and probably didn’t train as much as I should have done for my challenge, but it was never going to be something I gave up on.
I could tell you so many stories about how I felt before the runs: the adventures I had finding car parks, start lines and the number of bin bags I wore as a fashion accessory.
I could even tell you about that time I sat in a busy drive-thru at McDonalds for a recovery chocolate milkshake only to find that the machine had broken!
I could tell you of the foot pain that very nearly had me on a pair of crutches half way through, or how I was so cold by the end of the Manchester Half that my Mum had to put food in my mouth because my fingers stopped working.
Without giving you a full run-down of the entire month (because, believe me, you’d have to sacrifice the next two hours to read it), suffice to say, the real adventure and heart of my challenge was in the people I met, the journeys they were on, and the ways they overcame a multitude of situations to run for their own charities.
I’m proud to be part of such an awesome team and who knows what the future will bring…?"
We were all out there because we believed in who we were running for and knew that their worth far surpassed our discomfort. If you’re reading this and haven’t been sure about taking on a challenge for Sue Ryder, let me encourage you.
I’ve never felt so well supported by a charity as I have these last few months. Team Incredible were there for me by telephone, by email, on social media and even in person, both at the Cheltenham Half and welcoming me to the hospice to congratulate me afterwards.
I’m proud to be part of such an awesome team and who knows what the future will bring...? (My trainers are honestly crying at this last sentence!)
So far, Katherine has raised over £850 to be there for people in her local area when it matters most. Go, Katherine!
To support her incredible achievement, you can donate and read more about her story on her JustGiving page.
And if reading about Katherine's epic month has inspired you to take on your own challenge, then sign up to be part of Team Incredible – we’d love to have you.
Team Incredible Runner
Katherine, a clinical nurse specialist, is a London Marathon finisher and a four-time Team Incredible half marathon champ. She supports our Leckhampton Court Hospice after seeing the difference that it makes for many of her patients.