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Ella Brocklebank’s double marathon achievements!

Posted on 15/05/15

This week I received an email from Justgiving (the people who facilitate all the donations made through my online page) to inform me that my page had been in the top 3% of all fundraisers in April. That’s a statistic that immediately humbled me because it is all thanks to the kind hearted generosity of so many that I was able to achieve this. When undertaking a marathon (or in my case two) for charity, the running is almost the easy part!! I’m so grateful for people’s continuous support and generosity that makes all the miles of training so worthwhile.

Pilgrims Hospices has been a charity close to my heart since they cared for my dad in 2012 and since then I have vowed to do what I can for this fantastic local charity that support the terminally ill, as my way of saying “thank you”. Having completed four marathons in previous years, I decided I needed to raise the bar a little higher to challenge myself and to ensure people felt my efforts were worthy of sponsorship. I had already secured my place in the Brighton marathon, so when I received a gold bond place as part of ‘Team Pilgrims’ for London, arguably the best marathon in the world, I was thrilled at the opportunity to run two marathons in two weeks. I trained as I normally would for a marathon, steadily increasing my mileage over the winter months and wasn’t sure how my body would cope with two marathons so close together, but the only way to find out was to try.

Brighton was fabulous. On the start line, whilst naturally a little nervous, I felt ready and knew I had worked hard to get my body ready for the challenge that lay ahead and my mind was 100% focused. I was desperately hoping to break the four hour barrier that had evaded me by just a few minutes on my previous marathons. The atmosphere was brilliant and crowds - some 5 or 6 people deep in places - lined the streets to offer their support. I kept to a steady pace and felt pretty good throughout, picking up speed in places where the crowds were more vocal which offered a natural adrenaline boost. Once I was at mile 16 I thought “just another 90 minutes and you’re done”. As soon as I got to mile 23, which took you back out along Brighton seafront, I could see the Pier and the Brighton Wheel ahead and knew the finish line, where my medal and most importantly my family would be waiting, was now firmly within my grasp. The crowds were once again amazing in their support and really spurred me on and the last few miles just seemed to fly by. Running a marathon is as close as many of us will get to feeling like a celebrity – random people in the crowds shouting your name, telling you you’re a hero.

It really is an ultimate high no matter how tired you feel. Marathon running is all about the mind games so when I got to mile 23 I thought “just one 5k run with Jess” (Jess is my Black Labrador and I knew how short a morning run with her seemed to be so I kept this in mind). Crossing the finish line in a personal best time of 3hours and 51 minutes, I felt absolutely elated to have achieved what I set out to do and smashed my previous fastest time of 4hours and 4 minutes. Stage one of the challenge was completed, just London to conquer next!

With two weeks before I had to ‘do it all again’, I had hoped to rest as much as possible and put my feet up but I didn’t have that option. With a house move just days away and a new house to renovate life was busier than ever so I had to settle for a few sports massages and vitamin recovery drinks to get me to the next start line. As a runner there is always something sent to test you; whether injury, illness or the challenges of juggling training requirements with a busy working schedule and family life. I had stayed healthy throughout my training programme with only a minor foot niggle to contend with until illness decided to hit just a week before London which left me feeling totally drained. I hadn’t prepared for this and the Monday prior to London I could not comprehend how I was ever going to make it through another 26.2 miles in just five days time. Thankfully I’m pretty strong-willed (stubborn my husband would say!) and not easily defeated and decided that I would get through even if I had to walk. People had parted with their hard earned cash to support me - I wasn’t about to let them down.

Lining up at the start of London marathon it all felt a bit surreal. I was surrounded by fresh-legged runners raring to go whilst my body felt tired and depleted. I set off well, determined to really enjoy the atmosphere, but around 9 miles in my body really started to tire and my legs began to hurt. The next stretch of miles was hard. Running over the iconic Tower Bridge gave me a boost but this was short-lived. I had two options, to stop and walk or to get my mind in the right place and push forwards. Of course I chose the latter. A hug from my family near Canary Wharf at mile 18 and consumption of yet more jelly babies I was once again fuelled to take on the last eight miles finishing pretty strongly in 4 hours and 3 minutes. Not the PB I had achieved 2 weeks prior but a personal best for the London course by two minutes and another medal placed around my neck and the proud accomplishment of running 2 marathons in 2 weeks. As I crossed the finish line this time it really was a sense of relief. I had done it. I had completed the challenge I set and raised over £3000 for Pilgrims Hospices. This money would provide meals for patients and the very best specialist nursing care. I run because I love it and to be able to use this to help others is such a privilege. I run for all those who no longer have the ability to run due to ill health. I will never take this gift for granted.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me…What’s coming next? Watch this space…..

Blog written by Ella Brocklebank from Woodley Coles LLP

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