This year, for obvious swollen-legged, big-bellied reasons, I decided to take the Games a little easier - just soak up the atmosphere, enjoy being surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of other recipients and supporters, and catch up with tranny-p friends.
The 'taking it easy' aspect all went well until I got a sniff of the gold medal in the 3km road race! I couldn't resist and I don't think I have ever, ever had so much cheering and support - the course was an out-and-back and my whole return leg was met with a wall of whooping from people on their way out on the course. I felt like an Olympic hero - really! I had to remind myself to keep pushing and not just soak up the cheers and high five my way to the end. It was one of those moments that will always make me grin like mad whenever I think of it.
I could never have recorded those splits in training in my current form, but there's something about the Games - the crowds, so many other people that understand what happened to your body and is still happening to your brain - it all comes together to flick that switch that powers you on. I feel very lucky that the Transplant Games exist, that we get the opportunity to meet each other and have the encouragement to make our broken bodies fit and strong - and to show the world the unstoppable power or organ donation.
The Best Bit
Winning medals and trophies is an incredible feeling, and not one I'm particularly used to. It feels very special to make my husband and my family proud as I cross that line, it feels very very special to sense the strength my donor gave me coursing through my body. But that isn't the best bit. The best bit is epitomised in this photo:
I came second to Orla in the 800m, the last race of the Games, and not a close second either. She was on fire and it was a pleasure to race alongside her - well, not alongside her at all actually, very much behind her. Orla is the first person who ever contacted me from the transplant community, she emailed me to offer some friendly encouragement for the Transplant Games 2017 and she's been there to offer lots of support and kindness since. This was our first race together, and when we'd finished, both in pain and uttering swear words as we did, we had an emotional few words and an enormous (and sweaty) hug.
I don't know what it is about organ donation, but it changes you deep in your heart. I will never be the Ellie I was two years ago, and I don't want to be. It's incredibly personal, and there are some people whose reaction to it I can't understand at all, but there are a few people, like Orla, who make my emotions and outlook make sense. Life is bigger now, in many ways it appears more fragile and with that more scary - I am more scared of death, I am terrified of my loved ones dying, death feels very real and very black. In other ways, the day to day ways, life is much much less scary and much less complicated - just do it, live it, throw caution to the wind. Every single day is a huge bonus. Just write that bloody book Ellie!!!
Click the little heart if you are also always telling yourself 'you only live once'! Thank you so much for reading :)