Twelve months ago I started running. Running was the only form of exercise I could fit into my day once returning to full-time work after baby number two, (sweet baby Hazel). I wanted to lose the baby weight and my days just didn’t allow for me to be driving to and from the gym.
I started running to the boat ramp and back each morning, 2kms. I had no ambition to run any further. I wasn’t working towards running in any marathons and to be totally honest the thought never even entered my mind. All I was focused on was the baby weight. As time went on I started to increase my distance (and drop the kg, of course, otherwise I would have stopped in my tracks. Pun intended).
I wasn’t worried about time (I’m still not, really), I just wanted to increase my distance and finish what I started. By the time I could run 5kms comfortably (by comfortably I mean slow) I was advised by a work colleague (a real runner over the age of 60) that I should just try to increase my distance by 2km’s a week. Just keep on, keeping on. And so I did. Before I knew it I was heading out on a Saturday morning with the intent to run 14kms. I did it. I was dead most the day after. But alive dead, not dead, dead.
Now here we are. In the last five months, I’ve run the half marathon distance of 21.095 km’s 4 times, most recently participating in my first event, the Gold Coast 2019 Half Marathon. That single event has taught me a lot about all the things I think I cannot do.
This is what I learned. This is what I want to tell the old version of me, the version that said ‘I could never’, and all the other women out there that are currently living in that version of them that is always saying ‘I could never…’.
- If you are alive, as in, not dead, and can breathe on your own, then you can run a marathon… of any distance (2k, 5k, 10k etc.) Everyone that participated at the event was definitely not dead.
- I’m not going to lie, I was in the slowish pack, for sure. Did old men and woman jog past me? They sure bloody did. At one point I was running behind a woman that was walking. I didn’t know if I was running extremely slow, or if she was an Olympic speed walker (that’s a thing, right?). It was very confusing. (See, you don’t have to be Speedy Gonzales).
- I ran past three blind people! Ok, that’s a lie. Three blind people ran past me. Yep. They ran past me because they were on their way back to the finish line before I’d even got halfway because they were athletes (I think). If you are wondering how many blind people it takes to run a marathon to make you feel a bit shit about yourself, it’s one. It takes one blind person to make you run that little bit faster and to stop the whining in your head. I probably tripped multiple times over random things on the track, and I could see where I was going. So just think about that for a second.
- When people say, ‘I did a marathon’, other people don’t ask if you walked or ran it. That’s not a thing. But let me tell you, people did both. They walked, they ran, some did both. Some hobbled. Some sprinted (not in my pack). Whether you crawl over the finish line or run backwards-juggling knives (show-off), you still did it. How is up to you.
- People like supporting other people. There was something really beautiful about strangers spending hours standing outside their homes to cheer all the participants on. They screamed out our names that were on our race tags, they cheered and clapped and told us we could do it. They told us we were already halfway and that we could finish strong. They were the motivation we needed when we were all starting to feel a bit buggered. And it reminded me that not all people are rubbish, just the rubbish ones.
- It’s important to have someone waiting for you at the finish line, even if they don’t specifically see you cross it (yeah mum, I’m talking about you). It meant a lot to know that there would be someone I knew waiting for me, watching me achieve something I had been working towards. It’s just nice.
- Pre-race carb loading!! Love a good reason to eat a huge bowl of pasta (I added a couple, ok few, ok about 6 glasses of wine. But wine has carbs too). Let’s not forget post-race celebration loading. This includes all of the above except you don’t have to stop drinking because you don’t have to run the next day (hopefully you don’t have to do anything the next day).
So that is what I learned. Seven seems like a weird number of points, but they were the main ones.
The fact is, in twelve months I went from an, ‘I could never’, type person, to an, ‘I did that’, type person. It feels awesome. We all have to start somewhere, so thanks sweet baby Hazel for loading me up with all that lovely baby weight. It was totally worth it.