To my running family

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I haven’t lost my love of running but clawing back my fitness after a break from my routine is a bit of a challenge and I have had a couple of ‘why am I doing this?’ moments over the last few weeks. Realising I can no longer run up a familiar hill without needing some ‘You will not pass out!’ pausing moments is disheartening, regardless of my certainty that I’ll get back to where I was and the acknowledgements of what I’ve achieved.

This weekend I have had a big, beautiful reminder of one of the most important reasons I do this and love it so much – my running family. The photos above are just a selection of those from the last few years and don’t encompass all the family members – they’re from far and wide and I don’t see some of them very often but, when I do, they’re as warm, welcoming and encouraging as ever.

Those I am fortunate to see more often have become such an important part not only of my running life but of life in general. They’re the most friendly, non-judgemental, unquestioningly supportive bunch of humans I’ve met. Running has often pushed us to the limits of our comfort zones and well beyond and, amidst that vulnerability, this family have been there, making sure we all get through it and celebrating at the end, regardless of how long it takes and how many tears were involved along the way. In all those moments where I questioned myself and whether I could do it, they were there with a resounding ‘Of course you can!’, chasing out my inner doubt with their certainty.

The 6 family members I travelled to the US with have very special places in my memories and heart, a part of such an incredible set of experiences and achievements that I’ll treasure forever. Yet the rest of the family were there through their online encouragement, post-event congratulations and just through their presence in the minutes and hours on course. I don’t need to be running with them to feel their belief and support – it’s just there.

This is a completely inadequate set of words to thank them because there aren’t enough words to do so. But thanks anyway. The world is a better place for having you all in it.

parkrun tourism @ rosebud

It has been quite a while between parkrun launches for me. That inconvenient (but amazing) marathon training/marathon/holiday thing kind of got in the way of parkrun for a while and I missed a few around Victoria. So today, we made up for it by getting up at silly o’clock to head to Rosebud to celebrate a new parkrun baby joining the family.

Rosebud parkrun starts next to the beach and was very easy to find with parking not far away. As well as toilets and drinking taps, there is even a playground for you to let out your inner child (or do hill repeats running up the side of the slide as some of the locals were doing). It was obvious from early on that this one was going to be a popular launch and there were certainly lots of people gathered for the briefing. The run director, Nadine, did the usual welcomes with 2 things that I particularly liked – 1. for those attending their first parkrun, this isn’t just a run, it’s a movement and 2. if you’re a local and are after a fast run or PB, come back next week. With the numbers today and the fact it’s a two lap course, we were all going to have to practise some tolerance and consideration.

And so, it was time to start. The starting flags were on a wide grass area which made it easy and people slotted onto the path quite well, just before we reached the boardwalk section. This is a where it got a bit tight, particularly as the faster runners had already hit the first turnaround point and were heading back towards us. I settled in to the left and kept plodding along at whatever speed the crowd would allow. Very soon, I was also at the turnaround point and heading back towards and then past the start line to turnaround point number two. The path is concrete all the way but I moved onto the grass at different points to give my legs a break. And then, after turnaround number 2… was time to go and do it all again. I’m not the biggest fan of multi lap courses but this one didn’t feel bad at all. It’s very flat and quite pretty, running along the waterfront with the boardwalk section a nice diversion and something different to run on. Running past the finish line a second time wasn’t as disheartening as I thought and the turnaround appeared quite quickly and then it was, finally, time to run through the flags.

It was great to see crowds still hanging out and chatting while waiting for all finishers and I took the opportunity to get my pirate picture (having joined the parkrun pirate club at Clermont Waterfront in Florida without realising it). As always, we followed it with delicious breakfast – almost too many places to choose from within walking distance but we settled on the the GPO Hotel which was great.

Congratulations to the event team at Rosebud on a fabulous launch – definitely one to visit if you’re down that way and I’m sure it’s going to be a very popular one with the Summer crowds. And those looking for an ‘aaaaarrr’ for their pirate club membership 😉

Dust off the sugar coating – getting back into it is hard

Time for a reality check people – getting back into exercise (or anything else for that matter) is hard. Between my injuries and then a virus I caught on the plane coming home, I haven’t run that much recently (other than a marathon!) and getting back to a regular routine is not easy. Once easy runs now seem arduous and long runs are not as long as they were, leaving me feeling a bit flat. No point sugar coating it – no amount of pixie dust (as they say at Disney!) is going to make it suck less. However having the right attitude helps.

I headed out for a long run this morning along my favourite trail with a blue sky and bright sun background and few others to share the trail with. I didn’t set a time or distance goal – this one was being measured in enjoyment and I tried to capture every moment of joy it brought. I’d forgotten how much I love the downhill sections – how I feel like an elite endurance athlete as I kick my legs into neutral and let them go. I smiled at the hang glider overhead and how he kept swooping between me and the sun, casting a shadow as I ran. I’d forgotten how much I actually like running uphill, finding it easier than walking them, even if my lungs do burn. And, on the way back, I ran and walked along the beach and remembered exactly how lucky I am to live not only in this incredible country but so close to this beach to have it as my running track. The more I travel the world, the more I am convinced that Australia is the best of it, all in one stunning package.

I tried not to think of how many times I needed to walk or what my pace was or how I turned around a lot sooner than I normally would. I know it’ll get better as I keep pushing but I have to give it time. In the back of my head, I have a new weapon in my arsenal – I am a marathoner. Regardless of how challenging this feels right now, I know what I’m capable of and know that I can do anything I set my mind to.

So, it’s hard. But at least this is a ‘hard’ I get to choose for myself. People all over the world are going through hard stuff that they didn’t get to choose and that is much harder than this. This? It’s just running. And running is great. So, hard or not, time to get on with it 🙂