In April this year, I ran my first 100 miler. It was also the first time I trained with a coach and so I left nothing in the tank. I gave everything I had in those months of training and I was really happy with my finish time, but when I returned to Australia I was flat and I was bored.
I had run every trail I knew of in the lead up to my miler and now they all bored me. I was too poor to enter any big thrilling overseas races. Poor and bored – a terrible combination.
So I thought, why push it? I’m not getting paid to do this, so why do it if it’s not making me happy. I took the pressure off and decided I would just run when I felt like it.
After years of having giant and exciting adventures to look forward to, I must admit it was hard when people said “what’s next?” to me with a look of expectation and excitement. The look of disappointment on their faces when I responded “I’m not sure” was difficult to digest.
Slowly however, I started to realise that I don’t do these races for other people, I do them for me. If they are disappointed in the fact that I’m a little tired, then perhaps it’s time they signed up for their own adventure.
And so I life went on. I found myself looking forward to my CrossFit sessions more than my runs and that was okay. I was going with the flow. When I got the Rapid Ascent email about the Surf Coast Century, I put a post on the CrossFit facebook page casually asking if anyone would like to put a relay team together.
The response was quite overwhelming. Within a few weeks we had three teams registered. Most of these guys had never run a race, never run a trail race and never gone near the half marathon distance. And I left out a lot of details. I didn’t tell them about the hills. I didn’t tell them about carrying a pack with all their mandatory gear while they ran. I also didn’t tell them that only three of them would be running a half marathon. The rest would be running 23-28km. These were all just minor details, best kept secret.
I was quite shocked by the enthusiasm of these new runners. They had gone from walk one minute, run one minute to running 12-18km loops in the Dandenongs including Glasgow Track! I didn’t push the training. I didn’t want to force them to do more than they wanted to do, yet every weekend, at least one of them was asking to come along to a trail run.
Whilst they were running hilly loops in the Dandenongs on a regular basis, the common phrase thrown around was “but I’m not a runner.” This all changed one night when we joined in with the Surf Coast Trail Runners Night Run in the You Yangs. Everyone had a ball and finally, it hit home that everyone in the team was now a runner.
At the last minute, we had to recruit two new team members. This didn’t give anyone time at the box to train up for the event so I relied on my trail running community and they didn’t let me down. Olivia and Chantelle joined the team. It was such a joy to have both women on board – not only did they allow the teams to compete by filling in, but they fully embraced the team mentality we had gone into with this event. I think everyone soon felt like they had always been part of this team, it all just felt so familiar.
Soon the big day was here. As I expected, everyone surpassed their own expecatations of themselves. I won’t recap the entire day as I can’t really put into words the hurt and the joy everyone felt – individually and as a team. Here are my highlights in no particular order.
1. Paul losing his car key at the beach minutes before the race start.
Despite a frazzled start, Paul certainly got his shit together and annihilated most of the course in the final 15km.
This also is a reminder of how good the trail running community is because someone found Paul’s key!
2. Luke pushing through the pain to finish his first half marathon.
It would have been really easy for Luke to pull out when he started to feel an injury coming on and his race wasn’t going to plan. But he knew his leg 2 runner was waiting for him so he pushed on. Time is irrelevant, he just completed his first half marathon and a pretty brutal one at that!
3. Kirsten going from a non runner to a friggin amazing runner in 3 months!
When I first met Kirst, she could only run one minute walk one minute. Three months later, she ran her first half marathon on sand!
(leg 1 runners Paul, Luke and Kirst)
4. Carolyn finishing 28km
When I was organising the teams, Carolyn said she couldn’t run 28km. I pretended I didn’t hear (sorry Caz), but I did that cause I knew she could AND she did!
Yep, she hurt and yep she broke down but that’s just what happens. What differentiates winners from quitters is what you choose to do when you hit hell. Caz pushed on – she’s a winner!
5. Brian getting the doctor’s approval the day before race day to run and seeing him cross that finish line all smiles.
6. Seeing Roisin’s beautiful smile all over the course – what a motivator.
(Leg 2 runners Brian, Caz and Morv)
7. Morv crossing the finish line – her smile and her spirit, the essence of trail running.
8. Andy fanging it to the finish line so we didn’t miss David cross the finish line.
9. David crossing the finish line and me saying “I’ve signed you up for your next race” and David nodding and saying “Yes, Ok.”
10. Luke catching me on leg 3 despite me having a huge head start. I knew he would and I was so happy he did – a great runner and a great guy.
11. George taking Olivia pizza and beer out on the trail – about time he repaid the crystal glasses and moet on the top of kozciosko favor!
12. Chantele running through the finish chute with a beer in her hand and an enormous smile on her face.
13. Liam offering to carry one of the 100km runners to the finish, not because the guy was injured but because he looked like he was suffering and Liam didn’t like seeing him suffer and wanted to help.
All these highlights capture what trail running is about. If there was any doubt in their minds before, I hope it has now been cemented that you are all runners!
Concluding with my own story. I was motivated to organise this relay because I had grown bored with my own running. Seeing the joy as these guys embraced everything new about trail running – the beauty, the cammraderie, nature and pushing your own limits, well it all reminded me just how much I love running.
So thank you all team!
This blog isn’t on my usual topics of running or mental illness, so forgive me, but I just had to blog it out. This one is about being an angry bride to be and I guess all the things that make me me – the running, the adventure seeking, bipolar feminist, well these are all the reasons as to why this wedding is making me angry. So I guess in a way, I’m not too far off topic.
Here are a few things that are making me angry.
1. The reference to my “big special day”
A wedding is a nice thing. Yes sure, it will be special. I love my fiance and I’m excited to be married to him, but in terms of a big special day? Is this day intended to be any bigger or more special than any other day in my life?
The day I graduated from my law degree, well that was a pretty special day. The day I graduated from my masters degree after two years of personal hell and against all odds – well that felt like a very special day.
When I ran into San Pedro De Atacama after seven days of running across the Atacama Desert in the same outfit, surviving on freeze dried rice in both scorching and freezing temperatures – well that was a magnificent day.
The point is, I have had many special days in my life. These days have been special because I have worked so hard to get to the point of achievement and that victory has been so sweet. These days were big and momentous. I’m not quite sure how a wedding fits into my scale of big and special. I did nothing to achieve this big special day and would it mean I was a failure if I didn’t meet Mr or Mrs Right and have a big special day? Would all my special days just be small special days in comparison to the big special day I may never have had had LDog not come along?
Of course it will be special. I love my fiance and I am excited to make a committment to him in front of my family and friends but that is all it is. A nice special day. I didn’t achieve anything by getting married, so let’s not treat it like a life goal. That’s just stupid.
2. The pressure to look good on my wedding day
So far my fiance has clocked up quite a bill for his wedding day attire, but has anyone questioned him as to what he is wearing or whether he is going to lose weight for his “big special day”?
I on the other hand have spent nothing – not a cent. Apparently, I am an arse hole because of this. I’m not excited enough, I don’t care enough. Quite the contrary – I’m wearing my mother’s dress because it’s sentimental. I’m not wearing shoes because my feet will hurt after my 100 km race that is a few weeks prior and heels will just feel like a nightmare. Plus, my fiance is happy about this decision as it means he will be taller than me in our wedding photos. Win win….except I am an arsehole of a woman because I am refusing to go on a diet.
Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I thought the whole idea of getting married was making a committment to your life partner. I wasn’t aware that it wasn’t about that at all, that it’s all about what size dress I’ll be wearing. Silly me.
Now it’s not just crazy women asking me whether I’m going to try and lose weight. It’s women who I deeply admire and so this question from their mouths has shocked me to the core. The other day I pondered, is it me? Is there something wrong with me because I have zero motivation to lose even a kilogram for my “big special day?” I pondered this for quite some time before I realised that the reason I don’t want to change myself for my wedding or for any other day is because I don’t hate myself. I am pretty content with the way I am. Yes, I am no different to any other woman and when I look in the mirror I am critical of my thighs, my belly, the extra flab. But what running ultras and lifting heavy weights has taught me is that my body has a purpose. If I love it, nurture it and respect it, it can do great things.
And so, I have no intention of punishing my wonderful body for a dress.
3. Changing my name
Let me first start out by saying that it is a woman’s right to choose. If she wants to change her name, I have no problem with that, but me????
The very question prompts that thick vein on my neck to pulsate and I feel a rage coming on.
It’s my name! It’s who I am. It’s my culture, my heritage, my family, my identity, my success and my failure.
I wouldn’t expect my partner to change his name and he doesn’t expect me to change mine.
So it would appear I’m pretty angry and you may wonder why I’m even getting married. Well let me share a story with you.
The other week my partner and I decided we would go shopping for our wedding rings. We purchased his first then we strolled around the jewellery stores looking for my ring. I became anxious and angry.
“I don’t want to do this today.”
I couldn’t understand the difference between a $500 ring and a $5000 ring. I know nothing about jewellery, I know nothing about diamonds. I felt overwhelmed and stupid.
My partner told me to “woman up.” We went into a store together. The sales assistant was lovely. He laughed at how filthy my engagement ring was. Cleaned it up for me for free and then picked out a ring that would match and it didn’t cost a fortune. He didn’t laugh at me for having no clue what diamonds were in my engagement ring or what I should be looking for in a wedding ring.
I left the store with a beautiful ring and an acceptable eftpos transaction receipt.
I could never have done that without my partner. It was an uncomfortable situation and I wanted to run. Instead, he encouraged me to “woman up,” be strong and get the job done.
That is why I want to be married. I want to live out my life with a man who encourages me to be strong, who supports me when I’m not behaving my best and who loves me unconditionally. It is the marriage that I am looking forward to and if the wedding is the beginning of things to come, then maybe it won’t be so bad afterall.