I’ve represented Australia five times with pride as an ultra runner. I currently hold an Australian Record for 100 miles. At the youthful age of 46 I could be content with these accomplishments. I’m not. I have the determination and desire to do it at least one more time. I want to prove that Breast Cancer at the age of 44 did not get the better of me.
On Christmas Eve while out on an annual traditional run with my running club I had a less than courteous encounter with a runner unknown to me. I was down right rude, I actually swore. I immediately felt remorse but the opportunity to apologise had passed. It was behaviour so unlike me, I couldn’t explain it at the time and it took some weeks before the penny dropped.
That low in December carried through into the new year. I was functioning in the real world but only just. I was prone to bouts of depression and I was hard to live with. I survived thanks to my running. Despite it feeling really hard and even harder in the heat and humidity here in Brisbane I craved the company of my running friends where I could tag along often just slipping through the forest, one foot after the other, running in the company of friends, nature, the chatter, the easy silence and coffee afterwards the best type of therapy.
I recently wrote about road blocks. I had identified that the chemotherapy medication I was taking to reduce the risk of my Breast Cancer returning was what had been holding me back, both mentally and physically in my running. I sought the advice of my Oncologist and we agreed that the best way forward for my personal situation was to stop taking it. For someone who was so fit and healthy before the diagnosis the side effects of such a drug were really noticeable. It was a relief to find that the risk in my case due to my health and physical activity was low and for my long term well being the decision was easy. I was advised that it can take a few months for things to improve and I am happy to say they have.
A quick trip to the Albany in Western Australia for an event leading into my sisters wedding and my Mum’s 65th birthday was a great distraction and the opportunity to run in some much cooler conditions a great relief. March brought a commitment as a volunteer, a Games Shaper at the Commonwealth Games and April more Commonwealth Games highlights and a family holiday in Singapore for my sisters wedding and I continued to train with purpose. More running in some different places. I explored trails at the Mac Ritchie Reservoir in Singapore and the monkeys came out to play but the breakthrough was at parkrun East Coast Park Singapore. It was there despite the heat and humidity and some long days on the feet I managed a credible 2nd place in 23 minutes or so. A significant improvement (4 minutes) on my parkrun personal worst in January in similar conditions.
I adjusted my ambitious running plans in February and settled for now for events that I considered more ‘fun’. So it is with some excitement that I am now finalising my plans for a trip to Western Australia’s wine country for the inaugural Margaret River Ultra. I’m excited to be traveling with friends from Queensland I can’t wait for them to see the magnificent South West for themselves. I’m race ambassador at the Darkness to Daylight Challenge in May and I am returning to the Whitsundays in August for a trail ultra. All good fun.
During these tough times I’ve drawn much of my inspiration from the athletes I coach. I’m grateful for their patience from time to time when I haven’t completely had my shit together. I live vicariously through their successes and my heart goes out to them when things don’t quite go to plan. But we are always learning. Learning what it is to be human, to be humble, to be proud, to celebrate our achievements, to plan, to fall and get up again. to take pleasure in the simple things and to leap for joy. That success requires hard work, determination, perseverance and most of all patience.
Hurry up already.