Becoming a Runner

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I was never sporty as a kid. Not even at all. I wished I was! I did well academically but sadly sucked in the sporting arena. Not for want of trying! I tried every sport I could think of in high school. I sucked at netball for 5 years despite my obvious height advantage… it seems that height alone does not a netballer make! Same goes for basketball as it turns out. I had a go at softball but that wasn’t for me either. Plus I hated the coach. Soccer was a sport I took up in Year 12 and was immediately shoved into goals (possibly due to my height and more likely due to my fairly obvious lack of skill and agility on the park) and had a spectacularly unsuccessful season there. Curiously though I did enjoy that and many years later did go back to soccer again (albeit not as a keeper!). Cricket I did enjoy despite being an equally shit batsman, bowler and fielder and the coach hating me because I may have been a little bit of a smart arse… mainly because most of the players in the team were my friends and I loved the game (and still do). Clearly though I was more cut out for watching sport than playing it.

PE classes were another chore. I clearly remember one day we had to do an aerobics class in the sports centre. With a few willing allies, I went to the bathroom only to climb out the window and never return. I don’t think the PE teacher noticed.

From the time I left school at 17 until after I got married at 24, I did very little in the way of organised physical activity.

There were a few hints that running might be in my future. At my first school sports day at the age of 5, I was leading a race (I believe it was one of those races where you have to put on clothes along the way… an ‘Early Morning Race’ or something? The memory is a bit hazy) by a long way. Clearly my competitive spirit hadn’t kicked in yet because when I realised how far ahead I was, I stopped and waited for everyone else to catch up!

In about Year 10 a few friends and I decided we might run the City to Bay (mentioned in my last blog post, for the uninitiated) so we went to the info session that the school put on. I can still remember the look on the PE teacher’s face when she saw the 4 of us rock up (“You mean YOU lot think you’re going to run the City to Bay?”) which made us all the more determined to prove her wrong. We trained after school in the hilly Eastern suburbs and all was looking good. Sadly I had to withdraw due to a knee injury but I believe the rest of my team completed the run and did quite well.

MANY years later, after I had started working out regularly at the gym, I thought I’d give this running caper another go. I think it was 2003. I planned to give the City to Bay another crack. This time I trained on my own, running laps around my block to avoid road crossings. The block was 1.1km and after 6 weeks I had got up to 2 full laps without stopping when disaster struck! I was in town buying my then-husband a 20kg dumbbell set for his birthday. I was carrying it back to the car and tripped, and with all the extra weight I was carrying out front I couldn’t stop myself falling (Warning: slightly graphic description ahead). Unfortunately for me I was wearing thongs (possibly part of the reason I tripped and also possibly not the best choice of footwear when carrying a 20kg dumbbell set, but let’s move on) and in the process of tripping also managed to rip one of my big toenails off… That was enough to derail my City to Bay plans (bear in mind at this stage it was only March and the race was 6 months away… shows you how committed I was…) and I didn’t try running again for nearly 10 years!

Until Saturday, November 10, 2012. I remember the date clearly because up until then it was my wedding anniversary. Now it is the anniversary of the day I made one of the BEST decisions of my life. I was hiking Mt Lofty (for those not familiar with Adelaide it is the highest peak in Adelaide but only about 400m high. Occasionally we get snow there in winter. It’s where EVERYONE in Adelaide seems to go on weekend mornings.) with my friend Sara and she mentioned that she and her partner Denis were doing a fun run. She was doing the 5k and wondered if I might like to join. Oh and it was 8 days away and I hadn’t run in nearly 10 years. What did I say? “Sure, why not!”

I thought I’d better see if I could ACTUALLY run 5k so the following Monday I did a gentle 2k run from my house. Later that week I managed 5k without stopping and I was good to go.

Sunday November 18 2012 was my first running event – the Henley Classic 5k. I was running in cross trainers… I thought they were pretty light until I invested in my first pair of running shoes!

Sara and I ran together for most of it until I decided to take off with about 500m (I think) to go. (I seem to make a habit of that!) I finished in 26:29 and I was stoked.

Immediately after the run, Sara and I vowed to run City to Bay (my third ‘attempt’) the following September (ie 10 months later) and we both did it!

I was hooked. I was a runner!

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