For so long I have had to struggle to keep going. To believe that I am worth something. To stay focused. To FINISH what I started. It all started out when I was a teenager, full of self-doubt, in the grips of a never ending cycle of a horrendous eating disorder that would last the span of almost 15 years. Every day I would struggle to believe that I was of worth, even though I knew that I was cradled in the most amazing love by my creator. But still, I didn’t believe it..like really believe it. I needed to ‘feel’ or ‘see’ the results to make it feel like it actually happened. That I was good at something. So I forced myself into a cycle of studying and control over every facet of my life to the point that by the time I left high school with dux of the school I could do it no longer. Within two weeks of starting university the fear of failing took over and I shot right out of there and deferred uni to do something else. After a few years working I tried again. I was studying Physical and health education. One horrible night it all came crashing down for me again when I was sexually assaulted by another student a few years above me. Needless to say this changed me forever and I never stepped foot back into that Uni after that semester. Dreams squashed. Worth shattered.
I went back to work and I found love, got married and had ‘all the babies’. Through this time I dabbled in running, but nothing serious. Just to keep fit. When I decided to run my first half marathon in 2012 I was terrified. Not only had I never run that far before, I was so fearful at failing this task. So many times I wanted to run away, to stop what I began when it all got too hard, but with the help of my husband I completed that first half marathon and it lit a fire in me…that I can do hard things. That I can see things through. I still remember the agony around the 18km mark finishing that first half marathon. I remember telling my hubby that “I can’t do it anymore”….he believed in me, as much as he still believes in me and he encouraged me to fight to the end. We finished that race together and to this day he is my biggest supporter.
Do you believe that you have a purpose in this life? So many times I struggled with this and felt as though I had none. I used to cry out to God to send a lightening bolt down to tell me what it was. And one day….just like that he showed it to me when the thought of RMA was planted into my mind. To inspire another woman, and build a community that do the same. Who would have thought? Why me? I still don’t know, but I am thankful because I see how RMA changes lives every single day one woman at a time. I was born for such a time as this.
Anyway, as my running career started to take off a little more and I started to get better at this running thing, I guess that control that I am so good at came over me and I decided to keep pushing myself further and further each time. Speed never really did appeal to me (although I am not too bad), but endurance certainly did. So in 2014 I signed up for my first ultra, the Carcoar Cup 60km race. The furthest I had run was a marathon, but the idea of pushing myself beyond this was so enticing.
I ran that race and I loved every single step. Since then I have run three more Ultra races. The most exciting was UTA50 this year. For me it was a huge goal. You see, I had been struck down with major injury when I fell on the trail in the January 2015 before the race. I was in the best shape I had been in and I was all signed up to run 6ft in the March and UTA50 in the May. After months of rehabbing, the reality came down to it and it wasn’t going to happen for any of those races. So I decided to make them an A goal for 2016 instead.
I trained hard and had a lot of fun with my buddies along the way. I struggled with my ankle injury still (still do), but there was nothing stopping anything from getting in the way of me running this race. And I wanted to run it well. I had a goal of 7.30 in my head and I wanted to get as close to that as possible.
The race went to plan bar a few moments, and I ran across that finish line in 7:37:21. I was so happy. I do remember vowing to never do the 100km after that, but here I find myself training for just that. It is funny how that happens to runners.
I need another challenge, and what better than to go one step more! Or 50km more to be exact. Why? because I think I can learn a lot about myself in those 100kms and the journey to get there.
I love ultra running because not only does it challenge you, you find things about yourself that you never thought you knew. How you can push through. How you are strong and able. The people you meet are second to none, and I find that I feel most alive when I go a little beyond the normal parameters of what my body should be capable of doing.
I plan on sharing my journey with you. I hope that in doing so I inspire some more of you to give ultra running a go too and to encourage someone else, even just a little bit who may be starting out on their running journey.
So if you are grappling with wether to sign up for an ultra, I guess you can ask yourself this question:
How far am I willing to go to find out the inner truths of who I am, and am I willing enough to go the distance to find it? If ultra running is for you, I am sure the answer will be far, and a resounding yes if you truly believe in yourself.