I think I joined RMA in 2013 – when there were only around 2000 members… at that time I had just started running. My friend Jen Craig told me about RMA – we had become friends at a local gym and started running together. This was around the time my marriage was breaking down, I was battling depression, anxiety and felt like a complete failure. My self esteem was so low I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I was about 10kg overweight, very unfit and drinking a bottle of wine a night. I was a complete mess….I felt I was failing my 2 gorgeous boys, stuck in a marriage that was never going to be saved and totally miserable. I had just moved to the Gold Coast after spending 7 years in San Diego California and was trying to keep it all together to get the boys settled and work in our family business.
When I first attempted to run I could barely do 100 metres without walking, and by about March that year I did 3km without stopping. My sister Louise who lives in Sydney encouraged me to enter the 10km at The Gold Coast Airport Marathon. I really didn’t believe I could run that far, I also had really bad bladder control (thanks to giving birth to 2 big boys!), and the thought of wetting my pants in public nearly stopped me from doing the race. I’ll never forget that day. I experienced the excitement, the crowds, the spectators urging you on and making you feel like you’re Superwoman – so special. I ran all the way with my sister and her friend. I did not stop and managed a 59.58 time. I was elated, on cloud nine and yes, the bug got me that day (and yes, I did wet my pants in public…)
Soon after that I had the courage to go on a Sunday run with the RMA ladies. I met the wonderful Mandy Oliver who was just so welcoming and friendly and not judgemental. I met many others that day too who are now very good friends. I read all the RMA posts and found so much comfort and support from that community. It was great to learn about running, and also to hear what issues other women were going through. All this gave me so much comfort as I was still feeling very alone when my world was falling apart. I kept running and did my first City 2 Surf, 14km. I was astounded I ran that far and loved every minute of the race, and then Melbourne 10km that year too and got my time down to 55.15.
Running then became a very important part of my life. It kept my demons away, it helped my mood, it helped me cope, it gave me a purpose. Every night I would go through the RMA posts and enjoy everyone’s stories. Over that year it was amazing to see how much the group was growing. I decided to enter for Gold Coast half in 2014, but due to my first injury only did the 10km. My hip issues came good so I did City2 Surf again and shaved 9 minutes off my time!
With encouragement from my now new RMA running buddies I entered the Blackmores Half at the end of 2014. I NEVER imagined myself running a half marathon, I was so nervous and excited at the same time. I remember also seeing so many RMA’s there. I high five’d as many as I could,  it was just awesome. I found the race really tough but I finished in 1 hour 56 minutes – I was stoked.
Soon after that my marriage ended. I clearly remember thinking that now my life will change forever. It was so over whelming. I put on a front to keep consistency in the boys lives and try to start to cope with so much change. I kept running as it helped so much. I had already entered the Central Coast half marathon, and nearly didn’t go as I was such a mess, but I did and I was so glad that I did. I went with my friend Jen who was a complete rock and ran with me all the way. I nearly gave up 3 km from the end, but she kept me going and sacrificed her PB for me that day – a true running buddy.
Over the next year I regularly  met up with RMA’s at social runs, and met more and more awesome ladies. I decided to enter The Gold Coast full marathon with my running buddy Jen. Wow, me running 42.2km – it seemed something very ridiculous. Unfortunately Jen got quite sick and was unable to run at all. She was devastated and I really felt for her, as running was now a huge part of her life too, and we always said we would do a full marathon together. I trained hard but suffered ITB and hip issues, which was all very frustrating. Running continued to be my close friend as I was trying to get my new life together.
That day was so amazing – I remember going to the RMA tent for photos first thing in the dark and cold. There were so many ladies from all over the country, right here on the Gold Coast! It was fantastic to put real faces to people I have been in contact with via the RMA page. I decided just to run the race and take breaks if I need them, and just try and stick to my pace. My sister flew up from Sydney to support me, and of course my running buddy Jen was right there too; she is just the best. They both rode around on bikes and offered support the whole way.
I felt great. I started slow and just soaked up the atmosphere, running through Surfers is such a thrill and my boys were there cheering me on. I got to Burleigh and still felt amazing – more friends there that high fived me – it’s amazing what a lift that gives you. Running back down Hedges to the 21 km mark I was beginning to feel a tad tired, but my sister and Jen handed me some electrolytes and I had a quick stretch and was off again. Passing the start/finish was incredible. People were so supportive and the RMA tent was going off…..BUT knowing that this is where the race really starts and you have 10km hard km’s to go made me push on. The motivators on course in this section were fabulous. The turnaround seemed so far away…. The last 3km were so tough but running past the RMA tent was just incredible… finished in 4 hours 23 minutes – I never thought in a million years that I would complete a marathon.
I am originally from the UK and in the late 1970’s my parents were involved with the Cancer After Care movement at the very beginning which then eventuated in the first Hospice being built in the UK. Their commitment to the Hospice became their life’s work and my mother to this day is still involved. My father also continued until his death last year and he spent his final weeks in that original Hospice. I applied to run the 2016 London marathon for the Hospice and to my delight they accepted me! I trained hard and raised funds for the charity and before I knew it was flying back to the UK. 6 weeks before – I dislocated my knee – but all come good. I visited the Hospice when I first arrived and it just blew me away what an amazing service they provide for people who are at the end of their lives and for their families. While most who are there are absolutely terrified – the dedicated team of Doctors, nurses and counsellors guide them through and try and make the process more bearable. After catching up with family and friends I caught the train to London. It was one the coldest April’s in years – it was bloody freezing.. I met my fellow Hospice team members and went down to the Thames for a photo shoot – it was great to hear all their stories and why they were running for the Hospice. I visited the expo and collected my race number – I think it was the biggest and BEST EVER running expo I have ever been to – I spent hours there – it got me in the mood and couldn’t wait for the next day!
Race morning I had to get 2 trains to the start at Blackheath. There were so many people – we were just crammed on to the trains – it was so ridiculous we all couldn’t stop laughing! We were all strangers from all over the world but all nervously chatting away… we arrived at Blackheath which is like a country village but right in London (strange) and walked through to the start area. It was MASSIVE but so well organised – I found my truck to leave my drop bag and joined the loo queue. It was freezing – I had 2 fleece jackets on that I plan to peel off and hand to spectators over the first few kilometres. It took us 15 minutes to cross the start line and I was off. I cannot stress too much on how awesome the spectators were. They sang, cheered, screamed, danced and lined the streets the whole way – they were all completely bonkers…. There were stages built outside pubs were “lager louts” performed drunken songs and funny jokes. Steel bands were situated under the under passes that banged out amazing tunes that were so loud it was incredible. The crowd at the Cutty Sark were just nuts. I ran passed a man with a fridge on his back???? Also I ran with a dinosaur for 3 kms…my brother and family came up to London to watch me and I agreed to see them at a Hospice Cheers point around half way. Because there were SO MANY PEOPLE I thought I would miss them for sure – but as I came around a corner they were right at the front – I hugged them all – it gave me such a lift. I had been nursing a sore knee but the pain kept coming in waves. i reached into my running pack for pain killers and they werent there….. so i had to stop at an aid station – it took 15 minutes – I had to have the pain killers – I wouldn’t of finished with out them. I now knew I wouldn’t improve on my last marathon time. The pain slowly went away after 20 minutes and I wound my way down to the Embankment and then past Big Ben and Houses of Parliament – this bit was truly amazing. As we had been pretty much crammed in together the roads were now double the width and you could take in the beautiful surroundings. The best part was seeing Buckingham Palace and we ran around the famous statues in front and then down The Mall to the finish line – simply awesome! I felt amazing…. I got my medal and took photos and made my way to the Hospice welcome centre a few streets away where my brother and friends were waiting for me…. amazing experience…
Later that year I decided to try some trails – and through my RMA running buddies who also belong to 2 groups Gold Coast Trail Tribe and Trail Chix – I went out into the Hinterland. Instantly hooked!!! I’m a country girl and running through the forest and climbing up hills just felt right… it felt “normal” it felt real…..it took me a few goes to get the right shoes and gain confidence in running down hill. I so enjoyed driving to different parts of the Hinterland and running different trails.
With a few goals in mind and constant injuries – I decided to find a running coach. I needed structure and needed guidance. What was before me just running because I like running had now become my hobby, my pastime and a huge part of ME – (THIS IS SO HARD TO EXPLAIN GIRLS – MAYBE YOU CAN HELP ME OUT HERE??) It’s that point in your running where you are now doing serious kms and your life is now arranged around your running/training….. it’s not just oh I’m off for a run…..
So I found through RMA – the fabulous Kate Heyward. Kate has helped me structure my running and I have less injuries…. I’ve learned to REST on my REST  DAYS!!!! through her group I have made 4 awesome friends too.
A year ago I suffered a double whammy and I nearly lost my way but somehow I I’ve struggled through. My dad passed away and I lost my job within 2 days of each other . I was still working for the “family business” and my ex husband pulled the rug from underneath me – the whole situation is quite complicated – but basically I was cut off (the divorce turned very nasty). I think running had prepared me to cope with all of this and I have just chipped away sorting things out for the past year. I decided not to stay in the corporate world and pursue something I’m passionate about. At 53 I was faced with financial uncertainty and the loss of my dear father….again I was terrified. But i thought if i do something I love – I will be happy. So I hit the books and got my fitness qualifications, did my prac in a gym and decided to help women of my age achieve their fitness goals. I set up my own personal training business and now have a few clients. It’s been tough financially and mentally – when set backs occur – my old frightened self comes back to doubt what I’m doing…..I have now gone into Seniors Fitness and Wellbeing and I can’t tell you what joy this is – i truly LOVE what i do – it’s so rewarding. the body is an amazing thing and your are never too old to start a fitness program to improve health….
So during this time Kate asked me to set my running goals for 2017 – so they were GCAM again and my first Ultra Tarawera NZ. With Kate – my times were improving in training and I was set to do a PB at GCAM. The night before I actually slept really well (normally I’m hopeless). Felt great that morning – visited the RMA tent – felt the vibe – excited and off i went…. At about 8km – it hit – thank goodness I was in Surfers – I ran to the loo… I thought it was nerves BUT for the next 20km I felt so nauseas and unwell I kept stopping and nearly pulled out at 30km mark. Strangely at 33km I felt a bit better and managed to finish 4 hours 26 minutes….I felt very disappointed – it was such a hard run. That night i was really sick and was for the next week – it wasn’t nerves, I actually had gastro…..
Started training for Tarawera and by now I was surrounded by the most amazing and awesome running buddies – all of which are RMA’s. We all travelled together to NZ and simply had the best trip EVER. That race was incredible – I felt awesome the whole way… the scenery kept changing – forests you think had pixies living in it… the clearest streams and waterfalls… rolling green hills, amazing vistas over looking the lakes. And the other runners – I chatted to so many lovely people from all over the world. Finishing at Hot Beach was fantastic. Another awesome thing was that Kate and Deb were there too – so lovely seeing them at the Hot Springs start line and again at the finish – truly awesome. The whole gang I travelled with were so supportive, positive and fun – firm friends forever. I finished in 7 hours 40 minutes and enjoyed every step.
So now – goals for 2018… UTA 50 and then Surf Coast Century 100. AND Mount Blanc 2019!!!!!!
Have been running for 5 years now and although it’s been 5 of the toughest in my life – I truly believe I would not have coped as well as I have because of running and because of what RMA gives you…support, love, honesty and above all friendship.
Oh – and I don’t wet my pants any more!!!