I have very clear memory of being around 8 years old at a picnic with some family friends. My little brother was constantly getting me in out in the cricket game we were playing. I found it extremely frustrating! My parents friend suggested that my brother and I have a race around the cricket oval. My brother took off and was half way around the oval before I had a chance to catch him. I just kept plodding along. Jogging at a pace that felt comfortable. I ended up lapping him twice. That felt amazing!! That moment is where my love for running began.
Soon after I signed up for the school cross country and came third in my age group. I had qualified for the district competition. I loved the process of preparing for the district comp. We had training 1 morning per week before school. I vaguely remember coming in the high 80s out of around 200 kids.
I changed schools in Year 5 to a very small Christian school. There was no district competition but those that came in the top 4 of their age group qualified straight away for state. Those years between grade 5 and grade 12 were such highlight. I never really did a lot of training but I loved the thrill of the race. I also never placed in any of those races but that never bothered me.
During my year 12 exams I would “procrasti-run” when I was meant to be studying. Running up to 5-6k everyday. That pattern continued into my college study outside of school too. When I was 19 I got married and had my first child in 2007. Physical activity went out the window.
In 2008 I had my second child. I had but on a fair amount of weight a just knew I needed to get moving again. We went and spent what was a huge amount of money for us on a running pram and I got back into it. Pushing a toddler and baby. Every.Single.Day.
After the birth of my third child in 2010, I found myself extremely exhausted. And no, it wasn’t just the “mother of small children” type exhaustion. I found everything hard and struggled to have energy to play of my kids or even just entertain them. My doctor just kept telling me thats what it was like for a mother with 3 children under 4.
In 2012 we moved to a different suburb and I got a new doctor. Although my eldest had started school, I was still finding everyday tasks completely draining. My new GP run a whole series of tests but told me he had a suspicion they would come back negative. He was fairly certain I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I had Glandular Fever when I was 18 that had gone virtually undiagnosed for a good 2 months. So I guess you could say I was completely wiped of energy for almost 8 years.
The tests came back as expected, completely negative of anything explainable. My GP referred me to a very well known and and highly regarded immunologist, who was studying the links between viruses and CFS. The immunologist confirmed what my GP had suspected and diagnosed me with long term post viral Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The immunologist had helped set up a clinic linked to University of New South Wales. They were studying how psychology and exercise physiology could help someone with CFS better manage everyday life.
At the start of 2013 I was accepted into the program and worked for 9 months with an exercise physiologist. My goal with her was to get running again. I missed it and needed it. At first the exercise physiologist had me wear a pedometer and track of physical activities made me feel based on a scale of easy, medium, hard and extra hard. From there she limited me to around 3000 steps per day. I was spending most of my days in bed or on the couch. Sometimes getting up to make dinner or go to the bathroom would mean my body would ache and I would feel completely exhausted. I would often describe the feeling as having jet-lag mixed of the really bad case of the flu.
After 2 months or so of being limited and tracking the 3000 steps we started slowly increasing the steps by about 1000 steps every 4 weeks or so. I kept a diary of how physical activity was making me feel.
After 6 months at the clinic my exercise physiologist thought I was probably ready for short and slow interval running for a maximum of 15 mins. This was then increased to steady runs for no more then 20mins. Finished up at the clinic being able to run a very short distance, very slowly 2 times a week.
By 2014 I joined a gym. By an amazing gift one of the trainers was also an exercise physiologist. He has done all this training with my exercise physiologist at the clinic I had been attending. He recognised my name straight away and took me on as his client. He helped me continue what I had learnt from the clinic to build strength.
In mid 2014, again by an amazing gift and miracle I felt completely well again. I increased my gym sessions and lengthened my runs. I was still having some bad days but overall I was better.
Fast forward to 2018- We had our fourth child in 2015 and We moved to Hobart in 2017 for my husbands work. I began studying my certificate 3 and 4 in Fitness. I had fallen in love with the way exercise could turn someones life and health around.
I signed myself up (rather impulsively) to compete in the Point to Pub. The point to pub is a 10k 450 metres of elevation race, running within the worlds steepest half marathon, The Point to Pinnacle, in Hobart. I trained hard! I used the knowledge I had gained from my study to train smart. I wanted to increase my strength and endurance just so I could get across the finish line.
At first I set myself a lofty goal of completing the race in an hour. I soon realised on my training runs that were hilly I probably should be more realistic and so adjusted my goal to 1:10. I still kept training at a fairly high intensity 6 days per week. I saw someone ask if anyone wanted a pacer for the Point to Pub race on a running group facebook page, I nervously said yes. Over a few message conversations Cam thought I could absolutely get the 1 hour mark. I thought he was crazy. I of course had all the doubts and worries from my bed bound days of 3000 steps.
The day of the race, I was so nervous. Cam set the pace and kept me updated with how we were pacing. In the 8th kilometre I wasn’t sure I could keep going. Everything hurt. Cam kept pushing me up that hill. He may have lied to me for the last 2 kilometres as to what our pace was! We crossed the line in 59:23. And placed 22nd Female. I burst into tears! I had done it. Not only had I made it up that crazy hill but I had absolutely smashed my time! I seriously couldn’t be prouder and more thankful for how far I’ve come since those days of being at 3000 steps each day. I can’t really say it was all me. The incredible support of my husband, my pacer Cam pushing up the hill and my faith are what got me across that line. I still can not believe that 4 years a go I was struggling to run 20 minutes and just two weeks a go I achieved what I did.
I still have days where I feel that fatigue sneak up on me and I have to slow down and remember to pace myself. But running is still my happy place.