My marathon story resonates so much with Jodi’s and indeed every runner who dares to think they can conquer the 42.2km. Can I do it? Is it actually possible? It was only 2 years ago that I said i would never do a marathon and yet, in December 2018, I signed up for my first marathon: the Brisbane Marathon. I run with an incredible group of 4 girls: Nat, Jules, Karen and Sharon, and these girls make the impossible seem possible. I have watched each of them sacrifice so much to achieve their running goals in previous years and their strength of purpose and tenacity is contagious.
For 6 months I trained under the incredible Noo Bowker and poured everything into my training. The finish line consumed me and I pictured the finish line multiple times over. Various injuries threatened to derail the marathon dream but thankfully we completed our last long run with a strong run. In the weeks leading into the marathon Ana Croger offered to run my first marathon with me. I was so humbled but what a joy that would be! This gorgeous soul that I’d met only briefly at a previous event was sacrificing her event to run with me!
For days we excitedly texted back and forth and counted down the days until the start line. 7 days before the marathon I got a virus. I tried not to stress out but as the marathon drew closer and I was still congested, I felt a little panic that the run I had dreamed of for the last 6 months was unravelling. My alarm went off on the 2nd June and with much excitement I got ready and headed into the race precinct with Nat and Sharon and my husband Nate, and the support of so many friends and family. This was Nat’s 6th marathon and the day Sharon and I would become marathoners! We found the start line but I couldn’t find Ana. I found her and Jodi at the 3km mark: thank goodness for those famous maracas and trademark braid! We chattered non-stop, posed for photographers and ran up the hills. We cheered for RMAs along the course, got a hug from Mery Jones who was out running with her hubby and just simply had fun for the first 27km.
It was a lot hotter than expected and as we neared the Goodwill Bridge I didn’t feel right. My legs were fine; in fact, not once did I cramp or have any post-run muscle fatigue-but internally I knew something wasn’t right. I couldn’t focus properly and started losing sensation in my feet. My husband was a welcome sight on the bridge and with him and Ana either side of me, I got to the other side of the bridge. The medics were keen to pull me off course but Ana and I were desperate to continue. We were hopeful coke and salt would make me feel better and gripping onto Ana’s hand, I managed another 20 meters or so until my vision became worse and I started slurring my speech. Completely heartbroken we knew this was the end. It was neither safe-nor was I in any capacity-to continue. We ugly cried and I have shed many tears since.
The joy that came from this was that Jodi came along as I was was left in the care of the medics and Ana got to finish her run with Jodi and cross the line with her as she became a marathoner. Things got progressively worse from this point: I couldn’t see anything beyond hazy shapes, had severe pain in my head and couldn’t stop vomiting. I was bundled into the medics van and taken to the medics tent where I had IV fluids and IV medicine to stop the vomiting. The medics believe the virus coupled with the exertion and heat caused my body to start shutting down. All my symptoms gradually subsided and I sat at the finish line with tears rolling down my face as I watched my beautiful friend Sharon become a marathoner and Jodi and Ana cross the finish line. I was so thrilled for them but beyond devastated I didn’t get the outcome I had worked so hard for. I often connect my self worth to outcomes in both my professional and personal life so this was hard to process: I failed at not only getting the time I had worked towards but I failed to finish at all. I considered myself a failure and was devastated to think that I let so many people down by not achieving what I said I would.
Over the last 2 weeks I have reflected so much on the 2nd June. It’s probably consumed me almost as much as it did pre-race, but as time has worn on, I have gained a new perspective and perhaps become a little wiser. I spent a lot of time focussing on the negatives but so much good came out of that day. I made a new friend in Ana, we had a brilliant 27km and I saw parts of our beautiful city that I’ve never seen before. I learnt that my self worth is not dependent or linked in any way to my performance and that people are more concerned and invested in me, then what I produce. This lesson alone means my marathon attempt was not a waste but an opportunity to learn and grow.
And finally, I have seen the incredible power of connection, compassion and community within RMA and my local group at Girls Run This Town. These traits are so inherent and bind us together irrespective of geographical location. I am too stubborn to let this beat me and am working with Noo to create new goals to chase down. The day will come when I cross the line after 42.2km and can say ‘I am a marathoner’.