Wave of change inspires supporterIt’s August 2014 and I’m sitting here on the side of a mountain in Ireland, having just run my first mountain trail run with a local running group wondering how I ended up doing something like this.
I was never good at or particularly interested in sports and I was definitely never a ‘runner’. I have done a lot of commuting by bike, but the age and condition of my bike was testament to the fact that I only ever used it to get from A to B.
During one particularly lazy, non-bicycle-commuting winter as my ‘winter coat’ was beginning to develop I saw the inspiring documentary, ‘Running to America’ on the ABC.
Four young indigenous men from remote Australian communities who undertook eight months of training to run the New York Marathon. It was incredibly moving to see their determination to overcome any obstacles to complete the marathon and to see the change in their outlook on life.
It inspired me to start running. And it inspired me to donate to and fundraise for the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP).
I started running laps around our neighbourhood, finding the years of commuting had kept my health in check. Within about four months I ran my first 10km race in 2012.
After trying my hand at two triathlons I decided that I was ready to smash out a marathon and I wanted to raise funds for the IMP at the same time. I was expecting the marathon to be easier than the triathlon and I was wrong.
The training wasn’t too bad. Sensibly, I only ever increased my weekly runs in very small increments. A kilometre here. Two kilometres there.
But niggles, injuries and illness can chip away at you and make you question your ability, your resolve and your motivation for the marathon.
At the back of my mind the whole time was the focus and determination shown by the IMP runners. Relatively, I didn’t really have many hurdles to overcome. I just had to run 42.2km.
On the day of the race, I was feeling good. Really good. All my recent runs had gone well. I had no niggles, breakfast was sitting well, low nerves, the weather was beautiful, and this was a flat course.
I took off at a cracking pace, only slightly faster than usual. But my first two gels didn’t sit well and by the 25km mark I was ready to be sick.
This slowed me down terribly, to a pace I had not even seen on my longest training runs. I was shattered. Six months of training. Only 17.2km to go.
And I was ready to stop and walk to the start line.
That 17.2km was an emotional haze. I was deflated as runner after runner overtook me. I was continually fighting the urge to be sick and was using each drink station as an opportunity to stop and recover, pouring a cup or two of water over my pale face.
The crowds were incredibly supportive, but I could barely lift my head to see them.
I was continually reassessing my motivations for running the marathon: Was I really doing this for my health? Did I really need to finish? What’s the worst that could happen if I stopped right now?
From the 38km mark there was only one thing that kept me running and it was the Indigenous Marathon Project.
I was raising money for the IMP and family, friends and colleagues had generously donated to the cause.
I could picture everyone who had donated and it felt as though they were all running with me. This generosity and the inspiration from previous IMP runners gave me the strength to push on to the finish line.
So if you have the internal fortitude to run a marathon. Go for it.
But if you don’t, and you think you need some additional motivation, I highly recommend raising money for IMP. Your training will get you to the 30km mark, but the inspirational athletes and the wave of change of the IMP will get you over the line.