GP’s 12 marathon journey

I was not a particularly sporty kid and even now I do not think of myself as naturally sporty.

I started running while I was a medical student at university. I had become rather well rounded and not in the Renaissance meaning of the word!

I did reflect that if I was going to be working in the health profession, the least I could do was look and feel healthy and fit myself.  I remember challenging myself to jog for twenty minutes without stopping and I found it really difficult.

Twenty minutes felt like a really long time.  I persisted however and it did become easier but it took me a long time to think of myself as a “runner”.  I eventually started signing up for some fun runs and was very pleased to be able to complete 10km.

That was in the mid 1980s and since then, running has become a habit that is very much an intergral part of my life.  Some years I did a few fun runs and some years I just padded along several mornings a week on my own.

I have run pretty consistently for about 26 years now and despite not following any particular program have been relatively injury free. It is just so easy to pack a pair of runners and to lace up wherever you are.

I have since married and now have three children, we have moved several times and are now settled in Brisbane. The only constant has been my running!

My husband decided in his 40s that he wanted to do something completely different with is life so he went back to full time study to complete his Masters.

I knew that I would need something to inspire and challenge me to keep my life in balance.

I had by this stage done five marathons as well as lots of half marathons and various other events but never more than 4 or 5 in a year.  I will be 50 next year and thought, why not do a marathon a month for a year?

I then decided that if I am going to do all that running, I may as well do it for a good cause so together with my very supportive husband and three children, we made the decision to raise money for a different cause each month.

This became Project 36 – 12 months, 12 marathons and 12 causes.

It has been a full and interesting journey and we have met some incredible people and I have run some wonderful marathons in a range of locations.

My husband and children have sold chocolates and raffle tickets, helped with morning teas and sizzled sausages, arranged movie nights and trivia nights as well as waited at the finish lines for me.

It has been an overwhelming experience and exhausting at times but overall incredibly rewarding.

I work as a GP in Brisbane and also at an Indigenous Clinic in Caboolture.  A few months ago, I was sitting having breakfast in a cafe reading the May/June edition of “Women’s Running” which featured the inspiring stories of three Indigenous women who had been a part of the Indigenous Marathon Project.

I immediately thought what a fantastic way to inspire young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women and what an amazing ripple effect their achievements  have on their communities.

With first hand experience of the high rates of chronic disease affecting the Indigenous population and the low rates of physical activlity, I really thought that this was a cause that I would love to support not only through Project 36 but long term.  I chose a marathon close to the clinic where I work and signed up.

On Sunday 12 October 2014, I will line up again for a marathon, The Bribie Beach Bash which I have been assured is firm flat sand.

This time, I will be donning the bold running shirt with the IMP emblazoned on it and I hope to do it justice.

It will be marathon 10 for 2014 and I am hoping that it will contribute in a small way towards the work that the IMP are doing.

When we challenge ourselves physically and succeed it invariably leads us to feel empowered and confident in other parts of our lives.

Completing a marathon is always an incredible experience  It pushes you that extra bit further and when you cross the line, you suddenly feel that you can do anything.  This is why IMP is such a powerful program – it restores hope and courage and removes the perceived barriers to success for our young Indigenous men and women.

I have two further marathons this year to complete Project 36.  Next year will be a fresh opportunity for new challenges.

I am hoping to complete 20 marathons before I turn 50 and I am well on the way.  I would like to continue to support the IMP and will hopefully inspire some of the young Indigenous patients that I see to achieve their own goals.

The beauty with running is that it can be as high powered or low key as you want.  

As long as it is consistent, it will continue to work its magic to not only keep you physically fit, but balanced and ready to confront the inevitable stresses that life will throw up.

Regular running woven through a life can facilitate the achievement of our other aspirations by giving us the energy and confidence to keep going.

My hope is that I will be one of those old ladies still lacing up and lining up at the back of the pack well into my twilight years while an increasing number of our young Indigenous athletes will be surging ahead in ever greater numbers.