‘My first attempt at running felt like a failure.’
Just one year ago I heard that The Athlete’s Foot Ballarat was launching a running club and my friend asked if I would go with her. At first I thought, ‘no way!’ I’d tried running and decided I really wasn’t any good at it, plus I didn’t want the added pressure of looking really bad next to actual runners. But I went along anyway to support my friend and was surprised to find everyone was at different levels and I wasn’t the only inexperienced runner there.
‘It was there I first met coach Louie, and I was excited to be part of this new club’
However my excitement was short lived when I barely managed to complete 3kms and went home feeling dejected. But I was determined to push myself and do better, so the next week I went back and kept up with a group of other run clubbers, managing to finish 5kms and feeling pretty awesome. I began taking my dog Coby with me and each week I went further and got faster. I ran with others who were at the same pace as myself and then felt confident enough to pass them and join the next group. Soon enough other run clubbers were talking of registering for Run Ballarat and I thought this is what I have to do, enter and finish Run Ballarat.
‘You see I saw Run Ballarat as my kryptonite, a thing I’d come to despise because it brought up memories of pain and loss’
Three years previous my husband and I were having difficulty falling pregnant and my doctor recommended I lose weight to help my cause. I’d never been skinny and the medications I was taking only made my size worse, so I began trying to run. I couldn’t jog more than a kilometre without stopping but thought I would enter Run Ballarat to encourage myself to improve.
As the event drew near I was overjoyed to find myself pregnant but it wasn’t to be; I suffered a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and spent event day on the couch at home, recovering from surgery and grieving for the baby I would never have. I was resilient though and soon enough was back in the fertility program trying again. I even began making plans to try for the next Run Ballarat. I fell pregnant a second time but it was even more short lived than the first, and I spent a second event day on the couch recovering from another ectopic pregnancy, grieving for my other baby and angry at my fate.
‘Not wanting to give up we tried two rounds of IVF but it wasn’t to be, and we made the hardest decision of our lives; to give up on a lifelong dream of having a family. My world was shattered and I was lost’
I felt like I had to take control of anything in my life that I could and my weight seemed a good place to start, so I began walking Coby daily and riding my bike several times a week. The weight came off but I still wasn’t happy. That’s when I joined The Athlete’s Foot Run Club and found my new running journey.
‘I thought if I could finish Run Ballarat it would prove to myself that I could beat my grief’
I began to really listen to the advice Louelle gave and worked on my technique and pace. Race day came and I completed the 12km in a time I was ecstatic about.
‘But more than that, I felt like I had beaten the darkness I’d lived in for so long’
I formed new goals, wanting to improve my performance and run further distances. I joined Louelle’s Runfit sessions and became an Evolution Runner. I learnt to overcome the mental barriers that had always prevented me from going further and pushed myself to complete my first half marathon a mere 7 months after beginning my running journey. I was disappointed with my time but I felt stronger than I ever had in my life, and resolved that next time I would do better.
So here I am, 11 months after that first daunting 3kms and in training for my second half marathon at the Great Ocean Road Running Festival in two weeks. As part of my training I competed in the Wings for Life World Run with the goal to run 18km as my last training run for the Great Ocean Road half marathon. I ran with Louelle and was thrilled to complete 21.54km in under 1hr 55mins!! I am so grateful for Louelle's continued support and couldn't have done it without her!
Coby continues to run with me and has become the mascot (and most popular member) of our weekly run club. I’d be lost without my Runfit sessions and look forward to the workouts Louelle puts us through. I’ve recently won second and third in my age group at two different events which has made me think a little more competitively although I’m always happy to simply cross the finish line; after all, finishing is winning!
‘I never dreamed I could run any distance and even though I still find some days harder than others and spend most of the run having a mental battle with myself once I’m finished I think about how great I feel and look forward to the next run!’