That was the title I had for myself when I would explain who I was. In fact, there I go again, using it now as my entryway into this article. It is an easy way to quickly get the attention, the kudos, the recognition of being a fast runner.
Except I don’t consider myself to be in that category anymore, at least not right now.
I WAS an elite runner; I ran 2:36 in the marathon, 1:13 in the half marathon, and a few seconds over 16 minutes for a 5k. I represented my country in world championships and had a sponsorship deal with a major running shoe company.
But all of a sudden, I stopped — cold turkey. I went from being at the peak of my career, having committed to run The Gold Coast Marathon (in heaven-on-earth, Australia), to not running a single step for three months.
And that made my story go viral.
Why on earth would you stop doing the thing you were really good at, just as you were becoming GREAT?
Because I was totally out of balance in my life and ended up at the point where I was running for the finish line. Running had become uncomfortable and difficult for me. I spent every run hating it, wishing it was over, and just thinking about how good it would feel at the finish line….three months, and thousands of miles away.
And that is no way to run.
I also had a health issue that I had been ignoring for many years, something many runners go through, in silence. I hadn’t had a period in NINE years.
Maybe you will say it was because of the ~145 km a week I was running, but then why did other elite runners not have this issue?
At the time, we didn’t know, but now we do. I was not eating enough calories to sustain my body. If you looked at me, you wouldn’t think anything was wrong, but on the inside, it was.
I channelled my competitiveness into wanting to become a mother, and one year later, my daughter, Bailey was born. I was extremely fortunate to fall pregnant on the first cycle my body had in nine years.
Now I am back running, but this time with a different purpose, one not too dissimilar to most of you reading. I want to be competitive, I want to challenge myself and be the best I can be, but now, I can’t (and don’t want to) dedicate my life to my sport. I want to have a family, own a business, and have running be something I enjoy, a hobby that brings fulfillment.
In less than a month, I will be racing the Boston Marathon, the gold standard race for runners, but this time, I am not starting with the elite runners or staying in a cushy hotel where they treat you like royalty. I am not putting the blinders on and burning a hole in the horizon as I stare straight ahead.
This Boston Marathon, my first Boston Marathon, I have one goal — TO ENJOY IT! I plan on running hard, wearing my AfterShokz and listening to some fun music, waving to the crowds, and reading the signs on the side of the road!
So often, we place so much pressure on ourselves, thinking that others will judge our times, will know that we are struggling, but really, no one cares even half as much as we do. So the more we can enjoy the experience ourselves, the more we are going to ENJOY the opportunity to challenge ourselves, and most likely, run better too!