Rewind four years... I had lost the sense of who I was. Lost in the relentless world of work and parenting. Then I decided to do something different. Something for me. And in doing so I unexpectedly discovered my passion... The ultramarathon dream began...
I was in a rut, two children under three, and a demanding job. I desperately needed me time! So I took 20 minutes to go for a walk. I took a turn off the walking track onto a rough bush trail. For some unknown reason I decided to start jogging. 20 minutes later, I was stuffed. Feeling hot, sweaty, exhausted... and alive! Ready to return to the bath/bedtime routine that awaited me at home.
I needed more of this... So I kept going every opportunity I got, longer and longer, faster and faster...
This only lasted one or two months, until ITB injury struck. I had done too much, too soon, and would pay the price. A full 12 months of physiotherapy, acupuncture, ultrasound treatment - you name it, I tried it.
Once again I found myself back in that rut. That same relentless world of existing just to meet the demands of work and parenting, and add in a pending divorce for good measure.
I still remembered that feeling that first run gave me, and I still wanted to chase that feeling. I enlisted the help of a coach. I was running pain-free, and I was thankful for that... but something was missing. Over eight months I was taken through to my first marathon. I'm not a fast runner. I was disappointed in the times I was running. I had just finished 42km, I should have been over the moon, but I wasn't. I just wasn't loving it like I thought I would.
I took some time out and started running on the beach for fun. Soon I was running the bush tracks that lead to the beach. In doing that, I discovered a love for not just running, but specifically trail running.
In January 2018, I enlisted the help of NZ trail running coaches, Squadrun. They trained me through to me first trail half marathon, the Snowies Trail Running Festival at Lake Crakenback in the Snowy Mountains NSW. Wow, what a place to run! Stunning scenery, the Snowy Mountains backdrop with the Thredbo River below. It was cold, damp, steep and hard to breathe at altitude. My eyes were wide open, heart pumping, lungs full, body working as hard as it could. One foot after the other in rhythm. This was it! Living!
Credit - Photography by Shioban
I went home from that race determined to train harder. Without conscious effort my diet improved to allow my body to keep up with the training.
Fast forward to May 2018 to the Ultra Trail Australia event in the Blue Mountains National Park NSW.
At 8am I lined up in the last start group of the Ultra Trail Australia 50km trail run. I'd never attempted anything like this. Nothing could've prepared me for the terrain of the race. It was twice as hard as I could've ever imagined. But it was the best day ever!
50km of the most beautiful trails in the country. That amazing escarpment with the Three Sisters in the background. Stairs and more stairs, uphills that felt like they never ended, downhills that were unbelievably steep, then the infamous Furber stairs, and the finish line! With a hug from my coach just before the finish line - I became an ultramarathoner!
In reflection of this moment, one thing surprised me. Not one bit of self doubt crept in during the entire race. Not a single moment of 'I can't do this'. Most importantly, this is the first race ever that I didn't give a damn what time was on the clock. I didn't care that I was toward the back of the pack, that I finished in the dark, or that I took ten and a bit hours to do it. Why? Because from the start to the finish - I had a smile on my face. 50km. 2400 total elevation. 10 hours and 9 minutes. Totally in my element.
The point to me writing this is, I never set out to become an ultramarathon runner, nor did I ever dream that was a possibility. And yet I am now dreaming of my next race - which will be twice the distance. Do I think I can run 100km? Maybe... Maybe not... But there's only one way to find out. I didn't know I was capable of running 50km until I did it...
I was just trying to find a life balance, and instead I stumbled my way to finding my passion. By default, my diet has become cleaner, and I am fitter and healthier that I have been before. I now find myself content with work, as I allows me the financial freedom to run in such events. Parenting has taken on a new level and it is awesome! I couldn't be more proud to have such gorgeous little people call me 'Mum'. As always they are watching my every move, and are beginning to understand the values of eating well and being active - that's a parenting win in itself.
Now I believe that having a passion in life is the secret to happiness. It really does make the rest of life just fall into place. It took me a while to find my way, and wasn't without several setbacks, but ultramarathon is it for me.
One year on from UTA50, and I have attempted a 100km ultra event, the Hume and Hovell Ultra in Tumbarumba NSW.
Did I finish? No. Did I fail? No. I learned a lot. Will I try again? Damn sure I will!
This passion has transformed into wanting to help others find what they're getting out of life. This doesn't mean I want to build an army of trail runners - although the world could do with some more...
What's your passion?
Don't have an answer? Please consider contacting me. The life you'll love might be just around the corner...