Monday, April 26, 2010

My Mind.... My Nemesis

I have a problem when I run. It's my head. Well my mind, thoughts and thinking processes to be exact. They sabotage me. When I train, I'm strong and brilliant. I can run for ages, without a care, (or shoes), I can tackle anything. I visualize myself finishing exciting runs, feeling pleased with myself and making my family and friends proud of me.

Then it comes to the event. Niggling doubts creep in at the start line. 'I haven't trained enough... what if I'm last?... Or worse, don't finish?... I don't really deserve to be here... I'm not fast enough, strong enough, disciplined enough, I'm only a girl, I'm too old, I don't even have proper shoes'

I push them all aside and smile, joke and laugh with everyone else. What an adventure we're all going on here, off to the known and unknown in ourselves and surrounding countryside. I look around me and see people who look like me, bright and enthusiastic, sure of themselves and their abilities.

Truly I have none of that. Within the first 2-3km I'm already fighting my own head. I wasn't raised to have self doubt like this. My parents taught me that I could do ANYTHING I wanted. We are not a 'sit back and take it' kind of family. We go out and get it, whatever 'it' is. One difference remains though, and that is this.

As a small child, and even not so small a child, I was no good at sport. I mean hopeless, uncoordinated, slow, clumsy and illshaped for any type of sport. And those few negative comments from unthinking people grew into a general air of 'Oh well, you can't be good at everything' sense about me. I was a straight A's student, so who could really expect me to be good at sport too? Truthfully, I would love to have been at least average at one sport. But I listened to the wise older voices telling me not to bother.

Not until I had my fourth child, and was craving some kind of alone time, did I venture into the world of physical activity. The gym, on advice of my brother, who cared for my kids while I went to the gym when from time to time, was were I began. I started walking on the treadmill and then running. Eventually I went outside and ran in a real event. A whole 4km! I finished, and was elated. As if I had won. But then the negative voices spoke again. “you didn't win” “you were too slow” “you can't be good at sport” ......

I have run for several years now, with this nagging in my head. I SAY I run for myself, but I want others to be proud of me. I want to be proud of myself too. Six Foot Track 2010 has bought this all to a head. I have to find a way to silence the inner critic I have allowed to grow to gigantic proportions. So large, that a panic attack was the only way my head could stop my body from moving forward to another mediocre performance. Another DNF. Another failure.

Olympic material I'm not, but a half decent ultra marathon, recreational runner I can be. And as long as running stupidly long distances makes me happy, then that's what I intend to do. To be my best. Not someone else's best. And not a second grade version of own abilities, but MY best.

This journey has become about more than just the run, I'm running to discover me, whoever that is.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Friends of Lindy 50k

Each year in April, Canberra has a spectacular running weekend festival. 5K, 10k, kids marathon, marathon and ultra. Each year.... until the year I move to Canberra. Then there is a political debate, general stuff up, and no event.

(Please note that there is now an alternative date for the marathon etc... 1/2 May. But for the purposes of this story, the original April event is no longer)

This is annoying to me, but devastating to others. Some have made travel plans, handed over money, booked tickets and planned family holidays around this. Someone suggested we run it anyway, as a Fat Ass run, as a protest, and as an alternative.

Though many different ideas are thrown around, in the end there is a small band of about 25 runners who commit to this. One of them is Lindy K. Lindy was once a formidable marathon runner. In times that make my head spin, she won races, competed at a high level, and generally loved her sport.

Lindy was struck with Parkinsons Disease during her running life, and this, along with her whole world, changed. If someone had a reason to be bitter about being robbed, it was she. But instead of becoming angry, she adjusted her focus, and now walks. A long way. And at a decent pace too.

Lindy had decided this was to be 'her' ulta goal. The 50k at Canberra, coinciding with World Parkinsons Day, would be a chance to raise money and awareness. Again, when the event collapsed around her, she moved her focus and the “Friends of Lindy 50k” was born.

Early in the predawn on 11th April, a few hardy (and cold) souls started off around the Lake in central Canberra. I sepnt a little time with Lindy and her sister Heather during the first part of the race, listening to their stories and gaining so much insight from them both.

After about 17k, I woke my sleeping girls from our parked car (my children have to keep strange hours in bizarre places to accomodate my obsessions), and we went across the lake to run in the Womens and Girls 5k Fun Run. For Alana is was a race to test our her training. She did so well, coming 53rd out of 1100 women. For Sara, it was one of a few runs each week to keep her hand in for school cross country season. For me, it was another 5k closer to 50k for the day.

I must have looked a sight, jogging around like a lunatic before the start, and again after the finish, while the presentations were on! However, by the time we rejoined the crew back at the Fat Ass, I was up to about 30k. I met Lindy again and found out that I was now a fair few km behind her due to the proceedings at the fun run.

My goal was to catch her and Heather, so as to finish with them. I took my shoes off (relief) and proceeded to run a good number of km, catching up quickly. Alana joined me for my plod, and by the conclusion, had run 21k of her own! What an effort.

The last 20k just rolled by, and I walked the last ½ lap with Lindy, Heather and several others, to see her over the line for her 50k. What a great achievement. I'm inspired beyond words. So excited I decided to go back and finish off with another runner who was doing 60k... Arnie.

Across the day, I did 54k, in not too bad a time, and had a blast. A community of people came together to see something take place.... something that will stand in our minds for a long time to come. I feel honoured to have been a part of this, and I trust Lindy goes on to see many more goals reached in her life.