Over a decade ago I was inspired by a revered and popular public figure who ran their first marathon sometime after turning 40. I said, "I'd like to do that one day - run a marathon - sometime in my 40's". Fast forward to November 3rd, 2010, and within minutes of the clock striking midnight, I cried myself to sleep. I had turned 40. My tears were not due to the actual number, but over the fact that my life didn't look like what I thought it would at this age. I was childless despite every effort not to be, and behind closed doors I was hopeless and lifeless. I had many broken dreams and a broken spirit to match.

A month after turning 40 I remembered my words all those years ago and asked my health care practitioner whether I'd be physically able to run a marathon (especially being 20kg / 45 pounds overweight), and if so - how long would I need to prepare. He replied, "12 months". I asked, "Would 11 be okay?" He nodded. That night I registered for the New York City Marathon and the next morning, I started my training program (which was written for me by an expert in aerobic endurance training). To ensure nothing stopped me from realising my dream (like luck in the lottery selection process), I registered with a charity and have a guaranteed place. I now have 9 months to go before I head to New York and realise my dream - running the marathon, three days after my 41st birthday.

This is my journey...

Sunday, 29 January 2012

I did it.

It's been over 2 and a half months since this photo was taken and (uncannily) 9-months since my last post. I have been wanting to say so much, and yet have said so little.

Embarking on my journey towards the New York marathon was the best thing I have ever done for myself. It was like a giant mirror reflecting on patterns of my life. Obstacles that get in the way. Stories I tell myself to feel better and justify failure. And I was about to re-write a very well versed script...

I retreated into my shell and with each day absent from my beloved blog - the harder it was to write. So many demons reared their ugly heads and in September last year - I had hit an all time low. I was injured. Unable to train. STILL overweight. Full of self loathing and quite simply, felt like the biggest loser of all time - and not the "win $250,000 for losing weight" kind of loser.

Long story short - I altered my script and overcame a number of emotional and financial obstacles to get myself to New York, not knowing whether I was physically capable of even walking the marathon. My biggest breakthrough was to start something that I did not know whether I could finish. I've always had safe bets on myself so this in itself was BIG.

My first goal was to start. When I heard about the coveted finisher medals, I quickly established my second goal - to finish. In the plethora of information I remember reading that the marathon 'ended' at 7pm. So I had just over 8 hours to complete the course. This became my third goal.

When the gun went off, I started walking over the famous Staton Island bridge that appears on all the NYC marathon promo photos. I thought to myself "I am here. I am doing it. This is it. This is the New York City marathon... I have to AT LEAST run one mile." So I did. I continued to alternate walk one, run one (mile) till the 16-mile marker (25km), then ended up running the last 10+ miles (16.4km) to the finish line.

At the end of the day, I ended up running over 18 and a half miles (30km) over the course of the marathon. A total distance of 26.2 miles (42.16km) in my official time of 6 hours, 48 minutes and 59 seconds. Despite my knee hurting the entire distance, I learned to run like a fairy and just keep going. I was completely beside myself with what I had done - I more than exceeded my expectations.

Since returning home, I have spent time organising my life, clearing clutter and defining my direction in life. I still have my ups and downs but there is a quiet confidence in me. I have a lot to process and I am just allowing myself to move through it and look forward to emerging on the other side with a new challenge in sight.

So in case you were wondering... yes, I did it.

Until we meet again (don't know where, don't know when) ... keep your dreams alive by kicking goals and in between - give yourself permission to tie up loose ends, go through old boxes and put yourself back on course.

Grace xx
New York City Marathoner