Archive | August, 2013

Reflecting on my early 30’s…

31 Aug

While it may have looked like any other week on the calendar, this week contained a special day – my birthday.  I don’t know about you, but for me, birthdays are a time to reflect on the year that was and wonder about what the year ahead might bring. So that’s what I found myself doing on Thursday. Thinking about the last year, and wondering what it is this next year might bring. If I’m honest I would tell you that birthday’s don’t always bring me joy, and the last couple I’ve found particularly difficult.

I remember turning 30 – I remember having a meltdown. I felt old and I felt tired. The plans I had for my life hadn’t really seemed to eventuate – though I was married to an amazing man I didn’t think I’d done anything else worthwhile.  I remember uncontrollably sobbing thinking about life and feeling like I had accomplished nothing and life was passing me by – my life was half over! Those around me who loved me most were at a loss for what to do or say – and that I couldn’t “get a grip” and stop crying so they wouldn’t worry just added to my sobbing! Eventually I cried myself to sleep… Sounds like a great finish to any birthday – I’m hoping I’m not the only one who has had a day like this…

When I turned 31 and then 32 I remember feeling a bit the same (minus the tears). What was it I was really meant to do with my life?  When a friend only a couple of years older than me was diagnosed with metastatic cancer it was a reminder to me that we don’t know what life holds, there may not be a later, and therefore if there is something I think I might like to do I should stop making excuses and just get on and do it. Some serious soul searching, lots of prayers and then time to make some big decisions.

In 2012 I finally stopped thinking about it, and applied to return to study to become a Registered Nurse. I didn’t want to go back to uni but it had to be done. I’d admired nurses since starting work at the Royal Adelaide Hospital back in 1999. For some reason I always thought that I’d do it “later” – maybe after we had kids (why I thought that was a good idea I’ll never know – to my uni friends who have kids – I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – hat’s off to you, I just have to manage my time and not try and fit work and study around too many others). I’m now months away from finishing my degree and I can honestly say I’m so pleased I started and I’m looking forward to starting a new career as a nurse (provided I can get that elusive graduate program). I get great satisfaction from caring for others, particularly at a time of need such as an illness. I’ve not regretted changing out of an administrative role, nor have I missed that work for even a second – which was a massive surprise to me when I had done it for over a decade.

If I think back over the last year in particular, my first thought is it has been a full one. In August last year I was thinking about getting my physical self into shape, but really hadn’t made any in-roads. I was “too busy” – juggling full time work and full time study meant often doing 12-13 hour days (plus travel time!) –  so I believe I genuinely was busy… However, I’ve found that fitting exercise into that day is achievable – sometimes it means getting up at 0430 to exercise, but that’s just what needs to be done (soon in Brisbane it will be daylight at 0500 and then 0430 so that will make it easier…). If you had asked me last birthday what physical goals I might accomplish I would have been at a loss to tell you. In the last year of my life I’ve gone from not being able to run to completing 5, 8, 14 and 21.1km fun runs – admittedly they should be called ‘fun jogs’ for me but the feeling crossing the half marathon finish line was just an incredible sense of achievement (I’d recommend it to anyone!). Sunday I do a 10km run (Bridge2Brisbane) – that I did last year in over 100 minutes and I could only run about 20m before I had to stop – this year I’m hoping to do it in about one hour (though realistically I will probably be a bit over).

So, the calendar has ticked another year over, but it’s been a big one. I’m physically fitter than I’ve ever been. I’m the best shape I’ve ever been (never thought I’d wear size 14 clothes again). I’m so close to finishing a degree that is changing the direction of my career. I’ve stopped making excuses.

When I think about the year ahead I think it’s full of new promises. I’m physically capable of tackling whatever life brings – I know if I put my mind to it and I am consistent I will get there. So I’m ready for the next year of life and this year I’m remembering these two things:

  • You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great” Zig Zigler
  • I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength Phil.4:13

I’m also thankful every day for a husband who believes in me and has supported me through all of this – the song from our wedding is still true today:
“I believe in you, and I can’t even count the ways that
I believe in you, and all I want to do is help you to believe in you”

Let’s see what the mid 30’s brings…Image

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I’m a runner

8 Aug

Where to begin…. It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog – but I’ve been busy working, studying and oh yeah… running!!

On Sunday the 4th of August I did something I never would have considered doing – I ran a half marathon. For those of you who, like me in November last year, really don’t know too much about running, a half marathon is 21.1km. That’s a decent run. For all my friends and family back in Adelaide that’s like running from Golden Grove into the city…. Or for those who have been to my house – it’s like running into Brisbane and then turning around and running home again… Getting the picture?

So, after loosely following the 12WBT half marathon training plan (I didn’t do well on the regular sprints…ooops) I rocked up on Sunday morning ready to give the half marathon a good hot go. I had run 18.5km before in one go but no further. So, I was about to embark on something I hadn’t ever done before – in more ways than one!

The 0600 start time was a little nasty – it was still dark, and a chilly 9 degrees, but with my coach and supporter on the sidelines (with the camera) I was ready to go. We followed Robert De Castella to the start line (then he went up and got ready with the start gun) – and for those that don’t know who Robert De Castella is, he is a famous Australian runner – won the Brisbane Commonwealth Games marathon about 30 years ago (and quicker than I ran my half marathon… but I’m getting ahead of myself…).

The gun fired a little after 0600 (according to my watch). I went out with the pack – which is pretty much all you can do – it was a bit congested as we ran over the Story Bridge – and the pedestrian path wasn’t ours exclusively so we were dodging drunk pedestrians going both with and against the flow… that and 1000 runners and it makes for a tight trip… but after almost slowing to a stop at one point I got through the bottleneck and kept going. Once over the Story Bridge I was able to find some space and some rhythm. Amazingly a rhythm that kept me at a bit over 6:30 minute pace for the entire run. I ran around Kangaroo Point, past work and down along Southbank. It was here I saw my first supporter – Dave was standing on a ledge, with the camera cheering me on. It was about 7.5km and I was feeling good – started to take on my first energy gel and some more water. Shortly after, I could see the leaders of the pack (with Police escort) – on the other side of the river – so about the 17.5km mark. I really wanted to tell someone hey – check them out – aren’t they amazing – but instead I just watched in awe, shook my head in amazement, gave them a small clap and kept on running…

A few more kilometres, still running and I was still feeling not too bad. I’ve got this, I kept telling myself. I shall run and not grow weary, I kept telling myself… Up and over the Go Between Bridge, about 15.5km and who should I find but my number one fan – again he had the camera poised and was there to cheer me on.  Legend.  Awesome way to break up my journey.

I kept going, after all, by now I was on the home stretch. I hit the 18km mark and everything was starting to hurt. I was no longer feeling great I was just reminding myself to put one foot in front of the other. My GPS was about 500m out – so by the time I got to a km mark in my head I knew I still had quite a way to go to see that distance marker on the course. It was doing my head in! Just keep swimming… just keep swimming…  At about 18.5km I passed Dave – he saw me again (good job picking me out of the pack every time!!) and from there I thought I’ve just got to keep going. Approaching the 19km mark I heard a voice cheering others on… it was a voice I recognised… Arna’s there!!!! My pace picked up – I’ve got this – I’m not that far away!!  Then I saw her, then she saw me! Oh my goodness!!! The excitement on her face as she realised I was there was awesome! She was such an encouragement, as she excitedly told me (yelled) I was doing an awesome pace, I turned and saw a hill…. Oh man!!  Never fear – Arna’s  “you’ve got this Jen, run up that hill, I’ll see you at the finish line” was just the motivation I needed to put one foot in front of the other. I admit at this point I wiped away a tear – what a blessing to have her there – right where I needed the encouragement! I could still hear her cheering as I put one foot in front of the other and headed up the hill. The last couple of km around the botanic gardens was hard work, but I kept telling myself I had come this far and Dave and Arna would be just around the corner – and so would the finish line!!

At 21km, with only 100m to go (and plenty of people saying “only 100m to go” – I have to admit my thoughts were “only 100m… I know that doesn’t sound far but you haven’t just run 21km…”). Anyway – I came around the corner – to more of Arna’s cheering and the last few meters to the finish line!! WOO HOO!!!! I DID IT!!!!

At the finish line – with sore, tired muscles, I was so excited. Who would have thought I would ever have run half a marathon!! Certainly not me (and I can guarantee my high school PE teacher never would have thought it – hey Mr H – if somehow you ever read this – you can be as amazed as me!!!) Dave and Arna gave me hugs and congratulations as I tried to recover. 21.1km – the time I crossed the line was 2:20:29 – but my official result (accounting for when I crossed the start line) would be pending). Then Tracy – a previous work colleague found me – not sure how amongst all those people!! We celebrated together as she had just run a sub 2 hour half marathon – amazing woman. We were both buzzing with excitement! I could line up to get a photo and an autograph with Robert De Castella – so why not! He was a really friendly guy by the way.

From there Sin Hok met up with us to say congratulations so we grabbed a quick drink on the way back to the car. I was tired but so pleased with my time and my achievement. It was the longest I had ever run, and the fastest over that distance – boy would I be tired later, I thought (and I was right)!!

We drove home and as we pulled into the driveway I burst out laughing. Dave looked at me puzzled and I said “someone’s been to our place”. As we both looked at our front door, the balloons, streamers and “A legend lives here” banner – were the icing on the cake for my morning. That my friends celebrate this achievement with me is such a blessing to me!

So my results – not that the matter specifically because all I cared about was crossing the finish line after running the whole way…. Official time 2:18:55 (I wanted to do under 2:30 – success!). I finished 1577/1798 entrants, 241 of 285 in my age category and 693 of 851 females. My second 10km was faster than my first (!!) and the last 1.1km was done in 7:01 (still faster than my initial 1km time trial 10 months ago…). For those who were wondering, the first half marathoner crossed the line in about 1:09 and the first full marathoner crossed in 2:30 (so shortly after I finished my half…)

So my final thoughts – well I’ve rambled too long already – so I’ll dot point to ensure they are brief:

  • Thanks to those that came out to support me, or supported me with banners or cake – Dave, Arna, Tracy, Bron, Katie, Tom, Sherelyn and Sin Hok – and all those who were thinking of me back home and in Brisbane – thank you. Your confidence in me was just what I needed to keep on running!
  • Thanks especially to Dave – he got out of bed at a stupid time of the day, to cheer me on. It was cold and dark but he didn’t care. 12 years (and a bit more) – what a journey. Thanks for hanging in there with me through thick and thin (and diet after diet, fad after fad – this one’s for good!).
  • I’m no-one special – if I can do it, so can you – give it a go! 10 months ago I couldn’t run 1km
  • Thanks to the 12WBT program – I’m about 20kg lighter – that’s almost a kilometre for every kilogram I lost
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – I firmly believe that

PS Arna – next race you and I are going to be running it together. Thank you for the amazing opportunity to wear your bib, for being there when I needed the extra encouragement and for genuinely sharing my joy. I so greatly appreciate it!

Here are some photos:

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ImageIMG_2675dave and i IMG_2707IMG_2722 IMG_2732

ImageHalf marathon workout analysis map my run