I began running about 3 months after Heidi was born, so lets say that was about May/June 2011. I decided that I wanted to run a 5K. I had always wanted to run a 5K, but thought that I couldn’t. So I decided to try. Paul was very supportive and each afternoon when our dream baby Heidi had her very predictable nap, I went out for a run. I started with a beginners program, and first reached my goal of running for 20 minutes, and then eventually could run 5K. I still remember those first few months of just simply being able to run a couple of minutes at a time, walking for a while, and then running for another minute or so. The first time I ran for 20 minutes without stopping was such an exciting moment!! I entered into the Melbourne Marathon Festival 5K event. After a bit of a drop in training I still came away with a time of 32:42 for my first ever 5K! At the time I wasn’t actually so happy with my time. I had gone along with a couple of friends, not to run together, but just to be a part of it together. Those friends just happened to be super fit friends, who despite not really training, really had great times and made me feel a little slow and unimpressive. It wasn’t until later that I realised how happy I should have been with that time!
After that run I was somewhat sporadic in my training, mostly due to being pregnant again. From about February 2012 I was sick with morning sickness and stopped running. By the time I had recovered a few months later, my fitness levels were low, as was my motivation. So I didn’t really run again throughout my pregnancy with Pippa. So last year, when Pippa was about 2 months old I decided to start running again. I set myself two goals. The first was to run a 5K by the time of Heidi’s birthday (25th March). I did that, with a time of 35:03. I knew I wasn’t going to run an amazing time, as I had been unwell for a couple of months, despite a fairly good training period before that. I was happy to do 35 minutes off the back of some fairly average training.
My sister was eager to do another run together, so despite not feeling like I had enough time to train properly, I suggested the ‘Run the Rock’ event at Hanging Rock on 27th April (today)! Lucy was keen, and so after checking with Paul, I registered and began to look forward to it. We had visited Hanging Rock a few times on day trips and loved the beautiful picnic areas, so decided to plan a trip together as a family. One of the main reasons I chose this run was the timing. Because I am still breastfeeding Pippa, a 5K at 10:15am on a Saturday was perfect. It meant I could breastfeed Pippa at about 7 when she woke, we could all get ready to go, drive, run, recover and then feed her again. And unlike the majority of runs, being on a Saturday meant we wouldn’t have to miss Church on the Sunday. It was looking perfect!
I only had about 3 weeks of training, and about 3 runs a week. So not too much really, but it was what I could do. And then in the last few days, Heidi started to get really sick. The poor little thing has had a high temperature, and has just been miserable. So at the last minute I had to re-think plans for the run. I really really wanted to go together as a family. Paul’s support and encouragement to me means a lot and is very motivating. But deep down, while in the midst of searching for ways to make it happen all together, I knew that he would have to stay home with Heidi. And thankfully I had a friend (thanks Subashini!) who was very happy to come along with Pippa and I for the morning, so I was able to go ahead with the run.
So this morning, just after 8, Bash, Pippa and I headed up to Hanging Rock. It was exciting to arrive and see lots of cars and people, long lines at the toilets, to hear the energetic and loud music pumping everyone up, and to enjoy a warm-ish Autumn day in a beautiful part of the world. I started to get quite nervous! I hadn’t really felt like that before the other two runs that I had been in, but I was quite conscious of really wanting to run better than the previous 35 minutes. My goal is still to run a sub-30 5K, but I knew that wouldn’t happen without more serious training. I joined in with the pre-race aerobics to warm up a little, and was glad I did, as I worked out a little twinge in my knee before the run, rather than during the first kilometre of the actual run. Warming up is a good idea!
I set out a little to enthusiastically. I didn’t run with a watch, headphones, GPS, phone etc so I didn’t really know how my pace was going. But last time I had started out too slowly in a bid to do negative splits, and this time I over-compensated. I guess this might be something that becomes easier with experience. And there were a few hills, and quite a lot of blustery wind. I struggled between thinking that I really wanted to do a better time, and then reminding myself to have fun and just be happy to be out there. The last kilometre was hard, and I kept saying to myself over and over, under my breath, “Come on Mel, come on!” At one point I said, “I don’t know where the finishing line is!” and someone kindly pointed it out to me in the distance. I needed to see where I was going!
As I neared the finishing line I could see that my time was indeed better than 35 minutes! I sped up towards the end, and hoped that I had run it in about 32 minutes. A few steps after the finish line I dry retched a little, and that was a first for me. That was a bit gross. But I quickly recovered, and headed off to find Bash, with Pippa cosily snuggled up with her in my favourite baby carrier, the Ergo. She had slept the whole time and been a little angel for Bash. Go Pippa! Anyway, I digress… I was so pleased to have improved my time, and when I later found out that I had in fact done a 5.1K in 31:47 I was so pleased! I know it’s not a record breaking time, but for me, that’s not bad. And on the day that Pippa turned 6 months old.
Running has made me realise in a very tangible way that if you work hard for something, you can reach the goals that you set out to achieve. It reminds me of the blessing that a healthy body is, and of the importance of getting outdoors for your mental health. It teaches me lessons in perseverance and mental determination. And I haven’t even done many long runs yet! Our bodies are amazing, and it is exciting to see what they are capable of when we work hard.
I am now looking forward to running my first 10K at The Age Run Melbourne festival at the end of July. I am thinking of joining the World Vision team, so if you are interested in partnering with me in that, please let me know. Alternatively, if you would like to join me and do a 10K, let me know that too! More on that to come though…Stay tuned for updates!