health

'The hardest and most rewarding thing I've done this year.'

This post is sponsored by The Athlete’s Foot

By JO ABI.

I am aching from head to toe. I am aching in places I didn’t know I could ache. But I did it. I ran 8 kilometres in the Mother’s Day Classic at The Domain in Sydney on Sunday and I feel fabulous; fabulous but incredibly sore.

Here I am – a 37-year-old novice runner and a tired mother-of-three. The longest I’ve ever run non-stop is 4 kilometres. I’ve done some Body Attack classes at the gym. I’ve played soccer with my kids. I’ve always wanted to do a marathon or a half-marathon. This event was the perfect way to start.

I’d been preparing for this event for 6 weeks prior. My first step had been to get fitted at The Athlete’s Foot for a proper pair of running shoes, where I walked away with a pair of Brooks Trance runners. Once I had the shoes, I knew I could plan out my outfit. – pink, pink and more pink. Not only did they coordinate well, they really helped in my training. It was a motivation just knowing I was preparing the right way with the correct shoes. I made sure I stuck to my plan each week: two cardio classes at the gym and two 4km runs around my local area. My goal was to make sure I could run 4kms start to finish.

While training, I was also fundraising. I’ve only raised a few hundred dollars, but every dollar counts when it comes to breast cancer research and this is only my first year. Everyone I’ve approached has been happy to donate. We all know of someone with or who has been affected by breast cancer.

When I arrived at the event, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. It looked incredible. There were so many people dressed in special costumes, wigs, superhero outfits, pink boas, tutus… Everyone was with a friend, a family or a group, the atmosphere was awesome. Stalls selling different delicious foods were set up. A coffee cart, a breastfeeding and nappy changing tent were doing big business. Someone was handing out free packets of jelly beans!

I also spent time chatting to people about why they were there. Most knew someone battling breast cancer, many had lost someone to the disease. The tribute wall where participants pinned names and notes to those they’d lost filled quickly. It was emotional but inspiring and it gave you a great sense of purpose to be there.

The 8 kilometre runners were called. We were led through an aerobic warm up. It was so fun and there was a lot of laughter. Then we started walking to the starting line. A lot of the chit chat stopped. We were all trying to get as close to the front as possible.

“Wow, I’m pretty fit,” I thought to myself. “This is going to be easy.”

I had to be just about finished when a volunteer called out, “Almost half way.”

“Um, what? WHAT?” A voice shouts in my head.

I thought I was almost done. ALMOST half way. Oh God, I was never going to make it. NEVER.

It was at around the 6 kilometre mark that my right ankle started to throb and the inside part up my leg. (What’s that called?) And then my right butt cheek.

And I was chaffed under my arms. It was positively stinging. I would have paid $50 for some talcum powder. I tried to splash some water under them but it didn’t quite make contact.

Still, I kept on going. Some runners walked a little and started running again but I just knew that if I stopped running I’d never start again. I kept on going.

The last kilometre was the hardest. Now I know why people vomit during exercise. I did see some casualties along the way. But these were minimal. It was so well organised, the health and safety tips so clear, multiple drink stations kept us hydrated and volunteers yelling out and cheering us on the entire way. I loved each and every one of them as they propelled me forward with their enthusiasm.

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Soon enough, I can hear cheering in the distance. I can see the finish line. I don’t think I’m going to make it. I imagine myself crossing the finish line, lying down on the ground and never moving again. I imagine myself stopping and being wheeled away on a stretcher. I imagine an hour-long massage or some tape to strap my knees and ankles that are feeling very strained.

As I approach the finish line I have a big, stupid smile on my face. When I cross I can’t help but thrust my fists in the air. I DID IT!

I take my medal and my banana and I head over the The Athlete’s Foot Marquee where they were giving away gorgeous pink sashes to all who had completed – you could choose from ‘I did it’ or ‘Number 1 Mum’. I took ‘I did it’, it was a fact I was so proud of. I devour the banana. My body needs fuel immediately and these eco bananas are so delicious, I could eat 5 more! I also take the opportunity to snap a few pics at the media wall to share and tell the world i.e. family and friends on facebook. The Athlete’s Foot are also giving away prizes for the best photos – just upload to instagram and tag your photo #IDIDMDC.

As I ran, I thought of my friend whose mother has been battling breast cancer. Faces of well-known women who’ve had breast cancer flashed before my eyes. I remember when I once found a lump in my breast and had it checked (it turned out to be a blocked milk duct). I remembered how scared I was, and how sad I was at the thought of my children growing up without me.

By the time I arrived home, my results had been texted to me. I ran 8 kilometres in 51 minutes and 59 seconds. My overall place, 2051st (I didn’t check out where I compared to the total number of runners because that might be deflating).

I can honestly say that participating in the Mother’s Day Classic is one of the highlights of my year so far. I’m not sure I’ll run it every year but the 4 kilometre walk will be fun with my mum. If my completion time for the 8 kilometre run improves I can do both. Ha, listen to me. Next challenge is to run a Marathon before I’m 40. At this rate, I think I’ll get there.

Make sure you join me next year. There’s no better way to start Mother’s Day than taking part in such an incredible event as the Mother’s Day Classic. It’s the largest fun run in Australia this year was held in over 74 locations around the country. Firstly, make sure you’re training and wearing the right shoes – and don’t go for just the cheapest or most colourful shoe. Get the customer service you deserve and the shoes that are going to last and fit you properly from The Athlete’s Foot. Then in the weeks leading up to the event choose more cardio classes at the gym and go for a few runs or walks around your local area. That’s all I did. I certainly didn’t have to block out hours in my week to prepare. And I have a great pair of running shoes – – my incredible Brooks Trance shoes fitted by the guys at The Athlete’s Foot.

See you there next year and to all those women fighting breast cancer and those families who have lost someone – hang in there. We’re all thinking of you. One day breast cancer will have better survival rates than ever before thanks to events like this. We wish you love, strength and support.

Check out the gallery of photos from the event at The Domain location:

For everyone else who participated in the Mother’s Day Classic as well – don’t forget to enter your photo in The Athlete’s Foot  hashtag #IDIDMDC competition – some great entries already there! Click here for more details.

This post is sponsored by The Athlete’s Foot. Comments on this post are just for this post. If you want to talk about the IDEA of sponsored posts or the choice of advertisers please click here. We will be reading all those comments too for feedback.

Did you participate in The Mother’s Day Classic?  Are you preparing for any fun runs or marathons?

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