Another Marathon. Another Epiphany.

Well look at that, 3 blog posts in 3 months. One about sushi and two about marathons. Never going to win any awards now am I? I have been the lamest blogger ever.

Last weekend I ran the Australian Outback Marathon. A 42km run in the desert around the most enormous rock in the world.

outback mara phto

This marathon is one of those bucket list types. It’s in such a unique location and is very different from your typical road race so people fly in from all over the world to do it. There were about 500 runners from 11 countries spread over 4 events and 154 people ran the full marathon, including me.

Although leading up to the race there were a few things I was really worried about, like the terrain, the lack of spectators to cheer you on when you feel like you’re going to die and in particular the injury rehab I’d done in lieu of any proper training.

After the disaster at the London Marathon where I hobbled the last 12km in agony with a totally annihilated ITB, I found myself the world’s best physio and a personal trainer solely for rehab. The two of them promised me they’d have me fixed for this race and they kept their word.

I was restricted to a very low number of km’s each week in the lead up to race day and I kept telling them how worried I was that I hadn’t trained enough since London 3 months ago and they told me to trust the training I had done and that once my body was working like it should, I’d still be running better than before London even without the additional training. I just didn’t believe them.

So to walk away with a 2 minute PB last saturday after running a marathon on sand and up half a dozen or more sand dunes, all without a solid training plan I am absolutely blown away.

Anyway enough of the race recap.

When I was out there in the desert, running alone with not a single sound around me, not even the sound of my feet on the concrete, it’s a very odd thing. The silence was magical and I am glad I took the recommendation of the race organisers to run without music. I would have missed the nothingness of the outback sounds.

What a welcomed sound, or lack thereof, it was. Just my breathing and the peace of the outback. No cars, no crowds, no nothing.

For most of the first half of the race I ran with my dear friend Ashul. As we hit the 10k mark and were feeling strong with lots left in the tank, he was trying to teach me how to meditate while running. To listen to your breath and your stride pattern, to concentrate and relax. He has tried to teach me about it before but until we were running together (he lives in Perth and I in Sydney so running opportunities are limited!) it was hard to understand.

After he ran off ahead I was left to myself and my breathing and newly learned meditation technique to practice. Here I was in this serene, unique and absolutely stunning location, with nothing to do but get to the finish line as quickly as possible. With no distraction (I didn’t see one single bit of life out there apart from 5 local Aboriginals and the occasional other runner) I continued on at a steady pace.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know the reasons why I run and how much it means to me. Especially the long distance running. Marathons give you plenty of time to think and reflect and if you’re going to get all sentimental and spiritual I was definitely in the right place.

As my breath and my stride did their thing and my mind relaxed just like Ashul taught me, all I felt was gratitude. Gratitude for the life I have now.

Things could have been very different for me 5 years ago, I could have travelled the worn path I was on, doing the same shit that wasn’t working for me, making the same mistakes I was making and generally spiralling further into depression and self hate.

My all time favourite saying. Change doesn’t happen without change.

But change I did and for reasons unknown to me I chose the road less travelled. The unknown one and the most terrifying one. I took myself way out of my comfort zone, put up my hand and asked for help.

I surrendered. Ultimately I just couldn’t do life like that anymore. I was done. Rock bottom.

The rest as they say is history. I sought psychiatric help. I quit drinking. I changed stuff. I changed everything. My therapist used to tell me “Stephanie, your life won’t change until you make some change. How do you expect things to be different if you’re doing the same things as you have been”. Smart man my therapist.

So roll forward to now and here I am running marathons. I am sane. I am fit. I am happy. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be running that would save me. Actually I shouldn’t say that because I saved me. Running came next and as I keep saying ..

Change never would have happened if I didn’t make change.




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