vanity wall kate

I did the 15.5km Run for the Kids in Melbourne over the weekend and it was a day of firsts.

Two years ago, R4K was the first event I ever ran. I didn’t even keep my bib because I didn’t know then that  that would become a thing for me.

It was deadset brutal. My longest run prior to that was 13kms and it really freakin’ HURT. It was another six months before I decided I might be able to complete a half marathon. Those additional 6kms seemed completely insurmountable.

But I did run a half later that year. In fact I ran three, and became a collector of bibs and medals in the process. It still shocks me that I haven’t received my breastfeeding medal, my homebirthing medal, my having four kids medals, my making the dinner every freaking night medals… so I appreciate the ones that I DO get.

Last year I corralled in the yellow zone with a group of OpMovers and as we approached the start line we shared hugs and kisses and then I was off. I went into that one with the goal of hitting a PB over the distance. I had run it in 1:48 that first year, and I wanted to come in under 1:30. I ducked and weaved and dodged and saw not much of anything in my efforts and I crossed the finish in 1:27. I was STOKED. It is a crowded run and I’d done exactly what I set out to do.

In the year since then my whole life has been turned upside down. My marriage ended. I ran a marathon. I moved house twice. I suffered what I guess might be referred to as a nervous breakdown in old school terms, I got help and started healing, I came home to where I did my growing up, I met an amazing man and I started a relationship that gives me more joy than I imagined possible.

So as I hit the corral on Sunday it was as a completely different person to the one who had run the past two years. So much has been lost in the time between, and so much gained.

This year I ran with my boyfriend and his mate. I had no time goal, I didn’t even take my earphones, I was just going to enjoy the run and check out the scenery. And that is exactly what I did. I loved running with the guys, who had me cracking up over a lot of the course. It was an easy, friendly banter that made the 15kms fly by and not once did I wish I had my music on. I loved being able to share the experience with my partner and it reminded why I vowed at the end of last year to never race by myself again… that what I love is RUNNING with other people and just loving the experience rather than fighting to hit a time goal all by myself. I can do that any old time, race days are for sharing for me.

I’m going to confess that it gave me some joy that I pretty much aced it in the comfortability stakes compared to the guys too. It isn’t often that I am the fittest in a particular field, and pulling up better than them was ace! In fairness I’m mid marathon training and a 15k for me right now isn’t a particularly challenging thing, but that in itself is so amazing because two years ago it nearly killed me. And I think I’ve convinced the guys to Run Melbourne with me later in the year and take it up to a half. I hope so, I reckon 21.1 with them would be awesome fun!

And in the meantime despite some of the epic challenges I’ve faced in the times between, I’m going to rest on my laurels a moment or two and let it sink in that what was once impossibly hard and painful is now something I can do not only with ease, but with complete and utter enjoyment. THAT is why you keep heading out the door. THAT is what makes the hard runs worthwhile… because all the time you are just getting better and better even if you don’t really notice it at the time.

Running has completely turned my life around, and I will never ever look back.



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Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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