Never cried in a race. Not once. Never even felt like it. I understood why others did but I just didn’t. I was just happy I suppose but not overwhelmed. I’ve never met a finish line I didn’t want to kiss and that’s the overriding emotion when I get there.

If anything I would be closer to tears at the start. For me, the start line is where all the achievement is.

For a marathon, that’s sixteen weeks of training. It’s sixteen weeks of getting up at stupid o’clock to run. It’s sixteen weeks of training when it’s great, when it’s bad, when you are tired, when you don’t feel like it and when it is inconvenient. It is sixteen weeks of running horrifyingly hard intervals on legs dead from front squats. It is sixteen weeks of training your body to be exhausted and to keep going. It is sixteen weeks of pushing your body further than even you think it’s capable of – even when you have a pretty high opinion of your body. It’s sixteen weeks of mental preparation. And it is sixteen weeks of keeping your head where it needs to be.

That is the achievement. That is the entire achievement. The actual race is an acknowledgement of that achievement.

The Sydney Marathon was more than that though. And I knew that going into it. Kate and I had raced the Sydney Half Marathon last year and held hands over the finish line and it meant a whole lot then too. More than a race. We’d somehow managed to pull one another out of that depressive black pit that was so horrifying I wouldn’t even say the words. We’d somehow managed to drag one another out of that and find a home at Operation Move. We’d somehow managed to stop smoking and take brave steps into being who we were meant to be. Not who people told us we were or who we thought we had to be. And on the strength of all of that we had built something.

We had built something that actually had an idea bout what it was. Something different to all of those five thousand ads on Facebook about getting a bikini body. Something that believes in people as they are. Something that believes in women as athletes. Something that focuses on the beauty of what the human body can do and the amazing women who do it. Something that says we are a team. Something that says I will hold your hand or I will tell you how awesome you are when you forget or I will believe in you until you believe in yourself.

And it was that which overwhelmed me at the 30km mark of the Sydney Marathon. And I cried when we crossed the line. The achievement that we were celebrating was far more than just a race.

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Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. And you've left me with a tear in my eye this morning. I hope I can find someone to race with just like you !! Sending lots of hugs for the amazing lady that you are ! Me xox

  2. I always assumed I would cry at the end of yesterdays half marathon. But I was too busy being so happy and relieved and sore. But I did cry the night before the half, on my way home from dinner. Because as you say, I felt like that was most of the journey, I felt like I'd done the hard work, I felt like I had already run the half marathon! Strange huh.

  3. The last km of a race always gets me. I get so overwhelmed I hyperventilate. Not a great response when you're trying to sprint the finish! The only reason I carry my sunnies is to 'hide' as I race down the finish shute

  4. Zoey Dowling

    I may have had a few happy tears yesterday as I said goodbye to everyone - I had my sunnies on but I think the tears were still running down my face! I am proud and feel very privileged to be a part of this team and being there to celebrate everyone's hard work in getting to that start line was just amazing.

  5. I never thought I'd cry during a run either. At around the 6km mark of the marathon in 2012, I cried like a baby. I cannot tell you to this day why I cried but I did and it felt so good. I welled up again when I saw my kids at the finish line. One of the most amazing memories that day. X

  6. Beautifully written Zoey. So very very true.

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