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On Sunday I joined a bunch of Op Movers in St Kilda to run in the Breast Cancer Network Australia Sussan Fun Run. This half marathon was to be my third, all of which have been run this year.

To say I was feeling ordinary would be a massive understatement as I had been unwell during the week and unable to eat much at all leading up to the run. I was determined to do it as I really wanted to catch up with the Operation Move crew and especially see some newbie runners complete their first events. I told myself that if I felt faint or unwell I’d stop, and as they say a “dead last is better than Did Not Finish, and Did Not Finish trumps Did Not Start”. I was mentally preparing myself for my first ever DNF.

I set off at a slower than usual pace, but one that was comfortable. At 8km in my quads were already talking to me. They had previously spoken to me at about 34km so this was quite a surprise. I decided to walk for a bit, had some Gu chomps, went to the loo, considered dropping out at the 10k mark (as it was 2 laps) but decided to go on even if it was my slowest half time ever.

I distracted myself by reading the tributes some women were wearing, and thinking about people who were undergoing treatment for all types of cancer whilst I was running this race. I started to feel a tad morose and decided that it was time for some Bon Jovi.

I started walk/running and telling myself to run for a minute or two minutes and walk for one or two minutes. I quickly got sick of looking at my watch so I started planning my runs and walks based on land marks; a tree, a traffic light, a drink station. There were quite a few of us doing the same at this stage – we’d pass each other and then catch up.

At about 13k I started speaking to another runner. Her name was Sharyn. We walked together for a while and then I suggested we run to the next traffic light. We did. She’d run 3 Melbourne Marathons, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and was determined to run the race for a work colleague whose wife was having chemotherapy for breast cancer. After my whinging about having gastro the days before the run and lots of other chitchat and more walking and running, Sharyn told me that she’d recently been diagnosed with an arthritis in her back and had told that she shouldn’t run that day, or ever from now on. I asked her how much pain she was in and she said ‘a bit’. She later told me that this would be her last run.

We kept up the walking and the running and we discussed how much better the last part of the race was, compared to how we thought it was going to turn out. I had that feeling that you get when you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

We got to the 20k-ish mark and I asked Sharyn if she thought she could run in from there. We decided to run in from the next landmark, I can’t think what it was exactly now. We took off slowly at first and had to dodge a lot of 5km walkers, but we picked up speed and finished the race strong hand in hand with big grins on our faces. We gave each other a big hug and she joined her work colleague and his wife and I went to find my crew.

I am beginning to see how some people run 20, 30, 40 and more half marathons and marathons. They are all so different in so many ways.

Sometimes a fun run isn’t about fun and it isn’t even about running. It’s about connection, humanity and showing up.

sussan half marathon

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Zoey Dowling

Written by: operationmove

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  1. Zoey Dowling

    It really sounds like it was such a tough run for so many. It is great that you met up with Sharyn and you could help each other on - I have tears in my eyes reading that bit! Thanks so much for sharing Lee <3 xxx

  2. Feel so sad for Sharyn, poor thing have you any way of contacting with her at all? Could you ask her to try something for me? The blue percutane nightly rubbed on her back and see if it makes a difference/helps? And you just need to teach those quads who is da bawss :)

    • Zoey Dowling

      Well Flash, looks like you need to explain to Sharyn what the Blue Percutane is!

      • haha another percutane convert about to happen :P

  3. You ran a hard race Lee , it is so inspiring to hear everyone's stories. Thank you for sharing.

    • Zoey Dowling

      Thanks so much Trish! Congratulations on your first half! I have a feeling there will be a few more yet!

  4. You ran a hard race Lee , it is so inspiring to hear everyone's stories. Thank you for sharing.

    • Zoey Dowling

      Thanks so much Trish! Congratulations on your first half! I have a feeling there will be a few more yet!

  5. HI Lee, Well this is quite amazing to say the least, after we went our separate ways and I spoke to Tracey & John I explained to them the story of our time together, I said to them I was disappointed that I didn't get your phone number, anyway when I got home that day my partner had been away and explained to him that I had met you and all I knew that your name was Lee from Warnambool, I decided to wait for the official photos to come through as I know there were quite a few shots taken of us so I could get your bib number and type your name in, I thought it was a long shot but there was something about those 8kms that was very special. Anyway so I was sitting at work today in my break and got the email to say the photos were available, so I did look up your name from your bib number & then randomly googled Lee Alexander running forum and there it was!!!!!!!!! I nearly fell off my chair and as I read on tears started to flow, thankyou so much for your kind words but I have to say if it wasn't for you those last 8kms would not have been the same. My back actually didn't pull up too bad and my physio reckons I make him feel lazy:) although I do have severe degeneration through my back, the back brace I was wearing that day definitely helped, I deal with it by hydro and core strengthening so I will not have anyone tell me it is my last run, I plan on doing the Run for the Kids in April and will no doubt continue to drive both my physio & myotherapist, nuts but to see what other people have to deal with, to me it's a no brainer, I will try to do these events as long as I feel I am able to. Lee I feel as though Sunday was meant to be as usually I really don't talk to people and just listen to my music, so I really do think everything happens for a reason, you are a lovely person and it was a great 8kms, I hope your tummy has settled down a bit, Oh and Flash what is blue percutane?? Anyway Lee will keep in touch and thankyou once again :) Cheers Sharyn

    • Zoey Dowling

      OMG! Well that's really made my day! I wasn't able to get the right words out to explain what was so awesome about Sunday, so I decided to write about it and now I am so glad I did! Wow! I am as stunned as you must have been when you read this LOL! Amazing. You take care! You must join this forum. I hang out here a lot!

      • Zoey Dowling

        Oh my - how beautiful. Lee was telling me all about a wonderful person she met at the run and here you are! What a special day for you both to have that support xxxx And Percutane is d'bomb ; )

    • Hey Sharyn - umm sorry it is green percutane with a blue stripe, obvs my memory is not as good anymore! http://www.percutane.com.au/percutane-pain-relief-cream/percutane-pain-relief-cream Really looking forward to seeing if it helps you and conversing about your previous marathons. I am keeping everything crossed that you never stop running!

    • Zoey Dowling

      Oh Sharyn! hi and welcome to OpMove! I was nearly in tears reading Lee's story. It was such a hard run for so many of us for so many different reasons. For you to have found her and us has just blown me away. What an amazing, wonderful thing!! I hope you'll enjoy it here :)

    • Sharon you are truly an inspiration. Welcome to OpMove - I look forward to following your journey. Can't keep a great woman down!

  6. HI Lee, Well this is quite amazing to say the least, after we went our separate ways and I spoke to Tracey & John I explained to them the story of our time together, I said to them I was disappointed that I didn't get your phone number, anyway when I got home that day my partner had been away and explained to him that I had met you and all I knew that your name was Lee from Warnambool, I decided to wait for the official photos to come through as I know there were quite a few shots taken of us so I could get your bib number and type your name in, I thought it was a long shot but there was something about those 8kms that was very special. Anyway so I was sitting at work today in my break and got the email to say the photos were available, so I did look up your name from your bib number & then randomly googled Lee Alexander running forum and there it was!!!!!!!!! I nearly fell off my chair and as I read on tears started to flow, thankyou so much for your kind words but I have to say if it wasn't for you those last 8kms would not have been the same. My back actually didn't pull up too bad and my physio reckons I make him feel lazy:) although I do have severe degeneration through my back, the back brace I was wearing that day definitely helped, I deal with it by hydro and core strengthening so I will not have anyone tell me it is my last run, I plan on doing the Run for the Kids in April and will no doubt continue to drive both my physio & myotherapist, nuts but to see what other people have to deal with, to me it's a no brainer, I will try to do these events as long as I feel I am able to. Lee I feel as though Sunday was meant to be as usually I really don't talk to people and just listen to my music, so I really do think everything happens for a reason, you are a lovely person and it was a great 8kms, I hope your tummy has settled down a bit, Oh and Flash what is blue percutane?? Anyway Lee will keep in touch and thankyou once again :) Cheers Sharyn

    • Zoey Dowling

      OMG! Well that's really made my day! I wasn't able to get the right words out to explain what was so awesome about Sunday, so I decided to write about it and now I am so glad I did! Wow! I am as stunned as you must have been when you read this LOL! Amazing. You take care! You must join this forum. I hang out here a lot!

      • Zoey Dowling

        Oh my - how beautiful. Lee was telling me all about a wonderful person she met at the run and here you are! What a special day for you both to have that support xxxx And Percutane is d'bomb ; )

    • Hey Sharyn - umm sorry it is green percutane with a blue stripe, obvs my memory is not as good anymore! http://www.percutane.com.au/percutane-pain-relief-cream/percutane-pain-relief-cream Really looking forward to seeing if it helps you and conversing about your previous marathons. I am keeping everything crossed that you never stop running!

    • Zoey Dowling

      Oh Sharyn! hi and welcome to OpMove! I was nearly in tears reading Lee's story. It was such a hard run for so many of us for so many different reasons. For you to have found her and us has just blown me away. What an amazing, wonderful thing!! I hope you'll enjoy it here :)

    • Sharon you are truly an inspiration. Welcome to OpMove - I look forward to following your journey. Can't keep a great woman down!

  7. Zoey Dowling

    Hearing about all the different ways the team got through their events on Sunday is amazing. All different stories but all women on a mission! So proud of you Lee, you were so unwell in the lead up, you started, you finished and now look at the effect you've had on someone else as well! Welcome to you Sharon!

  8. Zoey Dowling

    Hearing about all the different ways the team got through their events on Sunday is amazing. All different stories but all women on a mission! So proud of you Lee, you were so unwell in the lead up, you started, you finished and now look at the effect you've had on someone else as well! Welcome to you Sharon!

  9. Hey Lee, I am truly amazed how things have transpired since those 8kms on Sunday, I was gob smacked to say the least when I googled your name and saw your story!!!!! I have joined the site:) To Jo H thankyou for the welcome. AMAZING STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Hey Lee, I am truly amazed how things have transpired since those 8kms on Sunday, I was gob smacked to say the least when I googled your name and saw your story!!!!! I have joined the site:) To Jo H thankyou for the welcome. AMAZING STUFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Zoey Dowling

    Lee you are da bomb girl! I'm so proud of you guys. Even though it sounds like it was a tough day all round, you still all did it :) xxx

  12. Zoey Dowling

    Lee you are da bomb girl! I'm so proud of you guys. Even though it sounds like it was a tough day all round, you still all did it :) xxx

  13. I have tears. This community is beyond amazing. <3 <3 <3 <3

  14. I have tears. This community is beyond amazing. <3 <3 <3 <3

  15. You ladies are just amazing! And what a wonderful story real friendships often come out of adversity and you are both living proof of that. Thankyou for sharing with us and i hope you both have many more runs left in you ( what do drs and pyhsios know right!!??)

  16. You ladies are just amazing! And what a wonderful story real friendships often come out of adversity and you are both living proof of that. Thankyou for sharing with us and i hope you both have many more runs left in you ( what do drs and pyhsios know right!!??)

  17. Zoey Dowling

    You're both inspirational! Hi Sharyn! (My mum is a Sharyn with a y too!)

  18. Zoey Dowling

    You're both inspirational! Hi Sharyn! (My mum is a Sharyn with a y too!)

  19. This is just fantastic, tears while reading your story @lee. Then more tears when reading @sharyn's response. I've found this group to be about so much more than moving alone, so much awesome!!

  20. This is just fantastic, tears while reading your story @lee. Then more tears when reading @sharyn's response. I've found this group to be about so much more than moving alone, so much awesome!!

  21. Wow you guys are so awesome, thankyou for all your comments. I will try the green percutane & let you know. I have to say all your comments have touched me very deeply & am looking forward to keeping in touch. Like the photo you popped on Lee, sisters in arms!!! There are some things you just can't put things into words but all I know is when I woke up last Sat morning & couldn't weight bear on my left leg I was worried, I had a spa with Himalayan bath salts and hoped I would wake up better on Sunday, I did & thought well no guts no glory, there are so many people out there doing it harder.........as a result I have personally met a wonderful lady in Lee & now I am in contact with all you lovely people

    • I was feeling quite an odd pain in my back especially when I wake up and I have had other arthritic issues in the past. So I am religiously applying the percutane on my lower back before I sleep or after a shower and have noticed a big difference in jumping out of bed with no hurt at all I am hoping it works for you Sharyn. You can get it from priceline.

  22. Wow you guys are so awesome, thankyou for all your comments. I will try the green percutane & let you know. I have to say all your comments have touched me very deeply & am looking forward to keeping in touch. Like the photo you popped on Lee, sisters in arms!!! There are some things you just can't put things into words but all I know is when I woke up last Sat morning & couldn't weight bear on my left leg I was worried, I had a spa with Himalayan bath salts and hoped I would wake up better on Sunday, I did & thought well no guts no glory, there are so many people out there doing it harder.........as a result I have personally met a wonderful lady in Lee & now I am in contact with all you lovely people

    • I was feeling quite an odd pain in my back especially when I wake up and I have had other arthritic issues in the past. So I am religiously applying the percutane on my lower back before I sleep or after a shower and have noticed a big difference in jumping out of bed with no hurt at all I am hoping it works for you Sharyn. You can get it from priceline.

  23. Zoey Dowling

    Oooh that photo of the two of you is brilliant - I love it! Welcome Sharyn :)

  24. Zoey Dowling

    Oooh that photo of the two of you is brilliant - I love it! Welcome Sharyn :)

  25. Hey Flash finally got to Priceline & picked up some percutane.....great stuff thanks heaps:)

  26. Hey Flash finally got to Priceline & picked up some percutane.....great stuff thanks heaps:)

  27. Merry Christmas to you all & I hope 2014 brings you much health & happiness, keep moving forward, with so much inspiration it plans on being a great one!!!!!

  28. Merry Christmas to you all & I hope 2014 brings you much health & happiness, keep moving forward, with so much inspiration it plans on being a great one!!!!!