If you follow me on Instagram (ladylouinrunners) you would know that at the end of August I decided to give myself a challenge and sign up for the 10km running event at the Melbourne Marathon. At the time I was running/walking 5km and I had just under 7 weeks to increase that distance to 10km. I also had 5 weeks off work, so I had plenty of time to run. My goal sounded easy, right?
Well, no. For those 5 weeks that I had off work, Little K and I spent 3 weeks of it sick. And Melbourne's miserable weather was making it difficult to get outside and run as I don't have a rain cover for my running pram.
And then, disaster struck! I got sick. Very sick. At first it started as a niggling cough one afternoon. By that evening I was feeling terrible. The next day I had aches and pains, along with a fever and fatigue. I thought I had the flu and would get over it but my cough was becoming worse. My lungs crackled with each breath. I went to the doctors and was diagnosed with a mild case of pneumonia in my left lung. Thankfully it was caught super early, therefore I did not need to go to hospital. I did have to take two courses of antibiotics, which were seriously the biggest tablets I have ever taken in my life!
As I recovered I made a big decision to withdraw from my fun run. There was no way that I could be on my deathbed one day and then exactly 2 weeks later be running 10km. I had done some research on the internet which said it could take me months to get back into running after having pneumonia and that I would also have issues with fatigue. So I withdrew from the event. Or so I thought.
On the Thursday before the event I went for a run and surprised myself that I could run 6km. My pneumonia appeared to have completely cleared up. Maybe I could run 10km? I also noticed that I never received a confirmation of my withdrawal and I kept receiving daily emails from the event organisers. The day before the event I went to the race expo to see if my race pack was available, which it was. To me it was a sign that it was time to run!
On Saturday night I went to bed at 9:10pm, fell asleep straight away and bounced out of bed at 5:30am on Sunday. I was pumped to run. Getting ready in the morning was a little rushed as B and I were bringing Little K along to the run. The 10km race was due to start at 7:30am and I arrived at the start line at 7:20am - I have never been so late arriving to a fun run in my life.
It felt really exciting to be back at a fun run after being absent for nearly two years. I was running by myself but I didn't care. I stuck my headphones in and listened to some tunes to get me pumped for the run.
As I was waiting to start my run I noticed that some people had personalised t-shirts starting who they were running on behalf of. There was the usual sporting clubs, gyms and personal trainers. There was one in particular that really got to me. There was a man standing in a top that had a photo of a beautiful little girl called Isla. Her date of birth was on the shirt, along with a very recent date. This poor little girl, who was almost three years old, had lost her battle with a terminal illness. I had to try really hard to hold back the tears. Being a mother has made me really sensitive to these things.
I spent some more time getting myself mentally prepared for the race. My goal was to stick to a pace of 7 minute kilometres, which would give me an overall time of 1 hour and 10 minutes. That sounded doable. It also allowed me the opportunity to squeeze in some short walks should I run a little faster at times.
When my wave got called up to the start line I noticed that I was very close to the front. I had never been that close before. The buzzer went off and off we all went. It felt so nice to be running along with a group of people. Most of my time I run alone, which I don't mind, or with Little K in her pram, but it was nice to have company, even if we didn't talk to each other.
I felt really good for the first couple of kilometres. My running form felt smooth, my breathing easy and I was in a good place. I also noticed that unlike a lot of other fun runs I wasn't having to dodge walkers and slow runners the entire time. I was able to focus on running. When I looked at my watch I saw that I was doing under 6 minute kilometres, which worried me as that was a little too fast for my liking. I was worried that I would burn out too fast. Eventually I encountered a slight incline, which helped me bring my speed down.
At around the 4km mark I started to think about when I was going to take a walking break. I hate walking but I knew I would never be able to do the run without a few. I was in a section where you run to a certain spot and loop back, so I was passing runners on the other side of the barrier who had been running further than me. I thought to myself that the section where we turned around must have been only a few hundred metres away. I kept running. And running. And running. I ended up running 6km before I needed to have my little walking break, which I was really proud of.
Further on in the race we had to run up the William Barak Bridge, which felt more like a mountain rather than a bridge. I knew at this stage that I may see B and Little K as we were in close proximity to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which was where the race would be finishing. I decided to pick up my pace and as I did I spotted B holding Little K in front of me. It felt amazing seeing them, seeing B cheer me on and Little K look at everyone else except for me (yeah). I wanted to run right up to them so Little K could see me but I knew if I did I would stop and never be able to start again. I waved at them and off I ran. (Sorry for the poor photo - it was hard for B to take a photo and hold Little K at the same time).
At this point I knew I was at the final stretch. I could see the entry to the MCG, although I would have to run past it to another point and then turn around. I was getting myself into the zone when I heard someone call my name. I looked over and there was B running along the barrier with Little K in his arms. I was so excited and I waved. I tried to make my way over to them but B got tired and stopped running. But it was so lovely to see them again as it was totally unexpected.
Running into the MCG is amazing. You get a true understanding as to how big and powerful the ground is. You understand why so many cricketers, Australian and international, love this ground. You understand how footy players feel running on to the ground to play their favourite game. This ground was also used during the 1956 Olympic Games, which were held in Melbourne.
I do have to admit that those final hundred metres running around the MCG were hard. My body had not run that distance, even with the walking breaks, for a long time. The last time I had run that distance would have been back in early 2014, when my body was battered and incredibly injured. As I was running I thought about how, even though my body was fatigued, it was not injured. It felt amazing to not be injured.
As I got closer to the finish line I saw on the giant clocks that I was approaching 1 hour and 14 minutes. As I was in the second wave I knew that I needed to take 10 minutes off that time. I realised that I was going to complete this run well under my 1 hour and 10 minute goal.
When I got to the end it felt so good to cross the line. I was a little sad that B and Little K were not there to see me cross the line (security into the MCG is tight and it would have been impossible to navigate the complex with a pram). I walked up the steps to collect my medal, which I love. It has the iconic Flinders Street Station on the front, which we all got to run past during the event.
When I made my way outside I found B and Little K. I gave Little K a huge hug. She really didn't understand what was going on, although she loved my medal. I'm hoping this is a sign for the future as I would love to have a little running buddy!
In the end my time was 1:05:28. I was so happy. It has taken me what feels like a lifetime to get back to this position where I can do fun runs again. I am no longer injured. Give my post-pregnancy body some time and I will be back to running 10km in under 1 hour.