Monday, August 17, 2015

New found freedom

About 3 months ago I made a decision.
I was watching an episode of 60 Minutes featuring a rugby player who had become a quadriplegic and he was speaking about how much he missed the simple things like walking and running.
Sitting on the couch that evening I realised I had everything this man wanted and was taking it ALL for granted! 
An ex gymnast and springboard diver, I am fortunate to have a body made for running and here I was, lazing about and kidding myself about how active and healthy I was! 
I had been eating excuses for breakfast for far too long.
I made a commitment to myself that night; I would run for all those who can't, I would start running simply because I can!
The next day I signed up to a running group for women in my local area. The group meets early one morning a week, starting at a 30 minute jog and slowly adding 5 minutes each week to build endurance.
Inspired by the coach to sign up to an organised race to keep us motivated, I signed up to the very lofty goal of the 10km Run Melbourne event. 10km!! I had never even dreamed of running that far before. Would I actually be able to make the distance!?

As it turns out, the coach was correct. It we signed up and paid for the race, we would be motivated to get out of bed on those -2 degree mornings and do the training we needed to get done. Before long at all, I did my first 10km run one morning as part of a run with the group. Although I was super proud of my achievement, my once lofty goal slowly deflated in front of me as I realised this goal no longer scared the pants off me... time to develop a new goal!

And that is the story of how I came to decide that I would run a half marathon! 
This endo warrior, who was only 6 months ago on the operating table having more adhesions removed and having adenomyosis diagnosed, was now going to aim for a half marathon run. With only 3 months to train for it, THAT goal really did scare the pants off me!

That was, until last weekend...
When I accidentally achieved the goal without really meaning to...

Having never been on a women's weekend away, I signed up to the 'Luxury Run Camp' run by my coach. Part of the camp involved a long distance run on the Saturday. Two distances were offered, 10km and 30km. I was obviously going to do the shorter distance, however 10km was nowhere near enough, now that I had already reached that goal. Along with a couple of other girls, we decided we would run 15km with an actual secret goal of 18km (the things you have to tell yourself to get yourself to run futher!)
After a pit stop at the 10km mark to tape up some of my persistent blisters, we turned and started heading back the way we came. We ran and we ran, supporting each other along the way. 10km turned in to 15km, which turned in to 18kms and then we were 'so close to home' that we thought we may as well keep going. 21 kms later, absolutely exhausted but incredibly proud, we pulled up stops and celebrated my first half marathon distance!
This is something I never would have dreamed of doing, let alone after all my issues with endo and adeno. 

(As a side note, I did run the 10km Run Melbourne event and smiled the whole entire way. A beautiful sunny day running along the Yarra River with thousands of other people, all achieving their own goals along side you- What a way to celebrate the fact that we are lucky enough to be able to run!
I didn't do a PB on this day because I was too busy soaking up the atmosphere, I was desperate to find out the stories and goals behind every single runner in the race and spent much of my time striking up conversation with those around me to find out their back stories- from people who used to run as kids to people who only come out for this one event every year to people trying to overcome a mid life crisis. It was fascinating!)

Before typing this entry I reread all my posts on this blog and reflected on how far I have come both physically and, probably more importantly, mentally.
Running (as well as riding and swimming) have absolutely been the driving force behind my positive mental health. 
There is nothing more freeing and refreshing than an early morning run chatting with other gorgeous women while inhaling the crisp clean air we are so lucky to have here in Australia. 
I recently emailed my the leader of my endo support group and she commented on the fact that some studies are now finding that exercise appears to be a factor in cancer recovery/staying in remission for some cancers. Research is also starting to suggest that some cancers are estrogen dependent. She pondered if, hearing my huge improvements in health and wellbeing, exercise might use up or suppress extra estrogen and how this could be investigated/measured.

Studies aside, I know four things:
  • Running is making me stronger in more ways than one (physically, mentally and emotionally)
  • It is contributing to improved mental health for me
  • It has forced endo to take a back seat while I get on with my life (I am no longer someone with endo, I am a runner!)
  • I am off to hunt for a new scary goal...

Running at Run Melbourne 'because I can!'

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