There's a unique beauty to the Australian winter that's hard to put into words, and it's even more pronounced where I now live.
Winter mornings here aren't just cold; they're refreshingly crisp. There's a freshness in the air that makes you feel alive the moment you step outside, your breath visible in the chilly air. The sky, a canvas of the purest blue, stretches out above you. This peaceful serenity offers a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of city life, inviting you to pause and take it all in.
And then there's the magnificent sun. In winter, there's seldom wind, no clouds to block its rays, you feel its warmth reaching through to your bones.
And it feels amazing.
But as enchanting as the days are, they're fleeting. By 5pm the sun has has already set.
I find I don't mind this at all.
Like a true Aussie, I've started to rise with the first light to make the best of the new glourious days, filled with promise and potential. And when I get to welcome the new winter day, by doing what I love the most, I feel truly blessed.
Saturday's long road run was a reminder of why I enjoy longer outings on trail a hell of a lot more: Recovery time!
Recovery might seem like a passive phase, a time for rest and rejuvenation, while in reality, it is an active process, a time when our bodies repair the damage done during the workout and grow stronger.
Trail running, in my experience, tends to have a quicker recovery period.
This might sound counterintuitive, considering that in the moment, running trails often feels harder. To me, trail running is a full body workout as I run over roots, rocks and ditches, shifting and adjusting continuously to adapt to the terrain and engaging every muscle in my legs, ankle, feet and core.
At the end of a long trail run, I feel an intense muscle fatigue, a sign of the effort expended and the work done. But it's a satisfying kind of tiredness, one that leaves me invigorated, not depleted.
In stark contrast, road running, with its repetitive and constant motion on hard asphalt, often feels more like a war of attrition. The repetitive and constant motion, the lack of variation in the terrain, the relentless pounding - it all culminates in an extreme inflammation of my leg muscles and an uncomfortable sensation in my bones.
I am not trying to give road running a bad rap, it's often mentally more comfortable to tackle than trails.
I guess I found myself unexpectedly more sore than I thought I'd be, and this sparkled the introspection.
In the world of ultrarunners, the term "long run" takes on a whole different meaning. It isn't the distance that defines it as "long" but the time we spend pounding the pavement, the trails, and everything in between. It is closer to what a cyclist might call "long".
For me, any run that stretches beyond five hours qualifies for this category. These are not runs you can just "wing", they're often adventures requiring serious planning. The route, the terrain, the weather, the gear – it all needs to be considered. Do I need my trail shoes, or will my road shoes suffice? How should I pace myself? How much nutrition should I carry? Is there a water stop along the way? How will this long run fit into my overall training schedule?
And that's just the running part!
Most of us have more things to fit into life - the job, the kids, the family commitments to take care. At least for me, it's an increasingly complex balancing act.
After weeks of trying to squeeze in a long run amidst the chaos of everyday life, I am happy I made it happen today by combinaing a warm up, the Noosa Marathon event and the 5km Noosa race with the kids. Originally, I had planned to run home too but for different reasons that didn't happen - and I must admit I'm not too disappointed. I got carried away and ended up running a good portion of the marathon faster than what I initially intended, and I paid for it on the last stretch.
It was a good day out, and it may be worth a short blog as I learnt a thing or two worth sharing.
This almost long run, removes the pressure of another long outing before the BVRT 100 miles mid June. Unless I can wing one in between :D
Running has been my anchor for the last 15 years. And with that, OUTRUNCANCER has been its lifeblood, that made me feel invincible, contributing to something larger than myself, carrying the weight of the world while simultaneously exposing me to a world of opportunities.
OUTRUNCANCER has been more than just a mission; it has been my identity. It pushed me beyond my comfort zones, introduced me to amazing people, and made me a part of a community striving for a common goal: make a dent in the world. However, with COVID, OUTRUNCANCER took a hit from which we have not recovered. Something I am reminded of every day I wear my neon green tshirts, or walk into my home office with the OUTRUNCANCER mission statement on every wall.
This new reality has left me at a crossroads, struggling with an internal conflict that wears me down each day. Part of me, the stubborn part, clings to what once was, refusing to let go. The other part, the pragmatic one, whispers that it might be time for change, for something new. And so, the conflict continues.
Intellectually, I know what the right thing to do is - dust myself off, take the risk, maybe even start anew. Yet, my heart hesitates. It feels like a betrayal, like I'm abandoning a cause I've poured my heart and soul into. But the fear of the unknown, the fear of failing again - they weigh me down. And so, the loop continues.
However, in the quiet moments of introspection, I feel a spark. A spark of new ambition, of a desire to stretch myself beyond what I've done before, to commit myself to something that demands even more from me than OUTRUNCANCER ever did.
But am I ready? Ready to lean into this new ambition? Ready to let go of the past to make way for what could be? Does leaning into something new mean I have to give up what I've achieved in the meantime – a stable home, some financial comfort, a chance to breathe, and nights of peaceful sleep?
And why, suddenly, do these things matter when they never used to? Whose reflection am I trying to live up to?
It's an outpour of questions, adding to the loop of my internal struggle.
But as the saying goes, "A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
I know I'm built for more.
I know I'm built to navigate the stormy seas, to chart a new course.
It's a daunting prospect. Is it one I'm ready to face?
As a parent, I've discovered a newfound admiration for this role – a role that demands relentless dedication and boundless love. Parenthood is, without a doubt, a tough gig. Every day, we show up, we put forth our best efforts, we give our all for our children. Of course, 'our best' cannot be objectively measured on a scale; it's deeply personal and based primarily on commitment and effort rather than a predefined outcome. I firmly believe this principle applies universally to all parents.
However, there are some parents who transcend the ordinary, those who rise to exceptional challenges, navigating life's extreme social, financial, and health circumstances with unwavering tenacity. One such example of extraordinary parenthood that I deeply admire is that of Dick Hoyt.
Most people have heard of or seen Team Hoyt in action; their feats have inspired people all around the world. Dick Hoyt pushed, pulled, and carried his son Rick, who was born with cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons, including the Ironman World Championship.
For more than 40 years, until Dick was 73 and Rick was 52, they competed together, defying all odds. Dick pushed Rick in his wheelchair in over 1,000 races, including 32 Boston Marathons, and achieved a personal marathon best of 2:40 - while pushing an adult in a wheelchair. Let that sink in for a moment.
The duo became a symbol not only for physical endeavors, but also of inclusion and education, with Rick advocating for a world where individuals of all abilities could pursue their dreams without limits. To me, this is a powerful testament to the profound impact a parent's love can have.
I can only imagine the long hours of training, the shared struggle of endurance, and the collective triumph of crossing the finish line together that fostered an unparalleled connection between Dick and Rick. That connection was interrupted two years ago when Dick passed away at the age of 80. Now, perhaps not surprisingly, the connection is being reformed as Rick, at 61, recently passed away too.
It is my hope that "there is a place" after this human life where Dick and Rick can run together once again. Thank you, Dick and Rick Hoyt, for living lives filled with courage, resilience, and love.