By then, with Martin’s encouragement, I joined my daughter’s training group, Sean Williams’s SWEAT, Sydney when they established a Beginner’s group and the Sydney Striders Running Club. I had met the Sydney Striders Membership Secretary by chance on my Canberra run and it seemed Destiny at work when she encouraged me to join. I gained great experience and learned heaps in both. Above all it was
really FUN! From the rather solitary activity of writing Music (my lifelong profession has been as Music Academic and composer) I found I was making loads of new friends of all ages, developed a passion for running and was spending way more time out doors. I was loving early rising and the challenge and discipline of regular training. And I loved the adrenalin rush of competition.
I think Martin Doyle thought I would be content with just one Marathon. So did I ! Neither of us anticipated that he had launched a running monster and that there was to be no stopping me once I’d experienced the unbelievable high of crossing the Finishing Line of my first Marathon in Melbourne at 68 years of age.
Yes it was tough but I had a ball out there. The real party happens at the back of the race. I always make new friends. Share and swap running stories. Enjoy the race vibe and the support of spectators. Usually there is interesting scenery to take in. The main goal is the FINISH which has its own magnetism as you count down the Kilometres (or Miles) the urge to cross that line gets ever stronger. You push your body to its limits. The Finishing rush is like a gigantic purge and very emotional. It is also highly addictive.
My next big challenge was the 2017 Gold Coast Marathon before returning to Melbourne the following year to run my personal best time (5 hours and 8 minutes) and win my age category as a 70 year old. I also managed to win my age division in City2Surf that year. A stellar year turning 70! Best running results to date. A particular training challenge is to maintain my position in the Green Start group (sub 90’) in City2Surf for as long as possible. A very crowded race it turned out to be just the experience I needed to cope with even worse congestion this year in the London Marathon where 44,000 runners packed the 26 Mile course from Greenwich to Buckingham Palace. It was a matter of ducking and weaving pretty much the whole way.
I retired from the University of Sydney aged 70 and at the top of my
bucket list, as a way of staying off the couch and maintaining best possible fitness, was to run the World’s 6 Major Marathons before I turned 80. To date I have completed New York (2017), Boston (2018) and London (2019). Each has been a unique and epic experience the memory of which I will always treasure. Still to run are Tokyo, Berlin and Chicago. However, I have a major opera project happening in the Alice Springs Desert Song Festival next year so no internationals runs on my current calendar.
To date, I have completed 8 Marathons (Melbourne 2014/2016; Gold Coast 2015/2017; New York 2017; Boston 2018; Sydney 2018; London 2019) I’m planning to run Gold Coast again to compete in the Australian Masters marathon championships next month and possibly even Melbourne in October to complete my first 10 Marathons this year before focussing upon shorter distances in 2020 – my year of the Olive Pink Opera in Alice Springs. I compose most days but this is a truly epic project, already 6 years in planning and gestation but only recently achieving the momentum of an assured performance.
Since starting running, I have completed many Half Marathons, 10Ks and have join
ed the Park Run movement (free weekly timed 5K community events run and walked, all over the world on Saturday mornings).
I guess I’ve proved to myself its NEVER too LATE to take up something physically demanding. The health benefits of running are incredible. My compromised left hip requires careful treatment and daily strengthening exercises. It is incredibly important to build and maintain core strength through activities such as Pilates, Yoga and weight training. My work at RISE in Ruth and Josie’s Pilates classes across the last 5 years provides THE FOUNDATION for my running. Equally important is cross training. My favourite recovery activity is Swimming and
I regularly pump out 1–2 Kilometres in our local Glasshouse pool – usually twice a week. And when possible, I attend the Bronte Swimming Club Saturday morning Meets in their lovely Ocean Pool.
Its all incentivising and FUN!
Another relatively recent discovery was the Jeff Galloway Run Walk Method. He recommends taking regular Walk breaks throughout longer runs as a means of avoiding injury and aiding much quicker recovery time. Oddly this method can produce faster finishing times. I’ve had no significant injury since adopting this method for my weekly Long Runs. My Marathon times have all been between 5 and 6 hours – often fast enough to place well in my age group but slower than I would like to achieve. My dream is to at least once in my life run sub-5 hours. I have yet to be achieve this goal but I live in hope. The Marathon is an unpredictable and demanding beast that takes one to the limits of human achievement and it demands respect. BUT PERHAPS ONE DAY …..
What I love most about longer runs is the Journey itself. My feet have taken to me to some amazing places, mentally, physically and spiritually that I would never have experienced had I not taken up the addictive sport of endurance running. I believe failing significant impairment or injury, everyone CAN run. Simply start SLOW, build YOUR OWN RHYTHM, take plenty of WALK BREAKS and enjoy BREATHING, taking in the SCENERY and the fantastic sense of CONNECTION that is the great reward of running long distances.