"Why am I doing this?"
It was my first thought when the alarm went off early Sunday morning and the realisation hit that I was doing my first ever marathon that day.
I ran into Dave "Robbo" Robertson, the man who brought parkrun to town, at the start line and asked him.
He told me he tries to do one a year and suggested why wouldn't you do one in your home-town.
I had to agree. I think we are pretty lucky here in Newcastle to have an annual running festival in NewRun.
Not only are all of the courses scenic, you get a variety of distances to choose from.
I had ticked off the Herald Hill2Harbour 10km and half marathon (21.1km) in previous years and thought I would give the 42.2km marathon a go since the opportunity was there.
But there were plenty of nerves and self-questioning before the run started.
Then as I ran, and towards the end walked a little, I thought about what it was that made people put themselves through the pain. And, by the end, these were the reasons I came up with:
- It had given me something to train for during the past few months;
- My kids were there, running alongside me for a small part of the course. I'd like to think one day they'll want to do some of these events with me;
- Support and encouragement. Where else in adulthood do you have people telling you constantly, 'You're doing great';
- The feeling of achievement at the end;
- The inspiring stories of the people around you.
After the race, I heard about a guy who is running around Australia. His name is Andre Jones and he is 57 and from Melbourne.
The Melburnian began his Run Around Australia for charity on March 10 and is aiming to become the first person in history to achieve the feat unassisted by a support vehicle.
Andre ran from Bateau Bay to Swansea on Saturday morning then onto Newcastle on Sunday. On Monday, he sets off for Karuah.
He will be running to raise funds for four charities - GO Foundation, beyondblue, Royal Flying Doctors and The Smith Family.
Andre, I learned, is a retired Royal Australian Navy veteran and ran solo from Melbourne to Darwin in 2017. This time he plans to run an average of more than a marathon a day for about 350 days, all the while pushing a buggy weighing up to 100 kilograms of food, water and equipment.
The total kilometres planned are 15,134, which is equivalent to more than 358 marathons.
He will be on the road for 341 days, running 328 of those and resting for 13.
Total elevation of the journey will be 45,122 metres. He will go through six states and apparently is likely to go through 15 pairs of shoes in that time.
The pain of Sunday may still be raw but his story is enough to make me want to give another marathon a go ... one day.
Upcoming Fitness Events
Coastal Ascent Trail Run, Dixon Park, April 28: Starting and finishing at Dixon Park and running through Glenrock State Conservation Area, this new event offers 11km and 25km options.
Raffertys Coastal Run, Lake Macquarie, July 13: A 12km, 22km and 36km trail run hosted from Raffertys Resort to Catherine Hill Bay and through the Munmorah State Conservation Area.
Winery Running Festival, Hunter Valley, July 20-21: There is a half marathon, 10km, 6km and kids 2km. On the Saturday evening, there will be the inaugural Moon Marathon, a night marathon for individuals or teams.
Autumn Sessions Week #6
It is circuit time. Why? Because you can do them anywhere and they can be adjusted easily to suit your fitness needs.
Pick 10 exercises and set your times. Try this one with a first set of one minute each with no rest. Set 2 is 45 seconds with a 15-second rest. Set 3 is 30sec each with a 30sec rest.
Exercises: Squats with alternating single-arm shoulder press, skipping, wall squat hold, push-ups, ab rotation with weight, lunge jumps, bent-over dumbbell rows, burpees, hover.
Make it harder by having no rests. Make it easier by adding in lunges and dead lifts for lunge jumps and burpees.
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Renee Valentine is a writer, qualified personal trainer and mother of three.