There are muscles in my body I didn’t know I had, but I’m glad I found out …

Ted Connor's run thumbnail

So, hot on the heels of my congratulatory post to Tony Abbot, here’s another post.

I’m in agony.  Sheer agony.  I have discovered muscles I forgot I had and I think I’ve discovered muscles I’m sure I never had before.  It’s a good pain though.  A satisfying pain. Not that anyone who sees me walk today will think that as I shuffle along the street.

Is there such a thing as good pain and bad pain?  Bad pain is like toothache and earache.  The pain is in your head and is pointless and futile.  You can’t get away from it and you lie there writhing hoping that some kind of reprieve will come soon.  And when the reprieve does come, in the form of a painkiller or tooth being filled, you never look back on that and say, “Well, that was worth it, I’m glad I had to go through that to get to where I am now …. “

Good pain is the pain you feel as a kid when you fall over and graze your knee but deep down you know everyone will be impressed with the massive scab you will have tomorrow.  Good pain is the pain you get after you’ve had your wisdom teeth out because you know you will never ever EVER feel that bad in your mouth again.  Good pain is the kind of pain you have during and after pregnancy and childbirth.  Labour pain is a good pain.  It’s not FUN or anything, don’t get me wrong, but in the majority of cases the outcome makes the pain worth it.  Even horrible caesarean scar pain after monster sized babies is a good pain (let’s not dwell on that though).   

My pain today is in my legs, my backside, my knees, my hips, but I wouldn’t change it for the world because two days ago, on Sunday 15th September, on one of Melbourne’s finest ever spring mornings, I ran with over 1500 people on Connor’s Run.  The 18.8km or 9.6km run from Sandringham and St Kilda to the Boat Sheds on the Yarra in the heart of our beautiful city.  1500 people all out there to support the wonderful Dawes family and remember their remarkable boy, Connor and raise money for the foundation set up in his memory the RCD Fund.

I use the term ‘ran’ rather loosely.  It was more of a stagger.  In fact, I wasn’t planning to run the distance. Or even vaguely jog it.  Like I said in my previous post about the RCD Fund, the only thing I run these days is a bath, so my plan was to rock up and stroll along the St Kilda waterfront with my family and take part in a nice sedate manner.  I didn’t train, apart from a few walks because, well, I was planning to walk.Ted running RCD

I have often said that I don’t know from where my son gets his competitive edge as his dad and I are quite chilled about things these days.  In fact I have always blamed the competitive spirit on my poor husband. Well, the missing piece of the puzzle fell into shape on Sunday as the long forgotten 10 year old inside me decided to wake up didn’t she?

My inner 10 year old was still dormant however, when we first arrived at the start line and the boy looked around and said, “I’m going to try and win this!”

I sighed and said, “Really?  Don’t do that.  It’s a fun run.  Not a race.  We are supposed to walk and chat and stroll together.”

And of course I got a raised eyebrow in response.  Telling him not to compete is like telling him not to breathe.  So after a little bit of discussion I said, “Fine, run, do what you like, just don’t kill yourself doing it, there are no prizes and be prepared to wait A Long Time for me at the end because I will be strolling along enjoying the view. Ok?”

So he set off without me in the wave of proper runners without a backward glance to see if his old mum was ok.

I got ready for the wave of fun runners/walkers/strollers.  The siren went off and that was when my inner 10 year old woke up and I found myself jogging.  “Ok,” I thought, “This is interesting …. ” and I fully expected to stop running and fall in an asthmatic heap within sight of the start line.  But suddenly I started to overtake people.  I first passed a fit looking lady in lycra with a high pony tail.  Ok so she wasn’t part of the run and she was going in the opposite direction but I wanted to look like her so I picked up my feet and pretended to run like a pro.  I first overtook walker, then a toddler being pushed in her pram by her grandparents and then a group of ladies jogging.  That felt good.  So I kept going.  Kept running.

Ted finishNow I know you are now hearing the theme tune to Chariots of Fire and can see me running the whole distance and winning the race in 30 minutes aren’t you?  No.  Sorry, that didn’t happen. 

But I actually ran for just over half the distance; about 3km to start with (about 2.5km longer than I’ve run in about 20 years), running past the toddlers and walkers and older people and then I settled into a nice pattern of walking/running/walking/running, interspersed with a quite a bit of stumbling and staggering.  But thankfully there was no need for the St Johns Ambulance to pick me up (which is what I fully expected) and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my stumble/trip.

As I had no-one with me to talk to (thanks to the boy running off like a nutcase), and I didn’t really want to interject in other people’s conversations or interrupt people who looked like they were enjoying their own solitary run/walk/jog, I decided to stick to certain groups to follow, overtake, pace.  It was fun.  Especially the couple of times I felt I was running with a group of healthy young high school girls (for about the 60 seconds it took for them to catch me up, over take and disappear into the distance).

By the time I was running along South Bank with 500m to go, the sense of achievement and euphoria was huge.  I had started chatting to a lady who I had been shadowing for the last 3km and we had walked a bit. When one of the marshalls said we only had 500m to go we looked at eachother and said at the same time, “We can definitely run this bit,” and off we went.  Of course my inner 10 year old made me try and race that last 300m, but that’s ok, I don’t think the other lady minded.

And the boy had a great run too.  He finished up near the front of course, like the lovable competitive loon he is.  And my inner 10 year old was wishing she could have finished that quickly too, bless her.

When my friend asked me what possessed me to run when I hadn’t trained I realised how stupid I was really, but also that my competitive gene is alive and kicking and is well and truly joined with that of my husband to have two competitive children who often just say, “I’ll have a go at this, I could try and win it …. “Meg finish

The apple doesn’t really fall that far from the tree does it?

But back to the point of the whole event.  It was a truly beautiful day.  Stunning weather, the best that Melbourne has to offer in the spring time, loads of people strolling and running along the water front and along the bike paths into our fabulous city.  1500 of us in our Connor’s Run t-shirts all together doing the same thing for the same cause. A splendid event that will be the first of many.  We both loved feeling we were doing something worthwhile, not just for the Dawes family and the RCD fund but for us too.  As Connor is and was a credit to his parents, this event and all that follow will be a credit to them and their vision too.  The lump in my throat nearly overcame me several times as I watched Connor’s beautiful and gracious mum start the 9.6km race and then greet us all at the finish line with a smile for all and a hug for anyone that asked. 

I’ve already committed to teaching myself how to run properly so I can run the whole thing next year.  I just need my legs to stop hurting so I can actually get out of my chair.

Read more about the RCD Fund here