The highs and lows of 2017

I have been a bad blogger. My last post was in September 2016 but I have a good excuse, I think, well…. not really. But sometimes life gets in the way and our circumstances change, and boy did mine change in 2017.

After a devastating DNF (did not finish) due to injury at the 240km Coast2Kosciuscko Ultra Marathon in December 2016, I took 6 weeks off running over the Christmas and New Year period which at the time I thought would help mend my injured foot. I caught up with friends and family and it actually felt good to not have any training pressures, or set schedule for my weekends. My relationship with my husband had worsened though, and even a few days away together did nothing to improve our relationship. I had run out of ideas. Our lives had been drifting apart for a long while and despite my efforts I was left feeling lonely, frustrated, sad and depressed. I was not myself.

In February I eventually went for an MRI on my foot which revealed a partial tear to the plantar fascia and edema (swelling) on the bottom of the heel bone, the reason for the pain I had experienced during the race in December. My Sports Doctor gave me the good and the bad news, it was something that I would recover from BUT it would be a long, slow recovery (12-18 months, or more). He proceeded to tell me that I would need to rest, wear a CAM (controlled ankle mobility) boot and come back to see him in 8 weeks time. Ummmm, what?! I spent my whole life on my feet, how was I supposed to rest? And a CAM boot! CRAP! Okay, I’ll admit there are worse things in life, but I had never had a major injury before and at the time it felt like my legs had been cut off. I left the doctors office being thankful that I had a diagnosis, however I couldn’t help but feel sad and this added to the depressed state I had been living in lately. I had been sleeping in the spare room of our house. My marriage was over. We had given up. There was nothing more that could be done and I had spent an eternity going through scenarios in my head, but nothing seemed right. Life sucked.

I had my first round of PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injections in March which were a non-guaranteed treatment aimed at speeding up the recovery of the tissue in my plantar fascia. Firstly they take your blood, give it a spin to get all the good plasma, then inject small amounts of the plasma back into your foot in several spots along the affected area. Thankfully they gave me a local anaesthetic first, so I did not feel anything after that initial needle. Now I just had to put my feet up and see how the body would respond.

After moving out I rented a granny flat in Sylvania and the couple who owned the place (and lived downstairs) were wonderful. The water views from the balcony were so nice to wake up to everyday and I could even see the water views from the bathroom when I brushed my teeth. The flat had been updated but still had a few original touches which made it feel cosy. I always felt relaxed when I got home each day and the sunsets and sunrises were amazing. Despite having to manoeuvre the spiralled entry stairs in a CAM boot everyday and the fact that I was missing my dogs a lot, I had started to smile again.

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April was a bit of a blur. I was left puzzled after being un-invited to a Easter family get-together because ‘they now knew what I had done’. It turned out that a good friend (former) of mine had started a rumour of an affair, which he shared with my friends and family behind my back. My own family didn’t even call me to let me know what had happened, but a good friend contacted me as she knew it sounded like the lie that it was. I’m not sure if he will ever know the damage he caused to me and the relationships with my family, but I trust karma will catch up with him one day. I honestly believe that the truth will always be revealed, if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide. I’m very lucky that I have some very good friends who I now consider family as they helped me through these dark times and more.

In May I was given a chance to assist the social media team for the UTA100 (Ultra Trail Australia 100km) running events in the Blue Mountains, by taking photos of the leading male runners as we chased them all over the course from beginning to end. I had a blast seeing all my running friends that I had missed dearly and even though I had a great weekend, it reminded me just how much I had been missing the trails. Running had been my release, my meditation, my stress reliever. I had been building up all this tension and stress, and I needed to find another outlet. I needed to make some future plans, something to look forward to that wasn’t running. I booked my first (ever) trip to Europe.

I had enjoyed volunteering at the UTA100 race so much that I volunteered at the Mount Solitary Ultra in June (organised by Running Wild). I was looking forward to giving back to the trail running community, and at seeing some of my running mates again. I spent the long weekend in Victoria with some running friends who were training for various (spectacular and scary) overseas races. I didn’t go running with them but I had packed my DSLR camera so I could do some short hikes and get back into nature. I wasn’t meant to be out of my CAM boot yet, but it was feeling better and I truly believed the positive mental gains from being out in the fresh air far outweighed the risks. So I donned my trail shoes and explored the mountains. It was just what I needed.

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July, what an incredible, eye-opening month. I travelled to Spain, Andorra, France and the Netherlands. I flew into Barcelona with a friend and we spent a few days sightseeing (Sagrada Familia, Gothic Quarter, La Rambla, Gaudi, Dali to name a few) then drove to Andorra for the Andorra Ultra Trail Vallnord. I was support crew for the 170km Ronda Dels Cims race in which only a few Aussies were competing. It was a spectacular place and I fell in love with the country from day one. After the race we drove to Carcassonne for a night and after a debacle with our accommodation we finally made use of the spa and got some down time. The next day we visited Carcassonne’s spectacular castle village and then drove onto Lyon where we stayed for one night. The final destination was Paris, the city of love. We visited the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and went to the Opera for a stunning performance of Carmen. It was such a gorgeous city and it lived up to all of my expectations. After a few days in Paris we drove to Eindhoven and went to the Dynamo Metal Festival, such a rocking night. The final few days were spent in Amsterdam shopping and people watching, there was such a large variety of people from all different walks of life. I was sad when the day came that we had to fly home, I wanted to keep travelling, keep learning, keep exploring. The day I arrived home we went to see Queens of the Stone Age and only a few days later I also got to see LCD Soundsystem!!

 

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For more photos from this trip you can view my album on facebook here.

August brought with it a beautiful new home. I moved into a place near the Royal National Park and it would allow me to finally have my dogs with me, it felt like my life was finally getting back in order. I felt like I was on the right path and where I should have been all along. We celebrated the marriage of my beautiful friend Erita and her partner George, oh what a night! Then came the bad news, my boss had couldn’t afford to pay my holiday leave in future and was taking me off permanent and putting me on casual. Great, another kick in the guts.

It was another fantastic whirlwind of European travel in September. We flew into Zurich and drove to Zug, a gorgeous little town that happened to be hosting the annual cow show the day we arrived. We saw cows, tasted beers and had dinner with my cousin and his partner who took us to a lovely Bavarian restaurant. The next day we drove to Annecy to catch up with friends and after an exquisite dinner overlooking the lake, we drove onto Chamonix. The next day we queued early and took the cable car up Mont Blanc, I had never seen anything like it. I’ve been to the Australian snowfields twice as a kid, but it was nothing compared to this. This was a whole new world of breathtaking. The next day we drove to Courmayeur which would be our lodgings for the next week. This beautiful little town was abuzz with runners and families, and I prepared to be crew for the 330km Tor de Geants. Incredible. If I thought Andorra was beautiful, this place took my heart and soul to a whole other level. Every mountain, every stream, every day was more beautiful than the next. I lived in the car on the road for most of the race, but I felt very lucky to be alive, to be living this life and seeing these extraordinary places. I felt so connected and drawn to the earth, it was magical. After the race we headed to Rome, a place I’ve always dreamed of visiting since I was a kid. We visited too many places to list but the highlight would have to be visiting Pompeii and climbing up Mt Vesuvius. The artwork in all of the Roman churches was exquisite, and even though the Sistine Chapel was beautiful, I felt there were many other less-known churches that had a better display of artwork (and were free). And how could I not mention the Colosseum, it was bigger and better than my wildest dreams. Remarkable. Eventually the trip came to and end so we flew home already making plans for our next adventure.

 

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For more photos from this trip you can view my facebook album here.

It was back to work and back to reality in October. I longed to be back travelling and felt like I was falling into a bit of a slump. I had started training at the gym again, and running, but I had been getting knee pain that was quite intense and pulled me up short every time that I tried to run. I saw my Physiotherapist and did some strength work and hoped that the pain would ease. I just wanted to be out running again. Would I ever be out running again?

I was still having knee pain so I went for an MRI in early November. Thankfully there was no tear but a few other minor issues that needed work. I felt optimistic and my Physiotherapist said that after some targeted strength work I should be back running again soon. Yay! Another highlight in November was at my work Christmas Gala where I received the ‘Employee of the Year Award’ as voted by our members. I was very honoured to receive the award and it was a great night out with everyone letting their hair down.

The highlight of December was crewing for the 240km Coast2Kosci Ultra Marathon. This is a special race that I hold close to my heart. I know it defeated me in 2016 but I will be back again to run it one day, when I’m more experienced and I’m stronger. I know I will be back to conquer that beast. This year our runner had lots of hurdles but he made it to the finish line. I got to catch up with many good running friends and I also scored 2 great new friends that crewed with me and put up with living in a car with me for a few days. Before I knew it Christmas had arrived and I was planning family lunches and dinners.

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2017 had so much to show me, so much to teach me, and I’m lucky to be in a much happier place having gone through it all. I have learnt to be myself, I have learnt to be strong, and I have learnt to follow my dreams.

Bring on 2018…..

 

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