The MWMW Project

I’ve been conspicuously absent (or inconspicuously depending on how much you missed me) from the blogosphere this past year. Some of that is due to gaining a part time teaching contract and having my brain preoccupied with how to teach a subject of which I have no real knowledge (Physical Education – wot a laff!). Mostly, though, it is due to a special project I decided to undertake this year that somewhat consumed me not only physically but also mentally and emotionally.

The Mad Wannabe Marathon Woman Project

Since I was reaching a big UH-OH birthday this year, I decided the best way to celebrate it would be to take on a massive physical challenge. Because that’s more fun than a party, right?

Yeah, well, anyway…

Some time last year, I mused to a friend (my Spreadsheet Enforcer of earlier years) that I was thinking maybe of trying a marathon for my 50th birthday. And then I forgot about it. Until January this year when an email arrived in my inbox with the subject line: “Are you really sure???” (three question marks would seem to indicate that the Spreadsheet Enforcer certainly wasn’t) and a training spreadsheet attached.

A part of me was not sure. The rational part. Luckily (or unluckily depending on your view of marathons) most of me is completely irrational so I wrote back “Let’s do this!”

And thus began nine months of training.

There were good times – like gaining back the fitness I’d lost after the GMI (Great Moth Incident).

There were bad times – like the times I would run and cry at the same time as the Inner Critic stuck the boot in telling me I was not a real runner and I had no hope of running a marathon.

There were the highs – like shaving 10 minutes off my previous time for a hilly trail half-marathon I took on as one of my training runs.

There were the lows – like the foot injury that people took an unseemly delight in telling me they hoped wasn’t plantar fasciitis but that it probably was and in which case my running career was over. (It wasn’t and it was fixed with a new pair of shoes.)

Number One Training Moment

Through the wonders of Facebook, I was convinced by a couple of friends to attend a running retreat weekend they were organising on Magnetic Island. Gosh, a weekend in Queensland away from the freezing September weather in Victoria so I could run with Olympian marathon runner Steven Moneghetti? Tough. Tough, tough choice.

It changed my life. Literally. You can read about the impact here.

Running for…

To add incentive to my completion of the marathon, I signed up as a member of the Run 4 Refugees Team, raising money for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. It was something I’d wanted to do last year but realised that if I could save it for a full marathon, I’d be likely to raise more money.

I’ve always found it more motivational to complete a challenge for someone other than myself.



Thinking an early drive to Melbourne with the whole family sounded like not much fun, we booked into a hotel apartment not too far from the start line the night before. It also had the advantage of being able to walk some of the course before the day to determine the best vantage points for the family to cheer on their mad wife and mother.

Marathon Day started early and alone. Seriously, it was less stressful to leave a husband and three boys in bed and get only myself to the start line than have them accompany me. Besides, there was something peaceful about hopping on that tram in the early dawn light with only other runners (and the occasional party-goer just heading home).


Jets and balloons over the finish line at the Melbourne Cricket Ground

At the start line (after a successful last minute visit to the portaloo – only other long distance runners will understand the significance of this achievement), I heard the starter chat to Steve Moneghetti. It was somehow comforting to know he was there. ‘I must make sure I find him at the finish’, I thought.

I stood in the marathon runner crowd towards the back. It was a tactic to ensure I started slowly and didn’t get over-excited and run too hard at the beginning.


So far back it took me 3 minutes to cross the start line

The start gun went and we were off. Which meant walking for those of us at the back. I think I got up a jog just after I crossed the start line. Just as well I wasn’t trying to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.

For the first kilometre, I was struggling not to cry. I know this would be normal for theΒ last kilometre, but for me it was the start of the race that reduced me to tears.Β I was finally here.

I settled into a steady pace, telling myself regularly ‘Slow down. Don’t go too fast early.’ At the 3km point I passed the hotel where we were staying. I looked up at the windows of our apartment, half expecting to see some familiar faces and an encouraging wave.Β Half expecting because, really, it was only 7.20am. Sure enough, not a sign. Waaaay too early for my male household to be stirring. πŸ™„

They did make an appearance eventually. Conveniently at the 22km mark at a bit over halfway, just when I needed a bit of a boost. A wave and a cheer and I was off along the waterfront for the next down-and-back leg.


It was on this leg that I met a man attempting the same feat but in his case he was celebrating an UH-OH birthday ten years more than mine. This was an aspect I loved about the marathon – meeting new people, having a chat, mutual support.

The family appeared again around the 30km mark, another point at which a boost was appreciated. I called out, “Feeling pretty good!” and I was. Then. A couple of kilometres down the road, things changed.

My calves started cramping. I ran for a bit and then thought, maybe it would help if I stopped for a minute and stretched. So I did. Big mistake. As soon as I stopped, my whole thigh cramped badly. ‘Uh oh,’ I thought. ‘Nope, just gotta keep moving.’ I hobbled off and once I was moving the cramp in my thigh eased although my calves and feet were still cramping.

For the last 10km of the race, I ran with my calves and feet cramping on and off. I had an interesting running style when the calf cramp would set in but I kept moving, even running up the ‘hills’ they threw into the mix in the last 5 kilometres. I was in pain but still managed something of a grimacing smile for the photographers.


The finish line for the Melbourne Marathon is on the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. It would be almost impossible not to feel uplifted and excited entering the ground and running a lap of the oval to the finish line. And I did feel it. But I was also tired and I was hurting so my pace remained mostly steady. Until I hit the final straight to the finish line and then could not ignore the Need for Speed. I moved onto the grass and shot past the man running in front of me to fly over the finish line. I suspect I may have spoiled his expected finish line photo but a girl’s gotta do….

Remember how I thought, ‘Oh, Steve’s here! I must go find him after I finish to thank him for helping me complete my first marathon!’?

Yeah. I forgot.

I was so emotional about actually finishing my first marathon, all I really wanted was to collect my finisher’s medal and find my family which is exactly what I did. (Well, after a little incident on the staircase outside the MCG while I was on the phone to my husband to work out where they were. My legs cramped up and I was hanging onto the rail trying not to swear. People were wonderful. Someone gave me salt tablets, another gave me water, another offered himself for me to lean on while his friends spoke to my husband on my phone and then they helped me up the stairs and waited until my family found me. Runners are lovely people…)

And that was it. I’d done it. My nine-month-long Mad Wannabe Marathon Woman Project was completed.

And I was no longer a Wannabe.



I finished the marathon in 4:27:37. Since my main aim was to finish and then secondly to do it in under 5 hours, to have finished just under 4 1/2 hours was more than I could ever have dreamed.

I raised $2384 for the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, by far so much more meaningful to me than the race result.

I met another Run 4 Refugees runner at a 10km a few weeks later (we were both wearing our shirts). I will always feel part of a special community.

I discovered Steve Moneghetti at a trail run recently and was finally able to say ‘Thank you’ for his part in my finishing the marathon.

And Finally…

I spent nine months saying, “This is my one and only marathon. I just want to do one and cross it off my bucket list.”

I’ve just signed up to do the Gold Coast Marathon next July.

Some people are hopeless….


62 thoughts on “The MWMW Project

  1. Welcome back to the blogosphere (I’ve missed our exchanges)! You are an awesome Wonder Woman who completed a goal that most of us wouldn’t give a second thought. I knew you wouldn’t stop running and it didn’t surprise me that you’ll be running another marathon in 2018. I have my pompoms ready! Go Heather!

    BTW, about the cold here in WI…I went into work this morning and saw a jogger out on the trail in front of my office. It’s -19C. Is that dedication or stupidity? My answer is that the runner can stay outside while I’m in a warm office with hot coffee. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Although I followed your journey on FB, it was nice to see you again in WP! You worked hard to get to where you are right now, so it’s no surprise to me that you would want to add many more races to the list πŸ™‚
    You are now a bonafide runner, my friend! … and I suspect you haven’t peaked yet πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for being part of the cheer squad. πŸ™‚ I think that moment when I allowed myself to say ‘I am a runner’ meant that I could now stand at a race start line and feel I belong there and that has made all the difference. I also now see all the different types of people running instead of only seeing the super fit runner types and thinking I haven’t a chance. It’s all so much more enjoyable. πŸ™‚


  3. Heather, I salute you for making the commitment to complete this marathon! It takes a lot of dedication & willpower to tackle such a feat & you did it girl! Congratulations you crazy gal!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. it’s lovely to catch up with you again, good for you on your achievement; you must be dead chuffed!! Perhaps you have at last found the something you are naturally good at πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€
    Have a great 2018 MOSY.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Congratulations Heather! That is a huge accomplishment, and raising money for a good cause makes it even more wonderful. I’m glad to see you back in writing mode, and I look forward to seeing notifications in my inbox. Good luck preparing for July. It seems so far away, but I can’t imagine running that far, so it might as well be next week.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Part of the emotion at the start of the race was also seeing other Run 4 Refugees team members and knowing we were doing something good. It meant so much more than just completing the race. I’m so glad to be back here too and plan to stick around this time even in the midst of more running.

      Liked by 1 person

    • With the situation on Manus, this was an issue right at the forefront of news and so it felt significant to be supporting the ASRC’s work. There was no way I wasn’t going to finish that marathon.
      It’s good to be back. Thanks, Su.


  6. Very impressive – you are one determined woman! I love that you cried at the beginning of the race because you’d finally got there – lovely moment to share with us. Wishing you many more races and look forward to your blog posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the one thing that anyone who doubted I could run a marathon forgot to take into account is the rather wide streak of stubbornness I possess. πŸ˜€ Even when the Inner Critic was yelling at me that I didn’t have a hope, some level of sheer bloody-mindedness would kick in and I’d still finish the training run even if I was in tears. I learnt that running a marathon is as much a mental game as a physical one.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Yaaaaay Heather! Congrats! Well worth the disappearance and what an adventure it sounded like to train and to finish the marathon under such wonderful circumstances. It’s like you can do anything when you have made your mind up to do it πŸ™‚ Amazing you got to meet Steven Moneghetti at the retreat and other runners too. Sometimes you just have to get away in order to get into the head space and train, and be with those who are really, actually like-minded with the same goal.

    Good to hear changing shoes helped the foot injury. Recently I’ve taken up walking (10km one day a week) and my feet, legs and back hurt. When I got new shoes with more room for the toes, that seemed to take the pressure off. Still not the perfect shoe in terms of support, but getting there.

    The marathon photos came out lovely. Lol at you overtaking the guy and love it that you did it with a massive smile on your face. Most chipper of the lot to come in at the same time as you πŸ˜€ Gold Coast Marathon? Yes you can πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • That weekend on Magnetic Island was the best thing I could have done. It just changed everything. So grateful.
      People tend to underestimate the importance of the right shoes.
      I love those finish line photos. πŸ™‚
      The Gold Coast Marathon is supposed to be fast and flat. It’s a popular first marathon. They claim 60% of runners run a PB. I’m looking forward to it. If nothing else, it looks like a lovely course.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just by reading it’s name, Magnetic Island sounds like some magical, mystical island. Understandably it was quite a retreat for you πŸ™‚

        Flat terrain…now there’s another bit of motivation for you to run a PB alongside great views πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  8. What fun to find you back at the blog Heather.I drank in every single word as If i was standing right there watching. As you described the race I could visualize Dave and I watching your times come up on line. We could tell when that cramping started bu then you seemed ot settle right back in. We also knew you sprinted at the end because we were watching and then it said you completed as if by magic. It is no surprise to me that you have signed up for another and why not? You were so successful and with that smile on your face, even when in pain, I can see you loved it. You go girl. We’ll be waving the Canadian pom poms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It feels good to be back and so good to write down the whole experience even just as a reference point for myself.
      It was pretty hard to resist a marathon that’s having its 40th year and therefore a special finisher’s medal especially when that marathon is a popular fast and flat one. (Lots of people do the Gold Coast Marathon for their first marathon.) Just had to be done really. πŸ˜€


  9. OMG what a great story. Made me cry. Personally, I think you should submit the story to a magazine or paper – it is that well done. I was there with you ever step of the way (but lucky for lazy old me…I was only virtually running beside you from the comfort of my couch). And I always knew I liked you, but now I adore you even more for raising money for The Asylum Seeker Resource Center!!! Yay you πŸ€—

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh gosh, thank you! I always find it hard to judge if something I’m writing is really going to be interesting at all to other people and this one was tough because it was primarily written as a record for myself. So I’m glad you found it a good read. πŸ™‚
      Being part of the Run 4 Refugees Team made running the marathon such a wonderful experience and so much easier to cross that finish line.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. An impressive feat (feet?) of strength and endurance. I am not a runner, but my son forced me out for a walk in the cold and blowing snows in the dark tonight. I’m swaddled as though I expect to sleep on the streets. Then, what marvel did we see as we rounded a corner, in the dark? A huddle of humans wearing red and blue flashing lights! The lightly clad horde of runners trouped past in the slush. It was like seeing an ecstatic Christmas display that decided to go for a run. Runners have got to be a bit mental to go out in weather like that! Not only that, to seemingly enjoy doing it!

    Liked by 1 person

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