Falling for life wave after wave- a blog


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This is a post I put on my public blog, but then I made it private. I do that a lot these days.

INXS - Dancing on the Jetty (HD) - YouTube

Going out into the world is like walking a tight rope. Don't look down.

On any given day there are those you are getting along with. There are the simple positive or neutral interactions. I like them. It brings peace into my life. How do I get better at it?

But my mind is forever vigilant and focuses more on the negative interactions. Those that have a problem with me, those that are openly hostile. And that changes from day to day, like the shifting sands on a beach. I'm desperate to do the right things, say the right things, look the right way at the right people. It does my head in.

Focusing on the above, is like walking on a tight rope and looking down, and you're sure to fall. And the hard thing about life is keeping your focus straight ahead while all sorts of things are thrown at you to make you lose your balance and fall.

Still that is wonder of existence, impossible to understand, but so achingly beautiful. A slippery slope that if you keep clinging to, and dragging yourself up inch by inch by your fingernails, sometimes you win.

The above sentences inspired by this song.

What if I say that I will never surrender?

Foo Fighters - The Pretender - YouTube

Today I think I did alright. If anyone had a problem with me I'm sorry.

However, I'm not going to surrender, I will continue to stand silently in the places that scare me most and never give up on chasing my dreams.
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I was thinking about my return to running. I think a lot, probably too much.

My return to running happened as a result of acting out of necessity.

It was the result of a battle to walk without pain, to save my knees from surgery. I fought that battle blindly with no goal in sight, a return to running was never even dreamed of as a possible outcome. A nightmare I woke up into everyday, that I saw no end to, but I kept fighting anyway.

It seems I am able to fight and win battles out of necessity. Some of the biggest battles anyone can possibly face: beating knee pain, rebuilding my knee, beating panic attacks, fatigue, haemochromatosis.

That battle out of necessity resulted in never dreamed of outcomes, which exceeded every possible expectation, which made a dream become reality. My running dream come true.

What if I was as good at working towards changes that weren’t out of necessity? What might be possible? What other dreams could come true? What if I could work towards change before things got so serious that I was facing my own mortality, a future of knee pain, and illness?

I had to hit rock bottom before I learnt to fight. To learn how much I wanted to live. What if I had the motivation to fight for change before it is out of necessity?


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Shooting Stars Only

Is that what we are?

The Langoliers Stephen King

I’m not sure if my story will be a cautionary tale. Or maybe for somebody to read at a future time, and decide for themselves, and try do better than I have, not make the same mistakes I have. Or dismiss them as the ravings of someone with an illness. All I know is that I’ve actually seen what it is like to burn brightly like a shooting star. What a surprise, it jumped up and slapped me on the face. What can I change to continue this? I want more of it.

I turn 50 this year. My early forties where a complete wipe out. My late forties have been all over the place, but have included some of the most brilliant days I’ve lived. I never dreamed. I fear what is just around the corner in my fifties. You can’t predict what will happen, how you will respond to it. I want to try to be more prepared this decade.

Tonight as I walked down the hill to the service station, I looked up at the sky. I imagined my lifeline as the arc of a shooting star’s trail, in darkness for most of its journey, but suddenly ignited and defined so late in the piece. I need to see what I can do to make that shooting star’s trail remain as bright and travel as far as possible.


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Service stations

During my really bad caffeine addiction days I used to make night time runs to service stations for Pepsi Max. My eyes as large as dinners plates, my anxiety way, way out there for all to see.

I remember one of the service station attendants noticed my anxiety and said. "Why don't you go home and lie down?" It was really, really bad then. I remember another service station I went to the staff saying I'm weird.

Panic attack

Once after a panic attack I was recovering in a bed in the emergency ward. The doctor was talking to me as I was hooked up to a blood pressure monitor. As I was talking to her my anxiety went up to 200/100. She slipped a pill into my hand, an SSRI I imagine. It was my mind making me physically ill. I thought I was dieing just a few hours earlier. It is actually quite an experience to feel you are dieing and then to discover you are going to live, all in the space of a few hours.

Another time I was being hooked up to a 24 hour blood pressure monitor. The doctors assistant hooked me up. My blood pressure recording was 160/100. Over the next 24 hours my blood pressure averaged 130/80. When I went back to the doctors another assistant joked that it must've been her spiky hair that sent my blood pressure up in the doctors rooms.

It was actually at that doctor's rooms that I started to win my battle over panic. I was put on a treadmill, and given a stress test.

The cardiologist said it is only stress with you, you could play sport if you wanted to. I thought there was something wrong with my heart, but I was going to live. It was like the shadows lifted and the sun came out all at once. The lie my mind was feeding my panic, that there was something wrong with my heart was exposed. With that knowledge I could challenge my panic, "What have you got?" I'd get surges of panic through my body. "You can't kill me panic, is that is all you've got." The panic lost its power over my mind.

That was 2003, the cardiologist was right, it took me 5 years and more battles with panic and knee pain, but I could play sport, I could run a marathon.
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My other marathon- a battle with panic disorder

My first battle 2002-2003

I had my first panic attack in the Franklins supermarket in November 2002. My thoughts were spiralling out of control, worry and fear and anger, mostly about work. I started to feel tightness through my abdomen and into my chest. There was also a dizziness, where I would take a step and feel that my feet would fall out from underneath me. When the panic attack hit me it was the most frightening thing imaginable. I convinced myself I was having a heart attack, not sure what was happening, but it was a feeling like death that was all in my mind.

I remember after it passed finishing my shopping. I made it out of the shopping centre. I sat down on the curb, too scared to take another step in case the feeling came back. It was only 50 metres to my car, but that seemed like light years. The safe, sane world pulled out from underneath me, and a simple thing like walking to my car became impossible.

The next panic attack I had was in December 2002 in Dymocks book shop on George Street. I'd driven to Sydney to see my father. I remember feeling stressed because the door handle on my Honda Civic wouldn't work and I couldn't close the door. I arrived in Sydney and went into town to do some shopping. I bought The Tooth Fairy by Graham Joyce at the Galaxy book shop. Then I walked over to the botanical gardens to their bookshop to see if I could buy the latest Cunninghamia journal. I didn't feel well, the tightness in my whole abdomen working its way up into my chest.

The feeling frightened me, I couldn't shake it. I battled on along George Street, and I made it into Dymocks. I walked around aimlessly, not looking at books, my whole world focused on the horrible feeling building inside. I was sure I was going to have a heart attack and die. It was so frighteningly physically intense this feeling. When the panic attack happened my world stopped, my thoughts gone from me, replaced with a wordless fear. I'm not sure how long the attack lasted perhaps only seconds, but my whole world blanked out, I couldn't breathe.

I have come to see a panic attacks as a slow build up of worrying, angry, negative thoughts boiling over, and my mind saying enough, no more. Here is something else to worry about a fear of dying. A mind can only take so much stress and worry.

I walked out of the Dymocks, so scared, so alone. What had just happened to me? Would the feeling return? I made it as far as the steps in Martin Place, the world of well people moving past me, leaving me behind. I sat on the hard concrete steps too scared to move in case the feeling came back. I made it home on the train, I didn't tell my father. I sat on the couch in his unit at Miranda for the rest of the day. I remember it was such a miserable Christmas, I spent most of the time reading the tooth fairy novel, the feeling of panic growing again. Unable to shake it off, not able to feel relaxed sitting up or lying down.

I was going to have a heart attack I was sure of it. Later that night, I gave into the panic, I excused myself from my father, told him I wasn't feeling well. I jumped in my car and drove to Caringbah hospital convinced I was having a heart attack. They admitted me through casualty straight away. I was taken for an X ray, and then I was admitted to a bed. I think they took a blood test. Sometime the later the Doctors came around to my bed. They could find nothing wrong with the Xray. The blood tests were also clear. They kept me in for observation for a couple more hours, but then I was allowed to leave.

The next few days and weeks were very frightening. I fought off the feeling of chest tightness and dizziness almost all the time. I managed to see a Gp who performed an echo cardiogram, he said, there was nothing wrong with my heart. He told me it was just stress and prescribed Prozac. I didn't take the drug. I started on blood pressure medicine. The drug was called coversyl; I developed a cough taking it.

Challenging the feeling of panic

I managed to get an appointment with a cardiologist. This is when I began to win the first round of my battle with panic. I was given a stress test on a treadmill. The cardiologist said it was just stress with me, and that I could play sport if I wanted to. It was like the shadows had the lifted and the sun had come out.

The lie that the panic was feeding my mind was exposed, I wasn't going to die, there was nothing wrong with my heart. I still got surges of panic through my whole body, but I was able to challenge the panic. "What have you got?" It would surge through me, and when I was still standing I'd tell it "You can't kill me, you've got nothing." Slowly it lost its power.

I took some extended leave in 2003, bought my Subaru Forester and travelled across the Nullarbor. The tightness in my abdomen was often present, the panic was there. I was recovering from having a growth removed after an operation. The doctor’s surgery called when I wasn't home, and said he wanted to see me about the results of the biopsy. I spent a whole weekend worrying it might be bad news, it wasn't, but my panic fired up again, and it troubled me for much of my holiday. Although I didn't have another panic attack.

May 2005- the lowest point of my life

My next encounter with panic was in March 2005. Work was stressful, I was really unhappy with something I was asked to work on. It was rushed, and I did it under duress. I was also trying to run a little, but my knee started to sublux on me and get painful. My anxiety was bad too causing me a lot of stress, making me want to avoid shops, chemists. When I was walking around town I started to get a feeling of dizziness, like my feet would some out from under me, and I was going to collapse. Over the next few months I descended into a nightmare, the worst time of my life so far.

I saw a GP he prescribed blood pressure medicine. Everything was OK for a little while. My prescription ran out, and so I made an appointment to see the Doctor, but he was on leave. I saw another Doctor at the practice; he took my blood pressure and decided to double the dose. Then I started to feel really unwell, fatigue, dizziness, chest tightness. I kept taking the pills. I had a holiday to go to Perth to see my father. I remember at Sydney airport feeling so terrible. I got worse and worse during the trip. My knee was playing up, and this stressed me out even more. It was so horrible.

I had another panic attack and this time I made a visit to Charles Gardner hospital. My brother in law drove me. Of course they could find nothing wrong, and my blood pressure reading was spot on. I still felt like crap. In the mornings it would start, the chest tightness, the dizziness, the fatigue. Surely a doctor would have to find out what was wrong.

I remember the late night flight back from Perth, flying over the lights of Adelaide, feeling so unwell. I went to sleep that night, and the next morning began to walk down my steps in my unit. My heart fluttered in my chest and I almost collapsed. I saw the doctor, I wanted to know if it was the drugs where the problem. He reckoned they weren't, and my condition was a mystery and sometimes doctors don't have answers.

It was May 2005, I felt completely debilitated. Getting around my unit was hard. It was a battle getting up to go into the kitchen. I had ten days off work. I should've had more, what I was going through was a serious illness, I realise that now. There had to be something wrong with me it wasn't possible to feel so bad. I saw no future, I didn't think I was going to survive the year.

I had blood tests for Ross River virus, Diabetes. I had a CT scan of my brain. Echocardiograms. I wasn't going to go home and lie down I wanted answers.

The hardest yards.

In July 2007, I went on weekend trip to Brisbane to watch the Sharks play at ANZ stadium. I flew up late at night. It was a nightmare flight. My baggage was lost. I made it to my room, I remember looking at myself in the hotel mirror wondering what the hell was wrong with me. How I could I feel so terrible and no one had any answers. I had to move hotels that night, I moved to a place with a view of the Brisbane River and Storey Bridge. In the morning the tightness and dizziness was still there, and it got worse as the day went on. That morning I made the decision to stop taking the blood pressure pills, and smashed them into little pieces and flushed them down the toilet.

It was the day of the Rugby League match. I struggled to walk into town. I watched War of the World at the movies. I remember thinking of letting go, I was going home, giving up, I didn't want to face this illness anymore. Each step was a battle. I made it into the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, and sat at a park bench too scared to more, head in hands, giving up.

But then I heard a voice, it said "Don't give up it's going to be alright" I remember it clearly as if was looking down from outside of myself, this bundle of cells in pain, and trying to comfort myself. It gave me the courage to keep going. I got to my feet and took one step at a time. Sometimes I see those first few steps as the ones that led to beat panic and run a marathon.

I visited a GP in the city, of course he could find nothing wrong. He suggested that I go back to hotel and rest, and he didn't think it was a good idea to watch the football.

I went back to my motel and lay on the bed. I thought, stuff this I've come all this way, I want to see the football. So I walked out the door, and towards the bus stop. I described this later as walking a line between life and death. I fought with each step, if I was still standing I'd take another and another.

I made it to the bus stop, and onto a bus out to ANZ stadium. I watched the Sharks play and they lost 20-6. Then I continued the battle all the way back to the hotel. I lay down exhausted , but still alive. I was proud of facing my fear like that.

The nightmare starts to lift

On the flight home the next day the fog of dizziness started to lift. I started to feel human again. I didn't get better until September that year. I had to fight off panic all that time. I even went to the emergency ward at Coffs Harbour a couple of times after more panic attacks. I had seven panic attacks serious enough to send me to hospital throughout my battle with panic. I was often housebound, too nervous to feel anything, in case it would trigger anxiety and panic.

I'd curl up on my couch and not to anything. Sometimes I could not face another step feeling so unwell, and no doctor being able to do
anything. There were slight improvements on how I had felt during May. Once I stopped taking the drugs.

The things that helped me beat panic

1. ruling out other life threatening conditions

2. exposing the lie in my mind that the panic could kill me

3. Challenging and embracing the panic. Fighting panic only makes it worse.

4. Finding answers from doctors, by getting second and third opinions.

5. Seeking counselling.

I improved enough to be able to go for a drive one weekend. I went to Hat Head. It was a cold winters day and there was a howling southerly blowing. I walked into the big sand dunes that are like a mini Namibian desert. I was cold, the wind and sand was stinging my face, but it felt wonderful to be outside, alive and free of the illness that had been diminishing my life.


I saw an out of hours doctor, in August of that year. He ran some blood tests. It turned out I had a condition called Haemachromatosis, an iron overload disease. The GP prescribed more blood pressure medicine off a reading in his practice, and also Zoloft. I didn't take the pills.

I asked to see the cardiologist again. This time I was given a stress test, a 24 blood pressure monitor and an echocardiogram. Once again I passed the stress test. The 24 hour blood pressure monitor was more revealing. At the doctor’s office, my blood pressure was measured as 160/100, which is high. However, when the results were gathered after the 24 hour test, my blood pressure averaged 130/80. I had white coat hypertension. Through May and June I was overmedicated. When I was not at the doctor’s surgery my blood pressure was probably dangerously low. No wonder I felt unwell.

Then I started the treatment for haemachromatosis. This involved giving a pint of blood every week for several months to get my iron levels back to normal. So there was something wrong with me, it wasn't just stress. There was also the fatigue of the iron overload. And for a while after that things really improved. I was back.

I did a lot of walking down through the Jetty. A 5. 5km circuit. I started to feel quite fit. Then one I started to run and I made it 2 kilometres all the way home. My knee was OK. So I tried a few more runs. I managed to run 6km on three occasions. My knee would feel tight sometimes, but so far so good. I think I ran a total of 60 kilometres over a period of a few weeks.

Knee pain and panic

Then one night the knee went off the rails, and subluxed painfully. I saw the physio straight away. The physio shook his head at me, your hamstrings are too tight, he said. So he convinced me to stretch them. I stretched all the time, I became obsessed by stretching. My hamstrings were probably the most flexible in the whole of Coffs Harbour. I went to Perth, I remember stretching and stretching at a Park at Claremont. I stretched on the back of every chair I could find. Stretch, stretch, stretch. What a waste of time! My knee got worse. The physio also showed me some exercises, they aggravated my knee. You'll be running in two weeks, he said. Something I've learnt to trust only the doctors and physios who can put their words into actions.

I managed to run a handful more times, culminating in my first ill-fated Sawtell Fun Run of January 2006. That was a wonderful day, I really enjoyed the race, and there was no pain. I ran well for two kilometres, then blew up due to lack of fitness. Maybe I could run some more, I thought, wouldn’t that be good? I even played a couple of games in the Woolgoolga Touch Football competition. Then my knee started to get really painful, and it would painfully jump the rails. I saw three different physios, but the pain got worse and worse, and I descended into a nightmare of knee pain.

The stress of the pain made my stress and anxiety go up, and the panic returned. I had more panic attacks, my last in July 2007. The pain was terrible then. I made another trip to Brisbane to watch the Sharks play. I'd get up early in the morning and go for a walk, the knee would tighten up. I walked around the city and my knee was on fire with pain.

My knee became so tight; I couldn't walk comfortably to my car. There'd be the horrible tightness, with the fear that the knee cap would sublux. I learnt to hate that feeling, it was wrong like someone rubbing their finger nails across a black board, but with pain involved. A knee cap is not meant to jump off the rails like that it is wrong. It was even painful to dip my knee into the Olympic Pool. Once afternoon the pain stopped for a moment, and I started to shake, like a screaming voice in my had stopped, and I dreaded it starting again.

There was the knee pain, and my anxiety and stress were off the charts. A few people at work started to call me lazy. I remember going shopping at Park Beach plaza, then I would walk the long route into the centre to test my knee. It would start OK, then it would get tighter and tighter, then by the time I returned to my car it was off track and painful. There were the lunch time walks around Forsyth Park. Screaming out loud at my knee stop hurting, so much so, the neighbours complained. Sitting down after lunch my leg on fire. There were walks down the Jetty, knowing that I would pay for it with pain the next day just walking down the mall.

The knee pain simply made my anxiety worse.

A local physio taped my knee and I got a little relief for a while, but I wasn't doing any effective strengthening exercises. Every time I took the tape off the pain would come back. One day the knee cap went further off the tracks and then my knee got even more painful. It was the day of the Coffs Ocean swims. It was a long walk home with my knee on fire.

I had to wait until November 2006, when I saw a physio at McConnells in Sydney for the knee pain to start to turn around. That was a great few days. I went to see that physio without much hope. But he taped my and there was no pain. I could walk without pain. What an amazing thing. I stayed at a motel in Wolli Creek, and I enjoyed a walk around the park, about 3km,without knee pain for the first time in months. I broke down and I cried with relief. Can you imagine how great that felt?

The physio said you can run up to 5km if you rebuild your knee, it may take 12 months. I didn't believe him having no pain in my knee for months was enough. It was more years of knee pain and several setbacks before things got better for me physically. Slowly I started to improve, no cause for celebration, a nightmare I woke into every day.

It was then that VMO contractions, glute and quad exercises became my obsession. I still twitch my VMO muscle sitting at my desk. I don't know how I kept fighting, I guess I had no choice. The pain wouldn't go away so I needed to keep fighting it. I told the physio that the pain had more than a physical impact.

Small signs

There were little signs of improvement.

December 2007. I played a round of golf with my nephew at Dunsborough, knee taped, and there was little pain. I went for a walk in Meelup Regional Park, I took some photos with my first digital camera.

May 2008, I did some vegetation survey in Royal National Park. I taped my knees. I was wearing trousers, and one day my knee felt really, really great. When I took off my trousers I noticed the tape had worked free. I'd been on my feet all day without knee tape and there was no pain. My body working again as it should. The joy I felt at that is indescribable. A joy you can only feel after experiencing such pain for such a long time. And when I feel joy like that the anxiety lifts.

The colours I'd always wanted to see

This is the best thing that has ever happened to me

These are the colours that I always wanted to see

The Best Thing Boom Crash Opera

And then June 2008, I ran again, but I didn't break down. There was a little pain, but it didn't get worse. What an amazing joy I felt over those next few months, as my return to running continued. It was a dream, a miracle. The best times of my life. Amazing, incredible, wonderful. Wow! This is what happiness is, I thought, I hadn't known it for so long. The colours of the ocean seemed brighter, the smell of mown grass so more evident. All my senses heightened, my soul rejoicing in exhilaration. I had only known years of pain and ill health.

I haven't had a panic attack for nearly 7 years now. The anxiety is still a big problem for me.

When I look at that photo of me finishing a marathon, there is more behind that than the race itself. There was a much longer marathon that I faced to get to the starting line.

Postscript: Why would I wrote a post like that? It is because it seems important to document my story, my truth somehow. Of what I lived through, because if don't who will ever know?

"My darling, who knew?" Pink. When I was going through all this, it was as if Pink could've been singing this song to me.

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Sydney Marathon 2012- The Race

This is it Brother

My fears about the riots was unfounded. And so began my biggest running adventure yet, a chance to be involved in the huge peaceful procession that is the Sydney Marathon.

I woke at about 5:30am, and pinned my number to my Sutherland singlet, and ate a tin of Sphagetti for breakfast. I caught a train at town hall to Milson’s Point and was at Bradfield Park just after 6:00am. The park was busy with Half Marathon competitors. I walked around and took a couple of photos of the Harbour Bridge and City Skyline bathed in the early morning light.

The conditions were great, cool not cold. I drank a bottle of Gatorade and a glass of water I waited until the Half Marathoners had started before I lined up to use the facilities. I was very calm, not as nervous or emotional as I thought I might have been. I put my clothing into the truck and headed over to the A group start.

I was one of the first competitors into the A group enclosure. There was less than half an hour to the start. One of the officials asked.

“Are you are registered athlete?”

“Yes,” I answered,and I was invited through to start with elites.

I stood at the back of the elites with another Bankstown athlete who had been also invited through.
So I stood right behind the fast Kenyans and Japanese runners and within a couple of feet of Lee Troop and others. Quite a privelege, for this just turned 50 hack of a runner.

“This is it brother,” I said to myself as the countdown continued. I was quite calm standing there before the biggest adventure and longest run of my life.


The race started and it seemed everyone was going out hard, even runners that by the look of them would not be able to sustain it for long. It was more like the start of a shorter fun run. I held myself back as much as possble, the plan was to go steady for the first 15-20km.

After the big U turn onto the Harbour Bridge the argy bargy settled down. I ovetook several runners just cruising along the bridge.

1km 4:38. The pace felt very comfortable.

2km 4:29

3km 4:12. These kilometres are down hill off the crest of the Bridge and then down through the Corkscrew onto the Cahill Expressway.

4km 4:17

5km 4:26 Back along Macquarie Street the pace slowed itself naturally.

6km 4:39 I splashed water over my head and took a drink of water at each water stop. This early my throat was a bit dry. However, my bladder felt uncomfortably full.

7km 4:22 Downhill on the way out to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair.

8km 4:35. Back along the Mrs Macquarie’s Road with the hill at Boy Charlton Pool to negotiate, and then a run along Art Gallery Road.

9km 4:44

10km 4:29

11km 4:51. Turned out I’d over hydrated and needed to use the facilites, losing about 30 seconds, before re-entering the race.

12km 4:38. I got going again and caught up to some of the runners who had gone past while I took a break. This included one the Blue Line Legend runners. Blue line legend runners are those that have run all twelve marathons. This includes JB a local runner who I saw at the race EXPO.

13km 4:24. There were lots of turns and changes of directions as the course headed around the SCG and out to Centennial Park. The course traversed bus lanes and open stretches along Anzac Parade. There were many oppoturnities to view other runners as they passed both ahead and behind. I was about 300 metres behind the 3:15 pacer.

14km 4:25 On the run through Centennial Park, I noticed that my groin and hip were a bit sore. It was beginning to hamper me, and I had to back off a little. Would my marathon be ended due to injury? That would be unexpected and disappointing.

15km 4:41 I saw IG, one of Sutherland’s great marathon runners, and a place getter in past NSW Marathon Championhsips acting as a marshall.

“Looking great. Keep fresh, keep fresh, “ he said. I got a few other cheers from Sutherland people acting as volunteers and it was a real boost.

The leaders came past, and the leader was a Kenyan, with the eventual Japanese winner back in second. Lee Troop was moving up through the field, but probably not in as good shape as the recent Gold Coast Half Marathon.

16km 4:34 I was running OK at this stage, the pain in my hip seemed to be settling. We ran past a lake in the middle of Centenial Park. The course criss -crossed and turned back on itself. There were sections in full sun, and more pleasant stretches under the shade of tree-lined avenues.

17km 4:39 The kilometres were ticking over and I held back knowing I wasn’t even at half way yet.

18km 4:42 A turn around on Darley Road and a long stretch to the exit from Centennial Park. The 3:30 and 4:00 hour buses were were still well populated.

19km 4:49 Personally I like to steer clear of the pacing groups, they are often cramped for space. I use them more as a guide of how I am progressing. I was falling further off the 3:15 bus, but the 3:30 bus was still way back.

20km 4:40

“Look at that guy,” a spectator said.

“Awesome.” someone replied.

It was directed at the guy just behind wearing nothing but colourful speedos and a red scarf around his neck.

21km 4:37

The Half Marathon was done in 1:38.02. I didn’t feel like the pacing was outrageous.
22km 4:39. After half way the course exited Centennial Park, and then there were more turns and switch backs.

23km 4:46 There were out and backs and more changes of directions. Alison Road and then Dacey Street.

24km 4:46 Were is the race going now? I secretly hoped each turn would be the one along Anzac Parade and heading back to the city.

25km 4:49 Still keeping good pace, probably just under 3:20.

26km 4:36

27km 5:07 This section was the long haul back into the city on Anzac Parade and Flinders Street. It seemed like a gradual uphill to me.

28km 4:57 My pace began to slow.

29km 5:15 Other runners were struggling equally hard as me. Some runners who had run away from me earlier I was catching. One runner ran backwards for a while perhaps to prevent the onset of cramp. I was catching a girl wearing a frilly pink dress. There were all sorts of lurching strides and quick shuffles, at this stage. Whatever covers the kilometres, it wasn’t pretty for those battling the distance.

30km 4:47 I regathered some momentum on the run down Oxford Street, past Taylor’s Square. On the run back through Hyde Park I started to get that feeling of euphoria. Of pushing through that line of pain and doubt.

I am running a marathon, and I will finish it. All my other troubles were light years away, it was all about this moment.

All the spectators and volunteers were so encouraging and it gave me a boost. The run down Macquarie Street and down into Circulay Quay was a breeze and I was cruising.
The crowd going through the Quay was yelling out support.

“Go Sutherland.” I got heaps of support wearing my Sutherland singlet. I started to feel this overwhelming sense of pride and a simple happiness, lost in a better place through immense physical effort. Those moments can be so fleeting, I wish I could bottle them and experience them more often.

I gave the supporters a thumbs up and got a huge cheer of support in return. I was just so unbelievably happy.

31km 4:46 The sun was bearing down as I ran out past the PO cruise ship wharf. Other competitors were walking, I ran past others shuffling slower than my shuffle, and still others who had done a better job of pacing and were finishing strong.

32km 4:58

33km 4:02. That kilometre split must be a mistake, I wasn’t running that fast at this stage.

Count it down

Only 9 kilometres to go. I still had the energy to finish, I new I was going to finish, my hip no longer troubled me.

Come on count them down, I told myself. Of course I now recognise that voice of encouragement as my guide.

34km 4:58. Only just holding onto to sub 5/minute/km pace.

35km 5:07.

36km 5:29 Now I entered the undiscovered country of running futher than I had in my life. And the race started to get hard, very hard. A gradual rise onto the western distributor fly-over was tough. Full sun now. Runners were strung out, many walking through water stops. I ran through all of them.

The pain I signed up for

37km 5:36 There were hills on the back part of the course near Prymont, and I dragged myself up them. It was hurting now, the pounding on my legs taking its toll, my heavy quads like lead to lift, the energy in my muscles running low.

38km 5:39 These kilometres were flat, but they stretched on forever and forever. I think I missed a kilometre sign. I was reduced to a shuffle. This was the pain I’d signed up for, the pain I needed to push through to finish.

“It is all about finsihing now mate,” my guide told me.

39km 5:10. I battled on gamely.

“Maybe I will have to stop to walk?” But I kept running all the way.

40km 5:39 When I saw the pylons and arch of the Harbour Bridge at the Rocks, I got a lift in energy.

41km 5:33 Then I could see the sails of the Opera House, and what a refreshing sight they were. It was a long torturous haul back along the cruise ship terminal and then past First Fleet Park running with Harbour water lapping against the wall.

42km 5:15

Every bit as hard as I expected

When I crossed the line, I was spent and stopped immediately and stood on the spot. Then I tried to walk forward, but I was unsteady and swayed all over the place. I punched my arm into the air once to recognise completing my first marathon.

The volunteers at the finish were kind and asked “Are you OK?” I got a cold powerade, and it tasted wonderful.

Another volunteer directed me towards the recovery area.

“You need another one.”

So I sculled another powerade.

Then I walked into the recovery area and was offered a coconut and banana ice block, and that tasted so cool and wonderful. I found it almost impossible to sit down in the chair in the recovery area. It was even harder to get out of it and get my finishers medal, a T Shirt and a couple of pieces of orange.

This is the pain of finishing a marathon, every bit as hard as I expected.

After leaving the recovery area, I hobbled all the way out of the Opera House along the Domain. I tried to lay down on the grass in the shade a couple of times. My quads were so sore I couldn’t sit down, and when I was down I couldn’t get comfortable and getting back off the ground was a battle.
It was a long shuffle to the baggage area. I put on my marathon finishers shirt, a jumper from my bag and hung my medal around my neck. It was cold sitting in the wind on the grass of the domain. I started a long walk back to my motel room.

At a convenience store, I stocked up with Paddle Pops, Magnum Ice Creams, Jelly Beans, Chocolate Milk and a bottle of Pepsi Max. I limped into the hotel, and tried to lie down. After eating and drinking I tried to rest. For a couple of hours, I couldn’t get comfortable, pain came from everywhere in my lower body. Hip, calf, back, achilles, just this all over dull ache.

After the longest time I fell to sleep for nine hours. A post race sleeping record.

And every time I woke up I felt the soreness in my legs, and the finishers medal was still by my side. Physical evidence that remained of my marathon effort.

And now two days later, I still I wake into that dream, my marathon dream come true.
I ran a marathon. I am a marathoner. Well done mate, says my guide. That’ll do, Quinkin, that’ll do, rest now.

My first marathon, I do not intend for it to be my last.

3:25:56 352nd/2975 runners 14th/178 50-54 Age group


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I read the whole thing, Kiwong. What an amazing story. You are a courageous man to beat all these things. I'm glad the path ahead is a lot brighter than what you've already travelled.

When I'm in Coffs Harbour, I'll let you know. Would love to grab a coffee with you or something. :thumbup:

EDIT: Will read the second post now.


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Last night I lay awake. A big storm rushed over. Pulses of lighting filling the dark spaces of night, over the tin roof of the units opposite. That's the only view I have in the unit I live in; a small slope of blue steel roof and a narrow rectangle of sky. I spend summer turning my head towards that window, hoping for a zephyr of cool breeze that never arrives. Sweating all over even on the back of my arms and hands, down the front of my neck. Unable to sleep due to the humidty and a landslide to troubling thoughts.

It took me several hours to sleep. Rolling from one side to the other unable to get comfortable. With the window open sometimes I can hear the far off roar of the ocean, the rattle of a goods train rolling through the jetty. The loud footsteps and talking of residents walking on the cobbled driveway wakes me instantly. There is no privacy. The walls are so thin on one I side I can hear the neighbours taking a pee through the walls. It's worse than a motel room. Sometimes I feel like I am in a wagon being circled by Indians firing arrows. I want to clean up, renovate and sell the unit. A dream of owning a house near the ocean.

When I am near the ocean sometimes I forget.

I lay awake and felt fearful of going to work, of walking through the shops, fearful of going for a run, of going to local races. What will happen to me. Will I be screamed at? Will I be called names? Will I be ridiculed? Are people at work talking about me again? I didn't want to face it anyone. A feeling of coldness spreading from my chest and stomach, down into my arms and legs. Despair is physical as well as mental.

When I strip running and photography out of my life, there isn't much left. I start to feel that I am not even a part of this life. Where I live, isn't a home, where I work is so often a nightmare to me. So this is who I am? It is so hard not to descend completely into despair and self hatred.

After a few hours the racing thoughts left me, and maybe I started to dream. The was a soft hum of rain on my tin roof, but I got no comfort from the sound. And then a loud clap of thunder and brilliant burst of light. And I was awake again, lying on my back staring at the roof, feeling trapped by who I am. A lost soul running out of time.

Later, I did manage to see my thoughts objectively as a pattern of negative thoughts, and not to get too lost in detailed anger and worry and despair of each and every thought. It is a recurring pattern when I drink too much caffeine. I know this. I need to stop, but I am addicted. Why do I drink it, it keeps me awake, tortures me with worrying thoughts.

Then I thought about the voice of my guide. I need help, regardless of what mistakes I make, what the world had decided about me. My guide needs to take control, to lead me through.
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A tin roof would be awesome for rain. I would love that.

You're not going to take photography and running out of your life, are you? A lot of people could say that if they take one or two things out of their lives, they would be nothing. Heck, take drumming and heavy metal away from me and I'd be a shell of who I am now.

I know it's hard, but try not to dwell on the negatives. You appear to have fulfilling hobbies outside of work, so that's great. :)


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No, I'll keep running and photography. I've just lost motivation to run at the moment. When I don't run my problems are magnified.


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Today was a day that went pretty well. I can count those sort of days on one hand. It's good when they come along.

The last two nights I have despaired going to work. This morning was no exception. I had to prepare for a meeting with 3 other experts. I was nervous and hoped my anxiety wasn't obvious, having not consumed any Pepsi Max in the last 2 days.

I set a computer in the meeting room, and the catering arrived for morning tea. The experts arrived and I ran through the data outputs, some changes and recommendations were made.

The meeting went very well, the experts were pleased with the progress made thus far. A lot of this was thanks to my effort at data entry since July last year. And data validation this year. This is a project I want to work on, I want to complete, and do it well. To have something to show for my efforts. And then maybe I can rest, and I will feel like I deserve the extended leave I have owing.

I felt a moment of joy at the realisation the meeting was going well. I was communicating OK with my anxiety. I teared up a little with emotion. It's rare for me to feel I am doing alright.

There was some despair, about feeling people in the office are talking about me. That someone might complain about me or my anxious behaviour, and I might be sacked.
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Why write a blog like this? Sometimes it seems to be important to document my story, my truth somewhere. Who would ever know? There is always two sides to any story, or maybe a story never gets told at all, and often a story might be more complex than it appears on face value. So many people going through pain alone, like the lady in Sydney who was dead 8 years before they discovered her. Her story is mostly unknown. How many other people have lived lives like that? Sometimes people going through the same thing can share their stories and not feel so alone.
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Late Summer

Late summers in Coffs are often grey. The dumpy grey clouds cover the hills to the coast. This summer there's been a lot of no clouds, or clouds covering the sun, nothing in between. Not very conducive to landscape photography. Not a particularly cheery time of the year. Today was a lot cooler with drizzly rain at times. The sun almost poked through at one stage, but then the heavy grey clouds reclaimed the little patches of blue. It is the wettest part of the year. Warm and humid. Difficult to sleep, running is real battle.

When I go for early morning run, I often hear the melodius call of a bird that I couldn't name. I have concluded that it is a Pied Butcherbird.

My running is such a hopeful thing, my photography is such a good/creative thing. These things deserve better than all the battles I seem to face. I want to be positive, I want peace. How do I get there?

A massage therapist I saw a couple of times at the worst of my knee pain has been arrested by Police for alleged indecent assault. Pretty alarming really. Another therapist was much more helpful. I tried everything to help my knee pain back then. Sharks cartilage, calcium and chondroitin. The smell of voltaren reminds me of my pain.

Old house

I went for a walk down the Jetty. I thought the triathlon was on, but I had the wrong week.

An old house is being moved downhill from my units. There is a metal barricade around the house. And the yard has been cleared of trees shrubs and grass, down to bare earth. The large old wooden house with its faded yellow and green paint, has been raised up on wooden trays. A front window is slightly broken by the activity. The front lawn that was immaculately maintained by the former owner is now carved up by tyre ruts.

I'd often see the man out the front weeding the lawn by hand. A beautiful soft couch lawn. Later I saw him struggling to walk home down the hill from the Jetty shops. He stopped to rest on the steps on the footpath, plastic shopping bags on the ground by his side. The signs of losing a battle for independence. A sad sign that I recognised from my father's own battle. I didn't see the old man after that. Often cars would visit, probably relatives.

I saw a grounded paper aeroplane, white with bluelines, wet with rain.
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I spoke to someone once about how I had made public that I suffered from anxiety. She said we need people like you. But then, I sometimes sense a chorus of disapproval about me, that I am not a good person, that my attitude is bad. It is then I wonder whether I should try to be an advocate for this at all? Perhaps it will undermine the cause for other sufferers of depression and anxiety? And I wouldn't want to do that, because the pain is the same, yet very individual for all sufferers of this illness.

I don't think I was being brave about writing about a mental illness, I was being pragmatic, I wanted to let people know, because I was in pain, and I wanted it to stop. I wanted to live and continue to enjoy the things that bring me hope. Most of all I just wanted to scream, It is real.

Proving that there can be good in everything I look at my result for depression in the test I took over a year ago now. The result was low. With sometimes severe anxiety I still see hope, sometimes I am even happy. That is my greatest achievement of the last few years, not any times I have run or medals I have won. It is possible to live with the illness, and sometimes win at life. If a failure like me can do that, maybe others can too.

I was saddened to hear of the death of Charlotte Dawson who had a long battle with depression and panic attacks. She wrote:

"Some people think to be strong is to never feel pain. However the strongest people are the ones who have felt pain, understood it, accepted it and learned from it."

I can't say I have learned, I make the same mistakes again and again. I try to understand it, but I won't let it beat me.

I suppose progress will be made when posting a diagnosis of a mental illness is no different than posting the results of an X-ray, or the diagnosis of the flu.


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Mate, there needs to be a lot more awareness of anxiety, and mental illness in general. It's still rather stigmatised, simply because it's an illness nobody can see.

I agree with this woman that said we need more people like you. We need people to speak up and not be afraid to hide from these issues. Mental illness is so very real.

One day I hope to work with a charity such as beyondblue or Lifeline.

For now I have my own issues to speak out. :)


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Mate, there needs to be a lot more awareness of anxiety, and mental illness in general. It's still rather stigmatised, simply because it's an illness nobody can see.

I agree with this woman that said we need more people like you. We need people to speak up and not be afraid to hide from these issues. Mental illness is so very real.

One day I hope to work with a charity such as beyondblue or Lifeline.

For now I have my own issues to speak out. :)

That's a wonderful aspiration MikeyC, they do great work. I think the good news is that people are speaking out. The Charlotte Dawson quote has appeared on other blogs, written by people suffering from depression and anxiety.


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That's a wonderful aspiration MikeyC, they do great work. I think the good news is that people are speaking out. The Charlotte Dawson quote has appeared on other blogs, written by people suffering from depression and anxiety.
They do amazing work. I want to be a part of that work, although door-knocking doesn't appeal to me one iota. :giggle:

As long as the message is getting out there, that's the important thing.


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I'd forgotten how much I dislike Doctor's waiting rooms. A few years back I spent a lot of time in them, and that of physios, and hospitals. Today I had to go and see a doctor for the results of a blood test. My rational mind said that if it had been something serious then they would've called me weeks ago. I had the blood test before Christmas. My irrational mind thought, what if it is something more serious does my run of good health end here? Do I face a return to those darks days of pain and illness?

The results were not too bad. I have to give a pint of blood over the next few months to get my iron levels back to normal. I walked from the surgery relieved. I'm not ready to go yet, I want to live some more, I really love this beautiful world.

I am getting to the age where things can go wrong. The future worries me sometimes.
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Everyone chases after dreams. Dreams are prized because they are rare. Ephemeral, elusive, unable to be held. Maybe they may only come true once in a lifetime? And if you get to experience one of such intensity, to make the colours brighter, to make your soul rejoice with exhilaration. Then it is something to be thankful for, in a life of sadness.