Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Marathon fears

Remember that one time when I said I'd run a marathon?


Yes, here's that inevitable post, about the elephant in the room that I haven't much
mentioned of late.

The Marathon.

Yes, I capitalise it because that's how monumental this is, in so many ways.

Where do I start?

I've been writing this post on and off for a couple of weeks.  Things have progressed a lot since I started writing it.  So this is Part 1.  I'll write the second part very soon.  This post is trying to capture where I've been at lately, in regards to The Marathon.

So I made this marathon goal a few days after my first half marathon, in August last year.  And now I find myself less than 3 weeks out, completely freaking out.

Let me begin by going se
The dress
emingly off topic for a moment.  Bear with me, this little story is actually completely relevant.

A few years ago I was maid of honour in my friends wedding.  We went dress shopping - there were 3 of us bridesmaids - and we found a dress for us.  Finding said dress wasn't as smooth sailing as that sentence implies.  I will always have nightmares about those shopping trips.  They were some of the most humiliating experiences of my life.  The other bridesmaids were 'normal' sizes.  I was Size 28.  That can never be fun.  There were special shopping trips and secret phone calls from the brides mother to the shop assistant to explain about my size.  There were teary texts from me to other friends from bridal shop change rooms, where I'd force myself to hold it together before breaking down in my car after each shopping trip.  And when we finally found 'the' dress, I said the same thing that I've said with each of the 6 times I've been bridesmaid: "Oh, I'll get a dress a size (or four) smaller, because I'll lose weight before the wedding."


I'm sure there's some out there, but I am not one of them.  I said this at each of the other 5 weddings and each time never lost weight.  Thankfully I for some reason never ordered too small a dress.  But this time!  This time I really was going to lose weight for my friends big day.



Well the dress that we chose only went up to a Size 24 (?).  So being a Size 28, I actually had no choice but to order the 'smaller' Size 24.  To make me feel even more great about myself, I then had to special order extra material and organise for a dressmaker to insert an extra big ass panel into the already huge tent. :/

When the special order material arrived, I went along to the dressmaker and showed her what I needed to have done to the dress, to make it even more parachute like.  She measured me up, and then I said my famous bridesmaid line: "Oh, but can you please make it a bit smaller because I'm going to lose weight before the wedding.  Like 10kg."

Jan The Dressmaker is this sweet old thing who looks older than my grandmother.  She nodded politely and took in what I said and didn't say a word.  I kept going: "yep, so 10kg.  I'll be losing that!  Just remember...10kg.  So make it a bit smaller please.  10kg, that'll be gone!  You mark my words!  10kg!"

The wedding was like 2-3 weeks away.  And I was stressed to the max.  It was a big call, to promise to lose 10kg quickly.  I had a lot of pressure riding on this!  Aside from bigger than normal bridesmaid related stress, I had a dress that I had now ordered to be made a bit small.  And this was my friends big day!  I couldn't ruin this for her!  It had to fit.

So, what did this stressed Size 28 binge eater do?  Why, I ate!  And ate, and ate some more!

The more I worried about it, the more I stressed, and the more I ate.  Then I'd remember the dress - and shove more in my mouth.  I was destroying my chances of fitting into the dress with every mouthful I gorged back.  It was the most awful cycle.

A few weeks later, by the time the dress was ready, I had of course not only not dropped the 10kg, I had actually put on weight.

Now the reason Jan The Dressmaker looks older than my grandmother is because she probably is - and she's been around for long enough and has sewed and altered so many bridal, formal and other dresses for so many females, that she knows her stuff.

She knows her stuff so well, that unbeknownst to me, she had actually made the dress bigger.  She was a bit sneaky by doing that without checking; she took a pretty big gamble!  But she's probably seen enough stressed, overweight bridesmaids in her time, to know what to expect.  And she wasn't wrong.  Only thanks to her, the now bigger than big dress fit perfectly, and she even made me a wrap with the extra material, to cover my arms...  I practically jumped on her to hug her, I was so relieved.  Her sneaky gamble paid off, very luckily for me!

And this is what I have called 'Bridesmaid Syndrome'.  It's when you're so stressed about something, that instead of working hard and doing what you should be doing, you sabotage yourself silly and do the opposite.

And that is what I've been doing about my upcoming marathon.

No - I don't mean I've been binge eating.  (See a previous post about my weight loss stall), but no, that's not what I mean.

What I mean is, I have been so stressed and worried about this marathon, that I've lost sight of what I need to do, and have let my training and head space be greatly affected. :(

I've had major Bridesmaid Syndrome about the run.  Every time I think of it I get so stressed out, that it's, as Mish says, 'paralysis by analysis'.  I get frozen with fear and instead of having a clear head, doing what I need to do and just moving forward, I've been stuffing up my chances.

It hasn't helped that I've created this ridiculous pressure around myself to do run this thing.

The pressure is completely self induced, but that doesn't make it any easier.

It all began with the promise I made with Greg and Ruth.  Us 3 decided to run the 2014 Gold
Coast Airport Marathon - that's where it all began.  We heeded a friends suggestion and the next day made up a Facebook page, which people could 'Like' and follow our journeys on.  

"Kate, Greg and Ruth's Road To The Marathon" Facebook page was created.

Within a few days we had an email from the GCAM marketing department.  (Of course we did - of course the authorities knew me by name, within days of choosing to participate in something!) ;)

We'd used one of their logos as the cover photo on our Facebook page.  They politely asked us to remove it, so as to avoid confusion with people searching for the real GCAM page on Facebook.  Fair enough, of course.  We meant no harm in using their picture.  But of course, absolute fair call and we took it down straight away.

They then offered, how's this - to create us our own personalised official logo, for us to use instead.  We would have our own official GCAM marketing department created logo with our names on it!  So, so cool.

We accepted their offer and they sent us this:

Pretty cool marketing department, huh!

And that was just the start...

We soon had a gaggle of friends from our mutual circles put their hands up to join us on the weekend.  Literally dozens of our friends stepped forward and pledged that they too, were going to run the full, the half, the 10km, or 5.7km that weekend.  People started booking accommodation and flights to make their own running dreams come true.

It was going to be the best weekend :)

We couldn't wait.  It was going to be like finale!  This amazing few days on the Gold Coast, each of us running our own race and cheering like crazy for the rest.

I was particularly excited to share this experience with Ruth and Greg.  I'm pretty convinced that neither of them knows how much I adore them.

But not only them, but plus a whole stack of our other friends and acquaintances??

I booked my leave from work and found a great hotel deal and booked that too.

The weekend of July 6th, 2014 was in our sights!

Around that time I made a pact with the two guys I sat next to at work, Dean and Tom.  We talk about running all the time.  We made a goal for the 3 of us to run the GCAM14 and take a photo of us all at the finish line.  

We shook on it.

I love these guys - this desk buddies photo promise got me even more pumped.

I then joined Marathon School.  I have the T-shirt!  For months I've been going to their seminars - it's pretty much all theory based - and I've been learning about everything from self massage to running nutrition.

Soon after joining is when I think the stress started to hit.

The first time I noticed it was the Twilight Run.  I pushed through that run when I shouldn't have.  And as much as I wouldn't change it as I made a few friends out of it (hello Jess, Jason and Patricia!) <3  and got to tick it off my list (and got a medal!), it was the first run of many since, that I haven't enjoyed.

I pushed myself so much in that run that it's like it made me a bit fearful of running events.  It also did nothing for my self confidence as I added 20min. to my average half marathon time!

I've never told anyone this, but that run seemed to go on for so long, that I even stopped listening to music in the car.  It sounds utterly ridiculous, but because the run seemed to go forever, it felt like I had been listening to music forever, and as a result it's only been the last week or so: 2-3 months after the event, that I've been able to bear listening to music or the radio again.

Can you tell that that run did my head in?

But music and time confidence issues aside, the main pain point from that event was, at the back of my mind, all I could think of was "and you're expecting to run a full marathon in July?"

Ever since then, I've been getting myself so knotted up and so worried, that I can't think straight.

I then joined a running team at work, to help raise money for a young work colleague who has been diagnosed with Cervical Cancer and needed urgent treatment.  We decided to run GCAM for her - we created a team and a fundraising page and it felt special that we'd be running for this brave girl.

The more teams I joined, the more pacts I made, the more I stressed, and the less I trained.

I then signed up - it was now official.

And to make it even more official, I then announced it on Facebook.


Facebook.  Can you get any more official? :P

I don't know how to explain it very well - all I know is that I have been a total stress head. Somewhere in between making this big, exciting goal for myself, and the last few months, I've lost sight of why I wanted to do this in the first place.

I started considering alternatives.  I could drop down to the Half Marathon.  I could pull out all together.  I could do the 10km or 5.7km events.  I could just give it a go and see what happens.

But every time I considered changing the goal, I'd remember all of the pacts that I had made.  Why on earth would I go to Marathon School if I wasn't going to run a marathon??  And Deano and Tom at work??  We shook on this and promised we'd get a finish line photo!  Our Facebook group - Greg, Ruth, all the gang - I don't want to miss out on this!  This girl from work, she can't run - her body is riddled with Cancer.  The least I could do is run for her!  She gave me a lot of perspective.  

Greg then managed to secure us a sponsor who supplied us with socks for the event!  Steigen.  So completely generous - and so exciting to have a sponsor!  There was more - I made a promise to my old boss from 2 jobs back that I'd run it, too.  Everywhere I turned, there was a promise I'd made.

And I kept getting stressed.  And that stress has meant, that every time I've run lately, it's been a chore.  Even boot camp warm up runs - all of 400 metres (!) have been stressing me out.  Do I even need to mention the #trainwreckrun ?  It's no coincedence that my events lately have not gone to plan.

The pressure kept mounting.  Every time I thought about pulling out, I remembered one of the teams I was in and knew that I couldn't give up on this, because I couldn't let anyone else down.

And I remembered how many people I'd told.  And if Facebook wasn't enough, last Thursday I was having a bit of a doubtful marathon day and was daydreaming about other options.  A national magazine I'm in came out that day.  (Exciting!  I'll load a pic of the article in a post soon).  But I got a copy from the newsagency and was reading it and realised that I'd even said in the interview that I'm training for the GCAM.  Doh!  Yeah, be careful what you say publicly.

Later that day my work running team contacted me, they wanted to see if we could get together for a quick photo shoot.  My work produces a magazine that's available to the public, and they wanted to do a story about our team, and how we were running for our work friend.

So as if one magazine in one day wasn't enough, we had some photos taken for another, our team together, holding up some words...and I got asked to hold the word 'RUN'. 

And that's why I haven't been able to think straight.  I've unintentionally created this mountain of pressure surrounding my aim to run this.  There's nothing wrong with joining teams and telling the world.  I was enthusiastic, determined and excited.  Of course I'd join all of the teams.  But in my case, for some reason, it's stressed me out.  Now I can handle stress, but what I haven't handled, is what it's done to my running :(

Now it's taken a lot of soul searching and a few chats with some lovely 'running mums' - 12WBT runners who have been PM'ing me to check on me <3  They are simply beautiful <3 but I've finally realised what's been happening.  

Bridesmaid Syndrome.  All of this pressure I've put on myself has made me go the other way.  In an ideal pre-first marathon world, one would be training as per plan, testing out their race plan, getting properly prepared.

Me?  Well I've been a bundle of nerves stress head self saboteur who's been spending their runs with enough negative self talk to stop an event in it's tracks.  That, and running away from the police. 

Apart from, what I've been mainly stressing about all along, is the time cut off.  The strictly enforced time limit is 6.5 hours.  All of my estimated calculations show that  I'll have no time to play with.  My forecasted time is....6.5 hours...

When it comes down to it, aside from anything else, I KNOW I can run 42.2km.  I have no proof (yet), but I know that I can do it.  6 months ago I felt like I could run 42.2km.  I was holding off for GCAM to give it a go!  My ability to run 42.2km is not my fear.  My fear is, running 42.2km in 6.5 hours.  

And of course, there is my O pain and back pain.  Some of my runs have really worried about my ability to hold up against it.  To be honest this is a minor concern in comparison to letting people down.

And this is where I've been at.

The Marathon has consumed my mind for months.  There's a reason I've been a little quiet about it (comparitively!)  It's because I haven't been able to think straight.  Every time I think about it, self doubt kicks in...of making the distance in the time.  When I think about pulling out, I remember the seemingly millions of teams that I'm in and pinkie promises that I've made and tell myself that I can not change this commitment.  I'd be letting too many people down.  And that includes myself.  Imagine me not fulfilling one of the biggest goals I've made myself!  Kate doesn't quit goals.  Everything in turn makes me feel hot all over and I stop thinking clearly, and I feel like I can't run - and I don't.  It's a cycle I wouldn't wish on any runner.  Especially one who's booked into their first marathon in 2.5 weeks.

I'm sure you, as the reader, are seeing this more clearly than I have been.  It's taken me a while but I've finally had a bit of clarity over the last week or so.  I needed to, just while I think, put aside everything that's not about me.  Sick work colleague, Deano and Tom, Greg and Ruth, my old boss, 12WBT and 30+ fellow GCAM friends, public announcements, personal logos, sponsors, Marathon School, time off work, accommodation bookings, all of it.

And remember who I was actually running this for.  Why was I doing this in the first place?

I've been able to put everything aside for the moment and think somewhat clearly.  I'm a little less stress-head than I was even just a few days ago.  I'll explain this in my next post.  I'm not trying to be secretive or annoyingly suspenseful - it's just that I have vague sense of the length of this post already, and more importantly, I am yet to be 100% comfortable with the outcome of all of this.  I'll post very soon but for now I just needed to get my thoughts up to a certain point written and out into cyber world, off my chest.

Thanks for listening xo


  1. Hi Kate,

    Your stories have struck a cord with me. You truly are an inspiration. I am 6 weeks out from my first half marathon (11.1kms further than I have ever fun-run'ed before) and am doubting myself too. Having lost 40kgs in 12 months I would have looked back and thought I was crazy too. I used to absolutely adore running, but here as I stand training 30-35kms a week and in the fittest condition of my entire life I find myself utterly disgusted by running I'm hating every damn kilometre. Come the run I'm sure I will be having the time of my life but all those boring hours on the track training how do you personally get through it??

    Keep up the great work btw. You truly inspire so many! xx

    From your fan, Zo.

  2. Kate, i haven't finished reading this yet but OMG!!! I did the bridesmaid syndrome thing leading into my half marathon. I am now back in the gym trying to get rid of the 8kg i put on in the lead up to the half. why do we do these things to ourselves?
    I'm going to go back and finish reading now, keep going girl you can do this!
    Big love to you, Sarah xx

  3. Right, finished reading. You just go out there and try your best Kate, if you make it, great, if you don't, well at least you bloody well many of us have even thought about attempting a marathon? Not many, good on you for even giving it a go.
    You are not doing this for us Kate, you are doing this for YOU!

  4. Good Luck with with ever way you decide to go Kate. I would say there is no shame in switching to the half marathon if you have not trained adequately & are not well enough to tackle the marathon this year. You don't want to cause an injury that will wreak more havoc to your body because you don't know when to give it a break.

    I understand the panic - I was there myself a while ago, but so far have managed to stick with the training, although my first is not til October.

    You've done an amazing job with your running & journey to date. xo

  5. Kate,

    As part of the trio that decided to do this, I feel your pain. I have been struggling with this for a couple of months due to my body not allowing me to train. I ran the half with Sarah when i shouldn't have as my body was not ready, but I felt obligated to do so as i had enticed her and Carol to do their first half. At the end of the day you do what is right for you. If you are not ready to run a full then don't. You don't need to feel obligated to anyone. Me, followers of our page, supporters, sponsors, colleagues etc will all understand and if they don't so be it. This is about you, not them.

    Don't feel pressured to do this, it has to be something you want to do for yourself at a time that is right for you. Most of all just get yourself right and I will just be happy if you are there at the finish line when i dawdle across around 6 hours after starting.

    Big hugs,


  6. Hi #CocoGirlButter,

    How are you doing? It's Greta here, Michelle's running specialist on the 12WBT Support Crew. I've been reading some of your fabulous blog: . I see you have your Gold Coast Marathon coming up, which is a wonderful challenge indeed. You'll be absolutely fine. Believe me it's tough, (I did the Berlin marathon last year), but you can do it, that's for sure. Tell yourself you won't know unless you try and you're always winning as long as you're trying. You'll feel on top of cloud 109 after finishing.

    I just posted on one of your threads in the 12WBT May Round if you'd like to reply to me there?

    Well done on your City2South in Brisbane last Sunday.

    Happy running. All the best.

    Greta xox

  7. Beautiful girl,

    I know how scary overwhelment feels, and I am really proud of you for continuing to push through, despite being overwhelmed out of your mind - you are so brave chicka!

    Remember when I was telling you about my handstand goal, and how I broke it down into little goals so I didn't get squished by overwhelment? What if you do that for your marathon? Don't worry about the 6.5hrs or the 42km total (big picture/masterpiece) - trust that you'll achieve those things if you just focus on the little goals (little series of cumulative pictures/brush strokes).

    So little picture/first brush stroke:
    - Follow your daily meal and exercise plan (whatever your marathon club has given you, or the 12WBT Marathon Fitness Program or what you have put together yourself) each day. Think no further on this than the current day! Little picture, little picture.

    Second picture/second brush stroke:
    - Go to bed the night before your race day at a reasonable time. If you get 'distracted head', put on a meditation cd or sleep meditation to lull yourself into sleep. Remember even if you don't sleep straight away, just lying down is resting and preparing your body, so you're doing good for yourself.

    Third picture/third brush stroke:
    - Show up at the start line. That is ALL you have to think about. Not the end, or what your splits should be or anything about the race - just arrive at the start line. Everything else will come later, and we will deal with it, as it comes. Little picture little picture - 1 brush stroke at a time!

    Fourth picture/fourth brush stroke:
    - Start moving when the gun goes off. And just put one foot after the other - just like you know you can do, like you have done a zillion times before. Keep it simple! And as you move, you'll have all those mantras just pop back into your head "You've got this" "All that you need is within you". They will just be there, you'll not even have to think about bringing them up, I promise!

    Fifth picture/fifth brush stroke:
    Look around and enjoy the moment - you're doing a fricken marathon girl, wooooohoooooo!!!! Check out all the people lining the streets who've come out to honour and cheer on all you who have showed up - honour yourself as well, and enjoy that you are out there doing it :-)

    Sixth picture/brush stroke:
    When it starts to hurt, acknowledge that it's hurting and just do the best you can! Remember and acknowledge that the best you can do, is the best you can do - and you can't do more than that. I find when I actually acknowledge that, it takes so much pressure off me and I can just focus on continuing to do my best, without worrying that it isn't good enough. Because my best IS good enough, because it's as good as it can be!

    And know this - it will end, you will finish, one way or another, and you will have done your best and given it your all and that will have been enough and no one will have asked or expected you to give any more than that.




    Big love honey xoxoxoxoxo

    1. That is awesome advice Gabi and thank you as I will use this as well when out there trying to run my own marathon that day.

    2. Hey Leitchy

      That's awesome that you are gonna be out there doing it too - everyone at 12WBT is so proud for you guys and we will be out there in spirit on the streets cheering you on! (only take that on if it is helpful, if that feels like too much pressure, forget I said it ;-))


  8. I agree with Gabi and Greg. This is YOUR marathon, before it's anyone elses-remember that. I am only doing the 10km and started psyching myself at as I saw the same pattern appearing that happened the last time I did 10km-and I hated every step of the last 10km I did. So I made a decision that I will still do 10km at GCAM and my aim is to just turn up, enjoy the run, and just aim to make it to the finish line. Because one thing I have learnt at the short runs I have done this year is that the best thing I can do is go along at my own pace, enjoy the run, acknowledge the little niggles I feel along the way-but not let them overcome me, and if I end up with a good finishing time-that is just a bonus. As Gabi said, you've got this. Make this run all about YOU before you make it about someone else, and enjoy the day. I will be there to cheer you on no matter what happens :)

  9. Saw this quote today and it made me think of you after reading this post this morning, "IMAGINE: If you imagine it in your mind...believe it in your heart...feel it in your will hold it in your hand...dream big...never ever give up..."