This is a fairytale story starting with a romance, leading into heartache and finishing with the greatest love story.

I don’t even recall my ex-boyfriend Chris training for his half marathon. I was too busy sleeping in or recovering from the previous nights boozefest. I’d join him at the gym a couple times a week, walk on the treadmill, maybe pick up a couple of dumbbells. Basically fluffing around. I had a slim build and people would say “you don’t need to go to workout look at you”. Yes – that old line!I believed them and never took training seriously.

Chris’s race day came and I waited in the freezing cold stadium. I watched him complete the spectacular lap around the MGC and across the finisher’s line. I was proud of him and in awe of how huge completing a half marathon is.

Life went on and nothing changed. I worked hard at my administration job in real estate. Weekends were still spent boozing in Melbourne bars and ‘playing’ in the gym.

Then we decided to move to Queenland and got a puppy! I was going to have a companion to keep me accountable with walking and get away from the cafe loving, bar scene of Melbourne.

Moving is the worst at the best of times. Try doing it with someone who’s recreational drug habit was morphing into an ice addiction. Little did I know that like Benny Cousins, all the achievements in Chris’s life, including the half marathon, were fuelled with drug dependency. The real depth of it all came out when I found Facebook messages from a girl who he’d been cheating on me with.

This was where the story turns. I had moved up early to start a new job. In those 3 weeks living apart, things escalated beyond comprehension. The drugs were bad enough, but the cheating? Finding the first message was like the first thread that made the whole thing unravel. My whole world come crashing down and my confidence and self esteem were completely blown up with it. I was always confidence, comfortable in my own skin and this changed me. I couldn’t even stand looking at myself in the mirror without being disgusted – thinking I must be hideous inside and out for this to happen. Why do we always blame ourselves?

We tried to carry on and work things out. But I resented him and he was a mess, there was blame, there was arguments and nastiness. One day I came home from work at lunchtime and he was there. I couldn’t even look at him at this point, so I grabbed the dog to go for a walk. This is when my life changed. Maxie decided to day was the day he wanted to run. It was roasting hot, midday sun and he stopped and started, but the feeling of freedom – oh this was GOOD. We began running our morning walks 2 times a week, a little more each time. We extended our 3km block to 5.5km and one day we were running all the way. So then I started timing it, which led to me wanting to get faster so I began running on my own as well. We kept this up for years, the same 5.5km loop from home, sometimes changing it on the weekends.

Running is addictive, in a great way. As my running increased, my eating became more nutritious and the less interest I had in alcohol and partying. I decided I wanted to run 10km. I did the research and slowly increased my kilometres on Sundays on the gym treadmill. I’d bargain with myself to get to 5km and walk for 30 secs before running again for at least 5 minutes. I broke down the runs until one day I went for it and ran the full 10km in 1 hour!

I began running 10km regularly and slowly added the kilometres. My ex was still in and out of my life, I recalled his half marathon and still doubted that I could do it. Until one day I was flicking through a Women’s Health magazine and read an article like this about an office worker like me, deciding to run 21.1km. If she could do it, surely I could do. That was that! I sent my weekend researching it, obsessed with reading blogs, online posts, sorting through running plans and finding a race. Wouldn’t you know it – Brisbane Marathon Festival timeline was PERFECT if I started preparing now.

I took all the information I found and made my own plan, which was fantastic and with a few recent tweaks I’ve turned it into an ebook you can purchase HERE.
I committed to the plan and even though I made mistakes I made it to the starting line on race day. The race was tough. I had been training on flat paths and only did sprints instead of hills sprints, so I suffered when the course had the slightest incline. I was still running an awesome time, my work colleagues were sure I’d get 1hr 50min and I was on track. Until I hit the 16km mark and crashed. I hadn’t fuelled and barely drank anything, which was a big lesson for me – it’s not just the elites that need race fuel!

But I kept going and I crossed the finish line in 1:57:18. I did it!! I set a MASSIVE goal, got a plan, committed myself, put in all the hard work and I SMASHED my goal. What a lesson in life. What a confidence boost. If I can do this, what else am I capable of?

This was the start of a whole new woman. One who could look herself in the mirror and be proud, knowing she was beautiful inside and out. Knowing she is capable of achieving anything that she sets out to do – as long as she puts a plan in place, committees herself and goes for broke.

As for the ex. Well he’s the ex for a reason. He didn’t turn up at the finish line that day and it was a great reminder that I need to keep pouring love into myself and not relying on someone else to do it for me.

It hasn’t always been easy and there has been plenty of heartbreak since, but the core lessons in endurance running build you up for life. The place I am today, 5 years later is one of strength, resilience and love. I live a dream life with an incredible and supportive man and I believe that it all stems from growing myself first with running and then the snowball effect it had on the rest of my life.