After a long 15-hour flight my feet were firmly placed on the ground of Melbourne, Australia – the home of my sixth of seven worldwide marathons. I was tired but anxious to begin exploring the city. I have to say that Melbourne is beautiful with the most welcoming people; their openness and hospitality made my voyage an absolute joy.
Long before I left America I had been approached on Facebook by a group of young runners from Melbourne who wanted me to join their running group. They found me from our posted videos on YouTube! My new friend Peter sent me a message of encouragement. Amazing, I thought, this young man actually cares about my mission. For a few months we corresponded. I sent him and his friends Run7on7.com hats and bracelets and was surprised to see a wonderful picture posted on Facebook of Peter and his friends wearing our gear while training. I was so excited to meet all of them. We met on race morning, stood in the cue´s together and then parted ways as the marathon began (yes their youthful strides were faster than mine).
With only one and half days to acclimate my body to the time change, my jet lag became a real issue. On race morning I felt pretty good and assumed I had everything under control...
Oh, how wrong I would turn out to be.
The weather on race morning started off nice, a little chilly, but with the prospect of 80 to 82 degree heat toward the mid-part of the day. I took off and was soon running through the gorgeous streets of Melbourne down toward the waterfront. I remember thinking how pretty the course was with its tree-lined streets, cheering residents and gorgeous parks. At one point we passed a golf course´s driving range. As we passed I remember thinking, "I hoped nobody with a serious slice is teeing up" and in my head I screamed "FORE!" From there we made our way along the coast and it was at mile 13 that the reality of how much trouble I was in surfaced. I was following my routine of four ounces of fluids every 15-minutes, so I thought I was staying hydrated. But I was beginning to cramp. That had never happened before, and to add insult to injury, my right foot was beginning to ache. I instantly knew that muscling through another 13.2 miles was going to be difficult. So I took stock of my situation, slowed down (even walked) and methodically began to calculate how I was going to attack the rest of my run. I decided to forge on as far as I could…and then back off. I did this through mile 20 at which time my new Thump Pro music player was engaged. As luck would have it my motivating marching music came on and I immediately began picking up my stride and ran to the rhythm of the beat - despite the pain.
I have to say that at this point I wasn´t taking in the scenery, but focusing inward with my head up - just waiting for my Garmin to alert me to mile 25. Coming around the corner the theme of "Chariots of Fire" began to rise...yes, I´m dating myself here, but what better motivation could a runner have than that? I could almost see Nicholas Farrell and Nigel Havers´ running along the beach from the movie´s most memorable scene. Right about that time I heard my sister Christine and friend Barbara calling out my name and looked over to see them waving the Run7on7.com flag. I grabbed it and all that was left was to run through the tunnel to the cheering crowd waiting at the finish line! After crossing the finish I was greeted by an amazing site of cheering Australians and the enormity of the stadium and the rest of the runners. Immediately I was filled with the joy of knowing that I had just completed my sixth of seven worldwide marathons...and life is great!
Sitting here now I´m reflecting on all the positives that came from his race. I must say that everyone connected to the organization of the Samsung Melbourne Marathon(SMM) are extremely gracious. They opened their race to our cause and incorporated my mission into their program. I cannot thank them enough for their dedicated support and willingness to help in ways I never thought possible in a country so far away. I was also able to meet the newest supplier of Skirtsports running apparel who was also excited to see us running the streets of Melbourne in the latest and hottest running fashion from America (don´t forget, SkirtSports is still donating proceeds to Run7on7.com and 15% off purchases if you use the promotional code "7on7").
Now that number six is complete, I´m going to take some much-needed R&R before I begin to train for my last and harshest continent, Antarctica. In the meantime, I´m encouraging everyone who has yet to donate to do so. We need more donations to reach our goal. I understand it´s a difficult time to asking for money, so remember, even a little bit goes a long way. It´s during these tough economic times that people become dependent to drugs and alcohol.
Melbourne has truly been an amazing part of my voyage. I urge everyone to travel to Australia...the land...its people...the running, are incredible. You will not be disappointed!
Thanks for your support. Dream big.