yarra river
Do you know the mobile application Timehop? The one where you can log in and see what you were doing the same day a year or more ago? Facebook has a similar ‘memories’ opt-in application, too. These reminders are by varying extent cute or downright spooky, depending on how much you document your life and you see how much your children have grown, or garden flourish, or a part of your town vanish due to construction works.

I look forward to some memories, but I’ve been apprehensive about the approach of one in particular – the above memory, tied to this photograph.

At the time, it was a splendid event (the longest run I’d ever done), tied to an obviously splendid day. I stopped at quite a famed local vantage point, a bridge that crosses the Yarra River. I can’t recall how far along I was when I took the photo – definitely in the 20kms – and I was happy. Those endorphins were pumping, and while feeling a bit tender and tired, I wasn’t worried it was anything beyond what ‘regular’ marathon training felt like (whatever ‘regular’ means).

One of the biggest things I discovered about myself on those long run days was how I liked to draw comparisons to the act itself to some kind of life metaphor, something I normally do when I’m writing and I’m sitting on my ass. But it becomes much more potent when you’re on the move, working your way through different locations, suburbs even, battling varying weather patterns, encountering many different sorts of people, all the while trying to keep on track, navigating your way – maybe even on pace, if you’re having a really good day.

Without Timehop, I would’ve forgotten that after making it to 28km and arriving back home again to shower and eat, I had one of the biggest nosebleeds of my life. After the reminder it came back to me: no stranger to that sensation of fluid gathering at the back of my nose and knowing I have less than ten seconds to find a tissue before it explodes everywhere, I wasn’t quite as prepared as I was in my teenage years, and so I stood in my dining area with blood dripping down my shirt and thought, ‘Hmm… that’s interesting.’

In hindsight, I don’t put that nosebleed down to any more sinister a reason than an overworked body that had stepped inside an overheated winter house and was struggling to equilibrate. But the weeks that followed, when I came down with a very nasty respiratory infection and we went through an acute period of family stress, I got sick and my body started to do very strange things. Keira would brush up against me and lightly touch my arm and I would scream with pain; my legs twitched uncontrollably, both muscularly and functionally. I would be in bed at night and my legs almost appeared independent to me, like how a dog runs when it’s dreaming.

Eventually, it calmed down. I could swallow again. My throat cleared up. I continued my training, but at drastically lower run numbers, and even then only by doctor’s permission. Any aspirations I had for a decent marathon time were replaced by just wanting to finish.

I’ve covered what happened between the marathon and eventual Fibromyalgia diagnosis in February, and I’ve realised I haven’t written another update since – at least, not until today. There are several reasons why. The first is because I didn’t quite know how to talk about it. Everyone has pain, everyone is dealing with something, and I certainly don’t rank mine as higher, or greater, than anyone else’s.

The second reason is tied to the first, and that reason is pride. I am staunchly independent, hate asking for help and admitting to having done so is making these words very difficult to type. But I am, because I think it’s important – it was a year ago, at this time, when I voluntarily began seeing a psychologist for some Pretty Bad Thoughts (it’s okay, I’m doing better now). The constant managing and self-assessment of pain levels and tempering negative thoughts, all while trying to work and parent and be, you know, a person has been exhausting. Until I’m fully recovered, if that happens, I’m just going to have to accept some things like my new 10/10 is my old 8/10, performance-wise and activity-wise.

There are good days when I’ll run a 5km without any trouble – even if I pay for that later, it’s still nice to know I can make that happen. On the whole, though, I’ve been pretty sedentary. Writing is an excuse and not a great one.

Now we’re at the very end of winter, I’m starting to feel hopeful. I’ve been on the treadmill desk more, and yesterday I ticked off another Living List item (more on that later). Moving forward really is the only way to move forward.

Running, walking, whichever way.



Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity