Tag Archives: running

Running – and even walking – for cancer.




GO AND MAKE A CUP OF TEA – this will take five minutes…

This weekend will see me take part in the Mother’s Day Classic for the second year.  Last year it was officially a BIG DEAL and I raised well over $1000 for a gorgeous wee boy with Neuroblastoma (Darcy has just had an MRI check up and things are looking really good, hooray).

This year, despite giving up the vino again (and no-one is paying me this time!), I am going to power-walk it as running hurts my poor old joints suffered too much (and yes, I didn’t start training soon enough, at all in fact).  But I have made sure my jaw muscles are in good working order as I am walking alongside a friend with whom I could talk the hind legs off the poor proverbial donkey.

But I thought to get everyone in the mood and to highlight the huge importance of events such as this in raising awareness, funds and support for those battling this hideous disease I would post my memories of my run last year, it was such a high.

Thinking of all those this weekend for whom Mother’s Day (and every other day) is about so much more than breakfast in bed and bath salts – hold your families close everyone.

Memories of MDC 2013

When I committed to participate in the 2013 Mother’s Day Classic around the Domain in Sydney I had no idea what to expect or whether I could even manage it.  My goals though, were reasonable:  to get around the 8KM run in under an hour and to raise as much money as I could for Darcy, a little boy I know who was fighting Neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer.  All this was to be done after a month of intense training while also foregoing alcohol.

I had never been one for setting myself rigid goals so, in order to keep me on the straight and narrow, I started a blog, meaning I was publicly accountable.  That, and the interest and encouragement of my three young sons (the eldest of whom is Darcy’s age) kept me going through some tough times.  Probably worth mentioning is the fact that I am practically allergic to organised sport.  The last time I had seen the inside of a gym was before getting married (eight years before), when I employed the slowest setting on the X-trainer in order to read (and flash around) my bridal mags.  Before that was the half-match I played for the U14 hockey team at school (such a novelty my darling Dad made a six hour round trip, really).  I run around all the time in daily life but as far as real fitness goes I was definitely at the wrong end of any scale.  Also, while I’m not ready to check into rehab, I do, like many people probably imbibe a little more than the guidelines recommend, so a whole month without was definitely daunting.

I started confidently, walking early in the mornings before the getting-ready-for-school-rush began.  I commended myself on my energy and knew this was in large part due to teetotal early nights.  I enjoyed a casual Friday evening dinner with friends on nothing stronger than lime and soda and the next day to celebrate my clear head I got up early and ran, using my snazzy new watch to note time (long), distance (short), number of stops (too many).  Despite the stats, I was thrilled, this summed up the new me – focused, energised and committed.  At a boozy Sunday lunch my craving for a G&T was strong but while everyone else got stuck in I meekly sipped mineral water and drove my merry husband home.

Monday saw me undertake my most serious run yet.  I ran for almost half an hour, half my target time.  I was elated upon arriving home as a red, sweaty mess; I believed for the first time that I might actually make it round the course without requiring the attentions of the lovely people at the St John’s Ambulance station.  On my blog I published a map of my route, my time, my feelings of jubilation.

On Tuesday morning disaster struck.  When I woke up my left ankle was the size of a balloon and it hurt, it really hurt.  It reminded my six year old of an elephant’s leg; “You know Mum, how they go all the way down the same size?”  Yes, I know.  I wept, I railed against the unfairness of it.  I hadn’t twisted it, missed my footing or done anything out of the ordinary that I was aware of.  My husband gently applied ice and comforting words, going in late to work having taken the older boys to school.

I felt idiotic and, more importantly, really worried that I was going to let people down.  I had been making much of my self-imposed month of wholesomeness and the money had begun to roll in.  I was getting as much of a kick out of every dollar donated as I had from my evening tipple.  I was making a difference, and for that to be taken from me felt cruel.  The only thing to do was to apply the RICE technique (rest, ice, compression, elevation), easier said than done when you have a household of boys to look after.  I hobbled onwards; I played on the challenge of abstinence.

In the remaining three weeks I managed only one more run of significance and that was not pretty.  People were kind; it was for a good cause, I was still sticking to half the battle, as long as I made it round, even crawling, it would count.  I exceeded the fundraising goal I’d set which only served to make me increase it.  My boys asked almost daily ‘How much have we raised for Darcy?’  Were it not for their involvement, excitement and pride I doubt I’d have made the starting line.

The day before the run I felt sick, I iced my ankle (once back from the boys morning activities, having made lunch, hung the washing out, you get the picture), laid out my running uniform complete with attractive new tubi-grips.  I tried not to snap at the kids.  I tried to sleep.

I saw the dawn on the morning of the run and attempted to go along with the cheerfulness that was affecting the rest of the family as we embarked on this fabulous adventure.  I wanted to shut myself in the loo and hide.  We caught the bus and began to sense the atmosphere.  The smattering of pink increased as we hurtled towards the city.  Once there the rush was intense.  The emotion was palpable and tears were never far away.  Just reading the tribute cards pinned to participants’ backs was enough to set me off.  I’ve always been a crier when nervous but weeping while in the queue for a portaloo at 7.00am was not something I had predicted.

I found my friend who was running her third Mother’s Day Classic in memory of her Aunt and who was hoping to improve her record of 50 minutes.  She propelled me to the start.  I was shaking, afraid and utterly convinced that I could not do this.  I hadn’t said a proper goodbye to my boys.  I looked for them amongst the sea of faces but couldn’t find them.  All of a sudden there was a hush and a countdown and we were off.  I was running, I was there, it was happening whether I liked it or not.  About 30 meters beyond the start I heard ‘Mummy, Mummy, go Mummy!’ and there they were, in a cleverly found gap.  I gasped, I grinned and I galloped.  I could do this; I would do it for them.

The collective noise of thousands of tapping feet provided a metronomic effect.  We were an army marching against an awful, strangulating disease.  Thousands of families around the world are devastated on a daily basis as their hopes are destroyed and loved ones taken.  Those hopes are never in vain and on that beautiful May morning that was writ large as memories and optimism in equal measure jogged alongside us.  There was an eerie morning fog cocooning the harbour.  Coming around the bend of Mrs Macquarie’s Chair the city rose like Atlantis from the deep.  Angelic hosts appearing atop the rays of sunshine that pierced the clouds would have been in keeping such was the spectacle of the occasion and the setting.

Embarking on my second lap was one of the very hardest parts.  I had lost my friend long before; I was keeping my own pace and finding my own way.  The novelty of the drinking stations had worn off (it was a weird experience seeing them holding out water for me, I wanted to look behind me at the real runner), I was being passed by what felt like hundreds of people and I was sore.

My mind began to wander.  I thought of the imagination of children when I remembered my five year old’s description of the weather including ‘fog drops’.  I thought of Darcy what he and his family were enduring.  Then I passed my patiently waiting family and my boys began to run alongside me.  Suddenly I was at the 5km mark and I sensed possibility. I was in a bubble of determination; thanks to the fog and my family I refused to think of anything other than crossing that line.

Someone had been clever with their marshalling choice for the 7km mark.  Encouraging words, spoken from the heart from someone who could have been your Mum, or your sister or your friend.  The end was in sight, my boys were waiting and I went for it.  So what if hurt, I would heal.  I crossed the line one minute and fifty-nine seconds to spare.  I laughed and cried in exhilaration.  I hugged my family and held them close.  What a rush, what an honour and privilege it was to be part of something that hopeful, that determined.  The best bit?  Hearing the pride (tinged with incredulity) in their voices as my sons said ‘You did it Mum.’


MDC 2013 - the best finishing prize ever.

MDC 2013 – the best finishing prize ever.

Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward. Victor Kiam.


I’m sure the quote of the title isn’t meant to be funny but the never-say-die optimism makes me chuckle.  Perhaps I’m not cut out for motivational thinking?

Sam's family portrait.  He is the big one with six eyes, I have the long eyes on stalks!

Sam’s family portrait. He is the big one with six eyes, I have the long eyes on stalks!  This is my motivation…

I have to admit I’ve been finding it hard to motivate myself to write this week.  Having the goal of the run and the fundraising focused me and gave me something to work towards and therefore progress – or lack thereof – to relate.  I’ve realised how beneficial it was for me to have that goal (echoes of being told I just had to find an aim in life as I floated through my teens and twenties…) and how invigorating I found being that busy.  It was exciting busy rather than just the normal busy blur of washing and schoolbags and meals that my life generally is.  My parents have made being busy into an art form; my Mum constantly has huge number of balls in the air and never seems to drop one (if she does she is amazing at damage limitation).  I felt like that for about a week and I realise everyone benefited, I was more efficient in every area.  I need a new challenge to save you all from my introspective pontificating!

Suggestions are welcome as long as they don’t involve running anytime soon.  My ankles are slowly slowly recovering; it is really quite alarming how long it’s taking and how much I’m rattling!  My amazing inspirational friend Joanna is doing the first of two 10K runs on Saturday – FOR FUN!  Or at least a personal challenge.  There is no way I would have managed it were it not for raising money for Darcy so I am full to the brim with admiration.

I can’t believe my firstborn is 7!  I love remembering his first few months, the wonder and humility I felt – and utter helplessness at times.  My Scotland memory box is not one I allow myself to access very often, knowing it will tinge my day with melancholy.  But thinking of my dear friend mentioned above has allowed me to immerse myself and wallow.  Life moves on apace, not just for the generation following us but the one in front too.  Our control is so little perhaps all we can do is watch over our own little patch and hope for the best – take heart from children and keep it simple. I wish I could stand beside you Jojo to face the next chapter.

It seems we are all sentimental and love harking back to our childhoods – by watching funny montages on YouTube, ironic no?   Perhaps it comes out of a natural nervousness of the future as the unknown, especially on our children’s behalf.  Children are so beautifully in the now it’s hard not to envy them their lack of care about things past or anxiety about things to come – until it is suggested that the Wii might not be brought out at the weekend, then they’re plenty worried.  I’ll never forget William’s first teacher at day-care telling me she had a book about managing children without ever resorting to punishment or bribes…she was fired soon after, maybe for not getting children, at all?

One thing that is driving me potty in terms of bribe material is the huge individual bag of sweets the parents of Sam’s rugby team dole out at the end of every match.  Last week Sam’s loot surpassed that in the bags I made up for William’s 7th birthday party.  It’s not simply the number of baddies being ingested at 9.00am after a lovely healthy start to the day, it’s the misplaced ‘reward’ they are getting.  Isn’t the best reward the praise and excitement of their family and the feeling of having played to their best?  Perhaps I am misguided and naive but I know that Sam is on a natural high before the sugar kicks in.  Being such an old bore when it’s my turn I am going to go old school and take one bag of something like jelly snakes and give them one each.  It may well seal my fate as the mean mum but I’ll be channelling the Bupa ad and telling myself they’ll thank me one day…

The Jamie Oliver food revolution day got no media coverage here but we had fun beginning the weekend of celebrations for William’s birthday with the complete mayhem that was our pizza party!  Ten children at the end of the week armed with dough and tomato sauce, thank god my lovely friend Hannah brought a bottle of lovely fizz to get us through! The difference between the beautiful pizzas the girls produced and the chuck-it-all-on attitude of the boys won’t surprise those of you with both sexes but I will admit to having a(nother) moment of thinking how nice it would be to have someone in the house who would willingly sit down for more than five minutes at a time!

Scarlett and Ruby joining the revolution!

Scarlett and Ruby joining the revolution!

Sam and Oli following closely behind!

Sam and Oli following closely behind!

 We had such fun playing mini golf with William’s friends on Sunday too, Andrew managed to burn some of the evil sugar and colourings (in the cake that he had, mostly, made!) out of them with soccer afterwards too – impressing some Mums with his speed into the bargain!

The birthday boy and cake Andrew made!

The birthday boy and cake Andrew made!

WE DID IT! Now what?!


As the banner says, I did it!  I managed to finish in just under an hour – awaiting the official result but by my watch it was 58.40 (7.11 mins per km – a PB!).  Very happy with that given I did next to no training for the last two weeks leading up to today.

What an amazing experience it was too. It was incredibly empowering to be a part of something so strong and so vibrant and humbling to read all the tribute cards.  It’s easy to forget as we go about our busy lives that cancer could affect any of us at any time.  It is our obligation to support those affected where we can and, when given the chance, to pull together to find a way to beat this terrible disease. 

Huge respect and congratulations to everyone who took part today and of course massive thanks from me to everyone who supported me, financially, emotionally, physically.  Most of all my four amazing boys.

Some photos from my day.


With the boys at the starting line.


My smile belies my dreadful nerves.


  Very happy to see Hannah


Almost there (running so fast Andrew could hardly get me in shot!)


Across the line!


Clashing with my t-shirt!


  Celebrating with the Kelly family.


  Doing it for Darcy.


The journey home.  We never tire of travelling to and from the city on the ferry, it still feels like an adventure.

Image  First stop The Source – loving BJ’s creative coffee labelling!

 Image First drink in a month, cheers!


A lovely lunch at Bathers, our ‘go to’ place for occasions with the boys.  Such a treat!  (And yes, I’m still wearing the medal – the boys and I have taken it in turns all day!)

Darcy is doing really well at home with his family before immunotherapy treatment 4 out of five begins later this week.  It looks like they have had a great Mother’s Day too, and so so deserved.  http://www.facebook.com/DoingItForDarcyNz?fref=ts

I am still blown away by your generosity, thank you.  In case you were waiting for me to actually do it….https://www.youcaring.com/other/doing-it-for-darcy/54263

Julia xx

The Dorm and the Desk


Image  The Country Living connection ends here!

Image  Our shared space!  Never to be as tidy again.

Finally, years after buying the thing my massive desk is coming into proper use.  Not unusually for me it was bought on a whim without a tape measure or any means of getting it home from the ‘antiques centre’ where I bought it.  I think I doubled its price to about $100 by finding some poor mug who had unwittingly put an ad in the local paper offering himself and his van for pretty much any use.  He nearly turned and ran when he saw me in the rain with one small cross child and a massive bump (Sam).  I don’t quite know what I thought I needed a desk for at that time but anyway.  Since then it has been one of our two most annoying pieces of furniture (beaten by Andrew’s futon, see ‘Thanks Mum! April 23rd) used as a den, a jumping off platform for the bed it was beside, a sticker book storage depot, everything apart from my writing…until now.

I have my first commission for an article.  Someone (a well known newspaper) is paying me to do what I love doing the most (and do for free for all you lovely people).  This also means I have a proper grown up deadline to add to the balls in the air.  So far it’s working, the balls are still there while I try to smile serenely (more like a rictus grin) and keep paddling madly beneath the surface.

Andrew suggested I could call today my first day at work since mid 2002.  After I had finished bashing him about the head with the nearest heavy object – the last seven years have hardly seen me lazing about reading mags with my feet up (and my grey hairs, wrinkles and back problems are testament to this) – I understood what he meant (I’ll admit uni was not the most taxing four years).  Today will be the first time since leaving a corporate job to return to uni where someone has officially paid me for my time.  Scary thought.  I have to admit I’m a little nervous about being child-free for a day; they are as much my safety as I am theirs.  I know, I know it will be great but it will also be weird.

So we have a dorm and a desk.  All three beds fit in together really well which is a massive disappointment to William who was hoping desperately for a bunk bed.  Those of you who know Edward will understand our determination to squeeze three beds in!  Sometimes I do wonder why we bother with beds for Sam and Edward at all.  This morning I woke up with a crick in my neck, a knee in my back and a dead arm.  I would have been comfier on the bloody futon!

I had to check back to when I mentioned the futon and found reading the post of 23rd April a bit depressing as since then I have barely managed a decent run.  As people say, you can’t predict injuries but really, sports people get injured, not desperate housewives out for a light jog surely? Yesterday I took some stronger painkillers and went for a run anyway (aha, you see, you thought I’d gone all sensible without the wine, that’s much more Julia-like isn’t it?) as I am beginning to panic about next weekend.  I managed about 4ks and wore my 3 f’s t-shirt (fit, fast and fabulous) for motivational purposes (it distracted me at least as I thought of alternatives – flabby, frantic and foolish?).  I’m now beginning to see the run like childbirth –something to be endured in order to get a great result.  It is lucky it’s all for such a good cause, otherwise the towel may have been thrown in a while ago.

Darcy is back at school today after having a quiet week recovering from his last immunotherapy treatment.  It is humbling to imagine what he is enduring and here I am complaining of sore ankles.

Six days to go, roll on Sunday I say!  Thanks everyone for your support.



The happy other (and mother)


Image    The best coffee in Mosman (and further) found at The Source.                                         Love being a regular!

Arghhhh!  If I have ever craved a glass of wine since the 12th April (and I have, believe me I have) I have never craved one like I do tonight.  Thankfully Andrew has taken the boys to rugby training at which there is a bar and bbq so I don’t have to stand watching the other parents enhance the rugby experience with a drink (oh the times I have done that – Kelso Rugby Club, Murrayfield Car Park, Melrose 7’s, endless pubs in Edinburgh, feel free to add to this list).

The bottle of Prosecco that is in our fridge will be given away tomorrow since it has begun to speak to me, “mmm, , drink me, just imagine the lovely icy fizziness, you know you want to, no-one will know…”  (not terribly imaginative this bottle, and it makes up words) apart from I will and that’s enough.  I am many things including weak when it comes to self-control generally but I feel so accountable doing this, both to all the wonderful people who have supported and sponsored me and of course to Darcy.  Thankfully I definitely got the gift of tenacity from both my parents so when I do something…  Roll on the 12th May however!

I’ve been thinking about community today, and how far I’ve come in terms of feeling settled in just a few months.    A lot of you will know that I have a tendency to over-think things and there is no doubt I have done it with the whole expat situation.  I’ve even been known to bring my post-colonial and anthropological learning into the discussion, applying the idea of ‘the other’ to myself and the boys.  It has really concerned me that they and I will not share a cultural identity should we choose to remain away from the UK.

I am not yet entirely at peace with this however I have decided to put this to one side for now and simply enjoy living in Mosman.  We are truly blessed to live in a place which affords us easy access to every amenity and facility we require or desire (just a pity it’s not more affordable).  The boys are settled into the most wonderful schools, both of which have such strong community values and which we really feel a part of and now have some lovely friends through.  To supplement this I joined the social committee and coerced Andrew into being on the management committee of the Northern Nursery School.  Turns out I chose the wrong committee, we meet in the mornings with children in tow as opposed to the evenings with wine in hand…hmm, I sense a theme to this post.

We met a lovely lady on the ferry last weekend who has lived in Mosman for thirty years and who told me she met most of her close friends when their children were around this age.  I suggested that we all live for the Friday evening wine with children’s supper and she replied ‘And what about the Monday to Thursday wines?’  A kindred spirit and great example that we are not all dreadful old soaks as we feared.

My sense of belonging was shaken a little this morning when I found that a nasty note had been shoved under our front door.  In it, some nutter from the flats which overlook our back garden accused the boys of waking her up (we’re assuming female from the handwriting) every morning at 6am (when it is still dark and the boys are still in bed) and then a line later expresses her pity for said annoying boys since they have a mother who shouts.  Show me the mother of three very lively boys under 6 who never has cause to shout and I’ll promise not to drink for a bloody year.  What a cheek!  Talk about not having enough in your own life to worry about.   Andrew made me report the old bag to the police who said I should have phoned and they would have come round in order that the perp (ha ha!) might have seen them and therefore would know we’d reported her.  What a cowardly thing to do and the last thing I need.

Phew.  Now I need a drink more than ever.

Image      Autumnal Joy!

Running wise my lovely friend Chris, a chiropractor whose son Hugo is Sam’s bestie, re-aligned my ankles (I think that’s what she said) and I now have orthotic insoles in my trainers…fingers, or rather toes, crossed I’ll be able to run a bit more in the last week I have to train.

Darcy is at home recovering from the immunotherapy treatment that was really brutal last week.  Wee soul, it is just so much for anyone to go through, let alone a child.  As a Mum I imagine it must be utterly heart-breaking to watch.  I feel it physically in my gut when I think about the Wilson family and what they are all going through, they show such bravery and determination always with a ready smile.  Simply amazing.

Fan-bloody-tastic effort everyone!  We have made it to the $500 mark which was the initial goal.  I’m upping it to $700 by next Sunday, can we do it?  Yes we can!

Link to Doing it for Darcy http://www.facebook.com/DoingItForDarcyNz?fref=ts

Link to fundraising page https://www.youcaring.com/other/doing-it-for-darcy/54263