I used to be a runner in my 30s. Not too bad - I was never going to get selected to run at the Olympics but I was decent. I ran a 1:40 half marathon, was fit, strong and active. I played State Grade squash and could run around with the kids and almost anyone else. But, within a few years the shit hit the fan.
By the time I was in my mid 40s my weight had steadily eased from the low 80s to the 90s and over the 100s, settling a little under 110kg. My work life was busy but pretty much everything else was a mess. My marriage crumbled and for the first time in my life I loved alone.
Running was therapy. I lived in Melton for a while and ran along the Western Highway, in the ran, before the sun was up. Then, when I found a place to rent closer to my kids, I ran the Mullum Creek Trail.
I started running again on 6 January 2013. My first Rubicon was C25K. When I started that Summer's day, the 90 second "run" was hard. While it wasn't a massive barrier, the next few weeks were. Run Number One was hard but it was the second, third and fourth ones that really hurt. It turns out going for your first run is easy. It's coming back where you're sore that's hard.
But those nine weeks were my first Rubicon. By the end, I could run continuously for 30 minutes. I wasn't quite at 5km but 30 minutes of continuous running was such a buzz.
By the end of 2013, I met someone new - my Vanessa (Ness). While there was instant attraction on our first date our third date was a picnic at The Tan. We ran a lap together and then shared a meal on the grass.
Every since then, we have run all the place together - along rivers and lakes in Oregon, the tracks and trails of Victoria and the streets where we live.
Once I got past the 5km barrier, I tuned to longer distances. 10km came, then trying to get under 30 for 5km and an hour for 10km. A few weeks after meeting Ness, she ran the Two bays Trail Run. I was recovering from a flare up of my almost always bothersome Achilles so I ran a few easy kilometres and met her at the end, promising to run it together the next year.
That meant running a qualifier.
My qualifier was the half marathon at the Yarrawonga Multisport Festival. On a stinking hot day in September 2014, on a boring 5km loop course, I polished off a 2:06 (coming last!) and qualified for Two Bays.
While the half was a personal victory, albeit more than 20 minutes slower than the old days, it wasn't my goal. My next Rubicon was Two Bays 2015. That 28km of tracks, hills, stairs and gravel was the first time I thought I could may, one day, do a marathon.
I've never been a really outdoorsy sort of person. Becoming a trail runner is something I never thought would happen. But my Ness is an outdoor person. She loves the trails and converted me into a trail runner - slowly.
Like many runners, the marathon loomed on my horizon. In 2016 I decided to take on the Suref Coast Trail Marathon. Running a road marathon would probably be easier but I wanted to stick to the trails.
I'll cut to the chase. I ran that marathon in a decent time and crossed off an item from my bucket list.
The next week I ran my fastest 5km at Lilydale parkrun and was the fittest I'd been in 15 years. It was all looking good and I started to prepare for the 35km Wonderland Run at Halls Gap.
I was about 7km into Wonderland when I slipped on a rock on a very cold and wet day, My knee locked up when some cartilage tore when my heel needed up next to my arse. Two hours after my fall, I was carried and dragged about 2km or so to a car park where an ambulance took me down the hill for my first and only DNF.
The next rubicon
It took a few weeks but I was back to running again. Now that we're married, Ness and I don't get to run together as often as we'd like. Juggling a household worth our five kids is a challenge but we manage to to get to PTR many weeks and we've run the Afterglow half together, finishing hand-in-hand for the last four years.
We call it our annual date run.
What's next - I really want to do the Melbourne Marathon this year. And perhaps in 2020 I'll knock of a real ultra and I'd love to do the Great Victorian Bike Ride. But perhaps the big thing is to just stay active.
My New Years resolution is do do 30 mins of exercise every day. That can be weights, running, riding, swimming, walking or whatever. But as long as I stay healthy and active I'll be a happy man.