My Marathon story – by Geraldine Bilson

My admiration for marathoners, and the ability to run a full 42.2 km began in 1990.

I was 8 years old, and I watched my Dad run his first marathon (in a time of 3 hours, 22 minutes).  I was so proud, and completely in awe of my Dad; father of 5 children, running his own business, and now running marathons.  He was, and always will be, my hero.

My desire to actually complete a marathon myself left me as I entered adult hood, and enjoyed life (a little too much), without worrying about the consequences.

After having my daughter though, I started running.  Initially to loose baby weight, but soon becoming a passion, an escape, and a desire to do my best.

I vowed to run a half marathon in 2014, and having completed this in July on the Gold Coast I knew watching the full marathoners, and hearing their stories on RMA, that I wanted to get serious and tackle one myself.

During my training between July and October, many people would ask “Why are you doing this?”, “Why do you want to run a marathon?”.  My answers to them, and to myself, varied.  I would often say things like “I want to run one in front of my Dad”, or “to be a good example to my daughter”, or “our family has had a tough year and I want to do something positive”.  Truth is – I wasn’t all that sure myself most of the time why I was doing it – what I did know was that it was changing me.

The changes were physical – I lost around 8 kilos between July and October, and dropped 2 dress sizes.  I was lighter, and fitter.  But the changes weren’t just skin deep – I was also becoming more confident, stronger, independent and more capable.

My training went great – I missed runs, but always stayed committed to 2-3 runs per week and never strayed from getting my long run in.  It’s no easy feat to fit in motherhood, work, family, friends, and training … but I found the time, and am truly grateful to those that made that possible (especially to my partner Mark, my Mum and Dad, and some very dear friends who helped and encouraged me along the way).

Taper time came and I went completely crazy.  I felt like I was loosing my fitness (and my mind!) not doing my long runs, and every niggle felt like an injury about to explode, and every sniff was the onslaught of pneumonia!  Paranoia was at fever pitch!!

During the last week before race day I found myself in an insomniac, emotional mess.  Upon some reflection I realised I was ready to leave some things behind.  A failed marriage, a rough birth with my daughter, some health problems amongst family members, and generally some emotionally challenging years … I wanted to leave my baggage on the course, and finish my race knowing I was ready to be the best me I possibly could be.

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Race day came and once I started I could not believe how great I felt.  People had told me to enjoy it, and that race day is your “victory lap” – and it really was.  I stuck to my game plan, not breaking any records for time, but I felt unbelievable.  It was such a buzz being out there, people cheering us on, and seeing all the RMA girls.  It wasn’t until around kilometre 37 that I really started to hurt, and even then, with just 5 kilometres to go, I knew I was going to accomplish my dream.  When I rounded the last corner, saw my Dad and my Mark, I couldn’t help but let all the emotions out – there were a lot of tears.

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gez and katie

In that very moment, I have never, ever felt so strong, capable, and empowered.

All the heartache and challenges of the years before were gone.

And I am ready to be the best me that there is.

I am a marathoner.

2 responses to “My Marathon story – by Geraldine Bilson

  1. Gez, u r an inspiration, a wonderful mother, partner, daughter, friend & sister. So proud to be your bro, & love Ur story xxoo

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