The 1.6km run was the one activity in Phys Ed class that I dreaded. I never really gave running a chance as a young girl, focusing on ballet for many years, with the occasional game of netball. If I had to enter an event for the annual School Athletics, it would always be the 100m sprint; I just couldn’t imagine running more than a lap of any oval.
I started my family quite young, we have 3 daughters aged 27, 25 and 20. Walking was free, easy and seemed to soothe unsettled babies. I enjoyed walking with a baby in a sling and a toddler in the pram, or on her bike. Running was a word I never used; this was years before the jogging pram was invented. So I kept relatively fit walking the streets for many years.
In November 2011, my father, who was super fit, healthy and a talented sportsman, was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I needed to find a way to deal with the frustration, despair and agony I felt as I watched, helpless, as my beloved Dad faced his toughest battle.
I started running around the local retarding basin, too embarrassed for the public to see my feeble attempts, my labored breathing and my constant pauses to control my racing heartbeat. Running was so far out of my comfort zone, but somehow that made me feel more connected with Dad, trying to absorb some of his pain.
In March 2012, I entered my first official event, excited to share the news with Dad. It was Run4Kids, a challenging 15k in the heart of Melbourne, running through the Domain Tunnel, and up and over Bolte Bridge. I had no idea about training plans, tapering, energy gels, just the desire to run and cross that finishing line. Soon after, I entered my first half marathon on the Gold Coast.
Dad was excited for me, I knew he was proud of what I was already achieving. Tragically he passed away three weeks before the event. I was running everyday, running away from my sorrow, but always running with Dad alongside me. I felt his presence every step of the way. I managed to run my first half marathon in 1:55:10.
The following year I decided to challenge myself even further by entering the Melbourne Marathon (after running 3 more half marathons). I joined a local running club (Running in the Burbs) enjoying the companionship on long runs. Speed sessions, hill repeats and tempo runs soon became part of my vocabulary.
I ran the Melbourne Marathon without my watch (battery died), no music, on my own, just an ordinary mum enjoying the atmosphere, the buzz of the crowds and the support of every other runner out there. As I entered the MCG I saw, and heard, my family proudly cheering me on from the stands, and I felt my Dad running that last lap with me over the finish line. Astonishingly, I had debuted in 3:53:21, qualifying for Boston 2015!
Since then I have run the Boston Marathon in 2015, a further 11 marathons, a 56km trail run and two 100km ultramarathons. Running has totally transformed my life, I am healthier, fitter and happier than ever.
TTC: What is one tip you wish you could tell every beginner runner?
Jane: Consistency is the key. Keep ticking off your weekly runs and keep your eye on your goal.
TTC: What keeps you going when you really want to stop?
Jane: I remember how brave my father was, how much pain he endured and how desperate he was to stay with us.
TTC: Tell us about one of your best runs ever.
Jane: Nothing will ever beat the Boston Marathon, the honour of running such a prestigious event and the support of the crowd. I also loved pacing my little brother (he is 8 years younger than me) in his first marathon and holding his hand over the finish line.