Sometimes It Takes Longer Than You Planned

Randy Pausch The Last Lecture Quote

On Sept 3 last year, I posted the above photo of the Randy Pausch quote on the Planning With Kids facebook page with the comment:

I have run into a little brick wall at the moment, so loved reading this quote.

I had been training since April for the Melbourne Marathon. On Friday August 31, I pulled up terribly after a 30km run. It took a second opinion and two weeks to find the cause. Long story short, I had cracked my inferior pubis ramus.

Basically I had put a crack in my pelvis. The fantastic physio I saw when seeking a second opinion, picked it pretty much instantly, but it took an MRI and a phone call from him to tell me that I would not be able to run the marathon – to do so would see me risk significant damage to my pelvis.

I was quite devastated, but I knew from the pain I had, I could not run a marathon. I could not even stand on one leg to put on pants. The physio said it would be a minimum of six weeks before I could start running again. I could still use the cross trainer at the gym, do some light weights, but nothing that jolted the pelvis.

The brick wall

melbourne marathon running

It actually took a lot longer than six weeks to heal. I didn’t start running again until around Christmas. After the initial disappointment had passed, I kept thinking that things happen for a reason. I had no idea what the reason for this was, but was determined that I would work through it and eventually run a marathon. I was not going to let this brick wall stop me.

I thought about that Randy Pausch quote today as I ran my first marathon. At around the 7km mark, it kicked in that I was really running my first marathon. I had made it to the start line, I felt good running and I was pretty sure I would make it to the finish line too.

I reflected on how sometimes you just have to work harder to achieve a goal that is important to you. There will be obstacles, there will be frustration and there will be disappointments, it could take longer than planned, but the payoff for sticking at it, for chipping away, for looking for other ways to solve problems is huge.

When people asked me what time I was aiming to complete the marathon in, I would most commonly say that I really just wanted to make it to the start line and then finish. And I meant it. I trained to a plan and thought on a great day, with all going well I might come in somewhere between 3:30 – 3:45. I came in well under that and am still elated with the result, but I was more elated to just make it to the start line this time.

The reason

In hindsight my injury was one of a novice runner. I was running too fast and too many kilometres for my body. The injury however brought a number of people into or closer into my life for which I am incredibly grateful for. And I owe thanks to a number of them:

  • Aidan – the physio, who was great at diagnosing my injury, answering my questions and giving me advice on training for the 2013 marathon.
  • Bron – who hearing me speak of my boredom at the gym and frustration at my slow recovery encouraged me to try out CrossFit. I checked out the website, did the intro package and was hooked!
  • Nick – the head coach at CrossFit. Nick is incredibly patient with my lack of skill with the barbell and repeatedly shows me how do the same move over and over again. He also was the first to plant the idea that I could run long distance without the traditional carb loading of white bread, pasta and rice. CrossFit absolutely has made me a stronger runner and the benefit of lifting weights to strengthen your core cannot be underestimated.
  • Matt – I met Matt through blogging work, but most of the time our conversations turn to running. He was the first one to point out to me that I was running my long runs way too fast. He sent me training plans and checked in on me, to see that I was indeed slowing down.
  • Mark – also encouraged me to slow down and sent me this great article Train Slow, Run Fast. Novice runners starting to train for longer events should really read this.
  • Sam – the Osteo who taught me about the value of stretching to prevent the niggles I had been experiencing.

And of course there is my family. My ridiculously patient husband, who believed in me, more than I did myself. Who drove me into the MCG and listened to me worry all the way about getting lost and other insane things. My kids who put up with me being a little tired some weekends after long running. My lovely sisters and their kids who came in to watch me.

melbourne marathon finish

Tackling a large goal needs support and I am lucky that I have so much of it. While not everyone wants to run a marathon, there will be something you want to achieve. Don’t let one setback put you off. Find your support network. Keep trying, be patient and keep working – the end result will be worth it.

What goal are you working towards at the moment?


  1. says

    What a fantastic achievement Nic – you should be incredibly proud of yourself. I love that quote as well – must remember it next time I’ve hit a wall.

    I completely agree that everything happens for a reason – I’m so glad you gave CF a go!!


  2. Mel says

    Congratulations, that’s an amazing result. You must be very proud of yourself. I’ve only managed a 14km run so far, and would like to do the half marathon next year. I’ve still got a long way to go!

  3. says

    Awesome achievement Nicole, you’re a gutsy lady :-). 5km runs are my preferred distance, but you’ve inspired me to eventually have a go at the longer distances. Definitely agree with you about strength training helping with running – I’ve seen a definite improvement since adding strength training three times a week to my workouts, and stretching after runs is a must for me.

  4. says

    Wowser! That’s really inspiring. I’ve been facing health issues for a few years now that have really impeded my ability to achieve a lot of my goals. This reminds me not to give up!

    • says

      Keep going Summer. Injuries / health issues can be quite demoralising, so it is a great achievement to work through them – all the best on your journey.

  5. Maxine says

    Congratulations Nicole on staying the distance and achieving an amazing goal. I hope you are very proud of yourself. I found your blog particularly inspiring as I tore my hip ligaments 6 weeks ago, which meant after 6 months training I couldn’t participate in the half marathon I was aiming for. I was distraught on so many levels: that for the first time in a long time I had achieved a level of fitness I was happy with and I felt all that effort had been wasted. That I had attached emotional significance in the event as the last time 1/2M I did was before I was pregnant, more than 6 years ago and for me it was a symbol of “getting me back.” That it hurt – and was worse than not exercising at all. Guilt that I had been perhaps pushing myself too hard, injured myself, and now the rest of the family had to put up with an incapacitated grumpy woman.
    I am learning lots about patience, adapting, changing pace, and not giving up. I’m back to little runs – just 10 minutes, which is mentally frustrating knowing what I could achieve 6 weeks ago, but at least its something.
    By the way the Rushing Woman thing was also particularly relevant!
    Thanks again for your inspiration at just the right moment.

    I was very glum, and the rate of recovery

    • says

      I was really surprised at how emotional effected I was by my injury and not being able to run the marathon. I was out of sorts and not myself for quite a while.

      Stick with the gradual return as frustrating as it is (mine drove me crazy!) and hopefully you will run your half next year.

      Love The Rushing Woman Syndrome Book!

  6. says

    Thank you for this – I’m trying to get to a half marathon, but I was elated (and exhausted) after a 9km. Where I still run and walk not all running. But thank you for the link and the support (I run and I think, if Nicole with kids and a much busier life, and older than me, can do this, then gosh darn, so can i!)

  7. Sonia says

    I met you in person when you launched your Planning With Kids book in Surrey Hills. I look at the photos now and am floored by your incredible physique! Congratulations on this wonderful achievement. I have currently started group training again and I hate it (only 4 weeks in of 12). I’ve done it before and I wasn’t crazy about it then so I don’t really know why I tried a second time. Anyway, right now I’m thinking carefully about what could work for me…

    Again, congratulations Nicole. You are amazing :)

  8. Paula Carlton says

    OMG. What a fantastic achievement Nicole! I ran my first (and only) marathon in 2010 at the Melbourne. Finished 4hr30 and thought I was a bit of a legend – you have now inspired me (dare I say it) to give it another crack next year.

    Like I wrote last week, you are an absolute champion!

  9. says

    Very inspirational, I was very moved by this post. The goal I’m working towards is to grow my own business, getting more clients and subscribers. I really love the quote about the brick wall, it can relate to so many aspects of my life. Thanks Nicole

  10. says

    Congratulations Nicole. That is unbelievable – of your recovery and how fast you ran.

    I ran on Sunday as well, in my first half marathon, and laughed because I found myself in your first photo. My husband and I are the very last two people in the far right background of the photo (grey-shirted man and dressed in all black woman)! We finished at 2 hours 12 minutes, and I was over the moon! I really thought my knees would keep me from doing it but I felt great on the day.

    I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now – thanks for sharing all that you do!

  11. Jodie says

    Congratulations Nicole, you are amazing and so inspiring on so many levels!

    Slowly I am finding my way back to my fitness and funny enough, I also ran on Sunday, but it was to be my first 5.7km. Due to rain the race was shortened to 3km, now the motivator to enter a 5km in the Sussan’s Fun Run and hopefully on my way to tackling some 10km races next year. Who knows, if I can convince Carolyn maybe a marathon after that ;-). Need a new challenge Nic – maybe you should do the The Spartan with her again next year?

    Thanks for sharing your experience and achievements, timely and encouraging on a personal level!

  12. Sharon says

    Hi Nicole, I really enjoy reading your blogs and was so impressed reading about your marathon achievement! I’m a mum of 3 kids (6,10,12), I work part time and we lead a very busy life. I took up long distance running about 6 years ago and have completed 4 half marathons and 1 full marathon. I can’t describe how proud of myself I was to complete my first half and then 2 years ago completing a full marathon. One of the best things I have ever done! Your time however blows me away as it took me 5 hours and 8 minutes to complete the 42 kilometres. Since then I’ve decided to run shorter distances and work on increasing my speed. Don’t think I’ll probably run another full marathon. Just happy to do it once in my life. Will you run another one?

  13. says

    Congratulations Nicole! That’s awesome that you made it, and equally that you can now see so much good coming out of the original injury.

    My 11 yo is running a “marathon” at a school camp coming up. He was all excited that it was going to be 24 miles (is that right?), and terribly disappointed to hear it’s going to be more like 1.5km! I told him 24 miles was probably just a tad too long at this point :) But, I will tell him your story, and of the importance of building up.