Finding a running community

Note: Photos taken by Pace run club and credits go to them:

It's been a year since I joined Pace Run Club in Manly. It holds a lot of firsts for me in this town. It's the first group I joined; the first local people I met; the first running friends I made in Sydney; I shared my first ever trail races with friends I met at this club.

Every Tuesday for the last year (except on days I organise codebar event), I finish work at 5pm and I head to Pace Athletic in Manly, just around the corner from where I live—the perfect location for me.

I remember my very first day. I was a little nervous for two reasons. Firstly, I didn't know what the standard of running was like in the group—would I be able to keep up? Secondly, I didn't know anyone. Eek, maybe I'm not ready for this.

Within seconds of me stepping into the shop, I was greeted by some incredibly friendly women who asked if I had ran with the club before. Then we got chatting and we've been in touch ever since. They ran with me for the warm up and it turned out that I wasn't at the back of the pack (as I expected). Nowadays, we don't all just run together at run club, we all run at weekends, travel to races together and hang out afterwards. 

A community for everybody 

One thing I love so much about the club in Manly is that it's so inclusive. We run up to the top of a hill as a warm up. Then we re-group and get a briefing for the exercise on the hill. Then we run hill repeats for a set time. It doesn't matter how fast anyone is because it's the same hill—faster people run more repeats than slower people. It's so simple, but so great because so many people can join in. 

During my time in Sydney so far, I've overcome a few challenges around changing jobs and careers, managing homesickness, building friendships, starting a tech meet up. Life gets busy and sometimes the last thing I want to do is run up hills for an hour, but for some reason it doesn't matter how tired I feel, or how fried my brain feels, I always feel better and happier for smashing some hills with everyone. Training together makes a huge difference. I try harder when people are around me. I show up when people are expecting me.

Pace Athletic often sponsor local trail events, so it's easy to keep up with what's coming up and it's reassuring to know that there will always be familiar faces at races—and often eskis of beer at the end! It also means that we're all training for the same events at run club, which is very motivating and much more fun than training solo. Being part of such a fantastic community has contributed to my enthusiasm for running over here.

Pace run club
Photos taken by run club (link at top of page)
Pace run club
Photos taken by run club (link at top of page)
Pace run club
Photos taken by run club (link at top of page)

Achievements this year

This year I've participated in lots of running events, which are achievements beyond my expectations. I'm extremely grateful for the support and encouragement I've had from many people in the local running community. Without dragging myself up hills with them every week, I 100% would not have survived the following trail events!

Events in 2017/2018

  • August 2017: My first race in Australia! Tackled heartbreak hill in City to Surf — 14k
  • October 2017: My first Sydney Trail Series race at St Ives — 24k
  • November 2017: Sydney Trail Series race at St Ives — 24k
  • February 2018: Dee Why to Manly Fun run road race — 10k (gained a new 10k PB).
  • March 2018: Sydney Trail Series race — 30k in a heatwave. The hardest thing I'd had ever done until this point.
  • April 2018: Jabulani Challenge in Ku-ring-gai-chase National Park — 45k. My first ultra marathon! Definitely the toughest and most painful thing I'd ever put my body through (mentally and physically).

What's next?

I will soon be challenging myself to one more ultra marathon this year, an event which has been my dream ever since I knew I was moving to Australia. Watch this space...

After that I will change my focus for the winter and work on shorter distances, more road terrain and faster times to mix things up a bit. I'll increase the weights in the gym and attempt to get leaner. I'll dust off my bike and get cycling to give my knees a bit of a break from the impact of running. That'll keep me busy until the next trail season starting in October  2018. Fingers crossed for some PBs in my second year.

Charlotte Jackson at Pace run club Manly

Note: Photos taken by Pace run club and credits go to them: