I get knocked down, but I get up again


Last year I was so fortunate to become an ambassador for the YMCA Father’s Day Fun Run. I came on board as a running novice with big dreams. I told everyone about them, I was going to get faster, conquer a sub 60 parkrun, attempt a half marathon in 2018 and one day complete a full marathon.

I’m sure anyone reading my story thought I would have achieved it all too. At the time nothing was going to stop me. I was as convincing as a politician at election time.

What happened instead was horrendously frustrating at the time but in the end helped me see what was important. 

One week after the 2017 YMCA Father’s Day Fun Run I was struck down hard by the ‘super’ flu. Nothing super about it to be honest, it’s the worst thing I’ve been through. 

What followed was:

  • A long few months of recovery
  • Another bout of the super flu in December
  • A collapsed lung
  • A tedious amount of time spent idling, waiting for aforementioned lung to inflate
  • Stage-five-clinger inner thigh chafing (unrelated to all the flu issues but worth the shout out)

I struggled to be sidelined with what didn’t feel like a ‘real’ injury. I broke out of that mindset when I reminded myself just how important a lung is to this whole running caper.

So come Father’s Day this year it’ll be one year since I first fell ill. It’s knocked me down more times than I would like. Dreams and goals have been adjusted or put on hold.  

Throughout the year when I was feeling somewhat okay I still managed to conquer some pretty great things. I went on to do five more 10km events, I’m now up to 40 parkruns and I was part of a marathon relay. And I’m fortunate to still be an ambassador for this great event.

My setbacks inadvertently gave me a soapbox for keeping it real. So real, that one day I hope a documentary about me comes out in 3D. So people can feel every struggle for breath, every niggle in my legs, every ache in my feet and every pound in my tenacious heart.

It all made me human and made my story more relatable. It gave me the chance to show others no matter how many times I get knocked down, that like the song by Chumbawamba, I get up again.

A year ago I pictured myself in the midst of being a serious contender for training for a half marathon and I still can’t believe that a sub 60 parkrun alludes me. I definitely didn’t foresee one lung taking some ill-timed long service leave either!

That’s the reality of life. We often see setbacks as reasons to give up but this past year has taught me you just have to overcome every obstacle and keep going.

What I thought was a journey of trying to keep up with everyone else soon turned into an enlightening path of not surrendering to the easy choice and continually carrying on despite the curveballs thrown my way. I’ve sat at the back of the pack (proudly) for so long now it has allowed me to share my perspective. From there I’ll be preaching the message that everyone’s invited. We can all be included. All we need to do is show up.

Show up for you. Be seen. It’s okay. We all have a story and I suspect no one’s has ever gone to plan.

Written by YMCA Father’s Day Fun Run ambassador and inspirational human being, Jess Hay

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