It was a feeling of pure elation as I crossed the line in third place and broke down in tears. This third place automatically earning me a position to represent Australia in the World Cross Country Championships to be held in Uganda on March 26th, a goal I’d had since I competed at the same event in 2015 and a goal that had been in jeopardy only months before.
I finished the 2016 Australian Cross Country season on a high, finished second at the Australian National Championships and was feeling excited about the trials to be held 5 months later on the same course. Alas only a week later I was faced with a huge obstacle as I was diagnosed with a sacral stress fracture. I wallowed in self-pity for the first week and then decided that rather than feeling defeated, I had to plan my come-back now, so turned the negativity into motivation to complete the dreaded cross training and time consuming strengthening exercises.
Fast forward a few weeks, I was lacing up my shoes for the real comeback and remembered quickly that running isn’t easy but with the big day quickly approaching, it was easy to push through the discomfort. Every session hurt more I remembered but it was a pain I was relishing in after the pain of being side-lined and knowing that with each session and run, I was one step closer.
12 weeks later I was lining up on the day I’d been keenly awaiting and was confident that I had done everything I could to be ready for the day. For anyone who has trained or raced at Stromlo will know how challenging the course is and on a hot day, I would be lying if I said the race was easy. It was a classy field of athletes on the start line, and in a cross country race, anything can happen. All the sessions I’d suffered through felt like a dress rehearsal for this big day so when it started hurting, I gritted my teeth and kept pushing and pushing until I crossed that finish line.
Gemma’s favourite socks to wear are the Aspire four and Aspire two.
You can follow her journey on instagram.