Woman's transformation from hospital bed to mountain tops
LYING in her hospital bed, enduring a painful recovery from a second abdominal surgery, Emma Joseph made a decision to take a journey few would even contemplate.
"I was sick of worrying about my health, I thought I'm going to start running and I'm going to be the healthiest I can be," she said.
Aiming first at a half marathon in July, she decided she'd then progress to a full marathon.
The only problem? By her admission, she wasn't really a runner - the Jacaranda 5km fun run the furthest she'd ever been.
It only gets worse. With the marathon distance she had planned cancelled due to COVID, the target was the GC50 Running Festival, a leisurely 50km trek along the coastline of Coolangatta.
"It's certainly been a journey," Ms Joseph said.
For Ms Joseph, who has been a champion of mental health advocacy and fundraising in the community over the past few years, it was time to test her own resilience.
"I've been training for 22 weeks, and I can say it's the hardest thing I've ever done so far," she said.
"But I'm such a jump in and go person. If I wasn't I'd be worrying about wearing the right shoes and other things, so I just thought I'd jump in and have a go."
Ms Joseph has followed a strict training regimen, but the journey hasn't been easy, with three injuries she's had to rehabilitate along the way.
"I've trained for a couple of months where I couldn't even run, it's only the last 6-8 weeks I've been able to," she said.
"So I had to train my body in every other way, so I'll do maybe do two hours on the bike, and then 3km in the pool on the same day.
"So it's really extensive training, it's really intense, and obviously conditioning my body and eating all the proper diet, it's so much discipline."
Emma will wake at 3am on Sunday, get her body hydrated and fed for the journey which she estimates will take more than five hours of running in 30 degree heat.
But rather than feel nervous, she is ready.
"I'm really really pumped," she said. "I've worked so hard and I've trained so so hard and I'm dedicated to my training and mentally worked on believing I'm capable.
"Being not from a running background and going into a field of elite athletes who have all run the distance and I haven't - I was really nervous, but I know I'm capable because I've prepared."
Ms Joseph said she was super proud of the journey, and said she wanted to do it to proof to herself and others you could do whatever you put your mind to.
"I knew I could do it, and our lives are so short and our bodies are so capable and we sell ourselves short," she said.
"When I started this, normally I'm a surprisingly shy person about my body, and I think a lot of females get self conscious, and that comes from events you've been through.
"I think this training has made me realise we are so much more than the number on the scales, or the size of our clothes.
"It made me realise our bodies are really strong and the biggest thing has been mental - realising you might want to quit something, but you have so much more left thank you think you do.
Ms Joseph said she saw parallels in her running journey to many other things in life.
"I've had a lot of people say to me I'd never do that, but to me it's like saying I'd never go start that business, I'd never take that job. It relates to everything," she said.
"That's what I love about training. It relates to so many things in your life. It makes you see you're so capable."
As for her plans after the hard slog of 50km on Sunday, Ms Joseph has it all planned out.
"A beer at the pub," she laughed. "No. An ocean swim - then a beer at the pub.
"Then I'm going to do another 50km, this time up and down Mt Kosciusko."
It certainly has been a journey.