Monica Dixon | Endurance Athlete
My name is Monica and I didn’t start running until my late 20’s (which means only a couple of years ago). My parents always made sure I was active and as a kid I went to swimming and dance lessons. I didn’t pay much attention to them and I was not particularly good at either until one day one of the girls in the ballet class told me ‘I couldn’t do anything’ - probably because I can also be very lazy sometimes. I was a small and shy 7 years old girl back then but I remember very clearly that a fire lit up inside me and I told myself I would be the best ballerina I could be. Years passed and I achieved what I had set myself to, eventually dancing for the Youth National Dance Company for several years. I believe I still have that same fire of wanting to better myself through hard work and that really keeps me motivated on those days when running is not so appealing.
I eventually quit dancing to study and I spent most of my 20’s not doing much sport but I did have a desire to experience the world, go on adventures and discover new places. I lived in Brazil and I went backpacking across India for six months. That sense of adventure and exploration is the reason I started running once I came back and settled down. Even though it was around the local forest, that first jog got me out and it was a means of being in nature, feeling free and alive.
A few months later I was still running on the local trails just for fun but soon after I found my perfect challenge: the Half Marathon des Sables - a 120km multi-stage race through the desert in self-sufficiency, with the longest stage being 55km long. Although I’m sure many people saw this as an impulsive, rather foolish thing to do for someone who had not even ran a half marathon at the time of signing up (and they were probably right!) this was clearly my true self coming into action, that small girl with big dreams and a desire to explore the world.
"that small girl with big dreams and a desire to explore the world"
I spent the next nine months following a structured training and receiving lots of advice from experienced runners and I fell in love with the process of training and having a goal in mind. Last September (2019) I became a finisher of the HalfMDS, not without my fair share of days doubting myself and a lot of hard work during those previous months. It was however the most amazing, tough and crazy adventure and I can’t wait for more!
My next challenges are a 50km race in the mountains, another multi-stage race and something I am really excited about: my first triathlon. My friends and family can be happy that this time I have opted for a much more conservative approach and not gone for the full Ironman somewhere exotic so it will be an Olympic distance triathlon in Worthing (UK).
Undoubtedly the people I’ve met running have made these experiences special and I’ve got a lot out of the sport: happiness, fitness, resilience, determination… but the biggest and most important lesson I’ve learnt has been ‘never stop believing in yourself and never, ever stop dreaming!’
‘May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young’ - Bob Dylan