It was in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, that my love affair with running started. That was back in 2012. I was 40. I signed up for my first race at 41. That 15.5km around Sepang F1 race circuit on a steamy April night was a revelation. Not only did I do something I never thought possible, but I discovered a passion for doing it over and over again. I subsequently had the opportuntiy to participate in races in Singapore, Borneo, and Cambodia, as well as many in peninsular Malaysia. The running community in Kuala Lumpur became like a family away from home. I was privileged to meet many joyous people at all levels of running. Every 10, 12km 16km or 21.1km race was a social event with familiar faces and friends at the start line, and enthusiastic conversations and photo ops at the finish. The encouragement in between was amazing too. Leaving KL, and my F1 Running Club, in mid 2014 was very hard.
But Perth is a runner’s heaven and I’m making the most of it. I now have 16 half marathon medals, earned in Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Australia in my sock drawer – keep meaning to order a medal rack – and I am a parkrun regular. I ran my first marathon in June 2016 in Perth (3:55), my second in Melbourne in Oct 2017 (3:54). With a desire to spread my passion for running, I trained as a coach and in October 2016, gained my am Athletics Australia accreditation as a Level 2 Advanced Recreational Running Coach. I specialise in helping new runners, mostly middle-aged, get started and keep going until they too love running, almost as much as I do.
A little bit more about my professional background:
I used to be an engineer who developed medical implants such as hip and knee replacements and I have a PhD in the development of spinal fixation devices. Since having children and embarking on an expat life, I’ve been writing. I picked up a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism and contributed feature articles to consumer magazines and newspapers in the UK, Ireland, the Philippines, Norway and Malaysia on topics including health, parenting, life abroad, culture and tourism. I once got to trail around after the President of Ireland and the King of Norway for three days in Oslo and got paid to write about it for The Irish Times. Back in Singapore in 1999, I joined a creative writers group and have written fiction since. I completed a novel in 2011 and secured an agent who didn’t sell my novel but hey, baby steps! I’m working on my second novel, and have published short fiction in literary magazines, and have been long listed in several literary competitions.
I’ve been blogging since winter 2006, when in the final stages of my third pregnancy, I realised that I knew nothing about having a baby in a cold climate as my first two were tropical babes. The resulting blog about life in Norway can still be seen at the Irish Nomad in Norway. When we relocated to KL, I started blogging as the Irish Nomad in Malaysia. Lately, I’ve thought of lots of things to write about but haven’t bothered. I feel the blog doesn’t have sufficient focus. Yet, I need to write, to stay sane. And I’ve discovered that running is a pretty great antidote to insanity too. So here I am, combining my twin passions in the guise of The Expat Runner. Let’s have fun. Let’s talk. Let’s inspire each other. Let’s learn. Let’s share. Let’s RUN!
Johanna ( Oct 2017)