A little over a week ago, something very special was delivered to my doorstep... a brand spanking new luxury Ford Territory Titanium (it's seriously NEW - I think there were around 56kms on the clock)
I've had such an amazingly lucky year, and getting to drive around in a top of the range Territory for six weeks courtesy of Ford and Kidspot as part of Voices of 2013, is just icing on the metaphorical cake.
Not long after my double lung transplant earlier this year, I wanted to take on a challenge and so I decided to sign up for the Run 4 Refugees as part of the Melbourne Marathon.
Today was the first day that I'd had a chance to share the Territory with my friends as passengers. We decided that it would be much easier to travel into the city together, rather than trying to meet up amongst the more than 30,000 competitors.
We travelled into the city in comfort and style (love those leather seats), listening to classic 80's music (showing our age). We parked the Territory, and then wandered down to our starting point on Batman Ave alongside Rod Laver Arena.
Thank goodness for our very stylish plastic ponchos!
Due to the rain and a bit of flooding near the Swan St Bridge, our course was modified from 5.7km back to 3km. We had to wait in the rain for a while why they modified the barriers.
At this stage, surrounded by the throng of people at the start line, I started to get a bit teary. Luckily there was so much rain that no-one noticed. I still couldn't believe that I was actually there... waiting to start. A dream come true, and something to tick off the bucket list. Totally surreal.
Even though I can't actually run yet as my lung capacity still isn't high enough, I managed a slow jog over the start line.... and the race had begun!
There was quite a large hill right at the beginning, hence most of the pack is already waaaaay ahead of me at this stage.
It was so lovely to be able to walk around the parks and gardens in the city. They were all places that I'd never actually seen before, because I just couldn't walk before. The views while we walked were amazing, even though it was a bit wet and dreary.
This was the super exciting part - heading towards the MCG, knowing that I'd nearly made it, and that I was going to walk on that hallowed turf very soon. There were people on the sidelines actually clapping and cheering us along - so cool!
After entering the MCG, we walked a lap around to the finish line (where I couldn't help myself - I had to strike a pose)!
I felt like an athlete - completely victorious.... even though I was nearly last in my category - number 3422 from 3434 finishers.
Through the power of Social Media, Caroline and Rachel travelled all the way from Sydney to run the 10km race. They've only been training for 8 weeks - such an amazing effort.
So glad I'm not the only one who likes to strike a pose Caroline!
And here I am with my friends, my team, my passengers, who came along for this crazy ride today. I couldn't be happier or more thankful.
Thankyou Cathy, Tash, and Andrea for an awesome experience today. It's something that I'll never forget.
And as I drove home in the Territory, I may have had a little cry. Tears of happiness for another achievement that would never have been possible without an amazingly generous organ donor and their family who gave me this second chance at life.