Why I Run

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my personal running story and why I run. I wasn’t always a runner. No, in fact I grew up in ballet and never really participated in sports. After growing out of ballet, it was hard for me to find my thing. I tried a few activities, but never really found my groove. I went off to university and battled to keep weight off and stay in shape. Without having a sport to call my own, this was handled by dieting and hours on the elliptical. I wasn’t motivated and, looking back on it now, I wasn’t in a good place mentally.

I remember in third year, my Mom, who is an avid runner herself, encouraged me to run. Knowing that motivation would be limited to begin with, she proposed that we run the 2007 Disney World Half Marathon. While my training was pretty limited, it helped knowing that I was registered for a race. I had run one 10k race before that, on a whim, and thought I would wing the half marathon. Training consisted of max 10 runs, with my longest run *maybe* being 16km.  I finished my first half marathon in 2 hours and 45 minutes. It wasn’t pretty.

I did, however, finish. It sparked something inside of me. And while that spark was dim at first, over time I found myself running more. Now, let me pause here and say that I never was what I consider to be *fast*. Most of my runs were in the 6:45-7:00/km range. I occasionally registered for races, and mildly trained for them. In the early years of my running, it was primarily about staying in shape. Races were just a nice bonus and a way to see different cities. I ran my first marathon in 2008 in Calgary in 5 hours and 38 minutes. It hurt, but it felt great to say I had run a marathon! A few months after that, my family ran the New York City Marathon together. I finished in 5 hours and 25 minutes. It was so much fun to experience this race together.

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Over the years, I’ve continued to run. I’ve completed 13marathons and 14 half marathons, chiseling 1 hour and 40 mins of my marathon (PB 3:57 3:55) and 1 hour off my half marathon (PB 1:43 1:41), with multiple 30km races. I’ve learned a lot from running, and now take training quite seriously. Running is no longer just about staying in shape. Sure, I feel way better when I’m training, but I don’t run for a number on a scale.

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I’ve had a few disappointments with running along the way. After reaching the 4 hour marathon mark, like many others, I decided I would embark on chasing my Boston Qualifying time. I made the mistake, however, of thinking that BQ’ing was all that mattered. In 2013, I trained incredibly hard and saw some positive results at half marathons in the lead up to my spring marathon. In May 2013, I ran the Ottawa Marathon with the goal of BQ’ing. I finished in 4:02 and was devastated. I thought I had it in me, but the pressure and personal expectations I placed on myself were counterproductive. After Ottawa, I ran two more marathons in a matter of four months. Neither of them sub-4 hours. Exhausted (both mentally and physically), I hung up my running shoes for a year. I tried other things, like cross-fit, and while I enjoyed the workouts, I never got the same “high”.

In 2015, I decided to give the marathon another whirl. But this time, it wasn’t about Boston. No, it was about rediscovering the strength running gives me. With that attitude, I’ve since PR’d at the Hamilton Marathon (3:57) in 2015, and the 2016 Ottawa Marathon (3:55).

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Training is no longer about the end goal of BQing, or some number on a scale. But rather, enjoying the process and embracing the daily challenge running provides me with. Running has changed my life for the better. I am motivated to run because running makes me strong mentally and physically. I train hard, so that I know come race day I am ready. Chasing my PB drives me and ultimately knowing that Boston Qualifying doesn’t happen over night. The early morning runs, the hours spent outdoors, never quitting. This is why I run.

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