I’ve been running for at least 30 years- wow, that sounds a bit strange to say, given that I’m in my thirties… but as I write this, I consider being a RUNNER to be one of my defining characteristics. My first group runs would be those obligatory runs in gym class where our teacher sent us out for a 2km run around the community. At that time, I had a sole mission and purpose…beat the BOYS! I can still recall that head to toe exhaustion, being on the verge of puking, but feeling on top of the world during and after those runs.
As I got older, group runs came in the form of training for cross-country running in the fall in Edmonton, through the river valley with the dry leaves crunching under my feet and the crisp air making the hairs on my arms stand up. I loved trail running, even then, as a teen. At a time when fitting in and just surviving high school were my main goals, running those beautiful trails put me instantly at peace- I knew, for a few moments at least, who I was and that this was where I belonged.
After that, I found my place amongst a group of “first time marathoners” through the Running Room just before university began. They became somewhat of my family- on Sundays we squeaked along in the snow (have you ever run in -20 degrees…the snow really does squeak) with several layers on putting in our long runs trying not to slip on the ice. Four weeks before my marathon debut, I had terrible knee pain on both sides that left me unable to push past about 90 minutes of running. Off to the sports medicine doctor, who apparently specialized in runners, who told me that because of my poorly aligned kneecaps, I really wasn’t built to be running marathons and maybe I should take up something else. Of course, I was just as stubborn then, and maybe even more so, but I opted not to listen to his advice and ran in the pool for every planned workout for the next 4 weeks (have you ever run back and forth in a swimming pool WITHOUT AN IPOD for 3 hours in a row???). Well, my stubbornness paid off with an unbelievable marathon run, which, to this day remains one of the highlights of my life. I had mentally rehearsed it over and over again, it went perfectly and while my goal had been just to finish, I was in the top fifteen women in the whole Edmonton Marathon that year.
So, after a sort of retirement of many years where I did triathlons and turned to mountain biking here in Squamish, I chose during the past 15 years to run mostly solo. Recently, however, I’ve decided that it is time to return to the group run thing, for the reasons featured above…but this time I am choosing the role of leader in helping others find that love of running, that stubbornness of reaching a goal and that family away from home that really understands what an accomplishment it is to get up early and run for several miles before others even get out of bed.
If you would like to push yourself this fall, we are offering a running training program to prepare for a half marathon. Check it out here!
Otherwise, if you just like to read about running once in a while, I’ll be posting a regular blog about the program and my latest adventure- running with those 5 finger Vibram shoes…when my shoes get here, I’ll let you know all about it!
Carla Wilkie says
Oh yeah, I know about “squeaky snow!”. Your piece really resonated with me, apart from the marathon bit. I’ve only ever competed to the 15 km distance, but have always felt “free” and “totally myself ” when running.
You just might have motivated me to join the group this fall. Will check schdules and see!
Thanks for stirring up some great memories,