As this is my very first blog post, I figured it would be a good idea to share how I, a girl who grew up overweight and struggled to run in high school gym class, decided to take up running. Let me start this by saying that I NEVER thought I would become a runner. It was never something I was good at nor was it something that appealed to me. It’s amazing how things can change.
The idea of becoming a runner first hit me while I was traveling in Australia in 2008/2009. I was living in Byron Bay, a small hippie town on the East Coast of Australia that’s popular with backpackers. There’s a lighthouse at the top of a massive hill and it’s quite the hike to get up to it. One day I was walking up the street (as opposed to the trail) that leads to the lighthouse and noticed people running up it. I was honestly quite impressed that people were running up this massive hill while I found walking it to be a good physical challenge. The idea had been placed into my mind and I decided that I would become a runner and lose weight while living in Byron. Well, that didn’t happen because being a lazy backpacker is much more appealing in the heat of the Australian summer, but the idea was still there. My next attempt at running was while I was in Perth for a week. I don’t remember how much time I spent running but I do recall running to the ocean from the hostel a couple of times. What I do remember is how amazing I felt after. Like high on life amazing. I had experienced my first runner’s high.
A few months later, I returned to Canada to finish my college education. I was determined to go back and work for lululemon, which is the job I had left when I moved to Australia for 10 months. Lululemon used to be just about yoga and I wanted to work there so I took up yoga. When I returned, they had changed their focus to be about yoga and running. I figured if I was going to work there again and be “authentic” to what the company is about, I better become a runner too. Luckily, my ridiculous idea of what you needed to be to work at lululemon led me to try running again. I set my goals in October (goal setting is a must when you work at lululemon) and included running the local 10K in April in my 1 year goals. I started running using 1 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals. I remember struggling to complete that 1 minute of running. It was the hardest thing I had done. I don’t remember running in Perth being this difficult but I had also gained some weight since then. I stuck to running intervals until it became winter and it was icy because I didn’t want to fall. Little did I know that I’d be running in snow a year later, and loving it.
I still had the goal to run the 10K when the New Year arrived. In order to facilitate this, I started a learn-to-run community event out of the lululemon shop. We were provided with a training plan from an owner of a local running shop and a coach who led our weekly group runs. Three months later, I completed the 10K. It was hard but I was hooked. (Note: I had actually run this 10K with a friend back in 2001 or 2002 after I had lost a lot of weight. I gained all of it back and this felt like a whole new journey to me).
I figured the next logical step was to run a half marathon, so I trained for the half marathon at the Royal Victoria Marathon (now the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon). This was an incredibly emotional experience for me. Running a half marathon when you’ve grown up overweight and struggled to run is incredible. It was challenging but inspiring. It was then that I realized I was a runner.
Two months later I received a job offer that would involve me moving to Calgary, AB and launch my career as an Accountant. Interestingly enough, I was paired with a performance manager who is an Ironman. We had many conversations about running which was incredibly valuable for me because I was still a newbie runner. Seven months after my first half marathon, I ran my second in my new home town: Centaur Subaru’s half marathon at the Scotiabank Calgary Marathon.
Since my first 10K nearly 5 years ago, I have run countless 5Ks and 10Ks, 29 half marathons (number 30 is on February 8) and 3 marathons. In February 2014, I became a member of the Calgary Marathon Society’s volunteer Board of Directors, which I absolutely love. Calgary Marathon is the event I have run the most number of times (the half marathon in 2011-2014 and the 5K in 2014) and being involved in this race at a high level makes it even more special. Last year I had the honor of picking Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World Magazine, and Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man, up at the airport. On race day I ran the last KM with Bart and we crossed the finish line together; it was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had racing.
I didn’t think much could top my 2014 Calgary Marathon experience but I was wrong. Erin, the Marketing Assistant at Calgary Marathon, contacted me and asked if I would be interested in being a 2015 ForeRunner. The ForeRunners are social media ambassadors for the marathon who will share their training experiences via their blogs, info and events related to the marathon via social media and participate in the various events leading up to race weekend. This is incredibly exciting to me because I love to connect with people via social media and believe that inspiring people to run is part of my life’s purpose.
Are you running a Calgary Marathon event on May 31? If so, which one?