This is the part of the story where things really start to get amazing.
So I started going to the gym for the first time in my life to lose the weight from my “I just quit smoking cookie eating spree.” I had no idea what I was doing. But everyone starts somewhere and like most women I started with the cardio room.
It’s in the cardio room where my obsession with running began. It all started with speed walking for an hour. This lead to run/walk intervals and eventually blossomed into 1 – 1 1/2 hour sessions on the treadmill.
Every week I wanted to go longer and farther.
My boyfriend (now husband) had a friend name Neil that was a gifted runner and when he heard I was spending so much time on the treadmill he couldn’t believe it. He convinced me that treadmill running was boring and what I really need to do was to try and run outside, it was far better and he was right. Once I stepped outside, I was never able to spend that much time on a cardio machine indoors ever again. But first I got a dose of reality, my 10k – 16k on the treadmill did not equate to what it felt like to run outside on concrete. I distinctly remember our first run together. We were going to run 5k, I managed to run the first half, the second half of the run was a combo of running and walking, I was panting like a dog and taken aback (I thought I was in better shape than this). I was disappointed, but determined to overcome this hurdle.
The next time I did 5k after that, I ran the whole way. I was so happy with myself, that the next week I ran 7km outside until finally I wanted to take this new hobby further.
Neil had mentioned a 20 mile race that was happening in town. It could be done as a relay and I wanted to do it. I was already training 5 days a week and I was really ready to become a runner. I had never run ten miles before, I had no idea that people should follow a training program to run ten miles. All I had done to prepare was run an hour everyday. Was this the smartest way to ease into ten miles, probably not. But I did the best with what I knew at the time. I didn’t know about proper fuel, proper running shoes, chafing and all of the other strange issues that come up with long distance running. But I was daring to go where I had never gone before.
Race day came, the longest distance I had run was 13km and I was about the run 16. My goal was to finish. I was going to pace myself, focus on my breathing and cross that finish line. To my suprise I did it! I pushed through the tough parts like a trooper and I even had enough gas to sprint across the finish line. I was on cloud nine!
At the awards ceremony there was a booth for Team Diabetes Canada. A program where one would fundraising $61000 for the Canadian Diabetes Association for diabetes research, education and advocacy and take on the challenge of running or walking a marathon in an exotic location. I had seen the posters for this at the gym, I had looked at them, but never thought it was something I could do. But since I had started to be in the business of taking risks lately, I grabbed a pamphlet, went home and next thing I knew I was signed up to run my first marathon in Reykjavik, Iceland and I was going to raise $6,100. How was I going to explain this to my family 😛 Certainly they were going to think I was crazy.
Training for this event reminds me so much of how I feel about contest prep right now. The excitement, the nervousness, the fear, the doubt, the pride, the hunger for knowledge, the unknown!
I was such a melting pot of feelings and emotions. Every long run I completed over the 16 week training period was a new challenge. With every increase in mileage, I wondered, “Can I do it?” and every week I got all my miles in. It was hard, but I always finished and the pride that came with accomplishing each new goal only pushed me to want to achieve more. It was wonderful.
Before I knew it the money was raised and I was on my way, by myself (ack!) to Iceland. Nobody from my home town was going with me. All I had to accompany me on my journey (before I met the rest of the team in Iceland) were stories from the people in my hometown that has done this race. Everyone who had run this marathon told me about this thing called “The Wall” dun, dun, dun. Apparently the wall can hit around mile 20, apparently it is the worse feeling ever and it makes you want to scream, cry, quit. I was scared, would I hit the wall? would I have the strength to get through it?
I was a nervous wreck from the moment I landed the in the beautiful country of Iceland until race day morning. While I took in the gorgeous views and breathtaking scenery, “the wall” was always at the back of my mind. Apparently the part of the course where the wall is most likely to hit is a small, desolate, peninsula where you can see large oil tankers offshore. It was located 10k out from the finish line. Being the classy lady that I am, it was my goal to see those tankers and give them the finger! That’s right you read that correctly. Despite my fear, I was going to tell myself the whole 26.2 miles to finish smiling and give the wall the finger.
Race day was a combination of trails and tribulations! but it was an absolute success and one of the proudest days of my life. A number of things occurred during and after that race that will always be with me. Memories and moment that would make me the person I am today and determine my transition from runner to aspiring figure competitor:
- I had fun and interesting conversations with people from all over the world. Including an 80 year old Icelandic man that was running the full marathon. This might have never happened had my ipod not died at mile 3. I’m so happy it died!
- I turned over on my ankle and fell around mile 19. Good News, I was so full of adrenaline it felt like nothing and I completed the race pain free. Bad News, I had sprained my ankle and hours later my ankle swelled up. This ankle injury was the beginning of many running injuries to follow.
- I passed those oil tankers feeling like a million bucks, in fact I felt so good I gave them the finger, took my photo by them smiling and then speed up towards the finish line.
- I sprinted across the finish line with the biggest smile on my face!
- I wore my finishers medal everywhere for the rest of the day!
- As a result of my enthusiasm I would obtain a job as the Team Diabetes Coordinator for North West Ontario and help others complete their dream of running a marathon!
- I would star in a National Commercial for Team Diabetes (me a role model, seriously?)
- I would fundraising an a total of $25,800 over the next three years and run 2 more marathons and walk 1 half marathon.
- I would struggle with illiotibial band syndrome for a few years before I would decide to finally stop running and let my body heal (my physio and gym owner tried to tell me this for years, but I refused to listen :D).
- I would struggle with a bit of depression as a result of loosing my favourite hobby, but eventually get tired of the weight gain that ensued and get my booty to back to the gym again and fall in love with weight training! Leading to Part 4 – Last Year and the decision to compete!