I’m a runner and I can write this with pride, I am not your fastest runner or the one who can endure the longest distance nor am I yet the runner which I aspire to be – to be the ultimate runner in my mind is to be able to run a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, full marathon, ultra marathon, and complete both a duathlon and triathlon. I am a runner because I love to run; I run for the sake of running because I simply love the rush I feel during this motion. Under Armour has the saying “Some athletes train to run, others run to train” and I think this applies to me – I spend time in a weight room to strengthen my body to run and I train for my races by running.
Talking to one of my XC coaches the other day during a pre-school year run with him and my other friend I realized that it has almost been a year since I officially started to run. I started running with XC in September 2008, I joined because it was the first sport of the year and I have no eye-hand coordination hence any sport involving balls is absolutely out of question not to mention I am scared of balls (due to certain mishaps with soccer balls (to the head), volleyballs (to the face), tennis balls (to the nose) and rather hard baseballs &etc. I still remember at the first practice I had clocked a 27-something 5k – that 5k used to seem so tough to me with the hills and such. XC last year was a blur, we only had a few races and while I was never the first girl of my team to get past the finish line I wasn’t the last either, I had started XC as the slowest girl on the team but in the last meet I was the second fastest of the Junior Girls XC team of my school (not saying much though because our school is practically famous for being a failure at sports). My final race last season was a 4k clocking 19:23 – at that point in time I thought it was an amazing time.
I continued to run during the winter thanks to the fact my coaches had set up a running club, this club was directed toward longer distances with the aim to run the Sporting Life 10k. It was then that I realized I LOVED running, in the beginning I was freaked out that I wouldn’t be able to finish whatever distance we were aiming for that day but in the end I was the one pushing for us to go longer and faster – this is all thanks to the encouragement of the coaches as well as my running buddy and the rest of the team.
On May 3, 2009 our team set out to race the Sporting Life 10k with yours truly clocking a 47:13 – that to me was an amazing time for I had aimed for sub 50 and hoped for a sub 48 (keep in mind I had only started to run for a few months for those of you scoffing at such slow times). Our team, the Running Rams, was on fire, our girls’ team came in as the top female high school team of Toronto. We also came in as the overall top second team in Toronto. We were very happy with these results but to our horror we discovered that the event organizers had a little mishap where our team wasn’t listed as a high school team – but that was cleared up with a few emails to the race organizers with the girls’ team receiving New Balance running socks (amazing socks btw) as a prize. This race taught me a lot, the most important lesson regarding running that I learnt was that you should always try to be as far front and close to the starting line as possible – for all awards are based on official time and not chip time.
With the Sporting Life 10k over and in the past I moved on to run track – which was not really what I wanted to do but was “forced” to by the track&field head coach. I ran the 1500m Steeplechase and while I was extremely slow I have to say that was one of the most fun races I have ever done. Of course, being me, I had to do stupid things during my race such as not realizing the finish was 15m in front of me as well as falling flat on my face in the water pit which resulted me being on the covers of a few local newspapers. I also ran the 3000m (flat course) where I was able to advance to OFSAA centrals, at both the YRAA & centrals I raced against an amazing girl. She was quick, lively, and FAST – in my mind in a few years I will see her win a few medals for Canada, the best part is that she is extremely nice. While I protested against joining track I have to say I am glad I did because it gave me a ton of experience and I got to meet some great girls.
A highlight for me has to be the athletic banquet, to my surprise I received both the Track&Field Junior Girls MVP as well as the Cross Country Junior Girls MVP – in my mind I do not deserve these awards because there are girls who are much faster than me and have given more to the teams than I have. For course, I’m not complaining since I never win anything. There is a kind of funny story to the Cross Country MVP award – I actually wasn’t at the banquet when they called my name as the receiver of the award. An hour after they called my name I entered into the room and my friends were all asking me where I had been (I had quite a few texts from them) and my only reply was that I had been out running and that I had PR’ed for 11k. They found it amusing that I had been out running instead of accepting my award for running – I find it amusing that somehow all the recipients of the XC awards were either absent or late, in the official photo of the XC award recipients there was only one guy – the XC Senior Boys MVP.
I continued to run during the summer and I also did a race – the Toronto Island Girl 10k. This race was in a way miserable, it was HOT. I had to race in 38C (humidex included) sunny weather and yet I somehow managed to PR however I wasn’t able to run the time I wanted. I clocked this race with 45:59 – I had wanted a sub 45 which I sincerely believe I could have done if it were not for the heat. This race was a sweet deal for me though, I managed to come 5th overall and 1st in my age group although to me this race wasn’t really a “win” because in my age group there were only 11 girls not to mention the race had an almost all female population. I am proud of myself though and I am happy I got to spend time with my mom, who waited on the Toronto Island with me all morning. That race was amazing in the terms that there was a community feeling to it and everyone was just friendly – racing and running isn’t just about winning but also about making friends.
As a write this, school starts at 8:30 when I get up and a new season of XC starts on either Wednesday or Thursday. Looking back I realize how far I have come, instead of a 27-something 5k on my first practice of the season I’m looking to do a 22:30 5k (still not amazing but I don’t like to run 5ks not to mention I have short legs). In just a year I went from a non-running to one of those crazy people wearing shorts in the winter and running (I used to laugh at those people). With running I made a ton of friends and I am so grateful for their support and we are just going to keep running because it is what we do. Running has made me a happier person as well as less stressed. Overall my point is that if I can come this far then anyone can too. As far as I have come I know I can go further – on September 27 I will be racing the Toronto Waterfront Half Marathon to cross off yet another one of the distances of my list to be the ultimate runner I can be. If you live in Toronto, come and race one of the Toronto Waterfront series with me and if you don’t live in Toronto then just sign up for a race this fall and see where that takes you. I have come a long way from where I started but there is more of that road to run – come join me on my journey to be the ultimate runner or to become healthy.