After 2 years now running, I ran my 1st chip timed “official” 10k race a couple of weeks ago. Now, I have been told by my wife, that “normally”, runners will start with shorter distances, maybe the 5k, then 10k, and then work your way to the half and full marathon.
One of the things I decided to do this year was to run more events. Last year I did a pile of training for just 2 events, a half marathon in June, and the full marathon in October. So far this year, there has been a half marathon called the Chilly Half, and my 30k Round the Bay. So when I signed up for “just a 10k”, I was thinking “this will be easy”. Boy was I wrong.
Spring Thaw is a local event held in a city nearby called Barrie, Ontario. I am very familiar with Barrie, yet this was the 1st race that I knew no one else who was running, none of my running team would be taking part. I immediately loved the “vibe” I felt, as I mingled with a few of the runners before the race. Everyone was so friendly, sociable and upbeat. I was a little confused when I heard contemporary Christian music being played from a nearby tent of Life 100.3, the local Christian radio station. Then while I was talking, I discovered the event was a fundraiser for a local Christian high school, Unity Christian High School. I have never seen an event so well marshalled. Every 100-200 metres or so, there would be one or two students fervently cheering you on, and pointing you on the right path. It was such a motivator.
With the 10k, I wasn’t exactly sure how to pace myself. I wanted to increase the tempo, but still have enough gas to finish. By the time I did hit the finish, there was not a spoonful of gas left. And it went very well, I finished 10th overall. Now before you start thinking Tokyo, Boston, London or any other of the major world marathons, that has 10’s of thousands of participants, and 10th place would have been phenomenal. This was an extremely well organized local run, that had a grand total of 37 participants running the 10k. Whether it was 37,000 participants or 37 participants, coming in 10th did not really matter. Yes, I was happy for my result, but more importantly, was just as happy to participate. I run for the love of running.
When I started running 2 years ago, I did not know what to expect. My goal was to complete a half marathon (which seemed insurmountable) and to raise money for a charity that helps a village in Africa. The running did help the people in this village of Africa. But I had no idea the benefits would also come around to me as well.
1. The 1st benefit of running is how it helps me mentally and psychologically. Running, particularly the long runs are a “release” for me, as I leave all the stresses and cares of the world behind. For those who have run with me, know that I prefer to run without any music or electronics of any kind. It gives me the opportunity to think. In the article “The Mental Benefits of Jogging“, it goes into more detail (all which I can vouch for), of what I have gained mentally and psychologically from running.
2. The 2nd benefit from running I have discovered is how it benefits my heart and cardiovascular system. With my dad’s untimely death of a heart attack at 47, my own heart’s health has very much been a focus over the years. Running has lowered my blood pressure back into a more normal range, which I am very grateful. In the article “Running Health Benefits“, cardiovascular disease is listed as the #1 benefit. Our heart is a muscle. Running is a workout for this muscle, which makes it bigger, stronger and helps the veins and arteries become more elastic.
3. As if these 2 benefits are not enough, but there is more. I have really enjoyed the camaraderie and friendships that have come about through running. Runners always seem to be a very positive, encouraging and friendly group of people. I have my running team, there are the runners I follow in blogs and social media, but I have yet to find a really self absorbed runner, that the whole world revolves around him or her. They may be out there, but I have yet to find one. And once you are a runner, you are ALWAYS a runner. I found out shortly after joining my gym, that the morning custodian named Bob was a former marathon runner. Sadly Bob’s running days came to an end after a serious ice hockey injury. But he still takes such an interest in running, but not just running, in MY running. It is like Bob was living his running through me. Always asking how my running is going, always encouraging, and giving some advice only when I seem to ask him. In fact, Bob talked so little about HIS own running, it took me 8 months to find out he has qualified (under 2:50) for Boston, and has run Boston. It took me 16 months (just this past week) to find out he has run many of the world’s top marathons. He was grateful to previously have had a job that had him travel around the world, and if it timed right, a marathon would be also on the agenda. One of his toughest races was The Foot of Africa, held in South Africa, the 1st 22 kilometers is off road up a mountain pass, the remainder on asphalt.
To Bob, a very kind, selfless, personable, humble man. You are the living example of what a runner is all about. Thank you so much for making me so proud to be part of this running community.