Category Archives: Reader Contributions

What Age is Too Old for Running and Racing?

Getting older does not mean you have to slow down. Susan Schwartz shares her inspiring story and soulful connection with running.

By Susan Schwartz

As I stand at the first corral for this Women’s Half Marathon, I look around. I notice no one my age. I am over the age of 60 now and I idly wonder how much younger they are. I mean, I know for sure that statistically that they have to be of another age. Even so, I stand waiting for the anthem and then the start gun and do the usual wonderings if I am well enough trained, should I have done faster and longer runs, etc.

I have participated running in races for many years. Each time it brings on nerves and challenges and a certain level of excitement.  In addition to running, I am a Jungian psychoanalyst and I know how the spirit has to be there and what it takes to get in the zone and to stay there.

Running for Hope

by Annabelle DeGouveia

My marathon story began in 2003.  As a mother of two boys under 4, I was a casual runner.  I would run for fitness, run when I was stressed and sometimes when I really just felt like running away!  In 2002, my husband who was also a casual runner told me he was going to run a half-marathon.  “Damn, I’m jealous “, I thought.  But later changed that to, “Why can’t I do that?  Before I knew it, we had both completed two half-marathons that year, Toronto and Scotiabank.

By spring 2003, I was ready to try again and ran the Burlington Half.  Despite my love of running and of the excitement of race day, I remember looking at the marathoners, still running long after I had finished my post race bagel and thought, “Damn, they’re crazy!.   But, that soon changed.

At my local running store, I found myself perusing the brochures and flyers of upcoming races when a young staff member asked if I needed help.  “Oh, not me, these marathons aren’t for me.”  He looked at me and simply asked the right question, “Why can’t you do that?” And before I knew it, (and after a few glasses of red wine), I was registering for the Scotiabank Marathon that September.

I’d Rather Be This Kind of Crazy

Female athlete runningby Sandie Orlando

(One of our favourite winter running stories – ed.)

6:45 A.M.  Outside the temperature is -12C (10F) with a wind chill making it feel like -20C (-5F). The sidewalks are covered with packed and rutted snow with generous stretches of polished ice.  Winds are coming from the northwest in gusts, whipping the overnight dusting of snow into random sharp blasts.  The skies are still dark, but promise to be heavy and grey enough to muffle the sunrise.  The roads are bordered by jagged snow banks, now sculpted by weeks of melting and refreezing.

This is what I will face when I step outside the front doors of the gym for my 10k run.  It takes discipline mixed with insanity to turn my back on the rows of treadmills behind me.  But this is my release – my challenge. My loosening exercises in the front entrance are designed to stall just a bit longer to see if any of my outdoor running partners will show.  That makes me an unofficial greeter for other club members who come scooting in from the dark.  “You’re crazy,” they say, unable to understand why I choose to do this.

Learning Gratitude for Slower Runners

MarianneBlacksmBy Marianne Black

2006 was the year I hit 50 – an excellent reason for taking the training up a notch to run my first full marathon. I knew full well that skimping on distance, nutrition and consistency would not be as forgivable as they are in half-marathons and 10K races.

All was proceeding on schedule.  The Toronto Waterfront Marathon loomed six weeks away. Driving to a group run, I was rear-ended by a car with enough impact to write off that vehicle and cause $6,000 of damage to mine.  Thankfully neither of us needed medical attention and we both left the scene with no hard feelings.  Little did I realize how this event would affect the runs I had so eagerly anticipated.

Puddles and Skating Rinks

SnowyMorning2by Sandie Orlando

Friday morning at 7:00 a.m. seemed to be the best opportunity to fit in my LSD (long, slow, distance) training run, and I had gone to bed early to be well rested. Despite the freezing rain, I was committed to getting this done. Dressed in every reflective piece of gear I owned and equipped with a headlamp and flashing lights behind me, I headed out into the dark and wind and steady, icy rain.

Taking the sidewalks through the suburban side streets seemed to be the safest choice of routes, but the condition of the sidewalks quickly undermined the wisdom of that decision. It seemed that every few squares offered a new kind of treachery – changing from wet concrete to icy concrete to slush fields to skating rinks to swimming pools. It all looked the same in the dark, so my only option was to relax enough to let my joints become shock-absorbers, engage the core for balance and just keep going over – or through – whatever lay ahead.

The Runner’s Soul

Your Own Personal Podium:
How to Get Back Up When You’ve Slipped Off
by Sandie Orlando

Running is a sport that allows us to define our own “personal podium” for success.  It doesn’t matter if we’re looking to complete a mile without stopping, take 10 minutes off our half marathon time or re-qualify for Boston at Boston. The potential to reach goals that result in us proudly ascending our own personal podium is an important part of what gets us out the door most days. Some days, just getting out the door is enough in itself to qualify!

So what happens when we slip – or crash – off?

Different Kinds of Runners at a Race Expo

by Sandie Orlando

Usually my perspective of runners is from in the midst of them – either in a run or watching a race. Recently I spent a day working in the IAWR booth at the Yonge Street 10K Race Expo – an interesting opportunity to watch runners – when they’re not running.

Some observations:

  1. Running people find it strangely surprising and exhilarating to see each other in real clothes with their hair down and make up on.  Even after years of knowing each other, they will comment on how different they look with ‘clothes on’.
  2. New runners (racers) are usually giddy – either from excitement or fear. It comes across the same way, and can end up with the same results on race day.

I Ran To Work Today

by Kimberly Kane

I ran to work today.
And so I started my day on the right foot.

I ran to work today.
I began my journey in the dark, cloaked in fog that settled on my clothes and eyelashes and ran through a beautiful sunrise.

I ran to work today.
The stop lights were kind to me and my legs were light allowing me to set a new PB for the “commute race”.

Running For My Brother

by Rachel Le

I’ve always said that I wanted to run a marathon by the time I turned 25, but truthfully, I never believed it would happen.  I’ve always been a “jogger”.  I’d go out and run short distances, maybe 2-3 kilometres, but I never thought that I’d be able to run long distances. I don’t have the small lean build of distance runners and I never understood putting myself through that pain. Last year, things changed; I found my motivation!

In April 2010, my 26-year-old brother, Brad, was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, an aggressive form of blood cancer. Initially, he was in excruciating pain and lost a tremendous amount of weight.  I almost didn’t recognize him: my big, healthy 6’3” brother weighed less than I did, couldn’t get out of bed on his own, and needed a walker to get to the bathroom.  My family’s life was put on hold as we rallied around him.  It’s hard to describe the 6 months that he went through high doses of chemotherapy.  The emotions, the procedures, the setbacks, the generosity and support of others, and finally the waiting…waiting to see if “it” will come back. If you’ve ever been there, you understand.  If you haven’t, I pray that you never do, that we first find a cure for this terrible disease called cancer.

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