Why did you sign up to do this race?
I signed up for the Times Colonist 10K (TC10K) because I wanted to get back into running. I had been active in sports and running up until about 3 years ago when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. My symptoms were low, and I was eager to work on regaining my fitness. A friend and I decided we were going to try and train for a half marathon.

I had done half marathons before but not for about 5 years. We decided to take things really slow, and the TC10K was going to be our first race to test ourselves on our way to our half marathon.

How did you feel once you crossed the finish line?
I felt amazing when I crossed the finish line. It wasn’t my fastest time ever, but I was able to do it, and the challenges were so much bigger this time than they had ever been before. I think my biggest feeling, though, was hope.

Crossing the finish line gave me the hope that I could one day regain all the fitness that I’d lost. And hope is a powerful thing, especially when you’re struggling!

What would you say was the hardest challenge in this race?
The biggest challenge came before the race even started, and it was mental. I had to beat my own thinking. I was judging myself, and that’s toxic. Our training didn’t go as planned. I had a significant pain flare, and my partner wasn’t able to keep training due to an injury. When I showed up at the start line, my goal was just to make it to the finish line.

I assumed that I would need to walk the entire distance. I had mixed feelings about walking. There are lots of people who walk the course, but I have always viewed myself as a runner, so I set myself a very gentle run/walk goal. In order to do this race, I needed to change my mindset. I needed to let myself be at the level I was at, and not wishing for a previous level that wasn’t possible right now. In the end, I was able to run the entire race, by getting out of my mind and just listening to my body.

What was the most rewarding thing about completing this run?
This race was one of the most rewarding races I’ve ever done. Because I allowed myself the freedom to just be who I was in that moment, I was able to complete the race without aggravating any of the symptoms of my chronic illness. And I proved to myself that I can still do it. My illness has changed so much about my life, but I can still be an athlete. I can still show up at the start line and make it to the finish line – even if the process looks completely different from before.
Was there anything or anyone in particular that helped you throughout your training?
My training definitely didn’t go as planned, but I think the thing that helped me the most was to have a flexible schedule. I had a training program, but I was open to changing it as was necessary.

My chronic illness is unpredictable, and some days I just knew I wasn’t going to be able to do the workout that was on my schedule. Sometimes that meant that I put the workout off to another day, and sometimes that meant that I just did an easier workout. It was really hard to let myself do that – I’m kind of a Type A, but it was so powerful.

Any final words of encouragement and thoughts you’d like to share?
Meet your body where it’s at and just keep trying. It isn’t the elite athletes at the front of the crowd that deserve the biggest cheer (although they are amazing!), it’s those of us at the back who are fighting to put one foot in front of the other that truly deserve the cheer. Remember that even if you come in last, you still beat every person that didn’t show up 😊.

You are strong. You are capable. You are an athlete.