I Never Thought I Would Be Considered A Runner

Before I found running, I never considered myself to be athletic or someone who wanted to exercise. 

As most young kids are, I was very active in my younger years. I used to run, jump, play and have fun with friends on the playgrounds at school and even after school.

When I got into high school, I had no desire to be fit at all. At the age of 13, I was overweight and lazy. I hated going to Physical Education classes, and if you weren't one of the super fit or athletic kids, it seemed we got picked on more. If you weren't able to complete a specific exercise, you had to run laps (running was more of a punishment then anything else). From early on, I hated running because it was more of a thing you had to do if you couldn't do something, then it was a way to stay healthy. I got even lazier and more unmotivated to be active, and as most kids do, packed on the weight.

My escape was video games, and lots of junk food.

When I was 15 years old, I was on the heavier side. I went to my family doctor with my mom. She asked my doctor if I should be concerned and we were told that I was not fat, but "chunky". (That wasn't the best way to address a problem with a kid who is overweight.) At my heaviest, I was 5"3 and about 170 pounds. I stopped caring about what I looked like and tried to blend in as much as possible. I avoided PE classes as much as I could because I knew that because I couldn't keep up, I would be forced to run.

At the age of 15, I was in a car accident (I was hit by a minivan while walking through a crosswalk where I had the green light). Luckily, I didn't get badly hurt (only fractured a tiny bone in my wrist), but that seemed to "kick start" my metabolism and I dropped a bunch of weight (and got taller as kids do). At this point I still didn't really want to be physically active, I thought those that worked out or ran were silly and didn't get the point.

This attitude of not understanding why people worked out and ran continued with me into my 20's. Due to being in Technical School and studying a lot, again I slowly packed on the weight but I didn't seem bothered by it. I did the odd work out video here and there (in my own home, as I am uncoordinated), but still didn't get running.

I started going to the local gym as well, and every time I looked at the runners, I still didn't get it. 

How I got started running:

In 2010, at a family Christmas dinner, a few of us were talking, and it came up that there was a local 10KM called the Vancouver Sun Run that was going to be held in April. We all agreed to do it and start training. After I had committed to it, I thought I was crazy but put on some old street shoes, a hat, and started running around my townhouse complex. I think the longest run that I did before the first official 10 km was 5km.

The Day of the race I was nervous and hoped that I wouldn't die. I have anxiety with crowds so when I walked up to the start line, I had my iPod blasting and as soon as we sang our Canadian National Anthem, I started to cry. The countdown began and we started to run. I ran the course as hard as I could and at the end, I thought I was going to die. I was very proud of myself, having run 10KM in just a few minutes over an hour. The days following the race, I was so sore that I could barely walk. But I felt proud.

For the next few years, the Sun Run 10km became my one race. I started doing a few more training runs here and there as I wanted to beat my time. in 2012, I was 7.5 months pregnant with my daughter Sierra and walked the Sun Run. I have been able to get my time to 57:00 for a 10 km which makes me proud.

Deciding to motivate myself.

After a few more years of the Sun Run, I wanted to see what I was capable of. As runners, we all know we get that yearning to do another race and then another. Locally, we have a half marathon called the Lululemon Seawheeze 1/2. This race has grown in an epic way in popularity, so getting in is super hard. I managed to somehow get in for the race in 2014. I had no idea how to train, how not to overtrain, and what I needed to do to start and finish the race. I followed a plan that was provided by Lululemon and decided my goal was to start and finish. I cried again at the start line, and ran as hard and fast as I could - my personal best for a half marathon is still this race from 2014. I finished with a time of 2 hours 14 mins!

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I ran the Seawheeze race again in 2015, and for some reason wanted to push myself further. We have another big local run, called the BMO Marathon, so I pulled the trigger and registered. I didn't have a running coach at that time, so I looked online through all the available plans. I ended up wanting to try and run / walk the marathon, using 10 mins running and 1 min walking as my plan. Just before I was to run this race for the first time, a number of friends around me had experienced personal loss, so I wanted to dedicate my marathon to them, and finish the race no matter what.

My First Marathon - May 2016

Marathon's are hard. I am not a fast runner, but I am very tenacious. Many people around me said I should not run, that I was stupid and wasn't a real runner at all because I had to run and walk. A few people locally that I had run with before said that I shouldn't do my marathon. It was hard to hear from those that I thought supported me the most, but I got lost in my head and tried to forget all the negativity. As usual, I cried at the start line and then the race started. I did the best that I could with my intervals and pushed myself beyond limits.

At KM 24, I had the worst leg cramps ever and had to stop and stretch. Initially, my goal for my first marathon was 4 hrs 55 minutes, but since I was undertrained, and looking back at how underprepared I was, I wasn't going to hit that goal. I kept going, knowing my husband and my daughter would be there to cheer me on and see me finish. I cried and ran across that finish line (although this marathon seemed to have the longest finishing chute ever).

Finishing that marathon is one of the proudest physical moments of my life. But there I was, having completed a FULL freaking marathon and yet I still didn't totally think of myself as a runner.

Since then, I have completed one more full marathon, numerous 5ks, 10kms, and other fun runs. I have learned from my many mistakes, and now I have a running coach and someone I work with on my nutrition.

What motivates me to push harder.

Finishing two marathons lit a fire within me, and it pushed me to take my running to a new level: Obstacle Course racing! It's hard enough explaining why you run to friends/family that don't get it, but now I am getting down and dirty for fun! My biggest supporters in my running goals have always been my husband, my daughters, my online running friends, the local running community and now my Vancity OCR team.

I have decided that I want to push myself harder, and farther and see what I can do. When I was younger, I was fat, picked on, and mocked by classmates, teachers and even family so I still seem to hold onto that, to hear that little voice in my head that says, "You can't do that". 

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It makes me mad, but gives me strength and the courage to go on. Since 2013, I have completed a number of road races, obstacle course races, a Spartan Race Trifecta (a sprint race, super race, and beast in one year), and many other challenges. I am not giving up, I will not quit. The hardest race I have done (harder them my marathons) is the Spartan Sun Peaks Beast - 27.5 KM up and down three mountain peaks at the Sun Peaks resort, with obstacles. My friend and I were on that mountain for 10.5 hours and we finished. For a while afterward, that broke me mentally and physically, but after recovering smartly, I want to do more. I am signed up this year for more races, a Ragnar Trail Relay (newbie Trail runner here), and my main A goal is to compete in the Worlds Toughest Mudder (24 hour obstacle course race).

I told you, the passion is there, and this girl IS going to run with it. In 2019 I plan on running my first ultra race as well. There's no stopping this girl.

If you had ever told me in a million years that I would be a runner, I would have laughed in your face. I don't feel like I have the runners look, body, or speed. After being picked on for many years, I had the lowest of the low self-esteem. Slowly and surely, that is changing. I am telling myself I can, I will, and I did. I am looking at challenging myself more, getting healthy and strong (not being super skinny) and having fun. I am learning how to find the joy in running (I had resting pissed off runners face and attitude for the longest time), and to just try new things. I know building strength takes time, building speed takes time, and it is not going to be easy. I don't like easy, I like to be challenged.

The main takeaway from this is that I am a runner and an obstacle course racer. I have my husband and daughters to thank for keeping me motivated. A person should never negate another person's dreams and goals as you have no idea how it will impact them in the long run. Had I had more positive people around me growing up, I would have started this journey earlier in life. I don't regret anything I have done and will work to become the best me I can. I only hope my story inspires others to take a chance. DO NOT listen to the haters, do not fuel their fire. They may not understand your journey and what you are going through, but each step you take is yours, own it.

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If you run / walk, you are a runner. If you sprint, you are a running, if you run at a super casual pace you are a runner. It doesn't matter how fast / slow you are going, you are a runner, never negate your effort.

**For more from Charity, you can follow her at GoMommyGo.Run, MudRunGuide, or on Facebook.