Leslie Runs

My journey as a long distance runner who started the sport later in life.

About

Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 12.27.36 PMI am a Canadian expat living and working at an international school in Mexico. I am middle of the pack runner and my preferred distance for racing is the half marathon. I had never considered running as a hobby and all of my experiences with running prior to 2004 were the sprint distances as part of my high school track and field team. Even the 400 m dash sounded way too far for me back then. The kids who did that had to be a different species!

I joined a Running Room 5K training clinic in 2005. I met some great friends there and before I knew it, on the heels of a decent 5K race, they had me convinced that the 10K clinic was harder and that I should just ease on into the Half Marathon training clinic with them. It was totally insane, or so I thought, but I did it anyway because I enjoyed their company. I had no idea that I would enjoy distance running so much!

My half marathon races on the heels of all that training with great friends include:

  • Tim Hortons Chilly Half Marathon on March 5, 2006
  • ING Ottawa Half Marathon on May 28, 2006
  • Spanish River Half Marathon on July 16, 2006

The insanity did not end because my running friends wanted to try a Full Marathon. When I followed along the first time it seemed to work out well, so again, I joined them. We trained hard and my training program with the Running Room was actually twice as long (four months) as the time it took me to plan my wedding and get married (two months). I was a busy girl in 2006. My one and only marathon was the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort International Marathon on October 22, 2006. I felt so great for that entire race, but my pace buddy and another close friend suffered injuries and setbacks. We had agreed to run together, but eventually they encouraged me to go on and try for the best time I could get. I still remember that Denny’s breakfast afterwards. Oh yeah!

Life has a way of throwing you curve balls, and so it did after this race. I have a Creative Memories running scrapbook and the Niagara Marathon is the last race I actually took the time to paste down and write about back then and in the moment. It was the end of an era. My running group, the six of us, parted ways. My pace buddy moved north to work in the mining and minerals sector, and my new husband and I were setting off for Mexico to try our hand at teaching at an international school in Monterrey. Eventually my other marathon buddy moved out west to Saskatchewan.

Arriving as a Canadian in Mexico I had two useful words of the native language: cerveza and baño. It was a serious dose of culture shock for me, as I had never traveled much, nor had I been forced to figure out how to get basic needs met without being able to express myself and be understood. I wanted to drive back home to Canada almost immediately. Obviously running was not on the top of my mind, though with age comes wisdom and I now know that it might have helped to ease my stress and anxiety in those early days. Such is life.

On the heels of our first year of teaching we realized we were expecting, which meant my plan to start running again had to be shelved. The doctor didn’t recommend starting back up whilst pregnant (if only I had kept on with it). Motherhood was hard, but nobody is allowed to say so, but believe me when I say that running was the last thing on my mind. I had postpartum depression for almost a year. Yes, running would have helped, but how to convince myself to even start; I couldn’t.

We both agreed that the new baby would need a pal, so we had another child right on the heels of the first one, and running was still on the shelf, sitting there, looking at me expectantly. I just couldn’t get around to it, until March 2013. Some of my colleagues at the international school were doing this thing called Lifetime Wellness Challenge, which needed a team of six and they were missing one person. I had been dabbling at starting running again, trying first with 1:1s and hoping to work my way up. This LWC plan involved accountability and a points system (though not hard and nothing like Weight Watchers) and exercise five times a week for at least 30 minutes. I was accountable to the LWC owners and my team of five colleagues, plus I finally wanted to run: it was the perfect recipe.

Since then I have been back to running races and maintaining my mileage between races, with only one serious setback. On January 18, 2014 I suffered three spiral fractures to each of three proximal phalanges very close to the metacarpal phalangeal joint of each of three fingers. I know that I don’t really need my fingers to run, but I ended up having two major surgeries to try and get them to function again, and the doctors’ orders were to cease with running during the healing process. Their main concern was that I could fall and damage them again while they weren’t yet healed. The fall itself happened four weeks before my second half marathon race. I didn’t train in that time, but I did speed walk, and I ran the race anyway, against the doctors’ orders.

My half marathon races since moving to Mexico include:

  • 21K Nuevo Leon in November 2013
  • 21K Tarahumara in February 2014
  • 21K Regio in October 2014
  • 21K Tarahumara in February 2015
  • 21K Monterrey in April 2015
  • 21K Regio in October 2016

I have now run all of the half marathon races that Monterrey has to offer at least once, a minor goal I achieved in April 2015.

At the length of this “about” section I can see there isn’t much room to discuss the fact that I also run a lot of 10K races if they fit in with my training schedule. My next race will take place this month, an encore of the 21K Nuevo Leon. Races are like potato chips, it’s hard to have just one!

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