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50@50: The Race That Was So Much More Than A Race

Mission accomplished!! I made a plan, I stuck with it, and I did it!

5 Months, 20 Weeks, 1067km (that’s just shy of running from Courtenay to Calgary), 3 Pairs of shoes, and a whole truck load of nutrition and hydration. Running a 50km race before my 50th birthday. Priceless!

I’ve pretty much always been ordinary. Never been the fastest runner, never been the slowest runner; never lifted the heaviest weights, never the lightest weights. but that’s completely ok with me. There are ordinary people all over the world and even here in the Comox Valley doing amazing physical things. They inspire me. They make me want to sign up and tackle my biggest physical challenges and reach for new heights. If they could do these things then so could I. I signed up before I could change my mind. My goal: an ultra marathon before my 50th birthday. I told everyone I knew that I had signed up to do it. My thoughts were that if everyone knew what I was doing then I HAD to follow through with the plan, which was a great motivator for me.

I’ve always been a plan maker and a goal setter. Big goals, little goals, it doesn’t matter. It’s what has always driven me to move forward, to challenge myself and to improve myself. Physically as well as mentally. But when I challenged myself to this particular goal it was slightly scary. Actually, if I’m being completely honest, REALLY scary. This was going to be very time consuming and very physically demanding. There definitely were a few times during my training when things went a bit sideways. Personal family – the illness and death of my father in the middle of my training. Logistical scheduling, "how the heck do I fit in a Saturday 40km training run and a Sunday 20km training run when I’m in smoke-filled, 38 degree Osoyoos for a big family 75th birthday celebration weekend?" Outside my comfort zone challenges, "I have a 36km mountain run in my training schedule and my training partners are not available, or they really just don’t wanna go 36km because they think I’m crazy." ;) Going by myself was completely out of my comfort zone. But, what did I do when these glitches came along? I adapted, adjusted, regrouped and kept going. Picking up where I left off. Quitting was not an option. Life has a way of throwing us curve balls and the best that we can do is to carry on. However that may be, don’t stop in the plan, just get going again in a slightly different direction.

Something very special happened during my training and crossing my finish line: I inspired people. Even people who inspire me. Crazy! Things flipped on me. Here I thought telling everyone what I was doing was only going to be a motivator for me, but it turned into inspiring others. Little ol’ me. Not the fastest, not the slowest, ordinary me. I was incredibly humbled and super proud. If I could inspire one person to step out of their box. To do something they’ve always wanted to do. To drive themselves just a little farther. Just a little harder. How rewarding is that?! Go for it! Try it! Make a plan! Stick to it! Roll with the curve balls! You can do it! Ordinary me did it and so can you!

During my race I made new friends. I was encouraged along the trail by them. I cheered them on. People I’d never met before. People I hugged at the finish line. People I’d probably never see again but I’ll always remember.

The Californian who was using this race as a training run. Training for a 100km run! Inspiring!

The awesome, fun duo of Romanian women from Minnesota. Their enthusiasm made me smile. Taking pictures of trees, leaves, trails, fellow runners, each other, and the views. They were enjoying every step of the experience. Inspiring!

The lady with asthma who I met up with at around 30km. She told me this was no her first 50km, and it will no be her last. Imagine. Asthma. And she was strong and smiling. Inspiring! She adapted her plan to her limitations and did it.

I even chatted with my Dad along the trails. One of his cozy well washed flannel shirts made the trip to Oregon with me and I got a nice warm dad flannel hug at the end of my race.

This last few months I did so much more that just run a 50km race. The journey to get there was tough and amazing. I saw beautiful trails and views I’ve never seen before. Ran farther than I’ve ever run. Made new friends. Inspired others. And, one of the coolest things: I got my own banner! Who wouldn’t love that! Will I do it again? You betcha! Stay tuned.

Moral of my story: challenge yourself. However you choose. It could be to do 10 full pushups, it could be to run 5km, or ride a bike to Campbell River and back. Everyone’s goals are different. Find yours and go for it! Make a plan, stick to it, and adapt along the way if you need to. Surround yourself with positive support. And the most important thing: Don’t give up! And when you get that huge hug at the end and that whisper in your ear that says “I’m so freakin proud of you”, it’ll be worth every sore muscle, and make you feel 100 feet tall.

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