Reflections on my Early 20’s: why I’m Running a Marathon on my Birthday

Running down Queen St at 6am few Saturdays ago, I passed broken beer bottles, half-eaten boxes of poutine, puddles of vomit, from someone’s Friday night and a few people just finishing up their Friday night. At that moment, I fully realized how much my life has changed since I last lived in Toronto just over 4-years ago.

At that time, the roles would have been reversed (though I would never waste poutine). My Friday night’s were certainly not spent eating nutrition dense meals and going to bed early in preparation for a big Saturday run. For as long as I can remember, I have felt torn between focusing on fitness or focusing on “having fun”, albeit someone else’s idea of fun. Sure drinking can be enjoyable, I enjoy beer immensly, but staying up late and drinking something you don’t like with the goal of getting drunk is not fun. Especially, when that voice in the back of your head says, “you’re going to feel like shit tomorrow and not want to do anything”. I knew that lifestyle wasn’t for me, but I wasn’t ready to move on, and hear all the accompanying “you’re so lame” comments that would have followed.

Staying up late and getting up early to exercise may not be ideal for successful training, staying up late, drinking excessively and getting up early makes training almost impossible. I used to try to do both. I still worked out 6-days a week then, but it was a lot different than it is now. It was pretty normal to show up to a spin class smelling like vodka from the night before, and somehow still get through the class. I guess that’s what is now referred to as a weekend warrior. I ran then too, but typically just a couple 10k runs a week to burn off the “drunk food”.

At that time, the idea of running a marathon was impossible. It simply did not make sense to me how someone could run that far; I was certain I never would. I was right, it was impossible, because running a marathon with that lifestyle would NOT have worked.     About 8 months before I moved to BC, things began to change, I had run 4 half’s at that time, including a best of 1:45, which I was happy with, and had achieved with little training. The day I got that PB was significant for a few reasons, and I used it as inspiration to run more and prioritize health. I lifted weights, I ran 4 times a week, sometimes up to 16km on an indoor track to avoid the snow and ice. In the month before I moved to BC, I began running everyday. I set a goal to run 100 miles that month and I did. I remember feeling so happy about that.

Moving to BC in June 2014 was a massive change, I knew no one there, and had no sense of obligation to participate in anything I didn’t want to. I was working in a craft beer bar, which was awesome, and surrounded by people who were living my old lifestyle, but it no longer mattered. I went out sometimes, but mostly I wanted to prioritize running and that was that. In January 2015, I began training with a coach and met other like-minded people. My intention at that time was to prepare to run a marathon. My coach wanted me to build a strong base first and knock a few more minutes off my half-marathon time before committing to a full. I put in the work, and my times continued to improve. In October 2016, I lined up at the start-line of my very first marathon in Victoria, BC.

Almost 2-years later, I am preparing for marathon #5, The Erie Marathon on Sunday September 9, also my 29th birthday. I have spent the summer training hard, running 6-days a week. I feel stronger than I ever have, and happy with the training I have put in. This is how I chose to spend my summer, and I have never regretted it. I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to my 20’s than to run a marathon on my birthday, and set the tone for the next decade – where I will continue to do things my way. I have grown a lot since 2014, my priorities have changed, my goals keep getting bigger, and I plan to keep chasing them.

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