Why I Ran a Half Marathon
There’s something so peaceful about the sound of running shoes pitter-pattering on the pavement. There were a lot of running shoes on Sunday October 21st, the day more than 25,000 runners took to the streets of Toronto in the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. I was one of them.
I signed up for the half-marathon in the summer, thinking I’d have plenty of time to train and hey, what’s so hard about 21.1kms? After my first long training run of only 9km, I realized 12 more on top of that would, in fact, be hard.
Motivation is everything when it comes to long distance running – it’s a total mind game. So I found two things to motivate me and keep me honest.
First, I took my training regime to Instagram. I knew if I was public with my goal, I would hold myself accountable. So, I filmed my runs for Instagram stories and took running photos to post along with descriptions of how my training went that particular day. I was worried I’d be one of those annoying people constantly talking about running, but I realized, who cares? This is my platform and I’m running for a good cause, which leads us to my second motivator.
I signed up for the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. Anyone who runs the STWM has the opportunity to choose from nearly 200 charities to fundraise for. Mental health holds a special place in my heart, so I chose to run for Jack.org: Canada’s only charity training and empowering young leaders to revolutionize mental health across the country.
I let my Instagram friends know I was fundraising for Jack.org and people started donating… a lot. To know I had people routing for me, in my corner, supporting both me and this incredible organization, was a huge motivator not just in my training, but on race day.
You could feel the excited, nervous energy as thousands of runners gathered in downtown Toronto awaiting start time. I shivered as I waited, a little cold, mostly nervous. I hoped I’d trained enough to make it 21.1kms and hoped to make all of the people who supported me and Jack.org proud. After all, I raised over $1000. 3,2,1… and I hit the pavement, slow and steady.
The first 7kms were effortless, I felt like I could do this all day, but then I hit the wall way earlier than expected. My legs felt like bags of sand, each step a fight. I put my head down and remembered that although this was hard, it could be harder. For those suffering from depression, getting out of bed everyday is harder. For those with anxiety, that overwhelming sense of doom is harder. For those with eating disorders exhaustively planning their lives around food, that is harder. In that moment, I realized that’s why I was here, that’s why I was running a half marathon: for mental health. I was running for my own mental health, because running really is good for the mind, and I was running on behalf of those suffering, who could benefit from an organization like Jack.org. And so I continued, one foot in front of the other.
Then came the beautiful 15km mark. I knew if I could make it here, I could finish strong. My stride lengthened and my energy came rushing back. The crowd began to grow and the cheering got louder and louder. Strangers were encouraging me, giving my high fives along the way. I could feel the love!
As I rounded Bay St, the end was in sight and waiting for me at the finish line were my cheerleaders, who stood in the cold for over 2 hours to watch me finish.
I was stronger than I thought that day, in large part due to my support system. I had Instagram followers cheering me on and donating, friends and family reaching out, and the incredible people who came out to support me on race day. As cheesy as it sounds, this run was a metaphor for how strong we can be, both physically and mentally, when we have support. With support, we persevere, one foot in front of the other.