PHOTO: Caitlin Stevens-Kelly is shown in this photo at the Hampton 5-Miler. This year, she will race the half marathon at Marathon by the Sea. Photo from Run NB/Armand Landry.
What started as a quest for improved health has transformed into a deep appreciation for fitness and running for Caitlin Stevens-Kelly. When once a 5-kilometre race appeared daunting, she now leads community running clinics and has a number of longer distances on her resume, on her way to her first marathon event. Here is her story and her goals for Emera Marathon by the Sea in August.
by Caitlin Stevens-Kelly
A doctor told me I had the lungs of a 76-year-old.
I was 30 at the time. I do have chronic lung disease because I was born prematurely. I weighed 1.0 kilogram at birth but had no other problems and through the years, I have been able, to some degree, ignore my chronic lung disease. However, asthma, several bouts of pneumonia and lots of medications later, I knew something had to change. I knew, and the doctor agreed, exercise might be the answer. So I started running.
So I didn’t find running; running found me and we have been great friends ever since. That was five years ago. I did a “Couch to 5km” program that I found online after my family had been going through a stressful time. Sometimes my children joined me and sometimes they played in the playground while I ran on the track, so it was a kind of family time. Once the weather got cold, I stopped, “wimping out” when I realized how many layers I might have to wear to survive fall/winter running.
Growing up I was a shy, quiet girl. I shied away from team sports and left the athletic endeavours to my friends. They were all basketball players, swimmers and soccer players. I preferred to read, take art classes than be involved in team activities.
When I had children, I wanted them to learn the things I thought you only learned by being part of a team. It was something I missed but learned later, there are other ways to learn sportsmanship, leadership, patience, persistence and working towards a goal – and that is running.
In the spring after I “wimped out” of running in the winter, a friend was offering a group learn-to-run program, similar to one I had completed before. Another friend had suggested I start running again when I wanted to find an activity other than going to a gym. I was too intimidated to go to a gym and thought running would be an inexpensive way to get some physical activity. But I worried that I would not be motivated to keep going, so my friend suggested I sign up for a race and she would participate as well.
I completed my first 5km race that summer. I was hooked.
The energy of the race, the participants and the people watching the race were infectious and I loved that my children were able to see me accomplish a goal that I had been working toward. I decided the next winter that I would train for my first half marathon.
I chose the Bluenose half marathon because I grew up in Halifax and because my friend Nicole, who first got me motivated to run, lived there. On race day though, I was feeling sorry for myself. The experience wasn’t living up to my hopes, in part because my children weren’t there, unable to see me accomplish my goal.
I had run all winter, splitting my time between tread mills and snow banks. I had sacrificed time with them and made training a priority. I was sidelined with pneumonia for a month, recovered and continued training. To me, the half marathon was the ultimate running goal. Training for the half seemed manageable whereas full marathon training seemed to be only for “serious” runners, and I did not feel I was a “serious” runner.
“Serious runners” were athletes, and I was not an athlete. I was just trying to de-stress, lose some weight maybe, get off my couch and fix my lungs up a bit. I’ll admit I felt sorry for myself the first 5kms of that race. I was accomplishing a goal, but my family was not there to see me. I saw my friend’s husband at the 6km mark, but he did not see me among all the hundreds of runners, further fueling my disappointment.
Then, when I got to the halfway mark, all of a sudden it seemed like I was attacked from behind by two people in running jackets. My friends Nicole and Lex had come to run about 1.5kms of the race with me.
They left me to continue on my race alone but I was buoyed by their friendship, enthusiasm and excitement. I continued to run through the city that I had grown up in.
The last 3kms, I spent reflecting on the difficulties of the prior year, realizing that maybe I actually was more of a “serious” runner than I realized. Each year since, Nicole has come out to watch me run the Bluenose half. It means more to me than she will ever know.
I’ve kept running.
I still don’t see myself as a “serious” runner. “Serious” runners are fast, and I’m never going to finish very high in my age group speed wise. This year though, I’ve decided to accomplish what I feel is a “serious” runners’ goal – the full marathon.
Recently, I ran my 10th half marathon. I’ve run numerous 5km races, 5 milers, 10km races. I’ve met some of my best friends through running. A year and a half ago, I took over a small-town running group where we have offered several learn-to-run programs and a 10km program. I’ve organized and volunteered at a few races. I’ve seen people accomplish goals they never thought possible.
That’s why I run.
I still run to de-stress and to keep an active lifestyle but more than anything, I’ve gained more from the friendships and the inspirational people that running has brought to me.
This summer, I will be participating in the MBTS half marathon as the half way mark to participating in my first full marathon, another step on my way to being a “serious” runner. Also, I will be able to check it off on the Ultimate Running Challenge, which I also participated in last year.
By the way, the last time I saw my doctor, the one who said I had the lungs of a 76-year-old, she said my lungs now looked to be at least 20 years younger.
Carla Harris has generally been active all her life but did not start running until she was in her 40s. That leap was inspired, in part, by volunteering at a water station during one edition of Marathon by the Sea. There, she witnessed the determination of the competitors and felt if older runners could tackle the course, so could she. It changed her life. What follows is her story of her impressive progress, extensive competition and her journey into the triathlon disciplines as well.
by Carla Harris
I have been running for about 15 years but was a late starter at the age of 40. I am now 56 years old. I was pretty active as a kid, running a little, broad-jumping and I remember how much I liked being outside. Once I competed in a junior high school running relay team where I got a ribbon.
In my early 20’s, I started aerobics classes at the only gym in Saint John, other than the “Y” and I continued with aerobics and step-aerobics until my late 30’s. That’s when I decided to learn to run, which I did this for a few reasons.
I thought running would get me in better shape, I wanted to be exercising out in the fresh air, I wanted to compete in 10k races and I wanted to work out on my own schedule rather than scheduled gym classes.
Around this period, I volunteered for the first time at Marathon by the Sea and handed out water at I believe the last water hole on the run course, which was probably at Mile 22. What really inspired me to start running was seeing a very elderly woman with a younger woman at that water stop. I remember thinking, if a woman this “old” can run a marathon there is no reason why I can’t run.
It was a life changing moment for me.
The first run I did was a 20 minutes around my neighbourhood, non-stop. I couldn’t believe how hard it was. I thought, why is this so hard, I’m in good shape!! Eventually, I kept adding distance to the runs until I was confident enough to enter a 10k in Fredericton. Approximately, after a year of running, I finally started to feel like a runner. I always ran three times a week. Then a friend suggested we run MBTS’s half marathon. I thought he was crazy. But we trained and did it. I was so nervous and made a lot of “mistakes.” (Ha ha).
Around this time, I also became interested in doing triathlons. They were starting to become more popular and like a lot of people, my interest was further promoted by seeing Simon Whitfield win gold for Canada in the 2000 Olympics. I took swimming lessons at the YMCA at age 42, then bought a decent bike and started cycling and completed my first triathlon shortly after.
I don’t have an exact number but have probably done 30-40 triathlons, including six half Ironmans, racing in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Quebec and Maine. I am presently training for a half ironman relay as well as two other triathlons this summer.
My husband made a “medal board” to hold my medals and recently, I counted 30 half marathon medals, of which nine are from MBTS, which was my first half. I have competed in many other races but I really believe that MBTS has the best atmosphere all around, for runners and their families, and has a lot to offer for the price. I have been in many other races in larger cities but they generally don’t have the same “homey feel” and “bang for your buck”.
I will never forget the elation of completing my first 10k, first half marathon, first triathlon of every distance. I have such a feeling of accomplishment after all the training is finished and I have achieved my goal.
Running is not the easiest thing to do, especially as you get older, but for me the benefits easily outweigh the effort of training in trying conditions, such as when I am tired or injured, when other life commitments conflict or in less than ideal weather conditions (for sure!).
I run outside all winter in cold, ice and snow. I have learned how to dress and I think a big part of running is learning how to be “uncomfortable” and accepting that if you don’t persevere in all types of weather conditions, you will never know how strong you are. Running can definitely be a mental test of endurance. Also, come race day, you could be facing wind, rain and cold. This perspective definitely applies to doing triathlons as well!
I see people of all ages and sizes running and am always impressed with their determination and commitment.
I am very thankful that I am able to run and am healthy enough to do so. I feel that what has helped me continue running at this age, especially half marathons, is the cross training I have received over the years from doing triathlons. Cycling and swimming are great activities and provide strength and muscular balance all around. I have always only run just three times a week, which I am certain has helped prevented major injuries.
I feel it is important to volunteer as much as possible at races to help the running community and give back what has given me so much. I want others to feel the benefits of running and to never give up.
I have volunteered at MBTS over the years, however, this year I will run the half marathon and volunteer at a couple of triathlons.
I run for many reasons – to be able to compete; for fitness, the sense of accomplishment and the social aspect. I have met so many people and many are good friends. I am determined to keep running as long as I can. I believe age is no limit. I want to be one of those 85-year-old’s who is still running around their block every day!
Motivation for sport can take many forms but for Dave Horgan, the inspiration of a great Canadian hero played an early role in his first footsteps into longer distance running. Later in life, he returned to the sport, saluting the influence of his late mother and once again adopting a healthy lifestyle. In August, Dave will return to Marathon by the Sea for the 10th time. His Running Whys story follows.
by Dave Horgan
I’m fairly certain that I’ve always loved running. Like many kids, I participated in annual track and field events for school, but it was in September of 1980 at the age of 12 that I was introduced to longer distances.
Terry Fox had just been hospitalized and forced to end his Marathon of Hope, so my Grade 7 teacher at Grandview Avenue School, Art Comeau, formed a 100-mile club to bring awareness to Terry’s cause and to fitness in general. That school year, I ran 536 miles through the trails of Rockwood Park with Mr. Comeau and a couple of other dedicated students. As fate would have it, Terry Fox died at the end of that school year on June 28th.
I did some running in junior high and high school, but it would be 23 years before I returned to running in earnest, once again spurred on by cancer. My mother, Doreen Horgan, passed away in February of 2003 which caused me to pause and to realize how relatively little time we have to achieve life’s goals. I decided immediately that I wanted to try running again.
On March 22, 2003, my wife Gail and children Laura and Stephen were headed to the Teddy Bear Fair. Everyone was out of the house – it was the perfect time to try a run! If it turned into a spectacular failure, then no one need be the wiser and if it was a success, then I would quite literally be off and running! I ran only two miles that day in a time of 21:30 and had to stop at least three times, but I was hooked for the second time in my life!
My running for those first few weeks was largely trial and error until Marta Kelly brought me under her wing and provided direction. I quickly learned not to try and make every run a personal best and to mix my training with speed work, recovery runs, tempo, pace, long runs, hills and so on. In the back of my mind, I had the thought of running a marathon, but I also knew I had to put a lot of training in to accomplish that goal.
I signed up for a couple of 10k races to prep for the marathon, but I knew I needed an intermediary goal at a longer distance, so I also signed up for my first half-marathon – Marathon by the Sea.
It was only the fourth race I had ever done and the first “big” race I had ran in with several hundred people participating. I’ll never forget the exhilaration of running down St. Patrick Street to the finish. Long distance running became my calling!
Since that fateful running season of 2003, I have run 19 marathons, 25 half-marathons and numerous races at other distances and have logged almost 28,000 km (I maintain a dizzying spreadsheet of every run I’ve ever done!). I’d like to hit 40,000 km eventually – that’s once around the world!
My favourite Marathon by the Sea was in 2005. I had previously run full marathons in Kentville and in Kennebecasis and I wanted to run the full in the hometown event, but was concerned about how tough the course was. It was exceptionally hot that year and I can remember passing mile 19 and there was a runner ahead of me that was in a bad way and I ended up giving her my water bottle. I finished the course in 3:30:30 and in doing so, took 15 minutes off my previous best and finished the course with a 2 and a half-minute negative split.
When the Canadian Mint issued the “Terry Fox” loonie in 2005, I began carrying one with me on my marathons as homage to him and to my running beginnings and to also remind me of Mom and Dad (who passed in 2014). At some point in every race, I can still hear Dad’s advice “that fellow next to you is just as tired, keep going!”
This August will mark my 10th time participating in Marathon by the Sea, having previously run it twice at the marathon distance and seven times as a half-marathon. In recent years, I have settled into a pattern of running a spring and fall marathon and Marathon by the Sea is located at the perfect point in my training to gauge my level of fitness and preparedness for the fall season. It lets me know where I stand and still gives me time to tweak my training for a fall marathon. As a training run, I tend to approach Marathon by the Sea with a lot less stress and a lot more enjoyment!
Running means so many things to me. It’s about the personal accomplishment, it’s about enjoying the outdoors and in particular, it’s about the camaraderie and friendship among runners. I’ve met so many wonderful people through running, that I hesitate to name them and every one of them is so supportive regardless of their running level. Running is about setting goals and sometimes I’ve met them and sometimes I haven’t and when I don’t, then it becomes about digging deeper and trying all the harder!
For me, Marathon by the Sea embodies everything that I love about running. It’s a challenging course that once you are done, you can say “There! That was an accomplishment!”. It’s a beautiful course that effectively mixes parks and city and above all the participants enjoy the support and encouragement that everyone shows for one another.
After a very long winter of running in bitter cold and searching for somewhere outside to run safely, I for one am looking forward to lacing up at Marathon by the Sea for the 10th time with my training partners Chris, Jill, Maura and Donald and encouraging one another along the route!
Those aching muscles feel slightly better today than Monday. Another night’s sleep made things much better and today, many of those who participated in the 20th Emera Marathon by the Sea on Sunday are thinking about their next run.
But before looking too far forward, we will take a look back with some of our participants in the Running Whys series and read their thoughts of the day, which included a touching and memorable tribute to the memory of Cst Douglas Larche, large participation numbers, a record time by Shelley Doucet in the woman’s marathon and a victory by Ryan O’Shea in the men’s marathon.
And those hills. Yes, those hills.
We will start off with a story of getting to the start line from Kâté Braydon, one of those featured in the Running Whys and then move on with brief comments from a collection of others who offered their perspective on Sunday’s event.
Kâté Braydon – 12 km
My second official race started off like most of my days usually go. I was late.
I thought arriving at 7:30am (one half hour before race time) would be enough, but after driving in circles looking for parking for 10 minutes, I started to panic. I found a spot a good distance away from where the shuttle bus was supposed to be picking up runners. I, along with about 30 other participants, waited for the shuttle for about another 10 minutes. Finally the group dissipated, so I started walking really fast to the start gate. I got there with about 5 minutes to spare, and really had to use the bathroom. The line was really, really long. But I really, really had to pee. So I waited. And as I was pulling up my pants, I heard the gun go off to start the race.
This is all hilarious to me now. But at the time of course, I was freaking. The most stressful part of the whole day was just getting there. After that, it was pretty much smooth sailing. I was so full of adrenaline and anxiety that I started off really strong, and was weaving my way through the crowd like a boss (roller derby skills!)
There are great moments of the run that are still prominent in my mind – people who I don’t know cheering for me, the sweet smell of roses along the Harbour Passage, the sun on my face, a sign that read ‘nipples are overrated’…
The last two kilometers were hard. I had to walk up a few hills, which I really didn’t want to have to do, but it was a brisk walk and was probably similar to the pace I would have ‘run’ up them anyway.
I finished with a chip time of 1:15:42 and feel really good about it. It was such a fun experience to be a part of something so big. I can’t wait for the next race!”
Shelley Doucet – Women’s marathon champion
“As I shared in my Running Whys story, the main reason I chose to do the Saint John Marathon was because I wanted to compete in a local race where I would have the support of my family and friends. They have always been extremely encouraging of my racing and as usual came out in full force on Sunday morning.
“Additionally, the support of the Fundy Extreme Triathlon club took this support to a new level. If only I could take them to Boston with me, I would be all set! I also want to give special thanks to ALL of the amazing volunteers that made this event possible :)”
Nicola Cassidy – 12 km
“Another race, another hill and another great Marathon by the Sea. 2014 was a time of deja vu (those hills!), fond memories, the touching Red Mile start and the support and laughter at the finish line.
Thanks Saint John for a great day!”
Tessa Stright – Half Marathon
“I did it! I ran a half Marathon! I’m amazed at what this body is capable of doing. Soon, I know I’ll forget my aches and
pains, my fatigue and maybe even my finish time, but something that will stay with me for the rest of my life is the feeling of support and encouragement, that feeling I know I will never forget.
“Having so many family members, friends and coworkers wishing me luck, even people I had never met before out on sidewalks and roads, cheering, telling me I looked strong (I knew I definitely didn’t) It was nothing short of amazing. The last two kms were the worst for me, but looking down to see the bracelet my kids made for me to wear on race day helped me push forward.
“I was so overwhelmed when I spotted my mom on the last turn, she was cheering for me just before the finish line, my family was all there, waiting for me. Even when I felt like I couldn’t, they all knew I could, and that is something I’ll never forget.”
Cat Smith – 12 km speed walk
Cat tackled the 12-km course but in speed walking style, not running. Her distinctive approach was highlighted in her profile and she said the results were excellent.
“I had some pretty awesome feedback from my story. I’ve had lots of people come up to me asking if I’m Cat Smith,” she said. “Then they were telling me they saw my Running Why story and how good and inspiring they thought it was.”
She took off according to her plan and cruised over the finish line in 1:22:35 in her first 12 km event.
“Thank you so much. It was an awesome experience.”
Marcie Holland – Half marathon
Marcie Holland enjoyed the entire process but admits the final stages were challenging.
“It took sheer will power to get me through the last two kilometres of the half marathon,” she said of her run, which came in at 1:42.53. She was one of many who took part in the complete experience on race weekend.
“A highlight was the five-kilometre run in the night with the trail of lights and fireworks over us as we finished.”
Sheila-Perry Long – 12 km
“I’ve had great feedback from the story – I was reluctant to submit anything because my story just doesn’t seem all that interesting, but it’s amazing that you might actually be inspiring people by just trying to live a better, more active life. If I can inspire just one person to be more active, that’s a great thing.
“I thought the race was awesome! It’s great to compete, but I really enjoy watching others achieve their goals. It’s also a great opportunity to catch up with friends. Saint John has a wonderful running community that is so supportive of everyone, no matter how good you really are.”
Rob Long – 5 km
“Both Sheila and I were very humbled by all the attention garnered by the article. We received a lot of positive feedback for our piece and in turn we thoroughly enjoyed reading the other articles!
“Now turning my attention to the event: it was another banner year for Marathon By The Sea, and we had a great time!
“I started the morning competing in the 5km event, with a great result – 2nd in my age category and 20th overall, out of approximately 330 people!
“After finishing my race, I decided to help a friend of mine (Elaine Boulanger) who was attempting her first-ever half marathon. Well, not so much to help, but simply keep her company. So after collecting my medal, I dashed off down the half marathon route in hopes of catching up to her. Which I did with about 10km remaining. I ran with her the rest of the way and was so proud to see her finish with a great time!”
Marta and Frank Kelly – Half Marathon
“Well I have come to the understanding that the name Mike Doyle is synonymous with hills. I’m not entirely sure that he was responsible for the new route, however, I do know that whoever it was made it one of the most challenging routes I have ever done for a half at Marathon by the Sea. I had only switched to the half on Monday after switching from the relay where I would have only had to run 7k. I was very skeptical of having a good race with the limited post shoulder surgery training that I have had but it was a beautiful day for a long run with friends.
“At any rate, Dad and I set off on our own because we got lost in the corral before the race. There was a very moving tribute to fallen RCMP office Constable Larche before the race started. The start is mainly downhill for the first few kilometres, so you trick yourself into thinking you are feeling good and thus running too fast. I was churning along at around mile 6 when I met Serge from Riverview – we chatted about what we were hoping to run and he indicated he was supposed to be pacing someone for a 2 hour half.
“Since he couldn’t find his friend, that person ended up being me – lol. We caught up to Dad and ran about 3 miles with him but the bridge was pretty long so Dad dropped back a little bit at that point. It was great to see the members of the Fundy Fog Chasers – our running group – at the water stop before the long uphill at the bridge.
“Serge ended up pushing me through to a 1:57:30 – and I can honestly say without him I would have walked quite a few times. Dad was under 2 hours as well and won his age group and a beautiful pottery mug. All in all – it was a great day.”
Alex Coffin – Marathon
“Great event! I tried to throw some smoke at Ryan O’Shea in the first five miles but he blew it away. I am so glad Ryan was able to hold off the runner from Paris. Shelley Doucet was incredible! Third overall! New event record!! SJTCers – Courtney Halfpenny was the second woman in the full, Hannah Arseneault was the first woman in the half, Reid Burrows was first in the 5K, and Maggie Oliver was the first woman in the 5K. Paula Keating won the 12K outright!! Lily Coffin was the top station helper although FETC did make me almost choke on my Gatorade laughing. ”
Tracy Beaulieu – Half Marathon
“I’m pretty happy with my very first half marathon. It was a beautiful course and was really tough. I’ll be back hopefully next year to better my time.
“My friend Karen stuck with me the whole route which absolutely helped me get through the “hitting the wall” parts. Saint Johners were unbelievably friendly, as I knew they would be.
“Great race. Loved it.”
Gary Keating – Half Marathon
“A wonderful weekend of fitness and fun in Saint John with Marathon By The Sea. I’m not sure of the exact number of participants, but I would guess it was the largest number of runners thus far. The 20 year anniversary certainly illustrated that MBTS is a wonderful fitness event for Saint John attracting runners and fitness enthusiasts from all over New Brunswick and beyond.
“Once again, a great job by the organizing committee and their awesome team of volunteers (could not be done without them). MBTS continues to promote health, wellness and fitness for all to participate because of the many running events it offers. Extremely nice to see Saint John Mayor Mel Norton and Liberal leader Brian Gallant promoting health and wellness by participating in MBTS (leading by example).
“Again, a great event today and I certainly plan to participate again in 2015. Stay Active!”
Joy Durdan – 5 km
The last word goes to the first person we profiled, – Joy Durdan, who finished fourth in her division in the 5k.
“I had an awesome 5k race,” she said. “If a person ever wants to find a large group of people who have incredible strength, find some runners. We are stubborn, strong willed and have huge hearts.”
The motivations ranged from dedications, personal growth or just finishing five kilometres to winning their event or qualifying for the Boston Marathon. In May, we asked 20 people about the reasons they run – The Running Whys – and also why they decided to participate in the 20th Marathon by the Sea. The goal was to reach out and develop a small snapshot of those taking part in the Port City’s biggest running event on Sunday.
What we got was a poignant collection of stories that focused a number of themes, the biggest of all was family. The powerful replies, which can be seen here and here, generated wonderful accounts of dedication and recovery, tribute and purpose, all focused on a particular goal or goals for Sunday and beyond.
The goal was 20 stories. We finished with 22 as well as a timely series of coaching tips.
The profiles featured sisters, brothers, parents and children, husbands and wives, runners who saluted the memory of their grandfathers and mothers, runners who overcame learning disabilities, recovered from broken relationships or have transitioned to parenthood or decided to incorporate fitness into their daily routine.
They bounced back from injury.
They lost weight, a lot of weight and they ran, and ran and ran.
Some have competed in many Marathon by the Sea events, others are attempting to finish their first major distance. Some cross train, others raise funds for charity.
The reaction of their families and friends told another story that resonates with many in the field. These supporters spoke loudly with replies, shares, likes, retweets and comments on social media.
Their reactions included the following:
“Amazing.” “So inspiring.” “That made me a little teary.”
“It really showcases the camaraderie that we all know is typical of the running scene.”
“That’s my daughter and I am so proud of her.”
“Woo hoo.” “So proud.” “I cannot say enough about him. He has given so much and asked for so little.”
“You have always encouraged me.” “So much of what you wrote hits a chord with me.”
“It is an honor to call them my friends. Will be looking for them at the finish line.”
“I am so fortunate to have them in my life. Not only are they physically inspiring, they are genuine, fun
loving, generous, and make me want to hug the stuffings out of them every time I see them.”
“Sorry if you are tired of my bragging but…….my hubby is the coolest.”
“I am lucky to call her a friend.” “Very proud of your determination!”
“Awesome story about one of the truly great personalities of the local road race scene.”
“Well, that made me cry.”
Indeed emotion was the other prevailing theme in addition to family. One runner detailed how he likes to stay near the finish line after he wraps up his race to watch the reactions as others come in, piggybacking on the notion there is nothing quite like the scene at the finish line of a major running race.
It is a guarantee there will be many more emotional reactions Sunday in an event that has been described as the “best bang for your buck.”
The Red Mile salute to the memory of Cst Douglas Larche will ensure emotion will prevail in the opening strides. It figures to last 42.2 kms.
Now, the spectacular fireworks are finished, the kids have hustled through the park and today’s pasta sales are soaring through the city.
Good luck to all runners in the 20th anniversary of Emera Marathon by the Sea and thanks for reading.
Running coach Daryl Steeves encourages everyone to set three goals for the Marathon by the Sea.
Race weekend has arrived. After weeks and months of preparation, the butterflies are sure to be creeping in for runners and walkers in the final hours before the 20th anniversary edition of Marathon by the Sea.
In the spirit of the number 20, well known and trusted coach Daryl Steeves is offering 20 tips for participants to help their experience in this year’s event. Daryl is highly regarded in the running community for his expertise and experience. His positive influence was cited as a key reason for improvements by many athletes in our Running Whys series.
Here are Daryl’s suggestions. Enjoy and good luck.
Running coach Daryl Steeves says runners should stay calm and enjoy the MBTS experience after logging many kilometres of training over many weeks and months.
20 Running tips for Marathon by the Sea
by Daryl Steeves
The race count down is on, what can you do to be sure you are ready?
Do your visioning, it may seem goofy but running the race in your mind can improve running the race in real life.
Set your goals, usually 3 is a good idea.
Goal 1 is the minimal acceptable goal. For longer races finishing is often this goal.
Goal 2 is that realistic goal that you come to when you honestly consider the training you have done and your past performances.
Goal 3 is that perfect day, wind at your back, feet light as feathers that comes along once in a while if you are ready.
Check your race kit: bib, pins, clothing (hat is often wise) and shoes the night before.
Consider what you will use for fuel in the race, if the course nutrition isn’t for you, be sure to bring your tried and tested fuel choice.
The night before your race, be sure to have a good meal with plenty of carbs and some protein. Lots of water is a good idea as well.
Get to bed early but don’t freak out about sleep. The key is to get settled in bed, try to relax and let sleep come. If it doesn’t, just relax, read or even watch TV. The key is to relax, Olympic gold medals have been won on no sleep.
10.Race morning, try to have a normal breakfast for you, but be sure to have some carbs and protein a couple of hours before the race if at all possible.
11.If you normally drink coffee in the morning go ahead, but don’t be influenced by things you hear or read, this is not the time to “try” coffee to try to help your race.
12.If it makes sense in your setting, put on all your race gear and do a little jog before you leave the house to be sure you have everything as you want it. Better to find out at in your test run that you forgot your hat then at the race location.
13.About an hour or less before the race take in some simple low fiber carbs like a gel or white bread, crackers or chocolate milk to get some fuel in the system to start.
14.When you arrive at the race location take a peek around to be sure you understand how and where the race will start and equally important how and where it will finish.
15.Take a little time to socialize and relax with your running friends but don’t get freaked out by stories of 100-km training weeks, race day bravado is common but often exaggerated.
16.Be sure to warm up with a nice easy jog until you feel a little warmth coming off your body. This opens up all the blood vessels and gets them ready to deliver the fuel needs and oxygen to your muscles.
17.Try to time your warm up to finish with 3-5 minutes of the start of the race, the closer the better as long as you don’t jeopardize your preparation to start.
18.Find the right spot to line up for your ability. Be a sport and let faster runners move to the front of the pack, it makes it better for them and you.
19.Stay calm and start your race slowly, you have lots of time to pick it up later.
20.Most importantly, have fun! Enjoy every minute and remember to thank the volunteers, without them there is no race! And for 20 years those volunteers have been bringing us Marathon by the Sea!
Running coach Daryl Steeves says a good meal of carbs and protein Saturday night will go a long way to helping the performance on Sunday mornin
These days, Gary Keating might be better known in his run for public office. But the truth is, he’s been running for a long time. In fact, he ran in Emera Marathon by the Sea long before he became principal at Simonds High School, a post he continues to hold today.
In hindsight, his long association with MBTS started in the most interesting of fashion, the day after the first race took place in 1995 as part of Festival by the Sea.
“I did not participate the first year and that was the number one reason why I made it my goal to run the half marathon the next year,” Gary explained as he prepares for the 20th anniversary running of the event Sunday. “In August 1995, I read the article in the Telegraph-Journal regarding the inaugural Festival by the Sea Marathon, read the names and I basically said to myself, if so and so can run a half marathon, so can I.”
It was not an easy decision for the married father of three. Admittedly, his fitness was not what it should have been but his eventual quest to find a time to hit the roads in the mornings fuelled a slow but steady progress.
“I was approximately 205 pounds and out of shape,” he said. “I realized that running early mornings would be the least expensive way for me to lose weight, get fit and not interfere too much with raising a young family. Reading that article changed my perspective on physical fitness and life.”
Gary Keating credits a newspaper story on the inaugural Marathon by the Sea for fuelling his desire that has translated into more than 16,000 kilometres logged over almost of two decades of running.
Gary completed that half marathon in 1996 and has reached the finish line in every MBTS since. Sunday, he will run the half marathon on the route that takes runners over Harbour Bridge and includes a Red Mile salute to the memory of Cst. Douglas James Larche, who was tragically killed in that horrific act of violence in Moncton in June.
For Gary, competing in Marathon by the Sea has served as a springboard for his personal health. He cites the 2001 edition of the race as his favourite of the 18 he’s completed.
“I was 40 years old, had completed lots of half marathons and that year, I decided to do my first marathon, with Marathon by the Sea being the event,” he said. “My personal objective was to break four hours, realizing that most of my half marathon times were in the 1:40 range. The first half was awesome, getting there in 1:45 and I was feeling strong.”
That year, the marathon route took participants out to Lorneville and the return leg was something Gary refers to as, ‘brutal’.
“The morning became extremely warm and I hit the wall with five miles remaining,” he recalls. “I vividly remember running over the Viaduct, by the LBR thinking, I’m not going to be able to finish. However, I continued on with a very slow pace, completing the marathon in 3:59.20, meeting my objective.”
Since that marathon, he went on to complete five others, including the New York Marathon in 2003, with more than 36,000 runners at the start line.
His personal best was a 3:33.03 at the KV Challenge Marathon in 2006, narrowly missing the Boston qualification time. He does not figure he will run another full marathon but loves the atmosphere and challenge associated with the half-marathon distance.
Not all of those result in the perfect race, he says.
Take 2004, for instance, at the Marathon by the Sea.
“I ran the half marathon with a condition known as frozen shoulder,” Gary explained. “I was too stubborn to withdraw from the event and ran the 21 kilometers with mobility in one arm/shoulder only. It certainly was a difficult run and my form was way off, but I prevailed and finished with my pride in check.”
When Sunday’s race ends, he’ll focus on another Saint John competition on Aug. 23, when Gary and a team of Simonds High School teachers take part in the Mudd, Sweat and Tears event at Rockwood Park. Instead of the Seabees, which is the nickname for teams at Simonds High, the crew will be known as the Mudbees.
It’s another busy month for Gary. Since he started running, he has logged more than 10,000 miles or 16,100 kilometres, a mark he surpassed last November.
“I owe it all to MBTS as it was the motivator that started my running adventure 19 years ago,” he said. “This year, I will be participating, once again, in the half marathon (my most enjoyable race) at MBTS and I look forward to continue to run, promoting fitness and healthy living by staying active.”
For as long as Tessa Stright of Quispamsis can remember, she’s called herself a runner. From grade school, through middle school to adulthood, she’s maintained her fondness for the sport. It provided a sense of comfort in the face of other challenges and a forum to reach personal goals. After having two children, it provided an outlet and has helped in other ways as she manages during the hectic days with two young kids. Through it all, Tessa has a new perspective, a new philosophy and she’s made adaptations while training extremely hard. On Sunday, she will run her first half marathon at Marathon by the Sea. Her family will be there, cheering her on. Here is her story.
When I look back at when I started running or when I became a ‘runner’, it’s impossible for me to think of a time when I wasn’t running. I’ve always loved running, and to be a runner, you have to love it.
As a child. I ran everywhere. Why walk somewhere when you can get there twice as fast by running? Besides, terrorizing the neighbourhood would never work if you were just walking…
I started competing early on, joining the middle school track and field team. It was fun being able to travel to different track and field meets and while I loved team sports, I loved being able to compete by myself more.
While attending one track meet, I was noticed by a coach from a private track club in Moncton, Edgar Vick. He asked me to join his club. Living in Sackville, it was a bit of a hike for practices but I started traveling to Moncton for training – in the summer at an outdoor track and then in the winter at an indoor track.
I was running year round and training with a great coach paid off. I made it to Legions, travelling across Canada a couple of times to compete and really learn how to train my body properly.
As a student who struggled through school with learning disabilities, it felt good to finally have something I knew I was good at.
Running has been consistent for me. No matter where I was in life, it has always been a part of it. I stopped running when I was about six-months pregnant. At the time, I thought I would be able to pick it back up as soon as the baby was born. Boy, was I wrong. When my daughter was born in the summer of 2012, I had a long recovery.
It was disheartening not to recover as fast as I had hoped. While I had a new bundle of joy and was enjoying motherhood, I was missing running. I tried to get out a couple of times and that was the first time I had ever felt like my body was telling me ‘no’. It wasn’t just saying ‘no, this is hard, poor me,’ it was screaming at me ‘Stop, No!’”
It took me a couple of runs to get over my stubbornness and realize that I shouldn’t be running; it was too soon. I knew what it felt like to push myself during a workout, but this was different. This was too much.
Tessa Stright celebrates with her son and daughter after competing in the Hampton Triathlon in June. On Sunday, she will compete in her first half marathon at Marathon by the Sea.
My body was still recovering and with the sleepless nights and hectic days, it’s not like I was able to get the rest I needed. I loved being a mom, having that baby rely on me but I was craving some ‘normal’ back in my life. My daughter was happy and healthy and I felt like I should be too.
My son was born the summer of 2013 – yes, about one year later. They’re 14 months apart. Shortly after he was born, a girlfriend talked me into doing the KV Challenge half marathon relay with her. I had recovered much faster, had breast feeding figured out and I really felt like my body was ready to get out and start running.
The only problem was that the race was eight weeks away and I hadn’t run a 10k since my pre pregnancy days. I was nervous, but I was excited to start training and I set a goal for myself. If I could finish without walking and wearing a smile, I’d be happy. It felt great to start training again. My legs were burning, my heart was pumping and my lungs were breathing deep. Becoming a mother is definitely life changing. Some days are definitely more challenging than others but it was great to have a goal that was mine, something to work towards, for me.
The morning of the race came, I could see my breath. It was so cold, I couldn’t feel my nose and my fingers were starting to go numb. While waiting at the start for the horn/gun came a feeling of anxiousness and nervousness I had forgotten about. But as soon as the horn sounded and I took my first steps forward, those feelings faded. My mind quickly switched over to race mode and I started to push forward. It felt amazing.
I amazed myself, hitting the 10k mark in 53minutes. I remember running toward the finish line, seeing my daughter in my husband’s arms and my son in the stroller with my mom behind him. I felt so proud of myself to have the support. I felt like all those crazy hectic days of finally getting the kids bathed and in bed, lacing up my sneakers and forcing myself out the front door had paid off. I didn’t walk, and I was smiling ear to ear.
What I’ve learned is that running now, after having children, is so different than before, but it’s also the same in many ways. It’s different in that you can’t stick to a strict training schedule. Juggling family life, shift work, teething, runny noses and doctors’ appointments means running can sometimes take a back seat.
Running, when you feel like it, is also a thing of the past. What I have learned is that I need to set goals, so I have something to work toward, I’ll be running my first half marathon at Marathon by the Sea. And although my days are hectic and crazy, I still feel if you truly love something, you’ll make time for it.
Sure, I can’t be as choosy when it comes to what time of day I get to run, or how many kms I am able to clock on any given night. Now it really comes down to, ‘do I have 30 minutes to lace up my sneakers as fast as I can and hit the road?’
I’ve also learned that sometimes you need to take a step back, realize that you’re not Super Mom, and you can’t get bent out of shape over missing your Sunday long run.
If I’m up half the night and my body is telling me that 10kms isn’t looking too good for me today, I listen to it. Sometimes, a shorter run and an early bedtime are just as good. I guess a lot of things have changed in the past couple of years. What hasn’t is that I’m still in love with running and it doesn’t matter whether your running 5kms, 10km or to the next telephone pole. What matters is that I’m out there, enjoying my run, and being able to do it.
Editor’s note: After years of elite level rowing, it seemed only natural that Stacey Briggs of Quispamsis made early morning runs a part of her regular fitness routine as she transitioned from her competitive career. The morning outings, a staple for many distance runners, were perfect for Stacey, accustomed to many early hours on the Kennebecasis River honing her craft on the water.
Now a teacher in the Anglophone South School District, Stacey is one of the top runners in her class and in 2010, was the second fastest woman in the 5-mile event of Marathon by the Sea and ninth overall in the 301-person field.
Here is her story on running and what it means to her.
I have always enjoyed being active, and after retiring from the women’s national rowing team, I wanted to stay in shape with something that was going to keep me outdoors and really challenge me.
My first stop was the Running Room, where I signed up for a half-marathon clinic that led up to the Hypothermic half in early February of 2006. During the clinic, I enjoyed having the support, structure and encouragement of others to push me! I also enjoyed every training run because I felt a sense of accomplishment, or runner’s high, as some call it.
Although I’ve completed three half-marathons and one full marathon, I prefer the shorter distances as I do a lot of cross-training with cycling and lifting. I am a taller runner, so I believe the shorter distances have been really good in terms of injury prevention. One of my favourite places to run is the trails behind Rothesay Netherwood School, where I can take my two dogs with me. The view at the top of Spyglass Hill is spectacular and inspirational, and offers scenic beauty for anyone running or hiking.
Stacey Briggs of Quispamsis made the transition to running after she retired from the Canadian women’s rowing team. Photo/Topher Seguin
Aside from the fitness benefits, running is affordable, requiring little-to-no cost. While registering for races can add up, one doesn’t have to be on the competitive circuit to reap the many benefits the sport has to offer. Having said that, when it comes to shoes, that’s one area where it pays to spend the amount necessary to give a runner the right fit and feel.
Coming from a rowing background, I grew to love early-morning workouts when there’s little more than the sounds of nature in the background. I get that same sense of satisfaction from running to start the day.
My love of the sport has led me to sharing it with others. I’m a physical education teacher at Lakewood Heights School, where I worked with the Home and School committee to organize the school’s first-ever Fun Run.
The event gave me a new appreciation of the work and dedication required to operate a successful event. I anticipate running to be part of my future, both for my personal enjoyment and helping others to enjoy the sport.