Sometimes you learn more by NOT running the race

[Kim Spink is a local runner and guest contributor. If you want to share your running story, please let us know!]

medalIt came in the form of a tickle in my throat on the Wednesday night, followed by the coughing on Thursday, and the fever/chills on Friday. I couldn’t deny it – I was sick and I had the Harvest Half marathon to run the next day. I googled “running when sick” to get some proof that I could still do this. But when I looked at the thermometer and saw my 102F fever, reality set in. I knew I had a choice to make, and it’s a choice many runners hate to make.

I few years ago, on a snowy, slippery day, I let my ego make the choice for me. I ran, even though there was black ice all over the roads and sidewalks. “I’ll be careful”, I told myself. My footing gave way on that snow covered ice, about 1 km from the end of our route. I landed on my butt with a hard thud, knocking the wind out of me. I had made the wrong choice. A left hip injury wouldn’t let me run for several weeks afterwards, and almost 3 years later, I still have residual problems from that fall. I vowed not to let my ego make choices for me again.

So I knew what I had to do on Saturday, September 13th: I couldn’t run the race. It was a hard decision not to go. Back in June, a group of us ran the Niagara Women’s Half Marathon. Two of the ladies in our group had to bow out due to injuries and I remember thinking I was glad I wasn’t in their shoes. Well, guess what – those shoes fit me pretty well this time around.

HHIt wasn’t good enough to have this be the end of the story. I knew I needed to complete my training and run the 21.1 kilometers. So when I felt better, I asked some of my fellow runners if they’d be willing to join me for my own half marathon on the Cambridge to Paris Rail Trail. I asked Lloyd if I could pick up my shirt so that I could wear it at the end of my “half” (I know some people believe that you have to earn the shirt, but I’m of the mindset that you pay for the shirt, and you earn the medal).

On a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning, exactly 2 weeks after I didn’t run the Harvest Half, I completed my own 21.1K run, with the people I cherish by my side (on foot and on bikes!). I didn’t set any records, I didn’t have a medal waiting for me at the end (although I did have my friend Bethany from Oxford Bright Jewellery make me a memento for my run), but I did have the satisfaction of knowing I finished what I had started and I had fun doing it.

watchI found a quote online that said “In the end, it’s your run and yours alone. Others can run with you, but no one can run it for you.” After this experience, I understand what it truly means to call myself a runner. I got to see the power of tenacity and friendship in action. The encouragement from the ladies running beside me, as well as the ones riding behind me (acting as my mobile water stations!) was priceless. Sure, I’m disappointed that I never got to run the actual Harvest Half, but look what happened as a result. As far as I’m concerned, I ran the race I had trained for. Sometimes, you just have to go where the wind takes you because that’s where all the lessons are waiting. And most of the time that means telling your ego to hit the road!

1 Comment

  • Corinne November 28, 2014 8:12 pm

    I’m lucky enough to call Kim my running mentor and to be one of the injured at the Niagara Half that had to sit out due to injury. Many of these same women that ran with Kim in her personal half were equally as supportive of my (hard) decision not to run. Having a supportive group of people makes it easier when things get harder. It’s wisdom like this (Kim’s article) that make me grateful to have her as a mentor…and great friend.

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