For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to run in some kind of race. You can say it’s been on my bucket list for a while now. However, I never thought it was something I would be able to achieve. I was overweight, out of shape and always out of breath due to my asthma. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to run 5 km let alone 21.1 km.
After I had lost a lot of weight (you can check out my blog post about my fitness journey for more on that) I also got my asthma under control I started talking about doing a race or a triathlon but was to chicken to actually sign up. I was all talk and no action. One of my close friends Maddie (check out my last blog post for more about her) pushed me outside of my comfort zone and convinced me to sign up for a half marathon. After I signed up the realization of how crazy I am started to sink in. I had never run before. The most I did was sprints outside and 5 minutes on the treadmill. I never ran in any race in my life and the first one I signed up for just happened to be 21 km, I truly thought I had lost my mind. Maddie however, had full confidence in me and was constantly encouraging and reassuring me throughout my training. Without her I would have never signed up.
I had no idea how to start training for a race. It was obvious I would have to run quite often but I had no idea what to eat or how I could fit my other fitness goals into my training especially as a vegan. I still wanted to lift and gain strength. One day I googled “vegan personal trainer” and the first thing that came up was Samantha Shorkey’s – Jacked On The Bean Stock online training. I looked at her success stories and what she was about and decided that she might be a good fit for me. I have had a personal trainer in the past but I never tried online training before. I sent an email inquiry and signed up. This was honestly one of the best decisions I could have ever made in regards to my training. Sam’s training plan was excellent but challenging and personally I loved it. I followed my training plan and did long runs on Sundays with Maddie. We helped each other to keep pace (well Maddie helped me more than I had helped her). This was good so during the race we would be able to keep track of each other somewhat. Sam and her sister Sarah would answer any questions or concerns I had and send emails with motivational videos and check in on how I was doing. I accomplished my goals and more, I lost 20 pounds and was feeling great. If you are vegan and are looking for a personal trainer I highly recommend you check out Jacked On The Bean Stock. Sam and Sarah are amazing positive people, with a great approach to training. I will definitely be going to them for all my future training.
3 weeks out from race day I unfortunately injured myself. Maddie and I were doing one of our long runs at High Park in downtown Toronto. We started to do our long runs in different parts of the city for change of scenery. We hadn’t run at this location before and it turned out to be a lot of hills. After completing a 16 km run my left knee started to hurt not severely but enough for me to become aware of it. The following week I skipped the long run and just walked, I iced my knee and did foam rolling. I noticed that it was fine and did not bother me until I started running. That’s when I realized that it was not my knee that was injured but it was my IT Band. I wanted to try to rest and recover my muscles as much as possible before the race. So, I knee supports to wear while I run and Kinesiology tape. I learned how to tape my legs best for recovery. I did any and everything I could Because after all the hard work I had put into this day I was not going to let anything stop me from running.
Race Day: October 16, 2016, I ran in the Scotia Bank waterfront run. The morning of the race I was excited and did not know what to expect. Maddie and I stayed over at our friend Nhu’s place. She lives downtown so it would not be a far commute for us on the morning of. We saw so many people heading down to the race either to watch or participate. This made me get nervous and excited at the same time. As soon as we got there, we saw people crossing the finish line for the 5km run. We made it to the runners area to check in our bags and use the bathroom. They had all kinds of booths set up for the participants: food, stretching area, a place to get your picture taken with your medal once you crossed the finish line. It was pretty cool. We checked our bags and got split up going to the bathroom. I thought Maddie had ditched me and went to start the race so, I followed the other runners to the starting line. Our start time was in a few minutes and I figured I would have to look for Maddie once I got to the finish line but, by some miracle I saw Maddie heading to the starting line and helped her jump the gate to where I was so we could start together.
Once the race started I was at a good pace, following the Running Room pace makers. It was pretty cool running down the streets of Toronto with hundreds of other runners of all shapes and sizes. There were people cheering us on from their porches and the sidewalks holding up encouraging signs. People were dressed in costumes, salsa dancers dancing and volunteers cheering us on as they handed us water and Gatorade. Maddie and I were able to stay in range of each other for the most part of the race until my knee started hurting again and I had to slow down my pace at about 8 km into the race. I wanted to give up and stop at so many points after that. But I thought about my training, how much hard work I put into training for this race and the donuts waiting for me when I finished. I saw a blind runner pass me (he had a sign on his back and a guide helping him) and a woman in a wheel chair and that motivated me to keep going. If they can do this with their physical limitations I could too.
(Yes I was too cheap to pay for the photos)
At about 16km into the race, I somehow thought I still had 10km left to run and I started cursing myself for letting Maddie convince me to do this. I soon realized I only had about 5km left and my spirits lifted, until I started walking for a bit, at 19km and realized how much it was hurting to start running again. I wanted to cry but there were photographers taking pictures and I did not want a picture taken of me like that. I started to look around to see if I could find Maddie maybe she could help me. The pain at that point was unbearable but I didn’t dare stop running because I knew if I stopped running I wouldn’t be able to start again. I realized I couldn’t see Maddie anywhere and started having a panicking and I was struggling to breath it felt like the beginning of an asthma attack. I somehow managed to calm myself down and get my breathing back to normal. I continued to run and I was determined to cross the finish line no matter what.
I crossed that finish line and found Maddie who was laying on the ground. They gave us medals and took our pictures. In that moment, I was in so much pain but at the same time so proud of the accomplishment Maddie and I had just made. We had been on this journey together, helped motivate each other and pushed each other to keep going. One of our good friends Paolo along with Maddie’s parents came to cheer us on. We met them at the finish line and the first thing Paolo says to me is “I was looking for you guys expecting to see you looking disheveled and not like yourselves but, you guys came around the corner looking fresh AF!” I guess I was looking way better than I felt.
This just proves that your body is a lot stronger than you may think. It is 100% true that your mind will give up a hundred times before your body does. I think this is one of the hardest things I have ever done and I am excited to continue to do things that scare and push me to my limits. It’s amazing to push yourself and see just how much our bodies can do. All in all, It was an amazing experience and I will probably do it all over again next year. Thank you to everyone who believed in me and encouraged me while I was on this journey.
XoXo – Krystal-Lee
Check out Jacked on the Beanstalk for training with Sam and Sarah –