While I was in grad school in 2010, I wrote for our campus newspaper and did an interview with the owners of a local running store in Hamilton, Ontario for their involvement in Haiti. Esther and her husband Gord have been helping Haitians for over 15 years, long before the whole world knew about its condition as an aftermath of the earthquake. Beyond donating their time building schools and orphanages, they also host a 10k in Cap Haitien every year. Runners get shoes and winners get prize money. More than that, the race gives them joy and pride in midst of their struggles. At that time, I didn’t do a lot of running. Even though I’ve always been active, I hated running because it was boring. However, Esther was able to convince me to join their running club which does three group runs every week. I was a little intimidated at first. But after the first run, I learned that running with people is actually a lot of fun and I kept going back. After two short months of running, I jumped at an opportunity to buy a bib from an injured runner at a local 30k race, Around the Bay. The race prides itself for being older than the Boston Marathon. That was my first race. The same year, I ran my first marathon. In 2011, I ran my first 50k. And June 23rd I ran my first 50 mile race, the inaugural OSS/CIA 50M, held in Prince William Forest Park, VA. (Oh, I ran the whole thing in Lone Peak, too!)
My target race for the fall in the West Virginia Trilogy, a three-day staged race. It’s a 50k on the first day, 50M on the second day, and a half marathon on the third. I’m doing it as a challenge and also as a fundraiser for an ethiopian coffee farm <http://sites.google.com/site/runforethiopia/> which I’ve helped master-plan and design.
My advice to potential runners: Don’t worry about speed, just run at a pace that feels good and enjoy it! Both speed and distance come gradually.