Why Do I Run?

Sundsvall Harbour

Why do I run?  Well, the short answer is, it is a friend and my wife’s fault.  The long answer, is far more complicated and meaningful, but you’ll have to wait for that. Here is the story of why I started to run.

I am 38 years-old.  I generally walk around slightly over 200 lbs. (apparently I should run more…or drink less beer).  And, as difficult as it may be to say…and believe, I am, a runner.

So how did I get here?  Well, my running background is less than glorious.  I am slow (well, slow relative to many others, but then again, relatively fast compared to others, so I guess, it’s all, um, relative).  But, I can run for a reasonably long time.  That’s right, longer than Olympic marathoners.

My running background consists of some off-ice training as a teenage hockey player, some laps to warm up during football practice, also in my teenage years, and some occasional runs on my Mom’s treadmill after working the night-shift in a frozen warehouse during my early 20s (used to do about 3 miles in around 21 minutes).  In addition, I have done some cross-country coaching at my elementary schools (I’m a teacher).  But here I am, many years later, proud to have run 3 marathons, two 30 k races, 6 half-marathons, a couple of 15 ks, and a couple of 10 ks.  In retrospect, I wish I had started sooner.

My “competitive” running began about 5 years ago.  My then girlfriend, (proudly, now my wife) and our friend, completed the Goodlife Toronto Half-Marathon.  Our friend’s boyfriend and myself spent the night prior to the race enjoying multiple beverages at some of Toronto’s watering holes (we had a really good time).  Although we did not run 21.1 km the next day, it is safe to say that, we, like the finishers, stumbled to the finish line the next morning……although, we did not get there quite on time to see our significant others’ moments of glory.  Oops.

However, we did see others finish, soon found and embraced our sweaty significant others, and went for lunch.  I was able to experience the afterglow of the achievement, and I was interested in experiencing things first-hand as a participant.

Shortly thereafter, my wife and I moved to Sundsvall, Sweden for career opportunities/life experiences.  I did some research and found that there was a half-marathon occurring in Stockholm a month or so after our arrival.  After investigating potential work conflicts, it was settled.  I would run my first half-marathon on my 34th birthday, September 17th, 2011.

My previous “competitive” running experience consisted of a friendly non-timed 5k at a Santa Shuffle (Salvation Army fundraiser) in London, Ontario, Canada, which I finished in roughly 25 minutes unofficially, side by side with my future wife.

Prior to the Stockholm half, my new principal managed to convince my wife and I to run a 10 k race in August.  A great idea of course.  My new co-workers enjoyed some beverages at O’Leary’s Sports Bar in Sundsvall, Sweden while my wife, my new principal, and another co-worker bravely tackled the 10 k.  Did I mention it was up a “mountain?”

It was less than enjoyable physically, but, I was introduced to some of my new city’s great views.  In addition, meeting random Swedes in the woods who were encouraging, was fantastic. Combien! kom igen??????

Sundsvall race-bib
My first racebib.

My wife and I supported each other as we mostly ran, but also walked some of the 10 k.  As we returned from the mountain and turned onto the final stretch in town, my wife had pulled ahead.  I was reserved to finishing behind her until I saw 3 or 4 of my new co-workers and urged on by the screams of “CATCH HER!,” I pulled even near the finish line, took her hand and crossed the line together in 1:08:11.  One of our co-workers was so moved, that she burst into tears.

Sundsvall race medal
The swanky medal.

Based on her previous experience, my wife assured me that the 10 k we had just finished was much tougher than the half she had already done.

Around a month later, I made my half-marathon debut in Stockholm.  We flew into town the night before, ate a burger and fries at a food truck and settled in for the night (nutrition is the key!) at one of my wife’s friend’s apartments (how do two girls from Cobourg, Ontario end up teaching in Sweden?!).  After a luxurious night on an air mattress (proper rest is also important!), we were ready(?) to go.

The event started at 4 pm, which was great, as it allowed time for a little exploring in Stockholm.  We picked up our race kits, and settled into the hotel.  Very cool that our flags were on the bibs, the first, and only race where I have experienced this perk.  Interesting to see the various nationalities at the start line.

Stockholm Half-Marathon Race-bib
The racebib in question.

My goal was to finish in less than 2.5 hours, and I happily crossed the finish line in 2:07:20 (able to give multiple high-fives to Swedish children in the crowd along the way).

My wife and I celebrated our achievements and hit the town for a nice birthday dinner at the Stockholm Steakhouse, partaking in our new culture by trying an hors d’oeurves of reindeer.  The next day we explored Stockholm before the flight home (check back for some more details and tips for visiting Stockholm, a great city).

I was hooked.

Why did you start running?  Share a comment below.

Personal Best Streak: 2

Visiting and running in Stockholm, Sweden
Tips for visiting and running in Stockholm.