As the country gets ready to mark its 150th Anniversary I’m back down in the United States after spending time training on Canada’s west coast.
Having grown up in Ladner, British Columbia I’m familiar with the west coast’s lush green landscapes, its mountain peak markings and its ocean air. There’s no doubt that running up there was a delight and what many consider a runner’s paradise. I enjoyed it, but it isn’t home for me. The Prairies are my home and they have been ever since I left at 14 to play hockey and study in Wilcox, Saskatchewan.
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I now live in Nebraska. Since arriving back in Omaha not too long ago to my partner, Candace, and our dog, Skylar, I’ve had some tougher runs as my body works to adjust to the heat and humidity here. Indeed this environment doesn’t provide the luxuries of Canada’s west coast with its cooler temperatures, and sea-level air, but what I’ve known all along about training on the Prairies is it makes you tough.
I’ve spent the majority of the my life on the Canadian Prairies. I went to high-school and college in Saskatchewan and then built my journalism career there. Throughout my years spent smack dab in the middle of the country, I became fond of its wide-open skies, snow-packed winters, and dry, warm summers. I quickly grew equally as fond of the humble and hard-working nature of the people there.
In more recent years, as started to run more seriously, the Canadian Prairies became the place where I rediscovered the athlete within myself. It became the place where I built my foundation as a runner. I’ll never forget my first winter training there. Memories of ice-cold, early-morning runs along the frozen dirt roads on the outskirts of Wilcox came flooding back to me. I was reminded of those younger years, my first taste of the Prairies and the way I fell in love with it. The calming silence of the boundless land and sky soothed my soul and offered solace to an often overactive mind and body.
When I was diagnosed with ADHD shortly after beginning my running journey a couple of years ago, this place once again offered comfort. Over the course of many long runs along the South Saskatchewan River, crossing from one bridge to the next under the bright full moon, I sorted through my struggles and started finding my way back to wholeness.
Now, as I make the transition from Canada to living in the United States, I find myself still surrounded by wide-open skies, familiar-looking fields and people I love. I know this landscape and I cherish its understated, and often underappreciated beauty.