After all my racing and training experiences, I planned something a little different. I decided to go for a run through my childhood neighbourhood.
This was something that I had been planning to do for a long time. Though I still live in the same city where I was raised, I haven’t spent an extended period in my old stomping grounds in quite some time. I do seem to spend a good amount of time in this neighbourhood in my dream. As I drift off to sleep I often return to the grassy hills, playground and friends of my childhood days.
I grew up in a townhouse complex in the east end of Guelph, Ont. It was a great place to grow up. When I was a kid, I spent afternoons playing in the area surrounding the townhouses. Depending on the season, we either spent our days swimming or skating or browsing the “Bookmobile” that would park in the lot once a week.
While spending time running in this area, I couldn’t help but make comparisons to how my childhood memories have shaped who I am now. In return, I feel that my childhood experiences have been the foundation of helping me to meet my running goals. Here are a few examples:
Forming strong friendships. I’m still in touch with many of the friends I met when growing up. Sharing mutual childhood experiences with this people creates an unspoken bond. It was recently that my best friend, Julie, and her daughter joined me on their first ever 5K race. It may have been our first together, but definitely not our last as I saw the spark ignite in them as they crossed the finish line.
Learning to love of the outdoors. From running around the neighbourhood with friends in hide-and-go-seek games, to tobogganing, to playing tag, running was always part of our outdoor routine so it should be no surprise that I still aim to keep those threads of enjoyment alive. It’s probably also why I feel like a caged animal inside a gym…
Adopting the “I can” attitude. As a child, I remember facing my fears on a regular basis. Sliding down the fire pole or trying the monkey bars in the playground used to require a big push. This serves as a reminder that my limitations are set by my mind and oftentimes, fear is the biggest thing that holds me back. Many times during a race, I think I can’t go any further or finish, but I dig deep and remember to continue on.
Knowing the support of family. Having a strong family foundation is always at the forefront of my childhood memories. Having the encouragement of my loved ones to be the person I was meant to be and to be encouraged to achieve goals, is why I became who I am today. This is what we instill for our family today, and every time I cheer our kids on in a race, I’m reminded of how this is a core value.
Learning to stop and smell the roses. Taking the time to stop and enjoy a ride on the swing to take it all in is something I sill try to do. There’s always an opportunity to reflect on the path that has led you to where you are now, and to see where you still want to go in the future.