I started running a couple of years ago with a friend.  I was motivated to do some kind of exercise because my job is very sedentary and I sit in front of a computer for 10 hours of the day.  At the time I wasn’t getting any exercise and I was feeling lethargic and exhausted all the time.

We started very slow, following a program that had us walking and jogging in two or three minute intervals.  I remember running non-stop for 3 kilometres a few months later and I felt such a sense of accomplishment and pride.   That same year we signed up for our first 5K, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon.  I won’t lie, I almost died right there.  Stupid me, who knew nothing about running gear (or the simple rules of logic and survival, actually) ran wearing a turtleneck under a T-shirt.  Yeah, stupid, right?  I almost fainted, but luckily my friend Clemel was right there, full of energy and enthusiasm, encouraging me to go on.  That first run was a thrill and a half!

The following year we ran our first half marathon and that was an even bigger thrill.  That’s 21 kilometres… running! Personally, that gave me such a sense of accomplishment that to this day I consider it one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life (still doesn’t compare to childbirth, though, whatever men and their “I passed a kidney stone so I know what childbirth feels like” bull crap).

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I must say, however, that the greatest motivator for running is so that I can have my one piece (or three or the whole thing) of cheesecake guilt-free.  Yeah, I know: very unhealthy, but long ago I realized (and it was quite the epiphany!) that I wasn’t running to look like Natalie Portman or Jennifer Aniston (even if a ran a marathon every day and went under the knife as often as Joan Rivers, that still wouldn’t happen).  No.  I run because I like to indulge on a (sometimes really big) piece of cheesecake or a really good (sometimes unhealthy) meal every once in a while.  I run– and this is the biggest reason– because I like to take in some sun and breathe some pure (okay, Pickering nuclear plant-ish not-so-pure) air and because it gets me off my butt and allows me to do something outdoors.  I get to know my neighbourhood, parks and different areas while I run and I also get to think and reflect and be one with my own thoughts (which usually fall under the “What am I going to have for dinner” and “why is this damn street so long” categories… but sometimes they’re deep and soul-searching).

A few more people in my life are also runners.  Some, like my two nieces Maria and Morella, were runners long before me and they inspire me when I see their achievements (both have ran half marathons in Personal Bests of 2 hours, a really amazing time).  Clemel continues to run with the Running Room and has now ran a few half-marathons as well.  They run outside under rain, snow, minus 40 temperatures, fire and ice and even missile blasts– or so it seems.  Not me.  I have a self-imposed rule of 10 plus degrees for running outside.  Thank God for treadmills!  My husband, Monchito, ran his first 5K last year and this year he is all pumped about running his first half marathon as well.  I see friends who’ve also run 5Ks, 10Ks and halves in the last couple of years.  And this year I am proud to say that we’ve even enlisted our two boys now and we’re running our first Family 5K Run this month in Barrie.

And to think that a few years ago we used to make fun of people running outside when we were driving.  “Look at those losers running in this cold”, we’d say, laughing.  Who are the losers now, huh?