The Running Whys – Dawn Mockler

Dawn Mockler

Dawn Mockler of Fredericton will compete in the Fredericton Marathon on May 11. Photo: Paul Jordan Photography

The Running Whys story series was featured in the Fredericton Daily Gleaner last week, the first of three consecutive weeks of stories we will have to preview the Fredericton Marathon. The first story is on Dawn Mockler, a physiotherapist in the Capital City who started running while studying at Dalhousie University. Her story follows




Dawn Mockler is taking the well wishes in stride.

Just weeks away from her first marathon, the Fredericton resident is trying to keep her emotions in check. With the 36th annual Fredericton Scotiabank Marathon on May 11 in sight, she’s close to achieving a major personal goal, one that’s taken dedication, persistence, commitment and faith that her extensive training will get rewarded.   

“My friends have told me I might cry,” said Mockler, a native of Belledune who has lived in Fredericton for the past 18 years. “That scares me. I really think I will be smiling, especially when I see the finish line.”   

The Fredericton Marathon features the full marathon run as well as a half-marathon, 10-kilometre and five-kilometre distances in one of the province’s premier running events.    There are also half-marathon and 10-kilometre walking events.   

Mockler is the first of three marathoners who will be featured prior to the event, detailing their respective quests to a monumental physical goal.   

Gearing up for 42.2 kilometres is daunting enough for Mockler, immersed in the latest adventure of a love affair with running that started in earnest as she studied physiotherapy at Dalhousie University in 1987.  Funny thing is, it wasn’t always that way.  

“As a teen, I hated running, hated the way my chest would tighten and everything would hurt,” she explains, adding that her doctor even suggested she might never run because of flat feet. “My mother was sure I had ruined them by jumping on a pogo stick,” she jokes.“I didn’t.”   

As a youngster, she figure skated, cross-country skied and followed an active style, using her parents as fitness role models.

To help alleviate stress associated with university studies, Mockler finally took up running, an affordable alternative to more expensive fitness options. She found it provided a great release, even if her initial times were slower and her distances relatively short.   

“I began running around the track, listening to tunes and admiring the runners who were lapping me,” she said.“I remember the day I counted my laps and got to one kilometre. I was pretty pleased. Soon, I took it outdoors and have never looked back. I was hooked.” Over time, her distances increased from five kilometres to 10 kilometres and she was energized by the sport and what it offered her.

Then, she hit a lull before she was introduced to another form of competition that rekindled those initial feelings associated with the“runner’s high.”   

“I got a bit lazy in my 20s, gained weight and felt tired,” she said. “My friend was doing triathlons, and I told him I wished I could do that. He replied: ‘Why can’t you?’”   

The feedback was a perfect tonic and Mockler soon found a new outlet – sprint triathlons – competing just enough“to get the T-shirt.”   

And ever since, she’s maintained her fitness, through her three pregnancies, a busy home life and a fulfilling career at Advantage Physiotherapy in Fredericton.   

She’s pushed strollers, ran beside her children while they cycled and kept in shape, clocking a 47-minute time in the 10-kilometre event of last year’s Fredericton Fall Classic and competing in the 2013 Duncan Hadley triathlon. This happened in addition to numerous other half-marathons and 10-kilometre events, mostly in the Fredericton area.   

“Sometimes I run away for some peace and quiet,” she admits. “It helps me manage my stress. Raising children involves lots of that! I love how running is inexpensive and you can do it anywhere! My biggest challenge has always been finding the time.”   

As for why this year, after one of the most difficult winters in recent history, she made the jump to the full marathon, she isn’t exactly sure what sparked her desire.   

“Maybe it was the challenge of the harsh winter,” she said. “I always run outdoors. Maybe it is mid-life crisis time. Maybe it is pre-empty-nest syndrome?”   

Her youngest daughter, a runner as well, graduates this year.    She enjoys her support network fellow runners’ advice on how to tackle the demands of the double-loop Fredericton course and feedback from those she treats at her practice.   

With the long 30-plus kilometre training runs out of the way and her previous experiences boosting her confidence, she’s entered the final taper – or cool down – phase of training. Now, like many of the 2,000 expected to assemble for the various distances in the Fredericton Marathon, she’s preparing mentally, attempting to channel positive energy into race day.   

“I am nervous because I have never before run 42 kilometres in one shot … I am trying not to make a big deal about it,”she said.“My parents are excited and think I am a little crazy. My son was impressed when we drove to Mactaquac and I told him I have run that far.” 

As for those nerves, she is going to heed counsel from others.   

“My good friend tells me to just think of it as a long run, no big deal,”she said “That is the best advice I’ve received.”

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