The Running Whys – Allison Chisholm

Allison Chisholm, left, and her sister Kathy Chisholm, right, compete in a race held in conjunction with the Highland Games in Antigonish, N.S. Allison Chisholm started running on April Fool's Day, 2010 and has not stopped since. Photo Submitted.

Allison Chisholm, left, and her sister Kathy Chisholm, right, compete in a race held in conjunction with the Highland Games in Antigonish, N.S. Allison Chisholm started running on April Fool’s Day, 2010 and has not stopped since. Photo Submitted.

Here is the latest edition in The Running Whys series that ran in the Daily Gleaner in mid-October (note the time references). It features Allison Chisholm, whose running career took off on the most interesting of days. She’s been going strong since. Here is her story.

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It’s no running joke that in the spring of 2010, Allison Chisholm signed up for a running course to prepare for a 10-kilometre race.

The date of the first class was April 1 but this was no gag, though.

With a thriving dentistry practice in the Fredericton area, the married mother of two thought running could provide a therapeutic release that she could tackle on her own schedule, under her own terms.

Now, less than five years later, she is going strong, with one marathon, 10 half marathons, countless long training runs under her belt and an appreciation for what the sport has given her.

“It started with me knowing I had to get in shape,” Chisholm explains. “Outside of work, I am not a schedule driven kind of person and I wanted to do things on my time; running is perfect for that.”

Allison Chisholm, left, Peter McDougall, centre and Allison's daughter Scout, right, pose after competing the Spring Sprint for Brain Tumour Research, which Scot and her sister Lily organizer to raise money for a close friend. Allison and Scout ran or highland danced the entire run with Peter accompanying them on his pipes.

Allison Chisholm, left, Peter McDougall, centre and Allison’s daughter Scout, right, pose after competing the Spring Sprint for Brain Tumour Research, which Scot and her sister Lily organizer to raise money for a close friend. Allison and Scout ran or highland danced the entire run with Peter accompanying them on his pipes.

After she started, she quickly graduated to the half-marathon distance, first conquering Marathon by the Sea in Saint John and then Legs for Literacy in Moncton. There were some initial eye-opening moments of perspective as she gained an appreciation for pace, and the notion that slow strides are not necessarily bad, especially in training.

“Before I started at the clinic, I would go out really fast for two minutes, tap out and then quit,” she says. “With the Running Room, we would go (cycles of) five minutes running, then one minute walking at a pretty slow pace. If you can find the pace that suits you, you can run forever. It was very enlightening. ”

Now, she competes regularly in half marathon races in Fredericton and last fall, completed her first marathon with her run at the Valley Harvest Marathon in Wolfville, N.S.

“I run by myself and it is my time,” she said of the benefits. “I am 100 per cent by myself and it is the biggest stress release for me.”

Growing up in Antigonish, she went to St. Francis Xavier University before gaining her dentistry credentials at Dalhousie University. Approximately 11 years ago, she purchased a Fredericton dentistry business – ironically from a friend of her father`s from her hometown – and has enjoyed living in the provincial capital ever since.

Running improved her posture, which can become comprised with so much bending, leaning and operating during her regular work day.

“It builds your core and dentistry is taxing on your back,” she said. “As I get older, you would think my back would worsen but it is getting better the more I run. There is no question it has helped me professionally.”

The personal and health benefits are positive aspects of her recreation. But there are many other aspects as well, ranging from her social network to community engagement.

For example, when she grew up, she didn’t run – she was a Highland dancer as many were in her community. In May, she combined the present and the past during the Fredericton Marathon, when she passed Peter McDougall as he played the bagpipes for runners on the half marathon course. She smiled when she noticed him, did a few Highland steps and continued on her way.

When she got home, she recounted the story at home to her daughter Scout, who is immersed in the Highland Dancing scene in Fredericton. Scout then thought it would be a good idea to raise money by combining running, dancing and supporting a friend who was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

So in June, that’s exactly what they did – thanks to help from McDougall, who played the bagpipes throughout and Scout, who recruited her Highland dance troop and organized a two-kilometer run/dance effort that accomplished so many goals.

“It was so cool. They danced the two kilometers,” Allison said. “I was so proud of her for that.”

Chisholm cites her family`s enthusiasm as a critical component for her running.

Last year, she timed her marathon training to coincide with Scout`s 12th birthday, allowing her daughter`s somewhat higher level of independence to mesh with care of her youngest daughter Lily and to assist husband John McKee with family duties as the runs got longer and longer.

“It was perfect timing,” Allison said. “My family as incredibly supportive but I did not want to leave 100 per cent of the child care duties to my husband.”

The teamwork was rewarded on a wonderful fall morning last October, where she completed her first marathon on a course characterized by rolling hills and great scenery, in just over four hours.

“The emotions went up and down all day but by the middle of the next week, I could not wait to do it again.”

As the 2014 fall marathon season in the Maritimes hits full stride this month, she is motivated to set her next date. She is not exactly sure when it will take place, just that it will take pace.

“For a number of reasons, running is absolutely the saving grace,” Chisholm said.

Kevin Barrett’s column appears every other Saturday. If you have a suggestion for a feature story, email him at kevinbarrett16@gmail.com or visit barrettkevin.wordpress.com.

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