When Jennifer Payne moved to Saint John, it was running which helped broaden her social circles. Then she got hooked and traded cupcakes for kilometres, using the Marathon by the Sea as an annual goal race. She is back again this year, using the half marathon as a gauge to assess her training as she prepares for an attempt at a full marathon in the fall.
Here is her Running Whys story.
by Jennifer Payne
Why do I run? What a loaded question!
Running initially was a way for me to get in shape and lose those last 10 pounds. When I first moved to Saint John, I inevitably gained a bit of weight. I was in a new city, I knew very few people, and basically tried to eat my way to happiness, one delicious cupcake at a time. Needing a positive change, I decided to get serious and lose the weight I had gained.
I joined the gym and started to watch what I was eating. Within those four walls of spin class, something miraculous happened – I met people! People who were my age, enjoyed food just as much as I did and exercised so they could indulge once and a while. The bonus was they were all extremely nice! Exercise became more of a social activity than a mandatory weight-loss necessity. I was invited to join a boot camp with my new found friends and against my better judgment, I agreed to try it.
At the first boot camp, I could not run a kilometre without a struggle. I remember watching the others effortlessly pace themselves and chit chat as they ran the warm up distance. I was behind them all, envious and dying to stop, get in my car, and go home.
That is where my addiction to running started.
In the lead up to the 2015 Emera Marathon by the Sea,
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My first goal was small- run the kilometre without being winded. I met that goal and even finished the kilometre loop first a couple of times. (I still think my fellow boot campers purposely slowed so I could ‘win’ and for that I am forever grateful). That was four years ago and I have been running ever since. It is not the speed that excites me as I am a one-pace kind of gal. It’s the distance that gets me every time. Each time I would add a kilometre to my run, I would be amazed at how far I could push my body to go and anxious to add another the next time I was out for a run.
About six months after I caught the running itch, I trained and ran my very first race and first half marathon. The race selected was Marathon by the Sea – a Saint John staple for the running community. I thought it was a crazy idea and I held off signing up because I didn’t want to waste money and be a colossal failure.
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I took it one week at a time.
A group of us trained together every Sunday for our long runs, and left a couple shorter runs to do solo during the week. I looked forward to our Sunday runs as running with people made the time fly by, and it also pushed each of us to improve and be better as a whole.
When our day had arrived, my crew of runners took off out of the gate all together – slowly we broke apart, some sped ahead, others lagged behind, until it was just me and my friend Mary. It was a tough course and at the turn around, we both started to lack motivation. I began using landmarks to help us push a little bit further. Funny enough, all the landmarks I chose were fast food joints along the route! I can remember saying ‘We just have to get to the Golden Arches,’ and hearing Mary giggle beside me. When we finished the race, I was bursting with pride and astonishment- I just ran 21k!
As I crossed the finish line, I experienced the ‘runners high’ everyone kept talking about: the crowd was cheering, I heard my name over the loud speaker, my love Jay had come to see me finish with our sweet black lab Lola, my best friend Becky came down from Fredericton with her husband and baby to enjoy the event. Friends who were participating and even those not participating in the run were there to congratulate me on a job well done.
The support was overwhelming and amazing!
This will be my fourth year running the half at MBTS. Why I chose to come back this year for another half is simple- repetition and redemption. I had one of my worst runs last year on this course- blame it on the searing heat that day (the one day runners in Saint John pray for fog), the new course that included the beautiful yet torturous Harbour Bridge, that I ran out of water with 2k left in that heat, or the simple fact that I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been from a training perspective. Whatever the reason, I posted my worst time yet (glass half full, it was a Personal Best for something, as my mother would say!).
It was a huge lesson for me in running- you’re not always going to beat your PB every time. For someone as competitive as I am, that was a very pill to swallow. As much as I tell myself this, in the back of my mind, I am running this year to blow my time from 2014 out of the water! I am also using MBTS as part of a new training schedule I am following for my very first full marathon attempt in the fall 2015.
Running has certainly evolved for me from a monotonous task to lose weight to so much more than that. It’s where I’ve met the most amazing circle of supportive people who I am blessed to call my friends.
It’s where I’ve learned to push my body past limits I never thought it could reach. Lastly, it’s where I do my best thinking without thinking at all. There is no greater cure for the stress that life can sometimes bring than lacing up those sneakers and hitting the pavement.