Darren Brideau’s decision to take up running started at a hockey rink almost 20 years ago, and the Keswick Ridge resident says it was the right call.
At the time, Brideau offered to help out when his son signed up for speedskating but once he got on the ice, Darren noticed older instructors breezing around the rink while he was struggling to keep up.
“I started to go out and help on the skates,” said Brideau, who works in sales at Sunpoke Energy. “At the time, I was about 30 and there were men out there in their 50s and 60s just skating circles around me. I knew then I had some work to do.”
He was also inspired by a reality check of his family health history.
His father suffered a heart attack in his late 30s and died at age 64 after years of heart-related issues. It was the same for others in Darren’s family, who also passed away at relatively young ages.
“I started to run, realizing that I had to take note that I was getting a little older,” he said. “In our family, we have angina issues, heart conditions and I said, ‘Well, this might help me out a bit.’ ”
For a period of time, he trained with a group of track athletes, while working out with the Fredericton Fast Tracks, many of them younger than Darren. Eventually, he transferred from sprinting events to the 5k and 10k distances but remained active in the club as the training bolstered his long-distance performance.
His first official Run NB race was part of the Fredericton Fall Classic five or six years ago, where he took part in the popular event, somewhat unsure of what would take place and how he might react.
He was elated with all aspects of the event.
“I just remembered the excitement of lining up with a couple of hundred people,” he recalled. “My heart was pounding like I was back in junior high, but the whole experience, the camaraderie, the excitement before the horn blew – it was all fantastic.”
From there, he hasn’t looked back. He prefers the 10k distances, which allow him to mix several outings per week on the road or the treadmill with several other sessions in circuit training.
When time allows, he adds some long cycling rides in on the weekend.
“A lot of it is stress relief,” he said. “I found that running clears my head. In this business, you have some really busy times of the year. If I can get some early morning runs in, it seems to give you that little adrenaline rush for the day.”
He appreciates the relaxation it provides and admits he made a switch in approach that helped that aspect.
“I used to time myself a lot more and spend a lot more time focusing on my watch. Now, I run without a watch. I have a pretty good feeling for how I feel and I tend to run just for the enjoyment of running.
“If I feel great, I am boogeying a little faster and if it is one of those days, the legs just tell me to slow down.”
Recently, everything was aligned as he finished second overall in the MAF Flyin’ Feet Five Miler in a sharp time of 36:22.
“That was the nicest run,” he said. “It was a perfect day, with the exception of the last mile, up a hill.”
Then, he was 18th overall and second in his division in 46:01 in the Run St. Andrews 10k on July 5.
As it turned out, it was one of his last outings before he turned 50 on July 11, another factor in his motivation to keep active.
Given that, his eyes are focused the Joe McGuire event in Woodstock early next month and then on the Fall Classic in September.
And he does not plan on stopping any time soon.
Kevin Barrett Kevin Barrett‘s column appears every other Saturday. If you have a suggestion for a feature story, email him at email@example.com or visit barrettkevin.wordpress.com.