The Running Whys – Donald and Elspeth Lemon

Elspeth and Donald Lemon celebrate after finishing the Ottawa Marathon in 2013.

Elspeth and Donald Lemon celebrate after finishing the Ottawa Marathon in 2013.

There is something about running that appeals to family bonding, particularly between parents and their children once they are both adults. That is the case for Don and Elspeth Lemon, who in recent years, have encouraged, supported and motivated each other in races ranging from the short to the long. Marathon by the Sea has played an instrumental role in that process and next month, both will be back for MBTS weekend, this time for the half marathon. Read their story and then find out what major event they have planned for later in August. Enjoy.


by Donald and Elspeth Lemon

When Elspeth completed university in 2006, she suggested I get back into running as it was something that she was going take up now that she was done school and moving back home. She remembered that I had run years ago and thought it was something we could do together.

I can remember two things from that time: I could barely run 1 km the first time I ran, and Elspeth moved to Fredericton shortly thereafter, so for the next few years, we only ran together half a dozen times.

Running with Elspeth is what makes each race special, no matter what the distance. I never thought I would run more than 5 and 10 km races, but Elspeth decided to try a half marathon and suggested I should too. So I did, and discovered it wasn’t impossible to run further. I never thought I would run a marathon (never say never!).

Then in 2010, Elspeth said she’d like to run a marathon before she turned 30. So I said I would do it with her and it would be nice to do it for my 60th birthday. At this time, we were three or four years away from this “goal”, so neither of us really thought much about it. A few years later, she suggested we should decide which marathon to run. We chose Ottawa 2013 as it is one of the biggest races in Canada and it is close to home.

Elspeth and Donald Lemon run together in the St. Andrew's Father's Day Road Race in 2014.

Elspeth and Donald Lemon run together in the St. Andrew’s Father’s Day Road Race in 2014.

In the lead up to this year’s MBTS, we also have profiled Carolyn Radcliffe, Andrew Estey, Corinne Fournier, Kevin McEachern, Sherri Colwell-McCavour, Jesse Davidson, Jason Kaulbach, Jacqueline Boucher, Jen Payne, Mark Clinton, Patty MacMillan, Haley Adams-Green, Dean Mercer, Caitlin Stevens-Kelly, Carla Harris, Dave Horgan, and Krista Sutton.

Even though Elspeth lives in Fredericton, we got together up there or in Saint John for our long runs, taking turns on who gets to travel. We both train with the Running Room but like the opportunity to do our own thing from time-to-time and choose our own routes and pace! It’s also nice (for both of us) to have a change of scenery once and a while; even though Elspeth tends to find the best hills Fredericton has to offer for our long runs!

Neither of us have been fortunate enough to stave off injury over the past 10 years but we are always there for each other, to encourage one another and adjust our training schedules to accommodate the other’s needs. Elspeth was battling a severe case of plantar fasciitis leading up to our second marathon together (Chicago 2014) so the bulk of my long runs were done solo while she took about six weeks off.

You can register for the 2015 Emera Marathon by the Sea here.

However, we were able to do the ever important 32km+ runs together leading up to the race. We’ve had many great conversations while out running for 4+ hours or simply planning which meal we’ll have when we get home.

We’re now trying to figure out what our next big goal race will be. Together, we’ve run all around New Brunswick, the Bluenose in Halifax a few times, Ottawa Marathon in 2013 and the Chicago Marathon in 2014.

We decided to forgo putting our names in the New York City marathon lottery for the 2015 race but we are now contemplating that as our 2016 goal! We figured we might as well go as big as we can if we are going to run a marathon together!

That’s what makes our marathons so special. We train together and run the races together. What I enjoy are the conversations we have when we’re running. We are there for each other, keeping the other one motivated when we get sore and tired – we never let each other give up.

Elspeth and Donald Lemon stand outside the Expo for the 2014 Chicago Marathon last October.

Elspeth and Donald Lemon stand outside the Expo for the 2014 Chicago Marathon last October.

There is nothing more exciting than crossing that finish line hand in hand – we’ve accomplished something pretty amazing together. Our race times do not matter – I wouldn’t trade the time together for anything.

Check out the complete Marathon by the Sea schedule

Marathon by the Sea holds a special place in both our hearts. It became our goal race that first summer that we began running. We decided to run the 5-Miler together. Although the training was difficult, we persevered and it did get easier. Unfortunately, Elspeth couldn’t run the race as she had soccer commitments that day.

I completed the race on my own as Elspeth and her sister cheered me on before they had to jet off to a soccer game. Elspeth always makes a point of getting home to Saint John for MBTS. Over the past 10 years, between the two of us, we have ran every distance the race offers. This year, we are doing the half marathon together.

Check out the results from 2014

Elspeth was injured last summer while training for her second marathon which forced her to drop down from the half marathon to the 12km distance at the last minute. This will be her redemption race and she is looking forward to being able to run across the Harbour Bridge. Training has been harder this year than in the past. After our marathon together last fall, we both took an extended break over the winter (who wouldn’t have with the weather we were having!).

We have both found this year more difficult than expected to get back into top running form but we are looking forward to completing this race together.

Our love of running has caught on in the family too! My youngest daughter (Hilary) now runs regularly in Fredericton with Elspeth during the week. She will also jump in with us on our longer training runs and keep us company for 5-10km.

All three of us will be toeing the line during MBTS weekend.

Elspeth and I will be crossing another finish line on August 29th when I walk her down the aisle.

Check out the photo gallery from last year

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