With encouragement from her friends and family and dedication in a new sport, Carol Landry has enjoyed the benefits of running, from its challenging distances to the camaraderie on and away from the course. As we head into the final days of training for the 2015 Emera Marathon by the Sea, Carol outlines her path to the half marathon race next week, a personal reward for someone who as a child, was more apt to bounce around gymnastics equipment or speed around the basketball court. Now, she enjoys her time in distance running. Here is her story. Enjoy.
by Carol Lynn Landry
“Of course you can!”
I don’t remember why I started running, but I do remember calling up my best friend Shelley on the eve of my 35th birthday and asking if she thought I could run a half marathon. She was a runner and always my voice of positivity and without missing a beat she said, “of course you can!”.
As a child, I was always active and if you were to ask my mother, I’m sure she would say active is an understatement. Gymnastics was always my sport and my parents would often catch me watching TV while doing handstands or tying a piece of yarn across the basement floor to practise my balance beam routines. As I got older, I got into team sports like basketball and volleyball. Never soccer….. It was just too much running.
In the lead up to this year’s MBTS, we also have profiled Donald and Elspeth Lemon, 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.
Once graduated from high school, I entered the Naval Reserves. I was intrigued by the physical challenge of basic training. I wanted to see if I could do it. It also offered a great opportunity to gain work experience and travel while going to university.
After completing Basic Training, I found myself busy juggling school and work. My priorities shifted. I was focused on graduating and building a career. I met my husband, we married and a few years later, we had two beautiful children. Life was wonderful. I was now a busy stay-at-home mom but felt I had lost an important part of myself along the way.
Going back to my conversation with Shelley in 2011, I can now see that I needed to make a course adjustment in my life. I needed something that was my own. During our conversation, Shelley and I settled on the Fredericton Mother’s Day Race and we began training. Every day leading up to that race was an adventure. We discussed training tactics daily as though we were training for the Olympics. We were completely obsessed.
Throughout the training, Shelley was always the “believer”. I often had doubts. I was afraid and was told a few times along the way that I was overly ambitious. People found many tactful ways to tell me I couldn’t do it. But, I always felt that if one person believed in me, that’s all I needed.
I wasn’t prepared for how race day would change my life. It was my first experience with the running community and I knew right away it’s where I belonged. The people were so kind, supportive and encouraging. It didn’t matter if you were first, last or anywhere in between; everyone was equal. It was all about participating. Shelley and I both finished that race elated and ready for more. So that’s what we spent the next four years doing…. more running!
In the following four years, I continued to race the half marathon distance and completed two full marathons. I also enjoyed racing shorter distances. I got the opportunity to run in different running groups and met the most wonderful people, many of whom are now good friends. I also got the opportunity to support two of my running partners, Stacy and Amanda, in completing their first full marathon and watch them achieve their dream — Incredible!
Since that first year, running has grown to be a family affair with my mother, mother-in-law, aunt, sister and daughter all running. Last year, my mother placed second in her age category at Legs for Literacy in the 5K distance. We couldn’t have been more proud!
At the end of last season however, I hit a bump in the road with an injury. Even running a kilometer proved difficult. I ended up in the physiotherapist’s office. I was totally defeated and wondered if I would ever be able to run again. The physiotherapist asked what my goals were and I remember thinking “what difference does it make?”.
But he wouldn’t back down. With a bit of persuading, I told him I wanted to run long distances again. I told him my time goals and I can still hear his voice saying “I see no reason why you couldn’t do that”. I did exactly what he told me to rebuild. But honestly, it was probably another four months before I believed him.
It was slow going throughout the winter. I credit my sister Renee (who is also a runner) for encouragement and motivation. She slugged through many hard runs with me when I wasn’t sure if I’d make it through and in true little sister fashion, told me suck it up and tough it out.
I also decided to try something new and joined the Saint John Track Club with my daughter. I met the most amazing group of runners who are so encouraging, they make me feel like I could do anything. I’m learning so much from this group, that in a lot of ways, I feel like I’m at the beginning again and starting fresh.
This season, I feel like I’m back on track and I’m so incredibly excited to participate in Emera’s Marathon by the Sea half marathon. It will be my fourth time completing the half marathon distance for this race. The hometown race with so many familiar faces is one of my favorites. And now that the race is offering events all weekend long, I’m also looking forward to running the 5K Into The Night event with fireworks at the end. It will most certainly be a weekend to remember.
My excitement for the sport continues to grow. I encourage anyone who is interested to give it a shot….. And in case no one has told you, let me be the one to say “of course you can!”.