This is the first in a series of stories on runners, walkers and volunteers who will be taking part in the Marathon by the Sea this upcoming August. This is the third year for these stories entitled the Running Whys and in 2016, we lead off with Paul Sands of Saint John.
It’s been almost four years since Paul Sands of Saint John got back into running. In June of 2012, then 58, Paul started walking, then running, in an effort to combat the effects of sitting most of his work day at a desk.
Since then, he’s trained for a marathon, overcame a finish line scare in 2014 but through determination and support, he eventually earned a Boston Marathon qualifying time last October. Now, you can’t keep him away from the sport and this August, he’ll use the 2016 edition of Marathon by the Sea to prepare him for his anticipated debut in Beantown next spring.
“Give it a try,” he offers as advice for anyone considering running, including those interested in MBTS.
Paul, who has been married to his wife Christine for 30 years, has spent his career at the Irving Refinery, where he was a Maintenance Tech and Operator for 30 years, and also at Canaport LNG, where he has spent 10 years as a Maintenance Supervisor. He will retire this year.
When he caught the running bug again, it was the first time he had participated since he was a junior high school student. All these years later, it was very much like starting again. The motivations were straight forward enough – after working outside for 30 years, his move to a supervisory role meant more time behind the desk, leaving him feeling lazy and tired.
“My company was promoting a wellness program and provided employees with step counters which got me walking,” he explained of the first unofficial strides.
One of his work colleagues is also a runner, which helped encourage and support and after building his fitness levels, he gave running a try on the Grand Bay trail. The results were quick and impressive as he felt much better physically and mentally and in September, 2012, he ran his first race – the Hampton 5 Miler.
“I got hooked,” he said.
Last year, his main aspiration was the Legs for Literacy Marathon in Moncton, where his goal time was 3:45. The race offered special meaning as he also used it as a salute to his mother, who passed away in August. Prior to the race he wrote “FOR MOM,” on his bib.
“To prepare, I used the Run NB Races,” he said. “I found out I was doing well in Super Series Points so added more. With all the racing, I felt confident and prepared.”
The result was a dream, as he posted a final time of 3:36:01 to smash his Boston Marathon qualifying time of 3:55. With the overall 2015 performances, he won the Run NB Super Series age group award. For this year, he plans to train and race in order to stay fit and peak for Boston 2017.
Sure that have been hurdles, such as in 2014, when he ran the Fredericton Marathon, got dehydrated and collapsed 200m before finish line. He was taken by ambulance to hospital but ultimately recovered. It was not long after that the running community, and a few friends convinced him not to give up the dream of completing a marathon.
In his regular preparation, he credits a Running Room group for making training easier and the long winter runs enjoyable. Specifically, he cites the coaching from Brenda Guitard, track training from Daryl Steeves and Dean Strowbridge and his regular running partner/nemesis Sue Teakles, “whether it is dragging me to finish or threatening to step on my heels, she has made me run much faster and smarter.”
“I like the obvious health benefits,” he says. “I also like the people; everyone is friendly and supportive – even your competitors cheer you on. As I put on my Road ID bracelet, my engraved motto “can’t do this alone” is a reminder of how my running friends help push me to my potential.”
You can register for Marathon by the Sea by clicking this link.