This story ran in the Daily Gleaner in September.
Erika Kubik’s return home has been nothing short of a dream.
The 32-year-old Fredericton native moved back to the city in December, re-establishing herself in the area she lived until she was approximately 10 years old.
What she discovered was a perfect venue for her reasonably new hobby – running. It’s a sport she took up four years ago and one that she credits for many positive attributes in her life.
Now, she’s ready for the longest run of her career – the 35th annual Breathing Space Yoga Fall Classic unfolds next Sunday. She’s entered in the Canadian Tire North half marathon.
It’s a 21.1 km distance that will take her farther and make her run longer than ever before. She can’t wait.
“I am really looking forward to it,” she said. “Not only is it in my home community, it is my first half marathon, the trails here are fantastic and not one I have been on is disappointing.
“It should be a great race.”
A few years ago, Erika felt it was time to add more fitness to her routine but her local gym did not have air conditioning or fans to keep her cool in the summer. So she opted for fresh air and a Couch-to-5km running program.
The first steps were gruelling but she never quit, continued to train and eventually registered for and competed in her first 5-km event.
The next year, the aim was the 10-km Terry Fox Run and last summer, she upped her goal to take on the Tely 10 miler, a three-community race that ends in St. John’s, NL.
Additionally, she’s competed at the Mud Run at Poley Mountain and a 10km road race in Grand Falls-Windsor NL. It’s all working out nicely.
“When I first started, it was a struggle to keep going,” she admits. “I’m a person who likes a challenge, so the challenge of finishing that first run and the exhilarating feeling of accomplishment once it ended got me and I continued to go back. Once you find that running zone, it is a blissful thing.”
Now she has her sights set on her biggest challenge to date with the popular Fall Classic.
She’s settled into the city since her return to Fredericton, where she’s working as a small animal veterinarian and living with her husband Marc. She’s taken to the various trails and running venues the city provides and last weekend, she hit 20 kilometres for the first time in training.
“I felt fantastic,” she explained. “Up until the last two kilometres, I felt very good, very comfortable and I was running at a faster pace than I typically run.”
It seems a long way from her first formal running outing – the Commander Gander 5Km in August, 2104.
As time when on, she did increase her pace, she improved her distances and eventually tackled a 10 km event in 2015 and then that Tely 10 in Newfoundland, which started in Paradise, went through Mount Pearl and concluded in St. John’s.
“What I loved about that run was the community involvement,” she said. “The majority of the race was lined with people, cheering you on, passing you water and some even had hoses out, spraying the runners to keep them cool.
“There were kids running with us, they are passing out oranges and to have that support from complete strangers is quite a special feeling to have.”
Her results and progress are rewards for her own determination and dedication.
To keep accountable, she prints off her training schedule and sticks it on the fridge, eliminating the notion of an ‘outta-sight, outta-mind’ excuse.
“I really like the challenge – the challenge of finishing a certain distance, going down a certain trail, increasing the pace and improving the technique. As well, when it is done, I like the feeling of accomplishment and empowerment that ‘yes, I can do this.’ It is a confidence booster.”
Although born in the New Brunswick capital, she moved when she was 10 and eventually studied after high school in Truro, N.S. and Charlottetown P.E.I. before starting her career in Gander. It was there when she began to run, thanks to that wonky air-conditioning situation.
Now that she’s back, she loves renewing acquaintances in New Brunswick.
“When I was younger, I was not able to get involved in the community and now that I am back and I am older, I am able to do that and see everything that Fredericton has to offer. It has been a fantastic homecoming.”
As for next Sunday’s event, she admits to a touch of nerves, which is common for many runners, regardless of experience.
“I am excited,” she said. “I have been training for a while and I feel I have prepared the best I can. At the same time, there are those butterflies in my stomach, wondering how it will go.”
Kevin Barrett’s column appears every other Saturday. If you have a suggestion for a feature story, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit barrettkevin.wordpress.com.