0 to 26.2 in three years

I’ve heard over and over again from friends and other non-runners that they’d love to do what I’m doing, but they’re “not a runner.” While a number of people have suffered physical injuries, others seem to see running as a nebulous goal that only the “super fit” can achieve.

It’s been pretty much three years since I decided to overhaul my life. I was working at a large firm in San Francisco, and while the people were great, the corporate environment wasn’t for me. Given the unpredictability of the hours, I ate poorly and never exercised; and, while weight isn’t the best measure of health, I’d gained weight too. Sure, I was able to climb HalfDome in Yosemite, so I wasn’t totally unfit, but I was pretty close.

So on my 30th birthday, I quit my job and decided to travel the world while I became accredited in Canada. I’d vaguely thought of getting in better shape and was taking longer walks and trying to eat better. But my real inspiration came from my friends: when I travelled to LA, San Diego, Vancouver, Calgary, and Regina, I saw the same story repeatedly. Friends had done something to improve their health (whether gym classes, biking, running, or walking) and clearly felt better for it.

After weeks of excuses, I first started running in Regina. Despite having decent athletic endurance as a kid, I made it for just 12 minutes, and almost threw up. I then progressed to about 20 minutes at the cottage, and expanded to 30+ in Knoxville (a big turning point for me). But I was sporadic, and spent more time at the gym instead.

It was on my travels when I really started to embrace running. I mean, it’s not like there’s a 24 Hour Fitness in Kathmandu, so you have to work with what you have (even if it includes being chased by wild dogs). And running formed a big part of my travel experiences (the subject of some other post).

But even then, I never thought of myself as a runner. In October 2009, I was scared to train for a half-marathon because I was travelling to Kenya and Eastern Europe in the weeks beforehand. My first half-marathon wasn’t until May 2010 – almost two years after I started running!

Since then, I’ve done 6 half marathons, a 20K, and a ten miler. Even greater, two of my best friends have trained for and completed half-marathons (each surpassing an ambitious time goal).

I’m not going to proselytize about the physical benefits of running (even though I’m fitter and more at ease with myself than I ever have been). I’m just saying that if you’d asked me three years ago if I’d even complete a 10K, let alone a half-marathon, I’d have thought you were crazy.

And now, on my 33rd birthday (May 15), I’m hoping to bring everything full circle by completing my ambitious goal, while raising money for a good cause. While it will take hard work, I wonder if I’d be in this position if it weren’t for the influences of my good friends across the continent.

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Why I’m running.

So, if you’re here, you probably have some perverse interest in my training efforts for the Toronto Marathon. I’m theoretically running on behalf of tsunami and earthquake victims in Japan, though the red tape to do so is much more difficult than if I ran for a sponsor charity like everyone else.

But this cause really hits home for me. My brother lived in Japan for five years. My sister-in-law, Motoko, and her wonderful family (who are like my second family) are Japanese and lived through the Kobe earthquake in 1995. Scott and Mo were actually in Sendai a month ago on a business trip for StartPoint Canada, and I count my blessings that they didn’t take the trip in March instead. And the Red Cross is always a worthwhile cause.

Anything I can do to help this region, I will. Running 26.2 miles seems easy by comparison.

So please join me in helping make the lives of people a little easier, and in showing that a small group of people can make a difference. http://www.redcross.ca/kathleenpoole is technically up and functioning (and I drafted the personal message on the page), but I’m waiting for them to add more personal touches from me. All donations are anonymous, so if you’re able to give, I would appreciate if you would let me know; that way, I can thank you properly!

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