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Pick a Purpose Close to Your Heart and Get Fit

Find a cause that is close to your heart and it will motivate you to get out, get moving and set personal goals that not only support your community, they set you on a path towards better health and wellness and a more balanced you. Or sign up to be one of the many volunteers it takes to make these events happen. I guarantee you will make great friends along the way and you will support a family in need, build a hospital, find homes for neglected animals or fund cancer research.

To name a few you can:

Walk to fight arthritis or MS (from 1 to 10 km walks)
Ride to Conquer Cancer or Ride to Survive (much more intense and very well supported)
Golf for BC Children’s Hospital, or
Run to support amateur athletes (the Vancouver Sun Run) or for an endowment fund in the name of someone passed

This is indirectly how I ended up running my first half marathon and achieving my first personal fitness goal.

I must digress somewhat and share that I am one among many courageous women, and men, who have made huge changes in mid-life to honour themselves, their environment and their families by following their true passion. Mine are food and writing.

I am also one amongst many who has struggled with “happiness”, its true meaning, its feeling and what it actually looks like

Happiness for me includes movement, fresh air and being outside. I have spent the past 22 years in an office, cubicle, car or house. Its time for me to get outside and enjoy my backyard of the North Shore mountains.

I walked and hiked the many trails with my dog and spoke with the spirit of my Mother as my mood lifted and the fog started to clear.

As I felt better emotionally I wanted to feel better physically

I have friends who run marathons, New York, Big Sur, Chamonix. 4 to 5 hours running on the road, I couldn’t imagine.

Somewhere between me wanting to improve my fitness level and continue to balance my mood, I caved in to peer pressure from my marathoner friends and signed up to run a half marathon, aptly named the April Fools Run. 13.1 miles (21.1 km) from Gibsons to Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast. My only saving grace was one of my marathoner friends had been traveling in Italy and not training. I was hoping 18 days of pasta and wine would slow her down a bit.

The Fools Run is not generally a fundraiser event but this year any additional proceeds were directed to a Memorial Fund in the name of Tommy Bennett a UBC graduate who passed away in 2010. I had no known connection with this family but as a Mother I cannot imagine loosing a child, so I paid my fees gladly and thought if Tommy’s Mother can run in his honour, I could achieve this goal.

If you have never participated in an organized event such as this, I highly recommend it. Everyone is laughing, smiling and chatting as if all are old friends. The sense of community is overwhelming. We are all in this together. We are all winners because we are here at 8AM on a damp Sunday morning.

Off we go at the blast of a horn. I found myself giggling and I don’t know why. There was an amazing energy in the crowd. 640 ‘friends’ exuding positive thoughts, comradery and support for those around them.

Even though the morning was a grey and misty west coast Sunday, the air felt bright and light.

My wonderful marathoner friends stuck with me through the whole race, even when my left knee seized up and I felt I couldn’t run anymore.

After 2 hours and 20 minutes we crossed the finish line together but not before passing the 400 metre sign which indicated the longest 400 metres of my entire life.

This was my first goal that did not involve my career and I was blessed to have such great friends to hold hands with across the finish line.

I achieved a personal fitness goal, supported a community and a family and made many new friends. I know for a fact that I would never have learned to run 21 km if I did not sign up and commit to this event so I encourage you to do the same. By participating or volunteering for an event that is meaningful, it doesn’t feel like work, it is a therapeutic and healing way to remember our loved ones, makes a difference to those currently suffering and fulfils our human need for community all while helping achieve personal fitness goals.

My marathoner friends who inspired me are:
Patty Hopper, Mortgage Development Manager, Vancity (patty_hopper@vancity.com)
Patsy MacDonald, Senior Mortgage Broker, Bayfield Mortgage Professionals (http://www.patsymacdonald.com)

  


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