I didn’t really play sports growing up, but both my parents ran my whole life. I’d watch them race when I was little. As soon as I was old enough, I started volunteering. I’d see all these runners crossing finish lines, smiling, feeling great – I had serious FOMO. Finally I said, ‘I want to do that’.
My friend’s boyfriend had coincidently opened up a running store in St. John’s and he was hosting a race-training clinic. I decided to try out the clinic to support local business and learn how to run – and to run the Tely 10.
I’ve watched my parents run, but if it weren’t for the Tely 10, I might have never gotten hooked. The Tely is such a big deal at home. Thousands of people come from away to run it. It’s a St. John’s running tradition that’s evolved so much over the years. I was looking back at photos of my parents running the Tely, and of my Dad’s first Tely when I was 6-years-old, and there weren’t many crowds. Now they block off all the streets and there are supporters on the sidelines cheering the whole way. It’s amazing. The directors put so much hard work into it.
So racing got me into running. I remember when I tried running for the first time. I left the house, ran as fast as I could, and felt like I was going to pass out after five minutes. I was like ‘how do people do this?’ But when I started the training clinic, it felt right. Most of us were completely new to running. They started us off slow on shorter distances, and I realized, ‘hey, I can do this, this is achievable’. Without building gradually, I think would have gotten discouraged.
I got such a high from finishing my first Tely. I started running in May, ran the Tely in July, and I kept going. I started running with Athletics North East (my Dad’s running club!) after that.
Then I found out I got into Law School in Halifax.
I can take things too seriously in law school sometimes, but I always feel better after a run. Running has turned into something I do for my mental health - it keeps me sane. This program can be tough. I tend to get really focused and take it very seriously, so running is a great stress reliever (and the endorphins are amazing). I chose to be a lawyer, I know it’s likely going to be high stress career, but getting out for runs gets me through it. Running and law take dedication and a certain element of insanity (because why would anyone do either!), so I’m don’t know if it’s a coincidence that I’ve noticed a lot of lawyers run. I’m not 100% sure what kind of lawyer I want to be - but I’ll probably going for runs the night before I go into the courtroom to calm my nerves.
Running with the crew is such good motivation too - we’re all the same, we get home at the end of a long busy day and we’re tired. At those moments it’d be so easy for me to sit on the couch and not go out for a run, but I know other people are showing up who’ve had busy, stressful days and weeks. If they can make it, I can make it. Everyone’s so encouraging. Last time we ran to the top of citadel, everyone waited at the top to cheer each other on.
Dad thinks me running is wonderful, both my parents do. Running means a lot to them, so it meant a lot to me to finish the Tely for the first time knowing my parents were proud and they could relate.
From the Tely 10 to her first half marathon THIS WEEKEND at Maritime Race Weekend. Jules celebrates the start her last year of Law at Halifax's Dalhousie University with 21.1K. Cheer her on @juliette_ryan
I ran before, for about three years just for fun on and off, until something switched. It was only when I was least taking care of myself that running took care of me.
The woods were the switch. I realized that running can be a lot more fun when you do it on trail. Trail showed me that running could be a restorative activity, while pounding pavement sporadically was hard and didn’t always leave me with a good feeling. When I got into the woods, I realized it was a skill I could build over time and it got me hooked in.
I didn’t know there would be such a sense of belonging with a crew until I went into the woods - these people just as wild and crazy as I am who want to go for long runs in the middle of the wilderness. They don’t know you, but there’s a tacit unspoken trust from strangers - whatever happens in the woods, they’ll take care of you.
I really like that sense of belonging. It grew on me, it grew me on trail, then one day I realized the trail crew was the same crew running road, so I might as well just run road.
Now I take two days off and I’m like ‘I don’t know if I can do this!’ You know that feeling? If you take a couple of days off you feel like maybe you’ve never run a step in your life. But it takes a special kind of road discipline to maintain trail.
Trail is really sensory. You could say that a lot of my work in food and my career in public relations is about creating a sensory experience, whether it’s through words or through taste – I live to share those experiences. You have to be present on trail. You have to show up, pay attention a little bit more. You can’t really space out. It’s a lot of positive ions, so it charges you up, it works your entire body in a different way than running road. I find in the woods you always finish strong because you’re outside, regardless of the conditions, there’s something so free about it. You can completely disconnect from everything else when you run trail. Somebody else has an emergency phone, somebody else has a first aid kit. You can leave everything behind and check out, and I need that decompression to show up and perform in other areas. Running trail feeds the other parts of my life.
I’m registered for the Fundy Circuit 50K Ultra and I’m really fucking excited for it. Running trail is like the alternative side of running - it’s becoming more and more popular but it’s still sort of alt – we do things and see things a little differently than road runners. I’m building my whole training plan around the concept of rest and active resting. I’m training for the 50 by sleeping and running more trail. Basically my motto for the next three months is ‘sleep more, run trail’.
So that’s my goal, and then I registered for the East Coast Ultra in Newfoundland a month later, because if I’m going to run Fundy I might as well run Newfoundland - wtf, I’ve never been, why not? It’s a barely manageable stretch goal. To go from having only just started trail running in July 2016 to running an ultra in September 2017 – that’s big. But I’ve learned a lot about how to rest through running. When you get home from the woods you have to actively chill. I’ve always been good at chilling, but I’m better now.
You’re won’t be going as fast as you think, but you’ll be going faster than you ever thought you could."
Check Nat's headstanding and trail running adventures on insta @nataliechavarie
Signing up for the marathon happened on a whim, it was an New Year's resolution thing. I was in Dartmouth and I thought ‘this is where the offices of the Bluenose Marathon are’. I just went in, then before I knew it I’d signed up and paid, and then it was too late to back down. I signed up for the full 42.2K. The longest I’ve run so far is 27.
I would never have thought of doing this before – nothing remotely like this. I have so much respect for marathon runners now. Not that I didn’t before, but there’s a lot of thinking and strategy involved, it isn’t purely physical. It’s not just a distance, it’s a feat.
I started running a year ago. Before that, I used to do the Terry Fox run once a year. I’d prepare for it a bit, and that was the only running I did all year. I thought about looking for a group, so I went to the Run Nova Scotia website to research and I realized NER was super close. If you’re not right there at 6pm, you could miss it – you’d never know there’s a gathering of runners two blocks from where you live. So I came to my first run with the crew and I was probably 15 minutes behind everybody. But still it was nice, and it got better after that.
They were really supportive. My slow pace was OK with the crew – and nobody was giving me unwanted advice. I really liked that. I just showed up, tried my best, and that was it. I was surprised at how much easier it got - and I keep surprising myself.
A few weeks ago we ran the Glebe Street Gutbuster – a full year after my first run when I lost everybody – I was feeling really good, I was leading all the way and it felt great. I know anybody could have caught up to me at any time, but I was happy it was easy to do. It was uplifting.
Training for the full has got me believing in my abilities more. Running through the winter was hard, but because I had the Bluenose I’d signed up for, I had to do it – and now I feel a great sense of accomplishment. Remembering the cold days and the rainy days I didn’t want to run, but I had to go, because it was part of the training program. I know I’ll hit a ceiling at some point (maybe next week) but I want to see how far I can push it.
My former self would’ve thought this was impossible – a full marathon or even a half? No way. But I guess reason left out the back door and my shoes and my feet are taking command.
I think I’m more confident now. I know the Bluenose loop. I’ve done it now in different conditions. I’ve done all I could. I just want to complete it. I don’t know how I’ll feel when I do - soreness, extreme pain, numbness? I might cry. If I finish it I don’t think it’ll even set in, I think it might take me a few days to realize it.
I know I’ll have fun though – I’ve been told the experience is amazing with people cheering and everything – they’re cheering for everybody."
Bluenose Marathon weekend kicks off May 19. Come out and cheer with the crew on May 21.
"I grew up playing competitive sports and running was always one of my strengths. I played soccer in first year University but after getting cut in second year, I joined the cross country running team and I’ve been running ever since. Over the years I’ve been dabbling in road races and I recently found a love for trail running with the NER crew.
While one of my strengths in sports growing up was my running ability, leading and inspiring others was always important to me as well. I got to be team captain a lot, and teaching yoga is a way to keep doing this in my adult life.
I've been practicing yoga for over 10 years, but it wasn't until I went through some emotional hardships that I really connected with it on another level.
We went through years of unsuccessfully trying to have children and it just sucked. Up to that point with everything else in life, if you wanted it, you just worked harder for it and you could make it happen eventually. But on those long days of dwelling and not being able to get out of my own head about it, I could get on my yoga mat and just feel so much better.
I don’t think you can fully get there unless you take the time to actually ask yourself those tough questions, and be with the emotions and with the feelings. That doesn’t have to be yoga for everybody, but for me it was yoga.
Yoga and running are more than ways to feel good physically – for me, they’re a release. The road or the mat are where I can go and take time out of my day to unwind, reconnect and clear my head. Whether it’s by myself, when I can really let go and get into the music, or with someone – and get that social aspect with the crew. Those conversations are a way to tune out from every other chaotic part of your day.
I heard a quote the other day; ‘it’s not about whether you can touch your toes, it’s about the journey on the way down’.
I just want to continue to grow."