I wish I could say the road to the Under Armour Eastside 10K was an easy race – so what better reason than to write about my running journey through injury and chronic illness (diabetes and Crohn’s Disease) and its impact on my training for this Vancouver 10K road race.
As a recreational runner, it was a humbling honour to speak to Canadian Running Magazine’s ShakeOut Podcast host Kate Van Buskirk, about my running journey, a place usually reserved for elite runners. In addition to being the host of the ShakeOut, Kate is an incredible internationally accomplished track athlete.
Before the interview, I gave the subject ”What I was reminded about myself training for the Under Armour Eastside 10K”, a bit of thought and wanted to share, my journey as a runner as well as the journey preparing to run the Under Armour Eastside 10K in Vancouver, B.C.
Check out the Canadian Running Magazine ShakeOut Podcast. LISTEN HERE
My Running Journey
We all have our own motivations to start picking up any sport or a hobby for that matter, are we looking for community, exercise, personal growth, a distraction from what is going on in life at the time. For me, I suppose it was all of the above – however, if I had to pick just one it would need to be personal growth.
Chronic disease and injuries seem to have been the shadow, for lack of a better label, that has followed me for a number of years. I have Crohn’s disease (diagnosed in 2005), an inflammatory disease of the bowels, and insulin-dependent Type 2 diabetes (diagnosed in 2010 and progressing to full insulin dependence in 2018). To top of this wonderful trifecta, I also suffered a significant leg injury in late 2008 resulting in a radial fracture of my tibia and fibula that had me on crutches for 4 months and using a cane for over two years. Give this old blog post a read to hear more about health adventures (Drawing a Short Straw in Life).
My Crohns disease presents itself as a rheumatic response which affects the major joints in my body as well as poor or no control of my bowels. Imagine an illness that gives you lifelong runner’s trots.
Fulling myself through any exercise routine is a balance between effort and glucose control. I know my body doesn’t do well with high-intensity circuit training.
The combination of these had me in and out of the hospital on several occasions and very much defined who I was, and how people saw me. I was that guy that was sick, bumped, bruised, and fragile. It took a toll on my career and my relationships.
I know many people in my situation that use chronic disease as an excuse; I can’t exercise, I can’t go to work, I can’t leave the house, and even those without the burden of chronic illness following similar arguments of I am too out of shape to exercise, I am not in the mood to exercise, I am too depressed, I am too busy.
To be fair, I have felt the same way. I also realize that life has ups and downs and we need to make the most of every situation. What is the notable saying by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It’s the not the Destination, It’s the journey.”
“My illnesses are chronic, life long, are a part of me but do not define who I am – running is one way I remind myself of that, one way that I push my own limits and achieve a new personal best.”
It doesn’t matter what life throws at us, injury, divorce, illness, depression (I can relate to all of the above), we learn, we grow, we adapt, and more importantly, we bounce back. I could not let these disabilities define me or more importantly how my boys, now 13 and 10 see me and or how I and in turn, they, should deal with adversity. My illnesses are chronic, life long, are a part of me but do not dictate who I am – running is one way I remind myself of that, one way that I push my own limits and achieve a new personal best. Not just in time, but in new plateaus – whether that is a new distance milestone, recovering from injury, or simply achieving my training plan for the week.
For my interview with Kate, I scrolled through my Under Armour MapMyRun app to track down my first run – yes, even on day one I pulled out the tech. Hey, that’s me! Like many firsts, I still remember the run as if it was yesterday. I officially started running on March 24, 2015 – a 3.14KM run at a 7:16 pace that truthfully kicked my butt. I recall having trouble making it to the next street, never mind the next block or two – however, I pushed onward.
That first run was the start of a running journey that has helped transform me both mentally, emotionally, and physically, and has kept me moving, running, and pushing myself and my body, and what I hope is a great example for my boys. If I look back at Mark before running and Mark today – it would be difficult to see the physical transformation. However, mentally, it is hard to believe I am the same person who was a mute wallflower, is now confident, personable, active, and strong – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
I ran my first 5K race two months later at local Pink 5K Cancer Run. My sister, an accomplished half marathoner, who also ran with me last weekend in Vancouver, made me wear a pink running shirt that in addition to being a women’s athletic fit was also a few sizes too small that made for some awkward pictures; If I recall, there were even pink boa’s involved.
I have run various 5K, 8K, 10K races, and the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront 1/2 Marathon, as well as a handful of 5-Peaks trail races, and most recently had the exciting pleasure to run the Under Armour EastSide 10K in Vancouver on September 14th. I have to give Canada Running Series (CRS) some kudos, they continuously put on well-organized and managed running events – CRS and CRS West that hosted the Eastside 10K are an incredible asset to the running community.
The Road to the Under Armour EastSide 10K
I was fortunate enough to win the Canadian Running Magazine and Under Armour contest to travel the 3500 KM from Toronto to Vancouver to run in the Under Armour Eastside 10K on September 14, 2019. This was the perfect motivation to refocus my spring running, let’s aim for a 10K PB (my current personal best in a 10K is 54:11, as I don’t consider a downhill 53:44 as a fair indicator) and aim for a Half Marathon in October (PB of 2:00:57) were my two goals moments after I received that incredible email that I had won the contest.
Lofty goals I know – however, achievable right? With the contest win, I also had the tools to make this reality. A brand new training plan with a fresh perspective to running and one-on-one virtual training coach by the name of Rich Hesketh. Rich is a training development coach based in Calgary, Alberta and an Under Armour Training Team member and Brand Ambassador. Rich has worked with numerous elites.
The post is continued on the next page.