As any keen runner would, Edith found a common connection with a local running club. It wasn't long after moving to Victoria that she became a member of the Victoria Prairie Inn Harriers, who must be thrilled to have such a speedster on board - especially in the racing department. In addition, she wrote that the social aspect of running very much appeals to her and that the runners she met from Victoria and Salt Spring Island made her feel immediately welcome and part of the community.
Edith is a pretty dedicated runner, trying to go for a run at least 4 times per week. As we were doing the back and forth on this interview there was one day that she was stuck in Halifax in the middle of a snow/ice storm, so there was no running that day. I sensed frustration. I expect she will not experience the same situation in future west coast winters.
We share a common love of the balance between yoga and running; or as Edith puts it, "Yoga... is the perfect antidote for running, it stretches and flexes muscles and complements the competitive mindset of racing". I could not have said it better. In her efforts to try to stay injury free, which becomes all so critical as we get up there in age, she also bikes, golfs, walks, and respects rest days, between runs.
Keep on reading to find out more about this east coast transplant.
What is your running history?
I grew up in a small rural community in New Brunswick, it was a time when organized sport was rare however, in my 8th grade an enlightened principal had a track prepared and began a competitive process that involved other school districts. My first love however, was racquet sports such as badminton, squash and tennis. Running came back to me after my daughter was born (she's 28) and it was a convenient way of staying fit. I could just open the door and run. Serious running began when I moved to Fredericton and met a group of women who were keen to train and compete in road races in the Maritimes. A friend convinced me to train for a marathon in Dublin in 2000. I loved the experience but found that marathon training was all consuming so I opted for the more manageable but no less challenging half marathon and have run several in the New England States and throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
Why do you run?
I ran initially as it was a convenient and easy way to stay fit given that I worked full time and had a family. Going to classes or arranging court time for racquet sports became cumbersome. But as every runner knows the miles start to build up and I became addicted to pushing yourself just a bit further and a little bit harder. Running is multifaceted for me: it is not just about fitness, it has social and psychological components. When I feel stressed or overwhelmed by some impending decision I find a run will often bring clarity to my thinking. When I talk to people who want to start running I always recommend that they invest in good footwear to avoid any discomfort or injuries also I suggest that they start out slowly and do not worry about what someone else is doing. The important thing is to have fun and keep those legs moving forward.
What was your last/ best/favourite race?
I moved to Victoria in December 2015 and immediately registered for the first race in the Vancouver Island Series, winning in my age category motivated me to register for more. My last best race was the 5K at Bazan Bay, I broke a course record in my age group although running a 5K is not my favourite distance, it is so intense and one has to give one's all from the very start. I am not a particularly good strategist when I race and need more work on pacing and having an overall plan before the gun goes off.
What is your next race?
I just registered for the Oak Bay Half Marathon. When I came to Victoria my real estate agent suggested that I join the Prairie Inn Harriers Thursday Morning Gang. They convinced me to join them for Monday morning track work which was a first for me and something that I believe has made a difference to my outcomes. My plan for Oak Bay is to get some good distance runs in and work some hills and stay with the speed work on the track. I have been travelling from coast to coast finalizing my move so the plan has been compromised but I try to get out for a run at least 4 times per week.
What type of training do you do?
On average I try to get 25-30 miles (about 40-50K) in a week but as I said that has been compromised with travelling. I don't feel that I need to do more. At my age it is best to let the joints and knees have some time to recoup and rest. I try for some track work or interval running; one long run and one race pace short run per week but I wouldn't say that I am totally disciplined. I do what I can and hope to stay healthy, fit and uninjured. Most summers I try to get out and golf a few rounds per week. Yoga for me is the perfect antidote for running, it stretches and flexes muscles and complements the competitive mindset of racing.
What kind of food philosophy do you follow?
I do not have a particular food philosophy. I enjoy cooking and preparing meals from healthy, natural ingredients. I don't like processed meats or overly salted and fatty foods so I think that I am just naturally drawn to fruit and vegetables. I do not restrict my diet apart from the preferences of my palate and love a glass of wine at the end of the day so I would say that I have a fairly relaxed approach to nutrition. Before a race, depending on the distance, I typically have a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and banana and a cup of coffee.
Do you have a running hero/role model?
My running hero is a woman I met running in NB, Eunice Phillips, she ran 31 marathons in 15 years, broke records in NB and represented the province internationally. She is a Hall of Famer but more than that she is a good friend who encouraged me as well as many others to run, to have fun and try their best. Injury took her off the marathon circuit but she still runs half marathons and wins. She has fought back from injuries and a cancer diagnosis and is still the most enthusiastic runner I know. She knows how to motivate and give support always with a smile and positive words. I would be happy if I could follow her example and pass on that love of running with its many social, emotional and physical benefits.
How do you relax, when you are not running?
When I am not running or golfing or going to yoga classes I like nothing more than spending time with a good book or taking pen in hand and getting my thoughts on paper. I have always written poetry and recently, began a course of study to try and improve that form of creative expression. I certainly feel that it is important to have a variety of interests and it gives me something to think about on those long solo runs.
Have you had any running setbacks?
Like every runner, especially those who have been running as long as I have, there have been a litany of injuries. Some minor setbacks; some more long term. Two years ago I developed a bone spur on my left heel and could not run for 8 months. I could go to Spin Classes but running and walking were limited to essential daily routines. It is so much more difficult to recover as you get older so I focus now on staying injury free by listening intensely to my body, slowing down when I have to and naturally, cross training on a bike or going to yoga classes. I think that it is important to make what I call age related concessions.
Do you have a coach?
I do not have a coach although, since I moved to Victoria I do meet up with a group on Monday morning and they have a volunteer coach who puts everyone through the paces. I find that there are good online training programs and with the support of friends who run I keep up a routine that involves the essential elements of training.
What is your career/job?
I am retired now so I have the time to run and train as I wish. I have not convinced any of my immediate family members to become runners; one prefers golfing and the other is an adamant sports climber and that is fine with me. Being active is in my opinion the key to longevity and good health.
Do you listen to music when you run?
I rarely listen to music when I run preferring the early morning sounds of a city awakening however, occasionally when I have a long run and I am alone I do enjoy a mixed tape my daughter made for me with tunes ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Vivaldi, it all makes for a welcome distraction when the body is balking at the endurance element of training.
Do you have anything else to add that your were not asked?
Three years ago my sister and I walked the Coast to Coast Path in northern England, from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, through the Lake District and across the Yorkshire Moors: 192 miles in 12 days. Both my sister and I credit the ability to complete such a challenge to our years of running and staying fit. This year we are headed to Ireland to celebrate her 70th birthday by walking the Wicklow Way from Dublin, just one of the benefits of staying fit as you age.
Welcome to the West Coast Edith and specifically to Vancouver Island. I hope to meet you in person some day and to hopefully enjoy a nice leisurely run in one of our communities soon. I can see that we have so much in common. In addition, you are an inspiration to other women runners who want to keep on running, well past their 50s and into their 60s. Keep on running! And keep on walking those fabulous trails with your equally impressive sister!
To enjoy more interviews by Denise Bodin with runners such as Maurice Tarrant, Craig Odermatt and Erin Burrett, please visit http://gottarun.ca