The following is a guest blog courtesy of Natalie Fraser, new member of the Compete Every Day community! Our team saw a tweet regarding her training (below) and felt compelled to share this awesome story with our readers.
I started running in 2009 after a lifetime of inactivity. I always prided myself on my love for literature and theatre, and used those things, along with my asthma, as an excuse to not exercise and to stay on the sidelines.
After completing grad school in 2008, I started going to the gym. Motivation was wide: weight loss, newfound free time and a need to put my abundance of energy into something. I quickly fell in love with running – the weight started to come off, I could go further and faster, I simply loved the feeling of running through my beautiful city and how it made me feel. I started with 5ks, loved the challenge so moved to 10ks and wanted to push myself further so did my first half marathon in 2011. My whole life I have felt driven, motivated and a desire to grow and go further, and running was no exception.
At the same time, I have always felt something that I can only explain as a burning inside me, to help other people. From living in Botswana working with out-of-school kids, to women in the court system or helping refugees get settled in Canada, I thrive on working with other people and doing things to make the world a better place. I feel like while I am young, healthy and able, I have a responsibility to help other people and give to my community.
After two years of extensive work travel, I began searching for volunteer work. I read an article about a local group that encourages people with disabilities to get involved in running by pairing them with able-bodied runners to train and guide them. Reading this was my “a-ha” moment. I could continue my love for running, share it with someone else, and challenge myself in a brand new way. It didn’t matter to me who I was paired up with because everything about this seemed like an experience that was cut out for me.
I was united with a woman who is fully blind who desired to run twice a week and hoped to do her first 5k. We first met for coffee and I shared my love for running and why I wanted to do this. She had done some running about 20 years ago with a guide and wanted to get started again. She regularly works out at the gym but wanted the challenge of being outdoors.
We started small – loops around the block. We run close together (arms touching) and she grips my elbow. I explain to her what is happening around us (Christmas tree lights, grey skies, smiles from other runners), but we also talk about our lives and formed a friendship. She is determined and we get our strength from each other. I am committed to her because I want to see her succeed. She comes to me for advice, guidance and how to get through the rough runs. She motivates me and I am humbled by her courage, strength, patience and trust.
Running isn’t always easy, and her trust in knowing that I will guide her, keep her safe on the roads and get her across the finish line keeps me going on the toughest days. A disability hasn’t stopped her and she shows how much you can achieve if you really want to do something.
Obstacles are only obstacles if you can’t figure out how to get around or over them.
We did her first 5k together on New Year’s Eve 2011. We are now training for her first 10k in May 2012. We will get across the finish line together, feeling happy and strong.
About Natalie Natalie Fraser is a 29 year old policy analyst, writer and runner in Ontario, Canada. She holds a Masters degree in International Affairs, a challenging career, an intensive training schedule and still finds the time to help her friends and family with their own charitable work. Motivated by a friend’s son recently diagnosed with Leukemia, she’ll be running her first marathon in 2012 for him and has set the goal of fundraising $5000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. To learn more about her training or to donate, check out her blog: www.nataliedoes42k.com. Be sure to follow Natalie on Twitter - @frasermnatalie