Sometimes I talk to people about running, and sometimes, depending on who I’m talking to, people will tell me that I’m fast. This always strikes me as funny, because compared most of the runners in my life, I’m actually quite slow.
TORONTO July 9th 2015. Digital Champion Amy Friel comes from a family of distance runners. Her Grandpa, Jack Friel, won the Toronto Police Games Marathon in 1977 in an impressive time of 2:26:11. Last October, Amy had the privilege of carrying his legacy across the finish line at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. On October 18th, she’s returning with the goal of a Boston-qualifying time! When she’s not running, Amy is on “the last 2.2k” of her Political Science degree and can also be found painting. Connect with Amy on Twitter and Instagram.
Lessons from my Running Family. By Amy Friel
I have what you’d call a “fast family”. My parents actually met at a cross-country race. My grandpa (pictured on the right) won the Toronto Police Games Marathon in 1977. My dad represented Canada at the World Masters Track and Field Championships in 2003. And my big sister, who I’ve been running after most of my life, ran as an NCAA scholarship athlete. She’s run two consecutive Boston Marathons, and shows no sign of slowing down.
And then there’s my roommate. If you happened to be a spectator at the Canada Running Series half-marathon in Montreal this past April, you might have noticed a tiny, adorable brunette with the voice of a cartoon squirrel whizz across the finish line to capture fourth place.
The runners in my life have taught me a lot of lessons, from the importance of finding an apartment with adequate shoe storage, to the true meaning of finding your “sole mate”. (Brooks Ravennas, I’m looking at you!)
Our sport is unique, because distance running makes room for everyone. We welcome every age, body type, and level of ability, and what we celebrate isn’t the victory of one runner over another, but the victory of one runner over all the things they once felt they could never do. That’s the one thing that seems to be constant across all runners, from my speedy family and friends to those just starting out.
Because what makes a great runner isn’t body type, or height-to-weight ratio, or lung capacity, or physical strength. What makes a real runner great is courage. The marathon is a gruelling race, but what it tests isn’t really your speed, strength, or endurance. What the marathon really is, is a test of your existential courage; it’s a great big, fearless celebration of human tenacity. Because at the 35K mark, alone in the face of bitter cold winds and heavy fatigue, far from friends, family, or a phone, quitting just isn’t an option. The marathon teaches you that if you’re going through hell, you keep going.