“These boots ain’t made for walking, Serena,” was what I was thinking when I considered doing the 5k walk in the PEI Marathon. I had joined the go!PEI Let’s Walk Challenge in September and was building my endurance. Because of a partnership between go!PEI and the PEI Marathon, taking part in the go!PEI challenge allowed me to take the 5 k challenge of walking at the marathon. I have completed a 5k walk before but doing it as part of the PEI Marathon weekend would be special.
All along the route, volunteers and strangers cheered. Their energy and enthusiasm lifted my spirits as my energy wavered.
On the morning of the event, I awoke to the internal debate many exercisers have, “Should I get up? Or, should I stay in bed?” I tossed and turned as this debate played out. Finally, I said, “Serena, you have to do this for you, and just think of that awesome medal you get at the end.” My feet went over the side of the bed.
The drive to Charlottetown strengthened my resolve; I kept thinking no backing out now. Once I arrived, I was nervous and tentative as I moved toward the start of the 5 and 10k. Not knowing anyone, I was asking myself lots of questions – “Where do I go while I wait? Where is the start line? Do I stand at the back because I am walking?”
While questioning myself, I was befriended by an amazing mother-daughter team. Together, we encouraged each other and made our way to the right place. Then before we knew it, the race started; my new found friends and I parted ways as we got into our own race modes.
Using my music and I can do this as my motivators, I began my challenge. At the 2k mark, all was well and I encouraged myself with almost half way there. On seeing the 3k marker, my spirits rose again and I thought on the home stretch now.
All along the route, volunteers and strangers cheered. Their energy and enthusiasm lifted my spirits as my energy wavered. When I reached the 4k mark, some stiffness had begun to creep in. It was manageable though and I thought, thank goodness, only 1k to go.
On University Avenue, the final stretch, one volunteer provided extra encouragement saying, “You are doing great, they are all waiting for you.” I replied, “I’m waiting for them too.”
With the finish line in sight and crowds of strangers cheering me on, my spirit rose again. And then the best surprise of all, my mother-daughter duo from the start line were there screaming my name. It was so special as they welcomed me after I crossed the finish line.
The weeks after my 5k walk at the PEI Marathon were amazing. I received so many messages of congratulations. Random strangers came up to me to give a high five. People recognized my accomplishment and I felt good.
My first participation in the walk at the PEI Marathon was truly special. Making new friends, feeling encouragement from total strangers cheering for me, and most importantly, meeting my goal is something I will never forget.
I urge every Islander to give a 5-10 k walk at the PEI Marathon a try, it is wonderful experience.
*This article originally appeared in the 12th Annual PEI Marathon souvenir booklet, October 16-18, 2015; it is also published at http://www.gopei.ca/success_stories/Serena-Richards-Special-5K-Journey-