Family health

Creating my own healthy challenges

Crystal puts what she learned from the Healthy Family Challenge to the test as she takes part in the Vancouver Sun Run.

By Crystal Allen

Creating my own healthy challenges Above: Crystal (left) with her friend, Karen. Below: Crystal snaps photos of the Vancouver Sun Run.

This past weekend was The Vancouver Sun Run. If you'd asked me three months ago if I would be participating, I would have laughed, "Me do 10K? Yeah, right!" Then my good friend Karen asked me to sign up with her. "I can't even run 1K much less 10K," I told her. "Let's speed walk it then!" she said. 

Over the past two months we've trained together, going for two walks each week. At the beginning of each walk Karen would ask, "Have you signed up for the Sun Run yet?" "Not yet," was always my answer. 

Two weeks before the run I bit the bullet and signed up. From that moment on I became a bundle of nerves every time I thought about the race. In my head The Sun Run was for athletes, and an athlete I am not. 

The morning of The Sun Run, I got up at 6:00 a.m., my tummy full of butterflies. Karen and I met at 7:15 and we headed downtown on the sky train. Once we were lined up my nerves started to settle, and by the time the starting gun sounded all butterflies had disappeared. 

As I was speed walking my 10K I was struck by a number of observations. 

1. All shapes, sizes, diversities and ages take part in the Sun Run. There were skinny people, people that were bigger than me, people in wheelchairs, little kids, elderly people (some of whom were celebrating their 29th Sun Run!). The one thing we all had in common was that we were committed to getting to that finish line. 

2. I live in the most beautiful city in the whole wide world. I know that some may beg to differ, but honestly the views along the course were extraordinary. Mountains, water, Stanley Park, eagles, cherry blossoms, gorgeous architecture — I'm one lucky girl to live where I do. 

3. There is so much good in this world. The Sun Run took place just days after the Boston Marathon tragedy. Everywhere you looked on Sunday there were signs that proved the Sun Run participants had Boston in their hearts. Blue and yellow was everywhere — clothing, balloons, hair ties, arm bands, head bands, signs — we carried those who were lost or injured with us as we walked and ran our 10K. 

4. Vancouverites are awesome. Along the entire course there were cheerleaders rooting us on, shouting encouragement and letting us know that we could do it. Two of the more memorable groups were three kids in their 20s that stood along the edge of the Burrard Street Bridge. They had a sign that said "High 5 Station" and were giving runners and walkers high fives as we went by. Something about the fact that these kids were out there rooting us on when they could have been sleeping in warmed my heart. The other group that got me smiling (and brought tears to Karen's eyes) was a group of elite runners that had finished the Sun Run but came back to cheer everyone on. They held signs saying things like "Your pace or mine, you inspire me." Karen and I thought that the fact that these athletes finished their run and went back out on the course to root everyone on behind them was pretty incredible. 

Creating my own healthy challenges  

I never would have been able to experience all of these wonderful moments if it weren't for Karen convincing me that I could do it — and the newfound confidence that I've gained from the Healthy Family Challenge. The Challenge gave me that extra kick in the butt that I needed to get out there and try something new. And guess what? If I can do it, so can you. 

I encourage each and every one of you to come up with a challenge for yourself that is outside of your comfort zone and to work towards reaching that goal. The feeling of accomplishment you will gain is worth a million bucks. 

Thank you so much to Karen and Today's Parent for giving me this experience of a lifetime. 

I'll be sharing more pictures and talking more about the Sun Run on my blog, Sew Creative. I'd love for you to come and visit!

This article was originally published on Apr 24, 2013

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