Profile of Charlene Thomas

Introduction:

When first invited to participate in our runner profile venture, Charlene Thomas, 58, was a bit reluctant.

Charlene felt that she wasn’t fast enough, or accomplished enough for such attention and recognition.

I explained to Charlene the aim was not to feature the heads of the pack, medal winners, etc, but to profile a representative cross section of our membership.

Charlene then agreed and. as you can see from her questionnaire responses below, Charlene has a number of singular running accomplishments and tells her story in a very engaging manner.

Charlene, who is also an avid hiker,  has:

  • Run a 21.1K half marathon in all of Canada’s provinces
  • Completed the Lake Placid half marathon many times
  • Completed four marathons.

Questionnaire:

Where are you from originally and what brought you to this area?

I spent 45 years in Ottawa, never knowing how pretty Brockville is.  When my sister in law came to Brockville to manage the YMCA, I started to spend time here.

A subsequent job change for me and very nice housing prices convinced me to try life in a small town.

How  long have you been running?

At age 18, already a plump and sedentary teenager, I joined the Naval Reserve summer student program and was introduced to some hard core basic training that included running daily.  My greatest accomplishment remains running my first mile that summer and realizing that I could be fit and confident.  Running, as they say, stuck.

Do you run for fun or competitively?

I run for fun and to maintain good health and endurance. I long ago realized that I could never be fast enough to be competitive with others, but, for me, beating personal demons, controlling stress,  managing the symptoms of depression and just being grateful for my good health is why I run.

I love the outdoors, in all kinds of weather.  Running and hiking make me happy. I love the meditative aspect of a long run, the feeling of calm that that settles in as the body warms  to what it is being asked to do and the bliss I feel when the rhythm of the run is just right…. and you feel like you could go forever… (however slowly!).

Recent memorable running moment?   Not necessarily in a race.

I have always LOVED the Lake Placid half marathon and have completed it many times.  Three years ago, at age 55, I ran my best one.  It was a perfect day, the energy was just right and I was surprised by my best friend at the finish line.

Best running achievement?

At age 40, I decided to run a half marathon in every province.  (Why else would anyone go to Saskatoon in the spring?)

At age 49, I finished my cross country quest in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with the best bunch of people and funnest race in Canada. That last half was memorable for getting lost in the fog on a barely marshalled course.  It was a blast.

Greatest running disappointment ?

I can’t think of a real disappointment, because I am always amazed that I can even do this running stuff, but, I found out at age 39 that the marathon is not for me. I’ve completed four, but never uninjured and never under six hours. It will never be “my distance”.

What is your favorite race distance? Why?

I love the half. It is long enough to know you did something, but not long enough to lay you out the next day. Plus, if you are running a race that has a half and a full, you can finish it and still watch the marathoners come over the finish line.

A notable race moment or most memorable race?

I ran the Vancouver half, which is one of the most beautiful courses I’ve ever been on.

Toward the end of the race, after you have run around the Seawall and up the big hills in Stanley Park, there’s a water station on top of Prospect Hill… Or, there was supposed to be…. it’s the first race I’ve been in where they ran out of water… and that made the last few km of the race a bit brutal, even along English Bay in the rain.

Why did you join BRRC?

I joined BRRC to be inspired by other runners of all abilities and talent and as a way to find opportunities to volunteer. When my insane work schedule allowed, pre-covid, I would go out for the Saturday runs (alone, because I’m SO slow) and always enjoyed the post run coffee klatch at Tim’s  with a great bunch of peeps.”

Ever been injured? How did it happen?

Training for my first marathon, I developed a pretty awful IT band issue that I could manage in daily life, but when I stepped out to run, it was like having a chef’s knife driven into my hip. I hobbled though the marathon anyway, in pain.

Because my job demands constant movement, walking, jogging, lifting and VERY long hours at all times on the clock, I do nothing that will compromise my ability to work.   Not to mention… inactivity is not good for my mental health! I do not have the patience to sit out any injury.

What is your favorite race?

My favourite race is the Lake Placid Half Marathon. There are two a year, spring and fall. Both are excellently run events, in a beautiful place (I am an avid Adirondack mountain hiker), with a great schwag bag, great crowd support and a finish in the Olympic Speed Skating Oval on Main Street.

What does your daily or weekly workout consist of?

I just run.  Maybe I feel like a trail run on a local hiking trail, maybe a road run, maybe a jog/walk.  I shoot for four 6 km outings per week to maintain a basic level of fitness, calm and happiness. .  If I feel like doing more, I do. If I am tired, I do less.

If I am training for a half, I follow a conservative training program designed for me by a very talented runner some years ago.

Thanks for including me in your selection of club  member profiles.  It is easy for some to be intimidated by those who are faster and more competitive, but the most accomplished runners are usually the kindest and most encouraging folk you will meet.  I once had an Olympic steeplechaser tell me he admired me for being able to stay on my feet for the six hours it took me to finish a marathon!

Running can be a beautiful simplicity unto itself, no need for expensive gear or travel, nor a special setting and this has tremendous appeal. It is difficult to imagine a more innate “”human”” activity.

If I have a running hero, it is Scott Jurek.

Many thanks Charlene for your exceptional contribution. (TonyD)