Training Valerie Hogue’s first half marathon at the Canada Army Run

Valerie Hogue’s first half marathon at the Canada Army Run

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Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

 

Valerie Hogue, winner of the 2013 Why do you run Canada ArmyRun? contest, shares her experience from the race:

I was blown away by the kindness and hospitality of so many people including the volunteers, soldiers, complete strangers who came out to cheer, but especially by the kindness which you and iRun showered upon me. I think the best way to capture what I felt is to share with you what I posted on my Facebook page as I traveled back home on Sunday night and had a bit of time to reflect and digest on the weekend that has transformed and moved me in unspeakable ways:

Someone asked me what I found to be the hardest part of my race today- perhaps it was leaving MCpl Lebeau at the 10k since she had to slow down and stop because of her knee but she insisted I keep going since this was my race… Perhaps it was seeing and running beside some of our wounded and injured soldiers… Perhaps it was running beside and encouraging the soldier who spoke last night at the pasta dinner about his experience and injury in Afghanistan due to an IED, who ran with a tire tethered to him in memory of his buddy who lost his life in the same explosion… Perhaps it was the last 4 kilometres when I knew that the end was near yet still far away and I had to dig even deeper inside of myself and listen to the sage words of my coaches.

The last 4 kilometres I dedicated it to different people…. This is what carried me to the finish line! Kilometre 17 was dedicated to you Robert Ian Alyea for the amazing work you do as a soldier to make sure that I can sleep peacefully knowing that I am safe living in Canada. Kilometre 18 was dedicated to all those who supported me with likes, comments, physically ran beside me during this summer, and encouraged me each time our paths crossed. I felt like I was surrounded by a large circle of people and was being pushed forward through that tough kilometre. Kilometre 19 was dedicated to MCpl Manon Lebeau with whom I had the honour to run beside as she set the tone and pace for my race. And my last kilometre was all for me… in celebration of life!

I am convinced that running is a reflection of life. We can learn so much about ourselves through our runs and our races. My training and ultimately the Army Run have taught me more lessons that I could have ever learned in any classroom or through any degree. I have learned how to deal with the ups and downs of life – with the good and not so good days. I have learned that it’s ok to show emotions and to cry. I have learned that it’s also okay to fall on my rear, to sit there for a bit, but that getting back up and carrying on forward is even more important. I have learned that there is always an end in sight even if it seems do far away or almost unreachable. I have learned to accept the kindness of strangers who seek nothing more than to encourage others. I have learned that although I may feel lonely, I am never alone. I have learned that if I think I have it bad, someone is dealing with far worse. I have learned that there is a place and time to lead but that there is just as much a time and place where I need to learn, to listen, to accept, and to be led. I have learned to not take a single day for granted. I have learned that with fierce determination and a fire in my belly, ANYTHING is possible!

And what has the Army Run taught me? It has taught me that human will and determination brings out the very best in each and every one of us. It has taught me that we all possess the ability to be leaders and inspire others. It has taught me that what I do matters. It has taught me that I am stronger than I ever imagined. It has taught me to dream further, to strive for greater, and to reach even further for everything that life has to offer. It has taught me to live each day fully and to be grateful for the here and now. It has taught me to treasure moments spent with others for we never know when- or if- we will see them again. It has taught me that our Canadian Forces is one to be admired and respected for the core values upon which it stands.

So as you can see, I was deeply impacted by the kindness of so many people and the incredible opportunity to not only run with a soldier but to spend time and develop a lifelong friendship with one of Canada’s incredible individuals. It was a phenomenal opportunity to bridge the gap between civilian and military personnel; an opportunity I could have never created on my own. I have an even deeper respect for our military and Remembrance Day this year will be so much more meaningful as a result. I have even begun to think and explore possibly joining the Reserves…. I never expected that!