Corey Johnston, a Bayfield native, is training to run a Marathon-and-a-half this June 5. She also hopes to raise $5,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC) in the process. (Submitted photo)
STORY BY MELODY FALCONER-POUNDER
Corey Johnston is one motivated young woman. The 23 year-old, who grew up in Bayfield and now calls Toronto home, decided to take up long distance running at the end of January with a goal of running a full-marathon-and-a-half the first weekend in June. But the decision wasn’t made on a whim it was made with a cause in mind.
Johnston is looking to raise $5,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC).
“Someone very close, and dear, to me was diagnosed last September and this was something I could do,” said Johnston. “Every time I hit the streets in my running gear, I know that I'm doing something that can one day help save the lives of people close to me. I'm a part of the change that we all hope for when someone we love and care about is diagnosed with something as scary as cancer.”
Johnston got a pamphlet in the mail one day in late January from the LLSC advertising information sessions about an organization called Team In Training (TNT). She realized that one of the information sessions was going to be very close to her house, so she decided to attend.
TNT began in 1988, when Bruce Cleland of Rye, NY formed a team that raised funds and trained to run the New York City Marathon in honor of Cleland's daughter, Georgia, a leukemia survivor.
The team of 38 runners raised $322,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Westchester/Hudson Valley Chapter. Due to the pioneering efforts of Cleland and the Westchester/Hudson Valley Chapter, TNT was born and has grown into the world's largest endurance sports training program.
According to the TNT website, this year more than 40,000 runners, walkers, cyclists, hikers and tri-athletes will participate in the world's major marathons, triathlons, hiking adventures and century rides for the cause.
“When I attended the information session, one of the girls talked about the statistics,” Johnston said. "Every 35 minutes, someone in Canada is diagnosed with a blood cancer; once every 73 minutes, a Canadian loses their fight to blood cancer; blood cancers account for 44 per cent of childhood cancers. It was shocking and I kind of thought to myself, how can I not do this?”
Johnston has found the support of TNT also to be very motivating.
“Team In Training is great! Every Saturday morning, I am up at the crack of dawn and on my way to a Group Training Session (GTS). At the GTS, we start by having an information clinic - I have learned about proper running form, what kind of shoes I should have, what to wear, what to eat and drink, how to properly hydrate and how to properly cross train.
“The group sessions are so educational and our coaches are great at answering any questions we might have. On top of that, they laid out my training routine, provided me with fundraising clinics, and they even put members in touch with some of the researchers they sponsor.”
Johnston sat in on one of the “webinars” that TNT offers.
“I got to listen to a doctor/researcher who told us all about where the money we raise goes and what kind of breakthroughs it is helping to achieve,” she said.
She went on to explain that a portion of a GTS is set-aside for something called "Mission Moments".
“To keep us motivated, cancer survivors, and the family members of those who have lost their fight, come out and talk before we run and tell us how much it means to them that we are running for the cause.”
The group Johnston trains with is comprised of men and women of all different ages and goal sets.
“Some are participating in Ottawa, some in Nova Scotia, and some in San Diego. On top of that, some are doing half marathons and some full. Some are choosing to run while others are walking. It makes for a great group of people because no matter how different we all are, we have one really important thing in common - we are all running for a cure!” said Johnston.
There are a number of motivating factors that have kept Johnston on her journey to the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon – music is a key component – she is the first to admit that the songs on her I-Pod are as essential as her running shoes when completing a training run.
“I chose to do the San Diego run because TNT is very involved with the event this year. The city of San Diego will be taken over by the purple TNT jerseys! The other reason is because it is a very unique run. They call it the Rock and Roll Marathon because there are bands all across the course so it is like a city wide party. The event also ends with a huge concert so it should be a lot of fun. I can't think of anything better to keep me motivated through the run than some live music,” said Johnston.
On June 5, Johnston will be running the purple and red routes, when she crosses the finish line she will have run 42.2 KM. To view the route please visit:Course Map (pdf)
At the time of this article’s writing, Johnston had tackled a new high of 17 KMs, a measure that has been steadily increasing since her first five kilometer run back on Jan. 28.
“Each training day is a little different. I run four times a week: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Mondays and Thursdays are recovery runs, usually short distances around three to five kilometers. Wednesdays I also run short distances - anywhere from four to 10 KMs. Saturdays are my long runs. We started out with six kilometers and will end up working our way up to 32 KMs.”
In addition to logging the miles in her sneakers, her diet is key to her training. She lists coffee deprivation as the most difficult aspect of the whole experience.
“I’ve had to increase my water and food intake. I get to eat all the pasta, bread, and other carbohydrates I want which is fantastic! I also get to drink chocolate milk after every run because it is the best form of recovery drink.”
Another difficult aspect of training has been the weather.
“There was one eight kilometer run where I came home with ice cubes for feet, I was not pleased.”
On the opposite side of the coin, Johnston believes the easiest part of her training has been making the decision to stick to her running schedule.
“Whenever I feel like staying at home in my warm house, I think to myself that the time I spend cold, outside, and running is nothing compared to the hours of agony someone has to go through during treatments.”
And what has surprised her the most about this journey?
“The most surprising thing would be how silly I was in the beginning. When I did my first five kilometer run, with the idea of completing a 42.2 KM marathon, it took me over an hour to complete. I hadn't pushed myself at all; I was out for a leisurely stroll! Now I am pushing myself to the limits, completing eight and 10 KM runs in under an hour and I have my five kilometer runs down to 30 minutes.
But there have been tough days and a glimpse at her very candid training blog reveals this, yet she stays motivated, keeps putting one runner in front of the other…
“I guess it's just the idea that what I'm doing will make a difference in someone's life. The research that LLSC sponsors currently funds 493 researchers in 16 different countries. Their research is used for a broad spectrum of health issues.”
…Oh, and “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey on the old I-Pod that helps too. It is, after all, her theme song.
Anyone who would like to donate to Johnston’s fundraising goal please visit her fundraising webpage at http://tinyurl.com/tntcorey. Donations via credit or debit card will be accepted.
Johnston also hopes to host a fundraising event in Bayfield in a few weeks. Please watch upcoming issues of the Bayfield Breeze for details.
Johnston has been keeping a blog to document her training journey. The following is an exerpt from an entry written on Jan. 29. It demonstrates how much music is a motivating factor in keeping her running toward her goal. To read more visit http://tinyurl.com/tntcorey
first eight km run
- Out of bed
- Eggs, red pepper, mushrooms, and spinach (mainly because I really do believe that's what made Popeye so strong) and a glass of milk for breakfast
- Get into my spandex, jogging pants, two pairs of socks, t-shirt, and sweatshirt
- 30 minutes of stretching
- I-Pod, shuffle, play, 11:04 a.m. hit the streets
It's a nice day outside, the sun is shining, it's not snowing, it is a nice day to be out jogging. Today I am taking a new route because I need to up my distance by another two kilometers...off I go.
Brittney Spears - Toxic - gets me started and I manage to get off to a pretty good pace straight away.
Then comes Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show and my pace instantly quickens. This song reminds me of Keegan, my sister, and some video she made with some old friends imitating the movie in the basement at our old house. I believe that video is still on my laptop. (I make a mental note to check when I get home.)
Beyonce - Crazy In Love - my body keeps moving at a jog thinking about high school cheerleading.
Sweet Caroline - Kurt and Barb's (uncle and aunt) wedding, dancing around with all the old rugby guys. Now I'm really feeling it, my breathing is good and I've set a great rhythm.
Ice Ice Baby - skip, no beat for jogging
Bon Jovi - It's My Life - I am starting to feel the jog in my upper thigh, but only on the right side, keep pushing through it, nothing else hurts that should make you stop. Quit whining and just push through it...
Bruce Springsteen - Fire - Pushing through the pain until I turn a corner and can no longer breathe through my nose because the wind is so cold...
Journey - Don't Stop Believing - Probably my favorite song of all time and I'm running down hill to it - couldn't be happier or more in the zone right now!
ACDC - Highway to Hell - now I've turned another corner and I'm looking at a hill that, at this point in my jog, seems like it could rival Mt. Everest in my mind. My legs are taking the biggest strides I can manage because I have convinced myself that if I do so it will be over faster. I'm so full of it!
I reach the top of the hill only to see that I have another hill that looks to be the exact same size as the one I just conquered - seriously, conquered because I've been running for six kilometers now.
Van Halen - Jump - comes on and I start running down hill and savoring every thump my foot makes against the ground. Some guy passing by makes a comment like, "Isn't it too cold to be jogging?" He's squishing my mojo.
I walk up the hill to Katy Perry's Teenage Dream and finish the rest of the jog home to songs like Great Big Sea, Consequence Free and Queen's Somebody to Love.
In the door by 12:11 p.m., not bad, but not too happy about the timing either. I stopped to tie my shoes twice...that must have eaten some of my time up. Maybe I should find running shoes with velcro, what ever happened to shoes with velcro anyway?
Off to have a nice weekend that is now "break" time. I don't know if I'll be able to pull off heels when going out tonight, my legs might not support me if I dare it!
Oh and I do still have that video on my computer!