3:09 of possibilities

The day I became a marathon runner, my life changed.

I ran my first marathon in summer 2007. At the time, I needed to run it in under 3:40 to qualify for the legendary Boston Marathon. My time was 3:39:59.

I qualified.

My life changed.

I did Boston. I brought my time down to 3:26. That’s when my quest for the fastest time began and I started feeling really hungry. Hungry for pushing back my limits and hungry for eating date puree. Hahaha! My times kept dropping, I was experiencing extraordinary feelings and I just kept wanting more and more.

2007: Quebec City Marathon.

2008: Boston Marathon.

2009: New York City Marathon.

2010: I was pregnant. I had a miscarriage and then became pregnant again.

2011: I became a mother for the first time.

2012: I ran a marathon in 3:08 and my life drastically changed.

One month later, I launched madamelabriski.com and went into business, opening my advertising agency 21 Grammes agence d’idéation. Madame Labriski was still in its infancy. I continued to build up both my ad agency and Madame Labriski while also being a mom. I worked really, really hard.

The Madame Labriski adventure started to gather speed with the release of my famous yellow cookbook in French Ces galettes dont tout le monde parle. It was crazy. Copies were flying off the shelves and I was receiving an ever-increasing number of requests to give conferences. My life was going at full tilt, my mind was brimming with ideas, I was working hard and life was good.

At the Montreal International Book Fair, I met a prominent and seasoned Quebec entrepreneur, who’d also just released a book, and we chatted together about sports, life and entrepreneurship. He had no idea who the women who seemed to be selling tons of copies of her cookie cookbook was. It was obvious he didn’t really care. I talked to him about my business objectives, dreams and vision, and about running. He told me, as I’d already been told several times, that it would be impossible for me to raise the bar high in business while continuing to be a high-performance runner according to my personal goals.

I agree that sometimes we may need to revisit our objectives. But do we have to believe everything everyone tells us? When people are constantly saying that you can’t do it, you end up believing them.

When I started out as a marathon runner, I ran lots of races throughout the year but only one marathon, which I trained very hard for in order to perform. When I became a mother and then started my own business, I skipped a few years. I continued to run, because for me it’s a way of life, but I no longer registered for a marathon because my whole life was basically a marathon in itself.

But in January 2018 I turned 40 and I told my hubby that regardless of everything that was going on in my life, I wanted to run a marathon. Because I love the training leading up to that great running celebration and because I missed it. I therefore signed up for the Toronto Marathon, which was to take place in October.

I was scared.
Scared I wouldn’t be able to perform,

Scared I wouldn’t be able to run a marathon anymore. After all, I now had two children (Antoinette and Adrien), two companies (my ad agency and Madame Labriski Inc.), I had a hectic schedule, I was getting ready to launch new books… and then I’d gone and added this marathon to my diary. It made no sense, but at the same time, my training sessions gave me the energy I needed to keep up the pace.

I was scared, but I had faith. Training was part of my agenda and I just did it. And it made me feel good.

Sometimes I’d turn up for training totally drained and my coach, realizing that I was having trouble pushing myself, would tell me to go home. Like a good little girl, I let my tears of exhaustion (and disappointment) flow and then obediently headed home.

Two weeks before the marathon, I had doubts.

But I still had faith. (I think it’s only normal to have some doubts. The main thing is to continue to believe in yourself.)

I have learned that we need to believe in both the training aspect and our business projects. If we do everything we need to do, it’s amazing what our body will allow us do.  While preparing for the marathon, I trained a lot with a friend who was also going to be on the starting line in Toronto. Due to the fact that a marathon is an individual competition, we’d made the decision not to run together. (In any event, our race strategies were different.)

The big day arrived, and I was ready.

My dream was to beat my personal record of 3:08. But I said to myself that what I wanted above all was to enjoy a wonderful experience and make peace with myself following my last marathon in Philadelphia in 2013, where I’d mismanaged my energy. I told myself that, with the type of life I was leading, being on the starting line was already a feat in itself.

The race went well. In fact, the marathon went without a hitch. I met my friend at km 2. Her strategy wasn’t the same as mine so I let her go on ahead. I wanted to stick to my plan to start off moderately and make a strong finish on the final climb.

And that’s what I did. I ran. I smiled. I savoured the moment. Did I have headphones on? No, I haven’t listened to music while running for four years now. I ran. I felt grateful. Between km 25 and 35, when it becomes a lot tougher, I continued to run. I wondered if I was capable of pushing myself even harder but I didn’t feel like suffering more than I already was (something I need to work on). So, I kept the same pace. I began to feel signs of weakness at km 38, but at that stage the race is almost over and that’s when you have to give it your ALL, in order to finish.

In Toronto, the race ends with a hill. I knew I wouldn’t beat my personal record but that it would be a wonderful experience and I’d enjoy it with a smile. I crossed the finishing line. I was in agony, I could hardly bare it. I looked at my watch: 3:09:18. My best time up until then had been 3:08:18, a time I’d achieved back before I’d gone into business, when I only had one child instead of two, when my life was completely different.

My hubby came over to meet me. I was so happy and so proud, I was always in tears. I thoroughly enjoyed that marathon. I hadn’t suffered. I was a mother, a businesswoman and a confirmed marathon runner. I finished 4th in the 40 years and over group of participating women. Not bad. Just one step from the podium.

But to me, with the life I was leading, it was worthy of a gold medal and a personal record.

That marathon taught me all about mental strength.

If we really want something, we can achieve it. We have incredible potential, but we also need determination. It may sound cliché, but it’s nonetheless true.

My dream is to run a marathon in 3 hours. Even though I’m over 40 now, I believe I can do it.

After all, how much does it cost to dream? Absolutely nothing.

I simply have to continue doing the things I enjoy and fuelling my days with date puree.

I thank life for giving me this energy, as well as eternal youth and the desire to surpass myself. I don’t want to dream my life, instead I truly hope to live my greatest dream.




Flashback to my Facebook post on 15 October 2018

Toronto Marathon: a great time of 3:09 for Madame who fuels up on date puree. I was so proud to have been able to prepare for this race despite all the activities inherent to being a mom as well as a woman with the crazy desire to help improve the health of Quebecers, Canadians and… everyone on the planet. It was bitterly cold in Toronto this morning, that’s why my lips are blue. Lol!

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