There's no denying it: the 2013/14 Canadian winter made it tough to train. We had to battle the usual decreased daylight along colder-than-average temperatures, and a constant barrage of snow taking away our traction. These are great reasons to take it easy throughout the colder months of year, right? Maybe not...
Take for instance Kimberly Chan, a University of Waterloo student who joined H+P in the fall of 2013. She trained with us throughout the winter on a very consistent basis. The most impressive part: she comes from Mauritius. This is a very small country located in the Indian Ocean, about 2 000K away from the SE corner of Africa. To no surprise, it's a hot place to be with an annual LOW of about +16°C. So if +16° is cold, how does -30° feel? And how does one continue to train? Here's what Kimberly had to say:
H+P: Just this school year, you came from Mauritius, a country with an annual LOW of about +16°C. That being, said, you were one of the most consistent H+P runners this winter. What motivated you to keep running and working hard, even during the nights that plummeted below -30°?
KC: Frankly I think what played a big role is that I didn't know how cold is cold. As you said, I never experienced below +10°C so 5° was already cold for me. Seeing you all running at 5 degrees and saying "of course we run outdoors in winter" eventually made me develop the idea "if they can do it why can't I?". What also helped a lot is the people in the club itself. It's more encouraging when running as a group. I remember my first session; several of you were telling me "good job". I thought "are they really talking to me? I'm last, how is that a good job?!". But I definitely wanted (and still want) to get better. Finally I guess it was also about making new experiences. Like Sean said, "it's a story to tell". I won't forget that feeling after a good workout in a very cold weather.
H+P: Before coming here, did you ever experience snow? What was it like living through a Canadian winter for the first time?
KC: I did come to Canada in December 3 years ago for holidays but it was my first real winter. When you're in holidays, you wake up late and do fun stuff like skating everyday. When you actually live in winter, it eventually gets to you after a while: dark when you wake up, dark when you get back home, no green, wearing bulky clothes... At least we get a clear blue sky from time to time, which makes me think of back home. The weirdest thing was certainly the big difference in sunrise/sunset times. In Mauritius it stays pretty constant so it took me some time to get used to waking up in the dark.
H+P: Another things that is impressive about you is that you show up to almost every workout, you work extremely hard every single time...yet you have no specific race or goal in mind. What do you want to get our your running long term?
KC: Yes, unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to do a race yet but it's definitely on my to do list. Race or not, I try to push myself everytime because I want to get better at what I'm doing. I think I have a tendency to never be satisfied but always aim higher.
H+P: You came here from Mauritius primarily for school. What are you studying, and why did you chose UW?
KC: I'm finishing my first year in Mechanical Engineering. I always wanted to do my post-secondary studies abroad. I chose Canada because of the opportunities (work, facilities, sports...) and UW because of the co-op program. Aside from work experience, the fact that I would break my routine and discover a new environment every 4 months was appealing.
H+P: That is an extremely busy and challenging program. How do you manage to balance the demands of your school while still keeping up with your training?
KC: It is indeed but I've always set my priorities: studies and sports. So other activities like watching tv have to be sacrificed. I try to not waste time but use it efficiently. One thing that's sure is that without training my days wouldn't be very productive. If I do not work out after a few days, I get tired.
H+P: What is the presence of running and triathlon like in Mauritius? Do you plan on continuing with the sport when you return?
KC: There are races (track and field) at school level; that's where I started with the sport. However beyond that, it's barely developed. People generally go running on the mountains, volcano or horsetrack but there are practically no races. They tend to run as general fitness than competition. I know of only one big race for the whole country which occurs once a year. Triathlon is even less developed though its slowly getting more attention from the media. Of course, running is a great sport to do and I will certainly stick to it.