Two of Canada’s all-time greatest marathon runners raced on Sunday and they finished, respectively, second and fourth. Reid Coolsaet and Krista DuChene, both Olympians, are 42 and 45-years-old, and both chat easily about their performance. There were things they did well—Krista’s last kick, Reid’s ascension in the hills—and things that didn’t go their way: Reid felt a bit under the weather, Krista, like everyone Sunday at Around the Bay, felt hamstrung by the wind. There are elements, however, that they share in common, beyond grit, natural talent, drive, and almost a supernatural ability to tolerate pain. That’s joyfulness.
They both have days like we all have, to be sure, but, if you want to run forever like Reid and Krista, you have to fall head over heels, with running, in love.
“I don’t overthink stuff. I truly enjoy it. I put the work in and, when I’m done running, I don’t let it consume my life,” says DuChene, Canada’s Marathon Mom, who Sunday set the W45 Canadian record at Around the Bay, finishing the event for the eleventh time. “Sunday’s race was good for me because I didn’t have marathon fatigue. I could stay up and go to my kids’ activities in normal clothes and not sit in the van in my pyjamas.”
All of us love running. We want to go fast and go far and buy the latest gadgets and sneakers and travel to exotic races while maintaining our fitness and posting cool running photos online. However, practitioners of the sport who’ve survived, and by that I mean not just running the half marathon once and crossing it off their bucket list, must develop a deeper relationship with the sport. Running is a lot of running around in circles and, if you do it in Canada, oftentimes you have to do it while the weather is crap. To hear Reid and Krista describe it, they chase numbers and records and both have chased prize money and considerable, though Canadian, fame. That’s not the reason they run.
“I will totally admit that I’m motivated by numbers and hitting a weekly mileage or time in a week, but if that’s all-consuming, it’s detrimental,” says Coolsaet, currently training for the Western States 100-miler and adds that, despite his forays into race directing and coaching, the two-time Olympian with a marathon PB of 2:10:55, is most definitely not retired. “I’m not chasing Olympic spots anymore, but I always love racing and, even now, while my focus is trail running, I ran Around the Bay solely because I couldn’t pass up a local race that’s one of the big icons of running in Canada.”
Coolsaet ran Around the Bay because he wanted to. He ran it in trail shoes. He had fun. Being him, he knows that diehard running geeks will check out his times and wonder if he’s still got it. He wasn’t feeling 100%. He didn’t care. Like Krista, he runs for himself and because he loves it. Loves getting to the starting line. Fighting through the aches and pains. Seeing familiar faces and hearing the cheers and, when it’s all over and he’s with his wife and kids, thinking about the race and drinking a beer, he loves to plan for what he’s going to run next. “I enjoy having a reason to compete and train and, as long as I wake up and want to do this, I think I’ll hang on as long as I can,” says DuChene, who plans on running shorter distance races this spring and summer with Canada Running Series as she prepares for the Chicago Marathon this fall. “You always have to have some motivation and reason for running, and I definitely still do, but I’ve just adjusted my goals reasonably to make them appropriate for my age.”
Reid Coolsaet and Krista DuChene are two of the finest practitioners of our sport. They’ve achieved great success in their sneakers, but they’ve also inspired legions of middle-of-the-packers to follow in their fluorescent shoes. Do you want to run forever? Want to extend your spring season into the fall, into next year, into ten, twenty, fifty years down the road? Listen to Krista DuChene and Reid Coolsaet. The secret isn’t the stretching, the sneakers or the training plan—though all those things will help. The secret is the attitude you choose.
“I think some part of my longevity you’d have to attribute to a combination of motivation and listening to my body,” says Coolsaet, “but the bigger thing is, probably, I just love to run.”
Photographs by daniel.tnf.autographs, @daniel.tnf.autographs.