Earlier this year, we asked you to tell us, Why do you run Canada Army Run? We received several excellent stories, and are pleased to announce this year’s winner, Valerie Hogue! Valerie will be running the Canada Army Run with Master Corporal Manon Lebeau.
Here is Valerie’s story:
Just over a year ago, if you had told me that I would be running a ½ marathon- let alone a 5 km- I would have doubled over in laughter at the sheer suggestion! I was obese and simply walking for 5 minutes was physically debilitating. During one of those I-can’t- sleep-moments’, I had an epiphany that would change my life. I realized that instead of living life to the fullest, I was killing myself with every pound I carried. I made a self-commitment to regain my health and hopefully in the process, regain my life.
I secretly longed to register for a 5 km race and cross the finish line regardless of how I did it- be it walking, being pushed, being carried, rolling, hopping, or crawling. How I finished was not as important as actually finding the courage to just do it. With some encouragement from the run club coordinator at my gym, I laced up my shoes and went out for my very first run of my life last year in July with my gym’s Run Club. I couldn’t run very far or for very long- more like 100 ft at a time, at best- but I did what I could do and I returned each week going further and longer and challenging myself to never give up. Since that very first run last year, I have had two running-related injury setbacks but my resolve and passion to run never dissipated. If anything, it grew deeper and stronger.
This past spring after having lost 80 pounds in 9 months- most of it a direct result of running- I announced that I was ready to take on a challenge that I could never have seen myself doing: a half marathon. A friend recommended the Canada Army Run since she had raced it several times. I visited the Army Run website and that same evening I knew that I had found my race. Without hesitation I registered for my very first half marathon. I would run this for the “kid” I used to babysit who grew up into a solid and wonderful man, father, and soldier who was deployed along with his fiancé to Afghanistan a few years back. I would run this because others cannot run or think they cannot do it. I would run this because I would be in solidarity with friends who serve or have served. I would run this because it is the least I can do to show my support for those who unselfishly give of themselves either to serve or to support loved ones who serve. I would run this for those who gave the greatest sacrifice- their lives- so that I may not know war or fear living in Canada.
Questions flooded my mind after registering for my half marathon. Would I be ready in time? Could I really do this? Am I ready to dedicate every day from here to race day to training? Am I ready to make this commitment without second guessing myself? Am I ready to run alone? Am I ready for the isolation of those close to me who do not fully understand why this is so important to me? During one particular run I realized that these questions that I was grappling with are probably the same questions that our Canadian military personnel face daily both here and abroad. It is most likely not related to running but rather to the work-the life- to which they have been called. And suddenly I realized, if they can dedicate their lives to protecting my rights and freedoms and those of others both near and afar, then I too can dedicate my spring and summer to training to run the best race I can alongside so many men and women who unknowingly inspire me to be that much a better and stronger person.
Friends who have raced the Canada Army Run have told me that it is a powerful, moving, and inspiring race. If you see me reaching out to hug you or shedding some tears during that race day, know that it is my way of saying thank you for the sacrifices you have made to make sure that I have the freedom to run beside all 22,000 of you!
I am running the Canada Army Run for me as a celebration of what I have achieved and my new found life but I am also running it for you. I will do my best to make you proud- to let you know that I am proud to be a Canadian, to be living in a peaceful and protected country, and to know that we are making a difference abroad to fight for the rights and freedoms of all global citizens. I may never serve alongside you but it is my honour to be able to run with you and beside you, our Canadian Forces – Air Force, Army, and Navy personnel- in a true esprit de corps!
MCpl Manon Lebeau joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 1985 as an Air Weapons Technician, later changing career paths to eventually become a Resource Management Clerk. Today, she works in one of the most demanding orderly rooms in the CAF. A dedicated leader, she has been recognized for her contributions to the morale and welfare of her unit, most formally with the 2011 Canadian Operations Support Command Junior Service Person of the Year award. An exceptional athlete and fitness enthusiast, MCpl Lebeau is a member of base hockey and basketball teams and attended the CAF National Hockey Tournament in 2013 as both a player and a personal trainer. MCpl Lebeau is a military spouse and proud mother of two boys. When time allows, she can often be found volunteering at the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre.