Your Story By Sandra D’Elia-Cristino

Your Story By Sandra D’Elia-Cristino

pic Sandra

Early love of running

  • My love for fitness and all things active started at a very early age at around 10 years old. My first taste of running was as a 12 year old child who was part of the school's cross country team. I recall vividly the butterflies I felt (and still get) on race days especially when the gun went off signaling the start of the race.
  • The anxiety soon lifted as my first steps hit the pavement. The sensation of my lungs burning as I sprinted away from the crowd was initially painful but I soon found a comfortable pace and my steps propelled me further and further away from the crowd. Excited and anxious at the same time to imagine I can actually win this race was an incredible feeling…..and win it I did.
  • I loved to run so much so that I dreamt of being an Olympic Marathon Runner!!! I would go out on weekends and run the practice route we did for the school team.

Life progressed

  • Then somehow as I entered high school, team sports took precedence over my running and I hung up my running shoes…but not forever.
  • Seventeen years later, invited by a work colleague to run a half marathon, I would dust those runners off. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to run again and actually say I completed a half marathon. Perhaps there was a bucket list floating around in my head that I wasn't even aware of or maybe the dreams of a 12 year old girl would be realized albeit in a slightly different way.

No real training plan

  • I was so excited to start my “training” but I had no real guidance on how to train and what a long run even meant but I kept going with my longest run being only 10kms! “How foolish art thee?”
  • Race day finally came and those butterflies were back but I did not expect what would happen in the next two and a half hours or so.
  • Soon into my run bystanders were cheering me on, clapping and chanting my name. I remember initially thinking how did they know who I was but then foolishly realized by bib had my name on it. I was simply overwhelmed with emotion. With every breath, I took in this amazingly wonderful energy that engulfed me.
  • However, the consequence of my lack of proper training soon reared its ugly head and my body started to breakdown at the 17km mark. A women running past me noticed my distress and encouraged me to continue and run with her to the finish line. She was three months pregnant. I was instantly inspired and knew I could not give up so close to the end of my journey.
  • A total stranger gave me the courage and motivation to persevere when my legs felt like jello and I just wanted to stop. This may have dissuaded many to not run again, but instead I fell in love. Yes, I fell in love, with the running community, the energy by which pushed me forward to the finish line, the overwhelming emotions I experienced at being supported by strangers, the feeling of exhilaration when the race was over and I could proudly say, “I did it!!!”

Next phase

  • I had a new found respect for runners and running in general. I was hooked and addicted to it all. I signed up for subsequent races, trained properly and started to really learn about running as a sport. Thirteen years later, with nine half marathons, three ten km races, and numerous five km races completed, I can honestly say I still love to run!
  • Each training period and race has brought new learnings my way and I am wiser and better than I was yesterday for being blessed with the ability to run.
  • I am currently training for my very first full marathon and can't wait to see what this journey has in store for me!

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